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The genesis of conspiracy theories..

So I started reading about conspiracy theories a few days back, and to be honest, they are fascinating. It's like almost every big story has to have another side to it. Maybe its just human tendency to create a second story and make things convoluted.

One conspiracy theory that really stupefied me was the discovery/'invention' of HIV/AIDS. Some people believe that the CIA agents actually created the virus to wipe out homosexuals and African Americans. This is still one of the most debated topics, like JFK's death and the Moon landing.

My questions is, do you think these conspiracy theories are actually legitimate or nothing but concocted BS?

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  • Nov 27 2012: Conspiracy theories share most of the characteristics of religion and they have the same origins as well: people want to explain complicated stuff with simple theories, people intuitively don't believe in coincidence (we're smart animals promgrammed to always look for a reason behind something) and people can't accept that important events can "just happen" without being planned by powerful people or that important people can "just get killed" by an average person or by a common type of disease or accident. Like religion conspiracy theories try to fit evidence to an already made up conclusion, dismissing, or bending evidence that points to the contrary, unlike science which follows all the evidence and constructs a conclusion from it, a conclusion that will be adjusted as soon as eve one piece of evidence is found that contradicts the current conclusion.
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      Nov 27 2012: I completely agree, but sometimes people tend to explain relatively simple stuff with (absurdly) complex theories to a point where Occam and his razor would turn in their graves.

      Two examples that I have encountered is religious creationists who believe that the earth is 6000 years old; and people who believe that the earth is flat and this is being covered up by a NASA lead conspiracy(!)

      The lengths these people will go to refute observed data in order to uphold their beliefs is mindblowing. There is a whole forum where people discuss Flat Earth Theory and in the the discussion board you'll frequently find outrageous statements like "Flat Earth Theory is a fact and is not up for discussion", which I find equally tragic and comical.

      One thing I've discovered with these two theories is that the supporters of both theories tend to involve Einstein's Theory of Relativity in their arguments without having the slightest understanding of it.
      • Nov 27 2012: Do you include silent conspiracies? What happens when everyone knows his place, allows some sequence of events to occur that could be prevented, and then benefits from the silence? If the truth got out, then the individual would fare less well. In the case of Einstein's theory of relativity, "everyone" knows that Poincare and Lorentz were two major players in relativity, but the press is only interested in Einstein. Why is that?

        Was it a conspiracy when scientists studying the Eclipse of 1919 went in front of the Royal Society and the Royal Astronomical Society and "canonized" Einstein and the theory of relativity based on bogus data? Anyone familiar with the primitive equipment, the hostile viewing conditions and the fact that Eddington, the scientist in question, was an ardent admirer of Einstein would readily have admitted that the data were too equivocal to make any valid scientific argument, yet the story had to be told that Einstein had overturned Newton's view of the universe. Many scientists knew otherwise but said nothing.

        Once Einstein became a superhero, he became a cash cow to big physics. Just look at CERN, look at the $16 billion spent on hot fusion, the billions spent on neutrino detectors and you can readily see how the silent conspiracy works. The third rail in physics is Einstein's reputation; challenge that and you will lose a tenure track position, your funding, the best graduate students, you will be denied access to the trade journals and you will be ostracized by your peers. If the American public knew how they have been "played" the massive funding for these projects might have been questioned.

        Thousands of physcists know how much others contributed to relativity but say nothing lest they dull the shine on Einstein's halo.
        • Nov 27 2012: "The third rail in physics is Einstein's reputation"

          As a physicist I can tell you that his reputation is wholly deserved: his contributions are simply everywhere, from cosmology to solid state physics to quantum mechanics, even though he's only known to the public for relativity, he was also a keen philosopher who practically invented the falsifiability principle years before Karl Popper became famous for it. Einstein is only known for a small part of his work and he never took credit for things he didn't think of first.

          "Just look at CERN, look at the $16 billion spent on hot fusion, the billions spent on neutrino detectors and you can readily see how the silent conspiracy works."

