Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Who You Gonna Believe...Your Own Lyin’ Eyes?

The Guardian is out with an examination of conspiracy theories and the reasons why people go for these (HT The Daily Bell).  From the piece, with my initial thoughts in italics:

From 9/11 to the Paris attacks, from Ebola to Isis, every major global event attracts a corresponding counter-narrative from the ‘truthers’ [this is good news], some so all-encompassing that they take over people’s lives [probably not healthy unless focused on real investigation and action]. Are our brains wired to believe, as a new book argues? [Wired to believe authority, perhaps] And could such thinking actually be beneficial? [For the healthy among us.]

It is interesting that this comes from the Guardian – the news source that has gained some credibility with anti-state / anti-empire types due to reporting such as provided regarding Snowden, as one example (not that I am advancing a conspiracy theory or anything).  The author does tread lightly and respectfully.

The author of the piece, David Shariatmadari (I won’t type the last name again), begins with some testimony from a recovering conspiracy theorist, one apparently previously obsessed with 911 conspiracy theories.  How does David respond?

Elliott’s reaction to the trauma of 9/11 was far from unusual. The attacks were so unprecedented, so devastating, that many of us struggled to make sense of them. Early reports were confused or contradictory: as a result some treated the official version of events with scepticism. A proportion of those in turn plumped for an explanation that would require fakery and coordination on a massive scale.

The official narrative of 911 involves “an explanation that would require fakery and coordination on a massive scale.”  If we are to dismiss every theory of 911 based on this criteria, it is the official narrative that is the most preposterous and therefore must be the first to go.

Setting this aside, it seems to me unnecessary to come up with an alternative theory, at least as a starting point; the official narrative is so full of holes – and questioned by numerous architects and engineers, pilots, etc. – that it is sufficient to acknowledge that we have been fed a massive lie, and one that has resulted in the needless death of millions and the trashing of liberties for billions.

Within a day of the terrorist attacks on the French capital, blogs had been published arguing that they were the work of the government – a so-called “false flag” operation.

I have no idea if the recent attacks in Paris were a false flag operation (although the apparent perpetrators were well known to French intelligence agencies); however, no one with even an ounce of curiosity could conclude it was the first one ever in history.  Questions should be raised, if for no other reason than to call into question the spending of countless trillions of dollars spent to spy on everyone in the world, resulting in the stupendous failure of Paris (or San Bernardino, or whatever).

Belief in so-called conspiracy theories has been pretty consistent, according to Viren Swami, professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin University:

What has changed, however, is the speed with which new theories are formed. “It’s a symptom of a much more integrated world,” he says. The internet speeds everything up, allowing conspiracy-minded individuals to connect and formulate their ideas.

This is to the benefit of us all: no matter how quirky our ideas – not only regarding such events, but also (in my case) regarding economics, liberty, etc. – it has become much easier to find community and to build on the learning of others.  We are no longer confined to work colleagues, the neighborhood bar, a church social group, or postage-sized ads in the back of some obscure magazine or another.

Social psychologist Karen Douglas agrees:

It’s very easy to go online and find other people who feel the same way as you.

Returning to Viren Swami:

In contrast, it took months for theories about Pearl Harbor to develop.

And such theories about Pearl Harbor turned out to be true.

It turns out we are not alone:

“Recent research has shown that about half of Americans believe at least one conspiracy theory,” [Douglas] says. “You’re looking at average people; people you might come across on the street.”

Half down, half to go.

Karen Douglas is wary of rubbishing all conspiracy theorising as dangerous. “Thinking in that way, it must have some positive consequences. If everybody went around just accepting what they were told by governments, officials, pharmaceutical companies, whoever, then we would be a bunch of sheep, really”.

Would it be a conspiracy theory if one suggested that the entire premise behind government education and control of mainstream media is to turn us all into sheep?  Swami offers:

For him, this hints at an important potential role for education. “The best way is, at a societal level, to promote analytical thinking, to teach critical thinking skills.”

