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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Part 3: Conspiracy Theories - A Cultural Phenomena

Between World War II and the Kennedy assassination, conspiracy theories were mostly confined to two groups of people, neither of whom could bring their theories into the American mainstream. One group, the politically disaffected, minority groups and far right political factions had strong belief in political conspiracies, but had small followings. The other group was made up of people suspicious of authority and official explanations of events. The UFO believers would fall into this group. They had much more popular support, but no political agenda.
Belief in conspiracy theories took a giant leap forward during the 1960’s, spurred on by assassination of President Kennedy. There was a huge unfavorable response to the Warren Commission’s “official version” of the event, and their conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone.

Government by conspiracy has become the dominant and expedient explanation for political action. A broad cross section of the American public believes that at least some conspiracy theories are true. This fact has attracted sociologists, psychologists, and philosophers to take an interest in the subject.
Conspiracy theories, once limited to fringe organizations, now have become common in mass media. We are in the “golden age” of conspiracy theory.
Fusion Paranoia
Today, a new phenomenon has spread across America. It is the study of diverse groups merging around the one thing they have in common - they all support the existence of conspiracy theories. The term for it is “fusion paranoia” and it was first coined by the late Michael Kelly to explain how both left and right political wings adopt anti-government views.
Fusion paranoia includes people who are suspicious of authority, fearful of the rise of a new world order, worried about invasion of belligerent extraterrestrials, people involved in the occult and spiritualism, and people just seeking simple, black and white explanations for a confusing world.

Issues thought to be different, or at least existing in different spheres of society, have now migrated from one subculture to another. What is the means of transport? Well, it may be the fusing of conspiracy theories with the ubiquitous internet. Conspiricism has now reached a new audience, a worldwide audience.
Famous Real Conspiracies:
Watergate (1972)
A clear conspiracy; admitted by the conspirators themselves. It was proven to be a conspiracy on nationwide television.

The Holocaust / Final Solution (1938-1945)
This shows how a plot can involve many conspirators and be hidden from millions of people. The Allies in WWII didn’t learn of the concentration camps until 1945.

Turkish Genocide of Armenia (1910)
Denied for 100 years by the Turkish government, most people around the world absolutely believe that it happened.

Assassination of Lincoln (1865)
A clear conspiracy but . . . in the government’s haste to put the whole thing behind them, they tried and executed those members that were in custody, but probably let other conspirators get away.

Assassination of Adolph Hitler (1944)
Up to 200 high ranking NAZI and military officers secretly plotted to kill Hitler (several times) but ultimately failed and suffered severe consequences.

Operation Snow White (1970’s)
The Church of Scientology’s efforts to have 5,000 members infiltrate the Justice Department and other agencies. The conspiracy was exposed, arrests and convictions followed.

Operation Paperclip (1945-46)
Whitewashing the NAZI backgrounds of German nuclear scientists and rocket experts being brought to work in America; combined with the U.S. government’s effort to keep it all from the public.

There are many, many more known conspiracies in human history which proves that some are definitely true.
Below are some of the more famous conspiracy “theories” with a very short opinion of their validity.

Famous Conspiracy Theories:
Remember, a simple definition of a conspiracy theory is an important event whose accomplishment would be a result of an alleged plot by a covert group or individual whose motives are unknown to the general public. The theory may include a wide range of largely unrelated arguments and methodological flaws that describe an effort to steal something of value (freedom, power, or money) from the people.
High Believability

None. conspiracy theorists and their followers will vehemently deny this.
Medium High Believability - there is just enough there to worry about

Oil industry keeps vast supplies secret to maintain prices, illusion of scarcity
There is always suspicion about this. There are so many choke points in the delivery system of petroleum such as OPEC’s adjusting its output (that very few can understand) and the limited refining capacity downstream. Oh, and also the effect of world events determining the supply. Oil seems to be more of a pawn for governments than a real business.

Car makers keeping the electric car off the market
They auto industry contends that while the technology was there, the market wasn’t interested in electric cars. I guess the public was just interested in the high maintenance gas guzzlers, and liked to breathe in smog. This whole controversy is more likely tied up with maintaining the price of gasoline than the publics’ preferences.

