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Thursday, January 09, 2014

Why are some conspiracy theories permissible?

Rush Limbaugh tells his audience that an unnamed, amorphous yet omnipotent "THEY" conspired to create what he calls the "Polar vortex hoax." As if THEY (if there really were a THEY, which there isn't) would have any motive for doing a thing like that.

Yet nobody calls Rush a conspiracy theorist.

People call me a conspiracy theorist because I think that a faction of the CIA (specifically, the one located on floor 2 of the headquarters in Langley) killed JFK.

Mine is considered an outsider opinion. I stand beyond the pale. It is socially acceptable to smirk at people who hold to the view I espouse.

This, despite the fact that the following parties have expressed doubts about the Warren Commission's findings:

-- LBJ (who convened the Commission);

-- the slain president's brother;

-- the slain president's widow;

-- many of the slain president's friends and family members;

-- the wife and mother and children of the accused assassin;

-- Jack Ruby;

-- John Connally and James Tague (the other two men wounded in Dealey Plaza);

--  David Atlee Phillips of the CIA (who, just before dying, confessed his involvement to his brother);

-- any number of witnesses who testified before the Commission;

-- the House Select Committee on Assassinatons;

-- a surprisingly large number of famous politicians (including Walter Mondale, Richard Schweiker and Gary Hart);

-- at least three members of the Warren Commission;

-- and perhaps even Earl Warren himself. (Yes, there is some evidence suggesting that Warren did not believe the Warren Commission. I may write further about this matter in another post, if anyone is interested.)

If you stand with the people listed above, you will be considered an oddball.

But if you tell millions of people that a nameless, nearly-omnipotent THEY created a "Polar Vortex hoax," no-one will call you a paranoid wacko. No-one will call you a conspiracy buff.

On a related note: The most tireless promoter of the Warren Commission's conclusions is a guy named John McAdams, who teaches political science at Marquette University. Naturally, he was featured by Time Magazine when a representative of that journal visited a recent JFK assassination symposium in Pittsburgh.

Here's the part Time won't tell you: McAdams is himself a conspiracy theorist, of a sort that Rush would find laudable.

To be specific, McAdams is a "policy adviser" with the Heartland Institute, a Libertarian think tank that gets a lot of play on Fox News. Not long ago, I put together a video exposing the Heartland Institute, best-known for promoting the interests of Big Tobacco. Heartland funds lectures and media appearances by Jay Lehr, a convicted criminal who falsely poses as an expert in climate science. (Lehr also tells some audiences that he's an "economist," even though he's no such thing.)

Heartland promotes massive conspiracy theories.

My video contains footage of Lehr blathering on about how all environmental groups throughout the world are "socialist led" and engaged in a plot to "socialize the world." Heartland believes that global warming is a hoax by red-tinged conspirators who want to control even the most minute aspects of our lives. Even the CIA -- which Heartland apparently considers a Marxist organization -- is part of this damnable Bolshevik plot.

Think I'm exaggerating? Take a look at my video, starting around the 9:45 mark (embedded below).

Heartland is, in short, a playground for paranoids. And Heartland is Professor McAdams' baby.

(McAdams also has been known to engage in identity theft. That's a long story which I may tell on another occasion.)

On the issue of global warming, McAdams and Limbaugh seem perfectly willing to countenance what I would consider a truly ludicrous conspiracy theory. Nevertheless, a mainstream journal like Time would never call those two men "conspiracy buffs" -- in fact, journalists portray Professor McAdams as an exemplar of rationality.

Why does our society maintain this bizarre double standard?

"Conspiracy buff" doesn't imply derision. "Conspiracism" and "conspiracist" has been settled upon - ingenuously sounding both derogatory and scientific - to replace "conspiracy theories" and "conspiracy theorist."

Courses are taught on it in Universities, as you may be aware, and it's been a specialized field in sociology since the late 1990s.

A counter-argument to both the premise and methodology of these self-appointed experts is a brilliant PhD thesis called "In defence of conspiracy theories" by Matthew Dentith.

Joseph, just wanted to say thanks for recommending both "JFK and the Unspeakable" and now I'm in the middle of "Destiny Betrayed" Second Ed.!! Both books are excellent, and provide a sane view of events leading up to and past Nov 22, 1963. These books bring about a rational look at what happened. People look back in history at deposed monarchy, popes and alike and foolishly believe those days are 'long gone' - especially when it would disrupt the built up narrative about their homeland. The world over...
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Fuck! I allow ONE mention of 9/11 and then the usual bastards try to get their foot in the door again.

Never again. What the 9/11 nutbags did to me in 2006 left a lifelong scar.

Let me say it for the thousandth time: You creeps do NOT have a voice here. You have many other blogs in which to romp and scamper. You may not say one word, one syllable, one phoneme here. If you think that one, simple rule is impossible to tolerate, GET THE FUCK OUT AND NEVER COME HERE AGAIN.

That was very insightful as is much of your other research work. Thanks for sharing!
In this context, many people (myself included) do refer to Rush Limbaugh and his ilk as conspiracy theorists. A few articles/papers of interest:

NASA Faked the Moon Landing--Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science
The Role of Conspiracist Ideation and Worldviews in Predicting Rejection of Science
Climate change denial, laissez-faire economics and conspiracy theories: A productive pairing?

