Respectful Insolence

Heh.

Although it’s apparently been making the rounds over the Internet, I had never seen this list before until Andrew over at Flavor Country posted A Dictionary for the 9/11 “Truth” Movement, which, if you’ve ever read the comment thread (223 comments!) after my one major foray into discussing the true idiocy that is the 9/11 “Truth” Movement, you will immediately realize to be pretty darned close to the truth.

A few key examples:

Alternative theory: Something so wacky that even Twoofers don’t give it much credence (e. g. holographic planes, pods).

Brainwashing: non-conspiratorial thinking, thought processes which involve documented information and scientific data.

This one applies to pretty much any crank, particularly Holocaust deniers.

Disasterbate – Convincing oneself that a major event is actually a government conspiracy. Usually involves ignoring evidence, quote mining, and watching internet conspiracy movies.
“After he heard about the explosion, he couldn’t wait to get home and disasterbate.

Mutual Disasterbation – When one conspiracy theorist uses another conspiracy theorist to validate his own crazy speculations.”The Loose Change forums are a den of mutual disasterbation”

Heh.

Evidence: (pronounced “ev-ee-dense,” cf. David Ray Griffin) facts from scientific studies or direct observation that agree with the conspiracy theorist’s pet theory.

Applies just as well to alties, creationists, HIV/AIDS “skeptics, Holocaust deniers, etc.

Evirense (n.) – Proof of a conspiracy claim that traces back to a conspiracy website that freely admits it has no editorial standards whatsoever.

Evidense (n) : 1. misinterpreted data. e.g. photos of steel beams cut during the clean-up said to be evidence of umplosions (q.v.) such as *therm*te ; 2. coinvidence(s) (q.v.), ahumption(s) (q.v.).

Evidence,”Planted” : any real, actual, physical evidence really, actually, physically located at the scene, that disproves a given conspiracy theory and cannot be explained away by holograms, CGI, starwars space beams, etc.

Check out the whole list.

Comments

  1. #1 Ex-drone
    April 15, 2007

    The detail, complexity, energy and infectiousness of the 9/11 conspiracy theories help explain the proliferation of gospels in the early Christian church and undermine any thought that the canonical gospels could be true. Despite our current ability to record, review and communicate accurately events that occurred less than a decade ago, nonsensical myths nevertheless germinate and thrive easily in large swaths of modern society. Oral tradition operating over the early decades of the Common Era so much more easily made Christianity into the 9/11 conspiracy of its time … and ours.

  2. #2 Crudely Wrott
    April 15, 2007

    I agree, Ex-drone. I also hypothesize that the first “sky-gods” were thought up by tired parents trying to hush the kids around the evening fire. I mean, it’s something I, a 21st century human, would consider. And given all the supernatural characters we inflict upon our young to this day, Santa, Tooth Fairy, devils and angels and all?

    And if so, does this reduce all (I say All) gods to babysitters, day care workers and crossing guards?

    Shrug.

  3. #3 Crudely Wrott
    April 15, 2007

    My post meant to link strongly to your mention of oral tradition yet I failed to say so. Oral tradition dating tens of centuries may well have an influence on human behavior and beliefs than social traditions dating to a fraction of that time.

  4. #4 Crudely Wrott
    April 15, 2007

    Of course that should read, ” . . . may well have a greater influence.”

    Apologetic shrug.

  5. #5 Graculus
    April 15, 2007

    Orac is going for another mega thread.

    Everyone here has seen Unfastened Coins, I hope.

  6. #6 Colugo
    April 15, 2007

    The startling levels of belief in 9/11 conspiracy theories:

    April 2006 poll:
    http://www.scrippsnews.com/911poll

    “Thirty-six percent of respondents overall said it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them “because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.” …
    The poll found that a majority of young adults give at least some credence to a 9/11 conspiracy compared to less than a fourth of people 65 or older.”

    This shows shocking levels of stupidity and paranoia, which is dangerous for democracy. Not because it reflects sentiments about a particular administration (which change ever 4-8 years anyway) but because such conspiracy-mongering goes hand in hand with the belief that the system itself is illegitimate. People who are that stupid and who believe that the system is illegitimate are vulnerable to demagoguery and hate-mongering of all kinds.

    Rosie O’Donnell is the highest-profile celebrity publicly supporting 9/11 conspiracy mongering, along with Charlie Sheen, Tikkun’s Michael Lerner, Howard Zinn etc.

  7. #7 bernarda
    April 15, 2007

    As is often the case, orac goes on about things he has no knowledge of. Orac should stick to medicine.

  8. #8 THobbes
    April 15, 2007

    Well, what exactly is incorrect about this, bernarda? The 9/11 Truth Movement has, at its best, shown a remarkable ability to disconnect from the facts and drawn conclusions unsupported by the evidence.