The industrial/military coup to replace FDR (1933)
There is a lot of circumstantial evidence to support it, but just not enough to label it as fact. Denials were made by everyone who was thought to be involved and no action was ever taken by or against anyone. This could be Depression Era paranoia.

 Medium Believability - a mix of logical theories with a lot of pervasive fabrication.

JFK assassination
This may go on forever because there are so many loose ends, and dead ends. The Warren Commission explanation was disbelieved by over 70% of Americans. The new Select Senate Committee Report (1977) gave life to the debate by concluding that Oswald did not act alone (by definition a conspiracy), although they couldn’t determine who he was working with. But even that conclusion has now been proven false as new audio evidence which refutes the sound of extra shots being fired. Because there are so many suspects and motives, we won’t have any consensus on this in our lifetime.

Influence of secret societies: (Illuminati/Freemasons/Skull and Cross Bones) Influence yes but have they created their New World Oder yet? No. That’s not to say that some of them won’t continue to try. It’s hard to keep a secret society secret long enough to accomplish their goals. What we might see going forward is pluralistic secret societies - ones that rise up here and there then shrink back before being a legitimate threat. (see New World Orders below)

Jesus and Mary Magdalene, married with children?
It was too long ago for any objective verification. The real conspiracy in this revolves around denials by the Catholic Church. What difference does it make today anyway?

Secret military projects
We know that the government has secret military projects; we have seen the results of them such as the Manhattan Project and stealth aircraft, to name just two. What conspiracy theorists seem to focus on are the alleged projects that put the test subjects or the public in danger.

FDR had advance warning of the Pearl Harbor attack
The U.S. government had broken the secret Japanese code long before the bombs fell. There were a lot of “warning signs” about an attack. But experts were never able to sort out which warning sign was real?

The New World Order
This may be the oldest conspiracy in human history. Since it has actually been attempted so many times in the past, it’s hard to discount it from happening again. This “group” of conspiracy theories may be the closest to reality and the hardest to disprove. There are so many candidates to choose from that each has to be examined separately (Communists, Zionist Conspiracy, Federal Reserve, U.N., Tri-Lateral Commission, Bilderberg Group and on and on).

Low Believability - lots of cover ups, sparse logic.

UFO cover-ups
This is not whether UFOs are real or not, that’s a theory; but whether or not the government covers up real evidence. Some people believe that the Project Blue Book records (now declassified) are faked. Close Encounters of the First and Second Kind (observation and physical evidence) are reported often. But Close Encounters of the Third through the Eight Kind, and their six sub-types, are few and evidence is more dubious.

Crop circles (this is actually part of Close Encounters of the Second Kind)
Again, this is not whether they are real or not, but whether they are covered up by the government. It’s hard to take them seriously when so many people have come forth to confess they did them, and demonstrated their methods. The little piece of doubt that exists is how very complicated designs could have been done during a single night.

The military is working with ET’s to abduct civilians
Abductions, Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind, haven’t been substantiated to begin with. Most researchers believe that people reporting abductions are really having an hallucination or a dreamlike event associated with their belief in ET’s. Unconscious and involuntary experiences are skeptical at best. And if the U.S. military was going to trade human test subjects for technology (as the story goes), why use American civilians at all? In the past, military personnel themselves have provided test subjects, and under better security.

AIDS is a manufactured disease (a genocide tool)
“I know the government administers AIDS” Kanye West’s lyrics of the song “Heard ‘em Say.” If transmission is principally by either blood transfusion or lifestyle choice, how does the government control either one? Why would they release a biological agent over which they have no control, then spend millions to find a cure for it?  

Medical/Pharmaceutical industries keeping disease cures secret
There is a low level of suspicion of the medical profession in efforts to continue suffering, but there exists a greater lack of confidence in the pharmaceutical industry, from whom cures would generate. They control the research and, to some extent, the approval process of new drugs. But ultimately, they profit when the drugs are on the market. Would they develop drugs that maintain control of a disease but stop just short of a cure? You be the judge. 

