Conspiracy Theories

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Seraph
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Seraph » Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:41 am UTC

A fair argument; but if there's really a bin Laden guy who can procure lots of fanatical followers and high-tech weapons, why doesn't he spare a few of them to make the attempt?

Because they've been trying to attack other places doing other things, including (but probably not limited to) in approximate chronological order:
Embassies in Paris and Singapore, a synagogue Tunisia, warships in the Strait of Gibraltar, a hotel Mombasa, Madrid train, London subway, Jordon hotels, Algerian office & police station, Danish embassy in Pakistan.

Not to mention the other non-bombing terrorist activities they've been up to (eg. Kidnapping and murdering Danial Pearl).

I also object to your claim that Osama bin Laden can "procure lots of fanatical followers". Al-Qaeda attacks each involve only a few handfuls of people, and don't occur at a rate much higher then one or two a year. How do you get "lots of fanatical followers" from that? And what the heck are these "high-tech weapons" that you speak of?

*EDIT*
I'd also just point out (and go back to the threads original topic). This is one of my biggest problems with conspiracy theorists (and people who challenge the "official story" in general). They set up these baseless fantasy scenarios and then proceed to explain how they are wrong. The JFK "magic bullet", the jet fuel "melting" steel in the twin towers, or totally misrepresenting the nature of Al-Qaeda, they're all fantasy scenarios that take seeds from the mainstream and then grow to outlandish proportions.

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby drunken » Fri Dec 05, 2008 3:50 pm UTC

JoshuaZ wrote:
But in the post you quoted I was mainly talking about how the US was the victim of an illegal coup, and that this coup was never reported by the mainstream media to this day. This terrifies me. Your government was taken over by a group of individuals with no legitimate right to power, that was 40 years ago. It was not reported by the media meaning the media are also in the pocket of this illegitimate establishment, or vice versa.

I'm sorry but what are you talking about? I'd like to think I have a pretty decent knowledge of conspiracy theories but I'm drawing a blank on this one.


I was referring to the murder of the US President John Kennedy.

JFK wrote:For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence--on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed.“ -John Fitzgerald Kennedy


JoshuaZ wrote:
folkhero wrote:One conspiracy that turned out to be tragically true is the Tuskeegee Experiment.

Yes. An absolutely horrific event. It makes it highly understandable why many blacks in the US find conspiracy theories about HIV to be so plausible; they were actually subject to a genuine medical conspiracy. But there is an interesting detail about Tuskeegee that is often overlooked: there were no conspiracy theorists making any claim that an event like Tuskeegee had happened. It came completely out of nowhere.


This detail of Tuskeegee is not overlooked, in fact it was this detail that I believe folkhero was trying to illustrate. Correct me if I am wrong but you seem to be saying this reflects badly on the conspiracy theorists. There was no way they could have known, it was too effectively covered up.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Philwelch » Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:03 pm UTC

drunken wrote:I was referring to the murder of the US President John Kennedy.

JFK wrote:For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence--on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed.“ -John Fitzgerald Kennedy


He was referring to communism.

Is it your argument that the US government has been run by communists for the past 40-something years?
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby JoshuaZ » Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:14 pm UTC

drunken wrote:
JoshuaZ wrote:
But in the post you quoted I was mainly talking about how the US was the victim of an illegal coup, and that this coup was never reported by the mainstream media to this day. This terrifies me. Your government was taken over by a group of individuals with no legitimate right to power, that was 40 years ago. It was not reported by the media meaning the media are also in the pocket of this illegitimate establishment, or vice versa.

I'm sorry but what are you talking about? I'd like to think I have a pretty decent knowledge of conspiracy theories but I'm drawing a blank on this one.


I was referring to the murder of the US President John Kennedy.


I'm not sure where to begin. First note that conspiracy claims about the Kennedy assassination occurred pretty soon after his death (About the time that Oswald got killed by Jack Ruby. IIRC that triggered a lot of them). This was extensively reported in the general media. And has has many books, documentaries and works of fiction written about it.

Moreover, who was this "group of individuals with no legitimate right to powerJFK's then popular elected vice-president LBJ? And who then came to power with LBJ given that he made almost no modifications to Kennedy's appointments? And then this same junta allowed itself to be voted out of office shortly thereafter?

drunken wrote:
JoshuaZ wrote:Yes. An absolutely horrific event. It makes it highly understandable why many blacks in the US find conspiracy theories about HIV to be so plausible; they were actually subject to a genuine medical conspiracy. But there is an interesting detail about Tuskeegee that is often overlooked: there were no conspiracy theorists making any claim that an event like Tuskeegee had happened. It came completely out of nowhere.


This detail of Tuskeegee is not overlooked, in fact it was this detail that I believe folkhero was trying to illustrate. Correct me if I am wrong but you seem to be saying this reflects badly on the conspiracy theorists. There was no way they could have known, it was too effectively covered up.


It does reflect badly on conspiracy theorists that one of the most extensive and despicable actual conspiracies didn't trigger a single worry prior to it being extensively publicized. Taken together with the many conspiracy theories out their that have little to no basis this makes the conspiracy theorists not only have serious problems with false positives (asserting there are conspiracies when there are none) but also massive issues with false negatives (not recognizing the presence of conspiracies when they exist). Incidentally, the claim Tuskeegee that was too effectively covered up is simply false. Articles about the ongoing research were published in major medical journals. Tuskeegee occurred almost completely in the open except to the subjects themselves.

