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Why I am a Conspiracy Theorist


John Simkin
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I am what Andy Walker would call a “conspiracy theorist”. That is not to say that I think everything is a conspiracy. For example, I do not believe Diana was murdered by Prince Philip or that 9/11 was organized by George Bush. However, I do believe that we are not allowed to know the true facts about major events. There is a simple truth behind my beliefs. The ruling elite will do what it can to protect its power. Sometimes they have to do things that would be totally unacceptable to democratic opinion. This therefore has to be covered-up.

Since the early days of the 20th century the ruling elite have used the intelligence services to deal with people who pose a threat to their power. Recently I have written about the way MI5 have dealt with the peace movement during the First World War (the Alice Wheeldon Case), the overthrow of the first Labour Government in 1924 (Zinoviev Letter) and the attempted overthrow of the Harold Wilson government (the Wilson Plot).

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRIwheeldonA.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TUzinoviev.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRwilsonHa.htm

I also believe that the FBI/CIA have played a similar role in the USA. That is that they were involved in the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and the overthrow of Richard Nixon.

This situation continues today. The Iraq War is just one of the latest examples of how governments and intelligence services have joined forces to persuade the general public to be in favour of war. The killing of Dr. David Kelly is another example (one conspiracy often leads to other conspiracies in order to protect the original conspiracy).

I know that to believe these things I will be accused of being a paranoid conspiracy theorist. So be it, but it will not stop me from trying to expose these abuses of power and the corruption of our democratic system.

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The problem with a great deal of this is that many of the 'conspiracies' listed (some of which John doesn't believe in and some he does) are so weak that a 5 year really ought to be able to see through them without too much cerebal activity.

Controversially we could probably place conspiracy theories on a spectrum from the outright psychotic (Diana, 9/11, Hilda Murrell, NHS doctors are government assassins etc.) drifting away to something more sane which might just pass as historical research. However there are a number of important common denominators in conspiracy thinking which makes me initially sceptical of them all.

1. Methodology - the desire to believe a conspiracy always seems to override a commitment to recognised standards of academic research - (I could cite lots of examples but it’s not really fair to keep picking on Jack).

2. The historian’s fallacy - conspiracists always judge actors in historical events in the light of known outcomes and thereby miss all nuances and details which might have led historical actors in different directions.

3. Conspiracy theory is not just victimless amusement. Think for a moment of conspiracy theories of the Right - McCarthyism for instance. Think what damage and mayhem the 'stab in the back' conspiracy did for 20th century Germany? How must the Duke of Edinburgh feel knowing that 2/5 citizens believe he bumped off his daughter in law? Why do so many conspiracy theories drift back to anti-Semitism or some other foul prejudice against an out group as Peter Lemkin has been discovering in discussion with the Australian Nazi et al on the Deep Politics Forum?

4. Conspiracy sells well - books on Diana, Marilyn or JFK sell in their millions - where there is money there is always ingenuity and invention.

5. Conspiracy diverts intelligent people from genuine political action which might reduce corruption and the abuse of power in our democratic systems.

6. Conspiracy theory uses intuition rather than evidence to establish causation - the 'this must be' approach

7. Conspiracy theory has an extraordinary way of establishing motive - 'cui bono?' Let us imagine a victim of a fatal road traffic accident for a moment. We shall call him 'Charles' for we are in that kind of mood. 'Charles' dies horribly and painfully in the tangled wreckage of his car because he has been driving too fast and was drunk. 'Charles' was well insured and leaves his wife and family considerably better off for his passing. Cui bono? Who do we arrest on a murder charge?

8. Believing in things that are not true is not good for your mental health and well being - My advice to anyone who has a friend who might start talking about the 'communists' who are after him or the lizard people who are ruling the planet or the Illuminati, or the Zionists, or the CIA or whatever the particular expression might be is to tell him or her gently but firmly not to be so bloody daft for once full blown psychosis takes hold it is a very long and difficult road back.

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It's good to see Andy Walker taking a more active role when it comes to posting in this section of The Education Forum.

As with every subject he tackles, Mr. Walker demonstrates his expertise when it comes to historical research. It's clear that he has carefully studied such subjects as 9/11 and the murder of President Kennedy and found little or no evidence to indicate conspiracy of any kind.