          Or maybe, you know, a planet with a GDP of $70+ trillion figures it might be a good investment to spend some billions on fundamental science...
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          Nov 28 2012: Hi Richard

          I'm not denying existence of conspiracies. The ones that I have encountered have supporters who wants to believe and therefore are immune to logic or reasoning. An example is David Icke and his followers who believe that a reptilian race operates in a "dimension" just outside the visible light and the politicians are half reptilian half human. You'll be surprised at how many followers he has.

          I do know that Lorentz and Poincare contributed to Special Relativity, but are you saying that Einstein didn't? You do hopefully give him credit for General Relativity.

          One person getting the credit for collective work is not uncommon. The story of one man making a discovery is an easier story to sell. I don't see the conspiracy.

          How would looking at CERN, hot fusion and neutrino detectors give me any insight in how this alleged conspiracy works?

          All conspiracies are silent by default, wouldn't you say?
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      Nov 27 2012: Mr. Smith and Mr. Butt seem to agree that religion is responsible for most, if not all, conspiracy theories. I wish to suggest that that is a conspiracy theory in the making. You both seem to hold God/Religion in great contempt and assert that they are inconsistent with Science and Truth. May I list some scientists you might be familiar with who would certainly, IF they had nothing better to do, dispute your rather sophomoric claims: Bacon; Boyle; Copernicus; Descartes; Einstein; Faraday; Galelei; Kelvin: Kepler; Mendel; Newton; Planck; Pascal. For your consideration. Thank you!
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        Nov 27 2012: None of us have stated that religion is responsible for the majority of conspiravy theories. Please read the threads before you comment.
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          Nov 27 2012: Why do you suggest I did not read your remarks prior to commenting on them? How would I possibly have known what to say if I had not read them? You think I made a lucky guess choosing to comment on the very words you wrote without ever having read them? That's just silly. Also, since the subject is conspiracy theories what purpose is served by all the denigration of people of faith and people who believe the Holy Bible explains a young Earth? Why did you and Mr. Smith sing your duet against religion if it is not implying that religion is responsible, to some extent, for conspiracy theiories? Are you now saying people of faith and people who believe the Holy Bible teaches a young Earth are not responsible for conspiracy theories? Please restate your position so I can apologize if I misinterpreted your intent. Thank you.
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          Nov 28 2012: RE: "Mr. Long this is a response to your. . . "This is your third denial that you are equating conspiracy theorists and flat earthers to people who believe in God. In the response you do it again! QUOTE: "I do not understand how you can ridicule Flat Earth believers, when you are so protective of Young Earth believers. I fail to see the difference." In one of the seven languages you speak there must be sufficient clarity to see the inconsistency of your position. You don't see any difference between a person who insists the earth is flat and a person who insists there is a god? Really? Have you considered the reason both groups believe what they do? It is easy to prove the earth spherical. It is impossible to prove there is no God. Is that enough difference for you? Conspiracy theories offer alternate possible explanations for an event. Sometimes those theories are plausible, sometimes they are too fantastic to consider. Oops, here comes the drain. Good luck sir.
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        Nov 27 2012: ...and by the way listing the names of a bunch of people - whoever they might be - who you assume would disagree does not qualify as an argument.
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          Nov 27 2012: You and Mr. Smith ridicule people of faith for having a low view of science. The list of names of people you find so unfamiliar are people of faith who played key roles in establishing the foundations of all science. It is an acceptable argument, in terms of logic, to challenge the sweeping generalization that says religious people despise and disregard science. I really think you should be able to see the relevance of the list. I recommend you find out who those people are and what they contributed to science.
        • Nov 28 2012: Edward, most of the people you listed were theists (they didn't believe in the bible) or lived in societies where being openly atheist/agnostic was pretty much a death sentence, so for all we know they faked their beliefs (this is pretty likely considering the vast majority of exact scientists from the 20th century on are atheists with most of the remainder being agnostic or theistic, and this is true worldwide). Besides, arguments from authority are logical fallacies (did you know Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan were agnostic while Stephen Hawking is an atheist as were Niels Bohr, John Bell, Chandrasekhar, Steven Weinberg, Alan Turing, Erwin Schrodinger, Richard Feynman, Pierre Laplace, Andrei Sakharov, Carl Gauss, etc...).
      • Nov 27 2012: Mr. Edward, that is critical but doesn't make sense here. No one here stated anything that holds Religion or God in contempt.
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          Nov 27 2012: I beg to differ sir. Does the following quote from Mr. Smith- about which Mr. Butt says, "I completely agree"- strike you as contemptous toward religion or God?. . . " Like religion conspiracy theories try to fit evidence to an already made up conclusion, dismissing, or bending evidence that points to the contrary". That is a grievous. mnalicious assessment of people of faith and clearly holds them in contempt.
        • Nov 28 2012: "" Like religion conspiracy theories try to fit evidence to an already made up conclusion, dismissing, or bending evidence that points to the contrary".
          That is a grievous. mnalicious assessment of people of faith and clearly holds them in contempt"