  9. #9 MR
    April 15, 2007

    I am not terribly familiar with 9/11 conspiracies (thank Tengri), but I’d chalk it up to distrust and fear of the government. My generation is used to shameless, ammoral political manipulation, lies and slander promulgated as the Truth and an incredible lack of rational leadership. I’m not just referring to Bush, though he’s done a lovely job of scaring American’s into the depths of paranoia, but the last fifty or so years of political leaders. Not to mention the painful ironies of our cultural figures. Just consider the “moral majority,” based on little more than a shallow reading of Christ’s teachings and xenophobia, the religious right can claim to be the saviors of American morality. Seeing that, seeing overt manipulations of belief, politics and man’s foulest traits, how can you help being cynical and paranoid?

    I don’t buy the case for conspiracy in this instance, but it must have a cause greater than stupidity and paranoia. The current administration has made an art of waving the bloody shirt. Their willingness to translate thousands of deaths into political gains is nothing less than astounding. They didn’t create the tragedy, but they certainly recreated it into a sort of far right spectacle. A national loss has become a justification for violent external and internal repression of the “Other.” This is grounds for paranoia. In an era of Orwell acts (ie. the radically anti-democratic Patriot Act) and belligerent foriegn policy, you would do well to be afraid. That the general public could even consider the government capable of attacking the populous for political ends is a sure sign that no trust exists between the governed and the governing.

    I don’t see anything humorous in 9/11 conspiracies at all. Instead, I see a terrible symptom. Something is grotesquely wrong, when a society becomes this fearful and distrustful. Partially, it is a failure of reason and clarity. More so, my generation (the teenagers and twenty-somethings) expect to be manipulated. We assume our leaders are creating an image, a mythos, rather than a genuine moral or rational argument. We expect an elaborate lie, based on soundbites and news story theatrics, to sway the populous. Given that foundation for political discourse, can you really be surprised that people think the government was behind the attacks?

    PS- Before their conversion to Islam, the Mongols worshipped Tengri as the god of the great blue sky, making him literally a sky-god, thus my choice of “thank Tengri” rather than “thank God.” It seems more fitting to me. :)

  10. #10 Tyler DiPietro
    April 15, 2007

    “As is often the case, orac goes on about things he has no knowledge of. Orac should stick to medicine.”

    As usual, bernarda compensates for the fact that he’s way out of his league by pinching off a stupid one-liner. Perhaps bernarda should stick to wanking over his exclusive knowledge of the surreptitious International Jewish Conspiracy.

  11. #11 Ktesibios
    April 15, 2007

    Some insightful comments from MR, to whom I’d like to recommend Mark Fenster’s Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture. You can read the introduction online here: http://www.upress.umn.edu/ConspiracyTheories.html

    It might be of some comfort to remember that while the Internet has given paranoid conspiracism the appearance of something new, conspiracist thinking has been a part of our cultural landscape since the earliest days of the USA and even before. The sense of alienation from political significance that leads to the endless, circular probing of arcane signs and symbols that characterize conspiracism isn’t unique to our times or circumstances.

  12. #12 James
    April 16, 2007

    MR:
    I can see the merit in your argument that conspiracy theories are the typical suspicion of government exaggerated to the point of absurdity. I think it also ties in to the use of the genetic fallacy in political arguments, playing on the interests of the opponent rather than addressing their argument is an all too common tactic these days.

    I’m not sure how new this is though. In the Wealth of Nations (published in 1776) Adam Smith described party-political pamphlets as “The wretched offspring of falsehood and venality”. Perfidious poiliticians are not a new concept, perhaps what has changed is that now the internet allows the disaffected to easily meet and let their bitterness percolate.

  13. #13 Landwehrkanal
    April 16, 2007

    I’m sure Ktesibios is right in saying that conspiracy theories are by no means a new phenomenon, but I also agree with MR’s hunch that we are living in a moment in which they are particularly prevalent. While running the danger of outing myself as an English-department wacko, I’d venture to say that exposing the falsity of conspiracy theories makes less sense than to demonstrate in how far or in what way they might not in fact be “true” by subjecting them to a close reading. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories in any conventional sense of the word, but I do think that the specific form they take today reveals something important about this (US) society’s attempt to map a highly complex global situation.

    Earlier conspiracy theories, for instance sixteenth-century British worries about nation-wide underworld networks of vagrants and con-men, were very specific to their historical moment — in this case the advent of capitalism in a still predominantly agrarian society whose feudal structures had recently collapsed. It would be worthwhile to find out what today’s conspiracy theories tell us about our current, global historical moment. Thanks to Ktesibios for the literature hint — I’ll definitely try to follow it up.

