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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Quotes on Conspiracy Theories - Updated Version - Originally Posted in 2008

Conspiracy:

"An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act." - http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/conspiracy

Theory:

"A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena." - http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/theory



"Conspiracy simply means multiple people working in secret to achieve a common goal. This describes the executive boardroom of virtually every major drug company, and it certainly describes the actions of the FDA and the way it works in secret to destroy natural health remedies. Conspiracies may be positive in nature — as in 'We are conspiring to teach the world about nutrition' — or negative in nature. Conspiracies are so commonplace that probably nothing would ever get done in Washington or Wall Street without conspiracies (which might actually be a good thing, come to think of it)." - http://www.prisonplanet.com/jesse-ventura-speaks-out-about-conspiracy-theories-in-naturalnews-interview.html

"The years following the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 have seen what Mike Ward, writing in PopMaters (January 3, 2003) termed 'probably the most staggering proliferation of 'conspiracy theories' in American history. Angry speculation---focused on dirty dealings, ulterior motives, and potential complicity in the attacks---has risen to a clamor that easily rivals what followed the Kennedy assassination.'

Conspiracy theories are often replete with internal paradoxes, and some are easily dismissed by rational folks as completely weird and crazy. Often, the truth lies in the middle, and the task of the serious researcher is to make an intelligent discernment. To dismiss some conspiracy theories as too wild and off-the-wall to deserve attention may only result in the last laugh being enjoyed by those who seek to control and manipulate others." - From Conspiracies and Secret Societies - The Complete Dossier - Second Edition by Brad Steiger and Sherry Steiger

 
 

Conspiracy Theories: Generic, Rational, and Irrational by David Ray Griffin

In criticisms of the 9/11 truth movement's alternative theory, nothing is more common than the designation of it as a conspiracy theory. This designation takes advantage of the fact that "conspiracy theory" has become such a derogatory term that the claim "I do not believe in conspiracy theories" is now almost a reflect action. Lying behind the term's derogatory connotation is the assumption that conspiracy theories are inherently irrational. The use of the term in this way, however, involves a confusion.

A conspiracy, according to my dictionary (23), is "an agreement to perform together an illegal, treacherous, or evil act". To hold a conspiracy theory about some event is, therefore, simply to believe that this event resulted from, or involved, such an agreement. This, we can say, is the generic meaning of the term.

We are conspiracy theorists in this generic sense if we believe that outlaws have conspired to rob banks, that corporate executives have conspired to defraud their customers, that tobacco companies have conspired with scientists-for-hire to conceal the health risks of smoking, that oil companies have conspired with scientists-for-hire to conceal the reality of human-caused global warming, or that US presidents have conspired with members of their administrations to present false pretexts for going to war. We are all, in other words, conspiracy theorists in the generic sense.

We clearly do not believe, therefore, that all conspiracy theories are irrational. Some of them, of course, are irrational, because they begin with their conclusion rather than with relevant evidence, they ignore all evidence that contradicts their predetermined conclusion, they violate scientific principles, and so on. We need, in other words, to distinguish between rational and irrational conspiracy theories. Michael Moore reflected this distinction in his well-known quip, "Now, I'm not into conspiracy theories, except the ones that are true". (24)

To apply this distinction to 9/11, we need to recognize that everyone holds a conspiracy theory in the generic sense about 9/11, because everyone believes that the 9/11 attacks resulted from a secret agreement to perform illegal, treacherous, and evil acts. People differ only about the identity of the conspirators. The official conspiracy theory holds that the conspirators were Osama bin Laden and other members of al-Qaeda. The alternative theory holds that the conspirators were, or at least included, people within our own institutions.

In light of these distinctions, we can see that most criticisms of the alternative theory about 9/11 are doubly fallacious. They first ignore the fact that the official account of 9/11 is a conspiracy theory in the generic sense. They then imply that conspiracy theories as such are irrational. On this fallacious basis, they conclude, without any serious examination of the empirical facts, that the alternative theory about 9/11 is irrational.

