Author Topic: Conspiracy theories  (Read 1723 times)

Conspiracy theories
« on: February 05, 2021, 03:48:07 PM »
Trump and conspiracy theories go hand-in-hand.  Is this new?  Has it happened before--yeah, we knew it did, but for how long and what?  Was curious, so I spent a tiny amount of time on the net to do a little research.  Some of what I found.

I generally like what Christopher Hitchens says and this is what he said about conspiracy theories:  Christopher Hitchens described conspiracy theories as the "exhaust fumes of democracy": the unavoidable result of a large amount of information circulating among a large number of people. Conspiracy theories may be emotionally satisfying, by assigning blame to a group to which the theorist does not belong and so absolving the theorist of moral or political responsibility in society.

This is a wiki that has dozens and dozens of them:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_conspiracy_theories

Some I was not aware of:
--Conspiracy theories frequently emerge following the deaths of prominent leaders and public figures. In ancient times, widespread conspiracy theories were circulated pertaining to the death of the Roman emperor Nero, who committed suicide in 68 AD.[22] Some of these theories claimed that Nero had actually faked his death and was secretly still alive, but in hiding, plotting to return and reestablish his reign.[22] In most of these stories, he was said to have fled to the East, where he was still loved and admired.[22] Other theories held that Nero really was dead, but that he would return from the dead to retake his throne.[22] Many early Christians believed in these conspiracy theories and feared Nero's return because Nero had viciously persecuted them.[22] The Book of Revelation alludes to the conspiracy theories surrounding Nero's alleged return in its description of the slaughtered head returned to life.[22]

--Some theorists believe that Denver International Airport stands above an underground city which serves as a headquarters of the New World Order. Theorists cite the airport's unusually large size, its distance from Denver city center, Masonic and alleged Satanic symbols, as well as a set of murals which include depictions of war and death.[65]

--Conspiracy theories exist alleging that Israel uses animals to conduct espionage or to attack people. These are often associated with conspiracy theories about Zionism. Matters of interest to theorists include a series of shark attacks in Egypt in 2010, Hezbollah's accusations of the use of "spying" eagles,[79] and the 2011 capture of a griffon vulture carrying an Israeli-labeled satellite tracking device.[80]

--There are dozens more and the full article is a fun read.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2021, 04:17:12 PM »
When these billions of dollars of lawsuits are done popularizing conspiracy theories is going to be in the same box with NAMBLA.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2021, 04:39:43 PM »
My favorite recent example....

During a November 19 press conference, Trump legal team attorney Sidney Powell alleged without evidence that an international Communist plot had been engineered by Venezuela, Cuba, China, Hugo Chávez (who died in 2013), George Soros, and the Clinton Foundation, to rig the 2020 election. She also alleged that Dominion Voting Systems "can set and run an algorithm that probably ran all over the country to take a certain percentage of votes from President Trump and flip them to President Biden.

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2021, 06:19:45 PM »
Conspiracy theories were with us from the start:

Here’s an interesting snippet from the archives: Letters from George Washington discussing the Illuminati in 1798. Washington was responding to a parcel containing a book, Proofs of a Conspiracy against All the Religions and Governments of Europe (1797), written by John Robinson, a renowned Scottish Professor. The book accused European Freemasonry of being infiltrated by the Order of the Illuminati, who aimed to “root out all the religious establishments and overturn all the existing governments of Europe.”

Source of letters: https://archive.vn/bTWyY
[Washington to Reverend Snyder]:

“I have heard much of the nefarious, & dangerous plan, & doctrines of the Illuminati […] I believe notwithstandings, that none of the Lodges in this Country are contaminated with the principles ascribed to the Society of the Illuminati.”
[Washington responding to Reverend Snyder’ reply]:

