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Night on Tinfoil Mountain: Some thoughts on conspiracy theories

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RandomKoolzip Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 01:15 PM
Original message
Night on Tinfoil Mountain: Some thoughts on conspiracy theories
Edited on Mon Jan-05-04 01:17 PM by RandomKoolzip
There have been a lot of "Tinfoil" threads lately, with much volleying of ideas and much bandying about of terms such as "wacko," "discredit," etc.

What I notice, and this has been a hallmark of the mainstream (soft) left for about a decade, is that there are speculators, and there are police. One person notices an anomaly, speculates on its circumstances, and draws conclusions. Another notices this theory proceeding from speculative thought, and polices the speculator: "you have no proof," "You will make us look bad," etc.

Often the police compare reasonable speculation about more mundane topics with wild-eyed and drooling phenonmena such as UFOs, mind control, Tesla death rays and the like. They do this in order to make the speculators appear less than sane, when really it is a bulwark of sanity and intelligence to be curious, to theorize, to generate ideas, regardless of empirical proof. To state that there must be no speculation on phenomena without empirical data defining the existence of said phenomena is deny the natural drift of Western thought- countless ineventions invented, countelss murders solved, countless problems turned into benefits all owe their existence to dedicated thinkers noticing an anomaly and then engaging in speculation, from where proof often proceeds.

What is really the kicker here is that I do not see the soft right indulging themselves in policing. Recently I've had the displeasure of trolling many right-wing websites and much conservative literature, and come across very few examples of right-wingers policing fellow right-wing speculators. One right-winger speculates that Hillary Clinton is a murdering lesbian, an idea for which there is no empirical proof, and the others nod in agreement. There is no sustained cry of "You're making us look like rightist wackos!" or accusations of leftist infiltration. Lots of "dittoes," or "Ping!"s, but no attempts to discredit.

Implicitly, the message is that all the conspiracies, I suppose, have proceeded from the left. Not true; witness the numerous projects to smear FDR by speculating that he "let" Pearl Harbor happen, the wild claims about the Clintons, the John Birch paranoia, McCarthyism (which really was just a conspiracy theory gone haywire), Nixon's enemies list, etc. Rarely does a voice from the conservative wildeness cry out in shame that these hairy theories are undermining the right's stand on the issues. Have you ever heard of a freeper or rightie scold a fellow righie for climing without proof that the "gubmint" is trying to take away his guns? Where is the proof that there is an organized effort on the part of the Federal Government to repeal the second amendment? Nowhere. It is a figment of the collective conservative mind, and yet the theory is allowed to roam with abandon in the playing fields of the right.

Why is this?

On DU, I've seen sober, reasoned speculation occur concerning the circumstances surrounding the election theft of 2000, the murder of JFK, RFK, MLK, Wellstone, etc. and every time, a policeman's voice steps in and in the interest of preventing "us" from losing face, denies any attempt to make sense of events, which in their current unsloved state reamain mysterious and vague. Right-wing gun nuts are allowed to push into the mainstream with their paranoid fantasies of armed militias defending their right to bear arms, and the soft right applauds their "rugged individuality."

Let's face it, people, the right now is in control. Whether or not there is empirical proof of their wrongdoing which we can use to combat them, the mere fact that we EXIST at all is an affront to them. They will use anything and everything at their disposal to crush our party, all the while convincing the middle, the independents, and the undecideds that we are evil incarnate. Are we really so afraid of rocking the boat that we cannot allow ourselves the freedom to notice and speculate? Even if there were reams and reams of data stating definitely that Bushco killed Wellstone and LIHOPped 9/11, the right would still despise us. It doesn't matter if our image is that of wild-haired conspiracy wackos, or that of tweedy professors calling for wealth redistribution, or that of well-groomed Republican-lite moderates. In other words, what do we have to lose?The right will ALWAYS call for our doom, whether we're wearing tinfoil or not.

Maybe what's wrong here is not that we have quite a few among us specualting on conspiracies, but that we lack the conviction of our "wacko" beliefs. This conviction can be contagious; once you've brought up the vagaries surrounding 9/11, there's no getting the cat back in the bag. How many people still believe Oswald did it? Word of mouth on this subject has turned public opinion around dramatically in forty years. Maybe we can use our specualtive thought to our advantage. After all, the right never lost ground with voters when exploiting Birchian anti-communist hysteria or gun nuttery for their own political ends. Maybe it would be in our favor to continue speculating out loud about how the right has gotten away with so much murder, mayhem, and destruction over the years. Look at where the self-policing approach has gotten us so far!

Anyhow, that's my 2 cents. Now....flame away!
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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 01:23 PM
Response to Original message
1. No flames from me. I totally agree with your well thought out article.
I'm a person who always questions everything I hear or read. I thought that was what an "educated" person was supposed to do. And, who cares what the RW thinks of us. As you said: "the mere fact that we EXIST at all is an affront to them."

Thanks for the post!
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Zuni Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 01:25 PM
Response to Original message
2. good post
on Freerepublic, even the more sane still believe in Clinton as a rapist, the UN one world government, that when a democrat gats elected we are one step closer to mandatory abortions, illegal christianity and gun bans
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villager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 01:26 PM
Response to Original message
3. two more cents in agreement...
You're right. We do their work for them, to a degree, by policing ourselves and denying what they might -- are -- capable of.