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Elvish Pillager » Sat Dec 06, 2008 12:45 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:And no, the official theory only requires that Bin Laden can get 19 people to live in the United States for years on valid visas and ID's, put 4 of them through flight school, and have them all coordinate four hijackings within hours of each other and execute 4 kamikaze attacks. That takes more time and money and effort and organization than you think.

Sounds plausible. Sure sounds like a conspiracy to me.

Are you trying to argue against me? My argument is that either the "official story" is clearly a conspiracy theory, or it doesn't hold water. Not both. The only contradictory belief is one that states that 9/11 could have happened, plausibly, without involving a conspiracy, in a way consistent with the official story.

Seraph wrote:I also object to your claim that Osama bin Laden can "procure lots of fanatical followers". Al-Qaeda attacks each involve only a few handfuls of people, and don't occur at a rate much higher then one or two a year.

Then, let's see, we're worried about them why?

One of the tenets of the "official" 9/11 story is that this sort of attack represents a threat that deserves more attention than typical policing.

Seraph wrote:And what the heck are these "high-tech weapons" that you speak of?

Bombs. Anything that uses technology to kill dozens of people in an instant is "high-tech" to me. Am I behind the times?
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby folkhero » Sat Dec 06, 2008 9:01 am UTC

Tuskegee, as noted above wasn't covered up to anyone except the victims. Those involved published papers that were on public record. these men were condemned to agonizing and preventable deaths and no one even had to hide what was going on from the public at large. Like Ellison's protagonist, they were truly invisible men; no one saw what was right in front of there eyes.

Any secret conspiracy worth it's salt is more likely to victimize the voiceless rather than doing something that will catch the attention of billions of eyes. Consider the U.S. secret prisons in foreign countries; your probably much better off at Gitmo because at least you have some sliver of visibility there.

The point I was trying to make was that it's easy to say, "so many people wouldn't be complacent to such an atrocity," or "that sort of thing might happen in a concentration camp or a gulag, but not here in good old [insert democratic country]." Lots of people are willing to go along with evil no matter what country they are from, and this is a truth that we best not forget.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby jwthomp2 » Sun Dec 07, 2008 4:22 am UTC

If I could address an earlier part of the conversation that I think was getting to the heart of the matter...

Philwelch wrote:Well, it's generally easy to argue about the physical facts. We only need to apply a little bit of verificationism and check the evidence and apply physics to see what's up. That said, it's almost impossible to pinpoint 45 years later whether Lee Harvey Oswald had clandestine meetings with rogue agents working for the LBJ political machine, and it's impossible to get deep enough inside the US intelligence community to find out just how much GWB knew on September 10.


I agree that it is all about the evidence and physics to determine whether or not a conspiracy theory is true or not, but I believe that you, Philwelch, are asking the wrong questions. The first task of the forensic investigator at the scene of the crime is not to speculate as to who was involved with who, but to determine an exact accounting of what happened.

There is a simple test to prove whether or not the JFK assassination and 9/11 were conspiracies or not, and it lies in the video evidence.

For the JFK case, let me introduce exhibit 1, the infamous Zapruder film. This film gives a clear view of the President being assassinated as his motorcade rolls through Dallas, and thus is very graphic in nature, so be aware if you look it up. (Available on You Tube and various internet sources)

1. As the killing head-shot hits the President, his head and body move backward and to the left (Zapruder film).

2. I understand that bullets interacting with soft tissue is a rather complex phenomenon, but physics tells me that a bullet will impart momentum to the head, moving the majority of the remaining intact head in the same general direction as that of the bullet.

3. Kennedy's head-shot had to have come from in-front of him, because his head moved backwards when it was shot.

4. Oswald was almost directly behind the president at the time of the shooting, and not in position for the killing head shot.

5. Therefore Oswald could not have fired the killing head-shot, and it was a conspiracy, plain and simple.

The same smoking-gun evidence exists for 9/11, except it is in the video of the collapse of WTC 7. Though I feel this should perhaps be reserved for future discussion under a different topic(?)

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby McCaber » Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:48 am UTC

I've heard that the exit wound gives most of the reaction to the shot, hence the head moving toward Oswald.

I've also heard that the best way to simulate this is by wrapping a watermelon in a sort of tough plastic. There are some very convincing videos out there on that very subject.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Philwelch » Sun Dec 07, 2008 9:09 am UTC

jwthomp2 wrote:1. As the killing head-shot hits the President, his head and body move backward and to the left (Zapruder film).

2. I understand that bullets interacting with soft tissue is a rather complex phenomenon, but physics tells me that a bullet will impart momentum to the head, moving the majority of the remaining intact head in the same general direction as that of the bullet.

3. Kennedy's head-shot had to have come from in-front of him, because his head moved backwards when it was shot.

4. Oswald was almost directly behind the president at the time of the shooting, and not in position for the killing head shot.

5. Therefore Oswald could not have fired the killing head-shot, and it was a conspiracy, plain and simple.


The second shot on Kennedy (the first went through his throat, causing him to raise his hands to his neck) was clearly a glazing shot, not a direct shot. It clearly carves out a chunk of his head sideways instead of smacking head-on into him and knocking his head in the direction of the shot. Just look closer.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby jwthomp2 » Sun Dec 07, 2008 10:42 pm UTC

McCaber wrote:I've heard that the exit wound gives most of the reaction to the shot, hence the head moving toward Oswald.


I would tend to doubt this, as the first shot that hit Kennedy in his upper back, exiting his lower neck area, did visibly force him forward and cause him to raise his hands. (Zapruder film)

Also, in a true XKCD-style diagram of the forces, I have a hard time imagining where such a backwards force would originate from, particularly if that was to be the dominant force moving the head. I can imagine, however, how significant side forces could be created that would expel material to either side of the entry and exit wound.

