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Theories running rampant through technology

Probably getting a bit bored of it all by now!

Here is a long article from the Independent so here is a selection:

Conspiracy theories are cultural viruses. Once they infect the zeitgeist, it is extremely difficult to stamp them out – no matter how solid the evidence against them is. Studies have shown that people who are prone to believe in conspiracies display an innate bias towards information which supports that conspiracy, no matter how spurious that information is and no matter how solid the evidence against the conspiracy is.

Today, there are more conspiracy theories and more conspiracy theory believers than ever before. They range from the simply fanciful – such as the theory that Kentucky Fried Chicken is owned by the Ku Klux Klan which laces the food with a drug that makes only black men impotent – to the labyrinthine, such as the intricacy of theories around 9/11 and the death of John F Kennedy.

...

Once the quaint preserve of anoraks (think JFK) and X Files fans (alien abduction, faked moon landings and Area 51), they have now become a malevolent modern-day tool which nefarious organisations use to further their aims. Jamie Bartlett, head of the Violence and Extremism Programme at independent think tank Demos, has studied this worrying trend.

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There are several reasons why conspiracy theories are increasing. Mainly it is because the internet has made it easy to propagate rumour and supposition on a global scale. Social networking sites allow conspiracy theorists to seek out and link with like-minded individuals. Whereas past conspiracies, like those surrounding the death of JFK, took years to formulate and disseminate, today's conspiracies develop almost organically. Immediately after 9/11, the internet was abuzz with individual voices questioning the official version of events. These nebulous ideas were able to crystallise as theorists discussed and developed their ideas and formed into a set of theories adopted by groups such as the 9/11 Truth Movement.

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The number of people who believe conspiracy theories is staggering. According to various recent surveys, a third of Brits believe Princess Diana was murdered (a Daily Mail survey), a quarter believe the moon landings were faked (from Engineering and Technology magazine), nearly half of all Americans do not believe global warming is man-made (a Yale University survey) and 84 per cent of them believe 9/11 was an inside job (a New York Times/CBS poll).

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Indeed, we as human beings often need major world events to be explained by equally major causes. It is too frightening to live in a world where 19 Arabs with box-cutters can change the course of history in a matter of a few hours. Instead, it is easier to believe that a huge government conspiracy was behind 9/11.

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"This is a big issue with a lot of serious implications," says French. "People ... are making life-changing decisions without employing any critical thinking skills."

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This lack of critical thinking reinforces questionable belief systems and allows them to spread. Its prevalence in society led the Demos conspiracy study team to call on the Government to introduce measures in schools to help students distinguish between reliable and spurious online sources of information.

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"If you do believe in conspiracy theories, the reasoning you apply is illogical, emotion-driven, irrational, and non-evidence based," says Bartlett. "I don't like people believing nonsense because it doesn't do them any good. Conspiracy theories absolutely demolish the small modicum of trust we still have in our governments. We still need people to trust that sometimes authorities do the right thing, yet there are millions of people who genuinely believe they conspire against and murder their own people."

...

The truth is out there, and if you know the right places to look, it is not hard to find. But as long as conspiracy theories continue to be propagated and believed on the scale they are today, the truth will remain masked by crackpot theory and myth.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/truth-and-lies-conspiracy-theories-are-running-rampant-t...

the commentors aint buying this rubbish.

.here is #1 Top Rated comment:

Top 5 conspiracy theories:

1)
19 men armed only with box cutters managed to hijack 4 airliners and fly 3 of them into the World Trade Centre and Pentagon in the most heavily guarded airspace on the planet, without being stopped, all while there was a "terrorist drill" being run that envisioned exactly the same scenario...

2)
4 suicide bombers blew themselves up on 7/7 in the uk, causing mass casualties and, conveniently, cementing the case for war. Amazingly, there just happened to be a terrorist drill running that same day, covering the same locations, based on the scenario of suicide bombers...

3)
The Libya "intervention" was all about "protecting civillians". It must have been... all the media said so, all the politicians said so. It must have been true... nothing to do with regieme change. Nothing to do with oil. Nothing to do with the establishment of an IMF funded central bank, the introduction of ursary and the destruction of an increasingly powerful country that was taking a lead role in getting a better deal for the African continent, potentially costing the UK and US trillions in lost profits...

4)
Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Of course he did - so where are they?

5)
Dr David Kelly killed himself. Just when he was destroying the war claims of B-Liar. How convenient.

Whenever articles about conspiracy theories start popping up and churning out the same old nut case claims in an attempt to debunk ALL anti-establishment, anti-mainstream thinking... thats when you know that some claims are getting uncomfortably close to the real truth.

excellent summary

Very well put and concise. Worth printing as a handout!

First thoughts on this

The overwhelmingly huge majority of major crimes involve a conspiracy. Simple: a conspiracy is "a plan by TWO or more people to commit a CRIME". A "conspiracy theory" is the notion that certain crimes, attributed to just one person by officialdom and the media, were possibly committed by more than one person... in other words, the more likely probability, statistically speaking.

So how did this phrase "conspiracy theory" get so much traction, and how did it's meaning get transformed over the years to include the invocation of "nonsense" or "absurd" in the minds of the casual reader? Three letters: JFK. The unlikely-to- impossible version was the "lone gunman" theory, and it absolved official parties from any blame.

In the decades following JFK's assassination, the term "conspiracy theory" has become a catch-all phrase to divert blame away from government employees, departments and agencies. The association of "conspiracy" with the absurd in the mass psyche has been facilitated effectively by the inclusion of "alien abductions", "faked moon landings" and other ridiculosities... and insodoing, it has become very simple to reduce the reality of major crimes and atrocities committed by rogue groups within governments, militaries, intelligence agencies and the like, to the non-credibility of, for example "holocaust denial" or "Elvis is still alive".

In other words, if a huge crime was committed, and the explanation leaves much to be desired, then the best way of diverting attention away from the perpetrators is to seed the phrase "conspiracy theory" into the dialog. Bingo! A switch fires off in the public "consciousness" (or lack thereof), and the knee jerk response promptly replaces logic and reason.

So, the next time something drastic happens, or visible people who are a thorn in the side of authority suddenly "commit suicide", and the official explanation makes little sense (or even relies on physical impossibilities), just wait for the "weasel brigade" to start weaving the old, well-worn, but still effective "conspiracy theory" yarn. As soon as that happens, you can bet your ass that folks in positions of power are being protected from justice.

To "conspire with others" to commit a crime, is the usual way it's done. It's a part of both the practical considerations and logistics of the act, and human nature itself. And when certain people in high places, who are above the law can do it, they will... just because they can. That's human nature as well.

Get real!

We're Not Conspiracy Theorists

Our usual response to the conspiracy theorist accusation has been that conspiracies happen all the time. We have been so focused on the words conspiracy and theorist that we have missed that the two together make a misnomer.

Indeed the Wikipedia article on Conspiracy Theory makes the point: "A proven conspiracy theory, such as the notion that Nixon and his aides were behind the Watergate break-in and cover-up, is usually referred to as something else, such as investigative journalism or historical analysis."

It's fair to say that our point is proven by now.

That's what I love about the Remember Building 7 campaign. Their poster ads make it clear that we are not conspiracy theorists.

MSM says that everybody is crazy (except them)

The MSM are so busy saying that anybody that questions authority are crackpots without actually investigating any of the major concerns. If 84% of Americans don't believe the official 9/11 theory - that should be telling them something... Mind you I'm getting fed up with the number of people latching onto speculative theories on 9/11 rather than keeping to the facts. I guess they could be disinfo agents and sock-puppets...

About that 84% figure

Although there are millions of us, and our numbers keep growing, I am skeptical that we are at 84% yet. If we were that high in my humble opinion Bill Maher + Penn and Teller would be apologizing to the public, and Remember Building 7 would have met their million dollar fundraising goal by now.

Not trying to be discouraging. Just realistic.

A Desparate Attack Against Independent Thinking

Work like this confirms that the lying criminal establishment may fear they are losing control of information and opinion.

This work should be a source of motivation for activists.

Optimism

Good, I like optimism. Recently, the New Yorker famous for stories and profiles that get to the very DNA of an issue published that horrible and poorly sourced account of the capture/kill of Osama bin Laden. Following that, the Washington Post put a cop petting a kitten on the front page in relation to police brutality in Oakland, California. It is as if both of these once venerable journals, if ever such, had placed a "kick me sign" on themselves. It is as if they are signaling that they give up. Or perhaps, an even more sinister message, they are saying: "don't look to us to get the truth out."

Peter

this may be useful - not perfect, but useful

It's not my intention to bring up controversy by drawing upon a controversial researcher (Webster Tarpley), and typically I don't promote his material for public outreach on behalf of specific truth concerns, but here in one particular segment of a chapter in his "Synthetic Terror" volume that I have found helpful to better grappling with the topic at hand here:

“The entire controversy about conspiracy theory is a diversion, and is generally conducted in such a way as to lead away from the facts on the table. Charges of conspiracy theory represent in their own way a form of ideological terrorism, and grow out of the intellectual climate of cold-war McCarthyite witch-hunts. Conspiracy itself has a history as long as long as humanity, since it is one the primordial forms of political action. Machiavelli wrote about conspiracy in a long chapter of his Discourses; what he means by conspiracy is a plot to kill a ruler and to seize power in his place, like the conspiracy organized by the Pazzi family against the Medici in the late 1480’s. Conspiracy is also an active category of the Anglo-Saxon common law.

Conspiracy theory as a term of approbrium (condescension) is relatively new. It dates back to the work of (historian) Richard Hofstadter of Columbia University. Hofstadter was himself a kind of neocon ante litteram, a neocon before there was a word for it, who became a direct beneficiary of McCarthyism: he took over a job vacated by Professor Philip Foner, who had come under ostracism as a member of the Communist Party USA. In his essay on “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” (1964) and in his other writings Hofstadter took issue with the 1880’s-1890’s prairie populist critique of international bankers, a critique which today seems prophetic in its foreshadowing of destructive shenanigans of Lord Montagu Norman of the Bank of England during the interwar period (Norman was part of Brown, Shipley in London, the home office of Prescott Bush’s Brown Brothers Harriman in Wall Street) and the International Monetary Fund during the entire postwar period. But for Hofstadter, radical critics of Anglo-American finance oligarchy were paranoids. His essay is doubly suspect because it appeared in the wake of the Kennedy assassination, and seemed to suggest that the many critics of the Warren Commission report were also paranoids. An interesting problem was posed for Hofstadter in that sophisticated Western Europe, where populist paranoia was supposedly less strong, was even more critical of the Warren Commission report than was the alleged US citadel of paranoia.

Hofstadter’s favorite habit of tarring political forces he did not like, such as the populists, with the brush of paranoia appears illegitimate. The paranoid typically fears that there is a conspiracy afoot specifically against himself. For Hofstadter the notion becomes impossibly broad: anyone who thinks he sees a conspiracy anywhere is ipso facto a paranoid. What is lost here is the necessary reference point in reality: is there a conspiracy going on or not? US attorneys have been proving the existence of conspiracies to juries for a long time, and they have generally escaped the charge of paranoia.

It is impossible to write political history without admitting from time to time the possibility of confidential agreements for concerted action made in advance. There are of course times when conspiracy plays no role: an absolute tyrant at the height of his power has no need of conspiracy; he can act directly by issuing orders. Similarly, an absolute spontaneous mob – a rarity, although a theoretical possibility – is also innocent of conspiratorial planning. Between these two extremes, some form of surreptitious concerted action can frequently be found.

As has been stressed throughout this book, US society today is neither a tyranny nor a democracy; it is organized from top to bottom according to the principle of oligarchy or plutocracy. The characteristic way in which an oligarchy functions is by means of conspiracy, a mode which is necessary because of the polycentric distribution of power in an oligarchic system, and the resulting need to secure the cooperation and approval of several oligarchic centers in order to get things done. Furthermore, the operations of secret intelligence agencies tend to follow conspiratorial models; this is what a covert operation means – coordinated and preplanned actions by a number of agents and groups leading toward a pre-concerted result, with the nature of the operation remaining shielded from public view. So, in an oligarchic society characterized by the preponderant role of secret intelligence agencies – such as the United States at the beginning of the 21st century – anyone who rules out conspiracies a priori runs the risk of not understanding very much of what is going on. One gathers that the phobia against alleged conspiracy theory in much of the postmodern academia is actually a cover story for a distaste of political thinking itself.

“Conspiracy theorist” is an all-purpose term of ad hominem argument to dismiss arguments which cannot be refuted. This goes back years after the Kennedy assassination, when the public was expected to accept that it was US government policy that this great crime, along with the further assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy in 1968, would remain permanently unsolved, and that those who objected would be vilified.”

Webster Tarpley, 9/11 Synthetic Terror – Made in the USA , p.340-342 (Progressive Press, 2006)

I agree this is a helpful passage

I agree this is a helpful passage. Yes, Hofstadter is a significant precedent for the kinds of rhetorical and ideological tactics discussed in this thread.

Here are a couple of points that particularly stood out for me:

'The paranoid typically fears that there is a conspiracy afoot specifically against himself. For Hofstadter...anyone who thinks he sees a conspiracy anywhere is ipso facto a paranoid.'

'...in an oligarchic society characterized by the preponderant role of secret intelligence agencies – such as the United States at the beginning of the 21st century – anyone who rules out conspiracies a priori runs the risk of not understanding very much of what is going on.'

It's not hard to see that preventing people from 'understanding very much of what is going on' is in the interests of those anxious to hold on to their power. And so it's not surprising that, over recent decades, and intensifying since 9/11, there has been this very discernible effort to vilify not just particular conspiracy theories, but ANY kind of thinking which can be seen as falling under that rubric; which happens to be a lot, since, in addition to imbuing the terms 'conspiracy' and 'conspiracy theory' with severely negative associations, they have simultaneously broadened them to cover practically ANY kind of skepticism towards government statements or corporate media news coverage (whether or not one is actually espousing a theory of any kind). Yet at the same time, they also manage to narrow the use in one respect--in that they are never, ever applied to the statements of those same governments and news media, no matter how conspiratorial or theoretical they may be (e.g., Saddam was behind the anthrax attacks; Bruce Ivins single-handedly carried out the anthrax attacks--we could go on).

Back in the Cold War years, I remember hearing about how the Soviet government would sometimes deal with political dissidents by having them placed in psychiatric institutions. But instead of going to the trouble of actually institutionalizing people, what the ruling class does here is create a climate of hostility against thinking in ways that are independent of their officials and their media outlets. The fear of being perceived as out of step, strange, paranoid, crazy, is sufficient to get large numbers of people to act as their own censors, their own 'men in white suits,' restricting their own thinking, without their ever coming anywhere near the vicinity of a psychiatric ward.

What?

"The number of people who believe conspiracy theories is staggering. "

No, I'd say the number of people who believe the OFFICIAL stories is staggering.

That anyone believes that Oswald did not act alone is, to me, rather conspicuously obvious, blatantly clear.