  14. #14 csrster
    April 16, 2007

    That’s an interesting point Landwehr. The next time this 9/11 nonsense comes up I’ll try to remember that it’s just the modern version of the Popish Plot.

  15. #15 Coin
    April 16, 2007

    It would be worthwhile to find out what today’s conspiracy theories tell us about our current, global historical moment.

    Okay, I’ll give it a shot:

    The 9/11 conspiracy theories are, in essence, an expression of post-9/11 American insecurity.

    As America more and more becomes the sole holder of economic and military power in the world, individual Americans become more and more sensitive to anything that implies this economic and military might might not automatically translate to America being omnipotent and invincible. The September 11 attacks were about the worst example of such an implication one could find; the sense of direct, personal vulnerability forced on essentially every American by the attacks was incredible. People struck by this sense of vulnerability have dealt with it in a variety of ways, both rational and irrational, both healthy and unhealthy. An unfortunate number have dealt with it through various forms of displacement; I would say something about Iraq here but it would probably not be productive to do so.

    Members of the 9/11 truthiness movement in specific are displacing their aggression toward Those Responsible onto the government, and in doing so– and in formulating their conspiracy theories– are responding chiefly to one particular psychologically bothersome aspect of the September 11 attacks: their simplicity. America spent seventy years preparing itself, both mentally and militarily, for the idea of conflict on a grand scale, against massive powers– expecting that The Enemy would be communist Russia or something like it, a great and strong villain to match the great and strong hero that was America. Yet the most devastating and cutting attack on America in decades and decades was carried out by the weakest of the weak, nineteen unexceptional, effectively stateless men with boxcutters. How does one deal with this? If all that it takes to cause this level of carnage is nineteen determined men, then this kind of carnage could happen again whenever nineteen determined men can be collected– in other words, anytime, to anyone, for no reason.

    The idea that the world is this easy to break makes life too chaotic, too scary. Some people would prefer to live in a world where large-scale destruction can only be caused by large-scale powers. Thus, confronted with a case of large-scale destruction that legitimately was caused by a very small-scale player, they must reject the idea the small scale player was responsible and instead invent some large-scale conspiracy to act in its place. We saw this in the aftermath of the JFK assassination, or Columbine– unable to accept that such great wrongs could be caused by one person acting alone, people sought to construct Something Bigger to blame the whole thing on, Marilyn Manson and the Media or the Mafia or something big enough and present enough to channel their aggression at rather than having to accept the whole terrible thing could have been as small as two high school kids that were already dead by the time the police reached them.

    The 9/11 truthinessers seek to invent a conspiracy big enough to match the scale of the destruction and harm caused on that day. And their particular usual choice of target as the instigator of that conspiracy, the government, provides a certain kind of symmetry, since it removes the original source of their insecurity– that they thought America was the only power in the world, that at the level of deep assumption they expected their government was big enough and strong enough to prevent things like this, and yet it failed to prevent it. The idea the government cannot prevent an event like this simply terrifies them; thus, their neat little solution is to conclude the government caused it. This is comforting, by comparison. The government may be out to get them, but at least nobody else is, so the vulnerability just melts away– there’s only one big source of trouble and they can keep their eye on it. The difficult questions of how best to react and live in a world where nineteen men can do all this simply don’t matter, because they’re convinced nineteen men couldn’t have done all this.

    Just to be clear, I pulled all of this out of my ass.

  16. #16 Coin
    April 16, 2007

    the highest-profile celebrity publicly supporting 9/11 conspiracy mongering, along with… Howard Zinn

    Hi,

    When and where did Howard Zinn do this?

  17. #17 Laser Potato
    April 16, 2007

    My favorite 9/11 theory is that the planes were really holograms. Since when are holograms seen as opaque, solid objects? On a bright, sunny day? And cast shadows, even?
    PROJECTIONS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!

  18. #18 Bronze Dog
    April 16, 2007

    Had some fun on the JREF forums with those nuts, including one guy who believed in the Orbital R9 Wave Cannon. (And someone gave me a point for sticking in that mocking R-Type reference)

  19. #19 AgnosticOracle
    April 16, 2007

    “Thirty-six percent of respondents overall said it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them “because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.”

    I kind of wonder about the wording of that question. It comes close enough to a few things that are true[1][2]* that it might cause some false positives for 9/11 conspiracy theories.

    [1] The neo-con think tanks had published papers arguing in favor of a war against Iraq for years before 9/11.
    [2] The Bush administration did reduce the focus on al-Queda in favor of missile defense in the months prior to 9/11.

  20. #20 eric swan
    April 16, 2007

    people who believe a 757 can hit the pentagon and completly disappear can be led to believe anything.

