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December 26, 2009

Conspiracy Theory Analyzed

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

A couple of years ago I posted about large-scale conspiracies (including their unlikelihood) and about conspiracy theories.

The 19 December Weekend Section of the Wall Street Journal had an article on the subject by "David Aaronovitch [who] is a columnist for The Times of London. This essay was adapted from 'Voodoo Histories: the Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History,' due out from Riverhead next February."

In case the link goes bad, key paragraphs are quoted below:

I've only rarely come across a modern conspiracy theory that doesn't seek to establish supposed historical precedents for whatever the conspiracy is—arguing that since it has happened before, there is nothing unnatural about it happening again. Sometimes the history can be voluminous; I was present at one large 9/11 Truth meeting in London in 2005, which began with the revelation that the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was an inside job (James I's chief minister Robert Cecil, if you want to know) and progressed through the Reichstag fire, the Gulf of Tonkin and the '60s assassinations, before making the devilish administration's attack on its own cities seem like an almost inevitable progression.

The second characteristic is the implication that the theorist and his co-believers are part of a brave insurgency against a corrupt elite or a stifling orthodoxy. It is of course, an ironic pleasure to witness a West Coast academic tell an audience of Danish professionals at the Copenhagen Central Library with regard to 9/11, that "members of the elite of our society may not think that the truth should be revealed." By contrast, he seemed to be suggesting, belief in the conspiracy makes you part of a genuinely heroic anti-elite elite group who can see past an official version propagated for the benefit of the lazy or inert mass of people by the powers that be. Now, you have to admit, to be such a rebel while risking so little is cool.

Cool too is the special quality of thought required to appreciate the existence of the conspiracy. If the conspiracists have cracked the code, it is not least because of their possession of an unusual and perceptive way of looking at things. Those who cannot or will not see the now-revealed truth are variously described as robots or, latterly, as sheep—citizens who shuffle half-awake through their conventional lives. Erich Von Daniken, propagator of the theory that aliens built the pyramids, commended his own courage for writing his books in the teeth of the "reactionary flood" and his readers for their courage in reading them. The authors of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail," the "non-fiction"book that lay behind "The Da Vinci Code," argued that they had developed a new form of scholarship which allowed them to see connections invisible to stuffy old academics.

And then there is the violent innocence of much conspiracism, in which the theorist is "only asking questions" about the official version of the truth, and doesn't go so far as to have a theory himself—other than it is impossible that JFK was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald alone, that the moon landing happened in the way the world imagined, that Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four planes. "I'm not saying he wasn't born in Hawaii" argue sophisticated birthers of Obama, "all I'm saying is why won't he produce his birth certificate?"

Conspiracists draw upon the endorsement of "experts" to validate their theories, and yet a constant feature of modern conspiracy theories is the exaggeration of the status of their experts. The former U.K. junior environment minister Michael Meacher, a leading "disturbing question" figure on the edges of the 9/11 Truth movement, was never a member of the British cabinet. But in a radio interview on the syndicated "The Alex Jones Show" was referred to as the "former number three in the Blair government." David Ray Griffin, perhaps the most respected of all the 9/11 conspiracists, lays remarkable and repeated confidence in his judgement that his tatterdemalion handful of scientist-scholars somehow see a truth that armies of engineers, demolition experts, and aerodynamic specialists don't or won't. In one recent British conspiracy movement a much cited "lecturer and researcher" turned out to be an inquirer into alchemy, astrology and crop circles.

Today no conspiracist publication or Web site wants for the outward flourishes of scholarship. The footnotes are compendious, the sources are seemingly authoritative. It is only when you get in amongst them that you discover what the footnotes actually refer to. Many are examples of that new art form, the cross-citation, in which, say, the French conspiracy author Thierry Meyssan cites American conspiracy author Webster Tarpley; Tarpley cites David Ray Griffin; and David Ray Griffin cites Thierry Meyssan. Others will be references to contemporaneous news reports which, because they were necessarily provisional, now supposedly establish "anomalies" between them and the "official" (i.e. later) version of what happened. It is another irony, this ascription of a final, almost biblical authority to immediate and necessarily provisional mainstream news reports of an incident—providing, of course that they can be used to demonstrate the inconsistencies that the conspiracists are seeking. Reporters usually do the best they can in frightening and confused circumstances, but early explanations of major disasters will contain much that turns out to be mistaken. But mistakes do not exist in the world of conspiracy.