McCaber wrote:I've also heard that the best way to simulate this is by wrapping a watermelon in a sort of tough plastic. There are some very convincing videos out there on that very subject.


I watched several watermelons being demolished by various caliber guns, and the only significant movement of any part of the watermelon towards the source of the bullet, was in the case where the bullet was large enough to simply cause the entire watermelon to explode. I don't think such as example is directly applicable to the case to Kennedy's head-shot.

Philwelch wrote:It clearly carves out a chunk of his head sideways instead of smacking head-on into him and knocking his head in the direction of the shot.


It was a grazing shot to the right side of his head, and caused pieces of his head to be ejected to the side, but this still doesn't seem to clearly explain why the majority remainder of his head would snap back instead of forward. His body pitched forward when shot from behind, so why not his head?

I did some digging on my own, and figured that a thorough autopsy report could clear this matter up, and I actually found a (somewhat) plausible explanation there.

In 1979 the The United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) formed a forensic panel which undertook the unique task of reviewing original autopsy photographs and X-rays and interviewed autopsy personnel, as to their authenticity.
[...]
The forensic pathology panel concluded that President Kennedy was struck by two, and only two, bullets, each of which entered from the rear. The panel further concluded that the President was struck by one bullet that entered in the upper right of the back and exited from the front of the throat, and one bullet that entered in the right rear of the head near the cowlick area and exited from the right side of the head, toward the front. This second bullet caused a massive wound to the President's head upon exit. The panel concluded that there is no medical evidence that the President was struck by a bullet entering the front of the head, and the possibility that a bullet could have struck the President and yet left no evidence is extremely remote.

Because this conclusion appeared to be inconsistent with the backward motion of the President's head in the Zapruder film, the committee consulted a wound ballistics expert to determine what relationship, if any, exists between the direction from which a bullet strikes the head and subsequent head movement. The expert concluded that nerve damage from a bullet entering the President's head could have caused his back muscles to tighten which, in turn, could have caused his head to move toward the rear. He demonstrated the phenomenon in a filmed experiment which involved the shooting of goats. Thus, the committee determined that the rearward movement of the President's head would not be fundamentally inconsistent with a bullet striking from the rear.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Kennedy_autopsy)

So the official explanation in light of the Zapruder film is not that some strange force caused his head to move backwards, but that it was a nervous system reaction.

This I find somewhat more plausible than the "magical backwards force" explanation, and will have to do some more grizzly research on this "would ballistics expert" and the poor goats being shot and twitching in funny directions. (I wonder if that is on YouTube?)

Anyway I find this fascinating, as I had never heard of this explanation before.

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby JoshuaZ » Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:31 am UTC

Elvish Pillager wrote:
One of the tenets of the "official" 9/11 story is that this sort of attack represents a threat that deserves more attention than typical policing.


That claim (whether or not it it is true) has nothing to do at all with the explanation of what happened. It is a secondary conclusion.

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Dazmilar » Mon Dec 08, 2008 6:03 pm UTC

Thank you, Oliver Stone, for really pushing "back and to the left" into the lexicon.

Bodies move all sorts of interesting ways when they're shot. One key point of the headshot on JFK is that there's an exit wound. This means that only a fraction of the force of the bullet is applied to the head to move it forward. Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion, after all, and if the bullet is leaving the head, then it is continuing in motion, meaning less force has been applied to the head. In fact, if you look at the Zapruder film in slow motion, you'll notice that right before the front of his skull explodes, Kennedy does in fact move forward a small amount. The explosive force of the exit wound, which includes a jetstream of brain tissue and skull fragments, rockets Kennedy backwards.

His movement following the neck shot is also easily explained. He's clutching his neck, choking on his own blood, coughing.

As to whether conspiracy theories are bad for society, yes. They generate counterknowledge that diminishes the general knowledge of a population. The more people that believe the moon landings were faked, the dumber your society is. And in the internet era, real knowledge is almost always under constant assault from counterknowledge. Real history is under attack from alternative history, real science from pseudo-science, scientific medicine from alternative medicine. Once a significant portion of the population believes something stupid, they'll attempt to inflict said stupidity onto the education system, to get it official.

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby jwthomp2 » Mon Dec 08, 2008 6:22 pm UTC

You guys might be right on this one. After reviewing the Zapruder film carefully, I have decided that his head movement was probably due to some shockwave effect from the bullet. More left-wards away from the impact rather than directly backwards.

On conspiracy theories in general, are they bad for society? Only if they promote ideas that are not soundly based on fact and verifiable evidence. The idea of the government faking the presence of WMD's to sell the war in Iraq is a conspiracy theory, and the idea of the government creating the Gulf of Tonkin incident to incite war in Vietnam is a conspiracy theory. Yet both, in my opinion, seem to be fairly well established as fact.

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Dec 08, 2008 6:37 pm UTC

jwthomp2 wrote:On conspiracy theories in general, are they bad for society? Only if they promote ideas that are not soundly based on fact and verifiable evidence. The idea of the government faking the presence of WMD's to sell the war in Iraq is a conspiracy theory, and the idea of the government creating the Gulf of Tonkin incident to incite war in Vietnam is a conspiracy theory. Yet both, in my opinion, seem to be fairly well established as fact.

Yeah. That distinction has sort of come up before in this thread, because there are and have been real, genuine conspiracies. When one generally talks about "conspiracy theories" or "conspiracy theorists", they tend to be referring to the sort of Massive Cover-Up(TM) alleged by some to have happened with 9/11, or JFK, or the Moon Landing, or UFOs, the Holocaust, or what-have-you.

