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Conspiracy theories
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jonah Goldberg addresses the growing cottage industry of conspiracy theories:
Here's a question: How is a president willing - and able! - to bring down the World Trade Center, murdering nearly 3,000 Americans without inspiring a single whistle-blower or attracting a solitary eyewitness, somehow morally or logistically incapable of planting some exculpatory WMDs in Iraq?
It always has amazed me that various events (or people) will somehow attract otherwise rational and intelligent people into the web of conspiracy theories, which, if they sat back for a minute and actually figured probabilities, should seem absurd to them. Goldberg's question to them is a perfect example.

How does an administration, barely 7 months old, manage to secretly, without a single witness outside the conspiracy (and none within coming forward), in buildings which housed tens of thousands of people many working in around the clock operations and having their own security personnel, wire it for demolition? I mean I'm just asking?

One then has to assume some sort of similar thing happened at the 24/7 Pentagon in front of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen which probably would have recognized such and effort 10 out of 10 times.
Stupidity isn't the right word for these dark imaginings, because some of these conspiracy theorists are very smart people. Nor is it fair to say they are all left-wingers. Indeed, two prominent 9/11 conspiracy theorists - Morgan Reynolds and Paul Craig Roberts - worked in Republican administrations and have strong conservative credentials. And let us not forget that in the 1990s, sweaty fingers pointed right-to-left. Under Clinton, it was the United Nations - with its satellite office at the Rose Law Firm - that imposed order with its fleet of black helicopters.
Goldberg rightfully points out that these sorts of theories aren't confined to the left. Instead they do seem to be a function of which side is in power as to who takes the lead in spinning them.

And while he shies away from using "stupidity" to describe some of them or those who subscribe to them, he does use the word to characterize the "methods" on which the rest:
The metaphysical, ontological stupidity of all this defies rational rebuttal. It would be like proving I didn't have unicorn for dinner in late December of 1987.
There is no rational rebuttal for these theories, or, better said, no rational rebuttal that will make any difference to the theorists. And, as is natural, they take the absence of rational rebuttal as acknowledgment that they're on the right track. It is a logical cycle based on an illogical premise which naturally feeds on itself.

Thankfully, the vast majority of Americans have the intellectual capacity to see these theories for what they really are (with a rough and probably innate application of Occam's razor) and dismiss them. But there seems to be a growing minority which is willing to at least consider them:
What is so sad and frightening is that this diseased thinking is reaching epidemic proportions. More than a third of Americans believe the U.S. government was likely to have been involved in 9/11.
I mostly write that off to connectivity and the power of telling the "big lie" over and over and over again to a susceptible public more used to accepting what they're told (especially if pushed by academics and scientists) than engaging their brain in critical thinking. The incipient danger here is that minority will grow into a majority and somehow manage to effect policy. If that ever happens, we are indeed in trouble.

But for the time being, I'll just continue to marvel at the fact that many who would be considered moderate, intelligent and reasonable people fall prey to these theories. I guess part of it is a function of preferring to believe what fits their perception of reality rather than what reasoning and logic tell them is probable reality.

Oh, and for your theorists out there who care to respond, please do me the favor of first answering Golberg's question.
 
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Sadly the libertarian movement is full of conspiracy theory kooks, witness all the output about the "evil neocons."

You can thank Murray Rothbard for that.

My take is:

1) Some libertarians are extremists, and tend to borrow theory and language from the extreem Left and Right.

2) Some libertarians are dishonest in their quest for politcal change and use scapegoating to solidify their cause, faction, front, alliance, etc.

3) Some libertarians are so frustrated that the world hasn’t had a libertopian revolution that they start to see the world itself as evil (gnosticism) and ironically glorify the State into having godly powers of conspiracy.

Conspiracy theory is bullsht for two reasons: 1) The Law of Kevin Bacon, that we are basically 6-degrees from knowing anyone, so it’s impossible to NOT find "connections" between different people and 2) The Law of "Moon is a Harsh Mistress" - that no more than three people can keep a secret, making vast conspiracies impossible.
 
Written By: Joe Mama
URL: http://
Conspiracy theory is bullsht for two reasons: 1) The Law of Kevin Bacon, that we are basically 6-degrees from knowing anyone, so it’s impossible to NOT find "connections" between different people and 2) The Law of "Moon is a Harsh Mistress" - that no more than three people can keep a secret, making vast conspiracies impossible.
Bingo!