Mr. Walker persuasively demonstrates that those who question any official government position do so not because the government has been guilty of witholding evidence or falsifying evidence or failing to properly investigate evidence, but because those conspiracy believers prefer to drift back to foul prejudices or seek to invent claims with profit as a motive, or simply lack Mr Walker's acumen when it comes to the historical record.

Mr. Walker shows that he is a brilliant critical thinker, equating belief in "the lizard people who are ruling the planet," as he describes it, with believing that the CIA or elements within it ever conspired to do anything of a nefarious nature.

Mr. Walker hits the nail on the head when he suggests that anyone who believes in a conspiracy of any kind must bloody daft and on the road to full blown psychosis.

Seekers of historical truth that read this Forum should tip their cap to Mr Walker for a brilliant, well reasoned and well documented post on why one should be "initially sceptical" of all conspiracies, because of the common denominators that those that consider them share.

Mr. Walker's paradigm of conspiracy thinking should be required reading for everyone that has ever entertained the notion that conspiracies can take place and that they can be evil by design. If only we had more educators like Andy Walker, the world would be a much saner place.

Mr. Walker's rebuttal to John Simkin leaves one with no other choice than to believe that Mr. Simkin has wasted a good portion of his life investigating and researching certain conspiracies which are not conspiracies at all. Mr. Walker has proven his point with simple, clear and logical reasoning which should be apparent to any five year old.

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"7. Conspiracy theory has an extraordinary way of establishing motive - 'cui bono?' Let us imagine a victim of a fatal road traffic accident for a moment. We shall call him 'Charles' for we are in that kind of mood. 'Charles' dies horribly and painfully in the tangled wreckage of his car because he has been driving too fast and was drunk. 'Charles' was well insured and leaves his wife and family considerably better off for his passing. Cui bono? Who do we arrest on a murder charge?"

Should our friend Charles come to this unfortunate end, Walker shows extraordinary precognition.

This might well lead "conspiracy theorists" to assume that Walker had advance inside information

rather than psychic abilities. And it might lead conspiracy theorists to speculate that Walker has

conspired with some unknown "agency" (with motive) to perform secret work on the car of Charles

to cause failure of the brakes or steering. I would advise Charles have his brakes and steering

checked frequently. And even though Charles does not hang out in bars, the agency has a bartender

on its payroll who will testify that Charles was drunk as a skunk when he left the bar.

Thanks to the prescience of Walker, conspiracy theorists already have a suspect!

Careful, Charles! You have been forewarned that you are targeted. Drive slowly and avoid that

agency pub.

Jack

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The common notion of "conspiracy theorist" seems to be someone who sees a conspiracy in everything. I've certainly been accused of that, not on this forum but elsewhere. A simple mention of the JFK conspiracy invites references to tin-foil hats. But if a conspiracy theorist is someone who sees a conspiracy in everything, then, contrary to what Andy may think, I question whether there are any conspiracy theorists at all on this forum. As I see it, a conspiracy may exist where there is evidence of conspiracy. The JFK case is fraught with such evidence. On the other hand, I don't think there was a conspiracy to fake the moon landing, because I have yet to see strong evidence of it. I do see strong evidence against any moon-landing conspiracy, namely the existence of rocks that are 4.5 billion years old (and thus not of this earth). If there is a way to fool geologists on this point, I would be interested to be informed. As for 9/11, there is evidence of a conspiracy beyond the official conspiracy theory (Bin Laden and 19 party-loving Muslim fanatics did it). There is no evidence that George Bush planned it (ha ha ha ha ha), but there is evidence that someone with plenty of cash and technology helped it happen. I also agree with John that the ruling elite will do all that is necessary, however underhanded, to preserve and protect its power and further its interest. This is a matter of common sense, and fertile ground for conspiracies.

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I foresee a new conspiracy theory in the making.

I suggest that it may be the TWO ANDY THEORY.

When I was invited to participate on this forum, there

was a little bespectacled twit pictured wearing a red

bow tie here. He seldom posted anything except

an occasional insult, and seemed clueless about

conspiracies.

