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Old 04-14-2018, 08:53 PM
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Conspiracy theories harmless fun or not?

In the CS thread on the death of Art Bell I've been hammering on my utter contempt for the man (and for others who host conspiracy theory shows.) So I'll ask here:

Is someone who provides a forum to advertize conspiracy theories who doesn't believe the theories themselves morally culpable for the harm done to the lives of those who do believe those conspiracy theories, or to the people those believers then harass, threaten, or harm? Or are they merely providing harmless entertainment and bear no fault in people believing them?
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:33 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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First, and most important to the discussion, the uncomfortable and inconvenient point: conspiracy theory believers are stupid people. Not "most of the time", not "in general", but specifically and thoroughly each and every one of them.

I think the question becomes "How far is it necessary to go to protect stupid people from themselves, and how far to protect everyone else from stupid people".

I don't know the answer.

Last edited by DavidwithanR; 04-15-2018 at 04:37 AM.
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Old 04-15-2018, 09:08 AM
Llama Llogophile Llama Llogophile is offline
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Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
Is someone who provides a forum to advertize conspiracy theories who doesn't believe the theories themselves morally culpable for the harm done to the lives of those who do believe those conspiracy theories, or to the people those believers then harass, threaten, or harm? Or are they merely providing harmless entertainment and bear no fault in people believing them?
I'd say they are culpable whether they actually believe in them or not because they're actively spreading around stupidity. It's probably a degree worse if they're doing so cynically and knowingly, but I can't excuse the true believers either. They have a responsibility to themselves and the world to achieve the bare minimum level of not-stupid.
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Old 04-15-2018, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
Is someone who provides a forum to advertize conspiracy theories who doesn't believe the theories themselves
I assume from the context of the question that you're not including those who present conspiracy theories with an overt attitude of "this is all just for fun and of course none of this is true and only wackos actually believe this," or who examine them critically and discuss the actual evidence or lack thereof?

I'm not familiar with Art Bell, or AFAIK others of his ilk. I lean towards "anything that spreads or reinforces actual belief in unfounded conspiracy theories is harmful."
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Old 04-15-2018, 10:26 AM
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I think there's a distinction between talk show hosts who talked about mostly about paranormal encounters in the middle of the night when most people are sleeping, and trying to sell conspiracy theories that attempt to blend false facts with actual facts during prime time. Also, as another poster may have already said, Bell knew when to take his foot off the gas pedal so to speak. He did occasionally make references to controversial conspiracy theories but again, he didn't really seem to push them too hard. His show was mostly entertainment.
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Old 04-15-2018, 11:06 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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I have very little patience with conspiracy theories, and I do not believe they are "harmless fun".

My reasons basically boil down to:

1) conspiracy theories encourage people to shun valuable health interventions and other evidence-based science (vaccination and climate change are examples).

2) conspiratorial thinking encourages distrust and fear of government and academic institutions made up of skilled and dedicated individuals that do important work (for instance the CDC and many research-oriented med schools).

3) Conspiracy theory promotion is heavily tied to bigotry. Dedicated conspiracy theorists frequently buy into anti-Semitic and racist claptrap.

4) Conspiracy theories are offensive because they are so effing stupid and a waste of time and energy, both for the people believing in them, and the rest of us who feel obligated to refute their garbage.

5) Encouraging magical thinking about a "harmless" subject such as extraterrestrials validates magical thinking about science, politics and other important subjects.

Art Bell enabled an awful lot of crap in his career and bears responsibility for the mushrooming of conspiracy theories in general.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 04-15-2018 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 04-15-2018, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by DavidwithanR View Post
First, and most important to the discussion, the uncomfortable and inconvenient point: conspiracy theory believers are stupid people. Not "most of the time", not "in general", but specifically and thoroughly each and every one of them.
I’ve known many people who have espoused particlar conspiracy theories without any evidential basis who were otherwise very intelligent people by any objective standard. Being intelligent does not make one immune from the sort of willful blindness and unconscious bias that can lead to uncritical acceptance of a supposed conspiracy. I once knew the graduate of one of the best technical universities in the world who was convinced that HIV was manufactured by a Soviet bioweapons program and then stolen and disseminated by conspirators within the CIA,all based on the statement of one former Soviet bioweapons ‘expert’ with a dubious knowledge of virology.

As for Art Bell, although his particular brand of conspiranoia may have been mostly harmless, it exists due to and feeds upon an irrational distrust of authority which it posits to cover up “the truth about _____”. There are often rational reasons to question or doubt authorities but when you start from the default position that a claim is wrong just because it came from the government or other authority figure without any evidence to the contrary, you are inculcating the kind of mentality that leads to Holocaust denial, Russian Army garrisons under Lake Michigan, birtherism, et cetera, to the point that even verifable factual evidence is dismissed out of hand. There is less distance between Art Bell and David Icke than a fan of the former might be willing to accept, but they are clearly on the same continuum even if Bell is not malicious in his beliefs.

