Tag Archives: Assassination of John F. Kennedy

10 Reasons JFK’s Death Might Have Been An Accident

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By FlameHorse via Listverse

JFK crosshairThe 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

jfk 1003_300pxOswald 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:

BELIN: About how far were these noises apart?
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

487585263_250pxThere 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

jfk-1_250pxHugh 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.”

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10 Mysterious Deaths Connected To The JFK Assassination

By FlameHorse via Listverse

Probably the best known mystery surrounding Kennedy’s death is his missing brain. Not as well known are the mysterious deaths of many people connected to the assassination, eventually prompting the House Select Committee on Assassinations to look into possible foul play. After a cursory investigation, it found none.

Of course, a mysterious death may or may not involve foul play. Here are accounts of 10 people who witnessed Kennedy’s actual assassination, or had pertinent knowledge of one or more people involved, and who died “untimely”—at least in some estimations.

10 • Jack Ruby

Jack_Ruby_mugshot_250pxWe begin with Ruby, the only very famous entry, who murdered Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV just two days after Oswald had been arrested for killing Kennedy. When Kennedy was shot, Ruby was five blocks away from the Texas School Book Depository, distributing ads. He originally claimed to have shot Oswald in order to “redeem” Dallas and spare Jackie Kennedy the agony of a trial. But these motives—and everything else in Ruby’s life—remain shrouded in contradictions.

Ruby himself later claimed that his first attorney had told him to testify to the above motives, while Vegas mobster Johnny Roselli claimed Ruby had been assigned to silence Oswald. In 1965, well after his conviction, Ruby had this to say about the murder: “Everything pertaining to what’s happening has never come to the surface. The world will never know the true facts of what occurred, my motives. The people who had so much to gain, and had such an ulterior motive for putting me in the position I’m in, will never let the true facts come above board to the world.”

On 3 January, 1967, Ruby died of a pulmonary embolism, a complication of lung cancer. Before his death, he had gone on record claiming that he had been visited by a man who injected him with what he was told were antibiotics for a chronic cold, but which he believed were really cancer cells. He had just been granted a new trial on the grounds that his first trial in Dallas could not have been fairly heard. Shortly before he passed away, Ruby told a psychiatrist that the assassination was a coup d’etat and that he knew who was responsible for Kennedy’s murder.

9 • James Richard Worrell Jr.

rsz_1600px-jfk_limousine_250pxWorrell was one of the very best eyewitnesses to Kennedy’s assassination, providing unusually detailed answers to the usual questions about that day (his entire testimony before Congress is available here). In 1963, Worrell was a 20-year-old high school student living in Dallas with his mother and sister. When Kennedy arrived, Worrell decided to skip school in order to see the President, leaving home early in the morning and hitchhiking to Love Field. Finding he was too late to get a good view there, he left for Dealey Plaza and waited four or five feet in front of the Book Depository, on the sidewalk at the corner of Elm and Houston.

He watched as the motorcade came down Houston Street, and turned past him onto Elm. Then Worrell testified that he heard “four shots.” He looked up after the first, which he realized was too loud to be a firecracker, and saw a rifle barrel protruding from the 5th or 6th-floor corner window of the building. He looked back to Kennedy’s vehicle, heard the second shot, and saw the President slump over. He looked back up and saw the third shot’s muzzle flash, then began running in a panic around the Depository and onto Houston Street, where he heard a fourth shot. Stopping to catch his breath, he turned in time to see a man run from the rear exit of the Depository and later gave a basic description of Oswald’s height, build, and dress.

Three years later, on 6 November, 1966, Worrell was riding his motorcycle along Gus Thomasson Street in Dallas, along with a passenger named Lee Hudgins, when he apparently lost control of the vehicle, jumped the median curb, and overturned in the opposite lane. Worrell’s head, without a helmet, struck the curb, and Hudgins was flung in front of a car. Both died at the hospital.

8 • Thomas Hale Boggs Sr.

