RE: conspiracy theory

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Thu Jul 19 2001 - 11:30:13 BST

  • Next message: Chris Taylor: "Re: conspiracy theory"

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: conspiracy theory
    Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2001 11:30:13 +0100
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    Yeah, I've got Shermer's book, it's very good indeed.

    I'm sure there are exceptions, but isn't one feature of a conspiracy that
    there has to be a gap in the "official" line about an event ('to the left
    and back.. to the left and back' Costner intones over the Zapruder footage,
    towards the end of JFK, before going into a mastubatory rant about how
    Kennedy was Christ reborn going to save the world etc. etc.).

    This allows the space for alternatives to flood in, and this is particularly
    true in pseduo-history. Note how pseudo-historians largely talk about
    periods of history a long time ago, where actual archaeological and
    documentary evidence is scarce and as such there's a lot of room for
    different theories to be plausible. Holocaust denial is a major exception
    of course, but such people are just delusional, ignoring the massive weight
    of evidence that exists, and that you'd expect for a recent historical

    So yeah, unfalsifiability is important, but for some conspiracy theorists, a
    huge amount of data clearly falsifying their views is ignored or dismissed.
    Quite an act of denial is involved here, which is very interesting.

    I suppose notions of evidence are important. Take the Moon Landings
    conspiracy. It seems clear to me that NASA faked, or lied about, the
    contents of many of the photographs and film of the Moon Landings. Does
    that mean they didn't go to the Moon? I don't think they faked the Saturn 5
    rocket launching, and to go to the length and cost of launching that, and
    then not use it to send astronauts to the moon seems pointless. I think
    that to avoid embarassment of films not developing and so on, they doctored
    photos to make them look better for their publicity (and thus their
    funding). But for many people the inconsistencies in the Apollo mission
    photos is proof they didn't go- no "real" photos, no real moon landings.
    Like the holocaust deniers who base their whole case on the lack of a
    document from Hitler that says 'kill all the jews by gassing them en masse
    in concentration camps', this is a real problem. I believe there's a name
    for this kind of mis-weighting of evidence, or the absence of evidence, but
    I've forgotten what it is.

    Does anyone know if the Face on Mars people still think it's there despite
    the Global Surveyor photos showing it's natural?


    > ----------
    > From: Andrew S. LORD(SED)
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2001 8:38 am
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: conspiracy theory
    > hi
    > i found a good book on this kind of thing by Micheal Shermer
    > called why people believe wierd things (1997)- he doesn't uses the word
    > meme (foreword by Gould
    > may be the reason)
    > i have some pet meta-conspiracy theories of my own and im interested in
    > their structure (similar to
    > urban myths) as i want to be able to make this kind of sfuff up - here are
    > some things that come to
    > mind about CTs:
    > 1. they seem to be plausable (at least not beyond the realms of
    > possibility)
    > 2. they need to be not the most obvious scenario
    > 3. they need to be in the interest of some powerful party's agenda -
    > and not some accident
    > 4. it is not in that party's agenda to have it made publically known -
    > maybe some stated agenda
    > hides their real one
    > 5. they need to be instantly dismissable in most peoples view -that is,
    > those who dont stop to
    > think about it
    > 6. they need to be unfalsifyable - cant be proved one way or another
    > 7. an absence of evidence "proves" that the evidence is being covered
    > up
    > please elaborate
    > i dont know about the psychology of a conspiracy theorist (if this is such
    > a class of person) but
    > from talking with some seems that paranoiacs/alcos/schitz are most
    > subseptable and they tend to
    > take the unfalsifyable as true - im more inclined to believe that
    > gulibility and CT are more based
    > on epistememes than personality (if seperable)
    > try an experiment - pretend (for a bit) that you actually believe in one -
    > say Princess Diana's
    > assasination - and notice what you experience
    > &e
    > BTW - i cant say any more here because they are monitoring my
    > communications :-x
    > ===============================================================
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