Conspiracy theorists


by Sunny
20th February, 2007 at 2:47 pm    

George Monbiot comes out swinging against the 9/11 conspiracy nuts again today. Really – the day anyone thinks Monbiot is under the control of “military paymasters” is the day their brain has officially lost any sense of proportion.

But I think there are two wider issues here. Firstly that the internet makes dissemination of conspiracy theories easy and people are still willing to believe stuff just because it’s on a website. This is the obvious point.

More importantly, governments in the UK and United States have collectively lost the trust of their people in a way they haven’t yet come to terms with. The amount of people I met in California who had absolutely no trust in their own government was a bit hairraising (although one may expect that in Cali anyway). But this isn’t just a liberal issue since conservatives and libertarians are traditionally even more distrustful of the state and its intentions.

It’s more that in this information age we’re easily exposed to govt duplicity and that makes us distrustful. The dodgy dossier on Iraq anyone? Covering up the BAE/Saudi scandal anyone? The “ethical foreign policy” initiative? And yet politicians don’t look like they’ve come to terms with how hypocritical they constantly look – blaming it instead on the media or the people’s lack of authority. They still carry one like the 60s and 70s when events were easily covered up.

In this context it isn’t surprising that conspiracy theorists are abundant and big events like 9/11 provide enough material to push any sort of prejudice. That doesn’t mean we should all buy it though. As Monbiot points out, it only helps the government dismiss all their critics as nutters and carry on as normal.
(and no, this isn’t an invitation to conspiracy nuts; if you post rubbish you will be deleted).


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  1. Chris — on 20th February, 2007 at 3:11 pm  

    “If you post rubbish you will be deleted…”

    That’s that for this topic then!

  2. Sunny — on 20th February, 2007 at 3:20 pm  

    heh! I ensured a swift ending to any discussion didn’t I?

  3. Jagdeep — on 20th February, 2007 at 3:27 pm  

    Thing about conspiracy nuts is that pointing out the flaws actually becomes proof of the conspiracy. I personally think that the widespread use of weed in society has something to do with this generalised low level of paranoia. Come on just look at them — most of them look like spliff heads.

  4. Leon — on 20th February, 2007 at 3:48 pm  

    The “ethical foreign policy” initiative?

    There never was one. What Robin Cook said was FP should have “an ethical dimension to it”…

    As for CTs I have absolutley no time for them, [I agree with Monbiot that] they’re used by the powerful and their sycophants to dismiss actual dissent and critisism. The people that indulge in that bullshit drain an obcene amount of time, money and energy away from more important forms of activism…

  5. Kismet Hardy — on 20th February, 2007 at 3:52 pm  

    People who can’t think for themselves and believe the ‘official explanation’ have no control of their right foot. That’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s fact.

    Allow me to demonstrate.

    While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise cirlces with it.

    Now while doing this, draw the number “6″ in the air with
    your right hand…

    Does you foot change direction?

    If you haven’t got the ability to control a limb as reliable as your right feet, you can’t be expected in your right mind to understand what you’re really standing under

    I have spoken.

  6. Kismet Hardy — on 20th February, 2007 at 3:54 pm  

    Point is, you can after a few spliffs.

    Yes Jagdeep.

    Now you can try to understand.

    There are three sixes at force

    I tell thee.

  7. Kismet Hardy — on 20th February, 2007 at 3:58 pm  

    Secret agencies love conspiracy theories. See the official Roswell autopsy they released (not the one with Ant & Dec)? They’re laughing at you.

    Imagine the CIA HQ. We’ll tell them we didn’t mean to kill those people. Anyone who says so, we’ll call ‘em a conspiracy nut. Get the PR machine into force Beryl. Start a few outrageous conspiracy theories, let them fester in the mind of the real nuts, then we can send out an official press release deconstructing every point Ha ha ha. Where’s my cannister, george? Have you hidden it in your special place again?

    And you all fall for it.

  8. Juvenal — on 20th February, 2007 at 4:53 pm  

    Excellent article. Separating fact from fantasy, or good research from tripe, should be a key part of any education system, particularly where the internet is concerned.

    I deliberately didn’t watch the BBC programme on the 9/11 ‘conspiracy’ on Sunday for fear of sticking my boot through the screen – anyone else see it?