          Truth hurts, doesn't it? Are you going to stone me now or deliver me to the inquisition?

          Anyway, what Faisel stated here correctly is that we're not saying religion causes conspiracy theories (which seems to be what you think we said), we're saying religion and conspiracy theories share a common origin in the human mind: the same thought patterns that make people believe in spirits, demons and bearded skygods also make people believe in conspiracy theories.
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        Nov 28 2012: Dear Mr. Long

        I did to some extend ridicule individuals who refute logic and the reality they live in for the sake of a belief system that exists in their head. I did also call it tragic. You then assume that I am singling out religious people. To put those words in my mouth is not only unfair - it is to lower the standard of this conversation.

        You are making the assumption that supporters of Flat Earth Theory are religious. As far as I understand it is a movement of theists and atheists.

        Regarding "believers of a young earth " I see no reason to restate my position. I fail to see what they can contribute to science, as they have already made up their minds regardless of how much data or evidence you put in front of them. And the ones I have been fortunate enough to talk to do see the theory of evolution and The Big Bang as an atheist conspiracy - at least the moderate ones. Others see it as a conspiracy lead by the devil.

        I am very aware of who the people you mentioned are, thank you. Yes, it does qualify as an argument in the context you just described. But an argument against what? Against an imaginary statement that I never articulated and for some reason only you see.
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          Nov 28 2012: I bundled you with Mr. Smith on the basis of your emphatic remark about his anti-religious diatribe. You said, "I completely agree". Three simple words free of ambiguity. You are saying that you only intended flat earth folks? If so, I agree and have no discrepancy with you, and no I do not assume flat earth people are religion driven, I think they are driven by a desire to be different. I agree with you that people who ignore and/or deny proven facts ought to be ridiculed. If you were expressing condemnation of people of faith then my rebuff stands. Also, if you are aware of the people I mentioned why did you say "whoever they might be"? Just because you don't see what young earth beliefs have to offer to "contribute to science" does not mean they have nothing to contribute. If you are like most of us there are probably many things in the universe you "fail to see".Not all people of faith view evolution and the BB as an atheist conspiracy. Many view them as an alternative explanation of the universe which works without God. Peace to you sir.
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        Nov 28 2012: @Mr. Long
        RE: "This is your third denial..."

        Mr. Long, Please stick to the subject matter and refrain from cheap shots involving my language skills. This is not youtube.

        You said that Flat Earth Theorists (FET) should be ridiculed for their dismissal of facts and evidence. As I see no difference between them and Creationists (CRE) in that sense, I ask you: Why ridicule one and not the other? You interpret this as me ridiculing CRE. You then make the false assumption that CRE equals religious people and magically you come to the conclusion that I ridicule religious people.

        And you in fact introduced the term "ridicule". My original statement was that I found CRE and FET's denial of facts and evidence equally tragic and comical.

        If this is acceptable reasoning to you, I don't see any point in continuing this discussion, as you must have a definition of logic that differs fundamentally from mine. If that is the case I believe we have reached the Nash equilibrium of this discussion.
    • Nov 27 2012: Thanks for commenting John. That was very knowledgeable and helpful.