How much critical thinking does it take to question something very simple: say building 7, for example?  If furniture fires can bring down a modern high rise, why hasn’t every building over three stories tall been condemned as unsafe?

In any case, they don’t want to teach critical thinking (wait, another conspiracy, perhaps?).

Returning to the recovering conspiracy theorist noted at the beginning of David’s piece, describing his liberation of being set free from critical thinking:

“That was the epiphany, really. I was free. I was happy. None of the doom and gloom predicted and promised ever came.” For Ryan, by then 27, the bizarre ride was over.

And this is the hope of those who spoon feed us (is that another conspiracy theory?): it certainly makes life simpler to just believe what we are told.

All is for the best
Believe in what we're told
Blind men in the market
Buying what we're sold
-          Neil Peart, RUSH

Here is my own list (not only conspiracy-theory type items, but also an examination of the false history we have been fed).  It is over a year old; I suspect a few links may be dated or dead.  I have also written more on such topics since then; I intend to update this list in the next month or so, but it will do for today.


First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
-          Mahatma Gandhi

We are clearly somewhere between steps two and three.


  1. " seems to me unnecessary to come up with an alternative theory, at least as a starting point; the official narrative is so full of holes – and questioned by numerous architects and engineers, pilots, etc. – that it is sufficient to acknowledge that we have been fed a massive lie, ..."

    Oh come on,fergit"architects and engineers, pilots" fer chrissakes, why can't you just be another sucker and "rationally" believe the government's very own, highly trustworthy mouthpiece, the National Institute of Science and Technology [N.I.S.T.] , instead, Hmm ?

    After all, these guys claim, with a straight face, and backed up by their amazing, unbiased, er, "scientific research" that on 911, one of the twin towers collapsed in, guess what, 9 secs, and the other collapsed in, guess what 11 secs ?

    " NIST estimated the elapsed times for the first exterior panels to strike the ground after the collapse initiated in each of the towers to be approximately 11 seconds for WTC 1 and approximately 9 seconds for WTC 2. ..." ... towers.cfm

    And so it goes... :-)

    Regards, onebornfree

  2. Who are you going to believe: people actually involved in the events or conspiracy theorist keyboard warriors looking for notoriety?

  3. One has to actually understand a bit of how the brain “appears” to work. Twin Studies and other research seems to imply that our brain has certain “inherited Compartments” and in each of us they are different sizes. The environment will fill these compartments to varying degrees with the category of stuff they are made to contain.

    There is credible research that Liberal and Conservative are largely inherited. There is evidence that “Religiosity” is inherited and a person will then put “Heavy” Judaism, or Heavy Christianity, or Heavy Islam etc in place. Another with a smaller space will be very lightly religious if any etc.

    It is not a coincidence that all these Conspiracy Kooks are mostly American. I suspect that there is a space in their brain which likes to take on “Beliefs” and they are going to fill that space as required. Maybe Ghosts, Aliens, Flying Saucers, or 9/11 or the Moon Shot, or Tower 7. They will fill it with something which others do not see. I personally see a high degree of (almost psychotic) paranoia in a lot of them.

    The False Flag Clique, have no idea how Governments work. Governments are by their structure loaded with parasites and incompetents and because a government is not an entity but a very large and broad spectrum of disparate and internecine individuals they are incapable of creating a False Flag event.

    Kennedy was not killed by the "Government" but by one or two very secretive people who needed him gone. I also believe that most of the Cover Ups were 1960's style gross incompetence of the normal Statal Employees all the way up to Police Chiefs. Those were innocent and low technology times.

    I have never yet read of a credible False Flag event. The Crazies can see False Flag in every single happening. These events are in the realms of the Rosswell Aliens, and always "Denied/Hidden/Secret/Unofficial etc.

    When Occams Razor is applied to the Conspiracy Theory it does not pass. Conspiracies are always far more complex and convoluted than reality.