640px-LBJ-Boggs_250pxBoggs was perhaps the most high profile person connected to the assassination to die under mysterious circumstances. A longtime Louisiana Congressman, he was House Majority Whip when Kennedy was killed and became House Majority Leader in 1971. In 1963, he was appointed to the President’s Commission on the Assassination, nicknamed the Warren Commission after its chairman, Chief Justice Earl Warren. The Commission ultimately concluded that Oswald acted alone, but three of its members disagreed—Boggs and Senators Richard Russell and Sherman Cooper. Russell, who died of natural causes in 1971, publicly stated his “lingering dissatisfaction” with the investigation, while Boggs accused FBI director J. Edgar Hoover of “lying his eyes out” during the hearings.

Boggs was a strong critic of the single bullet theory. According to this theory, Oswald fired three shots, the second of which struck Kennedy in the upper back, passed through his throat and continued into Texas Governor John Connally’s back. The bullet then exited Connally’s chest, smashed through his wrist, and stopped in his left thigh, creating a total of seven wounds in two people. Some critics have claimed this would have required the bullet to somehow rise in mid-flight between the two men, but Connally had actually been sitting in a specially added “jump seat” few inches lower than Kennedy, which would have made it possible for the bullet to cause the seven wounds.

The fact of Connally’s seat height was not known at the time, but Boggs also strongly opposed the theory that Oswald acted alone, and that Ruby acted alone in killing Oswald. As House Majority Whip, then Leader, his words carried great weight.

On 16 October, 1972, Boggs was flying from Anchorage to Juneau with Alaskan Congressman Nick Begich and two others. They never arrived. The cause of the crash has never been discovered, nor has the wreckage of the plane, nor the bodies of the dead. Many civil aircraft of the time did not have emergency transmitters that would broadcast their locations upon crashing (such transmitters were made mandatory as a direct result of the incident). The four men were declared dead early the next year.

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How Conspiracy Theories Work

By via HowStuffWorks

Are you the kind of person who likes to hear to a good conspiracy theory?

ALEXJONESFOIL_250pxSome people simply do not like the discomfort that a conspiracy theory creates. But for others, conspiracy theories are intriguing. They like to explore all of the possibilities that a conspiracy theory presents, in the same way that they like to explore puzzles or mystery novels. Sometimes a conspiracy theory is ridiculous and learning about it is a form of entertainment. Or you may find that the theory is credible and it makes you think. It’s interesting to consider the theory, weigh the evidence and come up with a conclusion.

In the 21st century, one event reigns supreme in the catalog of conspiracy theories: the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States. This event is seared into the nation’s consciousness and significantly affected the entire planet. It seems inevitable that people would cry “conspiracy” about any event with this much impact. However, the conspiracy theories around 9/11 have been strong and consistent.

The whole controversy surrounding 9/11 boils down to one simple question:

airplane_500px_2Did 19 terrorists cause all of the destruction witnessed on 9/11/2001, or did a group of people in the U.S. government conspire to create that destruction for political gain?

The U.S. government has offered the terrorist explanation, and that is the story that many people believe. A large number of people, however, refuse to believe this “official story.” They believe conspiracy theorists when they say that the U.S. government actually masterminded and executed the attack.

We could spend a great deal of time arguing one side or the other. Instead, we’ll focus on the process. Isn’t it fascinating that there can be two credible explanations for such a complex event, and that both explanations can be so diametrically opposed to one another?

How does a conspiracy theory like this get started? What is required to fuel it into a full-fledged public debate? Can the theory ever be proven? What does the possibility of the theory say about our society? In this article we will explore these questions and many others as we look at the events of September 11.

Conspiracy Theory Basics

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Image courtesy Amazon
Oliver Stone‘s 1991 film “JFK” addresses a controversial version of the events surrounding John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

The dictionary defines a conspiracy theory in this way: A theory seeking to explain a disputed case or matter as a plot by a secret group or alliance rather than an individual or isolated act. A conspiracy theorist, therefore, is a person who formulates such a theory.

There is a certain negative undertone to the term “conspiracy theory” in today’s society. Detractors will point out that many conspiracy theories contain certain features that undermine their credibility. In this article, however, we will use the term “conspiracy theory” in its neutral sense. We are using it to mean an alternative explanation for an event, as it is defined in the dictionary.

In modern times there have been a number of “conspiracy theories.” One example is the assassination of John F. Kennedy. After the assassination, the government offered its explanation of the events. A large number of people (at one point, more than half of the adult population in the United States) simply do not believe the government’s explanation. This particular conspiracy theory rose to such a high level in the public consciousness that an entire Hollywood movie was made about it: “JFK”, directed by Oliver Stone and released in 1991.

