The Misconception: You take randomness into account when determining cause and effect.
The Truth: You tend to ignore random chance when the results seem meaningful or when you want a random event to have a meaningful cause.
Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were both presidents of the United States, elected 100 years apart. Both were shot and killed by assassins who were known by three names with 15 letters, John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, and neither killer would make it to trial.
Spooky, huh? It gets better.
Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy, and Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln.
They were both killed on a Friday while sitting next to their wives, Lincoln in the Ford Theater, Kennedy in a Lincoln made by Ford.
Both men were succeeded by a man named Johnson – Andrew for Lincoln and Lyndon for Kennedy. Andrew was born in 1808. Lyndon in 1908.
What are the odds?
In 1898, Morgan Robertson wrote a novel titled “Futility.”
Written 14 years before the Titanic sank, 11 years before construction on the vessel even began, the similarities between the book and the real event are eerie.
The novel describes a giant boat called the Titan which everyone considers unsinkable. It is the largest ever created, and inside it seems like a luxury hotel – just like the as yet unbuilt Titanic.
Titan had only 20 lifeboats, half than it needed should the great ship sink. The Titanic had 24, also half than it needed.
In the book, the Titan hits an iceberg in April 400 miles from Newfoundland. The Titanic, years later, would do the same in the same month in the same place.
The Titan sinks, and more than half of the passengers die, just as with the Titanic. The number of people on board who die in the book and the number in the future accident are nearly identical.
The similarities don’t stop there. The fictional Titan and the real Titanic both had three propellers and two masts. Both had a capacity of 3,000 people. Both hit the iceberg close to midnight.
Did Robertson have a premonition? I mean, what are the odds?
In the 1500s, Nostradamus wrote:
Bêtes farouches de faim fleuves tranner
Plus part du champ encore Hister sera, En caige de fer le grand sera treisner, Quand rien enfant de Germain observa.
This is often translated to:
Beasts wild with hunger will cross the rivers, The greater part of the battle will be against Hister. He will cause great men to be dragged in a cage of iron, When the son of Germany obeys no law.
That’s rather creepy, considering this seems to describe a guy with a tiny mustache born about 400 years later. Here is another prophecy:
Out of the deepest part of the west of Europe, From poor people a young child shall be born, Who with his tongue shall seduce many people, His fame shall increase in the Eastern Kingdom.
Wow. Hister certainly sounds like Hitler, and that second quatrain seems to drive it home. Actually, Many of Nostradamus’ predictions are about a guy from Germania who wages a great war and dies mysteriously.
What are the odds?
If any of this seems too amazing to be coincidence, too odd to be random, too similar to be chance, you are not so smart.
You see, in all three examples the barn was already peppered with holes. You just drew bullseyes around the spots where the holes clustered together.
Allow me to explain.
History has shown any cataclysmic event in the world has resulted in not just grief and shock among the masses but a host of conspiracy theories also.
From the assassination of former U.S. President John F Kennedy to the death of Princess Diana, a member of British royal family; from the world-changing collapse of the twin towers in New York to the baffling disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, people have never shied away from putting their own spin on the details of an event when the reasons from the authorities concerned have failed to satisfy them.
Some conspiracy theories have been simply outrageous, while others have offered a kernel of truth. But there’s no denying the fact that conspiracy theories strongly influence the outlook of a certain section of people. Now the question is why do people give in to these conspiracy theories?
A study published in the journal Social Psychology in July tries to answer this question by suggesting that the need to be special and unique drives the people to believe in conspiracy theories.
More than 1,000 people took part in the study titled “I know things they don’t know!” that was co-authored by Anthony Lantian, Dominique Muller, Cécile Nurra, and Karen M. Douglas of Grenoble Alps University. “An intriguing feature in the rhetoric of people who believe in conspiracy theories is that to justify their beliefs, they frequently refer to secret or difficult-to-get information they would have found,” Lantian was quoted as saying by psychology news website Psypost in a report published in August.
“This fascination for what is hidden, emerging from conspiracy narratives, led us to the concept of need for uniqueness,” he added.
The researchers found evidence to support three main tenets of their hypothesis:
Joe and Neil discuss a wide variety of topics, including the flat earth conspiracy theory.
Also See: Photo Forensics: Is The Lee Harvey Oswald Photo A Fake? (iLLuMiNuTTi.com)
This is not a new story, but it is worth repeating. At the moment that bullets were being fired into JFK’s motorcade, a man can be seen standing on the side of the road near the car holding an open black umbrella. It was a sunny day (although it had rained the night before) and no one else in Dallas was holding an umbrella.
This is exactly the kind of detail that sets a fire under conspiracy theorists. It is a genuine anomaly – something that sticks out like a sore thumb.
The event also defies our intuition about probability. Even if one could accept that somewhere on the streets of Dallas that morning one man decided to hold an open umbrella for some strange reason, what are the odds that this one man would be essentially standing right next to the president’s car when the bullets began to fly?
Our evolved tendency for pattern recognition and looking for significance in events screams that this anomaly must have a compelling explanation, and since it is associated with the assassination of a president, it must be a sinister one.
When you delve into the details of any complex historical event, however, anomalies such as this are certain to surface. People are quirky individual beings with rich and complex histories and motivations. People do strange things for strange reasons. There is no way to account for all possible thought processes firing around in the brains of every person involved in an event.
Often the actions of others seem unfathomable to us. Our instinct is to try to explain the behavior of others as resulting from mostly internal forces. We tend to underestimate the influence of external factors. This is called the fundamental attribution error.
We also tend to assume that the actions of others are deliberate and planned, rather than random or accidental.
The common assumption underlying all of these various instincts is that there is a specific purpose to events, and especially the actions of others. We further instinctively fear that this purpose is sinister, or may be working against our own interests in some way. In this way, we all have a little conspiracy theorist inside us.
*Who Was the Umbrella Man?
What did the attorney general know, and when did he know it?
By Philip Shenon via POLITICO Magazine
What else did Bobby Kennedy know? Last year, the son and namesake of the late Attorney General Robert Kennedy revealed publicly that his father had considered the Warren Commission’s final report, which largely ruled out the possibility of a conspiracy in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, to be a “shoddy piece of craftsmanship.” Robert Jr. said his father suspected that the president had been killed in a conspiracy involving Cuba, the Mafia or even rogue agents of the CIA. Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a close friend of the Kennedy family, would disclose years later that he was told by Robert Kennedy in December 1963, a month after the president’s murder, that the former attorney general worried that the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was “part of a larger plot, whether organized by Castro or by gangsters.” Schlesinger said that in 1966, two years after the Warren Commission report, Kennedy was still so suspicious about a conspiracy that he wondered aloud “how long he could continue to avoid comment on the report—it is evident that he believes it is was poor job.”
Newly disclosed documents from the commission, made public on the 50th anniversary of its final report, suggest that the panel missed a chance to get Robert Kennedy to acknowledge publicly what he would later confess to his closest family and friends: that he believed the commission had overlooked evidence that might have pointed to a conspiracy.
The documents show the commission was prepared to press Kennedy to offer his views, under oath, about the possibility that Oswald had not acted alone. An affidavit, in which Kennedy would have been required to raise his right hand and deny knowledge of a conspiracy under penalty of perjury, was prepared for his signature by the commission’s staff but was never used. Instead, the attorney general became the highest ranking government official, apart from President Lyndon Johnson, who was excused from giving sworn testimony or offering a sworn written statement to the commission.
I was in a discussion forum and somebody asked me to explain The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. I started typing when i remembered a video from several years ago that will explain it better than i can write it.
Enjoy, my friend 🙂
- You Are Not So Smart on the web.
- Read more about the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy here on iLLumiNuTTi.com
In legal parlance, a conspiracy is when two or more people form a plan together to engage in criminal behavior, but in modern days, a “conspiracy theory” has come to mean an alternative explanation for the accepted consensus of a controversial or unusual event or belief. Most proponents of these often easily debunked plots are eccentric and harmless, but a few go beyond the boundaries of free speech. The behavior of these dangerously obsessed few ranges from the merely criminal to the outright deadly.
10 • Jim Garrison Conducted A Witch Hunt Against Clay Shaw Over JFK
Whatever truly went down at 12:30 PM CST on Friday, November 22, 1963, the movie JFK made a hash of it. One thing it didn’t get wrong, though, was its portrayal of Jim Garrison as an obsessive, increasingly paranoid demagogue who bullied witnesses, harassed “suspects,” and conducted a full-on witch hunt in the city of New Orleans.
Garrison’s list of transgressions is too long to fully detail, but the worst of his behavior was the way he almost destroyed the life of Clay Shaw, a respected New Orleans businessman. Garrison publicly outed him as gay (which could have had serious consequences in the 60’s), accused him of CIA connections, and of course, accused him of one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century, all on the flimsiest of evidence.