      It seems like arguing over conspiracy theories are never ending. Everyone's entitled to their opinions.
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    Nov 28 2012: having alternative perspectives is a good thing.

    some conspiracy theories are obviously ridiculous.

    some have been so poorly researched for so long that they may even seem legitimate.

    all of them are entertaining. some are thought provoking.

    this is relevant to the internet-age because, these days, more than ever, it is not about truth or not truth, it is about which version you choose to believe..
  • Dec 2 2012: I think that in many cases the world abhors a vacuum and so tries to make sense of the inexplicable. There may often indeed be conspiracies but sometimes a cigar really is a cigar. I think usually the simplest most uncomplicated rationale is the right one ( in my humble opinion.)
  • Nov 27 2012: There are historical examples of actual conspiracies, both successful and not successful. I can remember when the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed. It was later determined that the incident that justified this resolution was a sham, a conspiracy, perpetrated by elements of our own government. Also, Iraq did not hide the weapons of mass destruction, they were not there. The war with Iraq was based on lies, not mistakes. The coordination of those lies was a conspiracy.

    Most conspiracies are kept secret, so we never discover the vast majority of successful conspiracies. They are kept secret because they are harming people. You do not have to be a nut, or paranoid, or defective in any way to look for conspiracies. Another term for doing that is investigative reporting. We need more of it.

    For example, the JFK assassination and the 9/11 attack were both crimes. In both cases the federal government stepped in and the normal procedures for investigating a crime were not followed. That is an acknowledged fact. This certainly raises questions, and the possibility of a conspiracy is just one of them. In both cases, many of the questions were left unanswered, even after official investigations. This leads to a simple conclusion: either there was a cover up, or our government is amazingly incompetent.

    Also, if I were part of a conspiracy, and it appeared that an investigation might discover the conspiracy, I would do all I could to discredit the investigators. I would immediately join the ranks of the conspiracy theorists and start making up a bunch of false conspiracies, some of them completely absurd. This is one reason why so many conspiracy theorists seem like nut cases. Of course, some of them really are nut cases.

    "My questions is, do you think these conspiracy theories are actually legitimate or nothing but concocted BS?"

    My answer is, Both. It takes thorough research and good critical thinking to tell them apart.
    • Nov 27 2012: "Most conspiracies are kept secret, so we never discover the vast majority of successful conspiracies."

      How do you know this? It's very hard to keep a secret, especially after the conspiracy has reached its objectives and files start being declassified and aging participants don't want to die without the world knowing what an awesome conspiracy they pulled off, it's entirely possible that most historic conspiracies are already known to us.

      "For example, the JFK assassination and the 9/11 attack were both crimes. In both cases the federal government stepped in and the normal procedures for investigating a crime were not followed."

      Are you sure the government did anything out of the ordinary for such "crimes"? Did you really expect NYPD detectives to go to Pakistan with search warrants?

      "either there was a cover up, or our government is amazingly incompetent."

      Why? See, this is exactly the sort of thing I mentioned: because 9/11 had such an impact you just assume it was so hard to pull off, "special" people had to be involved and that any competent government must have seen it coming, but that's not necessarily true: you can't have a CIA operative spying inside every Afghan cave and all Al-Qaeda really did was pay for the piloting lessons and upkeep of a handful of suicide squads, which are a dime a dozen in the Middle East. Besides, why is it so hard to believe a government can screw up?

      "Also, if I were part of a conspiracy, and it appeared that an investigation might discover the conspiracy, I would do all I could to discredit the investigators. I would immediately join the ranks of the conspiracy theorists and start making up a bunch of false conspiracies, some of them completely absurd."

      The same thing happens if the conspiracy theorists really are just nutcases, so this gets you exactly nowhere.