(Yes, I did just compare 9/11-Truthers to Holocaust deniers. No, I don't think that counts as Godwining the thread.)





Editing here because I don't want to bump the thread; I'm sure Greg won't mind. Anyhow:

No more 9/11 ANYTHING in this thread. AT ALL. There's now a 9/11 specific thread. Hooray.

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby frr » Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:49 pm UTC

Every conspiracy theory I've encountered when I was younger fell apart as I learned more about stuff.
I doubted that people landed on the moon based on the fact that you don't see stars on the photographs. Since I own a camera it has become clear to me that stars are just too faint to be seen in those photos unless you seriously overexpose the foreground.
I wondered about UFOs until I looked at some videos suggesting more plausible explanations such as UFOs being silhouettes of Blackbirds or lights from secret rocket starts for spy satellites etc.

Most typical conspiracy theories are just really fantastic and unlikely interpretations. And a lot of the rest can be explained in a perfectly logical way when you deal with them in a scientific manner.
Lastly, there are some theories that are worth listening to. A nation building large concentration camps to kill millions of jews - sounds extremely unlikely, why would anyone do that? The CIA secretly developing a truth drug? Sounds like a typical conspiracy theory.

The simple solution is not to rely on what random people claim to be the only truth but investigate yourself if possible.

Is the vilification fo conspiracy theorists justified given the number of actual verified historical conspiracies?
Do false conspiracy theories do significant damage to society?
If you were around at the time of a real historical conspiracy would you have believed the people claiming that it was a conspiracy?
If the government lies about what happened in a certain event does that necessarily imply that they are complicit in the event?

No. Because vilificating someone for his ideas doesn't help anybody. If his ideas are that stupid, debunking it publicly should be enough anyway.
Yes. As mentioned above - the myth of a huge jewish conspiracy did have severe effects.
Depends... I prefer the most plausible explanation - which one this is depends on the information available at the time. Since I'm not omniscient, I may have inadequate information and thus may believe the wrong thing without knowing it.
No, but a government that feels it should lie has some sort of problem.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby drunken » Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:31 pm UTC

jwthomp2 wrote:There is a simple test to prove whether or not the JFK assassination and 9/11 were conspiracies or not, and it lies in the video evidence.
For the JFK case, let me introduce exhibit 1, the infamous Zapruder film.


While I agree withthe statement that the evidence is in the video, I can not abide by the 'back and to the left' mantra as proof of anything. The focus on such a complicated physical situation is detrimental to actually talking about the real evidence because it hogs the limelight undeservedly.

Debunking "back and to the left": I have watched the zapruder film many times, as I am sure most people here have. I have watched it in slowmotion frame by frame, I have watched it digitally enhanced and even seen it with strange filters. When the bullet hits his head actually jerks very quickly forward ever so slightly, about a centimetre or two, and then more slowly (but still a fast movement) it moves back, and to the left. The spray of the exit wound seems to come out the right side of the head and if I had only seen the shot second of video and knew nothing more about the case I would assume the shot came from the left side of the convoy. It is clear that the shot did not come from this direction and no one is claiming that it did. Of the two positions that are most often given for shooters I would say that the spray could be consistent with both, and that it shows nothing conclusive. None of what I have said is meant to imply that the president was not shot from the front, just that the zapruder film does not prove it.

One thing that the zapruder film does show are the reactions fo the drivers of the limousine. These are trained secret service drivers and the biggest priority of their training is to keep the president safe. The slow down as they enter the stretch of road where the incident occurred. When the first bullet hits they turn around and watch, continuing to slow down. They wait until the presidents head explodes and then they calmly turn around, even the one who didnt have to watch the road, and start to accelerate away.

There is video evidence of a conspiracy. I submit exhibit 2, the last statement made by Jack Ruby to the media a few days before his death.
http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=we2eucWXqjg

Exhibit 3, a video from just around the corner of the schoolbook depository of secret service agents being ordered to stand down from their positions at the rear of the car around 2 or 3 minutes (by my guess) before the shooting. The Zapruder film also confirms the abscence of these men. Can anyone here find any other footage of a us president riding slowly in a convoy through crowds without 2 to 4 secret service men on the corners of his car?
http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=XY02Qkuc_f8

Exhibit 4, testimony from the lover of Lindon B. Johnson, who came forward much later. She claims that Johnson knew of the killing beforehand, celebrated it's success with an exclusive party, and implicated to her "oil people" as having been involved.
4a: http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=NzPvpPcmiGA
4b: http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=18u-FLsAFlg&feature=related

For the most comprehensive collection of footage relating to the assassination I recommend Part 1 of "Evidence of Revision" which can be found here: http://freedocumentaries.org/film.php?id=235. This film is just the video with no kindly grandfather voice telling you how to interpret it. It includes recorded witness testimony and many news broadcasts.

although it is sound and not video, another important recording is the testimony of Howard Hunt, author and CIA operative at the time. Who claims on his deathbed that he was personally involved with the assassination plan in his capacity as a CIA operative: exhibit 5.
http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=OlpL7qZxPhA

The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the assassination was a conspiracy, ie that more than just Oswald were involved. There is also strong evidence that Hoover and Johnson were involved. That means coup.