Many accounts of the trial have downplayed the homosexual element, but there is plenty of evidence that Garrison actually believed in some kind of rainbow-colored plot, attributing the assassination to a gay club thrill kill. He named a total of six people whom he believed were “in on it” as homosexuals, including Jack Ruby and even Lee Harvey Oswald himself. In an interview with James Phelan, Garrison called Oswald a “switch-hitter who couldn’t satisfy his wife.”
It took almost two years for Garrison’s case against Shaw to go to trial and another three weeks of testimony and arguments before a jury acquitted Clay Shaw of all charges after less than an hour of deliberation. Shaw himself ably deconstructed the JFK “conspiracy” in a 1967 interview.
9 • Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, Enacted AIDS Denial As Policy
Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa, is almost certainly the AIDS denier who has done the most direct harm in the world. In a 2008 study, a team of Harvard researchers estimated that as many as 330,000 people died needlessly because of Mbeki’s policies.
Mbeki didn’t start out as a denier. His views hardened after a complex series of political and economic negotiations. They were further solidified by the bogus claims of an African university about having discovered a cure, prompting hope for an African solution to the problem, and the discovery that the apartheid government had conducted germ warfare tests that included searching for killer bugs that targeted specific ethnic populations and the state-sponsored spread of AIDS via black prostitutes. Negotiations to bring AIDS medications into South Africa at prices the poor could afford were marred by suspicions of conspiracy between Western governments and drug manufacturers.
By the mid-1990s, Mbeki had fallen under the influence of prominent AIDS denier Peter Duesberg. He even invited Duesberg to be part of a conference on the AIDS problem held in 2000, much to the outrage of the rest of the conference. Later that year, he publicly denied the scientific consensus that AIDS was caused by a virus. Instead, he claimed the disease was the result of a combination of general bad health, lack of nourishment, and poverty. Thanks to international pressure and the work of AIDS activists and NGOs, the situation did improve, but Mbeki’s delays caused many unnecessary deaths and condemned many children to live shortened lives.
8 • Bart Sibrel Confronted And Harassed Buzz Aldrin
In 2002, Bart Sibrel lured former astronaut and American hero Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, to a Beverly Hills hotel for an “interview.” When Aldrin arrived on the scene with his stepdaughter, Sibrel revealed his true colors. He was a proponent of a long-standing conspiracy theory that claims the Apollo 11 Moon landings were faked. Proponents of the theory claim that the landings were produced in a Hollywood studio to fool the Russians into believing that the US had won the space race. This is one of the most laughable and easily debunked conspiracy theories out there, but Sibrel was working on a documentary that he believed would prove his case and wanted to include a confrontation with Aldrin in the film.
What happened next is as infuriating as its conclusion is satisfying, and it was all caught on film. When Aldrin realized the real reason he was brought to the interview, he got up to walk out on Sibrel, who then became aggressive, taunting the national hero who took time out of his busy schedule to see him. He followed Aldrin, calling him a “thief, liar, and coward,” thrusting a Bible into Aldrin’s face with demands that he swear upon it.
Finally, after every one of Aldrin’s attempts to leave peacefully had failed, Sibrel started poking him and his stepdaughter aggressively with his Bible. That’s when Aldrin lost his patience and punched Sibriel right in the jaw. Aldrin never faced any criminal charges, and if he had, no jury in the world would have convicted him.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy remains one of the most controversial events of the 20th century. While the most widely accepted theory is that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy, a huge number of conspiracy theories have arisen about that fateful day in Dealey Plaza. But what if the President’s death was actually a terrible accident? First popularized by the ballistics expert Howard Donahue, an intriguing theory holds that after Oswald opened fire on the motorcade, a panicking Secret Service agent accidentally discharged his rifle, firing the shot that killed Kennedy.
This list is not intended to accuse anyone other than Lee Harvey Oswald of having anything to do with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Donahue’s theory is just that—a theory. The following is merely an examination of the evidence for (and against) one of the most fascinating “What Ifs” in American history.
10 • Multiple Witnesses Described the Last Two Shots As Very Close Together
Oswald used a bolt-action Carcano rifle, which requires the shooter to make four movements after each shot in order to cycle the spent case and chamber the next round. The Warren Commission found that the minimum time required to fire the rifle, cycle the bolt once, and fire a second shot was 2.3 seconds. The most commonly accepted theory is that Oswald fired three shots, one of which missed, requiring him to cycle the bolt twice. Based on footage from the Zapruder Film, the Commission concluded that the two shots that hit Kennedy were fired 4.8–5.6 seconds apart.
If the second shot missed, then all three bullets must have been fired in that time. If, however, the first or third shot missed, then the minimum timespan increases to 7.1–7.9 seconds for all three shots. Neither scenario is impossible, although 4.8–5.6 seconds would be a remarkably short time to fire accurately on a moving vehicle.
But the Warren Commission’s calculations are only important if the shots are assumed to have occurred at equal intervals. If, instead, the last two shots were to occur almost simultaneously, then a single bolt-action rifle could not fire them both. Interestingly, some witness testimony seems to support that scenario. Notable is the testimony of Secret Service agent Bill Greer, who drove the Presidential limousine, when asked: “How much time elapsed, to the best of your ability to estimate and recollect, between the time of the second noise and the time of the third noise?”
Greer answered: “The last two seemed to be just simultaneously, one behind the other, but I don’t recollect just how much, how many seconds were between the two. I couldn’t really say.”
District Clerk James Crawford, who was standing at the intersection of Elm and Houston streets during the shooting, stated: “As I observed the parade, I believe there was a car leading the President’s car, followed by the President’s car and followed, I suppose, by the Vice President’s car and, in turn, by the Secret Service in a yellow closed sedan. The doors of the sedan were open. It was after the Secret Service sedan had gone around the corner that I heard the first report and at that time I thought it was a backfire of a car but, in analyzing the situation, it could not have been a backfire of a car because it would have had to have been the President’s car or some car in the cavalcade there. The second shot followed some seconds, a little time elapsed after the first one, and followed very quickly by the third one. I could not see the President’s car.”
Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig was standing in front of the Sheriff’s Office on Houston Street, having watched the motorcade pass and turn onto Elm. Once it was out of sight, Craig heard three shots and started running toward the scene. Here is part of his testimony, as taken by Commission staffer David Belin:
CRAIG: The first one was—uh—about three seconds—two or three seconds.
BELIN: Two or three seconds between the first and the second?
CRAIG: It was quite a pause between there. It could have been a little longer.
BELIN: And what about between the second and third?
CRAIG: Not more than two seconds. It was—they were real rapid.
None of this conclusively disproves that Oswald was the sole shooter. But it does raise an interesting possibility—if the second and third shots were fired so close together, is it conceivable that one of them wasn’t fired by Oswald at all?
9 • George Hickey Was The Only Secret Service Agent Armed With A Rifle
There were 12 Secret Service agents assigned to guard Kennedy on the day of the assassination. Special Agent in Charge Roy Kellerman rode in the front passenger seat of the Presidential limousine, with Special Agent Bill Greer driving. Win Lawson and Verne Sorrels rode in the lead vehicle and Agent Sam Kinney drove the rear vehicle, with the President’s limousine in the middle. Also in the rear vehicle were Special Agent Emory Roberts in the front passenger seat, George Hickey in the left rear seat, and Glen Bennett in the right rear seat. Special Agents Clint Hill, Tim Mcintyre, Jack Ready, and Paul Landis stood on the rear car’s running boards.
The lead vehicle was a hardtop, the other two were convertibles with their tops down. All of the agents were armed with 4-inch-barreled revolvers. As per standard procedure, one agent, Hickey, was also armed with an AR-15 rifle. Thus, assuming Oswald did not fire the headshot, then Hickey’s rifle was the only other one available.
8 • Hickey Did Produce The Rifle During The Shooting
Hugh W. Betzner, Jr., an eyewitness who had been standing at the intersection of Elm and Houston when the motorcade turned left onto Elm, reported that: “I also saw a man in either the President’s car or the car behind his and someone down in one of those cars pull out what looked like a rifle.” Betzner also described seeing a “flash of pink” somewhere in the motorcade, which has occasionally been interpreted as a muzzle flash. This flash could have come from Hickey’s rifle, or any of the agents’ handguns, although an AR-15 creates a much more noticeable flash. However, it is much more likely that the “flash of pink” referred to Jackie Kennedy, who was dressed in pink, reaching out to Special Agent Clint Hill, who had jumped from the rear car onto the back of the Presidential limo. Betzner actually specifically describes the flash as resembling “someone standing up and then sitting back down,” so the muzzle flash theory seems relatively dubious.
However, Hickey himself confirmed Betzner’s report that he did “pull out” the rifle during the shooting, testifying: “At the end of the last report I reached to the bottom of the car and picked up the AR-15 rifle, cocked and loaded it, and turned to the rear. At this point the cars were passing under the overpass and as a result we had left the scene of the shooting. I kept the AR-15 rifle ready as we proceeded at a high rate of speed to the hospital.”
Skeptoid listeners are always asking for conspiracy theories that turned out to be true. Here’s the best I could come up with.