  21. #21 Andrew Dodds
    April 17, 2007

    Eric -

    In one sentance you manage to demonstrate quite a few of the 9/11 fallicies.

    The first is that of overcomplication; for your story to be true, the flight that was meant to hit the pentagon must have ‘vanished’ – requiring a lot of extra conspiritors – and a missile fired at the pentagon. Why bother? If your consprircy can fly planes into the WTC towers then why not the pentagon?

    (A sub-fallacy of this is demonstrated by the WTC7 theories, which never, NEVER, offer a coherent explanation of why the conspiricy has to be massively expanded to cover the deomlition of a building with zero propaganda value whatsoever. Which leads us to ask just how much of manhatten was rigged to blow that day..)

    The second is the dismissal of evidence (see ‘Evidence, planted’ above). There is plenty of evidence that an aircraft hit the pentagon.

    The third is the classic ‘If you don’t believe everything the ‘truthers’ say then you must always believe the ‘government story’ for the whole of history’ argument. I’ll happily believe any 9/11 story that involves the Bush admin being lazy and incompetent; I’ll also believe that they are perfectly capable of spinning events to get what they want anyway. I won’t believe in them hatching tight, large scale conspiricies because they are so clearly unable to anctually plan anything.

  22. #22 Andrew Dodds
    April 17, 2007

    AgnosticOracle –

    The only thing about [2] is that missile defence involves shovelling large amounts of cash to republican party doners, wheras anti al-Queda activity is fiddly, difficult and hard to get soundbites from.

  23. #23 Dunc
    April 17, 2007

    Of course, we all know that these silly conspiracy theories are just elaborate CIA disinfo campaigns to cover-up the real cover-ups…

    That sucking sound you hear is the sound of heads imploding, I hope. ;)

  24. #24 Bronze Dog
    April 17, 2007

    People who believe that piles of plane debris constitutes “disappearing” can believe anything.

  25. #25 Prup aka Jim Benton
    April 17, 2007

    As someone who’s been around long enough to see rafts of conspiracy theories come and go, from the Kennedy Assassination to Stormer’s NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON and the Birch Society’s various idiocies, I do think that belief innonsense like 9/11 Conspiracies is more wide-spread than in the past — and my historical interest does take me back to examples going to the Jefferson Administration.
    I’d like to suggest three main reasons for this.
    I: The Bush Administration HAS committed unprecedented actions against the Constitution, the Attorney General Scandal being only the latest in a long-line — though I expect it will turn out to be the Bush Administration’s Watergate. A lot of people are so horrified by these actions that they are willing to believe anything evil of this group.
    II:Rush Limbaugh — others, but he had the widest audience — spent years drumming the idea of ‘government is BAD-EVIL-ROTTEN-AFTER YOU!!!‘ into the minds of ‘Middle America
    III:One of the most popular shows of the 90s (deservedly so, because it was very well-done and entertaining) was the X-FILES, the whole raison d’etre of which was a similar distrust in government and a belief in conspiracy theories as being real. It was ‘only entertainment’ yes, but a lot of people don’t find it easy to draw a line between fact and fiction. (And we can all point to television which has caused positive impact on society — the obvious example being ALL IN THE FAMILY though I’d also include STARGATE’s wonderful attacks on the ‘religious mindset’– so we shouldn’t find it odd that tv can also help create a ‘negative mindset’ as well.)
    So people who would never listen to a Limbaugh were watching the show and getting used to the idea of monstrous conspiracies based in the highest levels of the government. Then a truly monstrous event happens and it becomes very easy to ‘call for Scully and Mulder.’

  26. #26 Laser Potato
    April 18, 2007

    “people who believe a 757 can hit the pentagon and completly disappear can be led to believe anything.”

    Exactly how do you hide a plane that’s 155 feet long and weighs 127 tons? Let me guess…holograms again.

    WOW! YOU LOSE!

  27. #27 Godless McHeathenpants
    April 19, 2007

    If the 9/11 atrocities were caused by militant Islamics, THEN WHY ARE THERE STILL DWARFS+PYGMIES.

    I just can’t understand why people can’t see sense…

  28. #28 olvlzl the Heretic
    April 19, 2007

    Don’t know enough of the necessary science to have an opinion about this. But, the term “conspiracy theory” isn’t helpful. In order to find any conspiracy there has to be one or more theories about it before enough evidence is gathered. Short of having two independent witnesses or a complete recording, how else can a conspiracy be detected?
    It’s not the theories that are the problem, it’s the paranoid acceptance of them based on insufficient information. Shutting down the process with the phrase won’t do anything to stop that. At least make the attempt to answer the important questions. Eventually it will just be the true believers and there’s nothing you can do about that.

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