    Ten characteristics of conspiracy theorists:
    http://bread-and-circuses.net/?p=27

  9. Don — on 20th February, 2007 at 5:05 pm  

    If these conspiracies are so big, ruthless and pervasive, how come the theorists ain’t under a fly-over in Virginia?

    If you were right, you’d be dead.

    But, yes a huge distraction from the inadequacies and cynical misinformation issues that are there to be addressed. If I were an arrogant justified-by-god politician who has screwed up hugely, I’d welcome CT’s like a flower welcomes rain.

  10. Chairwoman — on 20th February, 2007 at 5:05 pm  

    Yes, I saw it and was surprised to find it held my attention.

    What really interested me was what people are prepared to believe.

  11. Kismet Hardy — on 20th February, 2007 at 5:09 pm  

    Did you try the foot and 6 thing?

    Did you?

    DID YOU?

  12. Racing Car — on 20th February, 2007 at 5:18 pm  

    What I find most amusing about ‘conspiracy theories’ is how otherwise intelligent, thinking people are so eager to just lump all alternative’s to ‘official’ explanations of things together under that heading…

    It’s scary peeking out of the box, isn’t it? You might like to try it some time.

  13. Don — on 20th February, 2007 at 5:26 pm  

    Kismet,

    It did, it bloody did! I was wrong, I see it all now.

  14. William — on 20th February, 2007 at 6:35 pm  

    So some people believe the US government set up 9/11.
    Oh sure!! lol!!! What a load of tosh!!!

    But you know I still think there is a strong possibility that oil played a big part in the reasons for invading Iraq. OK I haven’t been arsed yet to research it but have taken notice of some things.
    On tv a couple of years back a female member of the US government said that anyone who thought it was over oil was a conspiracy theorist.

    Hey Sunny I think you had delete me!!

  15. William — on 20th February, 2007 at 6:38 pm  

    I think you had delete me; should read

    I think you had better delete me!!

  16. Leon — on 20th February, 2007 at 6:40 pm  

    But you know I still think there is a strong possibility that oil played a big part in the reasons for invading Iraq.

    I actually think it was but also currency was a factor…

  17. Chairwoman — on 20th February, 2007 at 6:44 pm  

    Currency, yes. Oh those arms sales.

  18. Sahil — on 20th February, 2007 at 6:54 pm  
  19. Leon — on 20th February, 2007 at 7:03 pm  

    Currency, yes. Oh those arms sales.

    Not quite, I meant the change in linking the Iraqi Dinar from the Dollar to the Euro and the possible effect it would have had on the Dollar and the US economy.

  20. Bert Preast — on 20th February, 2007 at 7:10 pm  

    “the internet makes dissemination of conspiracy theories easy and people are still willing to believe stuff just because it’s on a website.”

    It’s the same with any form of media – all it is is people believing what they want to believe.

    With Kismet’s six and foot thing, it only works on me if you draw the six the girl’s way, starting at the top. If you use the real man’s method and draw an oh with a tail out the top you become impressively immune.

  21. John Christopher — on 20th February, 2007 at 7:24 pm  

    The US gov might not have setup what happened on 9/11 but they sure helped it along the road to success.

    By the way, I was born on the 27/11/1963 and yes in no way do I buy the notion that a homophobic ex commie from New Orleans was responsible for the assassination of JFK. His brother Bobby, Martin Luther King and even Malcolm X all went the same way and I believe all were taken down by the same guiding hand. But I’m a big eyed boy from Wolverhampton, what do I know about anything?

  22. Chairwoman — on 20th February, 2007 at 7:36 pm  

    Personally I like the dollar the way it is.

  23. Chairwoman — on 20th February, 2007 at 7:38 pm  

    Well John, you know where you were when JFK was assassinated!

  24. Don — on 20th February, 2007 at 8:02 pm  

    ‘The US gov might not have setup what happened on 9/11 but they sure helped it along the road to success.’

    What, consciously? Or just by being crap at their job?

    Of course there are conspiracies at the heart of many historical moments, from Caesar’s fall to Suharto’s rise, the death of Allende was the result of a conspiracy backed by the US, and there are unanswered questions over the Kennedy assasinations. Quite agree.