I should note that I do not doubt that conspiracies are hatched. But successful large-scale conspiracies are unlikely due to complexity, logistics and the likelihood that the beans will be spilled sooner or later.



posted by Donald at December 26, 2009


Posted by: Thursday on December 26, 2009 12:44 PM

For Climategate, the public now has some of the e-mails and some of the computer code. They back up the inferences that had already been made by the sceptical data analysts - so that is a "conspiracy theory" vindicated, I'd say.

For Obama, "why won't he produce his birth certificate?" seems to me to be a reasonable question (the answer to which is presumably some embarrassing aspect of his birth that I can't begin to guess at). Or, more profoundly, it reveals a foolish gap in the Constitution - there's not much point in demanding that Presidents be natural born citizens, but having no effective means of applying the test to candidates. Inevitably, it leads one to wonder who has seen the birth certificate and what advantage has acrued to them. I can't think off-hand of a "conspiracy" problem that would be so easily resolved.

Posted by: dearieme on December 26, 2009 2:00 PM

It could be argued, Sir, that your attack on the conspiracy theory has an ulterior motive. Why else would anyone spend a beautiful Saturday evening demolishing the suspicion that obscure powers are directing everything from behind the curtains, if he is not part of the same conspiracy? Would not be logical that the conspirators will try to ridiculize the very idea that the conspiracy exists? Sir, I am not insinuating anything, just posing a few innocent questions.

Posted by: j on December 26, 2009 2:30 PM

Operation Overlord.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on December 26, 2009 3:38 PM


One parallel I drew to the inefficiency of groups engaged in conspiracy theories is the current conundrum in the Senate over the health care debate. There are 60 Democrats whose best interest - as a Party - is to form a consensus and get health care passed (note: I don't favor the health care bill, but it would be in their personal best interest to pass it). Those 60 Democrats can't even form a consistent opinion on that. How would it be possible that hundreds of global financiers and power-mongers could be on the same page with regards to large-scale conspiracy theories?

I agree with you; the logistics are too difficult to manage and there's too much of a risk that one of the members will undermine the collusion.

Posted by: Chuck on December 26, 2009 4:36 PM

the derision of conspiracy theories does seem to me to be a particular kind of snobbery. I mean, what else are the secret services for?

Posted by: enrico on December 27, 2009 8:06 AM

Well, everyone knew an Overlord of some sort was going to happen, but how many knew the date and site? Was it a large "conspiracy"? I'm guessing not.

Posted by: Eric Johnson on December 27, 2009 9:16 AM

Why won't Obama publicize his birth certificate?
1) He's screwing with the birthers
2) (a) He wasn't born on US territory
(b) His commie mother put in something saying he's not a citizen of fascist Amerika.

Climatescare- the IPCC is required by law to assume AGW is real.

Posted by: Bruce on December 27, 2009 1:38 PM

A major part of the conspiracy conundrum is the connection (if any) between a specific event and a particular group of conspirators. In the case of 9/11 nearly everyone believes, with mountains of reputable evidence and every good reason, that a group of al Qaeda terrorists conspired to hijack passenger airliners and fly them into a number of iconic buildings in the US. This is an example of a very real conspiracy that came to fruition. The event has subsequently been intensely investigated with the roles of the main conspirators revealed and reasonably well understood, even if certain ambiguities remain in terms of specific details.

There are other, highly conjectural, narratives that posit very different conspirators within the US (and/or Israeli) governments who either knew about and allowed for the destruction of the Twin Towers and a wing of the Pentagon by the al Qaeda group, or who actually planned and executed these acts, manufacturing or manipulating the al Qaeda group to serve as the fall guys, with the ultimate goal being to galvanize public support for the administration which could then be used both to invade oil rich Iraq and shift power toward the executive branch. This, for all the reasons laid out by Donald and the Aaaronovich article in the WSJ to which he links, is sufficiently far fetched as to seem highly unlikely and therefore dismissible by most rational observers.