Wikipedia: A coup d’état (pronounced /kuːdeɪˈtɑː/ AHD: [ko͞o"dā tä]), often simply called a coup, is the sudden unconstitutional overthrow of a government by a part — usually small — of the state establishment — usually the military — to replace the branch of the stricken government, either with another civil government or with a military government

Why is everyone so apathetic about this? It is not over, an illegal government, once it has attained power, is able to subvert the course of democracy to keep itself in power, and this has happened on at least two occasions since JFK was shot. I try to get people to talk about this because I care about the citizens of the US and they are on very dangerous ground. Most of the people I know outside of the US don't even really question that there was a conspiracy and that it was a coup and the more cynical ones say things along the lines of "oh well it's their own fault they refuse to help themelves" which I think is an immoral position to take. The problem is that the media in the US is not telling the public what is happening anymore. They chant doublespeak until it is believed and deliberately obfuscate and ignore the actual important issues. Until the US public takes back it's media nothing will change.

If the JFK conspiracy is true isn't it time we stopped trusting the official version given by his killers in subsequent incidents and situtaions like RFK, M.L. KIng jnr., jonestown, South America, Afganistan, Iraq. etc? Maybe it's time we started believing the conspiracy theories and asking the government to prove them wrong. Or to prove the official version at least.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby frr » Mon Dec 15, 2008 6:23 pm UTC

Why don't we at least attempt to remain on topic while making meaningful contributions?

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Conspiracy Theories

Postby mypsychoticself » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:52 am UTC

First, an explanation: Over New Year's my aunt loaned me a DVD that she had been given by a friend of hers. Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement is about the Bilderberg group, and their plans for global enslavement.

So, to get a discussion going, are there any conspiracy theories that you believe to be true? Are there any conspiracy theories that particularly bother you? How do you react when people tell you about conspiracy theories that they believe?

Spoiler:
Personally, I was really bothered by this movie. It starts with a logical premise: a bunch of powerful people talking behind closed doors is probably a bad thing. It is especially bad when these powerful people are a mix of corporate and governmental figures, and the press is barred from the property. When it goes off the deep end is when the director (Alex Jones) speaks as though these people all have the same goals and are working as a unified entity. He also talks about the European Union as though it is a single country, rather than a group of countries each fighting for their own interests. The "subtle" racism was just icing on the cake.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Cheezwhiz Jenkins » Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:20 am UTC

I don't really believe in any conspiracy theories.

9/11 conspiracy theories and of course moon landing conspiracies theories drive me bonkers.

But when people tell me their theories I just nod and smile...I figure they'll believe whatever they want to believe, that furthermore it's their right to believe whatever they want to believe, and also I just don't feel like arguing with them. :D
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Vohu Manah » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:39 am UTC

The problem with most conspiracy theories is their evidence: it never exists, because it is 'covered up' or the government 'doesn't want you to know', which doesn't create a good basis for logical discussion. Many also tend to base their facts on assumptions (e.g, since the government would obviously do action x, because everyone knows person y would do such a thing_)

mypsychoticself wrote:Personally, I was really bothered by this movie. It starts with a logical premise: a bunch of powerful people talking behind closed doors is probably a bad thing. It is especially bad when these powerful people are a mix of corporate and governmental figures, and the press is barred from the property. When it goes off the deep end is when the director (Alex Jones) speaks as though these people all have the same goals and are working as a unified entity. He also talks about the European Union as though it is a single country, rather than a group of countries each fighting for their own interests. The "subtle" racism was just icing on the cake.[/spoiler]

And you continued watching it after you heard Alex Jones's voice?
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby lulzfish » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:49 am UTC

I believe all the conspiracies we already know about: Facebook wants to sell your personal info to advertisers, advertisers want you to spend money on frivolous shit, soap dries out your skin, Google is up to something, and almost nobody wants you to be able to program your devices because then you wouldn't be able to buy their software.

But I don't think anyone's out to "take over the world", because that's a very nebulous idea in the first place. Of course all political parties want to take over the US, that's their job.

So other than advertisers, consumer electronics companies, social networking websites, and Microsoft, Apple, and Google, no, I don't think anyone is out to "get us" or "take over the world".

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:15 am UTC

Not really anything other than mundane ones like "Corporation-With-Monopoly-In-X abuse their market position" and "The Government is going to introduce even more stealth taxes because they're broke". However, it seems that the mere lable of "Conspiracy Theory" is a fantastic way to discredit an idea these days. I think it's the association with smelly recluses and tinfoil hats. Nobody wants to be associated with smelly recluses and tinfoil hats, so as soon as they're told "it's just a conspiracy theory", they'll shut up about it.

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Azrael » Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:31 pm UTC

This thread either needs to very quickly start being Serious Business, or it will simply no longer be.

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Flightless_bird » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:28 pm UTC

I find conspiracy theories very fascinating. I like to see how the trail of thought leads to the assumption that most of the time I find completely crazy. I consider most conspiracy theories to be amusing fiction and sometimes I even get caught along in the trail of thought and it takes me a while to realize that there really isn't any proof for this. Sometimes loosely based assumptions can really appeal to you.




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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby stevey_frac » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:36 pm UTC

What about conspiracy theories that hurt people?

Someone I know, believes that 'Big Pharma' is out to get everyone to takes as many drugs as possible, and that all drugs don't actually help. As such, he took his wife off of her osteoporosis medication, probably ensuring that she will suffer multiple fractures before she dies, lowering both the quality and duration of her life. Attempts to discuss result in the typical conspiracy theory bullshit.

He is also convinced that the cure for cancer has already been discovered, but that the government won't let it out, because to many people would be put out of work. He believes it's some combination of herbs and bark or something crazy that native north Americans have been using for centuries. Thus if he, or anyone he knows gets cancer, he will attempt to force this crap down their throats. This has happened. Attempts to discuss result in typical conspiracy theory bullshit.

