Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The great conspiracy theory poll

God, I hope that these numbers are wrong, because the results really depress me. The primary conspiracy theory that I consider viable -- hell, proven -- is the JFK assassination. Yet only 51 percent of the populace accepts that Oswald was not the sole killer. (Frankly, I think he may have been down in the lunchroom during the shooting, just as he claimed.)

Fifty-one percent is a bare majority. Although the assassination remains the most widely believed conspiracy theory in America today, I am disturbed because previous polls had more robust numbers. In the mid-1990s, even after the release of Gerry Posner's horrible Case Closed, a CBS poll declared that over 90 percent of the American public believed that a conspiracy killed the president. Hell, you can't get 90 percent of the citizenry to agree that up is up and down is down.

So why did the numbers dwindle? The answer, I think, has much to do with the exploding conspiratard subculture in the post-9/11 era. By acting and speaking in such a foolish and repugnant fashion, that subculture has brought discredit to anyone who challenges the Voice of the Authority, even when the challenge is valid.

Yes, the creatures inhabiting that subculture remain in the minority -- but it's a large minority. And an ugly one. Examples:
21% of voters say a UFO crashed in Roswell, NM in 1947 and the US government covered it up. More Romney voters (27%) than Obama voters (16%) believe in a UFO coverup

- 28% of voters believe secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order. A plurality of Romney voters (38%) believe in the New World Order compared to 35% who don’t

- 28% of voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. 36% of Romney voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, 41% do not
I can't believe that so many people still accept the Roswell fable, even though any number of excellent articles and books have pointed out the problems. (Weirdly enough, one of the best skeptical works was written by a guy named Kal Korff, who later went off the deep end. You may recall what Nietzsche said about gazing into the abyss.) Oddly, only 29 percent of the populace thinks that aliens exist. Conclusion: Of the alien believers, the vast majority still accept the Roswell myth.

The "believes in aliens" number -- 29 percent -- leads me to suspect that the pollsters may have framed their questions sloppily. Of course aliens exist: Somewhere in this incredibly vast universe filled with billions and billions of galaxies, there must be other life forms. Nearly every astronomer would agree with that proposition. Alien visitation is a very different matter.

Can it be true that 28% of our fellow Americans believe in the John Birchian myth of the New World Order? Good lord. This nation's educational system really has gone downhill. I feel pretty sure that, even in the 1980s, that question would have received a single-digit positive response rate.

Another 28% (or is it the same 28%?) believe that Saddam Hussein was the secret power lurking behind 9/11. Even though numerous teevee talking heads have tried to set the record straight -- and even after George W. Bush himself admitted on camera that Saddam had nothing to do with that event -- nearly one third of the populace prefers to live in Dreamworld.

The larger point I'm trying to make here is that roughly one-quarter to one-third of the populace is a sucker for wackiness. The Alex Jones view of reality has taken hold of a disturbingly large sector of the body politic.

I believe that "the 28 percenters" have ruined things for the JFK research community. In the popular media, assassination investigators are routinely listed alongside the freakazoids who accept the "bombs-in-da-buildings" theory of the 9/11. The JFK guys suffer from miscategorization. The stink emitted by others now perfumes them.

I may get in trouble for saying this, but some stereotypes have a basis in reality: The conspiracy theorist subculture (the "28 percenters," as I have called them) is filled with repellent, paranoid, uncultured louts who have fewer social skills than a rabid dingo. I've seen what happens to young people who get mired in that subculture. They change physically -- they hunch their shoulders and squint their eyes. Remember the way Dubya would hunch and squint after the Iraq war went sour? That "trapped rat" look he would get on his face? Like that.

The most distressing characteristic of the 28 percenters is their loquaciousness. These guys are incessant, brutal and pitiless. They talk talk talk talk talk talk TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK!!! This violent ear-rape of anyone unfortunate enough to be standing nearby only injures their cause, yet they will not stop. Their conviction that Powerful Forces seek to silence them only makes the verbal bombardment more intense, and they would rather slice off their own fingers than allow anyone else the luxury of a completed thought. That's why most people would rather spend a month on an island filled with killer shrews than spend five minutes in the presence of a conspiracy theorist.

Yeah, those shits have screwed the JFK community. Whenever the Alex Jonesians attempt to "solve" the JFK murder, the results are disastrous and dismaying. See, for example, here and here.

I've come up with a simple way of separating the sheep from the goats when it comes to books and videos about November 22, 1963. You may not think that my method is fair, but I don't care. I ask: "What is the basic political stance of the author of this work? Would this person have voted for Kennedy?"

The assassination is a topic that belongs to liberals and traditional Democrats -- to people who have (more or less) voted the way I have voted over the decades. We liberals are not part of the hunch-and-squint crowd. We have standards of evidence. We like footnotes. We are willing to challenge our presumptions. We don't live lives of Total Paranoia; we have the ability to talk about normal things. In conversation, we use our ears as well as our mouths.

Whenever libertarians, Alex Jonesians, the Birchers and their comrades get involved with the JFK question, they bring nothing but discredit to all the good work done previously. It's a classic case of guilt-by-association.

And I, for one, am sick of this situation. We must create a clear line of demarcation. The 28 percenters do not represent us. We ain't them.

Wasn't that Bush the Lesser's approval when the slouched out of Washington back in 2009?

There's a correlation there.