    There is a randomness to everything and there are some statistical precursors of Cause and Effect. Pearl Harbour was a no-brainer. The US was tweaking the Japanese tail so hard it was not "what" but "How"

    With Terrorism as asymmetrical warfare we are always surprised by the "What", forgetting we have already set the process in motion. When the "What" arrives the False Flag Clique immediately invent a conspiracy.

    We have a sick failing culture and spend a lot of time blaming everybody around us for everything.

    1. "Kennedy was not killed by the "Government" but by one or two very secretive people who needed him gone."

      Graham, do you mean to suggest the official story is not true?

      "I have never yet read of a credible False Flag event."

      You have just fallen several notches in my eyes. A few more of these and you will reach "Gil" status; ignored. One or two more thereafter and you will become a non-person, like Dick (I mean Richard) Burn.

    2. Cognitive dissonance?????
      Cognitive dissonance is a psychological term describing the uncomfortable tension that may result from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behavior that conflicts with one's beliefs, or from experiencing apparently conflicting phenomena.
      In simple terms, it can be the filtering of information that conflicts with what you already believe, in an effort to ignore that information and reinforce your beliefs.

      In detailed terms, it is the perception of incompatibility between two cognitions, where "cognition" is defined as any element of knowledge, including attitude, emotion, belief, or behavior.

      The theory of cognitive dissonance states that contradicting cognitions serve as a driving force that compels the mind to acquire or invent new thoughts or beliefs, or to modify existing beliefs, so as to reduce the amount of dissonance (conflict) between cognitions.

      Experiments have attempted to quantify this hypothetical drive.

      Some of these have examined how beliefs often change to match behavior when beliefs and behavior are in conflict.

      Is that you Graham????

    3. The simple way to prove such conspiracy theory is false is if it were true it would be worldwide news and not in the kooky corner. For example, had the Moon landing been faked and JFK was assassinate by the LBJ and the CIA then the Soviet Union would have every reason to expose these facts to the world. In real life both conspiracy theories appeared after each event and never get out into the mainstream despite everyone's heard of it.

    4. From Uncle Charles Burris:

      A must watch

    5. Graham, in an effort to aid your awakening I offer the following:

    6. "If you can't completely eradicate wrong ideas, or deal with inveterate vices as effectively as you could wish, that's no reason for turning your back on public life altogether. You wouldn't abandon ship in a storm just because you couldn't control the winds."

      St. Thomas More, Utopia, 1517

      Complete text of a plaque formerly on the wall at St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Capitol Hill where John and Robert Kennedy used to worship.

      ",,,truth is loved in such a way that those who love some other thing want it to be the truth, and, precisely because they do not wish to be deceived, are unwilling to be convinced that they are deceived."

      St. Augustine, Confessions (10:23), Fifth Century

      "...ignorance is said to be voluntary, when it regards that which one can and ought to know...And ignorance of this kind happens, either when one does not actually consider what one can and ought to consider; this is called 'ignorance of evil choice,' and arises from some passion or habit: or when one does not take the trouble to acquire the knowledge which one ought to have…"

      St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 13th Century

      "The first law of history is not to dare to utter falsehood; the second, not to fear to tell the truth."

      Pope Leo XIII, public letter, 1883

      "I am more and more impressed by the fact that it is largely futile to get up and make statements about current problems. At the same time, I know that silent acquiescence in evil is also out of the question."

      Thomas Merton, Faith and Violence,1968

    7. owyhee, this is very good. Thank you for taking the time to put it together.

    8. Thanks, but was stolen from David Martin.I went to public school! If you want to know about Big
      Bird,Dick and Jane ,Partridge Family,and Spot I am your man.

      Thanks for Washington Blog piece,

  4. Great piece, Bionic.
    What is your position on 9/11? Do you believe all of the "controlled demolition" business, or do you have a more nuanced view?
    -James Waldrop

    1. I have not studied it enough to have a nuanced view. I have studied it enough to conclude that many aspects of the mainstream narrative are not credible - or even physically possible.