How do you respond to conspiracy theorist crap when really, ignoring it is probably not your best option because people are going to get hurt? Discuss.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Iv » Wed Jan 06, 2010 4:30 pm UTC

It has already been mention that well informed people already know about real "conspiracies". The fact is that most of them don't have to convince all of the population, but just enough to reach their objectives.
"Iraq has WMD"
"Halliburton works only for the betterment of the world"
"Japanese whale hunter work only for research"
"Piracy makes artists' profits go down"

stevey_frac wrote:How do you respond to conspiracy theorist crap when really, ignoring it is probably not your best option because people are going to get hurt? Discuss.

About most conspiracies, there are enough documentation to prove them. Point this fact and the absence of facts for the conspiracy you mention. Keep in mind also that some people don't think of facts as evidence. A surprisingly effective method is then to just mock them and their theories in a petty way.

And while it is the OP question (but I am not sure if it will be tolerated long here), here is a list of fringe theories I believe in but am eager to change opinion given enough proofs of the contrary :
- Al Quaeda is a semantical construct of the anti-terrorism ideology to make believe that terrorist groups have a hierarchy where they are the stand-alone complex par excellence. For example, even Obama which I used to be quite enthusiastic about, lied in his speech in front of West point students when he linked London bombings and Al Quaeda (most clues indicate the men have been planning this alone)
- The Somalis pirates are not just mere criminals but more of a citizens' militia that bug international commerce. The have killed less hostages than the rescue missions (0 to 1). In the meantime, illegal foreign dumping of nuclear wastes happen in their waters.
- We have no proof of Bin Laden's culpability in the planning of the 9/11 and I find the Saudi leads have been dismissed a bit too lightly. I am still waiting for a trial in this and I hope their will be an investigation led by a court of justice to say what the "secret clues" that Bush had and that did convince my incompetent president to help out were.

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Indon » Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:53 pm UTC

So we want to bring up credible conspiracy theories? Well, there's the Wedge strategy.

There was our last president's administration's undue interest in invading Iraq, even before they started looking for a pretext, there're a couple public documents about that too.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby mypsychoticself » Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:05 pm UTC

Iv wrote:- The Somalis pirates are not just mere criminals but more of a citizens' militia that bug international commerce. The have killed less hostages than the rescue missions (0 to 1). In the meantime, illegal foreign dumping of nuclear wastes happen in their waters.

When you say "bug international commerce," to you mean to say that they are interfering in commerce, or that they are using electronics in order to spy. I find your phrasing somewhat difficult to understand.

Stevey_frac, what is the wife's position in this situation? Is she, for whatever reason, unable to make her own medical decisions?

As far as confronting people goes, I have never met someone who was willing to change their mind. It is somewhat like religion in that respect.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Philwelch » Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:39 pm UTC

In the category of crazy, implausible conspiracy theories, there's the idea that the CIA had a secret mind control program in the 60's complete with LSD experiments, or that the military had a secret plan to fake terrorist attacks from Cuba against the US government...but there's no way either of those could be true.

stevey_frac, is your acquaintance a fan of convicted con man Kevin Trudeau?
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby drunken » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:02 am UTC

In answer to the OP question, in addition to the theories other people in this thread have claimed to believe, most of which I agree with:

-International aid and especially world bank/imf loans are measures designed to destabilise and weaken economies not to help them.
-Almost all war is over resources regardless of what the combatants claim (oil gold diamonds etc.)
-Corporate interests especially military industry have more control over the US government than the population of the US
-Most media especially in the US is being controlled by corporate interests.
-Certain useful and beneficial technologies are being supressed (I do not believe this includes any energy technologies that would enable us to continue to squander eneergy at the current rate) by people with a vested interest in the things they would replace.
-Organised religion has been designed to control and dominate people for hundreds of years
-Psychedelic drugs and cannabis are illegal for for reasons entirely different from those claimed by the governments responsible
-Airport security is a complete waste of time and resources and also has other goals than those claimed by the governments responsible
-copyright/piracy/child porn measures on the internet are designed to perpetuate the failing monopoly of the entertainment middle man industry, and in many cases are designed to directly prevent artists from directly distributing their own work legally.
-The meanings of the words 'terrorism', 'liberal', 'socialist', 'democracy', and many others are being systematically corrupted to make certain ideas and positions more or less reasonable than previously.
-Many national banks especially the federal reserve bank of the USA are using their massive power over national economies to increase the wealth and power of their directors and shareholders at the detriment of the national populations.
-John F. Kennedy was murdered at the instigation of Lindon B. Johnson and other top figures, and that the agents of the CIA and the secret service were involved in the execution of the plan. This amounts to a coup d'état and as such the US government (or at least the next few administrations after kennedy) can not be considered a legitimate democratic government.

These are all considered opinions based on (very limited) evidence and as such, are subject to change given new and more compelling evidence. Please feel free to tell me I am wrong.

Damn now everyone here thinks I am insane.

Furthermore I would like to request that this thread isnt taken down, I believe that conspiracies (both real and imagined) need to be discussed. I think that if large numbers of people believe something retarded that definitely warrants discussion. I also think that in cases where there are real conspiracies these deserve some scrutiny as well. Dividing the two up is also hard so a thread needs to exist for both. Yes it will get bogged down in arguments and details, no most of it is difficult or impossible to prove, yes it will be a nightmare to moderate. Having said that there is already a thread on this and maybe they should be merged or something http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?p=1026043#p1026043
Last edited by drunken on Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:04 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Saepe Erro » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:18 am UTC

Claustrophobic, asphyxiating webs of power; knowledges shrouded in a veil of darkness you can only know the names of (refusing direct perception); clandestine fraternities aligned against your interests: what else is the conspiracy theorist left with but the indignation of knowing "the Truth" (or "Truths", it doesn't matter), the sole solace of control in a complex world quickly spiraling out of control?