    But the problem is that once a conspiracy is scented, there is a tendency to look for The Conspiracy, where it all comes together. And then there are The Conspirators, and a broad brush usually comes into play here. Ther is no Guiding Hand; there are squalid deals going down all over the world and sometimes they result in a spectacular. Mostly not. I suggest you read Hitchens on Kissinger to get a (to me) convincing take on how ‘conspiracies’ work.

    But 9/11? Look at what the theorists suggest, the scale and the number of personnel involved alone…

    Nah, not going there.

  25. Numeral — on 20th February, 2007 at 8:04 pm  

    Can anyone explain why Monbiot’s two articles produced hundreds of comments? Can anyone explain why Monbiot, who is supposed to be a clever bloke, called 911 sceptics morons? After all, he’s been to Stowe and Brasenose. Why is he so floored by a few (hundred) care in the community cases that he starts talking like a yobbo?

  26. Don — on 20th February, 2007 at 8:09 pm  

    Can anyone explain what you are talking about?

  27. John Christopher — on 20th February, 2007 at 9:15 pm  

    Not so long ago black people were accused of being paranoid for saying that the police regularily lied and planted evidence in their bid of criminalising an entire community. The same accusations of nuttiness were levelled towards the miners by Thatcher’s bootboys during the Miners Strike. In Northern Ireland, Catholics were accused of drinking too much holy water for saying that the RUC were in cohoots with Unionist Paramilitaries in an joint enterprise to commit murder. Two weeks ago, sceptics on both sides of the divide were finally proved right. Conspiracy one day, fact of life the next. Everything is possible, all that is required is proof and time.

  28. Sid — on 20th February, 2007 at 9:24 pm  

    Where would folks put the death of weapons inspector David Kelly? Conspiracy la-la-land or Oxfordshire assasination?

  29. John Christopher — on 20th February, 2007 at 9:50 pm  

    I don’t know Sid but I do know that the enquiry which followed after his (David Kelly’s) death was an absolute whitewash. Lord Hutton will forever be associated with the worse kind judical fraud to have ever been played on the british public. Worse still, this is no conspiracy, it’s a fact. Anyone who informs you different, Sid, watch and watch closely.

  30. douglas clark — on 20th February, 2007 at 10:07 pm  

    I think Monbiot has a valid point when he says that the cause of calling governments to account is weakened by the loopier conspiracy theories. It is where you draw the line. Monbiots first thread was dominated by folk who apprarently believe that flying airliners into the twin towers ain’t enough, and that a controlled explosion followed. This, as the man said, is not credible.

    What may be credible is a huge cover up of the failures that took place that allowed 9/11 to happen, and, possibly, a quick move by the US government to capitalise on the tragedy for their own reasons, such as re-electability.

    I think John Christopher is right to say that time will tell.

  31. numeral — on 20th February, 2007 at 10:11 pm  

    Monbiot has let the side down. One simply does not talk to the likes of conspiracy nuts. Ignore them, delete them, shoot them. But whatever you do never never never take tiffin with them. What does the man think he is playing at? He comes from a good family – father the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. He ought to know better than to mix with the lower orders.

  32. Nyrone — on 20th February, 2007 at 11:54 pm  

    I saw loose change a few weeks ago.
    agreed with Monbiot.
    what a joke of a film it was…
    I’m not saying there are not questions to be asked
    but that film was a real pathetic attempt at asking them…

    As an editor myself, I felt cheated literally within the first few seconds of it…and by the end, I felt like I had just had a sock shoved into my mouth.
    horrible, stupid, manipulative piece of work.

    Dont get me started on their theory about the cell-phone messages from the doomed planes…

  33. numeral — on 21st February, 2007 at 12:24 am  

    Nyrone

    Let me get you started. I have got to know about those impossible cell phone calls.

  34. Bert Preast — on 21st February, 2007 at 1:42 am  

    Sid – why on earth would the powers that be have murdered Kelly? What exactly would his death have covered up?

    I mean, if he was found in stockings and sussies with an orange in his gob it’d be a warning to others – but this death didn’t even serve that purpose. So why would they bother?