Now the original Andy has been replaced by a balding

extrovert who is an expert on all things conspiratorial.

He posts multiple times daily with long discourses

on all things conspiratorial.

I suggest that someone perform a photo comparison

of the photos of AndyI and AndyII to see whether

the agency has inserted a doppelganger to replace

the original Andy with someone more productive.

If so, the original Andy may be in danger of being

eliminated by a Jack Ruby clone.

Jack

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The problem with a great deal of this is that many of the 'conspiracies' listed (some of which John doesn't believe in and some he does) are so weak that a 5 year really ought to be able to see through them without too much cerebal activity.

Controversially we could probably place conspiracy theories on a spectrum from the outright psychotic (Diana, 9/11, Hilda Murrell, NHS doctors are government assassins etc.) drifting away to something more sane which might just pass as historical research. However there are a number of important common denominators in conspiracy thinking which makes me initially sceptical of them all.

1. Methodology - the desire to believe a conspiracy always seems to override a commitment to recognised standards of academic research - (I could cite lots of examples but it’s not really fair to keep picking on Jack).

2. The historian’s fallacy - conspiracists always judge actors in historical events in the light of known outcomes and thereby miss all nuances and details which might have led historical actors in different directions.

3. Conspiracy theory is not just victimless amusement. Think for a moment of conspiracy theories of the Right - McCarthyism for instance. Think what damage and mayhem the 'stab in the back' conspiracy did for 20th century Germany? How must the Duke of Edinburgh feel knowing that 2/5 citizens believe he bumped off his daughter in law? Why do so many conspiracy theories drift back to anti-Semitism or some other foul prejudice against an out group as Peter Lemkin has been discovering in discussion with the Australian Nazi et al on the Deep Politics Forum?

4. Conspiracy sells well - books on Diana, Marilyn or JFK sell in their millions - where there is money there is always ingenuity and invention.

5. Conspiracy diverts intelligent people from genuine political action which might reduce corruption and the abuse of power in our democratic systems.

6. Conspiracy theory uses intuition rather than evidence to establish causation - the 'this must be' approach

7. Conspiracy theory has an extraordinary way of establishing motive - 'cui bono?' Let us imagine a victim of a fatal road traffic accident for a moment. We shall call him 'Charles' for we are in that kind of mood. 'Charles' dies horribly and painfully in the tangled wreckage of his car because he has been driving too fast and was drunk. 'Charles' was well insured and leaves his wife and family considerably better off for his passing. Cui bono? Who do we arrest on a murder charge?

8. Believing in things that are not true is not good for your mental health and well being - My advice to anyone who has a friend who might start talking about the 'communists' who are after him or the lizard people who are ruling the planet or the Illuminati, or the Zionists, or the CIA or whatever the particular expression might be is to tell him or her gently but firmly not to be so bloody daft for once full blown psychosis takes hold it is a very long and difficult road back.

*************************************************

"6. Conspiracy theory uses intuition rather than evidence to establish causation - the 'this must be' approach"

Are you attempting to equate "intuition," with deductive analysis?

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I also believe that the FBI/CIA have played a similar role in the USA. That is that they were involved in the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and the overthrow of Richard Nixon.

Problems:

1. The FBI/CIA is too limited an option, even just among intelligence agencies. For instance, there is a National Security Agency, and military intelligence agencies (Office of Naval Intelligence, Army Intelligence, Air Force Intelligence) whose files, operations, etc are by their nature not open to review; that is, they are more secret and more easily and plausibly hidden under the rubric of "national security concerns."

2. This tendency to focus almost exclusively on the CIA (the FBI really is not focused on nearly so much, or about as much as military intelligence) is all too characteristic of "conspiracy theory" and also seems to be a preoccupation of the Far Right's ideology. So this is not just a "tunnel vision approach" and a limited perspective; it invites research and theory to be influenced and determined by extremists whose own actions and involvements in certain matters might bear more scrutiny.