The Kennedy assassination really started the modern “conspiracy theory” movement. This is an event where the “official” government explanation of the crime was openly ridiculed by a large number of “normal citizens.” Many people believe that the Kennedy assassination was carried out as part of a larger government-centered conspiracy, rather than as a random event arranged by a single gunman.

In the same way, a very large number of people do not believe that “terrorists” carried out the events seen on 9/11. Instead, they believe that the government caused those events.

Next, we’ll look at how conspiracy theories get started.

More . . .

The psychology of conspiracy theories (PDF)

matrix-red_02_250pxThis is a PDF file i found at conspiracypsychology.com.

This 56 page document is published by The British Psychological Society  and i’ve just begun reading it, so i can’t yet say whether i love it or hate it. But so far i’m liking what i see. It appears to be written in sections – some of which i’ll be skipping – but there looks to be enough great stuff in here to make it worth downloading.

I’m posting an excerpt below for you to read to help you decide whether this is something you might want to peruse.

Have fun. Feel free to provide feedback in the comments section. 🙂

The PDF can be downloaded here and at the links below.

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)


Special issue: The psychology of conspiracy theories

By The British Psychological Society – Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group via conspiracypsychology.com (PDF File)

psychiatrist_250pxPRINCESS DIANA was murdered by the British Secret Service because she was pregnant with Dodi Fayed’s baby. The government is adding fluoride to our drinking water in an attempt to weaken the population. Barak Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim and thus ineligible for the Office of the President of the United States.

All of these statements have appeared at some point or other in popular media, debated by politicians, challenged and denied by government departments, and propagated heavily over the internet. A quarter of the UK population believe Diana was assassinated (YouGov, 2012); similarly 25 per cent of Americans think Obama was not born in the US (CBS News/New York Times, 2011). But these statements are not true.

They are examples of a cultural shift in the popularity of the ‘conspiracy theory’; alternative narratives of a world overshadowed by malevolent groups hell-bent on the destruction of civil liberties, freedom and democracy. They suggest that governments, secret religious groups, scientists or private industry (often many of these combined) are responsible for either causing or covering up significant major world events for their own criminal ends.

What is a ‘conspiracy theory’?

[…]

conspiracies05Broadly, psychologists feel that conspiracy theories are worth studying because they demonstrate a particular sub-culture of often heavily political activism that is at odds with the mainstream view. Conspiracy theories are unsubstantiated, less plausible alternatives to the mainstream explanation of an event; they assume everything is intended, with malignity. Crucially, they are also epistemically selfinsulating in their construction and arguments.

[…]

What insight does psychology offer?

Belief systems, cognitive biases and individual differences

But what in particular is it about conspiracy believers that are interesting from a psychological perspective? We find these theories and those who believe them incredibly resilient to counter-argument, driven by an often fanatical belief in their version of the truth, coupled with a heavy political overtone in that their opinions need to be heard. We see an interesting combination of cognitive biases, personality traits and other psychological mechanisms at play in the formation, propagation and belief in conspiracies.

Read more – Download the PDF File

The psychology of conspiracy theories

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you…

By Dr Jovan Byford via OpenLearn – Open University

A detail of a mural in Denver International Airport, subject of much conspiracy theorist interest. A plea for peace, or a plan for future martial law?

A detail of a mural in Denver International Airport, subject of much conspiracy theorist interest. A plea for peace, or a plan for future martial law?

There is a curious relationship between psychology and the study of conspiracy theories. Historians, philosophers, sociologists and political scientists often present conspiracy theories as being of an essentially psychological nature.

Many such writers describe belief in conspiracies as manifestations of ‘paranoia’, ‘anxiety’, ‘fantasy’, ‘hysteria’ and ‘projection’, or as fulfilling a profound psychological need for certainty in the precarious (post-)modern age. In everyday discourse too, ‘conspiracy theorists’ are often labelled ‘lunatics’, ‘kooks’ or ‘paranoiacs’, implying that they suffer from some intrinsic psychological deficiency or dysfunction.

Yet, surprisingly, little psychological research has been conducted on this topic. In fact, it is only since the 1990s that social psychologists have turned their attention to the conspiracy theory phenomenon and scrutinised its psychological roots in a systematic way.

