Posts Tagged ‘Conspiracy Theory’

Conspiracy theories and official lies

March 9, 2021


G.K. Chesterton remarked that when people stop believing in Christianity, they don’t believe in nothing.  Rather they become willing to believe in anything.

I think the same thing is true of belief in the credibility of the government or the mainstream news organizations. 

When people stop believing in the official version of events, a lot of them don’t adopt a position of skepticism.  They look for something else to uncritically believe in.

Public opinion polls indicate that barely half the American people believe that Joe Biden was legitimately elected President of the United States.

One in five think protesters were justified to storm the Capitol to prevent Biden’s victory from being certified.  Forty-five percent of registered Republicans believe this.

Why would people doubt that Biden was legitimately elected? 

Donald Trump, the previous President of the United States, says he wasn’t, and a certain number of Republicans and conservative writers and broadcasters back him up.

On the other hand, the Democratic Party, a certain number of Republicans and the overwhelming majority of broadcasters and journalists say he was.

Why would anybody automatically believe the second group over the first group?  They don’t have a great track record. 

In the runup to the election, there was a clampdown on reporting about the relationship of Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, with corrupt a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch.

After the election, I read article after article in my local newspaper stating that Trump had “falsely” claimed that the election was rigged, without any details about what he claimed or why his claim was false.  This information is available, but you have to know how to look for it.

As soon as Biden was sworn in, Trump was banned from Twitter and other social media.  Parler, a new platform for web sites, was shut down; it had attracted a lot of right-wingers and Trump supporters who’d been banned from other sites.

Silencing people is not a good way to convince them they are wrong.  What it does is make them think that you are afraid to let people hear what they have to say.

If I was told by a President of the United States whom I’d voted for and whom I trusted that the election was being stolen, I think I’d believe him.  I wouldn’t trust his discredited enemies.  I might even go to Washington to protest. 

In fact, as I recall, a lot of self-described liberals and progressives went to Washington to protest the election of Donald Trump.  They regarded his election as illegitimate.  Some talked of having members of the Electoral College violate their pledges in order to block Trump.

I wouldn’t have taken part in any storming of the Capitol, but I might be inclined to make excuses for it, just as some people make excuses for the vandalism and looting that has accompanied some of the Black Lives Matter protests.


Why flawed election results should be accepted

January 12, 2021
Click to enlarge.

A new poll shows that a majority of American voters believe that fraud determined the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. This is astonishing.

For this to have happened, there had to have been a vast conspiracy, implicating, at a minimum, election officials in half a dozen states, state and local legislatures and governments, judges up to the Supreme Court, and the national press, news networks and social media.

They would all have to be complicit in stealing the presidential election while nonetheless allowing the Republican Party to gain House seats and state legislatures. The entire apparatus of the American government would be implicated in such a belief.

As improbable as all these seems, millions of hard-core Trump supporters believe it.

Of course it’s not as if Democrats would have accepted the results if Donald Trump had been re-elected.  After the 2016 election, some Hillary Clinton supporters tried to influence Electors pledged to Trump to vote for Clinton

I think that there are some voting irregularities in almost every election, and also some attempts by foreigners to influence the outcome of the election.  But the time to deal with these issues is before the election is held. 

Once votes are cast, it is too late because there is no way to know how the outcome would have been if the irregularities hadn’t taken place.  It is like asking the results of the baseball World Series be changed on the grounds that an umpire made bad calls.

The time to deal with voter suppression, voting fraud or election fraud is before the election.  The time to start fixing the system is the day after the previous election.


What if … conspiracy theories … made sense!!!???

March 9, 2019

The following graphics are lifted from a brilliantly funny post by Scott Alexander on Slate Star Codex.

An alternate conspiracy theory of the DNC hacks

June 22, 2016

The Democratic National Committee’s computer system has been hacked by somebody calling themselves Guccifer 2, which some have charged is a front from the Russian security services.

I and others speculated that this might be Vladimir Putin’s way of helping his friend Donald Trump.  But “Lambert Strether,” posting on the naked capitalism web log, offers an alternate conspiracy theory.

Readers, as you know I’m always skeptical of digital evidence, arguing that “digital evidence is not evidence” absent a chain of provenance to a known and trusted creator; digital material is too easy to fake.