It's like an alcoholic/abusive family, where the family member who first calls the abusive behavior on the carpet is called "crazy" by everyone else, caught in a sick system, but terrified of having it replaced with something "unknown."

I think this is one reason for the fierce attacks on Dean -- that by challenging Bush as he does, he "calls" the other Dems on their behavior in shutting up and going along....
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RandomKoolzip Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 02:03 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. Good analogy...
Plus, all the denial in the world can't nullify what we see with our own eyes.
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villager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 03:06 PM
Response to Reply #7
12. thanks, and yr. right...
Edited on Mon Jan-05-04 03:07 PM by villager
...about "seeing."

Interesting to speculate then on what the manifestations are of the collective "illness" that doubtless comes with said denial, stuffing back down inside what one doesn't dare give voice to...
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frylock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 01:31 PM
Response to Original message
4. thanks for your analysis..
I've grown weary of being lumped into the alien abduction/crop circle group by the "Web of Coincidence" people who are either too afraid, or lazy to ask the unanswered questions. I honestly believe that the majority of people who call us "tinfoilers" out on these things have done very little, if any research on the subject.
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wtmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 01:32 PM
Response to Original message
5. nothing to flame
all well-thought-out.

For me the validity of conspiracy theories always seems to depend on the absence of two things: ignorance and fear.
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SpiralHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 01:33 PM
Response to Original message
6. And the wind began to howl...
"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.

...Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl.

- Bob Dylan, all along the watchtower
http://www.daily-lyrics-domain.net/All_Along_The_Watcht...
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maggrwaggr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 02:12 PM
Response to Original message
8. oh yes, they are in control.
Somebody on DU makes an over-the-top statement and the next thing you know it's in the national right-wing media, being spread around like a virus.

But a guy like Michael Savage can say that the Iranian quake was a good thing because it killed 60,000 Iranians, and it was God's way of helping us out .... and no one says a peep.

Yet we are branded "hateful" and "angry".

It's really disgusting.

They control the media, that's all there is to it.

The media is our biggest enemy. I mean, Bushco is just being Bushco. They are nasty crooks, but they simply ARE that way. They're not gonna change.

But the media has made a choice. A conscious choice, to support the thieves. This is why the media is more evil than the crooks.
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RandomKoolzip Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 02:20 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. It's more like Hobson's Choice...
Our once-proud fourth estate has seen its options and taken the low road: consolidate, buy out, and centralize all media outlets under one protective umbrella, thus ensuring high ratings and profits for its advertisers..... or tell the truth. Hmmmmm

The media is owned by incestuous corporations all pretending to "compete" with each other....what's really going on is a kind of "Tass USA" with an overlay of "free market" propaganda on top.

Centralized, privatized, propagandized...where are the regulators? Oh, that's right, the corporation PROVIDES their own regulators...that's how the "free market" operates.

The right has a lock on the media. This is not opinion, it is FACT.
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 02:21 PM
Response to Original message
10. Thank you very much
A very well thought out piece that was articulated perfectly. I agree with you about the "police" getting tiresome, but then I decide Hey, it is another oppurtunity to open somebody's mind a little. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
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blindpig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 02:25 PM
Response to Original message
11. agreed, unilateral disarmament n/t
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DUreader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 03:13 PM
Response to Original message
13. kick
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stinkeefresh Donating Member (563 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 03:44 PM
Response to Original message
14. great points. here's a wild one-
Am I now able to theorize that Rove set up Kobe? After all... a replay of OJ in 04 would be heaven to anyone hoping America will tune out of the election, right?

Of course, I know NOTHING about the details of the case, so it is a highly uninformed theory.

Seriosly, though. You make an excellent point. But then, thinking has always been the trait that seperated us from them- to benifit and to detriment.
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RandomKoolzip Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 04:01 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. If there were as many anomalies surrounding the circumstances
of Kobe Bryant's case (and we could place members of the BFEE at the scene) as those surrounding Wellstone's death,`9/11, etc. then...shit, we'd have the grand unified theory to end all theories!


Hmmmm. Maybe you've got something there...(I keed.)
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Minstrel Boy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 03:54 PM
Response to Original message
15. Self-muzzling is the most sophisticated kind of censorship.
Edited on Mon Jan-05-04 03:55 PM by Minstrel Boy
Journalists aren't told directly that a certain line of inquiry is beyond the pale, but they come to recognize and respect the parameters of accepted discourse if they want to continue to play the game in the big league. Access to power, respect ("conspiracy nut" and the attendant tinfoil/UFO/Elvis jokes does wonders for a person's reputation) and funding (many institutions of the American Left are sustained by foundation grants) are at stake.

Thanks for your thoughts. Lots of good links here, in a similar vein:
http://www.oilempire.us/denial.html
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meg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 06:03 PM
Response to Original message
17. Great post!
Edited on Mon Jan-05-04 06:05 PM by meg
So, true. As a speculator I was called 'insane' by the police. Ooops, hope that doesn't invalidate my praise!
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ChavezSpeakstheTruth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-06-04 01:52 PM
Response to Original message
18. Um
You are my new guru, as usual!
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