One light at the end of the sewer is Fox News ratings seem to be in the toilet, perhaps this will tamp down the insanity a bit.
I'm with ya on the JFK topic, we are going to see a lot of disinformation coming up for the 50th anniversary. Nobody has done more work on the topic than Dave Emory at Spitfire List, but Oliver Stone was pretty damned close.
Now, on the "New World Order"- I think it depends on whether we are talking about "order" or "disorder".
Even Ellen Brown at the "Web of Debt" site wrote that the '08 financial collapse appears to have been a somewhat engineered program, with the wealth once again being siphoned to the top. Then we look at the EU, the financial control by Germany (again, arguably planned) and one can not help but see a new "order" emerging.
All those folks who saw and heard bits and pieces surrounding the set-up of JFK, had just enough information to make them sound 'crazy'.

Isn't that one of the purposes behind misinformation?

Fog up the conspiracies...

One "conspiracy" I'm amazed we never (or hardly ever) hear talked about is the assassination of Martin Luther King. I was born in 1967, a year before King's murder, and never really thought about it except to the extent I internalized the official narrative, until I was in college. Then I had a professor who made a few remarks suggesting a conspiracy, and he recommended a couple of books, but I was 19 or 20 and never dug into it any deeper. But I've always wondered about it.

So what do you think happened? Do you know of any good texts on the subject?
In case you haven't noticed, the 2nd Amendment nuts share most of the characteristics you've described, especially the talk, talk, talk, rant, talk one.
A bit ago the Serious Fraud Office brought a case against some drug companies, for a price-fixing conspiracy. They got off in the end because price-fixing was supposedly not technically illegal at the time they did it. That is how conspiracies are. The rich conspire against the poor, and the right wing "conspiracy theorists" are overwhelmingly their useful idiots. If they got the chance they'd be calling Allende a Soviet stooge and proclaiming Pinochet a heroic defender of nation independence, even as he was overthrowing national democracy in favour of an international conspiracy.
Back in 1999 a jury in a civil case found that a conspiracy had killed MLK. It certainly looks to me like Ray was set up. There's also a film about him in the "Evidence of Revision" series.
As to the New World Order conspiracy, I think the craziness with that is simply the notion that it's multi-generational. In a sense, it may be, as elites always want to keep money and power "in the family". The idea that there has been a plan since the founding of civilization strains credulity though, to say the least.

However, I think it's obvious that the rich, elite, and powerful would always like to increase their money and power. So in that regard, I think that yes, they are always conspiring to do so. They would no doubt love nothing more than to have a single currency, a single government, a single world state....all under their benevolent control, of course. I really don't think people like that are smart enough or patient enough to plan for some far off, distant time to have all that power. Of course, it seems much less far off and distant these days.

I also think that "agents provocateur" have been with us since the dawn of civilization and that much of conspiratainment is occupied by such people (along with some actual mentally unbalanced people).
Yet only 51 percent of the populace accepts that Oswald was not the sole killer.

Yet only 25% said he WAS the sole killer. The difference lies among those who say they don't know/aren't sure, either way.

This is (I regret to say) a rational agnostic position, from the standpoint of anything recently published that people have heard of: Posner, Bugliosi, and etc. So, if one is not steeped in this subject's arcana, it seems as if the more modern revisiting of the subject shows the CT theorists on this one are as wrong as the usual CTrs. At least enough to sow doubt in the semi-unwashed naifs, or people who cannot spend the time to have a specialized interest in the subject.

What isn't that obvious is that there has been a ferocious rear-guard action continuing in the pursuit of Agency directives to assets in the media from the very beginning of the publishing of dissent from the WC. At which time, as many have noted, the term conspiracy theorist was coined as a simple dismissive term of art by the establishment, trading in character assassination or ad hominem (fallacy of) 'argument' rather than actual argument.

That it continues atop the publishing world and the major television companies over the span of 50 years begins to more provide support for the theory of the monistic conspiracy than to cause one to doubt it. Perhaps a different monistic conspiracy than is normally meant by those typically advocating it, or perhaps not.

I consider Carroll Quigley's limning of the Anglophile network of the Round Tables to the CFR in his Tragedy and Hope to be fairly accurate. Given his CV, and Bill Clinton's endorsement of him as his major influence at Georgetown University, he seems a credible figure with a very interesting set of claims in that work.

I wonder why the alleged theft of the '00 and '04 elections was not included in the list polled on? Surely that has only a smallish minority who will say that it was a theft, and by far most who will say it is a crazy notion. However, not only is it probably so in my estimation, but also, that view is held by liberals and Democrats in particular, and likely by the readers of this blog in the main.

We will see more of these polls as we approach the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. Here's one of my conspiracy theories: The polls themselves are being promoted by disinformationists. SWe must always ask: Who are the pollsters? What is their methodology? Who are their financial backers? Which events were included in the list of questions?

Here's a test of their honesty: Did the pollsters ask if most Americans believe there was a conspiracy in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln? (For the record, there was.) Did they ask if the Hunt brothers conspired in the early '80s to corner the silver market? (Ditto.) It is beyond debate that some powerful people conspire to achieve their goals. The real question is which theories are supported by evidence. In the case of the Kennedy assassination, the evidence is so overwhelming that only the ignorant or the dishonest could deny it.
I'm impressed by the certitude of the respondents, and the lack of agnosticism. For instance, many seem convinced that bin Laden is alive (despite the lack of evidence) and many seem convinced that he's dead (despite the unconvincing nature of the government's evidence). What ever happened to good old fashioned "I don't know"?
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