And I’m old enough to remember — summarizing the chain of events very tendentiously — that evil genius Karl Rove settled the controversy over Bush’s (Vietnam War-evading non-)service in the TANG (Texas Air National Guard) by (1) feeding CBS news true information (2) in discreditable form, and then (3) arranging for it to be discredited (by an Atlanta blogger named Buckhead, in a post that blew up from nothing to utter dominance in a single news cycle, an amazing achievement).  So Rove used faked true evidence to impeach the story and saved Bush’s bacon.  (The CBS reporter, Dan Rather, was later fired, along with his reporting team.)

So if I look at Guccifer, I’m seeing steps (1) and (2), and I worry about step (3).  That is, if we suppose that the information on Clinton corruption is true, but the form is discreditable, and then imagine it is discredited, Clinton’s reputation would be laundered, at least until the impeachment hearings begin.  That is, a sponsor at the DNC or from the HillaryLand would take on Rove’s role in the TANG play from Rove’s playbook.


Obama and the CIA: a conspiracy hypothesis

January 8, 2016

For years my friend Daniel Brandt has been telling me about circumstantial evidence that the young Barack Obama and his mother, Ann Dunham, had connections to the Central Intelligence Agency.

I never tried to delve into the truth of this.  I believe that the undisputed known facts are so appalling, and so ignored, that there is no point in using my limited time, energy and brainpower in speculating on what lies beyond my knowledge.

However, a blogger named Joseph Cannon did that work for me.  What he found is, shall I say, very interesting, although, as he himself wrote, not absolutely conclusive.  Here are links to Cannon’s posts on this topic.

The money: A spooky story.   (2008)

Spies, lies, Barry and his mom.  (2008)

Tim Geithner’s dad, Barack Obama’s mom and the CIA (2009)

Obama, the passport scandal and a murder (2009)

“The name’s Obama – BARACK Obama” (2009)

Obama’s parents and the CIA (2012)

Shadow government (2016)

As Cannon notes, all his evidence is circumstantial.  It is not proof.  But if true, it explains a lot—especially why President Obama gave impunity to torturers and other war criminals, and waged an unprecedented war on whistle-blowers.  There would be just too much that the CIA had on file that Obama couldn’t afford to have known.

My own attitude toward Obama is not based on speculation as to what he and his mother did in the 1970s and 1980s.  It is based on his record as President.

Obama is what he is—someone who has continued the Bush policy of invading foreign countries that do not threaten us, someone who claims the right to order the death of anyone he says is a threat or a potential threat to the nation, someone who has recommitted the country to endless war.

A conspiracy theory of conspiracy theories

October 28, 2015

I’m not one for conspiracy theories.  One reason is that they divert attention from the proven bad things we already know about.

Sometimes it seems to me that there is a conspiracy to spread bogus conspiracy theories in order to divert attention from the actual existing conspiracies.

Whether or not there are unanswered questions about the 9/11 attacks, there are plenty of such questions about the anthrax attacks that came a week later.  Yet the anthrax attacks are virtually forgotten.

And whether or not the assassination of President Kennedy was the result of a conspiracy, it seems obvious to me that the killings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and of Malcolm X were conspiracies.  Yet while there is a whole Kennedy assassination industry, there is little interest in the King and Malcolm X assassinations.

When the 9/11 attacks took place, my thought was that a tiny group of criminal conspirators had got lucky.   I saw nothing improbable in a bunch of fanatics taking control of airplanes and flying them into buildings, but I also saw no reason to expect this to happen on a regular basis.

Bruce Ivins

Bruce Ivins

It was the anthrax attacks, coming a week later, that made me think my nation was under siege.  I thought this was going to be what the United States was going to be in for—constant attacks, each one radically different from the other.

At the same time, the identity of the targets seemed strange.   The anthrax attacks consisted of mailing of powders mixed with spores of anthrax bacteria to ABC, CBS and NBC News, the New York Post, and the National Enquirer, and two Democratic Senators, Tom Daschle, the Senate majority leader, and Patrick Leahy, the chair of the Senate judiciary committee.

Why would Muslim terrorists single out these particular individuals?  These are targets you would pick if you were trying to stampede public opinion into committing to a “war on terror”.

Initial reports speculated that the anthrax was made in a supposed germ warfare laboratory under the control of Saddam Hussein.   In 2002, the Department of Justice named Steven J. Hatfill, a virologist, as a “person of interst” in the case, but he was never charged.   Then suspicion shifted by Bruce E. Ivins, a researcher at Fort Detrick, who committed suicide before the FBI was ready to prosecute.

Maybe Ivins really was the culprit, and maybe he acted alone.  I don’t know enough to argue otherwise.  All I know is that there wasn’t enough proof to put him on trial.

