Saturday, 29 May 2010

Conspiracy Theories

From the assasination of Lincoln to 9-11 nothing seems to attract the public imagination more than a conspiracy theory. Now there is an entire conspiracy theory literature and books are written about the dangers of conspiracy theorists. We live in the "brave new world of big brother" (people should read the books before slinging the names around indiscriminantly including me). Governments do want to hide some of the things they do and how can we tell when we are being lied to.

This blog entry was in fact inspired by the book "You are being lied to". Some of the articles are by respected authors such as Noam Chomsky and Howard Bloom but many of the authors are unknown to me, so why should I believe anything they say?

How can we tell if there is any truth to the claims? Well we need to use logic, science and reason and we need to find hard evidence.

Take for example the article by Jim Marrs - What is Missing from this Picture. I read the article about how much evidence is missing from high profile cases and you have to wonder. How can the police and the government lose so much evidence? What do they have to hide? The problem is that this is building a whole story on one or two pieces of information. To use a phrase from Terry Pratchett you are living on narativium. You have a story and you make the facts fit the story you want to believe in. So when you read articles like this you have to be careful not to be caught up by the story.

One example is the campaign to find illegal behaviour in the Clinton-Gore adminsitration and to connect this with the death of Vince Foster and Ron Brown (and even TWA 800). Now we know that certain right-wing groups were trying their hardest to smear Clinton after they had got the Republicans to employ a special prosecutor in an operation called the Arkansas Project. In the end it was the people behind the smears and the prosecutor who ended up as the losers. It is very easy to find coincidence and circumstantial evidence but if this is all you have then you have to be very careful at what conclusions you make.

For a Holywood take on conspiracy theories you can enjoy:

  • The Net - A hacker's identity and life is destroyed as she uncovers a conspiracy.
  • Conspiracy Theory - Mel Gibson hams it up
  • Enemy of the State - The NSA bad guy's birthday is 9/11
  • JFK - but read the websites about Oliver Stone's playing with history.

Best of all and a must watch for anyone interested in conspiracies, is Arlington Road. This is absolutely brilliant, especially as it showed how the US was vulnerable to home grown terrorism before 9/11.

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