Further, this government, and pretty much every government before it, have shown that they are not competent to pull off the mundane, much less something as impossibly complex as this conspiracy would be.

Funny that some of the same people who claim that this administration is more incompetent than others before it (like me) claim that it is competent enough to pull of the greatest conspiracy in human history (not like me).

Let’s compare this to the Kennedy assasination. In my view we KNOW the truth behind the Kennedy assasination, the only problem is which of the things we know is the actual truth and which are not. The same is true with 9/11, except physical evidence precludes virtually every theory except al Qaeda terrorists hijacking airplanes and running them into buildings while our government was asleep at the wheel telling us about the need for missile defense systems to protect us against rogue states.

Cap

 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
The plan for a New American Century, has been in place, and held in reverence by most of Bush’s cabinet members well before his "selection". There is plenty of evidence to support the possibility of bombs in the buildings. Marvin Bush (brother) was
coincidentaly in charge of Security chez WTC, for years prior, and ended his contract on 9/11/01. Think about it.
 
Written By: brainstillworks
URL: http://
brainstillworks
no Brain it doesn’t or you wouldn’t be buying the sort of happy horse feathers the Nutters are selling. EVERY popular "Truther claim" is refuted. The whole idea of a vast conspiracy fails simply by noting that someone will leak the details of a LEGAL AND EFFECTIVE program, security and financial transactions, to the NYT, but this conspiracy has been kept "secret"? Or the even more telling point, IF the US Government did not stick at killing 3,000 Americans on 9-11 how come YOU’RE STILL ALIVE? No "Brain" your brain doesn’t work or mayhap it WOULD if you’d turn off the little voice inside your head.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
It’s not just the big conspiracy theories - 9-11 was an inside job, the Ohio election was fixed, etc. The left sometimes turns to conspiracy theories as soon as they are confronted with facts they don’t like.

The canonical example is the whole Plame affair. There are regular commenters on this very board who will tell you how it’s all a conspiracy to damage Wilson’s credibility, and only a "code of silence" keeps it from getting out. No number of admissions by Armitage, et.al. will change their minds.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Caps’ comment about missile defense systems reminded me about the greatest conspiracy non-theory never exposed while in plain view for the past 5 decades.

It should be apparent from the most-likely/official story of 9/11 and the most-likely/official story of Hurricane Katrina, that the United States has never been prepared for even the smallest possible nuclear accident/exchange/war. While "duck and cover" would have saved many lives, the aftermath would have been handled worse than anything we have heard about FEMA and Katrina.

Some of the most recent data indicate the 9/11 cost the United States about $250 billion, not to mention continuing security costs. Given that the federal government has spent about $250 billion through DHS in the last 5 years to increase security readiness, I would expect some to believe that a 5 year repeating cycle would be acceptable and besides it was only 3000 dead out of 300 million so we don’t need a GWOT as the losses are acceptable.

Had 9/11 been with only one small "nuke", instead of 4 city blocks, it would 100 city blocks destroyed and an area the size of NO and the Gulf coast of Mississippi that would have been contaminated. The costs would be unacceptable.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Marvin Bush (brother) was coincidentaly in charge of Security chez WTC, for years prior, and ended his contract on 9/11/01. Think about it.
Oh, please! Marvin Bush left Securacom in June, 2000

And he wasn’t in charge of security, he just sat on the board of directors.
There is plenty of evidence to support the possibility of bombs in the buildings
No, there isn’t. At least not to anyone who knows anything about physics and structural engineering.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
There is plenty of evidence to support the possibility of bombs in the buildings
There is also plenty of evidence to support the possibility of the "Tooth Fairy" being in the buildings
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
There is plenty of evidence to support the possibility of bombs in the buildings
There is also plenty of evidence to support the possibility of the "Tooth Fairy" being in the buildings
He WAS? THAT explains why I haven’t been getting quarters under my pillow! One MORE reason to hate Usama.....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
One MORE reason to hate Usama.....
You mean Chimpy Mc Bushhitler!
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
When I was about 19-20 I looked into conspiracy theories and found them to all be the same. For a moment only I was intrigued. Then I realized that all conspiracy theories eventually boil down to: "It’s the Jooos!"