Hurricane Katrina: poor preparation and slow response was a U.S. government plot
Poor preparation, maybe. Slow response, yes. But it is not likely to be intentional. How can you control who the parameters of a disaster or who suffers? Also, who benefits? It’s hard to believe that the Army Corps of Engineers conspired to make faulty levees in 1927? Both political parties have been in power since then, but neither could direct the movement of a hurricane.

“I wouldn’t put anything past the U.S. Government when it comes to people of color. There is too much history” (Spike Lee). This is of course an implied conspiracy theory. But Spike, how about the other things the government has tried to “put past” African Americans like the Emancipation Proclamation, The 15th Amendment, Civil Rights Legislation, voting rights acts, . . .?

Global Warming
A classic example of “who benefits?” It has been claimed that scientists are putting forth this theory as a conspiracy to get more funding for their pet projects. It would be more efficient and cost effective to target specific potential catastrophes than such a nebulous topic as global warming. How do you get thousands of scientists to agree on and plan this without someone squealing? It just seems unmanageable as a conspiracy.

2010 Gulf Oil Spill was planned
Two words: “who benefited?” The coastal wildlife was devastated, people were out of work, BP paid a huge amount to compensate everyone. The amount of oil spilled had only a slight and temporary affect on market prices. If there is a conspiracy anywhere to be found in this, it might be that government regulators allowed oil companies to slide on safety measures. But that may change as new administrations take over.

Just Crazy - total fiction.

Faked Moon landings
Scientists put man on the Moon. If it was faked, the lead role would be our intelligence organization (remember secrecy), and they just don’t have what it takes to pull that off. Also, how were the 50,000 employees of NASA kept in the dark, and all those talkative astronauts too? Good fiction though.

The Holocaust didn’t happen
This is especially hurtful for the families of the millions who died. There are literally tens of thousands of stories, pictures, and confessions. Who could have coordinated such a wide spread ruse? No one. The Nazi’s had the motive, the means, and the opportunity.

911 Bombing was a plot by the US government
This is a prime example of “fusion paranoia.” It touches on so many conspiracy theories it’s hard to keep them straight. They include UFO’s appearing near the WTC, Nostradamus predicting the attack, Bush having advance warning of it, it was the start of the “end times,” and the illuminati planned the attack. Two predominant conspiracies involve how the towers collapsed and if the U.S. was bankrolling the attack.

Some contend that fire can’t melt steel? Of course it can, how do you think we can form it into different shapes? When steel is exposed to temperatures above 1100 degrees (think jet fuel), it can lose up to half of its strength. We shouldn’t get our physics/chemistry lessons from Rosie O’Donnell. Others contend the U.S. Government was funding Al-Qaeda; and Osama Bin Laden was working for the CIA. How did that work out for him?

Faked deaths (Andy Kaufman, Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, Elvis)
What would be the purpose of these high profile, publicity-oriented people to fake their own deaths if they were not planning to come back? So where are they? I guess just because we had their bodies doesn’t account for anything.

Obama’s birth certificate forgery
Who cares?

Death of Paul McCartney
We all believed this once upon a time. But we’ve only had forty years of Paul since he “died.” If he is a substitute, he may be better than the original. Come on.

The Denver Airport is part of an Illuminati New World Order plot
This is the most fun conspiracy theory around. Conspiracists contend that buildings were completed then buried, that there are eight levels of underground facilities, that the runways are laid out in the shape of a swastika, that illuminati inspired murals depicting genocide are on the terminal walls, and that the Freemason symbol is everywhere. It’s a conspiracy love fest. But everything (and we mean everything) has been debunked and proven not be anything like what some imagine. But it’s fun to read about it.

Scientologists are conspiring to discredit the Psychiatry profession
Scientologists openly criticize and denounce psychiatry. It’s not a secret. Some of them say psychiatry has even killed people. Whether you agree or not, this doesn’t make it a conspiracy, unless they claim the medical profession is conspiring to kill people.

If you are suspicious of conspiracy theories, we recommend going to:
http//www.skeptoid.com/      or     http://www.skeptic.com/
If you believe in conspiracy theories, we recommend that you just enter “conspiracy theories” into Google search, and off you’ll go.

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