Conspiracy Theorists and Haterade

I’ve come to the conclusion that folks who consistently hate on “conspiracy theories” either don’t actually know HOW to read (let alone WHAT to read) OR they are in the employ of architects of conspiracies.

If a conspiracy is little more than a willful attempt to eliminate or minimize risk from our many endeavors, why is there so much contempt for those who develop conspiracy theories?  If a conspiracy theorist told you three decades ago that the United States government attempted to assassinate other heads of state, what it take to establish credibility?  Don’t tell me.  A three decades overdue report from that same government attesting to those very assassination attempts.  Now, if that’s the case, you must know you’re dumber than a box of rox.

If Jose Canseco told you that baseball was full of steroid users and you panned his revelations as the rant of a disgruntled player, what would it take to rehabilitate his account?  The national media almost universally dismissed Canseco as a resident of the lunatic fringe.  Canseco is in from the cold, but the national media has yet to look at much more than the stories handed to them by players.  It’s hard to believe that illegally breached grand jury testimony of a single player lies at the heart of an ongoing media fascination with something alleged to dominate the game.  If your focus is on that single player instead of the relationship between a media which ignored the story in 1998 and now refuses to dig deep, you must know your dumber than a box of rox.

Conspiracy theorists are often easily dismissed because their depictions in the popular mind are highly stereotyped.  If you’re looking for renegade hippies with all the social skill of your psychotic Uncle Jerry, then the mission has been accomplished.  Still, there are individuals and groups whose sole purpose is to minimize risk – and if that is your sole purpose, you will ACTIVELY work to eliminate or reduce randomness and/or actions by others that impact your bottom line.  If your bottom line was gambling and tourism money from Bautista’s Cuba, and you exercised a risk management imperative, it might look like a “Bay of Pigs” operation or something similar.

And, yet…there are so many people living in our pseudo-random society who simply cannot imagine that someone actually plans their day.  These people pay insurance premiums – and that industry is predicated on mathematical formulas on your longevity and quality of life.  Accidents are for suckers.  The CIA doesn’t believe in accidents – they simply assert the principle of “plausible deniability.”  Now, what’s plausible to you is really what is up for questioning.  Why do you believe what you believe?

Do you know?

14 comments

  1. Conspiracies abound. Most of them operate in plain sight. It doesn’t take any special talent or insight to discover how they operate, just diligence and integrity. Nonetheless, there is an endless parade of cranks who are convinced that they have been anointed to enlighten the rest of us with the obvious. If they could unwrap their egos from the information, it would probably find an audience. It’s not the theories, it’s the theorists.

  2. We used to keep all sorts of conspiracy theorists employed. But the thing is their work had a debilitating effect. If the world really is controlled by secret forces, and knowing what those forces are give you nothing but knowledge, where is your agency? That road leads to a static conception of reality that none of the people I’d consider revolutionaries bought into.

  3. Malik – amen to that.

    Lester – The Council on Foreign Relations inspired this post. CFR is behind the web site http://www.allafrica.com. I took at look at how CFR recounts their own history – and there are no pretensions about mapping the future of the entire world – and there is also a quotation to the effect of: “Nothing is possible without men and nothing is enduring without institutions.”

    As I type I’m watching a documentary on Nubia narrated by Keith David…he’s going into detail about the anatomy and origins of this Sudanic kingdom.

    Our institutions are what require rebuilding – and our attention to their survival requires acknowledgment of active attempts to break them down. Our revolutionaries did not leave institutions to carry on their work.

  4. Temple3, yes. Malik said it well too. What’s especially rich is that “conspiracy” [to steal, to defraud, to commit murder, etc…] is the most popular word on court dockets in America; it is the most common crime with which people are charged in our legal system. So apparently there’s a lot of conspiracy going on out there, people huddling and coming up with schemes (in back alleys and board rooms and command centers). If ya don’t get that, you’re really not paying attention. I don’t think the world is controlled by secret forces; I think those forces are for the most part in plain sight.

  5. Conspiracies are obvious once you know where to look. They’re easily found. One need not be paranoid to find them. Nonetheless, if you’ve not been instructed in where to look or the machinations of the various games, plots and schemes, something as apparently as innocuous as the government’s decision to no longer report M-3 data will escape you.

    Imagine living in a nation-state/empire where wage earners pay taxes to a government run by private citizens with the capacity to print money – and no account of how much money is actually printed. Further imagine the implications of competing nations propping up this economy by purchasing American debt in order to secure energy resources. That’s a tough thing to wrap your head around if you have no understanding of at least one of the constituent parts: energy, finance, international relations, etc.