There also are unanswered questions about the assassinations of Dr. King and Malcolm X.


The case of the paranoid sheep

July 28, 2014


The craziness factor

October 30, 2010

Craziness is not new in American politics.  I remember the Joe McCarthy era, when otherwise sane people believed that President Truman was knowingly harboring Communists within his administration and patriots such as Dean Acheson and General George C. Marshall were secret Soviet agents.  The John Birch Society, which out-McCarthy-ed McCarthy, said President Eisenhower was a secret Soviet agent.  In their heyday, the Birchers represented a significant minority of American voters at that time.

I remember the Clinton administration, when otherwise sane people believed that President Clinton was a Soviet sleeper agent recruited on a trip to Moscow when he was a college student, that he murdered Vince Foster, that he was in cahoots with a drug cartel operating out of Mena, Arkansas, that his wife decorated the White House Christmas tree with obscene and blasphemous ornaments – it seemed as if nothing was too trivial or too far-fetched to throw at him.

Church sign in Kansas

Where President Obama is concerned, craziness is at high tide.

Some examples:  Is Obama a Communist, Fascist or Socialist? He is all three at the same time. President Obama is a MuslimWhy is a crescent on the U.S. Missile Defense logo? Obama may be (it’s hard to say) the love child of Malcolm X. It’s not the birth certificate, it’s the DNA.   Obama thinks like a Kenyan anti-colonialist.

Now, it’s true that crazy people can be found on all parts of the political map.  I know otherwise reasonable people who take seriously the idea that the 9/11 attacks were masterminded by President Bush or Vice President Cheney, which is just as crazy as any of the idea I’ve linked to here.  But although my political bias may affect my perception, I think the current right-wing craziness is something special.

The problem with the crazy people is that if you take the time to make the argument that, no, Obama is not really a Communist, fascist, socialist, secret Muslim jihadist or radical Christian black liberationist, you find you don’t have the time to talk about what Obama has actually done and said, including his very real failures.


Obama derangement syndrome

October 29, 2010

Obama as the Communist messiah

Obama as the angel of death


Why I don’t believe in conspiracy theories

March 12, 2010

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories because I don’t need to believe in them. What is on the record is so appalling that so I don’t need to go beyond what is known in order to be outraged.

When I say I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, I don’t mean literally to deny that people in positions of power ever do bad things in secret or try to cover them up. I mean theories that require you to believe that evildoers (1) have near-superhuman ability to manipulate events and keep secrets but (2) act for no understandable human motive except love of evil.

Here are examples of what I mean:

9/11 Truthers. I know otherwise-sensible people who believe that President George W. Bush manipulated the 9/11 attacks, arranged to have explosives secretly planted in the World Trade Center and had the Pentagon hit with something else except a bomb. The case is based on certain technical arguments which have been disputed.  But what really defies belief is how such a conspiracy could be arranged by people who could not provide convincing evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  All such conspiracy theories rest on the idea that there is a two-track government – one of normal human fallibility, which does all the things we read about in the newspapers, and another with the capabilities of the old TV Mission Impossible team, which we never learn about.

Obama Birthers.  This is the theory that President Obama was really born in Kenya, and hence is Constitutionally unable to serve as President of the United States.  In order to believe this, you have to believe that a pregnant woman resident of Hawaii would choose to go to Kenya to have her child delivered, then return to Hawaii to plant fake evidence (a newspaper announcement and a Department of Health birth record) that the child was born in Hawaii.  What motive would anyone have to do this?  Hawaii has converted its records to electronic form, so the record of Obama’s birth is electronic rather than a written document.  The Birthers believe, or would have us believe, that Team Obama was somehow able to manipulate the changeover.

There is an almost endless list of examples – the many Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories and, before that, the many Lincoln assassination conspiracy theories; all the things that Obama is supposedly plotting to do, from death panels to abolition of sport fishing.  But of course there are such things as conspiracies – the Kissinger-CIA plot to overthrow President Allende of Chile, for example. Carroll Quigley’s hard-to-obtain history of the 20th century, Tragedy and Hope, has much interesting information about the behind-the-scenes influence of the Anglo-American financial establishment.  What distinguishes these reports from what I call “conspiracy theories” is that they provide credible evidence, not speculation, about people with human capabilities doing things for human reasons.

If I were more conspiracy-minded than I am, I would suspect the existence of a conspiracy to spread bogus conspiracy theories to distract attention from the real conspiracies.