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I believe CTs essentially tell us much more about the psychological needs of the CT proposer than they can ever give insight to political events.

CTs are emotionally attractive and involve the projection of ultimate evil into a defined group of “others” from which the CT proposer is of course exempt. Proposers are thus also exempt form any blame or responsibility for the dreadful state the world seems to be in.

Interesting examples of this process in action include the Nazis blaming the Jews for causing the problems facing Germany in the 30’s, and modern day 9/11 conspiracists blaming the “evil” Republicans for the massacre of thousands of their fellow citizens simply to forward their own political agenda and increase their powers. The alternative analysis of why the world is really how it is seems just too painful or too difficult.

CT is thus often a quick and self indulgent emotional fix to psychologically disturbing information and/or deeply unsettling situation.

CTs are also pretty much unprovable and untestable which both adds to their allure and retracts from their academic worth in fairly equal measure. For instance why should I ‘waste my time’ exposing how Blair and Bush exploited 9/11 to usher in their foul right wing agendas, and why radical Islam has risen in the world when perpetuating the fantasy is so much more exciting? The reasons should be obvious to those of us with our 'lights on'.

Finally I believe the psychological processes which lead to a CT often lead to undemocratic and anti social ideologies.

The projection of all evil into a defined group, race or class has spewed up a series of revolting and repressive ideologies and regimes throughout the 20th century and will not doubt continue to do so in this century. :tomatoes

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Hi Andy,

I thought that I would make a quick post here before people start throwing the kitchen sink at you!

I would just like to say that I am satisfied that the assassination of JFK occured as a result of a conspiracy. Unfortunately conspiracy theories do tend to attract some people of less than sound minds, however in the case of JFK it does attract some of the most inspired debate I have ever come accross. Most of us do not see a conspiracy in everything, as you can see from the limited crossover between the JFK forum and the 9/11 section.

With regard to conspiracy theories being untestable and unproveable, I would tend to disagree with this statement. One particular conspiracy that has been proven in a court of law is the assassination of Martin Luther King. The King family supported Dr.William Pepper in his prosecution of Lloyd Jowers and other un-named parties in a civil trial for participation in the assassination of Dr.Martin Luther King junior. The fact that the King family supported this action would suggest that they genuinely believe in a conspiracy. One only has to read Dr.Peppers book 'An Act of State' to realise the great injustice that occured in having James Earl Ray locked up for some 25-30 years.

I would agree that some tend to generalise with regard to 'good and evil', as you put it, and lack objectivity. I think as you can see in the JFK assassination forum each relevant character is given analysis in their own right and then subsequently as part of larger organisations such as operation 40. I would disagree that generalisations are used widely in conspiracy research. Seldom does someone say "well it was the CIA and everybody working for the CIA", you only have to look at the sheer amount of threads on this forum referencing the actions of so many people to realise that we do not generalise, in fact we are quite specialised.

I don't see John Simkin, Peter Dale Scott or Gerald McKnight as having psychological needs to be met by proposing theories. Saying that conspiracy theorists (I hate that I am branded as such!) generalise is in fact a generalisation in itself.

I'm sure you will receive several more strongly worded responses than this so I wish you good luck.

Opinions on forums can always be misread so let me just say that I have no problem with Andys view, I have an opposing view, but I don't think Andy should be jumped upon for expressing his opinion.

All the best,

John Geraghty

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I believe CTs essentially tell us much more about the psychological needs of the CT proposer than they can ever give insight to political events.

CTs are emotionally attractive and involve the projection of ultimate evil into a defined group of “others” from which the CT proposer is of course exempt. Proposers are thus also exempt form any blame or responsibility for the dreadful state the world seems to be in.

Interesting examples of this process in action include the Nazis blaming the Jews for causing the problems facing Germany in the 30’s, and modern day 9/11 conspiracists blaming the “evil” Republicans for the massacre of thousands of their fellow citizens simply to forward their own political agenda and increase their powers. The alternative analysis of why the world is really how it is seems just too painful or too difficult.

