Tuesday, May 03, 2011

It's a Conspiracy ... Or ... Is It ... ?

I have friends (and some family) who are into conspiracy theory in a big way. Me, I'm more inclined toward chaos theory myself, and I'll explain the difference as I see it and why I go down the road I do, but first let me hasten to point out that because folks believe other than I do, it does not automatically make them loons. Several of these people are bright, well-educated, and as compassionate as anybody I know. That we disagree is not a barrier to us being friends. Nor is either of us convincing the other, which is good, because I don't see that happening.

Okay, the basic difference for me: Conspiracy theory tends to assume a human hand in control, or attempting to be; chaos theory, to keep it simple, says "Shit happens." sometimes, it isn't because anybody did it–or at least not the way that it gets presented.

Occam's razor is about unnecessarily multiplying entities, and is often fined down thus: If you have two choices, go with the more simple one, since that's most likely better. Not always, of course, but sometimes, as Freud was reputed to have said, a cigar is just a cigar.

A case in point: 

A) A bunch of looney tunes religious zealots hijacked some jets and flew them into skyscrapers and the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing themselves and a lot of innocent people.


B) A grand conspiracy, led by The Illuminati, the Elders of Zion, the Aliens, (chose one or all) caused the major governments of the world and tens of thousands of people to be complicit in a gigantic fraud, which included kidnapping a whole jetliner full of folks, secretly imprisoning them, faking phone calls to their relatives by actors good enough to fool long-time spouses, and then timing the impact of the jets to the second, to cover secretly-set explosive charges in the buildings that brought them down.


A) President Kennedy was killed by a nut-job ex-Marine who used a mail order rifle and then was himself killed by another nut-job on live TV in front of millions of people, an event I myself witnessed in black and white.

B) President Kennedy was killed by Cuban-Mafia-CIA-Aliens, sent by The Illuminati, the Elders of Zion, the Aliens, (chose one or all) who caused the major governments of the world and tens of thousands of people to be complicit in a gigantic whitewash, including among them senators, congressmen, judges, doctors, the President's family, and Bob's Your Uncle.

Why do people go down these B-roads? Partly, I believe it is a sincere attempt to make sense of things that sometimes seem so senseless that they short-circuit the mind. There must be a reason. It can't just be something as simple as a nut-job, can it?

Embracing chaos, even on a local level, is hard, and we continually try to sort it out.

Partially, it it because sometimes there is a grain of truth in the middle of things, just enough so that it makes it open a door. Maybe there was a second shooter on that grassy knoll. That's not beyond belief, is it?

Well, if that is true, then maybe the next step is true, too. 

There is the slippery slope.

When I sold encyclopedia, if I could get the mark to answer yes to the first question I asked, a cascade of "yes" answers would logically follow–it was a carefully-constructed psychological sales pitch. I knew guys, who, if they could get in the door and get the mark to answer "Yes." to the first question, they could sell eight of ten. 

There are real conspiracies, and just like somebody winning the lottery now and then proves that it is possible, these real ones open the door for frustrated people to wonder if there is more going on. And to make that leap: There must be.

Do I trust my government and the media to tell me the truth all the time? Even most of the time? Oh, hell, no! But I tend to attribute to stupidity a lot of things that conspiracy theorists attribute to malice. 

I don't think we are that smart, folks. I just don't buy it that Saul and Abraham and Moishe are having nice glasses of Manischewitz in a mansion in Geneva, deciding who gets to be the next President or King, or how much gasoline will cost, or why it would be useful to fake a moon landing. It doesn't work for me.

I want to see hard evidence when somebody starts telling me these things, and not just because Rush said so. Because the weather guy on Channel 7 said that couldn't be a vapor trail behind that high-flying jet, it must be some kind of chemical? No, I'm not ready to hop on that bandwagon. 

When the announcement came that Osama bin Laden had been killed, I turned to my wife and said, "You watch, some loon will say that he's been dead for years, on ice, and the Real Rulers of the World decided that the time was right to say we got him." And sure enough, there it was on YouTube.

I appreciate that my friends are sincere in their beliefs, and that they think they have good reason to believe what they do. But I need more. 


Anonymous said...