What seems missing is a consideration of the ways in which the latter type of conspiracy theory springs from certain valid fears and concerns, even if they've been ramped up to the point of paranoid fantasy. That is to say, even if there was no one in government who put all the pieces together in advance of the 9/11 attack and could, therefore, have stopped it, even if no decisions were made by a group of conspirators to allow the attacks to take place, and, most especially, even if no group inside of the US actually perpetrated the attack and misdirected the blame, nevertheless, perhaps the 9/11 Truthers are on to some other type of conspiracy whereby a group decided to leverage the attacks to achieve a set of goals they otherwise would have found much more difficult to accomplish ... like invading oil rich Iraq and shifting power toward the executive branch.

In other words, is it any more or less a conspiracy when one small group seizes an opportunity presented by the act of another to accomplish a particular set of goals that benefit them, quite plausibly to the detriment of the general public, especially if the second small group is charged with serving the interests of the general public?

Posted by: Chris White on December 27, 2009 1:51 PM

Lots of field-level army officers had to know which beach zone they and their troops were going to land on in advance, otherwise chaos would have resulted. Naval commanders had to know, to direct the ships carrying landing craft and to direct suppresing arillery fire. Pilots knew, too, to bomb areas behind the beaches and then to deliver gliders and paratroops to landing zones in Normandy. Lots of people knew. Lots.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on December 27, 2009 3:02 PM

Peter -- I know this point can be a bit slippery, but I choose to distinguish war-related plans which necessarily involve deception and/or secrecy with the planning and execution of activities that range from being dishonest to illegal, this latter group being conspiratorial.

War historically is a violent activity that exists outside the normal bounds of acceptable behavior that is considered acceptable in the broad sense (I'm setting aside roles of warfare such as the Geneva Convention to simplify this).

For example, according to the Bible, God handed the Ten Commandments down to Moses. One commandment states "Thou shalt not murder" or "Thou shalt not kill" (translations might vary). Yet before very long, God assisted Joshua in his attack on Jericho, which surely involved the taking of human life.

I noted in my 2007 post that no one blabbed about the breaking of Enigma codes for decades -- this being a war-related state secret and not a large-scale conspiracy such as the what the 9-11 "truthers" fancy.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on December 27, 2009 4:11 PM

"successful large-scale conspiracies are unlikely due to complexity, logistics and the likelihood that the beans will be spilled sooner or later."

Idunno. Look at "global warming". A concerted effort, by an informally self-identified group, to control a field of science and insure that it said what they wanted it to say, regardless of the actual science. Is global warming an outright fraud? Maybe not, but there is a very large and obvious discrepancy between the claims of "settled science" made by AGW advocates and the actual situation: fragmented and unreliable data, complicated and unreliable models, no history of predictions that came true, and predictions for the future that vary wildly.

AGW advocates have worked very hard out of sight to conceal the condition of the science, and to suppress dissent. (One prominent AGW advocate has devoted several years to purging all contradictory material from Wikipedia; he has even arranged his appointment as an administrator, and uses his authority to ban AGW dissenters from contributing.)

The effort also includes planting alarmist stories throughout the mass media, like this Sports Illustrated cover. (As uber-nerd Eric S. Raymond commented "I may not be able to grasp all the science, but I can sure see a stampede being fomented.")

And this effort has substantially succeeded. Millions of people have been persuaded to support actions against "global warming", including political authorities. Climatology researchers have received hundreds of millions of dollars of extra funding; billions in subsidies and mandates have gone to "alternate energy" producers and developers; more billions in "carbon credits" have been allocated and sold.

Another case of concerted action was the enforcement of white supremacy in the Jim Crow South. There was little formal organization required. Whenever defiance or rebellion was encountered, the whites who were present put it down, by force if necessary. When a lynch mob was needed, it formed. Politicians and teachers and preachers and editorialists all repeated the justifications.