CT is thus often a quick and self indulgent emotional fix to psychologically disturbing information and/or deeply unsettling situation.

CTs are also pretty much unprovable and untestable which both adds to their allure and retracts from their academic worth in fairly equal measure. For instance why should I ‘waste my time’ exposing how Blair and Bush exploited 9/11 to usher in their foul right wing agendas, and why radical Islam has risen in the world when perpetuating the fantasy is so much more exciting? The reasons should be obvious to those of us with our 'lights on'.

Finally I believe the psychological processes which lead to a CT often lead to undemocratic and anti social ideologies.

The projection of all evil into a defined group, race or class has spewed up a series of revolting and repressive ideologies and regimes throughout the 20th century and will not doubt continue to do so in this century. :tomatoes

Andy has clearly been taken in by CIA/media propaganda.

"Conspiracy Theory" is a code phrase used to discredit serious research

into govt wrongdoing.

I have never been a "conspiracy theorist". I have no theories. I examine

facts and evidence and draw conclusions. I often am baffled by what I

discover, and do not theorize about it. I like to examine photo evidence.

I examined all the photos alleged to have been taken on the moon and

found that virtually all contain anomalies indicative of earthbound studio

photography instead of lunar photography. I have formed NO CONSPIRACY

THEORIES about this. I have no evidence to support any theories about

WHO faked the photos or WHY. It is baffling. Were you to ask me for

opinions, I would refer you to the history of the Cold War and ask you

to form your own conspiracy theories. Did men go to the moon? I don't

know. Did men take photos on the moon? NO. I do not know why or

how, but the photos are fake.

Wake up and smell the photos, Andy. They don't smell good.

Jack

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Peter Jennings lives!

Interesting examples of this process in action include the Nazis blaming the Jews for causing the problems facing Germany in the 30’s,

But the Nazis had nothing to do with the Reichstag Fire. I just wanted to point that out. (Not that I can "prove" it. It's "untestable." It's just a hunch, based on the good, non-conspiratorial guys that the Nazis were. They just "exploited" the fire. To believe they were behind it would be projecting evil on them for personal psychological reasons.)

Edited by Ron Ecker
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Peter Jennings lives!

Interesting examples of this process in action include the Nazis blaming the Jews for causing the problems facing Germany in the 30’s,

But the Nazis had nothing to do with the Reichstag Fire. I just wanted to point that out. (Not that I can "prove" it. It's "untestable." It's just a hunch, based on the good, non-conspiratorial guys that the Nazis were. They just "exploited" the fire. To believe they were behind it would be projecting evil on them for personal psychological reasons.)

From analysing source material it is historically believable but by far from certain that the SA started the Reichstag Fire. What is certain is how they manipulated the event to attack the communists and other political opponents in the run up to the 1933 election - an important step in their rise to power.

Some time ago I gave some young students this exercise. There were some interesting responses but most were sufficiently skills-equipped to avoid the glib and unhelpful conclusion that history repeats itself or indeed that "Bush is the same as Hitler".

What is also certain is that the Nazis perpetuated one the oldest and most enduring conspiracy theories of them all - that of the international jewish conspiracy. This spurious theory works very well for lazy thinkers who wish to project the ills of the world into one racial group.

I have no idea who Peter Jennings is but feel happier for this intelligence so thank you Ron for your opening announcement.

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I have no idea who Peter Jennings is

Peter Jennings was a U.S. mainstream media newscaster (ABC News) who said that those who believe JFK died as a result of a conspiracy are pathetic people who need a psychological crutch, such as belief in a conspiracy, to get along in life. Mentally healthy, sensible people accept the Warren Commission's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald did it.

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Andy...I suggest that you and others read Dr. James Fetzer on

Conspiracy Theories at:

http://www.scholarsfor911truth.org/fetzerexpandedx.htm

It begins:

This is the new penultimate draft of a chapter that will appear in THE 9/11 CONSPIRACY (Chicago, IL: Catfeet Press/Open Court, forthcoming), which I

am editing. Comments and criticism are welcome. Email jfetzer@d.umn.edu.

