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Lance Payette

A Beginner's Guide to the Conspiracy Game

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Posted (edited)

John McAdams wrote a book called JFK Assassination Logic: How to Think About Claims of Conspiracy.

I bought the Kindle version but was disappointed.  It was really more about “how to debate the evidence.”

I’ve been working on a manuscript that really would be about “How to Think About Claims of Conspiracy” (or perhaps “How to Understand the Conspiracy Game”).

Not just the JFK assassination, mind you, but conspiracies in all areas of what I fondly call “weirdness.”

As a parting observation, I offer the following outline.  I'm under no illusion that many will read it.  Those who have at least the glimmer of an open mind, take it for what it’s worth.

(Here we’ll call the event to be explained by a conspiracy theory the “Subject Event,” but you may mentally substitute the JFK assassination.)

1.  In the Conspiracy Game, there is a distinct approach to the evidence.  Say that three eyewitnesses report, respectively, a “purplish” car, a “red” car and a “maroon” car, or that three documents describe a knife wound in “the right shoulder,” “about 4” down from the neck” and “high up in the back.”  In the Conspiracy Game, there are three distinct, highly selective approaches to this evidence:

a.  There were three cars and three wounds on the body, if this will further your Conspiracy Theory.

b.  There was one red car and one wound 4” down from the neck, if this will further your Conspiracy Theory.  (The two eyewitnesses and documents that say otherwise may serve as further evidence of the conspiracy if you’re sufficiently creative!)

c.  The car was actually black, the wound was actually in the side of the head, all the eyewitnesses are lying and all the documents are bogus, if this will best fit your Conspiracy Theory.

d.  Choices “a”-“c” are made without regard to which eyewitnesses or documents are the most reliable according to the applicable legal standards or which explanation best fits the other evidence of the Subject Event.  The choice is made solely on the basis of which one best fits your Conspiracy Theory.  It becomes the Conspiracy Explanation.

2.  As the Conspiracy Explanation – three cars and three wounds, for example – circulates throughout the conspiracy community and is repeated over and over, it pretty quickly hardens into Conspiracy Gospel.  It’s extremely rude to go back to the original sources to see if the Conspiracy Gospel is supported by, consistent with, or the best explanation of the actual evidence.

3.  If the Conspiracy Explanation is conclusively disproven – for example, photos or videos come to light that show the car was definitely red rather than black – the Conspiracy Theorist has one of three alternatives:

a.  Claim that the new evidence is faked or altered, thereby preserving the black car dogma of Conspiracy Gospel.

b.  Move the goal post.  Move it as many times as necessary.  There was a red car as well as a black one that doesn’t show up in the photos, perhaps.  Or even if the car was red, this just shows that two of the supposed eyewitness were lying and involved in the conspiracy.  Who were they, really, and what were they up to?

c.  If the Conspiracy Explanation is hopelessly exposed beyond redemption, change the subject.  This is the “Oh, yeah, well what about this over here?” gambit, an accepted move in the Conspiracy Game.

d.  Choices “a” and “b” afford a Conspiracy Theorist almost endless opportunities for creativity, which is a big part of the fun of the Conspiracy Game.  It thus is utterly futile to attempt to argue or reason with a dedicated Conspiracy Theorist.

4.  All gaps in the narrative, whether evidentiary or logical, are filled with sinister speculation and sinister inferences.  As your Conspiracy Theory expands like Topsy, as it inevitably will, it’s especially important to keep this principle in mind.  It’s quite amazing the gaps you can fill with such speculation.  In the hands of a Conspiracy Game master, a plausible Conspiracy Theory may be woven from almost nothing else.

5.  In the Conspiracy Game, human nature is inoperative.

a.  No one ever makes an innocent mistake, is ever simply careless or is ever honestly confused or forgetful.  There is no bureaucratic ineptitude.  Every inconsistency in the evidence and testimony has a sinister, conspiracy-furthering explanation.

b.  The fact that the Subject Event is something as sudden and cataclysmic as 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination is irrelevant.  Even in these circumstances, no one ever makes an innocent mistake or becomes honestly confused.  There are no excuses.

c.  No matter the circumstances of the Subject Event, all participants should have made their statements, written their reports and done everything else with one eye on “how it would look” to future generations of historians and conspiracy-seeking researchers.  If they didn’t, too bad for them.