I sympathize with the conspiracy theorist because their type speaks to, for me at least, how utterly out of control the shaping of world events are from average-everyday individuals such as ourselves. They understand, depending on the intensity of their engagement, that optimistic ideas of individual civil participation are completely futile and illusory - and I agree, though after my own fashion.

I'm not a pessimist though, it's just that I find it best to look at conspiracy theorists from a perspective that renders them in a fruitful light. Their phenomenon, like any social phenomenon, tells us something about our world (through hyperbole in their case).

Hope I'm contributing to the conversation.

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Iv » Thu Jan 07, 2010 2:28 pm UTC

mypsychoticself wrote:
Iv wrote:- The Somalis pirates are not just mere criminals but more of a citizens' militia that bug international commerce. The have killed less hostages than the rescue missions (0 to 1). In the meantime, illegal foreign dumping of nuclear wastes happen in their waters.

When you say "bug international commerce," to you mean to say that they are interfering in commerce, or that they are using electronics in order to spy. I find your phrasing somewhat difficult to understand.
Sorry, I meant that they are interfering as they cause costly delay and ask for ransoms.

mypsychoticself wrote:As far as confronting people goes, I have never met someone who was willing to change their mind. It is somewhat like religion in that respect.
Two or three years ago, most people on this board were able to do so. Open minded people were common and interesting. I think it can still be the case. Hysterical claims are usually heavily moderated here.

Philwelch wrote:In the category of crazy, implausible conspiracy theories, there's the idea that the CIA had a secret mind control program in the 60's complete with LSD experiments
...and that Ted Kaczynski (Unabomber) was one of the test subjects.

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Indon » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:54 pm UTC

mypsychoticself wrote:As far as confronting people goes, I have never met someone who was willing to change their mind. It is somewhat like religion in that respect.


While this thread in general has gone in a different direction, for this particular thread of the conversation I'd direct you to this SB thread.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Le1bn1z » Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:58 pm UTC

I understand the reluctance of many to believe most conspiracy theories. Many, after all, are paranoid rubbish.

However, many have taken from this that broad and ambitious conspiracies do not exist; that they are fantastical figments of our imagination.

In cases like this, history is the best judge. And history is unequivocal on this point: these sorts of conspiracies (such as those attributed to the Haliburton-Bush power grouping etc.) have been successfully executed in the past many times.

Some of my favourites include:

1.) Cecil Rhodes, English diamond magnate, who successfully engineered the Boer war with the help of his political connections. Many empirial soldiers died to expand his personal corporate empire into territories controlled by the Boers.

2.) The Jugurthine Conspiracy in Rome, though it eventually fell through, Prince Jugurtha DID manage to buy the support of Senators for his coup.

3.) The scores of coups, tyrannical installations and intractable civil wars in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere pulled off by Western or Soviet interests. Some favourites include: The Battista government in Cuba; the Diamond wars of Western Africa and the American role in deposing elected president Allende and installing right-wing dictator Pinochet in Chile.

4.) The Soviet takeover of Cuba and subsequent creation of a dictatorial terror-state.

There are scores more examples. But multinational conspiracies involving cash and power are commonplace in history, both that of the West and of other nations. It is naive in the extreme to believe that they have suddenly and miraculously ended.

There can really be no doubt that there was a conspiracy to manufacture a war with Iraq, for corporate, political and ideological reasons. But this is an excellent example of how conspiracies are often more complex than people give them credit for. Many people involved in the push for war were not even remotely aware that the evidence of WMDs were bogus. Indeed, there was honest and forthright agitation for war from many quarters (including some on the political left) for war long before WMD allegations surfaced.

Most successful conspiracies play upon existing forces and desires in society, and try to manipulate them to some advantage. They then hide behind the same forces. For example, Lenin and Stalin took over Russia on the back of a genuine revolution, which they twisted into a perverted a personal toy kingdom. The original revolution had very different things in mind.

As for conspiracies existing today?

Certainly, there are banal, run of the mill conspiracies to fix prices, to take over unions and control elected officials (by the mob) etc.

My favourite, (though certainly far fetched) is the Passive-Agressive Apocalyptic Conspiracy to Destroy the World by the American "Christian" Right. Essentially, the American far-right is convinced that the End Times are almost here, and are anxious to help them get here quicker. Thus, although they are forbidden by their faith to aggressively outright slaughter everyone, they work to aggravate likely problems that could lead to appocalypse. This includes an active campaign to promote global warming and to prevent birth-control is countries where population is spiralling out of control, not to mention a movement to ensure a world that is armed to the teeth. While there are legitamate players on the right-wing side of these issues, I'd be shocked if there weren't significant players who were actively working along this veign.

Remember, too, that history has demonstrated time and time again that there's nothing like heady power to bring out the crazy in everyone.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Iv » Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:37 pm UTC

Le1bn1z wrote:My favourite, (though certainly far fetched) is the Passive-Agressive Apocalyptic Conspiracy to Destroy the World by the American "Christian" Right. Essentially, the American far-right is convinced that the End Times are almost here, and are anxious to help them get here quicker. Thus, although they are forbidden by their faith to aggressively outright slaughter everyone, they work to aggravate likely problems that could lead to appocalypse. This includes an active campaign to promote global warming and to prevent birth-control is countries where population is spiralling out of control, not to mention a movement to ensure a world that is armed to the teeth. While there are legitamate players on the right-wing side of these issues, I'd be shocked if there weren't significant players who were actively working along this veign.
While this theory is quite seducing, I adhere to the old adage "don't see malice in things that can be explained by stupidity"

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Indon » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:53 pm UTC

Iv wrote:While this theory is quite seducing, I adhere to the old adage "don't see malice in things that can be explained by stupidity"


I'm not sure it qualifies as a conspiracy theory as-written anyway.