THINKING ABOUT "CONSPIRACY THEORIES": 9/11 and JFK

James H. Fetzer, Ph.D.

ABSTRACT

The phrase "conspiracy theory" harbors an ambiguity, since conspiracies are widespread and theories about them need not be mere speculations. The

application of scientific reasoning in the form of inference to the best explanation, applied to the relevant evidence, establishes that the official

account of the events of 9/11 cannot be sustained. Likelihood measures of evidential support establish that the WTC was brought down through the

use of controlled demolition and that the Pentagon was not hit by a Boeing 757. Since these hypotheses have high likelihoods and the only

alternatives have likelihoods that range from zero to null (because they are not even physically possible), assuming that sufficient evidence has

become available and "settled down", these conclusions not only provide better explanations for the data but are proven beyond reasonable doubt.

1. "Conspiracy Theories"

We need to come to grips with conspiracies. Conspiracies are as American as apple pie. All they require is that two or more persons collaborate in

actions to bring about illegal ends. When two guys knock off a 7/11 store, they are engaged in a conspiracy. Most conspiracies in our country are

economic, such as Enron, WorldCom, and now Halliburton as it exploits the opportunities for amassing profits in Iraq. Insider trading is a simple

example, since investors and brokers collaborate to benefit from privileged information. Ordinarily, however, the media does not describe them as

"conspiracies".1 The two most important conspiracies in our history are surely those involving JFK and 9/11.

One fascinating aspect of 9/11 is that the official story involves collaboration between some nineteen persons in order to bring about illegal ends and

thus obviously qualifies as a "conspiracy theory". When critics of the government offer an alternative account that implicates key figures of the

government in 9/11, that obviously qualifies as a "conspiracy theory", too. But what matters now is that we are confronted by alternative accounts of

what happened on 9/11, both of which qualify as "conspiracy theories". It is therefore no longer rational to dismiss one of them as a "conspiracy

theory" in favor of the other. The question becomes, Which of two "conspiracy theories" is more defensible?

There is a certain ingenuity in combining "conspiracy" with "theory", because the word "theory" can be used in the weak sense of a speculation,

conjecture, or guess to denigrate one account or another for political or ideological reasons without acknowledging that "theory" can also be used in

the stronger sense of an empirically testable, explanatory hypothesis. Consider Newton's theory of gravitation or Einstein's theory of relativity as

instances. The psychological ploy is to speak as though all "theories" were guesses, none of which ought to be taken seriously. Various different

cases, however, can present very different problems. Evidence can be scarce, for example, or alternatives might be difficult to imagine.

Moreover, there are several reasons why different persons might arrive at very different conclusions in a given case. These include that they are not

considering the same set of alternative explanations or that they are not employing the same rules of reasoning. The objectivity of science derives,

not from transcending our human frailties, but from its inter-subjectivity.2 Different scientists confronting the same alternatives, the same evidence,

and the same rules of reasoning should arrive at all and only the same conclusions about which hypotheses are acceptable, which are rejectable, and

which should be held in suspense. And, in the search for truth, scientific reasoning must be based upon all the available relevant evidence, a

condition called the requirement of total evidence, and is otherwise fallacious.3

2. Scientific Reasoning

Scientific reasoning characterizes a systematic pattern of thought involving four stages or steps, namely: puzzlement, speculation, adaptation, and

explanation.4 Something occurs that does not fit comfortably into our background knowledge and expectations and thus becomes a source of

puzzlement. Alternative theories that might possibly explain that occurrence are advanced for consideration. The available relevant evidence is

brought to bear upon those hypotheses and their measures of evidential support are ascertained, where additional evidence may be obtained on the

basis of observation, measurement, and experiment. The weight of the evidence is assessed, where the hypothesis with the strongest support is the