Investigating the conspiracy theorist

Much psychology research has focused on identifying factors which predispose certain individuals to endorse conspiracy theories. Given that not everyone believes in conspiracy theories, psychological studies have sought to uncover what distinguishes believers from non-believers, and in so doing create a “psychological profile” of conspiracist individuals.

conspiracy to do list_200px_200pxResearchers have explored the relevance of more general demographic factors like gender, socio-economic status, educational level or ethnic background and so on, but also things like disenchantment with political authority, sense of powerlessness, political cynicism, authoritarianism or alienation from society.

They have also looked at personality factors and aspects of cognitive functioning (resistance to disconfirming evidence, tendency to circular thinking, attributional styles, etc.) to see whether conspiracism is underpinned by some intrinsic perceptual or reasoning deficit which leads people to misunderstand or misinterpret causal relations in the world.

Overall, this quest for the psychological profile of conspiracy theorists has yielded modest results. Conspiracy theorists have been shown to be quite similar to sceptics in terms of cognitive functioning or personality. In fact, the only consistent finding is that believers tend to be disenchanted with authority and cynical about the mainstream of politics.

But this is hardly surprising: these are the central motifs of any conspiracy theory!

Look again…

clicktivism_250pxOne possible reason why the psychology of conspiracy theories produced so few meaningful results is that researchers have been approaching this phenomenon in the wrong way. They have tended to see conspiracy theories first and foremost as individual beliefs, thereby reducing them to events that are going on inside a person’s mind (information processing biases, personality characteristics, etc.).

But conspiracy theories are not just a set of individual attitudes.

Did you hear about…?

Anyone who has had the opportunity to engage with conspiracy theories will realise that they are, in fact, a dynamic set of stories and shared assumptions about the world which persist and evolve over time. As such, they are continuously exchanged, debated, evaluated and modified as people try to make sense of the world and events around them.

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The Conspiratorial Mind

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By Mason I. Bilderberg

If you have a hardcore interest in the conspiratorial mind like i do, i think you’ll enjoy what i have to offer today.

There is an internet radio broadcast called The Bob Charles Show that broadcasts 5 days a week at various times.

I mention this show because i’m having fun sifting through their audio archive listening to some of the craziest conspiratorial-woo crap you’ll find anywhere. This is pure entertainment. Where else can you find this kind of rambling nonsense?

To whet your appetite, below is an excerpt from the 11/10/13 The Bob Charles Show that i had transcribed.

Do note, i have highlighted every instance where these conspiracists use the catch-all, abstract phrase “they” to reference the faceless, nameless matrix masters.

Conspiracists are notorious for blaming “them” or “they” for every woe, unanswered question or mystery in the world.

  • Don’t feel well? “They” are spraying us with something.
  • Who did it? “They” did it.
  • Who controls the world? “They” do.
  • Corn Flakes soggy? Damn “them!”

You want to piss off a conspiracist? When they refer to “they,” ask them who “they” are. Two days ago a conspiracist told me “they” were the FBI, NSA, CIA, etc. I asked him to stop blaming buildings and get more specific (Who? What? When? Where?). He went nuts. To him i was suddenly one of “them.”

If you hear “they,” ask for specific names, dates and locations. Who (specifically) talked to who (specifically)? Who (specifically) is a member of the illuminati? Who (specifically) within the NSA? Who (specifically) within the government? Who (specifically) within the pharmaceutical industry? Who (specifically)?

No more blaming buildings and talking in abstract concepts about nameless, faceless people.

But i digress …

Here is the excerpt from the 11/10/13 The Bob Charles Show with the word “They” highlighted:

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In the one hour interview, the word “they” was used at least 146 times to reference the matrix masters.
As usual, who “they” are is never specified.

The entire interview is approximately 58 minutes long. Like i said, i have a hardcore interest in these loons, so this may not be for you if your interest is more casual.

But if you wish to go deep inside the inner sanctum, you can download the transcript here (PDF) and download the mp3 here or listen to the audio here:


Conspiracy theories: Why we believe the unbelievable

Michael ShermerBy 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.

conspiracy_theory 831_250pxDon’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.