Ever since the earliest days of Skeptoid, listeners have been asking me for two things: Do an episode on paranormal claims that turned out to be true, and do an episode on conspiracy theories that turned out to be true. For both types of requests, I’ve always answered “Great, just find some for me.” Nothing. Ever. Crickets chirping. So when I went on the Joe Rogan podcast, which has an enormous conspiracy theory following, I asked straight out: Please send me examples of conspiracy theories that turned out to be true. I was buried in email… to the degree that such a thing is possible.
Judging conspiracy theories can be a tricky business. For one thing, they’re often uselessly vague. I can say “The government does things we don’t know about,” and then virtually anything can come out in the news and I can claim to have been right. For another thing, the world is full of real criminal conspiracies, and I can always point to any one of them and claim “Hey, this is a conspiracy theory that was proven true.” So I have a simple pair of requirements that a conspiracy theory must adhere to in order to be considered the type of conspiracy theory that we’re actually talking about when we use the term.
- First, it must be specific enough to be falsifiable. This is the fundamental requirement that every scientific theory must comply with to be considered valid. By way of example, compare a vague version of the chemtrails conspiracy theory to a specific disprovable claim. You can’t just say “Some airplanes spray some unknown chemical.” That’s so vague that you could claim you were proven correct the next time a crop duster sprays a field. But if you say “United Airlines tail number NC13327 is equipped to spray VX nerve gas, and that one right there is spraying it right now,” then that’s a claim that can be disproven with a single inspection. You make a claim that specific, you’re proven right, I’ll stand behind you 100%.
- Second, it must be known to the conspiracy theorist before it’s discovered by the media or law enforcement. Simply repeating what someone else’s proper investigation has led them to does not constitute developing a theory. Woodward and Bernstein did an intense investigation and put together evidence bit by bit until they had the whole story of the Watergate scandal; at no point did they sit back in their chairs, propose an elaborate conspiracy, then watch as every detail unfolded exactly as they predicted. If you want to impress me with your conspiracy theory, you have to discover it (in detail) before other investigators piece together the proof and make it public for you. Otherwise you’re just claiming credit for reading the newspaper.
So now let’s look at the most common “conspiracy theories proven true” that I was sent:
1. The Gulf of Tonkin
This was overwhelmingly the most common story sent to me from listeners of the Rogan podcast. It was the American excuse to enter the Vietnam War. A small naval battle took place between US forces and North Vietnamese torpedo boats, after which Congress gave President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to order military action in support of certain Southeast Asian countries who were threatened by Communist forces. Basically, a thinly-veiled authorization for Johnson to go to war with North Vietnam.
The conspiracy part comes from the claim that the naval battle never actually took place, or that it was a fake “false flag” attack by American conspirators trying to give Congress the excuse they wanted. There’s probably a grain of truth to this. There was indeed one real engagement on August 2, 1964, in which planes and ships were damaged on both sides and the North Vietnamese suffered a number of casualties. There’s no doubt there. But it was the second attack two days later on August 4 that was fishy. American forces fired heavily on radar targets only, and nobody ever reported any visual sightings of North Vietnamese forces.
Throughout the day on August 4, as the action was unfolding, Captain Herrick of the destroyer USS Maddox cabled Washington a number of times, and reported in no uncertain terms that he believed there were no enemy forces. This information was public from the beginning. Even as Johnson was drafting his resolution, Senator Wayne Morse was holding public press conferences to reveal that the second attack was without evidence.
Provoking attacks may seem pretty unethical to most of us, but the fact is it’s been a common military tactic since the Romans and the Carthaginians. At no point were the details of the Gulf of Tonkin incident unknown, so it never existed as a conspiracy theory.
The FBI’s domestic Counter Intelligence Program was a terrible thing from the beginning. It operated since 1956, and also less formally for nearly 50 years before that. Their purpose was to discredit and harm American groups mainly associated with civil rights, characterizing them as hate groups that threatened national security. The program was blown in 1971 when a group of eight men, calling themselves the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, broke into a small FBI office in a perfectly planned and executed raid. They seized some 1,000 documents detailing COINTELPRO operations and mailed them to newspapers. The FBI was unable to identify any of the burglars before the statute of limitations ran out, so they got away with it clean. As a result, the FBI was forced to terminate this often-illegal program.
Had enough government rhetoric? Tired of following the sheeple? Fed up with believing what THEY want you to believe? Maybe it’s time to branch out and discover THE TRUTH.
If you’re new to the exciting world of conspiracy theories and just can’t decide which paranoid delusion best suits you, then why not use this handy flowchart to find your ideal conspiracy theory. Then you too can go and stick it to THE MAN.
“You know, this explains a lot. Because all my life, I’ve had this unaccountable feeling in my bones that something sinister was happening in the universe and that no one would tell me what it was.” Arthur Dent
NB This is not intended to be a complete list, but please don’t let that stop you commenting to let me know what I’ve missed off 🙂
By Mason I. Bilderberg, March 6, 2014
Another Alex Jones Conspiracy Bites The Dust!!
Alleged: Executive Order 11110 was going to take power away from the Federal Reserve, therefore JFK had to die.
The Truth: Executive Order 11110 enhanced Federal Reserve power by shifting the control of our money from the Treasury to the Federal Reserve by systematically removing Treasury-issued silver certificates from circulation and replacing them with Federal Reserve notes issued by the Federal Reserve.
For the whole truth and nothing but the truth, download and read my truth report (PDF File).
Mason I. Bilderberg
Keywords: Alex Jones, Conspiracy, Federal Reserve, JFK, Assassination, Executive Order 11110, John F. Kennedy.
Get out your tinfoil hats. We’re going to talk conspiracy theories.
In general, the peculiarities of how we discern the theories we believe from those we don’t. And, specifically, what those beliefs or disbeliefs say about us as individuals.
First, I’ll make the assumption that if you are reading a newspaper column, or at least recognize the names “Mulder” and “Scully,” you are familiar with conspiracy theories. They range from mainstream speculations many people believe, such as John F. Kennedy assassination theories, to fringe concepts that many people dismiss, such as the “chemtrail” theory that posits the government is delivering biological agents through the white clouds trailing high-flying jets.
FOR THE PURPOSES of this column, I’ll focus on theories purported to involve the U.S. government because those have the most widespread social, political and economic impacts. Films such as Men in Black and Independence Day would have no pop-culture currency if not for the widely held suspicion the government has possessed alien life forms and technology since 1947.
Conspiracy theories persist because – in addition to a constant spate of broken promises (Yucca Mountain, “Read my lips – no new taxes,” “You can keep your health insurance”) – the government flat-out lies to us.
The thunderous boom and sunlike glare that alarmed New Mexico residents in the early morning hours of July 16, 1945, was not the world’s first nuclear weapon. It was an explosion at a “remotely located ammunitions” depot. The second attack on the U.S.S. Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin on Aug. 4, 1964, the very attack that gave President Johnson the push to send troops to Vietnam? It never happened.
Yes, the truth is out there, but when it finally materializes (41 years, in the case of the Gulf of Tonkin incident) the public usually has forgotten, or no longer cares, about the lie.
Which leads us back to the whole point of this exercise: What makes us doubt the official party line in some instances and not others?
One might assume a person who believes in a JFK conspiracy theory should believe most, if not all, conspiracy theories. After all, couldn’t a government powerful enough to snuff out the leader of the free world in public view, and successfully cover it up for decades, be capable of doing anything?
But that’s not how we think. We base decisions on our overall level of trust in government – in a nameless, faceless bureaucratic sense – and our specific viewpoint on whoever happens to be in the Oval Office at the time. And I believe emotions shape those decisions as much as hard evidence.
MORE – – –
I’m curious to know what everybody thinks of this new series being released on the web. I’ve watched this first part and i’m not sure i’m clear on where it’s going.
If it looks worthwhile i will pay for future installments just to post them here on iLLumiNuTTi.com for all of us to watch.
Your thoughts? Leave a comment 🙂
This is Not a Conspiracy Theory (Part 1) – YouTube.
On The Web: This is Not a Conspiracy Theory
Step 1: Start with the premise that any tragic incident is a massive, intricate government conspiracy.
Step 2: Denounce any information presented by a mainstream, non-conspiracy source that directly counters the predetermined conspiracy narrative as corrupt and part of the conspiracy.
Step 3: Monitor these same mainstream sources for information that supports the predetermined conspiracy narrative, even if only remotely. Mainstream media reporting mistakes that support your conspiracy (or any conspiracy really) must be treated as rare moments of truth, glimpses inside the Matrix. Any mainstream media reports in favor of the conspiracy should be treated like the word of God. Spam that information everywhere.
Step 4: Imagination is the same thing as undeniable fact. There is nothing wrong with manipulating Youtube videos and using Photoshop to edit information to make it more obvious for the stupid sheeple to understand.
