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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2013 > Oct > Oct 2

Re: The Conspiracy Of Conspiracy Theorizing

From: Jerome Clark <jkclark.nul>
Date: Tue, 1 Oct 2013 15:35:14 -0500
Archived: Wed, 02 Oct 2013 10:21:24 -0400
Subject: Re: The Conspiracy Of Conspiracy Theorizing


>From: Vincent Boudreau <vincentboudreau.nul>
>To: post.nul
>Date: Tue, 1 Oct 2013 14:21:18 -0400
>Subject: Re: The Conspiracy Of Conspiracy Theorizing

>>From: Jerome Clark <jkclark.nul>
>>To: post.nul
>>Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2013 09:22:31 -0500
>>Subject: Re: The Conspiracy Of Conspiracy Theorizing

>>>From: Vincent Boudreau <vincentboudreau.nul>
>>>To: post.nul
>>>Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2013 15:26:49 -0400
>>>Subject: Re: The Conspiracy Of Conspiracy Theorizing

>>>>From: Jerome Clark <jkclark.nul>
>>>>To: post.nul
>>>>Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2013 07:58:36 -0500
>>>>Subject: Re: The Conspiracy Of Conspiracy Theorizing

>>>>>From: Ray Dickenson <r.dickenson.nul>
>>>>>To: <post.nul>
>>>>>Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2013 11:13:37 +0100
>>>>>Subject: Re: The Conspiracy Of Conspiracy Theorizing

><snip>

>>>>>Ha! Conformist hack journalists wanting brownie points churn
>>>>>this stuff out on a regular basis.

>>>>>Why do folk believe in 'conspiracy theories'? Because they know
>>>>>of small and large conspiracies all around them - in every town
>>>>>hall, county court and seat of legislature.

>>>>>The fact is that when people get _any_ power they get corrupt,
>>>>>and corrupt people conspire.

><snip>

>>>The problem with the notion of "conspiracy theory" is that it
>>>has become a device used to prevent any further discussion about
>>>facts that do not fit the _official_ explanation.

>>>A good example of this is the 911 incident. Some facts
>>>definitely don't add up: Building 11 went down, flight 93
>>>yielded no significant debris and the hole in the Pentagon does
>>>not fit the plane that allegedly hit it.

>>>This will not be addressed because some point their index
>>>uttering the ultimate accusation: "conspiracy theory",
>>>ultimately filibustering the debate with two words.

><snip>

>>The problem with an argument like this is that in effect it
>>denies the existence of the psychological/social/political
>>phenomenon of conspiracy theories, in other words paranoia-
>>based, empirically unjustified allegations about public misdeeds
>>and their causes, of the sort that been documented all through
>>history (or that you can hear from any barstool ranter). In this
>>formulation, in which ordinary thinking is turned on its head,
>>one idea must be judged as good as another. The crime is not
>>spreading falsehoods but calling the falsehood spreader by name,
>>in this case conspiracy theorist.

>>And while you're making that argument, call the conspiracy-
>>theory nonbeliever a bigot and liken him to a homophobe. Next
>>thing, you can declare that critics of conspiracy theories are
>>akin to anti-Semites and racists. In fact, something is
>>fundamentally wrong with the argument if you have to resort to
>>such bizarre tropes.

>>Yes, it is true that, for but one example, Watergate, an abuse
>>of power of historic dimensions, occurred. No, it does not
>>follow that it is equally true that Jews control the world
>>economy, that President Eisenhower was a Soviet agent, that the
>>U.S. government is in collusion with evil aliens, or that
>>President Obama, whose foreign birth sinister conspirators have
>>concealed, secretly directs an international jihadist network.
>>Or that the last Bush administration was behind 9/11, as our
>>correspondent seems to believe may be the case.