6.  The actual life histories of the participants in the Subject Event are irrelevant in the Conspiracy Game except insofar as they further your Conspiracy Theory.  If someone appears to be a young, garden-variety housewife and mother who attends church regularly, is active in community affairs and has lots of friends who vouch for her impeccable reputation, the Conspiracy Theorist has three choices:

a.  Of course she is clean as a whistle – this is exactly what you would expect in a truly diabolical conspiracy such as we have here.  These conspirators were no fools.

b.  Dig, dig, dig for something, anything.  Her second cousin twice removed was a secretary for the FBI?  Well, there you go!  Need we say more?

c.  Make something up!  Speculate!  Everyone is fair game for defamation and character assassination.  While these may be illegal or unethical in the real world, they are just part of the fun of the Conspiracy Game.

7.  Even though real-world conspiracies tend to be as small, simple and focused as possible because this greatly enhances the odds of success and non-detection, no Conspiracy Theory can ever be too large or convoluted in the Conspiracy Game.

a.  If necessary to preserve your Conspiracy Theory, the conspiracy net will be allowed to expand ever-wider until it has captured pretty much every participant in the subject event – unlikely people from all walks of life, unlikely agencies and organizations, whatever it takes.  Be sure to keep in mind the rule about sinister speculation and inferences.

b.  The fact that the Subject Event is “explained” by ten or more distinct and often competing Conspiracy Theories is irrelevant.  With the exception of those who are actually deriving income from the Conspiracy Game, who can be quite defensive of their turf, the players in the Conspiracy Game are a fraternal brotherhood.  By Conspiracy Logic, the existence of ten or more competing theories merely underscores that by God there was a conspiracy.

c.  Similarly, the fact that a Conspiracy Theory requires the conspirators to have been diabolical geniuses at steps 1-3-5-7 and bumbling idiots at steps 2-4-6-8 is irrelevant.  It’s rude even to point this out.  Play nice.

8.  Those who fail to see the conspiracy are never a problem.  They either lack the vast arcane knowledge the Conspiracy Brotherhood possesses, are unwitting stooges of the very forces responsible for the conspiracy, or are disinformation agents bent on disrupting the Conspiracy Game.

a.  No matter how sterling the academic and professional qualifications of a naysayer, no matter how exhaustive his research may appear to be, no matter how cogent his arguments may seem, he is either a dolt or a disinformation agent.  We have no time to entertain naysayers in the Conspiracy Game.

b.  As may be necessary or desirable, the “disinformation agent” label may be applied even to a fellow member of the Conspiracy Brotherhood when the competition gets fierce.

9.  A certain naivete is beneficial when playing the Conspiracy Game.

a.  Even though law enforcement in the real world is plagued by wannabes, tellers of tall tales, and even those who confess to crimes they didn’t commit for no apparent reason, this almost never occurs in the Conspiracy Game.  Anyone whose tale will support your Conspiracy Theory is accorded instant credibility.  Often this continues long after the tale has been exposed as fraudulent, its existence preserved by a vocal, cult-like following.  (If the tale is inconvenient for one’s pet Conspiracy Theory, the “disinformation agent” label may be applied to the teller.  As you can see, “disinformation agent” is sort of the trump card of the Conspiracy Game.)

b.  Even though fast-buck artists and con men abound in every other field of human endeavor, they do not exist in the Conspiracy Game.  Every owner of a large website, every active blogger, every speaker at conspiracy conferences, every purveyor of conspiracy books, CDs, DVDs and conspiracy paraphernalia quickly accumulates a cult-like following even if in the real world he is a cashier who dropped out of school in the ninth grade.