Step 5: Reject the skeptics to the conspiracy theories aggressively. Call them out for being sheep, shills, Cointelpro, paid agents, et cetera. Do not ever doubt yourself, because if you think they are any of these nouns, then it is undeniably true. After all, the conspiracy theory you are trying to wake the world up to is a fact. Only a sheep would think otherwise.
Step 6: Bring up the founding of the Federal Reserve, the Bay of Pigs, The Gulf of Tonkin, and other well known deceptive schemes by the government often (every conversation if need be.) These actions were confessed by government, therefore every other conspiracy theory is true!
Step 7: Cite declassified documents often, as they are invaluable. If the government reports that a secret program was started and ended 60 years ago- DO NOT BELIEVE THEM. The secret programs for sure are still occurring and are now more massive, sinister, and successful than before.
Step 8: Remember that most of witnesses and victims involved in conspiracy event are actors. Medical examiners, emergency responders, the police, reporters, they are almost all in on it. The innocent people caught up in the conspiracy were either killed or have been threatened by the conspirators and are too afraid to come forward (or they possibly never existed to begin with.)
Step 9: Blitz the world with the truth until everyone deletes you on Facebook or you are banned from your favorite web sites. Lay low for a period, regroup at your favorite alternative web sites, get encouragement and reinforcement from the other awakened truth seekers, and start the process all over again with a new conspiracy.
By Michael Shermer via latimes.com
With the passing of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy last week, and the accompanying fusillade of documentaries purporting to prove there was a conspiracy behind it, we might expect (and hope) that cabalistic conjecturing will wane until the next big anniversary.
Don’t count on it. A poll this month found that 61% of Americans who responded still believe that JFK was the victim of a conspiracy, despite the fact that the preponderance of evidence points to Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin.
Why do so many people refuse to accept this simple and obvious conclusion? The answer: psychology.
There are three psychological effects at work here, starting with “cognitive dissonance,” or the discomfort felt when holding two ideas that are not in harmony. We attempt to reduce the dissonance by altering one of the ideas to be in accord with the other. In this case, the two discordant ideas are 1) JFK as one of the most powerful people on Earth who was 2) killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, a lone loser, a nobody. Camelot brought down by a curmudgeon.
That doesn’t feel right. To balance the scale, conspiracy elements are stacked onto the Oswald side: the CIA, the FBI, the KGB, the Mafia, Fidel Castro, Lyndon Johnson and, in Oliver Stone’s telling in his film “JFK,” the military-industrial complex.
Cognitive dissonance was at work shortly after Princess Diana‘s death, which was the result of drunk driving, speeding and no seat belt. But princesses are not supposed to die the way thousands of regular people die each year, so the British royal family, the British intelligence services and others had to be fingered as co-conspirators.
By contrast, there is no cognitive dissonance for the Holocaust — one of the worst crimes in history committed by one of the most criminal regimes in history.
A second psychological effect is the “monological belief system,” or “a unitary, closed-off worldview in which beliefs come together in a mutually supportive network,” in the words of University of Kent researchers Michael J. Wood, Karen M. Douglas and Robbie M. Sutton in a 2012 paper titled “Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories.” A conspiracy theory, they wrote, is “a proposed plot by powerful people or organizations working together in secret to accomplish some (usually sinister) goal.” Once you believe that “one massive, sinister conspiracy could be successfully executed in near-perfect secrecy [it] suggests that many such plots are possible.”
With this cabalistic paradigm in place, conspiracies can become “the default explanation for any given event.” For example . . .
- November 22nd, 1963: The day the FBI failed. (theobamacrat.com)
- Newspapers from November 22, 1963 (joshsternberg.com)
- The Kennedy Assassination (November 22, 1963) 50 Years Later (unreportedtoday.com)
Modern conspiracy movements come and go so quickly that it can be hard to keep up with the new threats and concepts that get tossed around social media and the water cooler. So here’s a quick and easy list of some of the basic ideas you’ll often see related to conspiracy theories and popular pseudoscience. And because everyone likes pedantic, grade-school learning tropes, I did it in the form of the alphabet.
A is for Agenda 21, a non-binding and unenforceable United Nations policy paper written over two decades ago, devoted to promoting sustainability and smart growth. Some conspiracy theorists, at the prompting of Glenn Beck, have decided that Agenda 21 is actually a plot to depopulate rural areas, enact a green genocide and cram the survivors into Soviet-style urban clusters. It’s really not, and you can read the “sinister plan” for yourself online.
B is for Bankster, a portmanteau of “banker” and “gangster.” This term has caught on as a reference to the wealthy financiers and global elites who are supposedly controlling every element of society and government, enslaving the rest of us through their octopus tentacles of Big Oil, Big Pharma and Big Government. Often, the term is modified as “foreign bankster,” which usually just means “Jews.”
C is for Chemtrail, a spray of noxious chemicals, biological agents meant to control the population, weather modification material or unspecified “toxins” left behind by airplanes acting under the control of the global elite. No compelling evidence of chemtrails exists, and almost everything used as proof of them is either fake or out of context. In reality, “chemtrails” are either contrails left by aircraft when the heat of their exhausts meets cold air, or simply unusual looking clouds.
D is for Denialism. No matter what beliefs are held by the mainstream and supported by solid evidence, you can always find someone who thinks we’re being lied to about them. Everything from the existence of AIDS to the moon landings to vaccine safety has an accompanying movement that says “everything we know is wrong” about these subjects, usually with nothing to prove it. Most of these movements are tied together, because if you’re going to be contrarian, you might as well be really contrarian.
E is for Energy. Many conspiracy theorists believe there is a massive plot by the government and oil companies to suppress free energy machines, which would break the oil industry’s grip on us and deliver unlimited power. As evidenced by the free availability of patents and myriad videos showing the non-existent miracles worked by these machines, this is not true. The laws of physics dictate that free energy can not exist, so there is no need to suppress it.
F is for False Flag. In political terms, a false flag is an action fabricated as a pretext for war. False flags are real things that have happened, but conspiracy believers see them in virtually every terrorist attack and shooting of the last century, all done as a pretext for Bankster-controlled politicians to make money and take away our rights. One false flag consistently cited by conspiracy theorists is Operation Northwoods, a US plan to gin up a war with Cuba. It was pooh-poohed by President Kennedy and never implemented.
G is for Geoengineering. Like false flags, geoengineering is a real thing that has been turned into something else by conspiracy theorists. They see geoengineering as a way the global elite will reshape the planet to enslave us and keep us sick, using chemtrails, “weather warfare” and man-made natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes. In reality, geoengineering is being studied as a way to reverse the effects of climate change (see Denialism.)
H is for HAARP, short for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program. This was a research station in Alaska that used high frequency antennae to bounce radio signals off the ionosphere. Some see HAARP as a powerful weapon capable of weather modification, earthquakes, massive storms and electromagnetic blasts. HAARP has no such actual powers and ionospheric research has no relation to earthquakes or hurricanes. In addition, HAARP closed in March 2013, due to funding issues.
I is for Illuminati, a catch-all term for almost anyone wealthy, powerful or wealthy and powerful. Historically, the Bavarian Illuminati was a secret society founded in 1776 to oppose religious influence over secular life. It lasted less than a decade before being banned. The pop culture version of the Illuminati was remade from a combination of antisemitism, anti-Communism and fear of One World Government. No evidence exists that this Illuminati is real, despite virtually every celebrity, executive and politician posited to be a member.
J is for Jones, Alex. The popular radio host, film producer and founder of conspiracy clearing house Infowars.com is seen as the “face” of the conspiracy theory movement. Jones helped mainstream the view that a cadre of governments and businesses serve as a global elite, running the planet for their own benefit. His media platforms are a haven for those looking to “wake up” the rest of us to what’s “really going on,” despite being wrong pretty much all the time about pretty much everything. He’s also really entertaining to watch be interviewed.
K is for Kennedy, John, the center of a 50 year conspiracy theory regarding his assassination. Dozens of ideas have been put forth as to who “really” killed JFK, from the CIA to the Corsican Mafia to a nebulous group of businessmen to a Secret Service agent to Jackie Kennedy. Despite the weight of research on the subject (as many as 2,000 different books alone) and the staggering percentage of Americans who reject the “official story,” no theory has emerged with enough compelling evidence to displace Kennedy being shot by lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald.
L is for Logical Fallacies, the poor arguments used in an attempt to make points lacking supporting evidence. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the many fallacies used against skepticism, such as the Gish Gallop (238234 Reasons Vaccines Are Evil, And You Can’t Possibly Respond to Them All), the argument from authority (we should listen to Dr. Oz about nuclear power because he’s a doctor) and post hoc rationalization (I caught the flu after I got the flu shot, therefore the flu shot did it). Good lists of fallacies can be found here and here.
It’s happened to all of us. Some friend we had in elementary school or from an old job is all of a sudden making super weird comments on Facebook, or you’re in a bar and some random is trying to talk to you about fluoride for some reason. It’s not always immediately clear. Like, I realized one day that people saying crazy things were always following it up with “Do your own research!” and then finally discovered that it was sort of a “buzzphrase” for conspiracy theorists.