And that's the problem in a nutshell: people have a healthy skepticism about "official lines" when a government is the source, but very little skepticism when it comes to "private agencies" and "fellow conspiracy theorists"; people focus on the CIA without recognizing (or acknowledging) how much of this pointing-to-the-CIA originates from Far Right sources. And this applies to the past as well as to today: how much of "what-is-known-to-be-true" in various conspiracy theories originated from extremely dubious sources, sources who might have had reason to divert attention away from themselves (and others who shared their ideas and attitudes and motivations)? and how much of what is put out today is promoted, sourced and/or funded by Far Right agencies?

3. Conspiracy theory often limits its focus (exclusively to the CIA), but also often fails to differentiate between a crime and its cover-up. This lends itself to belief in unrealistic mega-conspiracies. And a narrow focus in one area combined with a broad generalization in another area serves as evidence that conspiracy theory advocates can be highly selective, and sometimes dishonest instead of just a bit touched in the head.

4. I have a problem with the inclusion of "the overthrow of Richard Nixon" with "the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King [Jr.]," as I do with including George Wallace at the end of a line of "John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr.": one of these doesn't fit with the others, and its not because one of those men was black. This is typical, though, in that much conspiracy thinking only seems to see "larger conspiracy concerns" and fails to notice that Richard Nixon let alone George Wallace don't exactly belong in a list of "martyrs." (Including them there, though, encourages the belief that they were "mere victims" in a "wider conspiracy.")

5. There is more reason to suspect/believe that Far Right racists were involved in the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. than that the FBI/CIA were. There is much more reason to suspect/believe that Far Right people and bizarre occult thrill-seekers were involved in the murder of Robert Kennedy than that the FBI/CIA were. But once you throw all these together and are convinced by various often dubious sources that it's all of a piece in a "wider conspiracy," then the actual details don't matter and it's the belief in the wider conspiracy that becomes an Article of Faith. (And that's how you wind up including George Wallace with JFK/RFK/MLK, and how you wind up perceiving that "the overthrow of Richard Nixon" was much the same as the murders of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy -- all you have to do is overlook the fact that Wallace and Nixon were sort of opposed to what King and the Kennedys seemed to be fighting for. It's not the politics and realities that matter, in other words; what matters is a Big Conspiracy.)

********************************************

"4. I have a problem with the inclusion of "the overthrow of Richard Nixon" with "the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King [Jr.]," as I do with including George Wallace at the end of a line of "John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr.": one of these doesn't fit with the others, and its not because one of those men was black. This is typical, though, in that much conspiracy thinking only seems to see "larger conspiracy concerns" and fails to notice that Richard Nixon let alone George Wallace don't exactly belong in a list of "martyrs." (Including them there, though, encourages the belief that they were "mere victims" in a "wider conspiracy.")"

Nixon was a Quaker, and looked upon by the Establishment Elite, as a country bumpkin, just as Wallace and LBJ were thought of, in kind. They were mere puppets to be manipulated by the masters behind the scenes, Wall Street Banking-Financial houses, Oil, and Industrio-Corporate interests. Another couple of examples I can think of are Carter and Reagan. As far as I've been able to "deduce," none of the above mentioned elected officials were born of affluent blue-blooded lines, with 18K gold spoons in their mouths. That was their first mistake. This only served to relegate them to a common status, and of no great consequence nor significant threat to the status quo. Just as long as they went along with the program and didn't try to actually run the country, or attempt to exercise their "presidential power."

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The problem with a great deal of this is that many of the 'conspiracies' listed (some of which John doesn't believe in and some he does) are so weak that a 5 year really ought to be able to see through them without too much cerebal activity.

I find this statement offensive. However, that seems to be your style of argument. To say that I believe in conspiracies that a “5 year really ought to be able to see through them without too much cerebal (sic) activity” is of course a ridiculous statement.

I consider myself to be a serious historian and I am willing to debate the evidence with you. Please make it clear which conspiracies fall into this category and I will supply the evidence to show you why some historians believe that there is great doubt about the official story.

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1. Methodology - the desire to believe a conspiracy always seems to override a commitment to recognised standards of academic research - (I could cite lots of examples but it’s not really fair to keep picking on Jack).

This varies quite widely; some people just 'believe' because it suits their agenda / beliefs. Others do conduct research, but how that research is conducted and what conclusions are drawn....

2. The historian’s fallacy - conspiracists always judge actors in historical events in the light of known outcomes and thereby miss all nuances and details which might have led historical actors in different directions.