Belief in consiracy theories does undermine education and decisions based upon fact and accepted knowledge and trains people to apply false equivalence between competing theories, even if one is nearly universally accepted and others are without any real evidential merit. It leads to reflexive anti-vaxxism, quack medicine, racial prejudice, irrational investments, and a host of other ills that have harms beyond just the conspiranoists who believe them, and undermines attempts to fund and justify real science and medical research.

Stranger

Last edited by Stranger On A Train; 04-15-2018 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 04-15-2018, 12:18 PM
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We can see the Russian/Trump conspiracy theory has created real problems for the country. It has been the most damaging CT in U.S. history. Even the most insane JFK and 9/11 theories don't divide people like the Trump/Russia theory does.

CT's are the result of incomplete information. Theorists try to fill in the gaps where their information can't. A CT is only valid until a fact comes out to disprove it.

All 'authority' should ALWAYS be challenged from every angle, but only as far as you can within the law. I do think libel/slander punishments should be much more harsh, as well as 4th amendment violations.

Conspiracy theorists prevented Hillary from being elected. Without their digging the Hillary server would still be running strong, providing all sorts of information to bad people (Benghazi attack happened because terrorists knew security was low, not the conspiracy that a YouTube video with less than 10k views mocking Muhammad that Hillary and Obama knew was wrong but still pushed).

I blame an often intentional lack of information for conspiracy theories. Until then we are all doing what we should, fighting ignorance with an open mind...
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Old 04-15-2018, 12:18 PM
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I agree with Jackmanii and Stranger.

When buddies were talking over beers and could not reach a large audience, maybe some of them were fun.

The problem is not that anyone can be a Sasquatch expert. It is that children don’t get vaccinated, political institutions lose credibility, people waste their money and lives, people do get hurt.
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Old 04-15-2018, 12:27 PM
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If someone claims that bigfoot is real, then that's no big deal. I think that they are wrong, and deep down, they probably believe that they are wrong too. Either way, it is, for the most part, a harmless diversion from the boring day to day of reality. Personally, I believe in big foot, I saw him in a beef jerky commercial.

If someone claims that bigfoot illegally voted in an election, that starts to blur the lines between harmless fantasy and actionable reality in ways that cannot be healthy.
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Old 04-15-2018, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr_Paprika View Post
I agree with Jackmanii and Stranger.

When buddies were talking over beers and could not reach a large audience, maybe some of them were fun.

The problem is not that anyone can be a Sasquatch expert. It is that children don’t get vaccinated, political institutions lose credibility, people waste their money and lives, people do get hurt.
...take pizza shops hostage to look for the child sex slaves...
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Old 04-15-2018, 01:35 PM
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We can see the Russian/Trump conspiracy theory has created real problems for the country. It has been the most damaging CT in U.S. history. Even the most insane JFK and 9/11 theories don't divide people like the Trump/Russia theory does.
You mean the contacts between people closely associated with the Trump campaign and known Russian intelligence and business interests that has resulted in indictments of nineteen people and three companies to date including plea agreements by four prominent Trump campaign associates? That “conspiracy theory”?

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If someone claims that bigfoot is real, then that's no big deal. I think that they are wrong, and deep down, they probably believe that they are wrong too. Either way, it is, for the most part, a harmless diversion from the boring day to day of reality. Personally, I believe in big foot, I saw him in a beef jerky commercial.
I’m not sure even this is true. The fundamental principle of science is that a hypothesis should be tested by the weight of credible evidence, and “believing” in an idea despite the lack thereof versus tentative acceptance of an idea with an increasing collection of supporting evidence feeds into a false equivalence between those hypothesis still being refined by evidence and those without basis whatsoever. To be fair, we all (even the most rational of scientists) ‘believe’ certain things to be true without evidence because they fit into our view of the world and ourselves; it can be religion, or a belief in cosmic karma, or that if we think hard enough we can make a cold go away. But even within this framework we need to apply sufficient skepticism to separate our belief biases from factual theories objectively demonstrated by evidence and critical analysis.

For instance, one of the popular arguments against the global climate change hypothesis is how it could be ‘proven’ as a certainty when Bigfoot (or alien visitation, or whatever) hasn’t been ‘disproven’, as if the same body of evidence exists for and applies to both. It is an ignorant point of view but one shared by many people who only understand science as something people do with chemicals and flashy computer graphics rather than the collection and compilation of data to attempt to formulate and falsify hypotheses, and the difficult process of looking at complex and often seemingly contradictory data until an underlying principle emerges.