However, once the necessary distinctions are recognized, we can see that the question to be asked is: Assuming that one of the two conspiracy theories about 9/11 is irrational, because it is contradicted by the facts, is it the official theory or the alternative theory? Once this is acknowledged, the alternative theory about 9/11 cannot be denounced as irrational simply by virtue of being a conspiracy theory. It could validly be called less rational than the official conspiracy theory only by comparing the two theories with the evidence. But journalists typically excuse themselves from this critical task by persisting in the one-sided use of "conspiracy theory", long after this one-sidedness has been pointed out.(25)

For example, Jim Dwyer wrote a New York Times story entitled "2 US Reports Seek to Counter Conspiracy Theories about 9/11"(26) -not, for example, "2 US Reports Say Government's Conspiracy Theory is Better than Alternative Conspiracy Theory". One of those two reports, he pointed out, is a State Department document entitled "The Top September 11 Conspiracy Theories", but he failed to mention that the truly top 9/11 conspiracy theory is the government's own. Then Dwyer, on the basis of this one-sided usage, tried to poke some holes in the alternative theory without feeling a need, for the sake of journalistic balance, to poke holes in the government's theory- because it, of course, is not a conspiracy theory.

Matthew Rothschild, the editor of the Progressive, published and essay in his own journal entitled, "Enough of the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories, Already".(27) He was not, of course, calling on the government to quit telling its story. He began his essay by saying:

Here's what the conspiracists believe: 9/11 was an inside job. Members of the Bush Administration ordered it, not Osama bin Laden. Arab hijackers may not have done the deed…. [T]he Twin Towers fell not because of the impact of the airplanes and the ensuing fires but because [of] explosives…. I'm amazed at how many people give credence to these theories.

He did not have a paragraph saying:

Here's what the government's conspiracists believe: 19 hijackers with box-cutters defeated the most sophisticated defence system in history. Hani Hanjour, who could barely fly a Piper Cub, flew an astounding trajectory to crash Flight 77 into the Pentagon, the most well-protected building on earth. Other hijacker pilots, by flying planes into two buildings of the World Trade Center, caused three of them to collapse straight down, totally, and at virtually free-fall speed…. I'm amazed at how many people give credence to these theories.

Besides failing to have this type of balanced appraoch, Rothschild described my books as ones in which "Griffin has peddled his conspiracy theory". He gave no parallel description of, say, The 9/11 Commission Report as a book in which the government peddled its conspiracy theory. Rothschild wrote, "The guru of the 9/11 conspiracy movement is David Ray Griffin". He did not add, "The guru of the government's 9/11 conspiracy theory is Phillip Zelikow" (the persona primarily responsible for The 9/11 Commission Report; see Chapter 2).

In response to the poll indicating that 42 percent of the American people believe that the government and the 9/11 Commission have covered up the truth about 9/11, Terry Allen, in an essay for In These Times magazine, explained: "Americans love a conspiracy.... There is something comforting about a world where someone is in charge." She did not offer this Americans-love a conspiracy explanation to account for the fact that 48 percent of our people still believe the official conspiracy theory- according to which evil outsiders secretly plotted the 9/11 attacks. She also ignored the fact that if people's beliefs are to be explained in terms of a psychological need for comfort, surely the most comforting belief about 9/11 would be that our government did not deliberately murder its own citizens.(28) (I, for one, wish that I could believe this.)

The psychological approach was taken even more fully in... Time magazine. Although it was entitled "Why the 9/11 Conspiracies Won't Go Away"(29), the author, Lev Grossman, was not seeking to explain why the government's conspiracy won't go away. He did quote Korey Rowe, one of the creators of the popular documentary film Loose Change, as saying:

That 19 hijackers are going to completely bypass security and crash four commercial airliners in a span of two hours, with no interuption from the military forces, in the most guarded airspace in the United States and the world? That to me is a conspiracy theory.

But this did not faze Grossman. He continued to use the term "conspiracy theory" exclusively for the alternative theory.

Then, to explain why this conspiracy theory has gained increasing acceptance, rather than going away, he ignored the possibility that its evidence is so strong that, as more and more people become aware of it, they rightly find it convincing. He instead said, "a grand disaster like Sept. 11 needs a grand conspiracy behind it." The question of the quality of the evidence was thereby ignored.