      A real investogator keeps tracks of relative probabilities, stacking of margins of error, and Occam's razor, etc... that separates him from conspiracy nuts.
      • Nov 27 2012: I agree with Mr. Smith on this. When you say "successful conspiracies", I don't see anyway they can be surreptitious anymore.
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        Nov 28 2012: RE: "most of the people you listed. . . " You commit the logic fallacy of a sweeping generalization, aka leaping to a conclusion, by characterizing people who believe in God as anti-science. Then you accuse me of the logic fallacy of arguing from authority when I offer a list of thirteen giants of science who all believed in God? Preposterous sir. The list falsified your assertion. People who believe in God are not anti-science. Believers are not more prone to conspiracy theories than atheists.
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          Nov 28 2012: Mr. Long

          This is a response to your last comment.

          You keep talking about condemnation of religious people - this is simply not what any of us are discussing, nor have any of us advocated such a view.

          "Young Earth Believers contribution to science". This is probably another discussion, but I'm curious. For instance I'm really interested in knowing how they explain the fact that we can see stars further than 6000 light years away or how the population of the world has achieved such a diversity in 6000 years.

          I do not understand how you can ridicule Flat Earth believers, when you are so protective of Young Earth believers. I fail to see the difference.

          You don't believe that Young Earth Believers are conspirationists, but do you not see any resemblance at all?

          I should have said "regardless of who they are" instead of "whoever they might be". Sorry, English is my third language.
      • Nov 28 2012: I will reply to just one of your points.

        'Are you sure the government did anything out of the ordinary for such "crimes"?'

        Yes, I am sure. In both cases, both crimes, anyone who has any knowledge of the facts is sure of this.
    • Nov 27 2012: "For example, the JFK assassination"

      Another great example: "because JFK was a powerful important person he must have been killed by powerful forces" is the general line of thinking of conspiracy nuts. That's how it works in the movies and mythology: no hero or grand villain ever gets slain by a lowly henchman, but in the real world that's happens all the time, there are no character shields in real life. I'm pretty sure I could assassinate my country's prime minister (or at least a cabinet member) by next week if I wanted to, I probably wouldn't get away with it (I might even get killed by the bodyguards) but for some fanatics that's not an issue. Also, you might think about how difficult it is to kill a US president but there's a good chance many of today's security measures were only instated after JFK was assassinated (that assassination is probably the reason some of these protocols exist in the first place) and some rely on modern technology that did not exist in 1963.
    • Nov 27 2012: Mr. Balmer, I do agree with you on the concluding statement that research and critical thinking leads to these theories. That was helpful. Thank you!
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    Dec 7 2012: Just wondering if these are isolated cases, your thoughts
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    Dec 2 2012: Lobbyists.
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    Dec 1 2012: Hi Nikhil,

    It's a good question!

    I'm inclined to think that it's part of our culture of adiction.
    The conspiracy theory is the ultimate dopamine hijack - and once it becomes chronic, the delta PosB kicks in and biases the individual to go seeking more.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSF82AwSDiU

    That's not to say that conspiracies do not exist - they certainly do. But they are probably not as "sexy" as conspiracy theorists insist.

    We have a general delusion that everything has some "agency" behind it - we assume so because we each possess agency - we have the capacity to act, so everything must be the result of an agent .. but this is rarely the case.

    Very often, we see that there is some dynamic at work - some neucleus of truth behind our suspicions. For instance, the "chemtrails" conspiracy turns out to be nothing more than unregulated cloud seeding activities. So, in that instance, there is no single agency conspiring to poison us all .. it's just a whole bunch of different people trying to make a buck by selling the idea to gulllible people who have a budget to snork.

    It is certain that US imperialism seeks to manipulate global perceptions wholesale - utilising bald-faced lies when necessary (as in the Invasion of Iraq) - but this is only a result of the US definition of "democracy" - which forms-up 4-year conspiracy engines.
    Most of what we see as conspiracy seems to be just systematic by-products of mal-adapted social systems. The banking boom/bust phenomenon is also one of these - it has no specific "agent", but is just a result of the inevitabilities in the monetary system.
    In the mean time, just like television, facebook or TED - you just can't look away .. it's the ultimate in the drug we call "entertainment".
  • Nov 29 2012: Conspiracy theories are modern-day version of the myths and legends of the ancients.
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    Nov 29 2012: Most 'conspiracy theories' are nothing but 'certificates of poverty' of governments to me, as they indicate the lowest level of trust they earned in the eyes of their people.