In the case of the Sasquatch, people latch onto a few scraps of supposed “evidence” including video and photographs which are admitted to be faked by the people who did them, and not the justified skepticism of how such a large bipedal mammal could survive without detection by zoologists in a country that has been exhaustively explored by professional scientists, educated amateur explorers and photographers, and backpackers without coming up with a single skeletal fragment or evidence of habitation and feeding. It is so implausible that any hypothesis in support of the existence of the Sasquatch now has to be incredibly convoluted to explain why we haven’t found any evidence to a point of absurdity. By letting ignorant (if not ill-intentioned) people and ‘educational’ programs continue to uncritically promulgate this basisless theory undermines the discipline of critical thinking that any functioning democracy requires to avoid exactly the kind of demagoguery and prejudice we are currently experiencing.

Stranger
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Old 04-15-2018, 02:38 PM
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You mean the contacts between people closely associated with the Trump campaign and known Russian intelligence and business interests that has resulted in indictments of nineteen people and three companies to date including plea agreements by four prominent Trump campaign associates? That “conspiracy theory”?...
His post demonstrates another danger of conspiracy theories, people start doubting proven facts.
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:09 PM
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A popular forum encouraging critical, independent thought and rigorous application of scientific and forensic methods would be harmless because conspiracy theories and other specious
arguments that came up would be debunked; no a priori reason to subject any topic to damnatio memoriae (though feeding the trolls is a constant peril, and even on a show like "Mythbusters" many of the "myths" were more plainly something some idiot made up one day, so the editor/organiser would have a real job to do). Even intelligent people constantly need to work through mental gymnastics no less than those of the body.

It could even be educational. Maybe it wouldn't be popular, though.
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:22 PM
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You mean the contacts between people closely associated with the Trump campaign and known Russian intelligence and business interests that has resulted in indictments of nineteen people and three companies to date including plea agreements by four prominent Trump campaign associates? That “conspiracy theory”?.
Stranger
Yes, that is the one. Those charges are tangents to the publicized intent of the investigation, which was Trump/Russia collaboration. Manafort lied to an FBI agent during, what was to him, a passing conversation. Maybe he wouldnt have lied had he been in a formal interview. I find that method suspect, to charge somebody for lieing to the FBI when they didn't know the person was FBI.

If there aren't any other deeper indictments coming then this whole thing has been a theory with real damage. The crimes committed by Manafort and Gates were formalities and should have been uncovered without the special council. We don't have any jurisdiction over Russian troll farms. I wonder how long it will take Russia to extradite these guys...

Strzok, Fusion, Steele all knew there was no real 'there' there, yet now here we are focused on a 10 year old sex night with a consenting woman leading to a lawyer office searched, all born because of the Russia/Trump Hacked the Election theory.

The entire country is/was divided on the Russia conspiracy that doesnt have any merit. Bill met Putin personally, yet that kind of stuff isn't part of any investigation. If Ivanka had met with Putin and was paid to give speeches in Russia the country would have a meltdown.

Russia/Trump is the only conspiracy theory that has hurt the country. All of the others are either proven wrong/right or are staged against the people as a whole and not divisive. No other conspiracy theory has focused on feeding emotions rather than fact.
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:31 PM
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CT's are the result of incomplete information. Theorists try to fill in the gaps where their information can't. A CT is only valid until a fact comes out to disprove it.
Nope! CTers have the complete information and are repeatedly disproven by facts. They just choose to ignore them and inject their own non sequiturs.
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:41 PM
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The fact that Trump made many dubious allegations against opponents during the election does not endear me to the man.

Insulting the disabled and war heroes is just crass behaviour. The Russia thing likely has some basis in fact — the main person who sees conspiracy is Trump. When a prominent person knowingly and publicly slanders people, is it “conspiracy”? (Linking Ted Cruz to Lee Harvey Oswald, etc.)

It kind of makes you miss “urban legends”.
Having a leader who allegedly believes this rubbish popularizes (and in the eyes of proponents, justifies) all sorts of bad behaviour.
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:47 PM
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Nope! CTers have the complete information and are repeatedly disproven by facts. They just choose to ignore them and inject their own non sequiturs.
People who dismiss facts or are unaccepting of new information are liars and potentially guilty of libel/slander, a crime. Since that charge is rarely brought up they are just marginalized.
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:48 PM
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Sorry, you cannot compare a matter where there is at least one ongoing investigation by a police authority to the nonsense that is Conspiracy Theories.

