Conspiracy Theorist Conspiracy Theorists

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jas

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Again, sorry, but no cigar, because since I am not the one saying we shouldn't call conspiracy theories and theorists for what they are,

Tongue out

If we decipher the double negative sentence construction, we end up with: "I am ... saying we should... call conspiracy theories and theorists for what they are..."

Something which you still haven't defined in a way that could be functional to all. And which theories exactly are you talking about? This is the point I'm trying to get you to acknowledge: we can't actually talk about "conspiracy theories" as an umbrella term because they encompass many thousands of theories, many with merit, many without. Some of which you probably subscribe to yourself. So it's an entirely subjective term which is not useful in intelligent, democratic debate.

Caissa's definition comes closer to providing a useful definition for our purposes, but it still leaves open the quagmire of which evidence is considered valid and which isn't, and by whom.

[PS: cross-posted with Sean.]

6079_Smith_W

I think you are being deliberately obtuse. There isn't one definition, but there is certainly a lot of common ground, and even more understanding of what the various camps mean by the term:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiracy_theory

Sorry, I don't buy that anyone here doesn't understand what it means

And I also said that for me the definition is based not just on the evidence thing, but also on the manic behaviour, refusal to accept that some of us DON'T believe, and that the clicks on their phones aren't the CIA out to get them.

Someone wants to believe that Stanley Kubrick faked the moon landing? I don't really care so long as they don't try to talk my ear off about it and insist that I agree with them or I am part of the plot.

 

 

 

jas

6079_Smith_W wrote:
Sorry, I don't buy that anyone here doesn't understand what it means

As Sean points out, there are several meanings (and purposes) in use.

Here's a wiki definition: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/conspiracy_theory

What I am objecting to here is a blanket condemnation of "conspiracy theories", lumping all kinds of information together under one untouchable category, some of which then doesn't get examined. I think you probably understand this point by now, but for some reason don't want to acknowledge it.

I'm sorry that you have all these people in your life who harass you about the moon landing being a hoax or about other wacky theories.  I can't even imagine what kind of informational deluge you're under from day to day where you feel the need to lump questions about 9/11 into the same category as hoax claims about the moon landing. An inability to discern between verifiable claims and non-verifiable claims sounds to me like a cognitive impairment. Maybe we should be looking at that.

6079_Smith_W

What makes you think I or others don't consider what people are basing their ideas on?

Should we also not call things fascist or oppressive or colonialist or discriminatory because these are also complex ideas that cover a lot of ground, so we can't assume that people are actually thinking and paying attention?

Nah, I think I'll just continue calling conspiracy theory when I see it.

And besides, when you say 9-11 theory, surely you don't mean all of them; they can't all be true.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
lump questions about 9/11 into the same category as hoax claims about the moon landing.

This reminds me of a brilliant commercial I once saw for a telephone psychic:

"Are you tired of all those PHONY psychics...?"

Anyway, you're sure you want to let the moon landing go?  What if someone on YouTube posts some video of an old Air Force warehouse somewhere, and if you pause the video and look at it just right you can see, in the corner, an American flag -- just like the one supposedly on the moon?

And beside it, big boxes marked "Thermite -- For Controlled Detonations Only" -- and several of them are opened?

6079_Smith_W

Besides, those 9-11 amateurs haven't topped this tune:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3er7IZLRek

Personally, I have a soft spot for Trevor Ravenscroft's "Spear of Destiny" book, not because it isn't complete horseshit, but because it reads like some wacky Doctor Strange comic, with Rudoplh Steiner as the Doctor, and Hitler as some literally posessed demon.

 

jas

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Nah, I think I'll just continue calling conspiracy theory when I see it.

And you certainly can in your private life, but if you're going to use it as an empty pejorative in a public discussion, then I'll continue to call b.s. on it.

6079_Smith_W

Feel free. I'm not particularly worried. Though you should remember that the burden of proof isn't on me, but on the person making the claim.

Sean in Ottawa

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Feel free. I'm not particularly worried. Though you should remember that the burden of proof isn't on me, but on the person making the claim.

I am interested in opportunity for proof as much as burden of proof.

I am sympathetic to the position that we are limited in how many ideas we can cover and the ones that are disproven take up the space of other ideas we should examine. However, dismissal of ideas without examination as conspiracy theories also leads to ideas not being examined when some of them maybe should be.

One argument is simply to urge caution in applying the label.

The problem I think we are having is the construction of the term itself. It is the focus on "conspiracy" rather than "previously disproven" that I have trouble with. If the term were “specialist in dead horse theories” or “previously disproven theories” likely we would not have this conversation. Instead we have a term that implies the problem is with the idea of conspiracy which in itself is no reason to reject an idea rather the likelihood, plausibility or evidence for an idea. This risks a chill among reasonable people many of whom may not want to suggest or entertain a conspiracy where in fact there could be one -- becuase they don't want the label to be applied to them.

 

6079_Smith_W

Again, I don't buy the argument that because there are different interpretations of the term means that it has no meaning or cannot be used. Conspiracy theorists can stop using the term if they wish; I doubt anyone else will.

And being concerned about conspiracy theories not being heard? Not sure there's much need to worry about that. Holding off from healthy skepticism? well that is another matter.

I have to smile at the notion of a "previously disproven" conspiracy theory. I'm curious as to how for you'd get with that one among those for whom theories are never disproven, and any evidence to the contrary just proves that someone is trying to cover it up.

 

jas

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
Instead we have a term that implies the problem is with the idea of conspiracy which in itself is no reason to reject an idea rather the likelihood, plausibility or evidence for an idea. This risks a chill among reasonable people many of whom may not want to suggest or entertain a conspiracy where in fact there could be one -- becuase they don't want the label to be applied to them.