    It is surprising to me that I am not even surprised anymore if a new scandal in politics or business comes into public.

    Prepare for the worst and 'they' still figure out how to 'top' that... ;o)

    A 'conspiracy theory' actally states nothing but a 'potential ability' of what citizen think about their leaders and institutions are 'capable of'. If this is not alarming, I don't know what could be.

    I was always fascinated why the US government is not clarifying the 'inside job' theory, especially because there are not just a view 'Hippies' or 'numskulls' naming their thoughts... (with no offence to this people!).

    If Pamela Meyer is right in her speach 'How to spot a liar', that '... attitude is by far the most overlooked but telling indicators. An honest person is going to be cooperative. They're going show they're on your side. They're going to be enthusiastic. They're going to be willing and helpful to getting you to the truth. They're going to be willing to brainstorm, name suspects, provide details' ... then there is a good chance that a conspiracy theory is born in those cases, were the leaders do not show this 'cooperative' signals and are consequently assumed to be 'lying' instead.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/pamela_meyer_how_to_spot_a_liar.html

    Any theory is based on facts and the way those facts are interpreted. Conspiracy theories are also based on facts and the situation, that there is no open discussion and excange of knowledge with authorities as those refuse to face them.

    Without this 'breeding ground' induced by 'oficcial ignorance' there were just a little left of real 'hard core' conspiracy theorists.

    The fact that the term 'conspiracy theory' is already used as a 'killer argument' nowadays to avoid self-justification towards the public, may show how lazy 'they' got.
    • Nov 29 2012: "I was always fascinated why the US government is not clarifying the 'inside job' theory"

      It would serve no purpose: because conspiracy theorists always place the goalposts at infinity. Conspiracy theorists have already come to a conclusion before they start asking questions and they will dismiss or twist everything that contradicts that conclusion. In the case of the 'inside job theory' nothing the government says would make a difference because the conspiracy theorists would just argue ad infinitum that the government forged the evidence. This is also the reason why Obama releasing his birth certificate didn't make any difference: those who already believed he was born in Hawaii got their evidence, those who believed Obama was running a conspiracy that included the state government of Hawaii simply argued that the birth certificate was fake.

      Conspiracy theorists' logic keeps running around in circles, there's absolutely no point in trying to understand it or reason with it, you'll just end up with a headache.
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        Nov 29 2012: For the 'hard core' conspiracy theorists I absolutely agree with you. But I used this example because there are also professionals and experts who dispute the results of the official investigation:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architects_&_Engineers_for_9/11_Truth

        I do not believe that 1,600+ architectural and engineering professionals are all just having a 'big party' here and on the watch for UFO's and Aliens at night as well.

        And how do we know if they will '... place the goalposts at infinity' if there is not even a will to try?

        This is as well a 'killer argument' and it can be used to cover up pretty much everything, don't you think? How do you define a 'conspiracy theorist'? How would you name someone who is just questioning official statements? Are they all the same?

        Just recently we had a scandal of our German intelligence agency about 'willfully blindness on right-wing extremism' and a strict investigation was undertaken. During this trial the supervisory committee was given more and more 'excuses' that crucial files and data have been 'accidentally' destroyed, so many times, that they 'end up with a headache' as well.

        So if someone argues that '... the birth certificate was fake', they may do this just out of bad experience in the past.

        Statements like: 'I never had a sexual relationship with that woman' or 'I did not inhale' may point in this direction.

        On certain issues persistence is the only key to the truth and naming it a 'conspiracy theory' became the first line of defense.

        I once heard a very good comment on this topic and to me there is a lot truth in it:

        The 'conspiracy theories' of today were once accepted as 'investigative journalism'.