Another problem with Grossman's explanation is that he, like Allen, got it backwards. As Paul Craig Roberts, who had been a leading member of the Reagan Administration, has pointed out:

Grossman's psychological explanation fails on its own terms. Which is the grandest conspiracy theory? The interpretation of 9/11 as an orchestrated casus belli to justify US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, or the interpretation that a handful of Muslims defeated US security multiple times in one short morning and successfully pulled off the most fantastic terrorist attack in history simply because they "hate our freedom and democracy"? Orchestrating events to justify wars is a stratagem so well worn as to be boring.(30)

Roberts also pointed out that the attempt to explain away the 9/11 truth movement in this way would not even begin to explain its leaders:

The scientists, engineers, and professors who pose the tough questions about 9/11 are not people who spend their lives making sense of their experience by constructing conspiracy theories. Scientists and scholars look to facts and evidence. They are concerned with the paucity of evidence in behalf of the official explanation. They stress that the official explanation is inconsistent with known laws of physics, and that the numerous security failures, when combined together, are a statistical improbability. - From Debunking 9/11 Debunking by David Ray Griffin

Click here to read some of the book Debunking 9/11 Debunking this is an excerpt from for free on Google Books. Much more of the content can be accessed by using the "search in this book" box located on the left-hand side. For instance, the search query "NIST" yields 34 viewable pages.

Note: I strongly disagree with some of Griffin's research, such as his analysis of the phone calls from the planes on 9/11 and the Pentagon crash. However, his book does an excellent job in regard to the destruction of the WTC Towers and lack of air defense on 9/11.



"Of course, one can argue that obsession with conspiracy theories serves only to demonstrate the lunatic paranoia running rife in the twentieth century. Much talk about conspiracies is dismissed as paranoia and much of it is paranoia. But in reality, history has proved all too well that politicians lie, presidents lie and bureaucrats lie. Almost everyone lies to a degree. If we continue to be gullible and believe everything that is presented to us, the truth never comes out. It becomes not only interesting and revealing but an absolute priority to question authority and question the authoritarians." - From  the A-Z of Conspiracy Theories by Kate Tuckett

"...The often fantastic nature of conspiracy theories does not necessarily make the scenarios any less plausible. After all, soaps are only a minor exaggeration of real life, a kind of superconcentrated pastiche of the violence, secrecy, and betrayal that exist in the real world. To deny that the absolute lowest in human potential could exist in at least a small coterie of planetary citizens, and then to doubt their ability to gravitate toward each other and to plan, is to be unrealistically naive." - From The Conspiracy Reader by Al Hidell and Joan d'Arc

"There were no conspiracy theories arising from the explosion of flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and there were no conspiracy theories arising from the work of the uni-bomber, so the newly invented psycho-babble that tries to explain the malady of conspiracy theorists, also needs to explain why millions of conspiracy theorists all decided not to theorize about those events. There is no psychological malady. There was simply no evidence to indicate a conspiracy." - Conspiracy Theorists By Jolly Roger

"Don't even think about pooh pooh conspiracy theories. Last time I checked the various data bases --Findlaw, Cornell Law Library, et al --there were hundreds, if not thousands, of court cases involving conspiracies and just that many statites involving conspiracies. That is a lot of ink spent on something that does not exist. I will not waste my time with 'conspiracy theory deniers'. Most major crimes are conspiratorial in nature. What is organized crime if not conspiratorial? What was Enron if not a conspiracy to defraud employees, investors, and the IRS? Major crime is almost always conspiratorial." - http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_len_hart_070704_declaring_our_indepe.htm

"'Conspiracy theories' seem to be the quintessentially cognitive dissonant concepts of our culture. For many people, the idea that JFK was killed by the government or '9/11 was an inside job' threatens the entire fabric of their consciousness. These things simply cannot be true and people will bend over backwards and resort to irrationality and ridicule to avoid considering them." - http://www.truthmove.org/content/cognitive-dissonance/

"This book will delve into a number of things you don't see on TV or read about in the papers. The fact is, the media--the fourth branch of government that our founding fathers anticipated would speak truth to power and keep our democracy on track --has at least since the assassination of President Kennedy systematically ignored any 'conspiracy theory' that might rock the Establishment's boat.
Clearly, there's something going on in our national psyche that the New York Times and the Washington Post don't want to examine. I'm tired of being told that anybody who questions the status quo is part of the disaffected, alienated element of our society that ought to wake up and salute the flag. Maybe being patriotic is about raising the curtain and wondering whether we've really been told the truth about things like September 11." - Jesse Ventura, from his book American Conspiracies. Listen to the entire audio book for free here:
http://911debunkers.blogspot.com/2011/01/jesse-ventura-american-conspiracies.html

"Understand the label 'conspiracy theory' is a tactic that the media often invokes to immediately discredit voices of dissent and people who seek truth. The tactic of creating manufactured enemies for personal gain has been around for as long as there have been conflicts. Of course there's no concrete proof of a conspiracy - the media would never allow that - but rather an abundance of evidence that points to a conspiracy on behalf of US interests." - Paris – Recording artist and performer.