Absolutely, it silences people.

And I think the word "conspiracy" is vital to the term's intended purpose. It makes the notion of conspiracy itself sound ridiculous, and those who might suspect it as being capable of fantastical, conspiratorial thinking and therefore potentially ill or somehow a threat to good social order.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Instead we have a term that implies the problem is with the idea of conspiracy which in itself is no reason to reject an idea rather the likelihood, plausibility or evidence for an idea.

Sometimes it IS the conspiracy itself that contributes much of the implausibility -- specifically, when the conspiracy necessarily includes hundreds of people and when it's extremely doubtful that most of them are dedicated to the conspiracy.

Could four dedicated people conspire to set a fire in the night and leave false evidence behind?  Probably.

But is it really reasonable to believe that hundreds of first responders, doctors, nurses and bystanders were all cheerfully ready to pretend that the victims of the Boston Marathon "bombing"were injured runners, and to keep that secret to their grave?

Can someone fake a wound?  Sure.  Can someone make something go "bang"?  Sure.  But the whole theory falls apart once those fakey actors with their pretend wounds go to a hospital -- unless we're prepared to believe that this particular conspiracy included hospital staff for some inexplicable reason.  Oh, and also the family of a dead child.

6079_Smith_W

jas wrote:

Absolutely, it silences people.

Really? I've never managed to make that happen. In my experience it only makes them even more annoying.

Of course I have never heard about the grassy knoll a thousand times before. This is crucial information that is being kept from the public by sinister forces.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

The ones we're all forever hearing "the truth" from are the ones too brave, too committed and too patriotic to be silenced.

It's all the regular, good, honest folk who have burning questions they'd like answered, but don't want to be forever labelled, who are remaining silent.

If we would all just stop using the term "conspiracy theorist" then they might feel empowered to join their brave voices with the others, and with a steamrollin' mass movement like that the government would be forced to admit that heat cannot weaken steel, and that yes, it was an inside job.  And they would have got away with it too, "if it weren't for you meddling kids."

jas

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Really? I've never managed to make that happen. In my experience it only makes them even more annoying.

Of course I have never heard about the grassy knoll a thousand times before. This is crucial information that is being kept from the public by sinister forces.

Yes, really. I can speak from my own experience (Facebook is a prime example) as well as that of friends.

You can make jokes about the JFK conspiracy, but I think those who believe in the official 'magic bullet' theory are in the minority. Most people's take on JFK nowadays is that something was definitely dirty about it; we do not have full information on it, and we may never. I think this is increasingly how people are filing 9/11 in their minds now as well. Most people would agree we do not have the full story on it, and we may never.

jas

Mr. Magoo wrote:
But is it really reasonable to believe that hundreds of first responders, doctors, nurses and bystanders were all cheerfully ready to pretend that the victims of the Boston Marathon "bombing"were injured runners, and to keep that secret to their grave?

Can someone fake a wound?  Sure.  Can someone make something go "bang"?  Sure.  But the whole theory falls apart once those fakey actors with their pretend wounds go to a hospital -- unless we're prepared to believe that this particular conspiracy included hospital staff for some inexplicable reason.  Oh, and also the family of a dead child.

Well, this is interesting. There is some news footage out there in which a hospital nurse states in an interview that the people requiring amputation did not go through the normal hospital registration process, and that no attending personnel saw them. But I agree that the considerations you raise definitely make the Boston Bombing hoax theory difficult to swallow. The research that's been done on it so far does show a lot of gaps in the news record of this event, though.

Being new to this information myself, I was simply approaching it from an everyday, common sense perspective, having many years first aid training myself, assuming others would also, and just asking questions about these images which, to my mind, depict a bizarre and completely counter-to-all-common-sense first aid approach in treating supposed trauma. I would not be able to construct an entire theory about how such a hoax could be pulled off in plain view. But many of the details of this event, and certainly the official images raise questions. So rather than dismiss something right off the bat out of incredulity, I was asking folks here to simply look at the images and give their impressions of it. I understand why my posting of those images was repugnant to some, but this what I mean by being able to examine the facts alone, on their own merit, before demanding an entire, elaborate explanation of what those facts suggest.

jas

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Again, I don't buy the argument that because there are different interpretations of the term means that it has no meaning or cannot be used. Conspiracy theorists can stop using the term if they wish; I doubt anyone else will.

I think the intelligent ones will, as they realize it's an essentially meaningless term that is being used to marginalize inquiry and therefore stifle dissent. There's no place in democratic discourse for denunciation before examination. That's for despots and thugs.

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
Instead we have a term that implies the problem is with the idea of conspiracy which in itself is no reason to reject an idea rather the likelihood, plausibility or evidence for an idea.

Sometimes it IS the conspiracy itself that contributes much of the implausibility -- specifically, when the conspiracy necessarily includes hundreds of people and when it's extremely doubtful that most of them are dedicated to the conspiracy.

Too bad the concept of implausibility did not define the term more than the concept of conspiracy. I wish I could lump all the implausible ideas in a basket defined by implausibility rather than conspiracy. A good many implausible ideas have nothing to do with conspiracy and a number of conspiracy ideas are quite plausible.

I do understand the point that grand conspiracy is hard to do and the greater the numbers of people who must be involved the less plausible the idea is. Perhaps even a term: grand conspiracy theorist would be better.

As a point of logic there is no benefit in having such pejorative connotation to something that exists. Conspiracy exists. Check out the criminal code of any nation on earth -- and it is proven in courts. White collar conspiracy also exists and it is not all tax fraud.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I don't see this conversation going anywhere. I think we've all made our points. Closing.

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