A related case was the propaganda campaign to justify white supremacy. Its original end was to discredit the black-support Reconstruction-era state governments. The image sold to the national public was of outrageously corrupt regimes propped up by the votes of stupid, ignorant blacks. This morphed into the "Tragic Era" version of Reconstruction imposed on U.S. historians by concerted effort of a generation of Southern scholars.

This too was a success; by 1900, most American non-Southerners agreed that blacks were incapable of being useful voters. White Southerners were left free to intimidate and lynch as needed to maintain control.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on December 28, 2009 1:18 AM

After viewing that Sports Illustrated cover, I now have faith in Peak Absurdity theory. Along with Global Ingratitude, Peak Absurdity is about to plunge the world into Medieval Socialism, where Wiki editors, carbon traders, and green finger-waggers get fat on our fear-and-guilt-based stupidity.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on December 28, 2009 6:26 PM

I don't dismiss conspiracy theories out of hand, and it's naive to assume conspiracies never take place. But for what it's worth, I've noticed that everyone I've met who puts a lot of stock in them all see themselves (and most importanly, want others to see them) as much smarter than they actually are, compared to all the poor doltish "sheeple" who "buy into" the "official [and presumably bogus] story." In other words, the conspiracy theory becomes an ego-boost for the believer, often by people who seem to have an inferiority complex about their own intelligence and/or education.

Posted by: Bilwick1 on December 29, 2009 11:05 AM

Conspiracy theories all have one thing in common: they boil down complex problems into a single, identifiable cause, which, if eliminated, would magically fix that problem.

Posted by: JV on December 29, 2009 9:53 PM

Why is the government's account of the events of 9/11/01 not a "conspiracy theory" to be dismissed with ridicule? It's because the authors of that conspiracy theory have power.

The US government was the prime suspect in the 9/11 killings because no one else had both a motive and an opportunity to pull it off. The prime suspect's story was maliciously propagated and credulously swallowed. And now the application of the most basic common sense is greeted with derision by people like Aaronowitch. What's his agenda?

Posted by: ben tillman on December 29, 2009 11:38 PM

I should note that I do not doubt that conspiracies are hatched. But successful large-scale conspiracies are unlikely due to complexity, logistics and the likelihood that the beans will be spilled sooner or later.

That's what my father used to say. The problem is that the beans can be spilled without consequence, as long as the conspirators have the mass media on their side.

Posted by: ben tillman on December 29, 2009 11:42 PM

There appears to be general consensus that the main points as presented in the linked article quote in the initial post are reasonably correct. Large-scale conspiracies with many conspirators are highly unlikely to exist for reasons such as how easily they might unravel once a few conspirators are caught or choose to become whistleblowers. Those who most activily believe in such conspiracies see themselves as a brighter than average elite who, somewhat paradoxically, often see themselves as heroically anti-elite. These believers surround their conspiracy theories with all the trappings of scholarship, although careful reading of footnotes and sources tends to reveal them as circular and cross-referential. The more specific the conspiracy (e.g. the Twin Towers were brought down by demolition charges that imploded them set in place by conspirators from within the government) the less likely they are to be true.

The caveat, let’s call it the Sailer caveat, that has been offered is certain homogenious groups exist whose internal loyalty and shared sense of purpose leads them to acts that advance those goals and are thus “open conspiracies”. Examples range from the Mafia to al Qaeda to Davos Conference attendees. Depending on how you parse it, this notion of “open conspiracies” quickly becomes meaningless as it can encompass any homogenious group and any act or decision made by anyone … provided it also serves some identifiable group’s interests. These “open conspiracies” however can be divided into those that are truly open and those (like al Qaeda) that are actually quite secretive and very tightly restricted thus enabling them to have discrete cells within the whole that can perpetrate specific, often criminal, acts to advance the group’s overall aims.

Which brings us to a very interesting point in this thread; what to make of the references scattered about the comments that seem to promote such popular conspiracy theories as the Birthers insistence that Obama is not a citizen and the notion that the general consensus on AGW held by tens of thousands of scientists after decades of worldwide climate research is actually a giant conspiracy.