So, I thought I’d compile a list of the ways to know that someone in your life is starting to head down to tin foil hat alley.
1 • Says insane thing (probably about chemtrails), and if you dispute, insists that you “Do your own research!”
This is one of the earliest signs of this type of crazy- and it’s also a major Glenn Beck-ism. I don’t know about you, but when I state a fact, I’m usually able to explain that fact. Especially if it’s something that may be controversial.
For instance, I do not so much believe that Joan Crawford beat her children. This is a thing that most people believe, because of the movie “Mommie Dearest”– however, when asked to explain, I don’t yell “Do your own research!” at people, I explain that all of the other children (save for Christopher) have refuted Christina’s book, as well as Crawford’s actual personal assistant, and Myrna Loy, and pretty much anyone else who was around during that time. I’m not saying I’m 100% definitely correct on this, but I err on the side of “probably not.”
Still, I don’t throw out something weird, get mad at people for not immediately taking me at my word, and then yell at them to do their own research. I mean, if they want to, that’s fine, but I’m usually quite able to support my arguments.
2 • Freaking Flouride
UGH. These people and their fluoride. They love to make up crap about how the government puts fluoride in the water to keep us dumb and rebellion-resistant, like no one has ever seen “Dr. Strangelove” before or something. This is usually what they start with, probably because it sounds slightly more realistic than like, Lizard People.
It is not, however, true. At all. And yes, I’ve “done my research.” But don’t tell that to these people, especially if they are drunk at a bar, because they will, in fact, start screaming at you about it. Fluoride and the “vaccinations cause autism” thing are like the gateway drugs into tin-foil hat land.
3 • Rejecting the tyranny of paragraph breaks
I swear to god, this is a thing. Whenever I see a comment that’s just a giant block of text with no breaks in it, I immediately just go “Welp, this one’s gonna be crazy” and I am pretty much always right. I don’t know why this is a thing, it just is.
4 • When a person who you already kinda know isn’t too swift starts trying to pretend that they are some kind of intellectual who is totally going to school you on “how things are in the world.”
I hate to say this, but it’s true. It’s always the dumb ones. I feel bad, because like, they’re usually just coming across this stuff for the first time and it is totally blowing their minds. Like, I already know that some people think that the Rothschilds control the world and that there are Mason things on the dollar bill and also THE MOON LANDING WAS FAKED or whatever. I’ve known for years, and I’ve already figured out that it’s all bullshit.
The more you read about history, the more you realize that people are so not getting it together to form a whole “New World Order” anytime soon. While there have been “conspiracy” type things throughout history (MKUltra, Tuskeegee, Project Paperclip, the COINTELPRO that actually existed and not the one people pretend still exists), they have been discovered fairly quickly. Because someone always has a big mouth.
5 • They use the term term Big Pharma (or Big Anything) in all seriousness
There are about a 1000 problems with the pharmaceutical industry, for sure. However, when your friend is talking about “Big Pharma” they are not usually talking so much about overpriced cancer medication as they are like, vaccines causing autism and things like that. Also, sane people, when discussing the problems with the pharmaceutical industry just do not say things like “Big Pharma” because they like being taken seriously.
6 • “Wake up, Sheeple!”
Being awake or being asleep is like, tin-foil hat code for being hep to all kinds of nonsense. Which is why on those weird personal ads for Infowars everyone was like “I’ve been awake for 4 months” and things. Sheeple is what they call people who do not go along with them.
See, usually, these people are kind of “new.” Like, they think that the information they are about to rock you with is A) Nothing you have ever heard before or B) Something you are going to buy wholesale, immediately, because their “evidence” is so vastly compelling. If you do not believe them, you are obviously a sheep of a person.
- 5 Things I’ve noticed about… Conspiracy Theorists on Youtube (illuminutti.com)
- “You Know You Are a Conspiracy Theorist If…” (illuminutti.com)
- Weekend Diversion: Which type of conspiracy theorist are you? (scienceblogs.com)
We’re approaching the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, an event that wrenched this nation and spawned countless conspiracy theories. Was Kennedy killed by the Cubans? The CIA? The Mafia? The military-industrial complex? Time to spread your blanket on a grassy knoll and examine these 10 conspiracy theories:
1 • Some Pakistanis doubt the story of Malala Yousafzai, the teenager who received worldwide support after she was shot and wounded by the Taliban for promoting the education of girls. Suspicion that she is a CIA plant or a greedy hoaxer is so common in Pakistan that a journalist there ridiculed doubters with a satirical piece revealing that Malala’s “real name was Jane” and that the DNA in her earwax showed that she was “probably from Poland.” But other media outlets missed the joke, citing the report as yet more evidence of the Malala plot.
2 • Psychologists say the best predictor for someone believing a conspiracy theory is belief in other theories, even if they’re contradictory. Researchers at the University of Kent in England found that survey respondents who believed that Osama bin Laden died long before the U.S. Navy SEAL attack in May 2011 were actually more likely to also agree with the theory that he was still alive.
3 • The Illuminati was a Bavarian secret society founded by Adam Weishaupt in the late 18th century that was extinguished within a few years. Or was it? Conspiracy theorists believe the Illuminati remains alive and is bent on world conquest. It’s certainly bent on domination of book lists, with Dan Brown’s novels as best-sellers, and other authors offering such titles as “Hip-Hop Illuminati: How and Why the Illuminati Took Over Hip-Hop” and “Mary Todd Lincoln and the Illuminati.” Then there’s the video “Die America Die!: The Illuminati Plan to Murder America, Confiscate Its Wealth, and Make Red China Leader of the New World Order.”
4 • The struggling New York Knicks desperately needed the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 1985, certain to be Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing. But seven teams were in the running, with the draft order determined by Commissioner David Stern picking envelopes out of a bowl. When the Knicks won the top pick, the “Frozen Envelope Theory” was born. Some suspect that the Knicks’ envelope was chilled so Stern could identify it by touch. Others think a corner of the envelope was bent for the same purpose. But no one has ever proved anything.
5 • Conspiracy theories are big business. Alex Jones is an Austin, Texas-based talk radio host with millions of listeners over the airwaves and on the Internet who peddles apocalyptic tales of doom. He believes the U.S. government was behind the Oklahoma City bombing, the 9/11 attacks and the Boston Marathon bombings. As Jones spouts his dire warnings, his main advertising sponsor is a gold company called Midas Resources, which benefits from such hysteria as people seek out the traditional financial safety of precious metals. Midas Resources is owned by Ted Anderson, who also owns Genesis Communications — the network that carries Jones.
- 5 Things I’ve noticed about… 9/11 Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- 10 Counter conspiracy theories (illuminutti.com)
- Conspiracies: Five things they don’t want you to know (illuminutti.com)
- Five Things They Don’t Want You to Know About Conspiracy Theories (txwclp.org)
THE SHOW “JFK: The Smoking Gun”
WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 8 p.m. on Reelz
WHAT IT’S ABOUT The crush of JFK-related specials leading up to the 50th anniversary of his assassination begins with (what else?) this conspiracy theory documentary that postulates a Secret Service agent riding in the car behind Kennedy’s limousine accidentally discharged his weapon — the third shot that killed the president.
Veteran Australian detective Colin McLaren essentially says this theory, which was first postulated by a ballistics expert, Howard Donahue (who died in 1999), and later written up in the 1992 book by Bonar Menninger, “Mortal Error: The Shot that Killed JFK,” is in fact the correct one. Per McLaren, the agent unlatched the safety lock on his automatic rifle after hearing the first shots, then stood up in the car and fell backward when it lurched forward. The gun went off at that point.
MY SAY Any JFK assassination conspiracy theory can be like a long ride down dark alleys, past empty buildings, and scarred landscapes… The view is invariably depressing, but rarely dull and always compelling — to a point, anyway, and then it’s just plain blight.
That point arrives fairly early in “The Smoking Gun” when it becomes obvious that McLaren has nothing much more to add to what Donahue postulated many years ago: The clumsy Secret Service agent did it. Like all conspiracy theories, or at least the good ones, this one luxuriates in the amassed evidence that would seem to point to an inevitable conclusion, unless evidence to the contrary is presented, which never is here. But then that’s the strange Kafka-esque reality of the entire JFK conspiracy industry. For every bumbling Secret Service agent, there’s some guy over on Grassy Knoll. There are hundreds — maybe thousands — of competing theories, and maybe one of them is true. Is this finally that one? What do you think?
BOTTOM LINE Recycled theory with some fresh perspective — but it still smells recycled.