The most powerful person on Earth was killed by a nobody. This doesn’t feel right. To balance the scale, conspiracy elements are stacked onto the Oswald side.

The most powerful person on Earth was killed by a nobody. This doesn’t feel right. To balance the scale, conspiracy elements are stacked onto the Oswald side.

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 . . .

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Same Sh**, Different Year.

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So i was having a written exchange with a couple of conspiracists. They were posting links ranting on and on about FEMA camps, martial law, something about foreign troops being trained to disarm Americans . . . yada, yada, yada.

You know, the same old crap.

This whole conspiracy thing seems cyclical. A new generation of conspiracy theorists stumble upon the same old, worn out, decades old conspiracy theories for the first time in their paranoid lives and they think they’ve discovered something completely new, true and worth preaching. And so they begin their new mission – running around trying to wake up the “sheeple” to their new found “truth.”

These newly stamped conspiracists then go on to spend many years spinning their wheels in the same conspiratorial muck that their conspiratorial predecessors did all those decades before.

alex_jones_googly_eyes_200pxSome of these newbies will remain in the Lost Forest for many years – beyond the reach of reason. Then there are the newbies that wise up to the con(spiracy) money game being played on them by those reaping huge profits regurgitating the same old tales of paranoia – Alex Jones comes to mind.

Every conspiracy being preached today has been preached before in some shape or form. This is the point i try to make in my exchanges with my conspiratorial friends:

  • How urgent can your message be today if it’s the same “urgent” message that has been screamed for (at least) the last 15 years?
  • Can you continuously scream “FIRE!” for decades and be taken seriously when the fire has never materialized?

As an example of what i’m talking about i have posted some screenshots below that came from the InfoWars website, October 1999. Note the similarities to today’s InfoWar headlines. Same sh**, different year.

I’ll give Alex Jones credit for one thing – he has an amazing ability to sell and resell the same crap over and over again.

You can view the InfoWars 1999 archive here or download a PDF copy i made from the archived page.

Mason I. Bilderberg

These are the kinds of links appearing on my facebook page. How can i take this seriously?

These are the kinds of links i get on my facebook page.
The video description says, “Martial law ALERT This may be your final warning.”
Really? Alex Jones has been giving us “final warnings” since (at least) 1999 (see below).


From InfoWars, October 9, 1999 (PDF copy):

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10 things you might not know about conspiracy theories

By Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer via chicagotribune.com

The grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza, where the 1963 assasination of US President John F. Kennedy took place in Dallas.

The grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza, where the 1963 assasination of US President John F. Kennedy took place in Dallas.

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.

Illuminati_Not_250px3 • 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.

US radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

US radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

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.

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Here come the conspiracy theorists about JFK

Michael SmerconishBy  Michael Smerconish via The Columbus Dispatch

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.”

ventura bookThat’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.”

JFK crosshairMy 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.

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JFK assassination conspiracy theory “blown out of the water” in new book, author says

jfkVia CBS News

(CBS News) It’s been nearly 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Questions still remain about whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone or was part of a larger conspiracy.

Now there’s new evidence about that fateful day. It comes from a book called “The Kennedy Half-Century,” written by professor Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

From the moment shots rang out in Dealey Plaza the search for definitive answers in the Kennedy assassination has proved elusive. Was Oswald acting alone, or was he a member of a conspiracy?

JFK crosshairThe 888-page Warren Report issued in 1964 found no evidence that anyone assisted Oswald in planning or carrying out the assassination. The report had many critics and conspiracy theories multiplied over the years. Hundreds of books have been published about the case and dozens of documentaries and films, most notably Oliver Stone’s 1991 Academy Award-winning film “JFK.” But the strongest official confirmation for conspiracy buffs came in 1979 when the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that President Kennedy was “probably assassinated as the result of a conspiracy.” A key piece of evidence was an audio recording that the committee believed captured the sound of four gunshots being fired. One of the gunshots apparently came from a second location, the so-called Grassy Knoll, a patch of land that was ahead of the president’s limousine.

This year, political scientist Larry Sabato had the tapes re-analyzed using state-of-the-art technology. He says they do not capture gunshots at all, but the sounds of an idling motorcycle and the rattling of a microphone.
Anomolie
Sabato also says analysis of the recordings showed the sounds — which were of police radio transmissions — were not from Dealey Plaza, but from a location more than two miles away.