        A species in journalism which is on the decline.
        • Nov 29 2012: "But I used this example because there are also professionals and experts who dispute the results of the official investigation:"

          Being an engineer does not make you immune to conspiracy thinking and an architect barely has a superficial understanding of civil engineering. Engineers and medical doctors are cited by all kinds of fringe groups, from UFO groups to young Earth creationists and anarcho-capitalists. This is because the general public is mostly unaware of the difference between an engineer or medical doctor (practical type, often not well versed in underlying theories, statistics and philosophy of science) and a scientist (investigator, idea maker, one who understands the theory, including its limitations behind the practical methods engineers use). Even so, the vast majority of engineers agrees with mainstream science and in the case of 9/11, the government's version of events.

          @peter below

          Yup, a diesel fire cannot melt steel but it can weaken the steel enough to make a crane collapse under its own weight.
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          Nov 29 2012: An interesting incident happened here in Australia a couple of days ago that I think has relevance to the "inside job theory". A construction crane at UTS caught fire as its diesel engine had some problem. The fire was entirely fuelled by diesel which is very similar to jet fuel. The end result was the boom of the crane collapsed under its own weight due to the fire softening its steel cables. I didn't think a diesel in air fire would be hot enough to do that.
          http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/uts-crane-collapse-was-an-accident-waiting-to-happen-20121127-2a4tl.html
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        Nov 29 2012: So what makes you immune to conspiracy thinking?

        As an mechanical engineer I am very much aware about the 'underlying theories, statistics and philosophy of science' as I worked many years in the field of science to 'investigate' and also to see the limitations behind the theoretical methods scientist use.

        What limits your 'ideas' and 'understanding of theory' to science only stays mysterious to me and I personally know many scientists who are part of fringe groups as well. Which proves what?

        Degree in science never was a guarantee for a clever and questioning mind and never will be or did you never question what those experts are telling you?

        The very essence of science is to question, to observe, to reason and to verify. And to put this process aside by just shouting 'conspiracy theory' does not serve anyone but those who may have to hide something.

        How big a minority has to become to you to resume a closed debate?

        And how do you measure this 'vast majority' of engineers who agree with the official investigation report? Are you counting all those 'positive' who did not enrol at AE911Truth? What is your measure, your data for this statement?

        Could you imagine a democratic government to plot a crime of that scale? And if so, what do you think would 'they' do to cover it up?

        Personally, I don't know if 9/11 was an inside job, but given the facts what happend after it, and what it was 'used' for, I would not be surprised to find out that it was. This is what I meant by saying:

        'It is surprising to me that I am not even surprised anymore if a new scandal in politics or business comes into public.'

        I don't have your faith in the 'good' of governments and any other powerful institution. Maybe because I have seen enough of this sort of 'big business', maybe because I lost my credulity somwhere on the way.

        On this I like the saying:

        Optimism is nothing but a lack of information.

        Which to you may just be part of my German 'Angst'... ;o)
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    Nov 29 2012: "In Argentina the public was convienced that the rich were responsible for all of their problems ... the government took their wealth. That did not solve the problems so then it was the middle class that was the cause ... so the government took all of their money and property as well. Argentina went from the second most powerful and economically strong country in the world only behind England to the poorest in a few short years because the government kept telling them it was everyone elses fault that the government and the country was going broke. Is this an example of government conspiracy? "

    I hear this story alot from citizens of the US but it is highly inaccurate. The history of Argentina involves a long sequence of political and military dictatorships leading up to the re-establishment of democracy in the mid 1980s. Ironically it was after the re-establishment of democracy that the financial collapse occurred. Argentina never achieved full industrialisation with an economy based on agriculture even at its height. In Australia we have many Argintine immigrants who fled the country during the 70s and early 80s.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_history_of_Argentina
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      Nov 29 2012: I only skimmed the wiki article. Under "Causes of progressive decline" they make no mention of the increased government spending. WTF?

      A couple of things I see as contributing factors would be that their rule of law is not stable it appears they prefer a coup to an election?