If a lot of people individually do the same stupid thing (bringing the world closer to armageddon in this case), that doesn't mean anyone coordinated them. That just means there's a lot of stupidity out there.

Unless stupidity itself has gained sentience and is conspiring to destroy us, in which case we're doomed.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Ixtellor » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:30 pm UTC

I think conspiracy theories are exactly like religious zealots. I believe its an attempt to understand the world around them, and I imagine that in many cases it appeals to people who feel a lack of control or frustration in their own lives.
Then rather than say "Crap I have a job a I hate and I can't seem to get ahead, probably due to bad decisions I made during my life" they get to blame the Bilderberg group.
I see it as very analgous to religions who say "your life sucks because you dont' accept jesus".

As someone highly skeptical, I find the conspiracy theories to be good educational opportunities as you do the research.
I know all about the Bilderberg group and read lots of articles about them because a conspiracy theorist friend mentioned them.
What I find to be maddening is that once you have done all the research and begun to answer the questions:
["No airplanes parts were found at the Pentagon" -- then finding and showing all the photos of airplane parts]
you will find that no matter what evidence you provide, the conspiracy theorists will come with ad hoc reasons or reject the evidence because "The government fabricated it to cover up their.... ".

One particular niche group of theories I find without merit are ones involving the Federal Reserve. Having worked closely with the fed for years and now being a frequent attendee of Fed lectures both public and invite only, I see how ridiculous the conspiracies are. The idea that hundreds of autistic economic super nerds would subvert their information or overlook their bosses devious manipulations is absurd.

drunken wrote:-International aid and especially world bank/imf loans are measures designed to destabilise and weaken economies not to help them.


I think if you made the argument that the IMF oans are designed to open up foreign markets and remove impediments to foreign investment and ownership, you would be correct. But this isn't a hidden conspiracy and more importantly, is less true today. There have been major reforms at the IMF and world bank and I am not aware of any of the 'gotcha' loans they used to issue in the past.


Ixtellor

P.S. The IMF would give closed - protectionist policy country X a substantial loan they would not be able to repay, mostly due to graft. Then when country X defaulted, the only way to receive mercy was to remove the protectionist policies. After which American firms would burst in and buy/take over all the profitable local businesses and resource generation capacity. This was horrible for the borrowers, because then the profits from these businesses were funneled back to the US and not used to help the local economies. (See Alcoa)
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:57 pm UTC

I highly recommend you rent and watch the film Cube, and listen closely to one of the protagonists responses to another characters assertion that there is some global conspiracy to entrap the very individuals in the film.
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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby Vo2max » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:50 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:Not really anything other than mundane ones like "Corporation-With-Monopoly-In-X abuse their market position" and "The Government is going to introduce even more stealth taxes because they're broke". However, it seems that the mere lable of "Conspiracy Theory" is a fantastic way to discredit an idea these days. I think it's the association with smelly recluses and tinfoil hats. Nobody wants to be associated with smelly recluses and tinfoil hats, so as soon as they're told "it's just a conspiracy theory", they'll shut up about it.

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Sheep 2: Ah, you and your silly conspiracy theories.


Well yes, many of the things that eventually come out are even more crazy than the conspiracy theorists could come up with, but the usual rule about extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary proof generally resolves most claimed theories.

One that I'm on the verge of uncertainty about is about doping in a particular sport. The theory is in three parts:
1. (Almost) all professional participants in this sport are doping.
2. The authorities are fully aware of this and generally turn a blind eye, with only occasional busts to project an image of trying to stop it.
3. The authorities are selecting which athletes to protect or bust based on politics, back-handers and a sporting narrative.

My problem is that I know points 1 and 2 to be true from personal experience but point 3 feels like 'tin-foil hat' territory. But points 1 and 2 would have felt like 'tin-foil hat' territory even a few years ago. And point 3 was put to me by a reliable source that would have at least some idea of the truth of the matter (without any accompanying evidence.) Hmmm, I'd believe it in a second if I wasn't bombarded by people on internets with new crazy ideas every 20 seconds...

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Re: Conspiracy Theories

Postby stevey_frac » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:48 pm UTC

I apologize for being away from the thread. This is a highly emotionally matter for me and I opted to stay away rather then go on a nerd-rage style rant. There have been a number of posts directed at me, which I shall try to answer.

Stevey_frac, what is the wife's position in this situation? Is she, for whatever reason, unable to make her own medical decisions?


She is fully capable of making her own decisions. Furthermore, she is a retired nurse, and thus in my opinion, more knowledgeable in things medical then the other. Which is part of what further bewilders me. It's kinda like tricking an atheist into being a member of the clergy. She should know better.

stevey_frac, is your acquaintance a fan of convicted con man Kevin Trudeau?


I don't believe so, however, the naturopath that recommended all this crap probably is. I've also fired a link along about some crackpot who claimed to have a cure for cancer using some device, who then died of cancer. It was sweet irony.

As a list of conspiracy theories I believe in, I would say, not much. I tend to take a very strong anti-alarmist view on things though.
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