A new poll conducted as part of the book found 75 percent of Americans still reject the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Oswald acted alone.

Sabato said on “CBS This Morning” his book has completely blown the 1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations report “out of the water.” He added, “Their evidence simply does not hold. And they concluded there was a conspiracy.

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Conspiracy theories are the refuse bins for logical fallacies

Via Eastfield College Times

nasa-moon-hoaxEvery 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.

jfk
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.

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Who needs facts when you have conspiracy theorists?

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Conspiracists and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy

By Dr. Cory Franklin via ChicagoTribune.com

Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy. Anyone who disputes that must explain the incredible chain of evidence surrounding how he was enmeshed in the assassination case. (Chuck Berman, Chicago Tribune / March 18, 2012)

Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy. Anyone who disputes that must explain the incredible chain of evidence surrounding how he was enmeshed in the assassination case. (Chuck Berman, Chicago Tribune / March 18, 2012)

The 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy approaches, and debate begins anew. The evidence is overwhelming that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK, and nearly as overwhelming that Oswald acted alone. However, history is never completely settled, and the conspiracy theorists are out and about. Many, motivated by profit or fame, are more eager to engage in ad hominem tactics than discuss facts. But some are honest and intelligent, and they deserve a hearing. How to separate them? Ten rules to follow when engaging a conspiracy theorist. Avoid anyone who:

1. Cites Oliver Stone‘s “JFK” as a source

Oliver Stone is an accomplished film director, and his 1991 film “JFK” is powerful. However, it is far removed from historical accuracy. Whatever Stone’s motives, the movie is full of distortions and outright falsehoods. The result features real historical characters in a crime-fiction fantasy, essentially a propaganda piece meant to demonize a covert, evil, right-wing paramilitary group.

2. Cites Jim Garrison as a source

In 1967, Garrison, the New Orleans prosecutor, launched the only prosecution arising out of the assassination. He gained worldwide attention with his accusations. The courtroom is the actual crucible, and Garrison’s prosecution of the Louisiana businessman he suspected of involvement was quickly laughed out of court. Today, most conspiracy theorists have disowned Garrison.

3. Claims the Secret Service accidentally killed JFK

jfk 1003_300pxA documentary on cable television this fall, based on a 1992 book, revives the theory that a Secret Service agent in a trail car accidentally discharged his weapon and fired the fatal shot. Despite its implausibility — nine people, including agents and Kennedy aides, were present and no one testified that the agent’s weapon was fired — the theory has gained new currency. Supporters include popular New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell and baseball savant Bill James. Before he died, the agent vehemently denied the allegation and filed a libel suit against the book’s publishers. Rather than go to court, the publishers paid him a confidential monetary settlement.

4. Claims the limo driver killed JFK

There are actually people who believe the Secret Service agent driving the JFK limo turned around, pulled a gun and killed him. Such people should not be trusted with sharp objects. Watch the Zapruder film.

5. Ties the murders of JFK and RFK together

I once rented a copy of “JFK,” and the teenager at Blockbuster (in his mid-30s by now) assured me of the movie’s accuracy. I engaged him by referring to Robert Kennedy, the attorney general who also happened to be the president’s brother. I asked, “How could all these conspirators have escaped undetected when the top law enforcement officer in the country, with every investigative tool at his disposal, was the president’s brother? Wouldn’t he have wanted this uncovered?” Without a hint of irony, the teenager looked at me earnestly and said, “Don’t forget, they killed Robert Kennedy, too.”

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Nope, It Was Always Already Wrong

By Robert Blaskiewicz via The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry – CSI

conspiracyfilesRecently, the claim that the phrase “conspiracy theory” was popularized in the 1960s by the CIA to discredit those who dared to question the Warren Commission has been popping up in the conspiracy-o-sphere. From the original PsyOp, so the story goes, the application of the phrase spread to encompass all sorts of nefarious doings, and now people reflexively think that all conspiracy theorists are crazy. The first version that I heard, in fact, was the claim that the term was actually invented in the 1960s, and that grabbed my attention. Really? Never appeared before the 1960s?

