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Disinfo Blotter: The Guardian podcast "Why are conspiracy theories so attractive?"


Guest Joe Bundy
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Joe Bundy,

I agree with the "dumbing down" you mention. The problem goes deep.

For example, some posters here, American or otherwise, have weighed in as to whether a 1963 postal money order needed to be endorsed in order to be negotiated. I'm talking law here and not pulling punches.

The answer is a simple yes or no but is not that easy to ascertain. The difficulty is not intellectual; it's factual; it's uncovering the facts.

Some say yes, some say no, some say whatever.

If I'm a disinformation artist, I want to dismiss the question. I want to challenge any less-than-adequate answer offered. To pooh-pooh any less-than-adequate answer offered. To assert the questioner is a "conspiracy theorist". Hate to say it; that's DVP and Hank. They serve a valuable purpose. They xxxxx pet theories and ask for proof.

"Dumbing down", in my opinion, is not just a problem of the mainstream press. The mainstream press starts with a specific argument; looks at the argument; finds flaws in the argument; and declares the argument "conspiracy theory".

The best response is to make a fact-based argument. Facts, verifiable facts, are unfortunately absent in the JFK assassination.

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The best response is to make a fact-based argument. Facts, verifiable facts, are unfortunately absent in the JFK assassination.

Careful, you might trigger the deliberately-dumb down agents of the gatekeeping idiocracy to bring up Occam's Razor with this point, even though there are many reasons Occam's Razor does not apply to the JFK assassination, the 9/11 "Continuity of Government" coup, and even concerns of quite minor impact on just the individual.

the best move WCR supporters even made was inventing the conspiracy theorist... they've been celebrating 50+ years

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I can't speak to Guardian's pooh-poohing of "conspiracy theories". I want to speak, however, to the use of the term "conspiracy theory".

It became clear to me as a university student in the 1960s that the New Left had (and had discovered) a powerful weapon against the Establishment. Contemplating this weapon gave me insight into the nature of conflict; gave me deep belief in the saying "the pen is mightier than the sword."

The weapon: control of the English language words used to discuss (or "frame") issues. In the 1960s, the weapon was finely pointed and compact. A student who sided with the campus administration had been "co-opted". All college students understood what co-opted meant. The Establishment lagged the New Left, except that Richard Nixon grasped the situation with his "silent majority".

"Conspiracy theory" is a term like "silent majority"; it's loaded with un-uttered meaning. It's a weapon. a compact and efficient weapon.

Warren critics have a distinct, out-of-the gate disadvantage against Warren believers. Warren believers are "lone nuts" or "LN-ers". No mainstream consumer of news in the U.S. knows or cares about what "lone nut" means. "Lone nut" is not a compact, efficient weapon; it's a wet noodle. "Conspiracy theorist", however, is a potent, compact weapon. Everyone know what that term means.

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On the other hand, there are some people out there whose grasp of the realities, intricacies and nuances of life is markedly different from the way most people perceive things. You can see them across the internet now and, increasingly, publishing non-peer-reviewed books. Some of those people might fairly be regarded as crazy, and that craziness steals the thunder and gravitas of serious and responsible researchers. Just because there are crazies out there does not mean that there aren't conspiracies, but those whose first instinct is to chalk everything up to the wily machinations of a nefarious secret force sometimes walk the line.

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On the other hand, there are some people out there whose grasp of the realities, intricacies and nuances of life is markedly different from the way most people perceive things. You can see them across the internet now and, increasingly, publishing non-peer-reviewed books. Some of those people might fairly be regarded as crazy, and that craziness steals the thunder and gravitas of serious and responsible researchers. Just because there are crazies out there does not mean that there aren't conspiracies, but those whose first instinct is to chalk everything up to the wily machinations of a nefarious secret force sometimes walk the line.

I agree, Stephen.

My favorite at the moment is "The U.S. created ISIS."

--Tommy :sun

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Chris - I think that is completely true.

Thomas - of course the U.S. didnt create Isis. But rather than look at real history we prefer to take a black and white approach that is illusory. Is Isis a tool of the hidden establishment to create a thoroughly frightened world populace that will accept the protection of Police States? No. Is Isis a creation of Fundamentalist Islam that has no roots in colonial history, no connections with military occupations and invasions, no ties to Wahabi wealth? No. Our blunders have had, and continue to have, terrible negative consequences, such as empowering our enemies abroad, and enabling our enemies at home who benefit from total and continuous war.

Today I keep asking myself who benefits from these terrorist attacks? Certainly not the crazed humans that carry out the attacks. Surely not fundamentalist Islam.

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Interesting articles. Joe - I am familiar with much of this information. I guess when I the U.S. didnt create Isis I am being very literal.

It's interesting to me that the G20 summit is taking place in Turkey, and as I watch Obama speak I wonder what he and his audience are actually thinking. Yesterday there was film of Obama and Putin, and presumably a few translators, huddled around a small table in earnest conversation - no microphones for us to eavesdrop - for 30 minutes, according to the reporter on the scene. When Putin began bombing Isis positions last week the news coverage here was critical of Putin. Very ironic indeed.

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On the other hand, there are some people out there whose grasp of the realities, intricacies and nuances of life is markedly different from the way most people perceive things. You can see them across the internet now and, increasingly, publishing non-peer-reviewed books. Some of those people might fairly be regarded as crazy, and that craziness steals the thunder and gravitas of serious and responsible researchers. Just because there are crazies out there does not mean that there aren't conspiracies, but those whose first instinct is to chalk everything up to the wily machinations of a nefarious secret force sometimes walk the line.

The peer-review system has been bent (by design?) for a long time and deliberately excludes important peers who should be considered authorities on topics when those who should be able to be relied upon (e.g. NIST) completely lie and publish with no impartial peer-review system that can be validated as impartial. Were the WCR and 9/11 Omission Report peer-reviewed before release to the public? They should have been, but not within a corrupt peer-review environment. The idea of the peer review being the monopoly on credibility came out of the dumb down philos within academia, making students rely on EBSCOHost and other like aggregating tools of only peer-reviewed writings to be considered valid, never concerning themselves with the historical arc of why that is to be the only system to be considered as valid. Peer reviews these days are conducted by government funded and controlled "peers of the realm", but very few "in-context" peers of the writer. There is nothing impartial about the peer review - it operates in the form of statist censorship. It's BS:

“because of the ‘pre-disciplining’ of academicians, the simple requirement that manuscripts had to be reviewed by the whole academy or by a committee made it almost impossible that anything controversial would go to press” - Mario Biagioli, From Book Censorship to Academic Peer Review

In the old days, if a publisher was considering taking the risk of investing money in an author's work with the hope of recouping their investment and making a profit, they needed to be sure of a few things: Is the factual information verifiable? Does the work put the publisher (or anyone else) in legal jeopardy? Can the author actually write? Is there a market for the book? To those ends, the publisher would often run the manuscript by someone with established credentials in the field. Imperfect as it was, it made perfect sense, and it helped to sort out the useful writings from the less worthy ones.

Self-publishing and the internet (Amazon) have changed all that. Almost anyone can (and does) publish a book, and there is almost no vetting process at all. In either print or electronic form. To the average reader, these look like any other book, but there is no way to tell if the material is factual and rationally presented or not. Maybe it's source-noted, but are those sources any good?

I mentioned above that there are a few crazies out there, and this change in the way books are vetted and published means that some craziness will make its way to readers.

I don't think there is a deliberate effort at censorship by peer-review, government or otherwise. Just my opinion.

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