There is a 2018 version of this post. There may soon be a 2020 version.
I’m going to dive right into this. I’m going in hot. The image at right appeared on a friend’s Facebook wall recently.
The correct interpretation of facts currently on the ground is that anyone running for public office, from any party, is subject to the will of the people who fund their campaigns. If they do not pander to the big spenders in the current climate (i.e. the corporations) then they will not get the funds they need to win.
Winning is key. Without a winning strategy, what occurs is just;
All of them are working for the corporations, even the third party candidates. The Kochs owned the LP for a long time before they shifted to the Republicans. The Kochs represent some of the worst of corporate behavior, strong-arming groups that they fund trying to force them to echo the policies that the Kochs find favorable. This will continue to be true until we get money out of politics, plain and simple.
I really have no problem with the image. I probably don’t have a problem with the website it came from, although I haven’t spent any real time on it. What I had a problem with was where the conspiratorially motivated fantasists took the image in the wild.
I have culled most of the incorrigible conspiracists from my Facebook wall. Every now and then a new one pops up and I subject them to the ban hammer; but generally my wall is free of their posts. Some of my oldest friends indulge in conspiracy fantasies though; and as a consequence of this I still have to deal with the odd reference to a conspiracy theory even though I find the entire subject of grand conspiracies completely ludicrous.
Let’s start with the phrase conspiracy theory. It really isn’t a theory at all. A theory not only explains the facts in evidence, it survives rigorous testing through trial and error. The theory of evolution is an excellent example of this. It has survived test after test, and has made predictions about evolutionary history which have been proven to be true. It is a robust theory, accepted by nearly all of the scientific community.
They aren’t conspiracy hypothesis either, which is the step in evidence below theory. A hypothesis of necessity must explain all the predominant facts it is attempting to address. It has to be testable to be acceptable as a scientific explanation.
What we are left with is conspiratorial conjecture. They are stories that are told to entertain, for the most part. They are, as the title of this piece states, conspiracy fantasies. When you start allowing your fantasies to replace the reality around you, a whole host of bad is waiting in the wings to descend upon you.
When my friend made a tangential reference to the Rothschild family in his Facebook post the image was attached to, rather than argue with his conspiratorial mindset directly, I linked this recent video discussing scientific studies showing that the conspiracy fantasists were more gullible than other people;
Unfortunately for all concerned, the only fact that penetrated was that “the Pink Haired Lady says chemtrails aren’t real” which lead him and his friends to try to convince me they were real.
Well, they aren’t real. Of course chemicals are delectable in contrails, the planes that create them are shedding molecules into the atmosphere everywhere they fly. The combustion engines they are powered by emit exhaust chemicals, which are also detectable. This really isn’t that hard to figure out.
…Unless you have a ready-made market of science denial set up specifically to use the tools of science against it. An entire method of approaching the world around us that paints the activities of others as nefarious and unscrupulous. This says more about the conspiracy fans than it does about the rest of us, but there is a large group of people out there ready to confirm your suspicions about any activity that concerns you. All you have to do is go look and leave your critical thinking skills behind. That is, if you ever learned to think critically in the first place.
Without critical thinking we are all babes in the wilderness.
The Rothschild thing? That is an old anti-Semitic/White supremacist fabrication. Like the whole sovereign thing. There is no sound basis for asserting that the fantasy has any reality to it, unless you have a problem with Jews. Which again, says more about you than about anyone else.
If you think the pink haired lady only dismisses chemtrails, then conspiracy theorists are as gullible as the study she talks about shows. They lack the ability to detect when they are being subjected to satire and ridicule, and repeat satirical posts as if they are real. If I felt like messing with conspiracy fans (and I don’t) I could feed them all kinds of crazy stuff which they would buy right into. So if that kind of trolling is something you enjoy, have at it. They’ll never know you’re pulling their legs.
The conversation spiraled into a discussion of various other conspiracy tales. Haarp was mentioned. Like Agenda 21, it isn’t anything close to what conspiracy fans think it is. Monsanto was raised, Godwin style. It was at that point that I knew I was quite literally wasting my time. I didn’t want to have yet another conversation where the fans throw each conspiracy they’ve heard of at me one at time, each time certain that it can’t be explained. All of them can be explained, and not with grand conspiracies. Good luck getting one of the fans to notice this fact.
Perhaps the reason why so many American’s subscribe to conspiracy theories is because they understand their culpability in allowing their government to go so far astray. Like all the guilty parties of the world, they are quick to point to those shadowy others out there “Them! They did it! It wasn’t me!” rather than take the blame for their own inaction, their unwillingness to sully themselves with real politics. I mean, if lizard people are running the world, why bother with democratic participation?
I really should have mentioned the latest conspiracy fantasy that has taken Texas (my state) by storm. Ever ready to believe anything said of President Obama (except this) when the military announced their latest round of training exercises Operation Jade Helm 15 the entirety of conservative Texas lost its collective mind.
My favorite clown head politician, Ted Cruz, took to the internet and the news to predict dire consequences if these maneuvers were allowed to happen (as if they don’t happen pretty much every year) Even our sitting governor had to get in on the act, saying he would call up the Texas State Guard to protect the state from the federal military. (h/t to Skeptoid for a link to Abbott’s letter)
I’ve been to Camp Mabry. I have a lot of respect for soldiers, but if that’s what is going to protect us from the US military, I think we’d be better off pleading for mercy from the feds and then asking for reconstruction aid, rather than rely on the Texas Guard to fend off the largest military the world has ever seen. No offense fellas, but you’re just a bit outnumbered and outgunned. Just a bit.