      Land ownership was limited to land grants in the past I don't know about latter

      Peron instituted tariffs which is similar to Hoover's boned headed Smoot Hawley act that instantly shot unemployment up a lot. This was in the mid 40s

      But the thing that is telling is the graph that shows per capita production plummeted from about 1935, that is the correlation that one should look at. Ok here is your huckleberry in the 1930's Argentina instituted a program called ISI which cut off trade which was another bone headed idea.


      To understand further why this is important I recommend these insanely elegant videos

      http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.html


      Notice the comment on South American land ownership in this video

      http://www.ted.com/talks/niall_ferguson_the_6_killer_apps_of_prosperity.html
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    Nov 28 2012: A conspiracy theory explains an event as being the result of an alleged plot by a covert group or organization or, more broadly, the idea that important political, social or economic events are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.

    In Argentina the public was convienced that the rich were responsible for all of their problems ... the government took their wealth. That did not solve the problems so then it was the middle class that was the cause ... so the government took all of their money and property as well. Argentina went from the second most powerful and economically strong country in the world only behind England to the poorest in a few short years because the government kept telling them it was everyone elses fault that the government and the country was going broke. Is this an example of government conspiracy?

    The basis of any plot is to convience someone/everyone that something/someone is evil and that they are the cause for their problems ... that you offer them a better alternative.

    Wow we have just defined the basis of political campaigns and the seduction of the voters.

    Just like your examples the point is to tell people what they want to believe and make promises that they HOPE will come true even though logic says that it will not occur.

    In you example of the CIA .. all I have to do is convience you that they probally did this and so why not that. I also demonstrate to you that the government is evil and that the CIA is the center of evil. Now I give you the AIDS theory. Bingo you are on the street yelling and screaming at Washington. You want the party that is in ... OUT. It does not make any difference if it is true or not .. you think it is and that is enough. Great speakers do this all of the time ... Hitler was one of the best. Some you can track and prove false .. but it is already to late. Headlines on page one large print .. retraction on page 32 small print.

    Bob.
  • Nov 27 2012: John I agree we should be spending billions on basic research, just not focussed as much on physics. For the billions spent on neutrino detectors, if we'd had more research dollars go into earthquake prediction, we might have forecast the Tokyo megaquake. If we'd had ocean bottom accelerometers we might have saved thousands of lives lost in the tsunami.

    If we'd spent billions on new energy technologies other than hot fusion, we would have energy independence today. This is a perfectly predictable consequence of the biggest pork project science has ever seen. When you look at the way hot fusion scientists have corrupted the scientific method even to the extent of falsifying graphs just to discredit cold fusion, you would have little doubt that hot fusion scientists engaged in a conspiracy to shut down cold fusion research in this country. They were so concerned that cold fusion would compete for funding, they vilified it.

    You would have seen the way hot fusion scientists installed a toady in the patent office just to deny patents to cold fusion scientists (which they had to get oversees in Italy, France, Korea, Japan, etc.). If you'd seen the threatening letter coming out of Washington stating, "If you have so much as one graduate student working on cold fusion you will get no funding.", you would have little doubt a conspiracy existed.

    If you'd seen how cold fusion scientists have been shut out of the trade journals, ostracized by their peers, had their reputations smeared, been threatened with law suits, etc. you'd believe that there was a conspiracy to shut down cold fusion research in this country.

    Einstein lowered the bar for ethics in science and physicists, especially hot fusion scientists, have easily followed in the footsteps of the maestro. Nice try on all the great accomplishments---it sure looks like the party line.
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    Nov 27 2012: I feel the demise of Hostess was the result of an insidious conspiracy started by Michelle Obama to further implement her eat healthy agenda, pure evil.
    • Nov 28 2012: You may be on to something, Pat. Anyone who considers a doughnut as the enemy is an enemy of mine.
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    Nov 27 2012: Barry makes a good point that there have in history been secret collaborations to attain objectives. Because of this, when people do not understand something, an underlying conspiracy is, theoretically, a possible explanation.

    But love of intrigue is another aspect of modern culture that makes explanations in terms of conspiracy appealing to some people and believed more often than might seem rational.