preferable hypothesis. When sufficient evidence becomes available, the preferable hypothesis also becomes acceptable in the tentative and fallible

fashion of science.5

Among the most important distinctions that need to be drawn in reasoning about alternative scenarios for historical events of the kind that matter

here are those between different kinds of necessity, possibility and impossibility.6 Our language imposes some constraints upon the possible as

functions of grammar and meaning. In ordinary English, for example, a freshman is a student, necessarily, because to be a freshman is to be a student

in the first year of a four-year curriculum. By the same token, it is impossible to be a freshman and not be a student. The first is a logical necessity,

the second a logical impossibility. Since a conspiracy requires at least two conspirators, if there were not at least two conspirators, it is not logically

possible that a conspiracy was involved; if there were, then necessarily there was.

More interesting than logical necessities, possibilities and impossibilities, however, are physical necessities, possibilities and impossibilities.7 These

are determined in relation to the laws of nature, which, unlike laws of society, cannot be violated, cannot be changed, and require no enforcement. If

(pure) water freezes at 32° F at sea level atmospheric pressure, for example, then it is physically necessary for a sample of (pure) water to freeze

when its temperature falls below 32° F at that pressure. Analogously, under those same conditions, that a sample of (pure) water would not freeze

when its temperature falls below 32° F is physically impossible. And when a sample of (pure) water is not frozen at that pressure, it is justifiable to

infer that it is therefore not at a temperature below its freezing point of 32° F.8

Laws of nature are the core of science and provide the principles on the basis of which the occurrence of events can be systematically explained,

predicted, and retrodicted.9 They therefore have an important role to play in reasoning about specific cases in which those principles make a

difference. In legal reasoning, for example, the phrase, "beyond a reasonable doubt", means a standard of proof that requires subjective conviction

that is equal to "moral certainty".10 In the context of scientific reasoning, the meaning of that same phrase is better captured by the objective

standard that an explanation is "beyond a reasonable doubt" when no alternative is reasonable. Notice that the falsity of hypotheses that describe the

occurrence of events that are physically impossible is beyond a reasonable doubt.11

3. Probabilities and Likelihoods

An appropriate measure of the weight of the evidence is provided by likelihoods, where the likelihood of an hypothesis h, given evidence e, is

determined by the probability of evidence e, if that hypothesis were true.12 Hypotheses should be tested in pairs, h1 and h2, where the relationship

between the hypotheses and the evidence may be regarded as that between possible causes and effects. Thus, suppose in a game of chance, you were

confronted with a long series of outcomes that would have been highly improbable if the coin were symmetrical (if the dice were fair, or if the deck

was normal). If such a run would be far more probable if the coin were bent (if the dice were loaded, if the deck was stacked), then the likelihood

that the coin is bent (the dice are loaded, the deck is stacked) is much higher than the likelihood the coin is symmetrical (dice are fair, deck is

normal).

A better grasp of probabilistic reasoning follows from distinguishing between two kinds of probabilities as properties of the world. The first is

relative frequencies, which simply represent "how often" things of one kind occur in relation to things of another kind. This includes averages of

many different varieties, such as the average grade on a philosophy exam in a course on critical thinking. The second is causal propensities, which

reflect "how strong" the tendencies are for outcomes of a certain kind to be brought about under specific conditions.13 Frequencies are brought

about by propensities, which may differ from one case to another. When the class averages 85 on the first exam, that does not mean every student

scored 85 on the exam. It might even be the case that no student actually had that score. But each students' own score was an effect of his

propensity to score on that exam.

It can be easy to confuse "how often" with "how strong", but some examples help to bring their difference home. Canoeing on the Brule River in

Wisconsin is not a hazardous pastime, but a 76-year old woman was killed on 15 July 1993 when a tree that had been gnawed by a beaver fell and

landed on her. The tree fell and hit the woman on the head, as she and her daughter paddled past it.14 The tree was about 18 inches in diameter and

30 to 40 feet tall and stood about 10 to 20 feet up the river bank. So while hundreds and hundreds of canoeists had paddled down the Brule River

before and escaped completely unscathed, this woman had the misfortune to be killed during "a freak accident". It was improbable in terms of its

relative frequency of occurrence yet, given those particular conditions, the causal propensity for death to result as an effect of that specific event was

great.