I’d like to second the observation of a friend that suggested the US government should simply offer to pull all military bases out of Texas as a gesture towards non-aggression. All those tax dollars in the form of soldier’s pay, base construction, etc going to another state instead of Texas.
What was that? You weren’t serious? No, no I think you were serious. Seriously deranged, anyway. You might want to get some help with that.
Paranoia is a mental illness, not a super power.Stonekettle Station
The latest fantasist appears to be Seymour Hersh; which is too bad. Too bad because the guy really had a marvelous resume. Not too long after his revelations on Abu Ghraib, he seemed to lose his grip on what we colloquially refer to as reality, mistaking his desire to see grand conspiracies everywhere for the demonstrable facts in a story;
Perhaps the most concerning problem with Hersh’s story is not the sourcing but rather the internal contradictions in the narrative he constructs.
Most blatant, Hersh’s entire narrative turns on a secret deal, in which the US promised Pakistan increased military aid and a “freer hand in Afghanistan.” In fact, the exact opposite of this occurred, with US military aid dropping and US-Pakistan cooperation in Afghanistan plummeting as both sides feuded bitterly for years after the raid.
Hersh explains this seemingly fatal contradiction by suggesting the deal fell apart due to miscommunication between the Americans and Pakistanis. But it’s strange to argue that the dozens of officials on both sides would be competent enough to secretly plan and execute a massive international ruse, and then to uphold their conspiracy for years after the fact, but would not be competent enough to get on the same page about aid delivery.The many problems with Seymour Hersh’s Osama bin Laden conspiracy theory by Max Fisher
Don’t get me wrong here. I’ve never accepted Pakistan’s denials of knowledge concerning Osama Bin Laden’s location, since he was living near their military training academy. What surprises me on that subject is we haven’t been able to demonstrate what classes he was teaching there. Which high-ranking official in the Pakistani government helped him take up residence in Abbottabad.
That aside, not even the Obama administration accepts that Zero Dark Thirty is anything aside from a Hollywood fantasy attempting to make sense of the disparate narratives that could have lead to OBL’s killing. They have denied that torture lead to information on OBL’s whereabouts, and have maintained that key evidence was provided by a walk-in source voluntarily, not through any kind of intense interrogation. Only Cheney and his ilk insist that torture produced anything useful, and I’ve already said my piece on that subject. So the accusation that Hersh himself levels at the Obama administration is largely incorrect.
I offer the previous as an attempt to disarm the fantasy believer, so that when I observe that Hersh is engaging in conspiratorial fantasies it in no way means I accept any other particular narrative on the subject. Rather it is an observation like this one detailed over on Slate;
It’s this commitment to counter narrative totality—the idea that a few legitimate questions make the entire official narrative a lie, accompanied by a certainty in a counterhistory based on theory, suggestion, and a relatively negligible amount of secondhand evidence—that make Hersh’s account reminiscent of what you might see from the professional conspiracy theorists at InfoWars. It privileges the accounts and suggestions of a few vaguely connected ex-insiders over other, more exhaustive accounts based on the testimony of people who are in a much better position to know at least some of the facts.Slate
It is Hersh’s tone and his spittle-flecked denunciation of the US government’s complicity and cooperation with Pakistan in the killing of OBL as a publicity stunt that gets him marked as a fantasist, not the content of his counter-narrative. Most of what he has to say on the subject really isn’t even news, if it is at all believable on its face.
This story is a baseline for conspiratorial fantasies. A gateway drug. A building 7 in 9-11 truther language. If you can get past the point where you stop wondering how hundreds of civil employees and soldiers could have been motivated to keep silent on this subject, then you can get busy embroidering Hersh’s revelations with details of your own.
The detail of size is what makes the likelihood of this conspiracy being true so improbably remote. Fantasists who support Hersh point to the Guardian / Edward Snowden revelations as proof that massive conspiracies can and do exist. However, it is that very story that illustrates the problem with massive conspiracies and the theories spun about them. The NSA spying was anything but secret. Oh, it was officially denied, and the US government would love to punish Snowden for his revelations. But the spying was itself an open secret. Anyone interested in the subject knew that the NSA was involved in a dragnet of information across the internet.
It is a lot like the people who point to the denials of Groom Lake (area 51) being a location for testing new Air Force technologies, and then conclude that the stories of alien visitations are true. The locals knew it was testing facility for decades. The official denials proved nothing aside from the fact that they were conducting secret tests there at some point. They certainly don’t point to any factual truth concerning extraterrestrial contact.
The NSA’s spying program is the hallmark of the inability for large conspiracies to remain secret. It is only a matter of time before the secret becomes common knowledge. The fact that Hersh’s fantasies concerning OBL contain so little new reliable information proves that they are just that. If they weren’t, he’d have solid witnesses willing to swear to the veracity of his complete story. Those simply don’t exist outside of his imagination.
This post was revised and reposted in 2018. It bears mentioning that at this point in time (2018) it has been revealed that the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy fantasies were created by Russian operatives as a testbed to see if they could alter US politics by sowing discord. In a word, yes. Yes they could and did, and continued to do from this point through the 2016 presidential elections that gave us the Orange Hate-Monkey as president.