[END] via Newsday (NY)
- Five Kennedy Conspiracy Theories Debunked by JFK: The Smoking Gun (illuminutti.com)
- Here come the conspiracy theorists about JFK (illuminutti.com)
- JFK Assasination – Conspiracy or Clumsiness? (blogs.abc.net.au)
- REELZCHANNEL “JFK: Inside the Evidence” Special to Premiere Monday, November 4 at 10pm ET/ 7pm PT (prweb.com)
- New REELZ Website Traces Powerful Facts and Evidence to Reveal the… (prweb.com)
- New Documentary Says a Second Shooter Killed JFK (seattlepi.com)
- Doc suggests secret service killed JFK (metronews.ca)
- The Case That Never Dies (online.wsj.com)
- Secret Service killed JFK, Aussie says (adelaidenow.com.au)
- Secret explanation of JFK’s killing (heraldsun.com.au)
Nov. 22 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Get ready for more of this:
“John F. Kennedy was murdered by a conspiracy involving disgruntled CIA agents, anti-Castro Cubans, and members of the Mafia, all of whom were extremely angry at what they viewed as Kennedy’s appeasement policies toward Communist Cuba and the Soviet Union.”
That’s according to Jesse Ventura in his new book, They Killed Our President: 63 Reasons to Believe There Was a Conspiracy to Assassinate JFK. Ventura’s “smoking gun” is a memo written three days after the assassination by Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach to Bill Moyers, an aide to newly sworn-in President Lyndon B. Johnson.
“The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that the evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial,” Katzenbach wrote.
Alone, it sounds ominous. But not when viewed in the context of the sentence that precedes it: “ It is important that all the facts surrounding President Kennedy’s assassination be made public in a way that will satisfy people in the United States and abroad that all of the facts have been told and that a statement to this effect be made now.”
My hunch is that Katzenbach was already anticipating that, 50 years later, guys like Ventura would seek to prosper by spinning yarns. Katzenbach died in 2012. But Moyers is still with us, and I asked him what he thought of the current use of the memo he was sent 50 years ago. He told me he hasn’t kept up with any of this since leaving the White House.
“Some of my old colleagues and I collaborated a few years ago in a protest to the History Channel over a scurrilous documentary about LBJ and the assassination, but that’s been the extent of the attention I’ve given it,” he said over email. “The Warren Commission settled the matter for me, and conspiracy theories of any kind have always seemed a waste of time. I don’t even believe George W. Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks, and as a result am a constant target of those conspiracy theorists.”
When I recently asked Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota, who fired the shots that killed Kennedy, he could not answer. (“That’s impossible. How can you ask me to do that?”) How many people were in on it? (“It’s hard to say.”)
Typical was this exchange between us:
MS: You wrote the book They Killed Our President. Who are “they”?
JV: No one will ever know, no one will ever know. All I know is, Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t.
Part of Ventura’s explanation is that Oswald had a body double. I kid you not.
- JFK assassination conspiracy theory “blown out of the water” in new book, author says (illuminutti.com)
- Beware the conspiracy theorists as JFK date nears (thenewstribune.com)
- Ventura: LBJ Had The Most To Gain From JFK Assassination (minnesota.cbslocal.com)
- JFK’s brain taken by his brother Robert, book claims (theprovince.com)
From the complicated to the absurd, there is no shortage of hypotheses concocted by conspiracy theorists about what happened on that fateful day in Dallas nearly fifty years ago. While the upcoming REELZ documentary JFK: The Smoking Gun presents a straightforward, plausible and logical solution to this long unsolved mystery, many of the ideas that theorists come up with seem quite unlikely. Ballistics expert Howard Donahue and veteran police detective Colin McLaren came to conclusions which are simple and don’t rely on unsubstantiated claims, and audiences will get a glimpse of the processes they used when JFK: The Smoking Gun premieres Sunday, November 3rd. As for all those off-the-wall conspiracy theories, we took a moment to examine some of the claims, all of which look just a little more unlikely when compared with the evidence presented in the upcoming documentary.
Conspiracy Theory 1: The Mafia Killed JFK
One of the most popular theories about the JFK assassination is that it was a mafia hit. There are many variations on this theme, and mostly they differ in terms of why the mob decided to get involved. For example, some say the reason JFK was the victim of a mafia hit is because the mob rigged the Illinois election to ensure that Kennedy won the state. When JFK refused to play ball with them once he was in office, the mob felt a need to retaliate. Or maybe the reason that the mob was furious was because JFK continued the economic sanctions and travel embargoes to Cuba. Seeing as Cuba was something of a sanctuary for organized crime bosses, they felt they had to do something about it. Then there’s the simple idea that the mob was simply reacting to the fact that Attorney General Robert Kennedy was cracking down on organized crime. As sensational as these theories are, the fact is that the mob does not typically kill highly visible and powerful politicians or law enforcers, so the idea that they would call a hit on the POTUS seems unlikely. But even if the mafia did kill Kennedy and had a gunman on the grassy knoll, does the ballistics evidence substantiate that theory? Howard Donahue studied the bullet trajectories, and came to the conclusion that there’s no way any of the shots fired came from the grassy knoll. Though it’s had many proponents over the past fifty years, this theory doesn’t really hold up.
Conspiracy Theory 2: The CIA and/or the Illuminati Killed Kennedy
The myriad of theories that suggest that the CIA was responsible for JFK’s death is decidedly one jumbled bunch of ideas. One theory claims that the CIA resented the way Kennedy was handling Cuba, and officials were particularly irked that he was undermining their attempts to kill Castro. As a result, the government agency decided to kill Kennedy. Others claim that a shadowy Illuminati-type member of the Federal Reserve Bank wanted Kennedy killed because of a law he passed which could have made the Treasury more powerful than the Federal Reserve. This powerful figure was able to make the CIA do his bidding, because obviously the shadowy, underworld types control everything. The CIA even has a very lengthy (and very dry) explanation of how the story got started and why it is false in their online library. Would sworn US government agents really kill the President of the United States due to political disagreements? It hardly seems likely.
Conspiracy Theory 3: JFK was killed due to his interest in aliens
One of the more creative conspiracy theories is that JFK was killed because he was too interested in UFOs. They story is that he wanted to share the US government’s information about aliens and UFOs with the USSR in order to avoid a scenario in which a visitor from another planet was confused with an attack from the US. According to this premise, it was deemed that the President was sticking his nose where it didn’t belong so, of course, the only way to deal with the issue was for the CIA or some other government agency to assassinate him. Obviously this theory isn’t too difficult to disprove. Just a moment or two of critical thinking reveals the giant holes in the hypothesis, but really we have to love the intertwining of two major conspiracies.
- 5 Things I’ve noticed about… Bizarre Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- 5 Things I’ve noticed about… 9/11 Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- If the Government is shut down, then who is paying the shills? (illuminutti.com)
- Who needs facts when you have conspiracy theorists? (illuminutti.com)
- 6 Conspiracy theories that make people paranoid (illuminutti.com)
- New Documentary Puts Forth Controversial Theory About JFK Assassination (theblaze.com)
- Ventura: Facts Surrounding JFK Assassination Still Hidden (trutv.com)
- Are conspiracy theorists really the sane ones? (mobile.wnd.com)
- Are conspiracy theorists really the sane ones? (wnd.com)
Every time I hear someone repeat a conspiracy theory, it makes me question my stance on torture. Be honest, whom would you rather waterboard, 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or billionaire birther Donald Trump?
Conspiracy theories allow many people to feel more in control. It’s simply more comforting to imagine some grand conspiracy was behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy than to accept the fact that one lone man, Lee Harvey Oswald, was able to assassinate the leader of the free world.
A recent study at the University of Kent in England shed new light on the minds of conspiracy theorists. It found that factual details were far less important to conspiracy theorists than their belief that secret and powerful forces are controlling everything.
The study also found people who believed Osama Bin Laden is still alive were just as likely to sign on to the theory that he was already dead at the time of the raid, a sort of SchrÖdinger’s Cat approach.
I have seriously studied the Kennedy assassination since 2003 and have read a stack of books on the subject taller than I am. I’ve also made countless trips to Dealey Plaza and to the Sixth Floor Museum’s research room to educate myself further on the assassination.
During a recent trip, I overheard a gentleman saying there must have been a second shooter positioned on the grassy knoll because after the shot the president’s head snapped back and to the left. This is a common misconception.
I explained to him that, according to Nobel prize-winning physicist Luis W. Alvarez, a bullet approaching the speed of sound transfers little resistance to the head as it enters the skull. However, upon exiting, the bullet pulls with it bits of brain matter and skull fragments creating a jet blast effect that sends the head in the direction of the shooter.
His response: “That actually makes a lot of sense, but I still think there must have been a second shooter.”
Christopher Hitchens called this the “exhaust fumes of democracy,” a result of a large population with unlimited access to large amounts of information that is often wrong or misleading.