When the same causally relevant conditions are subject to replication, then the relative frequencies that result tend to be reliable evidence of the

strength of the causal propensity that produced them. But when those conditions can vary, how often an outcome occurs may not indicate the

strength of that tendency on any specific trial. We commonly assume smoking diminishes life spans, which is usually true. But a 21-year old man was

confronted by three thugs who, when he failed to respond quickly enough, shot him. He might have been killed, but a metal cigarette lighter

deflected the .25-caliber bullet and he lived.15 Once you appreciate the difference, three principles that relate probabilities of these kinds become

apparent, namely: that propensities cause frequencies; that frequencies are evidence for propensities; and that propensities can explain frequencies.

But it depends on the constancy of the relevant conditions from one trial to another.16

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Question for Andy:

Was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln the work of a Lone Nut,

or a c-o-n-s-p-i-r-a-c-y?

Jack

I am not student of American history but of course I am aware that Lincoln's assassination exercised the minds of conspiracy theorists in the 19th century.

Some of these theories certainly fit the psychological pattern I identified earlier in this thread - from laying the blame 'evil Canadian' conspirators to blaming it all on a homosexual conspiracy.

Other theories may well have involved a greater adherence to academic standards of research but you will have to ask an historian of this period for a definitive response.

I note that whilst I have typed this you have offered me a reading list. Thank you. I trust it is an educative one.

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Question for Andy:

Was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln the work of a Lone Nut,

or a c-o-n-s-p-i-r-a-c-y?

Jack

I am not student of American history but of course I am aware that Lincoln's assassination exercised the minds of conspiracy theorists in the 19th century.

Some of these theories certainly fit the psychological pattern I identified earlier thread - from laying the blame 'evil Canadian' conspirators to blaming it all on a homosexual conspiracy.

Other theories may well have involved a greater adherence to academic standards of research but you will have to ask an historian of this period for a definitive response.

I note that whilst I have typed this you have offered me a reading list. Thank you. I trust it is an educative one.

Every American History textbook tells students that John Wilkes Booth

was the lone deranged assassin of Lincoln.

However, this is one case in which later historians were not afraid to

pursue all the facts of the CONSPIRACY...so details of the plot are

now well known, despite the "official story".

I suggest that you click on:

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/f...conspiracy.html

Jack

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Unfortunately conspiracy theories do tend to attract some people of less than sound minds, however in the case of JFK it does attract some of the most inspired debate I have ever come accross. Most of us do not see a conspiracy in everything, as you can see from the limited crossover between the JFK forum and the 9/11 section.

This post I found interesting.

What distinguishes JFK conspiracy 'research' from 9/11 conspiracy 'research' ?

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Unfortunately conspiracy theories do tend to attract some people of less than sound minds, however in the case of JFK it does attract some of the most inspired debate I have ever come accross. Most of us do not see a conspiracy in everything, as you can see from the limited crossover between the JFK forum and the 9/11 section.

This post I found interesting.

What distinguishes JFK conspiracy 'research' from 9/11 conspiracy 'research' ?

Hi Andy,

What I was implying here is that people who believe in a conspiracy to assassinate JFK are not hell bent on believing any conspiracy that comes along and only a few seem to participate in the discussion on 9/11. I haven't done a great deal of reading on 9/11 and only view some of the back and forth between Ron Ecker, Jack White and Len Colby who is doing a good job rebutting some of the claims, being a level headed individual (not that Ron and Jack aren't). I was not really implying any 'differences' between JFK and 9/11 research so I can't really answer that question with any definitive reply.