    And because of the complexity, Lester’s point on “agency” becomes critical…there must be an active context to engage information with the real work and transform material conditions on an ongoing basis: institutions. Now the challenge is that a critical mass of people will “chooose” not to work with, support or contribute to institutions which seek to do this work precisely because they are unable to grasp the complex, conspiratorial nature of the opposition.

    It’s an interesting paradox inside of one helluva conundrum.

  6. What? Systems like the Fed, the movie industry, and the IMF were set up and run just by fiat?

    Obviously there are organized systems and efforts out there to run the planet. Call it conspiracy call it whatever. Real it is. That doesn’t mean that everything is under “control”. Shit happens. But the organized structures are there.

  7. We’re all agreed that the systems are in place…I believe we also agree that just because they have big budgets and satellites, they are neither perfect nor impervious to taking losses.

    “It’s not the theories, it’s the theorists.” – I like that line.

  8. Hey, a little late to the conversation, but here’s my two cents:

    Conspiracy theories – true conspiracy theories – are like God. They are impossible to prove or disprove; they require faith… that’s the rub with them. No matter how much “proof” you submit to me, short of taking me to the moon and showing me Neil Armstrong’s footprints and flag, I’m gonna say it was all staged. You can’t disprove me if I truly believe in that.

    Conversely, if you tell me that The Illuminati is real, and runs the world… I’m not going to believe you until I see it for real. (Um, for the record, those aren’t my actually view, just examples.)

    So in the end I general view conspiracy theories with the apathy of an agnostic. “Whatever, either way… we’ll never really know…”

    That having been said, some of these “conspiracy theories” aren’t totally theories… Canseco said “steroids”, and the media tried to cover it up and ignored until they changed their minds, and decided that they would shout “steroids” to everyone so to discredit the accomplishments of a great athlete like Barry Bonds. I don’t consider anything “theory” about that… it seems like a factual stating of historical events.

    Of course, history is written by the victors, and only by fighting to make people tell the truth can we insure that history is recorded properly.

  9. temple, I agree with your points about conspiracy theorists being “stereotyped”, but that is in large part because we never want to get to a poin to where anyone is just allowed to believe whatever the hell they want. Their has to be a minimum threshold of eveidence before a discussion begins and too many people bypass the evidence gathering stages. Also, as has been already said, if someone has an opinion that is UNFALSIFIABLE, a trademarke characteristics of many “conspiracy theorists”, then they are not worth my time. Any opinion that I have can be altered with the introduction of new evidence, and this should be expected from everybody.

    I don’t know if your Canseco example qualifies. I don’t know if the negative reaction to Canseco was so much that he was promoting tall tales as much as that he committed the crime of being “a rat”. I say all that to say that I will not engage in one more discussion with someone about the 9-11 Pentagon Plane Crash if they refuse to discuss hundreds of eyewitness testimony, DNA evidence of bodies recovered, plane debris, and a missing plane previously full of passengers..

    Finally, i like your site

  10. Conspiracy theories need to have some kind of evidence, and there is usually a trail of evidence. One must use care when making inferences. On the flip side, many things are claimed to be coincidences that are more than just that.

    For example, in a small city in southern new england the city government issued id cards to undocumented immigrants who lived in the city. This enabled them to open bank accounts and do other things that are granted as rights to normal citizens but someone without papers cannot do (if you cannot open a bank account, read your life is in danger because you carry large amounts of cash with you). Not less than a month later, the federal government (ICE) conducts a raid in the section of the city where the largest concentration of Puerto Rican and Dominican people live. They take their children who were born here and stick them in orphanages. But the federal government then claims there is no link between the targeted raid and the fact that the city (with a large African American and Latino/a voting bloc) issued the ID cards. I guess this one is pretty obvious and even the mayor publicly connected the dots.

    Lets take other examples. There is no document that directly suggests the actual assassination of King or Malcolm X, but there was a COINTELPRO program and one of the FBI documents stated an overall policy of “preventing the rise of a black messiah”. The stated policy objective and what actually happened are at least consistent.

    There is a book called “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” that was discussed on Democracy Now a few weeks back and a lot what the author talked about sounds like a conspiracy. Conspiracies are normal. A government and its capitalist class cannot tell the proverbial masses that they are simply out to enrich themselves, they must cloak their actions in noble objectives such as “human rights”, “democracy”, “liberation from Hussein”, etc.

  11. Hold up Craig, you’re not seriously saying that the moon landing was a hoax, are you?

    No, Dr. David Groves is saying so…,

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