10.  Common sense, logic and critical thinking are anathema in the Conspiracy Game.  Conspiracy Logic is more like anti-logic (think Alice In Wonderland).

a.  It’s exceedingly rude to ask, either about a Conspiracy Theory as a whole or any aspect if it, questions such as “How would that have made any sense at all?” or “Why would the conspirators have done that when they could have easily done this with far fewer participants and far less risk?”  You’ll never get any substantive answers anyway.

b.  To successfully play the Conspiracy Game, you must become utterly absorbed in, and indeed obsessed with, minutiae.  The subject event must be examined with an electron microscope.  The objective is to overwhelm the uninformed with such a mass of detail that they throw up their hands and admit “there must have been a conspiracy” just to shut you up.  This will improve poll numbers, thereby causing your Conspiracy Theory to gain credibility.  If you’re lucky, you can scream “70% of the American public believes this to be true!”

c.  The tactic described in item “b” will help avoid inconvenient questions such as those described in item “a.”  You want to keep the discussion at the 1000x electron microscope level, never the 30,000-foot “Does that make any sense?” level.

11.  The likelihood that you’ll enjoy the Conspiracy Game hinges on a variety of factors.

a.  It’s a great advantage if you have a preconceived notion about how the Subject Event “should” be explained.  You’ll see that much of the Conspiracy Brotherhood is less concerned with arriving at the historical truth of the Subject Event than in fitting the event into some meta-narrative they carry in their heads as to how the world “works” and what dark forces are really “in control.”  Freemasons, the Illuminati, the aliens, the CIA, whatever.  Keep this in mind and you’ll be far less inclined to wonder “How could any sane person actually believe that?”  If you are actually interested in historical truth, arrived at through standard methodologies, the Conspiracy Game may not be for you.

b.  It’s likewise beneficial if you fit the profile that is now emerging, through serious, peer-reviewed studies in such fields as psychiatry, psychology and the social sciences, of the type of individual who is prone to conspiracy theorizing even in the face of better non-conspiratorial explanations.  This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you, merely that you’re a natural and could go far in the Conspiracy Game.

c.  At the fringes of the Conspiracy Game, of course, it helps if you’re exceedingly credulous and even bat-guano crazy.  People who are this way seldom recognize or admit it, but you’ll notice that you quickly feel as though you’ve found a home among kindred spirits.

d.  The Conspiracy Brotherhood is essentially a religion.  All members are true believers.  Many are extreme fundamentalists, others are more moderate.  The various Conspiracy Theories are the equivalent of religious denominations, each with its own priests and deacons, its holy scriptures and sites, and whatnot.  This is a very useful analogy to keep in mind.  Tread lightly.

e.  Leave your sense of humor at home.  Participants in the Conspiracy Game do not regard themselves or their activities as humorous in the slightest.  This is deadly serious stuff, being pursued by dedicated seekers of truth for the good of mankind.  Stifle that urge to titter, chuckle and guffaw or else move along.

There ya go, my magnum opus.  I think that’s pretty accurate, don’t you?  I think it pretty well describes the dynamics of the Conspiracy Game, regardless of where one or one’s pet theory fits within the game.

Maybe someone can undertake a similar project for the Lone Nut Game, although I fear it would be rather dull since that game is more firmly grounded in the real world and seldom produces anything as, er, fascinating as Harvey & Lee, Best Evidence, Kennedys and King, Lee and Me, et al.

You’re welcome.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Lance Payette

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Welcome for what?  This is unreadable.

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Posted (edited)

This dribble from the guy who recently dumped on the site and said adios and then returned without any acknowledgement of the  contradiction of his "bold announcement." Even recently he wrote that "someone" had told him that his input was desired, so he deigned to return and give his "legal" insight (not that he was looking at the site, mind you, cause he dumped on it, but "someone" told him he was needed.) It must be lonely talking to cats in Arizona and the need to expound his "insights" overcame his revulsion at the depths to which the site had fallen. The final indignity? He thinks all should thank him for his desperate attempt to be relevant.

Edited by Robert Harper

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Conspiracy "game?"  Huh?

What a stupid, disingenuous way to describe historiography.

Only an idiot would imagine that military and government intelligence agency personnel don't "conspire" to accomplish their foreign and domestic policy objectives.

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I don't often bother wasting my time reading Lance's long diatribes but given the title of this one I tried.  I didn't have to read the whole thing to understand.