- Why do people lie about their belief in a Conspiracy Theory? (illuminutti.com)
- HAARPing mad – an assessment of the HAARP conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists. (illuminutti.com)
- What is a Sheeple? (illuminutti.com)
- Nope, It Was Always Already Wrong (illuminutti.com)
- Like Sandy Hook, the Washington Navy Yard Shooting Will Soon Be Co-opted By Conspiracy Theorists (illuminutti.com)
- Essay: Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- Is it a Conspiracy Theory, or is it Satire? (illuminutti.com)
- The 10 Commandments of Rational Debate (…Know Thy Logical Fallacies) (illuminutti.com)
- 10 Hilariously Bad Conspiracy Theories (listverse.com)
- A guide to fallacious arguments, illustrated with funny animals (io9.com)
Skeptics have their work cut out for them. We are up against irrational forces that are becoming very savvy at turning the language and superficial tactics of science and skepticism against science and reason. We are not just debating details of evidence and logic, but wrangling with fully-formed alternate views of reality.
An excellent example of this was recently brought to my attention – an article using published psychological studies to argue that conspiracy theorists represent the mainstream rational view while “anti-conspiracy people” are actually the “paranoid cranks.” The article, by Dr. Kevin Barrett (Ph.D. Arabist–Islamologist) in my opinion nicely reflects how an ideological world-view can color every piece of information you see.
He starts out reviewing an article by Wood and Douglas which examined the comments to news articles about topics that are the subject of conspiracy theories. Barrett summarizes the study this way:
In short, the new study by Wood and Douglas suggests that the negative stereotype of the conspiracy theorist – a hostile fanatic wedded to the truth of his own fringe theory – accurately describes the people who defend the official account of 9/11, not those who dispute it.
The article actually suggests nothing of the sort. Barrett cherry picks what he wants to see from this article and draws conclusions that are not supported by the evidence. The authors of the study found that comments to conspiracy news items were approximately 2/3 pro-conspiracy and 1/3 anti-conspiracy. Barrett concludes from this:
That means it is the pro-conspiracy commenters who are expressing what is now the conventional wisdom, while the anti-conspiracy commenters are becoming a small, beleaguered minority.
This is simply not justified from this data. Barrett assumes that the number of comments reflects the relative percentage of believers in the population, but it is possible (and very likely) that pro-conspiracy people simply comment more, perhaps due to greater passion for their beliefs.
Barrett makes no mention of polls or surveys that more directly get at the question of what percentage of the population believe to some degree in a conspiracy. For 9/11 there have been a number of different surveys conducted in various ways with a range of outcomes, but in all of them, believers in a 9/11 conspiracy are in the minority.
Barrett also ignores the many other conclusions of the paper. They write:
In accordance with our hypotheses, we found that conspiracist commenters were more likely to argue against the opposing interpretation and less likely to argue in favor of their own interpretation, while the opposite was true of conventionalist commenters. However, conspiracist comments were more likely to explicitly put forward an account than conventionalist comments were. In addition, conspiracists were more likely to express mistrust and made more positive and fewer negative references to other conspiracy theories. The data also indicate that conspiracists were largely unwilling to apply the “conspiracy theory” label to their own beliefs and objected when others did so, lending support to the long-held suggestion that conspiracy belief carries a social stigma. Finally, conventionalist arguments tended to have a more hostile tone. These tendencies in persuasive communication can be understood as a reflection of an underlying conspiracist worldview in which the details of individual conspiracy theories are less important than a generalized rejection of official explanations.
The main findings of the study, therefore, are that conspiracy theorists base their opinions largely on an “underlying conspiracist worldview” rather than the specific details of any case. They are not able to put forward and defend a specific alternate theory, but rather are primarily interested in contradicting the official story, whatever that happens to be. This is in line with conventional criticism of conspiracy theorists.
[ . . . ]
In another bit of reality-bending, Barrett writes:
Additionally, the study found that so-called conspiracists discuss historical context (such as viewing the JFK assassination as a precedent for 9/11) more than anti-conspiracists.
I’m convinced that anything can be twisted in a positive or negative way (just read political news stories). Conspiracy theorists believe they are putting events into “historical context” while conspiracy critics might say they are making leaps of logic in order to create the illusion of connections where none exist. In fact, conspiracy thinking is largely about seeing patterns where they do not truly exist – patterns in events that may be unconnected or only loosely connected in a generic cultural/historical fashion.
Barrett goes on to cite 9/11 truthers as if they are objective scholars. For example . . .
- Conspiracy theorists’ sane: government dupes crazy, hostile. (illuminutti.com)
- Not all Conspiracy Theorists are Conspiracy Theorists (illuminutti.com)
- New studies: ‘Conspiracy theorists’ sane, while government dupes are crazy and hostile (federaljack.com)
- Revenge of the Conspiracy Theorists (theness.com)
We’ve written before about the historical and social aspects of conspiracy theories, but wanted to learn more about the psychology of people who believe, for instance, that the Boston Marathon bombing was a government “false flag” operation. Psychological forces like motivated reasoning have long been associated with conspiracy thinking, but scientists are learning more every year. For instance, a British study published last year found that people who believe one conspiracy theory are prone to believe many, even ones that are completely contradictory.
Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of Western Australia, published a paper late last month in the journal Psychological Science that has received widespread praise for looking at the thinking behind conspiracy theories about science and climate change. We asked him to explain the psychology of conspiracy theories. This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.
First of all, why do people believe conspiracy theories?
There are number of factors, but probably one of the most important ones in this instance is that, paradoxically, it gives people a sense of control. People hate randomness, they dread the sort of random occurrences that can destroy their lives, so as a mechanism against that dread, it turns out that it’s much easier to believe in a conspiracy. Then you have someone to blame, it’s not just randomness.
What are the psychological forces at play in conspiracy thinking?
Basically what’s happening in any conspiracy theory is that people have a need or a motivation to believe in this theory, and it’s psychologically different from evidence-based thinking. A conspiracy theory is immune to evidence, and that can pretty well serve as the definition of one. If you reject evidence, or reinterpret the evidence to be confirmation of your theory, or you ignore mountains of evidence to focus on just one thing, you’re probably a conspiracy theorist. We call that a self-sealing nature of reasoning.
Another common trait is the need to constantly expand the conspiracy as new evidence comes to light. For instance, with the so-called Climategate scandal, there were something like nine different investigations, all of which have exonerated the scientists involved. But the response from the people who held this notion was to say that all of those investigations were a whitewash. So it started with the scientists being corrupt and now not only is it them, but it’s also all the major scientific organizations of the world that investigated them and the governments of the U.S. and the U.K., etc., etc. And that’s typical — instead of accepting the evidence, you actually turn it around and say that it’s actually evidence to support the conspiracy because it just means it’s even broader than it was originally thought to be.
Are there certain types of people who are more prone to believing in conspiracy theories than others? Does it match any kind of political lines?
I don’t think there is a systematic association between political views and the propensity to believe in conspiracy theories. There are some studies that suggest people on the political left are inclined to it, and there are some that suggest people on the right are. But it’s always a weak association.
- Conspiracy theories only create more conspiracy theories (illuminutti.com)
- The End of Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- Why Rational People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- Not all Conspiracy Theorists are Conspiracy Theorists (illuminutti.com)
- Where Conspiracy Theories Come From (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
- Why Rational People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories (richarddawkins.net)
By Douglas A. McDonnell, M. Asher Cantrell via Cracked.com
Just about every major event in history has a conspiracy theory attached to it, whether you’ve heard of it or not. It’s just that most of them remain known only to the hardcore “we’ll believe anything” true believers, where others, like the ones below, pick up real traction.
But even among theories like these (which count their believers in the millions), you find that the whole thing is usually based on some embarrassingly simple misunderstanding. For example …
#5. The JFK Assassination Is Explained by How the Targets Were Sitting
If you’ve seen Oliver Stone’s JFK, then you’ll remember the climactic scene in which Kevin Costner “proves” that the Kennedy assassination was a conspiracy by demonstrating the impossible path of Oswald’s shot, which he sarcastically dubs “the magic bullet.”
The problem, according to those who believe in the conspiracy theory, is that Kennedy and Governor John Connally (who was seated in front of him) both suffered a constellation of wounds on their bodies from what the official investigation claims was a single bullet fired by Oswald. For this to be possible, the bullet would have had to curve around in midair several times, in multiple directions.
Since this openly defies the laws of physics, there must have been another shooter on the grassy knoll, or maybe the limo driver did it, or perhaps it was space lasers from a Nazi base on the moon. In Stone’s film and elsewhere, you see it accompanied by a diagram like this:
Our guess? Connally had one of those shoulder magnets that were all the rage back then.
The Simple Misunderstanding:
JFK and Connally weren’t sitting like that.
The people who draw up these diagrams invariably put Connally at an equal height to and seated directly in front of Kennedy. That’s where they’d be sitting if they were two ordinary dudes riding in an ordinary sedan, but the problem is that this sedan happened to be carrying one ordinary dude and the president of the United States.