“It was not my intention to doubt that, the Doctrines of the Illuminati, and principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more fully satisfied of this fact than I am. The idea I meant to convey, was, that I did not believe that the Lodges of Free Masons in this Country had, as Societies, endeavoured to propagate the diabolical tenets of the first, or the pernicious principles of the latter (if they are susceptible of seperation). That Individuals of them may have done it, and that the founder, or instrument employed to found, the Democratic Societies in the United States, may have had these objects […] is too evident to be questioned.”
So, Washington believed that Illuminism was an evil threat, decried the Jacobins (French Revolutionaries), and called them both diabolical and pernicious. Apparently, he didn’t believe that Masonic lodges in America had fallen to Illuminism, but he did suspect that Illuminati-affiliated individuals were no doubt attempting to subvert the country, even though the Illuminati was outlawed almost a decade earlier. So, obviously he believed that Illuminati conspirators continued their schemes underground, or via other organizations, such as European Freemasonry.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Offline SGOS

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2021, 08:18:15 PM »
Lou Dobbs was removed from the FOX News programming lineup today, after Dobbs and two others were sued for spreading conspiracy theories harmful to their business.  I first noticed Dobbs over 20 years ago, and I thought he was predisposed to controversy that was not well founded.  He seemed like he had the lowdown on all kinds of horrible things Americans were not aware of.  He was never entirely clear where his information came from.  I thought he was kind of interesting at first, but later decided he was probably a lunatic, or at least was a vital part of the lunatic fringe.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/05/business/lou-dobbs-fox.html?campaign_id=60&emc=edit_na_20210205&instance_id=0&nl=breaking-news&ref=cta&regi_id=129705843&segment_id=51116&user_id=33a2a6e6868fd65c48b0f219d16ed7c2

Online Hydra009

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2021, 10:25:47 PM »
I generally like what Christopher Hitchens says and this is what he said about conspiracy theories:  Christopher Hitchens described conspiracy theories as the "exhaust fumes of democracy": the unavoidable result of a large amount of information circulating among a large number of people. Conspiracy theories may be emotionally satisfying, by assigning blame to a group to which the theorist does not belong and so absolving the theorist of moral or political responsibility in society.
They're also emotionally gratifying because the theorist can feel like they "have everything figured out" (ambiguity intolerance, which is linked to right-wing authoritarian personality and low openness to experience) and privy to secret knowledge that sets them intellectually above the general public (an elevated status that no doubt appeals to people who aren't very intelligent).

Scapegoating is also tempting when the truth is admission of widespread failure and lack of control (like 9/11 conspiracies and JFK conspiracies)

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2021, 01:11:41 AM »
Here is a video exploring the nature, formation, and possible personality characteristics associated with conspiracy theories. I agree that the underlying emotion behind conspiracy theories is anxiety. As Dr. Grande points out, conspiracy theories don't have a happy component to them. The alien lizard humaniods are never merely here on vacation or here to help us. Conspiracy theories are associated with people who have political cynicism, low self-esteem, low intelligence, and a low sense of being in control.

"Religions are like fireflies. They require darkness in order to shine." - Arthur Schopenhauer

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2021, 08:21:14 AM »
I hope we can benefit from the open discourse on conspiracy advocacy. (I use that term in lieu of "conspiracy theorist" because the latter gives too much dignity to those lunatics.)
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2021, 09:41:22 AM »
Seth Andrews just tweeted this...LOL

Offline SGOS

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2021, 03:45:12 AM »
Fifteen years ago or so in my travels, I came across a guy who was convinced 9-11 was the work of the US government.  He was a theorist, and he had produced a set of dvds of him explaining why and how the government did it.  I was amiable to him, so he gave me his disks, which I did watch.  He had an interesting story to tell, but no proof of anything.  His tactic was to introduce one part of the conspiracy, and then announce, "As you will see, I will offer undeniable proof that this is true,"  but he never actually introduced proof of any kind.  What he could be remembered for was claiming he had proof, or that there was proof that was known by a large segment of "people in the know."  He did this over and over again, and I wondered if he thought he had actually produced proof, or if just liked saying he had proof.

Hey, the man says there's proof!  What more do you need to know?

