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Thread: Why Conspiracy Theories?

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bassnation
    yeah, we've got a perfectly good thread that needs derailing - where is he when you need him?
    Im staying out of this one....

  2. #17
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    I think the only conspiracy theories that should be entertained on this board are those that have to do with music, i.e. whatever did happen to that Manic Street Preacher, or did Paul really die?...(interesting tidbit: my high school English teacher started that last one!)
    Last edited by henry s; 14-03-2006 at 02:15 PM.

  3. #18
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    I don't think it's fair to paint all 9/11 sceptics with the conspiracy theory brush.

  4. #19
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    I reckon it depends what you say about 9/11 but if you're theorising that Bush and co conspired to cause it as an excuse to invade Iraq and steal the gold that was stored there (as is suggested in the video on the link referred to by the original poster on this thread) then that sounds like a pretty good example of a conspiracy theory to me.

  5. #20
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    I agree with Digital Dijit.

    To quote Blunt:

    "Where 9/11 is concerned, I'm not sure I believe each point of the 'official' story. For example, I'm not totally convinced that it was a plane that went into the Pentagon that day.

    BUT

    It's also my opinion that anyone who believes the whole thing was conjoured up by the US Government to legitimise an invasion of Iraq needs to get out more."

    These are two conflicting opinions. There is a great deal of hard evidence that suggests it wasn't a 757 that hit the Pentagon. An incredible amount. All the video tapes that caught whatever it was hitting the building, that could very easily prove it was a 757, are being held by the government in the interests of "national security." If this doesn't suggest the US government was involved, then who was it? Hamburglar?

    Plenty of conspiacy theories are easily dissmissed, and in many cases rightly so. But there are legitimate questions about 9/11 that people are either scared to ask or won't take seriously because we are culturally conditioned not to. Despite the fact that many criminal, calculted almost unbelievable acts have been commited by many governments throughout history that would have also been dismissed as crazy conspiracies, had hard evidence not been uncovered by people who risked a lot more than public ridicule to do so.

    I heard a senator on the news the other day saying the blame for the government's failure to deal with Hurricane Katrina effectivly should be "left for historians to debate." It made me feel sick. Do we really live in a society where the only judge is history? Thanks to the 'conspiracy theory brush' tarnishing many people who deserve to be taken seriously, it would seem so.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by MATT MAson
    I heard a senator on the news the other day saying the blame for the government's failure to deal with Hurricane Katrina effectivly should be "left for historians to debate." It made me feel sick. Do we really live in a society where the only judge is history? Thanks to the 'conspiracy theory brush' tarnishing many people who deserve to be taken seriously, it would seem so.
    blair said something similar the other day about "god and the history books judging me".

    i agree, its totally unacceptable. people should be out in the streets protesting against this kind of unaccountable arrogance - but then again where did it get us last time?

    do people get the governments they deserve?

  7. #22
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    A reply better late then never.

    Idle rich, what you were saying about refuting the dangerous/wrong viewpoint in the strongest terms may point out the limit case of my example, however, I don't think that they're necessarily incomensurable. I think that we are fully in the right to attempt to refute someone, to show the danger or error in their view, at the same time however this still does not entail (and I loathe using this term) "hair-splitting." One should not get into the legitimacy game, or the my facts-outweigh-your-facts and so I'm right game. On the one hand, 'facts' in the realm of the political, hell, in just about any realm, fail to create opinions much less decisions. There is an apprehension even of the mere facts that occurs wherein we must state the truth of the situation, a truth which is properly outside of or perhaps incomensurable with the reported facts. So in this case we would assert our truth (or "truth" if you'd prefer) over the holocaust denier/conspiracy theorist/whoeverthefuck and not grant them anything more. When we treat them as rational is the point where we begin to accept their viewpoint.

    As far as Occam's razor goes, I worry about the real applicability of this, because it seems to me that the simplest explanations are often just the explanations most supported by the system / status quo. Especially when you construe 'simple' as 'instrumentally rational,' you tread the thin ice of apologetics. I can see that you use it within a different framework, so it doesn't seem to be a problem (as far as I'm concerned ), but, like I said.

    Also, even if a conspiracy theory is apparently provable or supported by 'massive evidence' (Matt Mason). To this I have to be regretably curt and say, what does this do for us? Does this mean that there are 10 men in black suits smoking cigarettes around a mahogany table deciding what somewhat-large-but-smaller-than-a-757-sized object hits the Pentagon, meanwhile worrying about how to "disappear" another 757? Maybe so, but even in this case the same results come about, and in all honesty I feel even a shadow council would be driven by the same root causes as everything else. What leads to horrific acts of violence/terror/etc., whether it be a group of terrorists in a hijacked plane or a group of old fat white guys sitting around a table, is similar in either case, and the means to attack it I think lie on similar grounds regardless.

  8. #23

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    ...in all honesty I feel even a shadow council would be driven by the same root causes as everything else.


    Exactly. The one thing we can take from conspiracy theories about 9/11 is the very legitimate point that the event was in an important sense perfectly in the interests of the US Government. We don't really need to fuck around with the empirical question of Who and Why, just to show that there is a logic in operation that binds the US state and terrorists together. They feed off each other and they do so for essential reasons.

    From here the problem is not to track down the American 'masterminds' responsible for the atrocity but to work to break the logic of the state of emergency. Incredibly crudely: terror attack = greater crackdown on civilians (especially Muslims) & more aggressive international policy = further terror attacks...