The people who are paid to arrange this kind of thing knew who the people in the crowd were really there to see, and it wasn’t Governor Connally. So to prevent Connally from blocking the view of the president, he was put in a little jump seat, which was both set off from and lower than Kennedy’s position. So they were actually sitting like this:
If you think that’s a convenient story trumpeted out to explain away the mysterious curving bullet, don’t just take our word for it. That diagram was drawn from a photograph taken from behind Kennedy (the photographer was “Betzner”) in which you can clearly see that Connally is either a hunchbacked dwarf or in a very strange sitting position:
Or else you can just look at a photograph of the inside of the car:
You’ll also notice that Kennedy and Connally weren’t sitting rigid and facing forward like robots, as the conspiracy theorists suggest, but were twisted in their seats and waving at the audience as though, like, they were at a parade of some kind. Rearrange their bodies that way, and the path of the bullet — Oswald’s bullet — goes straight through them. Just like it should.
#4. The Pearl Harbor Conspiracy Relies on a Terrible Understanding of Politics
Conspiracy theories didn’t begin with Kennedy. Look back through history and you’ll find that any time some disgruntled foreign agent ever committed an atrocity on American soil, there were people screaming “false flag!” — meaning the government intentionally staged the attack to drum up support for some kind of evil foreign policy, or, at the very least, intentionally let it happen for the same reason.
Take Pearl Harbor. After the Japanese air force launched a surprise attack on the American fleet in 1941, it became a widespread belief among conspiracy authors that President Roosevelt knew the attack was going to take place, but allowed it to go ahead. Why? Quite simply, he had a hard-on for war with Germany, but didn’t have the public support for it. Since Hitler had signed a pact with Japan, war with either of them meant war with both, and allowing everyone at Pearl Harbor to be murdered would give FDR all the public support he needed to enter the war. He could spank Hitler’s ass while still looking like the victim.
The Simple Misunderstanding:
The Tripartite Pact, the pact between Japan, Germany, and Italy, was a defensive alliance only. That means Hitler was under no obligation to attack the United States just because his idiot friends did.
Of course, Germany did declare war after Pearl Harbor, but it had nothing to do with the idea that Hitler’s hand was forced by some deal he had with Japan. Instead, he cited the Lend-Lease Act and American naval activity as his reasons. That’s because Roosevelt was already pissing Hitler off by ordering his destroyers to sink German submarines on sight while at the same time escorting boatloads of weapons and supplies to Hitler’s enemies.
It’s true that Roosevelt was pretty keen to enter the war against Germany … to the point where he actually didn’t want to go to war with Japan because a war in the Pacific would distract him from his German hate-boner.
And speaking of “false flag” attacks …
#3. The World Trade Center Did Not Collapse at “Free-Fall Speed”
Because it occurred in the Internet era, the 9/11 World Trade Center attack is the one historical event that has generated more conspiracy theories than the Kennedy assassination. There are tons of equally crazy variations of the theory, but they all come down to the curious way the towers fell.
Conspiracy theorists say the buildings fell at “free-fall speed,” meaning that they didn’t just slowly crumble away or tip over like you might expect, but that the whole damn things just fell down at once, like a house of cards. That, they say, proves that the towers were wired with explosives by the U.S. government. Why else would sturdy skyscrapers just collapse in a puff of smoke like that?
The Simple Misunderstanding:
When somebody tells you that the towers fell at “free-fall speed,” they’re more or less pulling that out of their ass. Or at least, they’re referencing some other conspiracy theorists who pulled it out of their ass. They’re not referencing any kind of scientific theory or measurement; they’re just timing the fall as they watch YouTube videos and declaring that it looks different from how it plays out in their imagination. In other words, they don’t actually know what they mean by “free fall” except that the buildings seem to be falling more quickly than they’d expect from the almost certainly zero controlled demolitions they’ve seen before.
Most of the video of the actual collapse is filmed in Cloverfield-style shaky-cam, but if you watch any of the still-camera footage, you can debunk the free-fall claim simply from the fact that there’s debris coming off the tower that’s falling faster than the tower is. We’ve known that objects free fall at the same speed ever since Galileo dropped some balls off the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so that more or less puts the kibosh on the whole free-fall business.
Part of the problem is that the Twin Towers were basically big, featureless rectangles that made it look like the whole thing was falling at once. Conspiracy theorists like Rosie O’Donnell like to rattle off statistics like how the towers fell in nine seconds, which just happens to be free-fall speed. But nine seconds is more likely the amount of time that Rosie put into researching the issue, because if she’d actually timed the collapse, she would have found that the towers took about 15 and 22 seconds to collapse, well short of free-fall speed. But then, that’s why very few engineering graduates cite Rosie O’Donnell as a source.
As for why the buildings collapsed at all, that has to do with the way they were designed and their resulting inability to stand up to the horrific fires caused by the crashes. As for why the buildings weren’t designed to withstand this kind of attack, it’s because the world can only do so much to protect you from unthinkable horrors, and nothing will change that.
- From Cracked.com: 5 Conspiracy Theories That Are Shockingly Easy to Debunk (theburningplatform.com)
- Obsession with assassination of JFK has not waned 50 years later (irishtimes.com)
- Cracked writers puts nine seconds of research into conspiracy debunking article (911debunkers.blogspot.com)
- Shocking Claim! Former Nixon Aide Alleges Lyndon B. Johnson Arranged JFK’s Assassination In New Book (radaronline.com)
- The danger behind America’s fascination with conspiracy theories: Opinion (nj.com)
- JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories w/ Dr. Walt Brown (disclose.tv)
- Yet another film claiming to solve Kennedy assassination, ‘JFK: The Smoking Gun,’ starts filming in Dallas today (thescoopblog.dallasnews.com)
An old story claims a long list of astonishing similarities between the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy.
Anyone with email has probably received a chain letter revealing a startling series of similarities between the assassinations of U.S. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. But even before the days of email, the story had been around, being printed and reprinted, quoted and requoted, and it all seems to go back to a book published the year after Kennedy died. Author Jim Bishop’s book A Day in the Life of President Kennedy, published in 1964 but written mostly while Kennedy was still in office, included an appendix listing a number of strange parallels between the two distinguished Presidents.
We’re going to examine these parallels to see if they hold up, but in doing so we should keep in mind the larger question. Are these similarities in any way meaningful? Do numbers and the spelling of names hold any consequential significance? Let’s find out. Today’s version of what’s become quite the urban legend will read something like this:
The Lincoln-Kennedy myths are really intriguing when you hear them, but perhaps equally captivating when you hear the counter arguments. If I drop six pairs of dice, chances are that one pair will match. Taken by itself, that match is pretty cool. Four U.S. Presidents have been assassinated in office, which results in six possible pairings; between those six, it shouldn’t be surprising that we’d find one pairing with interesting coincidences. But that’s just where the counter arguments start to get interesting.
A lot of the similarities are about dates that are exactly 100 years apart. This is no great shock; as U.S. Presidential elections happen every four years, so there are only 25 elections in a century, and every President has at least one other President elected exactly a century before and/or after. But this century-centric nature of the Lincoln-Kennedy legend starts to fall apart very quickly when you look at what should be the most important dates: Lincoln and Kennedy died 98 years apart, not a century; and they were elected to the terms in which they died 96 years apart, not a century. Conveniently omitted from the chain email. But let’s look deeper.
My favorite disassembly of the Lincoln-Kennedy legend is the one on Snopes.com. Barbara Mikkelson, who does most of the research and reporting on Snopes, has always been most astonishingly thorough with the way she tracks down every last scrap of an urban legend, but she also applies a very keen skeptical eye to popular claims. The Lincoln-Kennedy legend is primarily a list of coincidences; and when taken away from the context of all the many non-coincidences that also characterized the two men, it seems amazing. She writes:
We’re supposed to be amazed at minor happenstances such as the two men’s being elected exactly one hundred years apart, but we’re supposed to think nothing of the numerous non-coincidences: Lincoln was born in 1809; Kennedy was born in 1917. Lincoln died in 1865; Kennedy died in 1963. Lincoln was 56 years old at the time of his death; Kennedy was 46 years old at the time of his death. No striking coincidences or convenient hundred-year differences in any of those facts. Even when we consider that, absent all other factors, the two men had a one in twelve chance of dying in the same month, we find no coincidence there: Lincoln was killed in April; Kennedy was killed in November.
Even advice columnist Ann Landers took on this question in 1995, and aptly pointed out that there are far more differences between the men than similarities …
Had enough government rhetoric? Tired of following the sheeple? Fed up with believing what THEY want you to believe? Maybe it’s time to branch out and discover THE TRUTH.
If you’re new to the exciting world of conspiracy theories and just can’t decide which paranoid delusion best suits you, then why not use this handy flowchart to find your ideal conspiracy theory. Then you too can go and stick it to THE MAN.
- The Conspiracy Theory Flowchart “THEY” Don’t Want You To See (crispian-jago.blogspot.com)
- Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Natural Disasters are False Flag Attacks (illuminutti.com)
- My War on Hoaxes and Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- Florida Sinkhole Conspiracy Theory Emerges! (illuminutti.com)
- Boston Bombing Conspiracy Theory (accordingtomeblog.wordpress.com)