Conspiracy theories--as you suggest--are psychologically compelling. Like apocalyptic predictions "I know the day and time the world will end." we humans want to make sense. It doesn't make sense that the universe is infinite. Every single thing in our experience has a beginning and an end. yet the farther out in distance, or put another way, the farther back in time, our better-and-better telescopes see, what they find is profoundly disturbing: it just keeps going. Flat. Endless.
Can't be. Nothin' else is.
As far as OBL, why did they deep six him without bringing in Al-Jezeera, Agence France-Press, BBC, CNN and saying: "Here he is, demolished skull and all." Let there be no doubt. So of course this is cannon fodder for conspiracy theorists. The most telling evidence of all that it was real is the image floating around--cover on some dailies yesterday--of Pres and gang sitting around watching it.

AnonyMouse said...

There is irony that this post is from the author of a great "conspiracy theory” cover-up book [MWNM]. As we tell friends who espouse, and even may believe, these theories, “your tin-foil hat is on too tight.” Their usual reply is the bigger and simpler the lie, the easier it is to believe.

- AnonyMouse

steve-vh said...

Ah, the Adjustment Bureau, eh?

Dojo Rat said...

Try this:

"The coincidence theorists guide to 9-11"

And this from Wikipedia:

United States House Select Committee on Assassinations

"The committee concluded that Oswald fired three shots at President John F. Kennedy. The second and third shots he fired struck the President. The third shot he fired killed him. The HSCA agreed with the single bullet theory but concluded that it occurred at a time during the assassination that differed from what the Warren Commission had theorized. Their theory, based primarily on Dictabelt evidence, was that President Kennedy was assassinated probably as a result of a conspiracy. They proposed that four shots had been fired during the assassination; Oswald fired the first, second, and fourth bullets, and that (based on the acoustic evidence) there was a high probability that an unnamed second assassin fired the third bullet, but missed, from President Kennedy's right front, from a location concealed behind the grassy knoll picket fence."

Oswald probably never fired a shot.

Chaos theory is fine.
But Conspiracy is the everyday practice of Corporations and other criminal enterprises.

Steve Perry said...

Two guys who decide to kill somebody and talk about it create a conspiracy. And greedy corporations get together over cigars and brandy and informally decide to violate anti-trust laws. Sure, no problem with me believing that. It's when those get stretched to indicate that we are giant batteries powering the aliens' Game Boys, and unaware of our slavery, or that all of human history has been carefully guided by puppet-masters that I run into problems.

Of course, that might be because I am part of the conspiracy, trying to lull you all into complacency ...

I do this kind of fantasy for a living -- but I know that it's fantasy. I could write a funny story about the Trilateral Commission, the Elders of Zion, the Aliens from Distal Centuri and and the President of the NRA having a meeting and cracking jokes, but sure as I did, somebody would use that to bolster their paranoia.

Didja hear about the uber-lord meeting? Masters of the World set the agenda for the next thousand years, no shit, it's true ...

Sometimes there is malice and people scheming behind closed doors, and those instances are enough to make people wonder if there is more. It's making that leap and assuming there is an all-emcompassing uber conspiracy that brings me up short. When you step away from a reasonable, "Could be." far enough, you will find yourself among the tinfoil hat crowd.

Once, when I was doing private eye work, I got a call from somebody who wanted me to investigate something for him. I met him at a local hospital. He was convinced that aliens were beaming mind-control rays at him, and he wanted me to hunt them down and kill them.

Is bin Laden dead? I think so. And I think we will get the evidence dribbled out to best political effect. I expect that political heavyweights have already seen it, on both sides of the aisle -- you aren't hearing the Republicans scream loudly that it's not true, and they are quick to go with the notion that the President occupies the office illegally because he was born in Africa.

We draw the line different places. I've drawn mine where it is for reasons I consider valid.

Your line may vary ...

Dojo Rat said...

No, I'm pretty much in agreement with you.
I'm a little younger, but I grew up with The assassination of the Kennedy's, the Gulf of Tonkin, King, Malcom X, Watergate, Iran Contra, the false lead-up to Bush's war...

All perpetrated on the people by the far-right.

I believe that a thorough study of the Kennedy assassination paves the way to understand what Realpolitik is in our modern world.

With that said, there are conspiracy theories that are ment for pure disinformation or just to cloud the issues.
Glen Beck, again on the far-right, is a master at bullshit theories. I believe much of what Alex Jones says is the same.
Some people are just crazy also.

But NOTHING in politics happens by accident, and the Heritage Foundation type think-tanks plot and plan in league with the Chamber of Commerce, major corporations etc.

And it's always for the corporations and against the working people.

Viro said...

OMG, the shadow government has 'chipped' Steve Perry!
You bastards!