9/11 conspiracy is no different, "its the Neocon Joos and the Israeli lobby that made Bush do it"

Thankfully I grew up, unfortunately many Americans never did.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
One MORE reason to hate Usama.....
Is it Usama, or Osama, is it Hizbollah or Hezzbollah? Is it Kaddafi, or Quddafi, or Gaddafi? Why can’t these damm muslims learn to use spellcheck!!!
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
1)I’m pretty sure my father introduced me at least once to a man he knew thru photographic circles who was better known as a cinematographer but also once appeared in a movie with Kevin Bacon.

2)This government which you think carried out this horrendous plot is the same government you think should be running our health care system?
 
Written By: triticale
URL: http://triticale.mu.nu
More than a third of Americans believe the U.S. government was likely to have been involved in 9/11.

And, supposedly, in 2002 45% of Americans thought that Saddamn Hussein was behind 9/11.

Add the two percentages up, and only 25% of the country thinks that the buck stops with Usama Bin Laden!!

Is this really true? Heck, no. That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe McQ’s cite, telling me a poll turned up this result. I believe they got this result in a survey. But I think both his example and mine points to something different: sometimes surveys bring up all kinds of crazy numbers about what people think/believe that might be useful for seeing growth/decline trends, but for whatever reason are just way off base on reality.

Maybe people are just inherently willing to shoot off answers on surveys indicating they believe in things that they really just sort of find creepy/interesting as ideas.

Either way, I think the surveys way overstate these numbers.

It does help that the people who accuse the US of being behind 9/11 are fanatically persistent. But they don’t get much airtime in traditional media.
Give the traditional media some props there, I think.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
There’s something to what you say Glasnost, but people are naturally more nuts the more extreme you get in the political scale.

To wit.....ever tried having a conversation with a LaRouche supporter?
 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
What do all these conspiracy theories say about the airplanes? Do they think the airplanes hit the buildings?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Oops! In my last, change the word "think" to "believe. There is obviously no thinking involved.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Glasnost makes a good point, but gets the conclusion wrong. Yes, if you add up the number of people who believe the US was behind 9/11 (36%) and the number who think Saddam was behind 9/11 (41%), you get about 78% of Americans out of their minds. Assuming that some segment of these loons think that Bush and Saddam co-conspired to attack the WTC, you can bring the percentage down to 68%. That means only 32% of Americans are not certifiably insane.

Glasnost says the problem is the nature of surveys. They always turn up weird numbers. But some of these surveys that turn up weird numbers show non-weird numbers in other countries. The percentage of Americans who reject evolution, believe that the government is hiding alien life form, believe in astrology, believe in ESP, believe dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time, believe they had a psychic experience, believe in UFOs, and believe that we never actually landed on the moon is much higher than in Great Britain or anywhere else in Europe. Why? There is a strong paranoid strain in America that Richard Hofstadter once wrote about. It’s a result partly of our geographic isolation. It’s also a result of our utter suspicion of government and other large institutions. This sort of bizarre belief in supernatural intervention or wild conspiracy theory is, in many ways, a fundamental part of our culture.
 
Written By: Elrod
URL: http://
Here’s some entertaining statistics...

About 35% of Americans believe we have been visited by aliens (the outer space kind)

About 35% of Americans believe in ghosts

About 35% of Americans believe Elvis is still alive

About 35% of Americans believe in Bigfoot

oh, and the wildest one of all

About 35% of Americans believe that George Bush is a competent leader

I wonder if they are the same 35%?

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic (yeah, that one)
URL: http://
45% of Muslims don’t believe Arabs were involved in 9/11.

No wonder the big al Qaeda media blitz.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Hmm let’s see with my conspiracy theory hat on I would have to say the reason is extreme patriotism. Bush read that website about the world running out of oil and wanted to ensure that the U.S. wasn’t all that affected by it so he figured he could invade the middle east and hord up all the oil if he ignored all the 9/11 warnings and allowed terrorist to attack the U.S.

That might work but it was clinton’s crew that let osama get away back in the late 90’s.