This is a very important point, and one that is often ignored. We can very easily ascribe motives or question actions - with hindsight - but dismiss explanations because we don't believe it / think it unlikely. Just consider how many things that you have done could be twisted or misinterpreted.

Have you ever just driven somewhere on a whim? What if your presence there was questioned? So you just drove there on a whim? Yeah, sure. How many times have you driven somewhere on a whim before? Why did you go there? Why now, and not the weekend? Suddenly it becomes 'suspicious'.

In a 'pressure' situation, have you ever made an illogical decision? A bad decision that you later look at and can't explain why you did it? How would it look if someone accused you of making that decision deliberately for nefarious reasons?

Have you ever just done something nice for someone, and have had them question why you did it and 'what you were up to'?

4. Conspiracy sells well - books on Diana, Marilyn or JFK sell in their millions - where there is money there is always ingenuity and invention.

A small minority, but sometimes a very vocal one that attracts followers.

5. Conspiracy diverts intelligent people from genuine political action which might reduce corruption and the abuse of power in our democratic systems.

Strongly agree. If some people put half the effort into investigating real conspiracies as they did for nonsense ones like Apollo and 9-11, imagine the good they could do.

6. Conspiracy theory uses intuition rather than evidence to establish causation - the 'this must be' approach.

"This must be therefore what evidence is there to support this claim" rather than the scientific "Here are the observations therefore what conclusions can I draw".

7. Conspiracy theory has an extraordinary way of establishing motive - 'cui bono?' Let us imagine a victim of a fatal road traffic accident for a moment. We shall call him 'Charles' for we are in that kind of mood. 'Charles' dies horribly and painfully in the tangled wreckage of his car because he has been driving too fast and was drunk. 'Charles' was well insured and leaves his wife and family considerably better off for his passing. Cui bono? Who do we arrest on a murder charge?

I think this is linked / the same as 2. Ask what is possible, and then what is probable.

8. Believing in things that are not true is not good for your mental health and well being - My advice to anyone who has a friend who might start talking about the 'communists' who are after him or the lizard people who are ruling the planet or the Illuminati, or the Zionists, or the CIA or whatever the particular expression might be is to tell him or her gently but firmly not to be so bloody daft for once full blown psychosis takes hold it is a very long and difficult road back.

A level of suspicion is healthy and indeed warranted... but all too often it develops into wide-ranging paranoia.

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The problem with a great deal of this is that many of the 'conspiracies' listed (some of which John doesn't believe in and some he does) are so weak that a 5 year really ought to be able to see through them without too much cerebal activity.

I find this statement offensive. However, that seems to be your style of argument. To say that I believe in conspiracies that a “5 year really ought to be able to see through them without too much cerebal (sic) activity” is of course a ridiculous statement.

I consider myself to be a serious historian and I am willing to debate the evidence with you. Please make it clear which conspiracies fall into this category and I will supply the evidence to show you why some historians believe that there is great doubt about the official story.

Sorry you have chosen to be offended but I am sure my average 5 year old could make short shrift of the following;

9/11, Diana, Marilyn, NHS doctor assassins, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Apollo, Hilda Murrell, David Kelly.

Where would you like to start?

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The problem with a great deal of this is that many of the 'conspiracies' listed (some of which John doesn't believe in and some he does) are so weak that a 5 year really ought to be able to see through them without too much cerebal activity.

I find this statement offensive. However, that seems to be your style of argument. To say that I believe in conspiracies that a “5 year really ought to be able to see through them without too much cerebal (sic) activity” is of course a ridiculous statement.

I consider myself to be a serious historian and I am willing to debate the evidence with you. Please make it clear which conspiracies fall into this category and I will supply the evidence to show you why some historians believe that there is great doubt about the official story.

Sorry you have chosen to be offended but I am sure my average 5 year old could make short shrift of the following;

9/11, Diana, Marilyn, NHS doctor assassins, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Apollo, Hilda Murrell, David Kelly.

Where would you like to start?

Of those you list the only one I said I believed in was the death of David Kelly. Is that the one you think the "average 5 year old could make short shrift of"?

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