In general, the far right is full of wacky conspiracy theories. IMHO, this is in part because the right-wingers intrinsically tend toward purely agentive accounts of social life (Manichaean soap operas – a view in which it’s all about personalities and objectives – an explanatory framework largely blind to social forces, situational factors, and chance).
James DiEugenio has done good work on the shadowy counter-conspirators who censor JFK-related entries on Wikipedia and the website's cozy relationship with John McAdams.

To the folks whose comments won't make it past moderation...

How can I put this?

Imagine that there are several hundred Jehovah's Witnesses in your neighborhood. And for some reason, they all choose YOUR door to knock on.

They don't care about other households. They just want YOU.

They have somehow become convinced that converting YOU would constitute the ultimate score. Nothing can dislodge this notion from their minds. They believe that the only way to please Mister Jay is to make sure that YOU are among the 144,000 elect.

And so they knock on your door, day after day.

At first, you let them in. You try to be civil. You engage in dialogue.

But they won't stop. They're relentless. They barge into YOUR house and take the place over, badgering you, insulting you, wheedling you, doing everything they can to force you to convert.

Finally, you lose your temper. You say some ugly things. Very ugly. It may not normally be in your character to use such language, but there really is no other way to get through to this band of zealots who have fixated on you.

This situation goes on week after week, month after month.

To solve the matter once and for all, you place a sign on your door: "NO FUCKING JWs ALLOWED! Stay 50 foot away from my property at all times. Abide by my rules or face the consequences! You think ADOLF gave you guys a hard time?"

And STILL the JWs congregate on the sidewalk outside your door, morning after morning, hoping that one day you will make a mistake, that one day you will allow the door to slip open for just a few seconds.

And then...and THEN they'll swoop in and slip a copy of "The Watchtower" through the crack.

Y'see, they hold what they consider a new, improved, really really SPECIAL edition of "Watchtower." It's much better than those old issues, the ones that failed to convert you. Sure, maybe the previous "Watchtowers" were substandard and unpersuasive -- but not THIS one. THIS issue is so fucking amazing it'll cause mini-nuclear explosions to go off in all of your brain cells. Yep, if they can just get you to spend five seconds flipping through new, improved, totally compelling and rational and convincing edition of the "Watchtower," you will be so pleased that you'll have no choice but to march right into Kingdom Hall and join the elect.

And so they wait there outside your home. Nonstop surveillance. Year after year after year. They have become a fixture in your neighborhood, like the fire hydrant or the power lines.

And you ask yourself: "Why THIS house? Why ME?"
I fully understand that if any comments about 9/11/2001 are allowed then this website would be inundated to the point that any other subjects examined here would be swept away in the flood. This place would become just another one of many. What a loss that would be. Don't allow the camel to stick it's nose under the tent! (on an aside, Mickey Rat knew how to deal with JWs by the way)

I'm just starting to examine the events around the Bay of Pigs event which plays such a significant role in setting up the JFK assassination, and the disinformation surrounding Kennedy's actions. Maybe I'm missing something, but Fletcher Prouty's reading of documents from the committee investigating the Bay of Pigs fiasco makes it very clear that the military operation failed because of National Security Advisor, McGeorge Bundy. Bundy took it upon himself to remand Kennedy's orders to take out Cuba's three remaining jet fighters in a dawn bombing raid. The plan had been to totally eliminate Cuba's air capabilities before the invasion began. Bundy nixed the plan and so the invasion failed.

Trojan Joe in his comment here mentions the control of information surrounding Kennedy in the Wikipedia pages. Looking up McGeorge Bundy in Wikipedia I was amazed to find no mention of Bundy's pivotal role in the Bay of Pigs failure, which is still believed by most to have been a failure of Kennedy's nerves. Am I seeing a pattern here?
You know Joseph, when I first came upon your blog, I didn't quite understand rule number 2. You seemed like someone who liked to dig deeper into things, someone who was willing to entertain non-status quo ideas, even far out ones. However, after seeing some of your comments about why that rule was put into place, I started to notice how "those people" tend to take over forums and comment sections all over the web. That they have a strange affinity for you is probably because you have managed to publish some stuff that they agree with (you know, like that Crowley / Bush piece ;-)). In any case, I now totally understand and sympathize with your stance on that one subject. I still feel like it's a shame, as that is the subject that has led us to the state of affairs we find ourselves in today. I can only say, a pox on the houses of all the 9/11 CD nuts....they have forced an important subject to be verboten all over the web. They probably don't like Limbaugh because he agrees with them......they'd rather try to "convert" the non-believers.

This is the very reason some conspiracy theories are permitted and some are not........only the truly crazy ones are allowed to be presented to the masses, because they are easily dis-proven and tar real researchers with the "conspiracy nut" label. The ones that have sensible, logical, totally sane research to back them up, must be suppressed at all costs. Can't have the peons finding out the truth now, can we?
Actually the mainstream media did pretty throughly mock Limbaugh over the polar vortex thing. Al Roker on NBC even put up a copy on screen of a page from a 1956 meteoreology college textbook with the definition of polar vortex in it.
Re: Rule No. 2, consider that many of those that plague you may be imposters deliberately out to antagonize you.
I think I also live in your house. Thanks for answering the door so I don't have to. Really, thanks. I haven't added anything to a discussion in ages, that means, keep up the good work.
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