I can buy a limited version of the Sailer caveat, known homogenious groups exist with a somewhat secretive structure that can and do cause discrete cells within the overall group to hatch plots for specific actions that will advance the group’s overall aims. I don’t buy the notion that a secretive group essentially “manufactured” Obama or succeeded in distorting all the datasets and research for decades in order to use the boogy man of AGW “to plunge the world into Medieval Socialism”.

Posted by: Chris White on December 30, 2009 9:18 AM

"a single, identifiable cause, which, if eliminated, would magically fix that problem": yes, if O released his Birth Certificate, the problem would evaporate. Whether anything would take it's place, Lord knows.

Posted by: dearieme on December 30, 2009 9:36 AM

ben tillman is right on the money.

I don't believe in anything but conspiracy by the powerful against the common man. I don't rest with theory though. There's plenty of fact available. It's just that most don't have the time or desire to find it.

The bogus term "conspiracy theory" was invented and propagated by the mainstream press to stigmatize anyone intrepid and smart enough to question media intergrity. When almost all media is in the hands of only 5 major corporations, and all their newcasts are basically the same, how are we not to see collusion?

In other words, a "conspiracy theory" is any interpretation of events that disagrees with the mainstream media account. That's an incredible amount of power given over to corrupt and colluding organizations--a de facto monopoly on what is considered the truth. Anyone coming forward with evidence that contradicts the official story is marginalized and rendered mute as far as the larger public is concerned.

The Kennedy Assassination, September 11, The Tonkin Gulf Incident, etc etc etc are all proven conspiracies. And anyone who takes the time to look into these events will see that clearly. What they won't see is the factual evidence of the event corresponding with the mainstream media account. When you see this over and over again, your faith in government, media, and corporations evaporates.

The rich and powerful use the media to propagandize and lie to the little people in order to fleece, fool, and rule them, and it's been going on for thousands of years. The US is no different.

It's time for the innocent to grow up.

Posted by: Lim on December 30, 2009 11:01 AM

In an attempt to quash persistent rumors that President Obama was not born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, Hawaii's health director reiterated Monday afternoon that she has personally seen Obama's birth certificate in the Health Department's archives:

"I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen. I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago...." - USA Today in an article headlined "Hawaii: Obama birth certificate is real" - Updated 7/28/2009 7:41 PM

The entry on the claims of Birthers includes an array of information backing the validity of the "Certificate of Live Birth" that has been provided by Obama.

The "problem" is unlikely to evaporate so long as those who think themselves "brighter than the average sheep" - like dearieme - continue to offer comments that are virtually identical to those included in the original post that began this thread: "I'm not saying he wasn't born in Hawaii" argue sophisticated birthers of Obama, "all I'm saying is why won't he produce his birth certificate?"

Posted by: Chris White on December 30, 2009 11:05 AM

Dearieme, in the case of the birthers, Obama is the "problem," and the easy, magical fix is their belief that he is not a US citizen, and therefore can easily be removed from office. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised myself if he wasn't born on US soil and I voted for him.

Posted by: JV on December 30, 2009 1:14 PM

I'm not a Yank, and certainly not a birther, and don't have a dog in that fight; I honestly don't give a &*@#!, but why not produce the damned document and shut his critics up, unless he has something to hide?

It strikes me as suspicious as Michael Jackson not wanting to face his accusers in court, and buying them off... People who have nothing to hide, don't gain anything from hiding; rather, they arouse suspicion which presumably is unwarranted. In which case, why not face your critics head on, and silence them once and for all?

Posted by: Will S. on December 30, 2009 4:47 PM

why not produce the damned document and shut his critics up, unless he has something to hide?

This way he keeps a fringe of his opposition in an uproar and looks more moderate by comparison. As for me, I'm far more interested in his college transcripts, which he also refuses to release.

One thing I find fascinating about conspiracy theories is how illogical they usually are. If you were Evil Bush and wanted to fake a terror attack, why bother with finding or brainwashing people willing to die hijacking airliners and using them as missiles, and hoping they hit their targets, and then setting off the explosives you've somehow secretly planted and which were luckily not disabled by the airliners cutting the wires? Just push the plunger, blow up the WTC, and blame it on a truck bomb. It would kill far more people (no time to evacuate), there's a lot less to go wrong, and it would be much easier to cover up.