I know you are skeptical with regard to some of our beliefs (though they have a basis in fact), but I feel John Simkin is going down the right path by questioning historians on their beliefs on the assassination. People like Peter Dale Scott and Gerald McKnight are prime examples or level headed individuals who have somewhat combined the roles of Historian and investigative reporter.

Some of the criticism given to JFK research is that it is undertaken by retired policemen, civil servants and others not familiar with regular historical analysis. Their information is often discounted due to its selectivity of evidence and testimony, relying on word of mouth evidence. I would argue that the research of such individuals is often paramount to understaning this and other cases. I would cite Ian Griggs 'No case to Answer' as an excellent example of meticulous research that no historian should turn their noses up at. Ian covers all the angles, states only fact and draws conclsuons based on the fact and makes it clear that any specualtion he may offer is to be taken as such and not fact.

I know John has discussed similar themes to these in his interviews with historians section.

I hope that this goes some way in answering your question, if not sorry for rambling!

All the best,

John

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What distinguishes JFK conspiracy 'research' from 9/11 conspiracy 'research' ?

A major difference is access to government records. If you want a copy of an FBI interview or an affidavit of a JFK witness, for example, you can get it, probably right off the Internet. And millions of pages of government documents were released under the JFK Assassination Records Act.

In contrast, if you want a copy of one of the interviews of military, FAA, or other government officials upon which the 9/11 Commission based much of its report (they are copiously referred to in "see" references in the footnotes), you're out of luck. Those records are locked away in the National Archives. They are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and they are restricted from public access until at least 2009.

http://www.archives.gov/research/9-11-commission/

Edited by Ron Ecker
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Unfortunately conspiracy theories do tend to attract some people of less than sound minds, however in the case of JFK it does attract some of the most inspired debate I have ever come accross. Most of us do not see a conspiracy in everything, as you can see from the limited crossover between the JFK forum and the 9/11 section.

This post I found interesting.

What distinguishes JFK conspiracy 'research' from 9/11 conspiracy 'research' ?

Hi Andy,

What I was implying here is that people who believe in a conspiracy to assassinate JFK are not hell bent on believing any conspiracy that comes along and only a few seem to participate in the discussion on 9/11. I haven't done a great deal of reading on 9/11 and only view some of the back and forth between Ron Ecker, Jack White and Len Colby who is doing a good job rebutting some of the claims, being a level headed individual (not that Ron and Jack aren't). I was not really implying any 'differences' between JFK and 9/11 research so I can't really answer that question with any definitive reply.

I know you are skeptical with regard to some of our beliefs (though they have a basis in fact), but I feel John Simkin is going down the right path by questioning historians on their beliefs on the assassination. People like Peter Dale Scott and Gerald McKnight are prime examples or level headed individuals who have somewhat combined the roles of Historian and investigative reporter.

Some of the criticism given to JFK research is that it is undertaken by retired policemen, civil servants and others not familiar with regular historical analysis. Their information is often discounted due to its selectivity of evidence and testimony, relying on word of mouth evidence. I would argue that the research of such individuals is often paramount to understaning this and other cases. I would cite Ian Griggs 'No case to Answer' as an excellent example of meticulous research that no historian should turn their noses up at. Ian covers all the angles, states only fact and draws conclsuons based on the fact and makes it clear that any specualtion he may offer is to be taken as such and not fact.

I know John has discussed similar themes to these in his interviews with historians section.

I hope that this goes some way in answering your question, if not sorry for rambling!

All the best,

John

Speaking of meticulous research, I would ask Andy to read HARVEY AND LEE.

John Armstrong, a wealthy oilman and homebuilder, spent twelve years

researching "LEE HARVEY OSWALD", merely because he was curious why

there was so little research into Oswald. Satisfied that his research showed

two LHOs as part of an intelligence program, Armstrong spent more than

$100,000 to self-publish his massive research, complete with documents

and research, and now has returned to homebuilding. It took a private

citizen, WHO HAD NO CONSPIRACY THEORY, to do what investigations and

historians failed to do.

Jack

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