An infuriating feature of conspiracy theory is its propensity to take the standard of evidence that skeptics value so highly and turn it on its head: extraordinary claims no longer require extraordinary evidence; rather an extraordinary lack of evidence is thought to validate the extraordinariness of the conspiracy. It is thinking just gone wrong. Worse still, disconfirming evidence becomes evidence in favor of the conspiracy. I strongly suspect that the “the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ was invented by the CIA” gambit is a fairly radical extension of this tendency, that the mere fact that so many people recognize that conspiracy theorizing is a futile and intellectually unproductive exercise is only more proof to the conspiracy theorists that they are really onto something.

As evidence of this deliberate manipulation of language, theorists offer up a 1967 document released in 1976 via a FOIA request, Dispatch 1035-960. In short, the CIA document outlines arguments that field operatives can use to counter conspiracy theorizing abroad and advises where those arguments might have the largest effect. The document was released to the New York Times, but conspiracy theorists’ seizure of this notion, that what they do has been deliberately stigmatized by nefarious outside agents rather than by the internal flaws of their arguments, ignores both linguistic and historical reality in order to flatter their delusions.

conspiracy-theory-alert_200pxWhile the notion that the phrase “conspiracy theory” was weaponized has been around since at least 1997, it recently received a boost by the Lance deHaven-Smith’s 2013 Conspiracy Theory in America, published by the University of Texas Press. So, with this stamp of apparent academic legitimacy (I have my own opinion about that, and this is not the venue to elaborate), conspiracy theorists have begun citing this work as an authority.

Take for example the recent article by Kevin Barrett, “New studies: ‘Conspiracy theorists’ sane; government dupes crazy, hostile,” which was republished at Before It’s News as “CIA Invention of the Phrase, ‘Conspiracy Theory’ to Block Questions on JFK’s Assassination, is ‘One of the Most Successful Propaganda Initiatives of All Time.’” Barrett’s arguments were well and truly destroyed by the rogues on the July 27 Skeptics Guide to the Universe, so I will not rehash the staggering lapses in critical thinking they employ. But Barrett also leans very hard on deHaven-Smith’s work:

Both of these findings are amplified in the new book Conspiracy Theory in America by political scientist Lance deHaven-Smith, published earlier this year by the University of Texas Press. Professor deHaven-Smith explains why people don’t like being called “conspiracy theorists”: The term was invented and put into wide circulation by the CIA to smear and defame people questioning the JFK assassination! “The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time.” [emphasis added]

conspiracies05Well, we have a claim of fact about the origins of the term “conspiracy theorist.” This is certainly something we can check up on. I will not ascribe this claim to deHaven-Smith. I don’t recall him making the claim that it was invented by the CIA, only that it was deliberately deployed by the CIA.

A quick search of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) finds that the phrase had been used in May 1964:

New Statesman 1 May 694/2 Conspiracy theorists will be disappointed by the absence of a dogmatic introduction.

This is two years before Dispatch 1035-960 appeared. If you go to the magazine, you will find that this sentence appears in an unsigned editorial, “Separateness,” about the London Magazine’s recent transition from being an exclusively literary publication to a more interdisciplinary review of the arts.

So, no. The CIA did not invent the word “conspiracy theorist.” But this made me wonder how far back I could push the use of a term like “conspiracy theory.”

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Revenge of the Conspiracy Theorists

By via NeuroLogica Blog

matrix alternate reality_350pxSkeptics 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. ArabistIslamologist) 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.

conspiracy-theory-alert_200pxThis 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.

jfk
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 . . .

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Conspiracy theorists’ sane: government dupes crazy, hostile.

A flawed article about conspiracy theorists and skeptics

Via The Soap Box

agent smith 928_250pxA few days ago I came across an article that had been published on PressTV (which is owned by the government of Iran) that was titled “New studies: ‘Conspiracy theorists’ sane; government dupes crazy, hostile“.

The title alone made it quite clear that the article was one sided, and that it is also quite clear what the writer of the article thinks about skeptics and debunkers… and anyone else who believes the reality that the U.S. government did not stage the worst terrorist attack in history.