Similarly, the JFK assassination makes no sense as an inside job, because if it were, they'd just have poisoned some of his medication or his morning coffee or whatever. The fact that it was a marksman (or even more than one) shooting at a motorcade is proof that they couldn't get closer and do it in a less public way.

Posted by: PapayaSF on December 31, 2009 2:23 AM

The JFK assaination conspiracy and the Warren Report coverup has to be one of the most easily proven facts in history. Even a cursory look at the evidence presented by District Attorney Jim Garrison during the trial of Clay Shaw is enough to see the official story is false. That, along with the testimonies of dozens of eyewitnesses at Dealey Plaza that were ignored or suppressed.

If you are completely gullible and way too lazy to do any footwork on your own, then maybe the Tonkin Gulf Incident is more up your alley. Robert MacNamara basically admitted that the whole thing was completely fabricated. So the major event that led to the great escalation of the Vietnam War was a conspiracy, a total hoax! Why wasn't that trumpeted like the winner of American Idol?

I think that it is amazing that any sane person would disallow conspiracy, when in fact, huge agencies, such as the CIA, FBI, Office of Naval Intelligence, etc (there are many more) carry out covert operations every day, and have for decades, all in practically complete secrecy. You won't admit to conspiracy, but you depend on it to protect you? And consprators would never conspire against you? You must be insane.

Go back to your beloved bread and circuses. Obviously reality is not something you want to deal with yet.

Posted by: Lim on December 31, 2009 12:26 PM

PapayaSF: One key part of JKK conspiracism is the assertion that the Warren Report was a "cover-up".

Well, if so, then the conspirators suborned Chief Justice Earl Warren, former CIA chief Allen Dulles, and future President Gerald Ford.

If the conspirators could do that, then why would they need to remove Kennedy? What possible goal was served by the assassination that they couldn't achieve without it?

Chris White: Dr. Fukino's statement is well-known. It does not answer the question of why Obama will not allow the original long-form birth certificate to be seen.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on December 31, 2009 2:01 PM

Just to clarify or add to my previous post, one characteristic common to conspiracy theorists I ahve known is that they tend to be intelligent but uneducated, or at least dificient in education. Not perhaps in the sense of lacking a college or high school diploma (although that is often the case), but often with an uncultivated mind. They often lack a broader, more informed perspective on things, which makes them prone to accept conspiracy theories because of their simplicity. This is just my impression, based on experience; I'm sure there are exceptions.

Posted by: Bilwick on December 31, 2009 4:22 PM

Rich Rostrum and Bilwick,

My take on the lumpen-anti-conspiracy shills is that they belive everything they see on TV and never analyze the facts of the case. The JFK conspiracy is well proven when you analyze the facts of the case!. No one has to prove why JFK was assassinated by a band of conspirators--all they have to do is show that Oswald didn't do it alone, which equals conspiracy And the facts of the case show conspiracy. The Warren Report was a coverup.

Answer my points about the Tonkin Gulf incident. You can't. It's obvious that was staged and the lie was propagated by the national press you love and trust so much. Answer my points about how we have a huge covert operations apparatus in our own government that conceives and carries out conspiracies all the time, and that you depend on it to keep you safe from foreign conspirators! You can't. The point is obviously won then.

Not only are people who believe in conspiracy intelligent, most are also well-educated. They are skeptical of those in power, they understand and believe in human evil, and they also make the easy connection that a government full of politicians who lie to them to get elected lie to them while they are in office too.

It's only a fool that believes what those in power tell him.

Go back to sleep, little sheep. You'll be shorn soon enough.

Fleeced. Fooled. Ruled.

Posted by: Lim on December 31, 2009 6:46 PM

FWIW – Count me among those who find the idea that most of the popular specific events attributed to conspiracies, such as the JFK assassination or the 9/11 attacks, were respectively, acts of conspiracies within the CIA or the Bush administration extremely unlikely. And I find the whole Birther phenomena to be based on such a convoluted line of reasoning (if we can call it that) as to be meaningless. Even if there IS some oddity about his birth certificate, since we know he is the son of a woman from Kansas, let's just accept that he's an American, he won, and move on. It would only be a conspiracy worth unraveling if you believe that he was groomed throughout his life to be a "Manchurian Candidate" to become President and ... and ... what? Destroy America from the top to pave the way for an Islamic takeover? Generally conspiracies have a reason to exist and a goal to accomplish.