  35. Katherine — on 21st February, 2007 at 11:04 am  

    One thing to remember when assessing conspiracy theories is the fuck-up factor. Is it feasible that a conspiracy/plan/dodgy deal involving more than a certain number of people but requiring precise planning and execution and post-event secrecy could avoid a fuck-up somewhere along the line? Experience of the world, life, people and, in fact, reality would suggest not, in most cases.

  36. Sanityforsale — on 21st February, 2007 at 11:21 am  

    One thing people with a brain fail to realise that this so called 9/11 conspiracy is not based on the idiocy of loose change. If you actually cared to find out about the intelligence reports and alike you make have found your self at:
    http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/project.jsp?project=911_project

    The site is currently down. But that is NOT a conspiracy. And because all of these people are idiots:

    Michael Meacher MP, John Pilger (journalist), Richard Clarke, Republican Congressman Curt Weldon, Sibel Edmonds (FBI interpreter), Josef Bodansky, (director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare), David Shayler (former MI5 officer), Morgan Reynolds (economist in GW Bush administration), Scott Ritter (UN Weapons Inspector), Republican Congressman Ron Paul (2, 3), Andreas von Buelow (2) (German government minister), Indira Singh (whistleblower), Max Cleland (Former 9/11 Commissioner), US Green Party (2), Fire Engineering Magazine, Greg Palast (BBC journalist), Catherine Austin Fitts, Charles Grassley (Republican Senator), David Schippers (Attorney), Peter Dale Scott (1),William Rodriguez, Gore Vidal (journalist), Cynthia McKinney (US Congress), former ISI director-general Lt-Gen Mahmud Ahmad, Dan Ellsberg (Former Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA), DOD), over 100 family members (1,2, 3), senior military, intelligence, and government critics of 9/11 Commission Report

  37. sonia — on 21st February, 2007 at 11:21 am  

    i’ve read the bbc inside out phone box experiment. now unless they’ll tell us the good looks factor of the two women it’s going to be difficult to judge whether it was down to racial discrimination rather than ugly person discrimination. everyone knows that if someone not so good looking is trying to get people’s attention they’ll find it much harder than someone more goodlooking.

  38. sonia — on 21st February, 2007 at 11:29 am  

    yes of course the fuck-up factor – well said Katherine. Governments and non-government people conspire to do something. could be large scale small scale. something always goes wrong. inevitably. no wonder the streets are often dirty and the bins are full – the government ‘conspiring’ to systematically clean the bins and keep the system going often fails. but it gets the job done most of the time. some governments are more efficient at this sort of ‘conspiring’ than others – e.g. my very own Bangladeshi government, which – either is not conspiring to clean the streets at all – or there is a higher fuck-up factor. :-) probably both.

    point is – yes plans don’t usually go the way they are meant – doesn’t mean there aren’t people planning, or some plans succeeding, if only in part and in ways not foreseen. thing about ‘conspiracy theories’ – always judge for yourself, if you can, assuming you have some information. seems to me usually when there is a lack of information, you can’t say if something is a conspiracy theory, any more than some one can definitively say it is a conspiracy theory.

    always keep an open mind. truth is stranger than fiction as history has proved more than once. asking questions is the smart thing to do. we wouldn’t have science without it.

  39. sonia — on 21st February, 2007 at 11:29 am  

    oops. post 37 is on the wrong thread.. i need my specs..

  40. Paul Moloney — on 21st February, 2007 at 1:10 pm  

    I’ve been posting comments on CIF since it began. No other thread – no, not even ones about Israel – has been as full as illogical tin-foil-hatted bong-sucking cockfarmers as that one.

    P.

  41. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 23rd February, 2007 at 2:57 pm  

    “Firstly that the internet makes dissemination of conspiracy theories easy and people are still willing to believe stuff just because it’s on a website. This is the obvious point.”

    Lets not forget mobile phones and what your mate told you. If you look at the nonsence that is going on in Isreal and the rumour that it was a Zionist plot, that wasn’t the web, its word of mouth backed up by modern technology.

    The world has become a petri dish for rumours and mistruths.

    The question is why are religous wackos so keen to believe in unsupported mistruths? is it because their faith teaches them to believe in supernatural forces and never to question contraditions?

    The highly religious need to be considered slightly retarded in my opinon.

    TFI

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