In all true CT cases you have amateurs declaring that they know more than the experts (every 9/11 CTer thinks they know better than Structural Engineers and Building Demolitionists, every anti-vaxxer thinks their Google U research is better than multiple medical studies). With the Russian Collusion you have a Special Prosecutor doing things, well, the way a Federal Prosecutor does.

With CTs you have politically or emotionally invested proponents manufacturing a story wherein their foe is a massive, all powerful force of pure evil, competent beyond all rational measure and able to hide events by forcing massive numbers of experts and witnesses to do their bidding by effective threads or huge payoffs (The Bush administration managing to manipulate the events of 9/11 with just 10 months in office and forcing trained engineers to go against their core principles. Doctors being forced by 'Big Pharma' to recommend vaccines by bribery for what is essentially a marginally profitable field of pharmacology). With the Russian thing you have....Putin screwing around and not even bothering to hide his tracks.

Russian Collusion divides this country you say? I say otherwise: Trump divides this country. He won with 3 million votes fewer than his opponent, he hasn't even cracked 50% approval even in polls slanted in his favor, and his entire administration is rampant with arrogance and incompetence.
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:54 PM
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His post demonstrates another danger of conspiracy theories, people start doubting proven facts.
Bottle line, it's this in a nut shell (so to speak). The real issue is that it undermines peoples reason, ability to judge facts and in the facts themselves. It's definitely not 'harmless fun', it instead has a corrosive effect on society beyond that of some nut cases weird theories. I think the best example of this is the various 9/11 CTs that we are all still dealing with.
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:07 PM
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The fact that Trump made many dubious allegations against opponents during the election does not endear me to the man.

Insulting the disabled and war heroes is just crass behaviour. The Russia thing likely has some basis in fact — the main person who sees conspiracy is Trump. When a prominent person knowingly and publicly slanders people, is it “conspiracy”? (Linking Ted Cruz to Lee Harvey Oswald, etc.)

It kind of makes you miss “urban legends”.
Having a leader who allegedly believes this rubbish popularizes (and in the eyes of proponents, justifies) all sorts of bad behaviour.
Trump does not have a endearing or agreeable public persona. Trump is a conspiracy theorist, without a doubt (Obama birther, Cruz family and JFK, others). The crime of slander is comitted when the factually proven false conspiracy is still pushed and causes damage to a person. Part of my vote for him was because he is a conspiracy theorist. I wanted to get somebody in who could get a look behind the scenes for themselves. I want to hear what his conspiracy theories are after he leaves office.

I would like to hear from a Russian/Trump collaboration theorist on an update with how the recent Syria attack and Russia response fits in. What's keeping Putin from publicly saying 'Donald we were buddies and I got you in here and you betrayed me you bastard'? Its the only weapon Putin has against America, handed to him by the Russian/Trump conspiracy theorists.
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:37 PM
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Not all CT's are from amateurs (Eisenhower and the War Machine, JFK and communism). 9/11 questioners are viewed as loonies because their theories were infiltrated by holographic planes, prewired buildings, etc and thus marginalized as a whole. The real 9/11 questions are around the things like extraditing Saudi nationals, eradicating the commission's document, people on the 9/11 commission themselves saying they were railroaded and their own report is bunk.

http://www.ae911truth.org
2975 certified architects and engineers who believe in 9/11 conspiracy

Doctors selling drugs they earn commission on isnt bribery, its business. The ethics of that are another debate.

I see Putin being Putin, not much is new. I haven't seen any evidence to conclude Russia and Trump worked together to get Trump elected.
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:38 PM
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Trump does not have a endearing or agreeable public persona. Trump is a conspiracy theorist, without a doubt (Obama birther, Cruz family and JFK, others). The crime of slander is comitted when the factually proven false conspiracy is still pushed and causes damage to a person. Part of my vote for him was because he is a conspiracy theorist. I wanted to get somebody in who could get a look behind the scenes for themselves. I want to hear what his conspiracy theories are after he leaves office.
Conspiracy theories are about ego, not facts. I doubt Trump will change his penchant for Conspiracy Theories one iota when he leaves office. He has obvious disdain for facts and for government operations. He won't learn a thing while in office.

Quote:
I would like to hear from a Russian/Trump collaboration theorist on an update with how the recent Syria attack and Russia response fits in. What's keeping Putin from publicly saying 'Donald we were buddies and I got you in here and you betrayed me you bastard'? Its the only weapon Putin has against America, handed to him by the Russian/Trump conspiracy theorists.
Trump is about theater. He huffs and puffs and make a huge noise about what he was going to do - to such an extent that we warned everyone that the area he was going to attack. He declared 'Mission Accomplished' with not one but of self awareness of the irony of that phrase, and he used it before the military could do anything resembling a BDA.

Syria is a blip to Putin and he could easily ignore Trump's theatrics. His real reward would be an end to the economic sanctions on Russia. That won't happen because even Trump has a sliver of self-awareness that the public wouldn't stand for it.

One could say Putin's investment has already paid off with having such an incompetent pair of clownshoes sitting in the Presidential seat of the USA.
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:43 PM
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Not all CT's are from amateurs (Eisenhower and the War Machine, JFK and communism). 9/11 questioners are viewed as loonies because their theories were infiltrated by holographic planes, prewired buildings, etc and thus marginalized as a whole. The real 9/11 questions are around the things like extraditing Saudi nationals, eradicating the commission's document, people on the 9/11 commission themselves saying they were railroaded and their own report is bunk.
ALl of those things have been answered ages ago. Even the most 'rational' of 9/11ers are far off base.

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http://www.ae911truth.org
2975 certified architects and engineers who believe in 9/11 conspiracy
And you find they are a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the total number of engineers in the USA. Furthermore, the vast, vast majority of those engineers are computer engineers, sanitation engineers, and electrical engineers - not the kind of engineer I depend on for information on what makes a building stand.

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Doctors selling drugs they earn commission on isnt bribery, its business. The ethics of that are another debate.
I was referring to vaccines, which are far and away the most economical method of disease prevention we have, and are not incredibly popular. Many doctors give them at a loss, and they are not very profitable for the vaccine manufacturers.
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:43 PM
Jim Peebles Jim Peebles is offline
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Russian Collusion divides this country you say? I say otherwise: Trump divides this country. He won with 3 million votes fewer than his opponent, he hasn't even cracked 50% approval even in polls slanted in his favor, and his entire administration is rampant with arrogance and incompetence.
A simple google search shows Trump has cracked 50 percent approval:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...-8-months.html

There was no collusion with Russia. Collusion is also a synonym for conspiracy. So collusion theorists are also conspiracy theorists.

Conspiracy theory can be a helpful pejorative, to tell someone they are definitely barking up the wrong tree. On the other hand, it can also make people avoid looking at evidence they should consider.

There are numerous instances of smart people believing in "conspiracy theories". For an example which won't enrage people, Isaac Newton was an alternate chronologist. (And today Anatoly Fomenko is a prominent alternate chronologist, who has definite academic credentials to establish he is smart. At least I bet he is smart.)

What I don't understand is why people get so enraged by what they think is a conspiracy theory.

I get the impression that Art Bell listened to some of the more outlandish theories and said "Perhaps". I see this as low on the scale of media figures acting unethically.
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:45 PM
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The real problem with CTs is that sometimes they turn out to be true. The American Govt and American industry have a long and ignominious history of covering up and lying.

The tobacco industry, the automotive industry, the banking industry, the pharmacy industry, The Catholic church, the insurance industry, social media. . . have all not only covered up but outright lied to the American people.

The US govt has not only covered up but outright lied about such things as the "communist threat," UFOs, certain aspects of military conflicts (the Korean war, the Viet Nam war, the Gulf war, etc) regime changes in Latin and South American countries and the middle east. . .

The reason these people see conspiracies and coverups everywhere is because there are conspiracies and coverups everywhere. Blaming radio personalities and internet whackos for this is not helpful.

Apparently there is a significant portion of America that feels it's ok to lie to and deceive their fellow citizens. It's become tradition. If you want people to stop believing in crazy things; stop doing crazy things and stop accepting crazy things.

mc
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:55 PM
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Trump does not have a endearing or agreeable public persona. Trump is a conspiracy theorist, without a doubt (Obama birther, Cruz family and JFK, others). The crime of slander is comitted when the factually proven false conspiracy is still pushed and causes damage to a person. Part of my vote for him was because he is a conspiracy theorist. I wanted to get somebody in who could get a look behind the scenes for themselves. I want to hear what his conspiracy theories are after he leaves office.

I would like to hear from a Russian/Trump collaboration theorist on an update with how the recent Syria attack and Russia response fits in. What's keeping Putin from publicly saying 'Donald we were buddies and I got you in here and you betrayed me you bastard'? Its the only weapon Putin has against America, handed to him by the Russian/Trump conspiracy theorists.
Just because you WANT things to be true doesn't make it so.

By voting for Trump because he is a conspiracy theorist means that Alex Jones would've been a better candidate for you?? Wouldn't a CT as daft as Trump or Jones call "PROOF!"on Obama/Kenya because they saw a Kenya flag on government grounds? Is that how you define "behind the scenes"?

I think what many posters described what CT is and how it works is sort of why we had more than two people vote for him.
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Old 04-15-2018, 05:16 PM
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The real problem with CTs is that sometimes they turn out to be true. The American Govt and American industry have a long and ignominious history of covering up and lying.

The tobacco industry, the automotive industry, the banking industry, the pharmacy industry, The Catholic church, the insurance industry, social media. . . have all not only covered up but outright lied to the American people.
In all these cases there was a boatload of evidence available for all to see, consequences just came later.

Tobacco, for example: Sure the tobacco companies lied, but doctors suspected
(with strong evidence) from very early in the 10th century that it was causing lung cancer (and other cancers). Tobacco companies lied and denied it, even when the evidence was overwhelming, but Tobacco companies are not the government. BY 1964 the government - namely the Surgeon General - declared that tobacco use was dangerous. Hardly much of a coverup.

Now, you might argue that the Government should have done something sooner, but the fact was until 1964 the office of SG didn't exactly have a lot of power to do things, and the government wasn't keen on outlawing the stuff when several powerful Senators from Tobacco producing countries were on the defense (and the fiasco that was Prohibition was still fresh in their minds) This wasn't a big government conspiracy, it was just self-interest. Plus the US had the attitude that smokers only had themselves to blame

It wasn't until the 80's that more and more lawsuits started flying. Again, no Government conspiracy, just the way our courts worked. Pressure came from the public as well as people learned of the danger of 2nd hand smoke marginalized smokers.

So yeah, the Tobacco industry lied, but their lies convinced very few people. The Government warned people once the evidence was irrefutable, but wasn't about to outlaw the stuff.

This is hardly a warning marker for the possible viability of 9/11 truther nonsense or Birther crap.
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Old 04-15-2018, 05:49 PM
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They're just good fun until someone does something crazy, like vote.

I love a good conspiracy theory, it shows where the collective imagination is. Unfortunately, they can easily lead to a dark place where believers reinforce each others alienation from common sense.
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Old 04-15-2018, 06:00 PM
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Amen.

It's not like we are so darn brilliant that we can afford to add another heaping cup of stupid.
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Old 04-15-2018, 06:06 PM
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The real problem with CTs is that sometimes they turn out to be true. The American Govt and American industry have a long and ignominious history of covering up and lying.

The tobacco industry, the automotive industry, the banking industry, the pharmacy industry, The Catholic church, the insurance industry, social media. . . have all not only covered up but outright lied to the American people.

The US govt has not only covered up but outright lied about such things as the "communist threat," UFOs, certain aspects of military conflicts (the Korean war, the Viet Nam war, the Gulf war, etc) regime changes in Latin and South American countries and the middle east. . .

The reason these people see conspiracies and coverups everywhere is because there are conspiracies and coverups everywhere. Blaming radio personalities and internet whackos for this is not helpful.

Apparently there is a significant portion of America that feels it's ok to lie to and deceive their fellow citizens. It's become tradition. If you want people to stop believing in crazy things; stop doing crazy things and stop accepting crazy things.

mc
+1

It's not that "conspiracy theories" are inherently bad. It's about keeping an open mind to the nefarious possibilities and angles of others. You cannot ignore evidence or just blindly believe everything you hear though. Understanding that someone or some group may have a hidden motive that can or may be used against someone or another group and searching for that possibility is a fantastic thing as doing so is an attempt at promoting transparency.
That being said, some can search so much that they will find anything to use against someone else, like those antisemitic conspiracy types, and that is never good. It's pretty much about balance and assuming everyone has an angle and trying to find it if they do. As with anything some people take it too far and some sheep blindly follow without facts. *Ahem* FlatEarthersChemTrailsAntiVax *Ahem*

It is mostly a positive thing, it helps us identify the complete morons like Jenny McCarthy and opens our minds to different possibilities, always good things.

EDIT: When I say "you" I am referring to a general you.

Last edited by anomalous1; 04-15-2018 at 06:09 PM.
  #32  
Old 04-15-2018, 06:17 PM
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Isn't the entire network of Fox News one giant purveyor of conspiracy theories? The fact that it isn't limited to one individual is what makes what they do so insidious and damaging. It fuels alternative reality.
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Old 04-16-2018, 07:09 AM
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The real problem with CTs is that sometimes they turn out to be true...
The reason these people see conspiracies and coverups everywhere is because there are conspiracies and coverups everywhere.
Except these examples are not conspiracies whooped up by conspiracy theorists in the sense that 9/11, the lunar landing, alleged vaccine danger coverups etc. are.

The common thread in those and others is that a huge volume of people in government, industry, professions, research etc. are all conspiring in nefarious fashion to keep The Truth from the American people and have infinite resources to do so, yet screw up in laughably moronic ways*, allowing a relatively small cadre of dedicated amateurs to unravel their plots.

Of course there are conspiracies under criminal law, and conspirators in government and elsewhere, only never under the scale that the theorists imagine. Also, Internet sleuths and the like have never uncovered a real plot** on the scale they fantasize.

*what one-time poster Finn Again referred to as the Genius Fool principle.
**an outstanding example of amateur sleuthing was work on the Dreyfus case in France in the late nineteenth century. I know of nothing comparable since.
  #34  
Old 04-16-2018, 08:14 AM
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I agree with Jackmanii and Stranger.

When buddies were talking over beers and could not reach a large audience, maybe some of them were fun.
Racist jokes can be fun, too.

Racism is, however, corrosive and evil, and a huge drain on society. The fact that a racist joke told between two buddies over beers has little impact on anything doesn't change the fact it's wrong. It's just that it's a tiny, almost immeasurable wrong, dwarfed in its wrongness by forms of widespread institutional racism.

Little conspiracy theories, Art Bell and stuff, are ignorant and harmful. They may not be as harmful as the anti-vax movement, but they are harmful.
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Old 04-16-2018, 08:22 AM
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Seemingly harmless conspiracy theories encourage the kind of thinking that can lead to belief in more harmful conspiracy theories.
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Old 04-16-2018, 08:52 AM
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Conspiracy Theories are all good fun, until some Pyramid loses an Eye.
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  #37  
Old 04-16-2018, 09:32 AM
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We can see the Russian/Trump conspiracy theory has created real problems for the country. It has been the most damaging CT in U.S. history. Even the most insane JFK and 9/11 theories don't divide people like the Trump/Russia theory does.

CT's are the result of incomplete information. Theorists try to fill in the gaps where their information can't. A CT is only valid until a fact comes out to disprove it.

All 'authority' should ALWAYS be challenged from every angle, but only as far as you can within the law. I do think libel/slander punishments should be much more harsh, as well as 4th amendment violations.

Conspiracy theorists prevented Hillary from being elected. Without their digging the Hillary server would still be running strong, providing all sorts of information to bad people (Benghazi attack happened because terrorists knew security was low, not the conspiracy that a YouTube video with less than 10k views mocking Muhammad that Hillary and Obama knew was wrong but still pushed).

I blame an often intentional lack of information for conspiracy theories. Until then we are all doing what we should, fighting ignorance with an open mind...
I can't figure out if you're for conspiracy theories or against them.
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Old 04-16-2018, 09:44 AM
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They are not harmless. They are spreading falsehood.

That being said, some of them are the result of authorities deliberately suppressing information that ought to be released.
  #39  
Old 04-16-2018, 09:51 AM
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I can't figure out if you're for conspiracy theories or against them.
As with everyone, for the ones s/he chooses to be for, against the ones s/he chooses to be against.

To crib a deep cut from Yes Minister, it's one of those irregular nouns: I'm a rational observer with an open mind, you have some weird ideas, that guy over there is a fucking loony conspiracy theorist.
.

Last edited by andros; 04-16-2018 at 09:52 AM.
  #40  
Old 04-16-2018, 10:08 AM
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First, and most important to the discussion, the uncomfortable and inconvenient point: conspiracy theory believers are stupid people. Not "most of the time", not "in general", but specifically and thoroughly each and every one of them.
So, you believe in the history in the world, everything is completely as it seems based on official stories, there have never been coverups? I won't call you stupid, but that is awful naive. It's also dead wrong, and I can cite several instances if you like.

I also wouldn't consider UFO's, flat earth, and Bigfoot to be "conspiracy theories," I'd consider propagating urban legends. And I think that's fairly harmless.

Last edited by Ashtura; 04-16-2018 at 10:12 AM.
  #41  
Old 04-16-2018, 10:35 AM
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So, you believe in the history in the world, everything is completely as it seems based on official stories, there have never been coverups? I won't call you stupid, but that is awful naive. It's also dead wrong, and I can cite several instances if you like.

I also wouldn't consider UFO's, flat earth, and Bigfoot to be "conspiracy theories," I'd consider propagating urban legends. And I think that's fairly harmless.
Good point. There is <=1 Bigfoot, and it takes >1 for a conspiracy.
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:49 AM
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First, and most important to the discussion, the uncomfortable and inconvenient point: conspiracy theory believers are stupid people. Not "most of the time", not "in general", but specifically and thoroughly each and every one of them.
.
It depends. If you believe that Oswald was not the assassin, then you are possibly stupid. If you believe there are still some mysteries about why Oswald shot JFK, you are simply curious.
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:49 AM
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Good point. There is <=1 Bigfoot, and it takes >1 for a conspiracy.
But whoever said Bigfoot was urban?
  #44  
Old 04-16-2018, 10:53 AM
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The real problem with CTs is that sometimes they turn out to be true. The American Govt and American industry have a long and ignominious history of covering up and lying.

The tobacco industry, the automotive industry, the banking industry, the pharmacy industry, The Catholic church, the insurance industry, social media. . . have all not only covered up but outright lied to the American people.

Altho indeed there have been many cover-ups, none of those were subjects of widespread Conspiracy Theories. We have had several threads on whether or not any widespread CT turned out to be true, and the general consensus is NO.
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:53 AM
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But whoever said Bigfoot was urban?
I spotted him in Times Square. Is that urban enough?
  #46  
Old 04-16-2018, 10:58 AM
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I also wouldn't consider UFO's, flat earth, and Bigfoot to be "conspiracy theories," I'd consider propagating urban legends. And I think that's fairly harmless.
UFOs certainly can be, like the Royal Family being Interstellar Reptile people, and so forth.

Bigfoot is just a hoax, and sure it can be fun. There are certainly cryptids out there (they find several large new species every decade) , so Cryptozoologists are certainly not always nuts...
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:03 PM
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So, you believe in the history in the world, everything is completely as it seems based on official stories, there have never been coverups?
Coverups? Sure. Plenty. Especially when people screw up and try to cover their asses. Usually it is pretty minor stuff.

When you start spouting stuff like the Twin Towers being wired for demolition in secret you go well across a line.

Quote:
I won't call you stupid, but that is awful naive. It's also dead wrong, and I can cite several instances if you like.
Are they as big as the things Art Bell blabbed about? Are they as big as vaccine side-effects being covered up? That Hale-Bopp had a companion and every amateur astronomer in the world was in on the cover-up?

That bad Hollywood script thinking.

And in the long run, a lot of coverups get revealed, not all, of course. Trouble is, by the time it gets revealed no-one really cares.

Quote:
I also wouldn't consider UFO's, flat earth, and Bigfoot to be "conspiracy theories," I'd consider propagating urban legends. And I think that's fairly harmless.
UFOs get well into big conspiracy theory territory when you have things like aliens at Area 51, Men-in-Black, and such. Flat Earth is definitely in CT territory as it involves pretty much all the engineers, international pilots, and physical scientists to be involved in a massive coverup.
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Old 04-16-2018, 01:39 PM
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IMHO they are harmful in the long run.

Sure, it can be fun at the beginning, but eventually you will get fanatics/hard believers of those conspiracies into positions of power that follow those “fun” conspiracies. Then we are all in trouble.

http://time.com/5050621/donald-trump...racy-theories/
Quote:
Donald Trump built his political career on a conspiracy theory: The false claim that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.

But it’s not the only conspiracy theory he’s indulged.

Over the years, Trump has called everything from climate change to Russian meddling in the 2016 election a hoax. According to a recent report in the New York Times, he’s told associates that the Access Hollywood video of him bragging about touching women without their consent is also a hoax — even though he admitted making the remarks when it came out.
Quote:
His claim that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was suspicious also led nowhere, although that may be in part because the seat was kept open until after the election.

Other times, the conspiracy theories have had political consequences. Trump’s belief that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election led directly to the creation of a voter fraud commission.

He’s stopped arguing climate change is a hoax in public, but he pulled the U.S. out of a Paris agreement meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions anyway.
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It’s unclear exactly what Trump believes. He held a press conference during the 2016 election to admit that Obama was born in the United States after all, but the Times reported that he’s again questioned the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate in recent closed-door conversations.

But that’s the thing with conspiracy theories: You never really know the truth.

Last edited by GIGObuster; 04-16-2018 at 01:39 PM.
  #49  
Old 04-16-2018, 01:43 PM
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UFOs get well into big conspiracy theory territory when you have things like aliens at Area 51, Men-in-Black, and such. Flat Earth is definitely in CT territory as it involves pretty much all the engineers, international pilots, and physical scientists to be involved in a massive coverup.
Yeah, but is that harmful though. I don't think so. See, a conspriacy theory is only harmful if a large number of people believe it, and if they are actively doing harmful things. Flat earthers aren't murdering scientists, pilots, etc. The flat earth society has 46K twitter follows. That's pathetic.
  #50  
Old 04-16-2018, 01:53 PM
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I admit I'd be concerned if members of the Flat Earth Society were planting bombs on planes or ships, saying they deserve it for supporting the lie of "global" travel, or murdering employees of NASA or the ESA.

I'm not fond of conspiracy theorists, but as long as they take no violent action, they're (barely) tolerable.
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