I do agree that the idea of the U.S. gov’t being behind the attacks on 911 is pretty absurd but how the hell does a passenger airliner leave that small of a hole in the pentagon? and where the hell is all the plan wreckage in pennsylvania or the pentagon? They found all the pieces to the last space shuttle that blew up and glued it back together but a plane crashing in the dirt 500 mph practically desintigrates?

 
Written By: Mac
URL: http://
They found all the pieces to the last space shuttle that blew up and glued it back together but a plane crashing in the dirt 500 mph practically desintigrates?
There is a HUGE difference between debris falling and a airliner full of fuel at maximum speed crashing nose first into something solid.

There was debris at all of the crash sites, but the pieces were broken up into fairly small pieces. The Pentagon walls were two foot thick reinforced concrete, that’s why the hole was so small. It wasn’t like the WTC where the entire plane was able to pass into the structure.

The funny thing is that if you try and search the web for the truth, you typically find one conspiracy theorist debunking another, showing evidence, usually photographic, why some other tinfoil hatted geek is wrong, and they go on to tell their own story of alien brain suckers controlling events.

Our representative government is made up primarily of mediocre intellects with one primary skill, getting people to vote for them.

I would be FAR more inclined to believe widespread election fraud than Iwould something like this, but only because elections are what these people REALLY do know.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic (yeah, that one)
URL: http://
This sort of bizarre belief in supernatural intervention or wild conspiracy theory is, in many ways, a fundamental part of our culture.
Either that, or Americans just like to screw around with pollsters.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
" but a plane crashing in the dirt 500 mph practically desintigrates?"

Yep. In many crashes pices of the engine(s) are the only recognizable parts.

"Either that, or Americans just like to screw around with pollsters."

Hee Hee.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
No conspiracy theory on this one:

Can you imagine the skill level of the terrorists flying the planes..

1. The plane that hit the south tower was flying at around 400 MPH at less than 2000 feet and was banking to its left when it hit the tower
2. The plane that hit the Pentagon supposedly hit the building at 500 MPH and struck the building that is just 4/5 stories tall

And our government tells us that the hijackers trained on prop planes and Boeing 767 simulators.....hmmmm
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
1. The plane that hit the south tower was flying at around 400 MPH at less than 2000 feet and was banking to its left when it hit the tower
2. The plane that hit the Pentagon supposedly hit the building at 500 MPH and struck the building that is just 4/5 stories tall
Yeah, they were real nervous about running into something.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
WOW, Ivan you’ve taken the whole "Conspiracy, Just Questioning" thing to new heights. You don’t even bother presenting any arguments in favour of an alternative, you just cite the established facts and go, "Hu’uum". Is there more to this theory?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
As I understand it, not being a pilot myself, all you need to do once the takeoff is over is switch on the autopilot. The autopilot takes care of the fine tuning and all you need to do is turn a knob on the autopilot to change course. since they didn’t need to take off or land, the required skill was minimal.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Shark: Ugh. Larouche. Brain. Dying. It is funny you bring up Mr. Larouche because I ran into his supporters on my way back from class two days in a row. The phrase "brick wall" does not begin to describe what shields their minds from reality. After they offhandedly mentioned that the gov’t was behind 9/11, I asked them what evidence they had for such an assertion. Needless to say, they blinked a lot and looked puzzled. Then they asked me how I know what truth is and if I ever thought about being an "historical individual." It was so painful. At first I thought they were going to be just some typical well-meaning socialists or something. Nope, brainwashed through and through. They got nasty when I explained about non-falsifiable ontological assumptions. I loved it when they asked me, "How do you know logic is true?" Pure. Genius.

As far as conspiracy theories in general are concerned, they tend to give real sceptics a bad name. If these conspiracies are so big and so intelligent, then there is no hope of combatting them. If there is evidence against a conspiracy, then it is "a smokescreen." If such large conspiracies are true, then give up. You have no chance of fighting the secret cabal of jewish financiers/knights templar/Illuminati/neo-cons. Your resistance will be co-opted, eliminated, or ignored. Else, these crap conspiracies aren’t true, and the world is just full of people who are selfish, good, bad, naïve, smart, honest, liars, and fallible. Which world would you rather live in? That is basic question conspiracy theorists should ask themselves.
 
Written By: Alfred
URL: http://

 
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