>>Again, indulging in this sort of unhinged thinking only serves
>>to divert us from the detection of real scandals and abuses
>>which deserve to be exposed and and which do not require us to
>>make fantastic leaps of faith and good sense to credit.
>>Conspiracy theorists have the paradoxical function of serving
>>those in power by trivializing issues, just as UFO crackpots and
>>extremists have diminished the impact of serious investigators
>>seeking to document genuinely puzzling sightings. Reality is
>>complex and confusing, but ultimately it does not have the
>>texture, or the plot, of a cheesy paperback thriller, the true
>>home of the conspiracy theory.

>>Here's a conspiracy theorist in action:

>>http://tinyurl.com/os8z7md

>>It's good - necessary - to be skeptical about what official
>>authority tells you. (All of us who were deeply suspicious of
>>what we were told in the lead-up to the Iraq War have been fully
>>vindicated.) It's also wise to be skeptical about what
>>conspiracy theorists peddle. There is plenty of high-level
>>deception and skulduggery to go around, but you're not going to
>>learn about it from Alex Jones, the John Birch Society, and
>>their frightened faithful.. There's a reason - and not a
>>conspiratorial one, as our correspondent implies - that
>>conspiracy theories are held in such disrepute. One idea is not
>>as good as another. In the end, facts matter.

><snip>

>You have misread my post.

>I simply point out that "conspiracy theory" has become an ad
>hominem attack to prevent any further discussion on delicate
>subjects.

>It has become a device to end the discussion.

>Antisemitism would be another.

>Racist also.

>Bigot also.

>Not that conspiracy theories, antisemitism or racism do not
>exist, it is that their use has been corrupted in some way: they
>have have become tripe.

>I am not saying that they should not be used either, but
>considering their power, and their modern distorted usage, it
>becomes necessary to use them wisely and to be prepared to back
>them up with robust facts.

>In a sense, one has to be able to put one's money where one's
>mouth is.

>Hence, one cannot sit there and spit out "conspiracy theory" and
>expect to be given a free pass to not further pursue the
>discussion with facts and keen analysis.

>Buzz words must be upgraded from laziness to accountability.

>That would clear the air immensely.

>I am sure we can all do without the name calling.

"Name calling"? You evidently don't want to deal with the richly
documented historical reality of conspiracy theory in promoting
the worst human fears, beliefs, and actions. Let me be clear: I
am not accusing you personally of anything other than historical
blindness and apparent ignorance of the reasons conspiracy
theories are held in such disrepute. And to remind Listfolk: it
was you who implied that critics of conspiracy theorists are the
moral equivalent of bigots.

More generally, since I don't want this to be a personal
squabble:

As a long-time observer of the conspiracy phenomenon, I see no
evidence that non-conspiracy theorists are being unfairly
targeted in any significant numbers. Yes, it happens on
occasion; I have already noted that someone who suspects a
government agency is not being forthcoming or truthful is not a
conspiracy theorist for that reason alone. I criticized a writer
for confusing most Roswell advocates, who think (rightly or
wrongly) that official agencies are withholding information,
with devotees of John Lear and Bill Cooper, who are/were
conspiracy theorists by any definition.

Unfortunately, genuine conspiracy theories remain ubiquitous,
and they have a corrosive effect on rational discourse. The
effect on political discussion in America in these angry,
polarized times has been disturbing, to say the least.
Conspiracy theory is an industry, and its effects are
everywhere. For example, owing to conspiracy theorists, millions
of citizens believe that President Obama is foreign-born,
disloyal, and worse.

Innocent people, including public officials and private citizens
alike, are victimized by conspiracy theorists all the time,
accused of crimes they neither committed nor thought to commit.

Historians, investigative journalists, prosecutors, police
officers, and even ordinary citizens have managed to uncover bad
behavior, including (yes) actual criminal and political
conspiracies, without being accused by any credible source of
excessive imagination and unbridled paranoia. In the end, truth
outs, and facts tell the story.

We'd all have clearer idea of what real crimes and abuses are
out there if we didn't have conspiracy theorists constantly
conjuring upimaginary ones and confusing even well-intentioned
people. We should all remember that the real world is scary
enough.


Jerry Clark



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