In the above video, the Doctor points out that conspiracy theories are not delusions in the psychiatric sense, and the people holding them are still what we call normal.  Well OK, I'm not going to argue the point, but this shit sure seems delusional to me.  I guess when a delusion is widely held, it's not a real delusion, but those guys that attacked the Capitol, seemed nuts enough to me to qualify as full blown crazies.  What's dangerous about this is that society is willing to accept this as normal.

Offline SGOS

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2021, 03:53:54 AM »
I hope we can benefit from the open discourse on conspiracy advocacy. (I use that term in lieu of "conspiracy theorist" because the latter gives too much dignity to those lunatics.)
There does seem to be a rather open discourse on the subject going on, not just here, but the media in general.  How much it will help, I'm not sure.  But one thing I am grateful for is that at least people are talking about the phenomenon, as opposed to just presenting the conspiracies as "News."  This discussion seems far more important than some asshole spinning rumors for the general public.

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2021, 06:02:56 AM »
    
In the above video, the Doctor points out that conspiracy theories are not delusions in the psychiatric sense, and the people holding them are still what we call normal.  Well OK, I'm not going to argue the point, but this shit sure seems delusional to me.  I guess when a delusion is widely held, it's not a real delusion, but those guys that attacked the Capitol, seemed nuts enough to me to qualify as full blown crazies.  What's dangerous about this is that society is willing to accept this as normal.

Delusions are fixed, false, usually unshared beliefs, focused primarily on the believer. By definition, delusions are always false beliefs. In contrast, conspiracy theories are usually, but not necessarily, false. They are typically shared beliefs that don't explicitly or directly involve the believer, and are based on evidence that one finds from outside sources, such as on the internet. Conspiracy theories are highly communal in nature with networks of like-minded individuals reinforcing one another's beliefs in a particular socio-cultural context.

Examples of delusions include a woman who has a persistent belief she is pregnant despite all evidence to the contrary or a homeless man who believes he has his own record company and owns the songs he hears on the radio.
"Religions are like fireflies. They require darkness in order to shine." - Arthur Schopenhauer

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2021, 07:02:27 AM »
Who is a former conspiracy theorist there ? I'm a former believer in these things.

Offline SGOS

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2021, 08:01:22 AM »
   
Delusions are fixed, false, usually unshared beliefs, focused primarily on the believer. By definition, delusions are always false beliefs. In contrast, conspiracy theories are usually, but not necessarily, false. They are typically shared beliefs that don't explicitly or directly involve the believer, and are based on evidence that one finds from outside sources, such as on the internet. Conspiracy theories are highly communal in nature with networks of like-minded individuals reinforcing one another's beliefs in a particular socio-cultural context.

Examples of delusions include a woman who has a persistent belief she is pregnant despite all evidence to the contrary or a homeless man who believes he has his own record company and owns the songs he hears on the radio.
Yes, I understand that conspiracy theories are like believing in Gods, and most psychologists, don't classify conspiracy theories or religions as delusions, just as Christianity is not considered a cult by most sociologists.  It is an arbitrary line that divides such behaviors from our generalized perspectives of their relative counterparts.  To me it seems like reverse apologetics in an attempt to avoid classifying most of humanity as nuts:  "Here's the definition of delusion.  Here's the definition of a cult.  Now lets tinker with them so that we can make exceptions for special groups."

I think it's a matter our perception of the glass being half full or half empty and varies with our personal perceptions of humanity.  If you see humanity as mostly normal, the glass may be half full.  If you see half of humanity as abnormal, the glass will be half empty.  But humanity, including the individuals that make it up, are a little bit of both.  The glass is full but very cloudy, and all lines separating the mixture are arbitrary.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 08:03:16 AM by SGOS »

Re: Conspiracy theories
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2021, 08:48:05 AM »
There does seem to be a rather open discourse on the subject going on, not just here, but the media in general.  How much it will help, I'm not sure.  But one thing I am grateful for is that at least people are talking about the phenomenon, as opposed to just presenting the conspiracies as "News."  This discussion seems far more important than some asshole spinning rumors for the general public.
And I'm hopeful we will benefit from this discourse. And from the billion+ dollar la suit against Fux News et al.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers