Tag Archives: COINTELPRO

5 Conspiracy Theories that Turned Out to Be True… Maybe?

Skeptoid listeners are always asking for conspiracy theories that turned out to be true. Here’s the best I could come up with.

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid
Read transcript below or Listen here

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, conspiracy box secret package_250pxwhich 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.

  1. 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. conspiracy-theories-true_225pxBut 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%.
  2. 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.

USS Maddox in action against North Vietnamese torpedo boats (navy.mil)

USS Maddox in action against North Vietnamese torpedo boats (navy.mil)

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.

2. COINTELPRO

FBISeal_200pxThe 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.

MORE – – –

Infiltration: COINTELPRO

Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – YouTube

What was COINTELPRO? What made it controversial? Do government agencies continue to infiltrate activist organizations in the modern day?

5 Things I’ve noticed about… Conspiracy Theorists on the Internet

Via The Soap Box

conspiracies06Ever encounter a conspiracy theorist on the internet? Most of us have, especially if you’re a skeptic like myself who has their own blog about debunking. At that point they tend to come to you.

While there are a lot of things about conspiracy theorist on the internet that I’ve noticed they tend to do, I’ve narrowed it down to five main things.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about conspiracy theorist on the internet:

5. They love using quotes.

Be it in their signature line on an internet forum, or in their timeline on their Facebook page, conspiracy theorists love posting quotes on the internet. Usually these quotes are allegedly from some musician, or politician, or philosopher, or just some famous person whom they think would share their beliefs. Sometimes these quotes are accompanied with a picture of the person who allegedly said it.

The problem with this is that (and this is true anytime someone quotes someone) is that the quotes can be taken out of context, the quote can be mis-quoted, or it could be something that person never said at all.

There is of course one truth about these quotes: they do absolutely nothing to back up what ever conspiracy theory they are claiming to believe in.

collage

4. They love collages.

Go to any conspiracy theorist group on Facebook or conspiracy theorist forum and you’ll usually find some collages of photo-shopped pictures along with conspiracy theory claims within the collage.

These collages are often times confusing at the least, and more times than not, disturbing looking.

Many conspiracy theorists might think these collages helps get whatever point they have across, but the reality is that they are really a turn off for normal minded people and makes them all look like a bunch of wackos.

3. They don’t have a sense of humor.

AlexJonesLunaticConspiracy theorists (at least on the internet) take things way to seriously, and when someone makes a joke or a sarcastic remake, they tend to go ballistic, either because they don’t think you should be joking about the subject at hand, or they think you’re being serious.

They also can’t tell when someone (or some website) is being sarcastic either. An example of this would be Skeptic Project. On the front page of the website it says “Your #1 COINTELPRO cognitive infiltration source.” To most people they are clearly being sarcastic. But apparently some people in the Infowars forums thought they were actually admitting to being a COINTELPRO website.

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8 clues your friend is becoming a crazy conspiracy theorist

By via Death and Taxes

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 [person] 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 things (probably about chemtrails), and if you dispute, insists that you “Do your own research!”

"I'm a University of YouTube graduate!"

“I’m a University of YouTube graduate!”

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

Fluoride_YourNotGoingToPoison_200pxUGH. 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.”

Dork_175PxI 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.

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