Documentary 911 - Aftermath: Unanswered Questions from 9/11, narrated by Paris: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4973628827388920522&q=911+-+Aftermath%3A+Unanswered+Questions&hl=en
Website: http://www.guerrillafunk.com/about/index.html

"It is currently standard practice in America to simply dismiss any piece of information that punches a hole in any widely accepted explanation of a disturbing event. In many cases, especially when a serious crime is in question, the 'conspiracy theory' tag is immediately attached to any new discovery about the event. Information related to such important topics such as 9/11, election fraud, the new world order, secret societies, or globalization is too often ignored as part of a baseless conspiracy theory even before any of it is ever presented, discussed, or evaluated.

There seems to be no set criteria for dismissing information as a foolish conspiracy theory. The only prerequisite for information to be so categorized seems to be the desire to reject it. The reason for the rejection does not seem to matter. It appears that anything people do not want to believe is simply set aside as not believable." - http://www.tvnewslies.org/html/they_are_not_conspiracy_theori.html

"Ever since JFK was assassinated, the use of the phrase 'conspiracy theory' has been elevated to a political tool for dismissing any information that goes against whatever 'official version' being pushed in any situation. This has lead the world to where we are now.

The term became infamous as it covered the role of everything from bigfoot to Elvis. By definition though, most of the subjects lumped in with the rest simply don't fit the definition of a conspiracy theory. A theory must involve people who are secretly plotting illegal or wronful acts in order for it to be considered a conspiracy. To be a theory, it must be composed of facts... not allegations. By allowing these words to get away from their definitions and trying to defend yourself against being a conspiracy theorist, you're only contributing to the Orwellian newspeak that is being pushed on us. Facts are facts; the minute you begin thinking about them, you are theorizing. There's nothing wrong with that." - http://www.conspiracytheoristclothing.com/about.html

"Now, I'm not into conspiracy theories, except the ones that are true." - Michael Moore

"There are people, like myself, who are called 'health nuts'. A 'health nut' is a person who advocates natural health things. So that's... The 'nut' is a term of endearment now. They were called 'health nuts' by the establishment, in a derogatory way, for many, many years. But now, a lot of us are proud to take the term 'health nuts'.

Well there are also 'conspiracy nuts'. And they're identical to 'health nuts': they have been put down with that term for a long time. They're a person who has keen insights to the ongoing problems of the world; and to the news of the world, he 'reads between the lines' and he sees that there are people out there with an agenda, powerful people with an agenda. And he begins to believe it and study it, and he gets to be called, by the establishment (which is part of the agenda problem) a 'conspiracy nut'.

Well, many of us are 'conspiracy nuts'. And I'm proud to be a 'conspiracy nut'." - Tom Valentine, Radio Free America

"Most people can’t resist getting the details on the latest conspiracy theories, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. At the same time, many people quickly denounce any conspiracy theory as untrue … and sometimes as unpatriotic or just plain ridiculous. Lets not forget all of the thousands of conspiracies out of Wall Street like Bernie Madoff and many others to commit fraud and extortion, among many crimes of conspiracy. USA Today reports that over 75% of personal ads in the paper and on craigslist are married couples posing as single for a one night affair. When someone knocks on your door to sell you a set of knives or phone cards, anything for that matter, do they have a profit motive? What is conspiracy other than just a scary way of saying 'alternative agenda'? When 2 friends go to a bar and begin to plan their wingman approach on 2 girls they see at the bar, how often are they planning on lying to those girls?  'I own a small business and am in town for a short while. Oh yeah, you look beautiful.'" - Jonathan Elinoff, from his article, 33 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be True, What Every Person Should Know…

Related:

Debunking Myths on Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy Theorists

NWO Conspiracy Bullshit

Conspiracies - 9/11 and The New World Order

I Am Not A Conspiracy Theorist

Is Obi-Wan Kenobi a Wacko Conspiracy Theorist?

Hijacking the American Conscience: The Reality of Conspiracy in the USA & The Way to Progress