Let me share with you the first couple of paragraphs of this article:

  • The most recent study was published on July 8th by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent (UK). Entitled “What about Building 7? A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories,” the study compared “conspiracist” (pro-conspiracy theory) and “conventionalist” (anti-conspiracy) comments at news websites.The authors were surprised to discover that it is now more conventional to leave so-called conspiracist comments than conventionalist ones: “Of the 2174 comments collected, 1459 were coded as conspiracist and 715 as conventionalist.” In other words, among people who comment on news articles, those who disbelieve government accounts of such events as 9/11 and the JFK assassination outnumber believers by more than two to one. 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.

I can tell just by reading this that what this article is claiming is very flawed.

Conspiracies Trivialized by Skeptics 2_200px_200pxFor one thing it’s assuming that the majority of people making comments on an internet news article reflects the views of the majority of the people. Even on non-conspiracy theory subjects where the majority of people posting comments may seem like the overall majority, in reality they are just being the more vocal of the two groups.

The seconded problem is this “coded comments” thing. What exactly does this mean? Does it mean that the people who did this study read comments individually and were able to establish their content and context? Because of the way it was worded it doesn’t sound like it to me. It makes it sound like the people who did the study actually let a computer search for certain words and phrases that are commonly used among conspiracy theorists and skeptics, which is a highly flawed way to research something like this because computers can’t understand context like humans can.

This of course isn’t the only thing this article claims. It also claims . . .

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• 7/21/13 UPDATE – Also see: Setting the record straight on Wood & Douglas, 2013 | The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories

5 Conspiracy Theories That Are Shockingly Easy to Debunk

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

JFK01

The Theory:

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“I suspect warlocks are somehow involved.”

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.

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John McAdams
If only JFK had called shotgun.

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:

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John McAdams
It’s like someone put a booster seat on the floor or something.

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

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PhotoQuest / Getty

The Theory:

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All of those red coats are really George Washington.

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:

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Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images
“C’mon, guys, seriously?”

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”

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AFP / Getty

The Theory:

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Al Bello/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

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:

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Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images
Structural engineering is probably one of those “gut” things anyway.

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.

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Michael Loccisano / Getty
She is, however, considered a reputable expert on the Crimean War.

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.

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Why do some people believe the moon landings were a hoax?

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via How Stuff Works

Ever since NASA broadcast its visits to the moon between 1969 and 1972 to millions of people around Earth, conspiracy theorists have debated endlessly over ph­otographs and video of the journey. Judging by the dedication some have to the cause, the subject of whether or not the moon landings were a hoax rivals only the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the presence of Area 51 in popularity. The Fox Network even aired a television special in 2001, nearly 30 years after the last Apollo mission, titled “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?”

Moon-Landing-Hoax-250pxPoring over every single detail for inconsistencies and potential government tampering, people who buy the moon landing conspiracy theory strive to prove NASA never went to the moon — instead, they believe the organization filmed a series of fake moon landings in a studio, complete with props, astronaut costumes and intricate lighting setups.

But why would NASA and the U.S. government pull off such a strange stunt? The moon landings took place during the Cold War and a tense point in the nuclear arms race, an era in which the two world superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union (or what is now Russia), competed for technological superiority. Some believe that because sending astronauts into outer space and onto the moon would be incredibly expensive, the U.S. didn’t have enough money to complete the project. According to the conspiracy theorists, faking the moon landings would be much cheaper — if it were convincing enough, it could still send a message to Russia that the United States had the better technology.

What are some of the claims by the moon landing conspiracy theorists? What have they pointed out, and do their arguments have any validity? And what do scientists have to say about these conspiracy theories? To get answers to these questions and more, put on your tin foil hats and read the next page.

Discovery NASA: Apollo 8 Mission Overview

The Moon Landing Hoax Evidence

So what sort of evidence have conspiracy theorists gathered that might suggest the whole event was a fake? Nearly 40 years of research has given them some interesting points:

1. There aren’t any stars in the background.

One detail doubters often point to is the background of many of the NASA photos. In pictures of the moon’s landscapes, there aren’t any stars in the sky — it just looks like a big, black void of space. Since the moon has no atmosphere, shouldn’t there be millions of stars dotting the background of these photos? If the landings were faked on a studio stage, did the photographers make a huge mistake and just forget to “turn on” the stars?

Unfortunately for conspiracy theorists, the nature of photography strikes down their argument.

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Related: Conspiracy Theorist Convinces Neil Armstrong Moon Landing Was Faked

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