    There is also something of a dangerous nostalgia for supreme Authority in conspiracy theories, but that's a story for another time.

  9. #24
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    I agree that there is no point getting bogged down in the minutiae of an argument when the conclusions are patently wrong and to do so can lend credence to such an idea. I think that an extreme case of this (and again I've mentioned it before) is when ideas of "even-handedness" in the media lead to present both sides of an argument equally when often one side of the debate is in reality believed by only one crackpot.
    I take your point about Occam's Razor but I'm just trying to say that sometimes the simple explanation is correct. For example, in the 9/11 video the accepted and simple premise is that a plane crashed in to the Pentagon but the video suggests that the plane in question was somehow spirited away with its passengers and something else hit the Pentagon - that just seems to raise more questions than it answers and isn't really that helpful.

    "Also, even if a conspiracy theory is apparently provable or supported by 'massive evidence' (Matt Mason). To this I have to be regretably curt and say, what does this do for us?"
    I think that this goes too far, if there were direct evidence of this then it does do something and should be acted on directly (as well as dealing with the root causes). As stated in the essays that Droid linked to, some of the "conspiracy theories" of history really did happen beyond any debate and I don't think it's acceptable to just throw your hands up in the air and say "oh, that's Capitalism".

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by MATT MAson
    All the video tapes that caught whatever it was hitting the building, that could very easily prove it was a 757, are being held by the government in the interests of "national security." If this doesn't suggest the US government was involved, then who was it? Hamburglar?
    Sorry, but this is exactly the kind of shoddy logic that brings those (like yourself) who ask serious questions about what really happened that day into disrepute. The US Government decides not to release information, and that's proof of their prior involvement?! And if it wasn't them, it can't have been anyone else other than the fictional creation of some coked-up ad executive circa 1982?

    Also, it's just not true that ALL the CCTV footage from the Pentagon is being sat on. They released about 25 frames from one camera to CNN about a week after Thierry Meyssen's website did the rounds on the Internet (in itself, an illuminating decision). In fact, it served only to compound my own doubts about what happened that day.

    I certainly think that some difficult decisions were made that day; that (as I've already said) there was a huge amount of incompetence at all levels; and that since then the US Government has taken a number of steps to obfuscate the day's events as is humanly possible. The invasion of Iraq is just one of those. But I've never seen anything that has made me seriously consider the idea that 9/11 was planned and executed by Bush & co. The guy's a self-serving fucking idiot, and he's surrounded by kindred spirits - but in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I simply don't believe that the US is that far gone yet. Tho that time may come...

    Sorry, I don't mean to sound harsh or unduly dismissive, not least because I suspect there's a large amount on which we totally agree. But this kind of lazy logic doesn't do anyone any good.

    Yours, without prejudice...

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    Sorry, sherief, I didn't mean to turn your thread into another 9/11 discussion. I'll be quiet now

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    As I understand it the overall point that Sherief is making is that conspiracy theories are useless because they are normally nonsense and even if they're not they don't achieve anything anyway because they fail to deal with the underlying problems that cause the final event. Even if the neocons were responsible for 9/11 the thing to do is not to convict them and stick them in jail but to address the question of how such a cabal could be in power in the first place and why it is in their interest to do such a thing etc etc The reason being that even if Bush wasn't in power the system would have thrown up someone else who would have acted in effectively the same way. Correct me if I'm wrong but that's what you're saying in a nutshell right?
    Even though I agree with the first point I don't think I can totally subscribe to the second idea.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by IdleRich
    As I understand it the overall point that Sherief is making is that conspiracy theories are useless because they are normally nonsense and even if they're not they don't achieve anything anyway because they fail to deal with the underlying problems that cause the final event. Even if the neocons were responsible for 9/11 the thing to do is not to convict them and stick them in jail but to address the question of how such a cabal could be in power in the first place and why it is in their interest to do such a thing etc etc The reason being that even if Bush wasn't in power the system would have thrown up someone else who would have acted in effectively the same way. Correct me if I'm wrong but that's what you're saying in a nutshell right?
    Even though I agree with the first point I don't think I can totally subscribe to the second idea.
    I dont want to speak for Sherief, but I think thats essentially it.

    Emphasising the acts of Individuals over institutional factors is a get of jail free card to some extent. Conspiracies are by their nature 'outside' the system, so reducing everything down to a conspiracy of some sort or another lets the system off the hook - if events like 9/11 are the result of secret planning by a cadre of individuals, and not the predictable (and horrible) response to years of foreign policy, then the system has no need to change - its the individuals that are to blame. After all, thats what was said about Abu-Ghraib, and thats what is always said when somebody inside the system gets caught with their pants down, so in some ways the conspiracy position is a conservative one, as it (unknowingly) pursues one of the aims of power - to obfusicate the facts...

    IMO its also counterproductive in that it blurs the line between fantasy and reality, and sucks in otherwise intelligent people, who might actually be doing something useful with all their motivation and knowledge...

    In fact, if you were conspiratorially minded you might put forward the theory that conspiracy theories are themselves creations of the US Government designed to distract serious investigation, tie up political opposition, and deflect genuine criticism away from the system and towards some infinitely complex but ultimately unsupportable thesis... in fact, thats probably the only explanation that accounts for some of the gaping holes in various theories down through the years...

    OMG! Ive think Ive just discovered the ultimate conspiracy theory!

    Now if I can just make all the facts fit somehow...

  14. #29

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    Actually, all the stuff about Roberto Calvi is true.

  15. #30
    droid Guest

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    Happy Birthday Oliver...

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