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Member since: Sun Jun 5, 2011, 06:28 PM
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Conspiracy Without the Theory

Theory? We don't need no stinkin' theory!

Political theorist Laura K. Field has a new essay that helps us make sense of this. Field’s key distinction is between conspiracy theories, which make purportedly grounded claims of some kind, and conspiracism, which is more a habit of mind, a tendency to unshackle oneself in a way that permits a kind of open-ended indulgence in fabulism.


From Laura K. Field's essay

[Some assert we are] just talking about disenfranchised outliers. To buy into this sanguine view is to seriously misunderstand the intellectual ecosystem of the American right today — and, in particular, to underestimate the extent to which sophisticated intellectuals have been sustaining Trumpism since 2016. Conspiratorial lies and misinformation were mainstays of Trumpism from the beginning — from Birtherism, to “alternative facts,” to “flood-the-zone-with-sh*t,” to QAnon. What was surprising, at least to me, was how swiftly theoretically-minded people swept in to provide more intellectual — but still highly tenuous, and often ultimately conspiratorial and absurd — sustenance to already-tenuous Trumpy views.


Her essay is based on ideas developed by Muirhead and Rosenblum in their book A Lot of People Are Saying.

Skepticism and knowledge-producing institutions go together, and the conspiracist attack on knowledge is also an attack on skepticism. Knowledge does not demand certainty; it demands doubt. Even when we are persuaded that, all things considered, the available evidence and argument point in a certain direction, even after we have resolved to go in that direction, we should be alive to the possibility that in spite of our best effort to get it right, we got it wrong. Our assurance of being right relies on doubt and an iterative process of questioning. And a plurality of knowledge-producing institutions is skepticism’s resource. The wealth of specialized knowledge, of science and social science and ethical perspectives, provides platforms from which we consider when experts are wrong, when science is incomplete, when our best understanding of facts and theories and explanations is limited or flawed, and when reasons match or don’t match the values we bring to politics. Conspiracists embrace the self-conception that they are skeptics and critical thinkers. But their own epistemic closure undercuts the capacity for skepticism. When knowledge-based pluralism is closed down, when sources are delegitimized and thrust outside the orbit of consideration, when conspiracist transmitters have lost the capacity for receiving, the framework of questioning and assurance is undone. (pp. 119-120)


He boasted on Bumble about storming Capitol, feds say. His would-be date turned him in: 'We are not

Source: Washington Post

One week after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Robert Chapman sent a message to a prospective love interest on the dating app Bumble to brag that he had taken part.

“I did storm the capitol,” he said, according to court documents. “I made it all the way to Statuary Hall.”

His potential date wrote back: “We are not a match.” Then, the Bumble user contacted the police.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/04/23/capitol-riot-bumble-robert-chapman/

Cornel West: Howard University's removal of classics is a spiritual catastrophe

Howard University’s removal of classics is a spiritual catastrophe

Upon learning to read while enslaved, Frederick Douglass began his great journey of emancipation, as such journeys always begin, in the mind. Defying unjust laws, he read in secret, empowered by the wisdom of contemporaries and classics alike to think as a free man. Douglass risked mockery, abuse, beating and even death to study the likes of Socrates, Cato and Cicero.....


FBI says man who claimed to be at Capitol riot wanted to bomb data center near D.C.

Source: Washington Post

FBI says man who claimed to be at Capitol riot wanted to bomb data center near D.C.

A Texas man who boasted about being on the U.S. Capitol steps during the Jan. 6 insurrection has been arrested by the FBI and accused of planning to detonate a bomb at a data center outside Washington in the hopes that doing so would cripple not just Internet traffic but also the FBI, CIA and other government agencies, officials said Friday.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/fbi-amazon-web-services-bomb-plot/2021/04/09/252ccfc6-9964-11eb-962b-78c1d8228819_story.html
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