The other type of conspiracies, those identified by Sailer as homogeneous groups acting in their own self-interest that often spawn tiny internal cells, which may perpetrate specific acts that further those interests, are both far easier to believe in and yet it is more difficult to separate out specific acts as being the result of any central command structure, if one even exists. Take, for example, The Family, a network of "brothers" and believers in Jesus, who seek to cultivate power, especially political power, through networking and creating small cells that will further that aim.

Now there is a Sailerian conspiracy to keep an eye on!

Posted by: Chris White on January 1, 2010 3:30 PM

If the Gulf of Tonkin incident was "staged," how did we get the North Vietnamese to fire shots (in the first incident) and then publicly admit it?

Regarding JFK, the idea that the Warren Commission was wrong or covering up is actually an entirely separate question from the assassination itself. It could be that, say, Oswald really was a Cuban and/or Russian agent, and that the coverup afterwards was to prevent a public outcry that might lead to nuclear war.

My point was that it is illogical to think the assassination itself was an inside job, because insiders would not do it in such a public, fallible way, when they could do it in a quiet, insider way that would raise few suspicions and invite little scrutiny. Just poison his coffee, or jab him with a syringe. They're going to cover up the autopsy anyway, right? And the post-"heart attack" autopsy is a lot easier to cover up than a post-public-shooting one.

Posted by: PapayaSF on January 1, 2010 7:36 PM


Former Secretary of Defense Robert Strange MacNamara admitted the Gulf of Toking Incident was completely fabricated. Conspiracy doesn't get any more direct, credible, and provable than that.

As far as JFK goes, again you simply ignore the facts of the case. The doctors who did the autopsy testified that the fatal head shot had a large exit wound in the back of the head--meaning the shot came from the front. Oswald was supposedly in the Book Depository in the rear. Not possibe. Plus the many eyewitnesses at the scene that testified to more than three shots, and shots from the front (the "grassy knoll"). The Warren report completely ignores this evidence, which is why it is a coverup.

Stating it for the last time, since you obviously can't read properly, all that the people who belive in the conspiracy to kill JFK have to prove is that Oswald didn't act alone. And the evidence is overwhelming that he did not. That equals conspiracy. Why the conspirators chose to shot him publicly is irrelevant to the question of proving conspiracy. You'll have to ask the conspirators themselves why the shot JFK in Dealey Plaza. All I know is that the facts of the case prove conspiracy and that the press and government completely covered it up.

But you won't be able to read or understand that point either, just like before, becaue you simply like to deny reality. Your choice. The facts of the case prove you wrong.

Also, you never addressed my point that you depend on military intelligence and covert operation conspiracies to keep you safe from foreign conspirators who want to hurt you and other Americans, yet you somehow manage to ignore and dismiss conspiracy in any other regard. Are you really that naive to believe that there are no internal conpriacies against you and the rest of the public by the goverment and corporate complex--no corporate or government espionage, spying, collusion, corruption, murders and hits, etc?

Why am I even asking? Of course you are. But that's just life as usual in our corrupt and evil world.

You need to grow up and deal with reality, and stop living like a child who credulously believes in the goodness of those in authority. It never has been true in the entire history of the world, and it isn't today, nor will it ever be. Grow up.

Posted by: Lim on January 2, 2010 2:54 PM

"the conspirators suborned Chief Justice Earl Warren, former CIA chief Allen Dulles, and future President Gerald Ford"

Who were Freemasons.

Posted by: Carter on January 3, 2010 8:13 PM

"Not only are people who believe in conspiracy intelligent, most are also well-educated."

All I can say to that is that we've met different kinds of conspiracy-theorists. Although actually my comments were not so much about the theorists themselves as the people who tend to believe in them.

Posted by: Bilwick on January 4, 2010 2:41 PM

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