A warning should be issued to anyone new to the subject or site.  Recently I've read at least two references by Lone Nutters on this site to researchers or anyone else who questions the official version of JFK's death as practicing "mental masturbation".  The first post in this thread is one of the best examples of such I've ever seen. 

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5 hours ago, Ron Bulman said:

I don't often bother wasting my time reading Lance's long diatribes but given the title of this one I tried.  I didn't have to read the whole thing to understand.

A warning should be issued to anyone new to the subject or site.  Recently I've read at least two references by Lone Nutters on this site to researchers or anyone else who questions the official version of JFK's death as practicing "mental masturbation".  The first post in this thread is one of the best examples of such I've ever seen. 

       x

Edited by W. Niederhut
rules violation

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Please do not  accuse members of being paid to post here..

 

Accusations of Member Credibility:-

Members that post and/or imply that a fellow member of this forum is

using an alias on this forum or an alias elsewhere designed to deceive members

at forum or any other forum, and/or that he/she may be paid to post on this

forum:-  

It may be a good time to review the rules.

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1 hour ago, W. Niederhut said:

       Yes, it could be said that Lance Pay-out is the mentally masturbating Louis C.K. of this forum, except for the fact that his bugliosing isn't funny-- it's simply stupid.

        Perhaps he's getting paid by the word for his misguided "cognitive infiltration" of the forum.

W be careful.  Your posts are most valuable, informative and appreciated by some of us.  But I think it's against forum rules to directly imply another is paid for their posts.  Even though I believe some current and former ones might be myself.

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1 hour ago, Ron Bulman said:

W be careful.  Your posts are most valuable, informative and appreciated by some of us.  But I think it's against forum rules to directly imply another is paid for their posts.  Even though I believe some current and former ones might be myself.

      My mistake.  I was referring to reports about Cass Sunstein recommending that the U.S. government employ "cognitive infiltrators" to discredit "conspiracy theories" on social media.  The concept is deeply flawed when applied inappropriately to cases of historians, scientists, and scholars investigating the suppressed, "untold" history of U.S. military and intelligence ops.

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With a reported 7 billion people living on this planet who could argue against the existence of "conspiracies". They're as common as the common cold. Humans conspire every day (and night). 

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5 hours ago, Cory Santos said:

Lance, are ufo believers conspiracy people?  Do they fit into your theory?

I wanted to bring that up but I didn’t want search for Lance’s paranoid or paranormal experience in which he believes he and his Volkswagen Beetle (bus?) were enveloped, and then spared, by a swarm of alien invaders. Perhaps he’ll recount the story for us.

Also, for those who don’t know, or don’t recall, Lance’s parents, or grandparents were tycoons in the United Fruit empire, IIRC. Perhaps Lance will reiterate that relationship, for the sake of accuracy.

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5 hours ago, Cory Santos said:

Lance, are ufo believers conspiracy people?  Do they fit into your theory?

For that matter, are people who believe in God conspiracy theorists?

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Thanks, folks, your insights are valuable and deeply appreciated.  The humor that you miss is that YOU ARE SERVING TO UNDERSCORE THE VERY POINTS I HAVE MADE!

16 hours ago, Cliff Varnell said:

Welcome for what?  This is unreadable.

Cliff, you really have to do better.  I have made my living writing advertising copy, humor, complex motions and appellate briefs for precisely 47 years.  My language skills have been measured in the 99.7th percentile.  I don't do "unreadable."  Lob all the ad hominems you want, but at least try make them semi-intelligent (clever and witty would be a bonus, too, but I'll settle for semi-intelligent).

 

Edited by Lance Payette

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6 hours ago, Cory Santos said:

Lance, are ufo believers conspiracy people?  Do they fit into your theory?

CERTAINLY, the UFO field is rife with those who play the UFO version of the Conspiracy Game.  As I have said repeatedly, my intense involvement in the UFO field extends over 60 years and is far deeper than my involvement with the JFK assassination.  Although the JFK assassination community strikes me as the poster child for the Conspiracy Game, CERTAINLY it is found in ufology and many other fields of weirdness.

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