Tag Archives | Conspiracy Theories

The ‘Insane’ Conspiracy Theories of Naomi Wolf

Naomi wolf 2012Now just to be clear about this, the adjective “insane” is from VOX, not from us, so make what you will of Naomi Wolf and her “conspiracy theories” as perceived by Max Fisher:

Author and former Democratic political consultant Naomi Wolf published a series of Facebook posts on Saturday in which she questioned the veracity of the ISIS videos showing the murders and beheadings of two Americans and two Britons, strongly implying that the videos had been staged by the US government and that the victims and their parents were actors.

Wolf published a separate Facebook post, also on Saturday, suggesting that the US was sending troops to West Africa not to assist with Ebola treatment but to bring Ebola back to the US to justify a military takeover of American society. She also suggested that the Scottish independence referendum, in which Scots voted to remain in the United Kingdom, had been faked.

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A Field Guide To American Truthers

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Photo: Damon D’Amato (CC)

Truthers. What does that word mean to you? Turns out there are quite a few flavors of “Truther” in today’s America. Drew Magary reports for The Concourse (note that his essential book for 9/11 Truthers is one of ours!):

There were no truthers back in the 20th century. I grew up in the Golden Age of Kennedy Assassination Conspiracies, but the word “truther” was never used to describe Oliver Stone or any of the other folks who decried the Magic Bullet theory. (DISCLOSURE: I saw JFK when I was in high school and took every scene as gospel and totally bought into the whole thing for a while.) Conspiracy theorists were just that, and nothing more.

But the advent of the internet has allowed conspiracy theorists to blossom—to become even more deeply immersed in their own version of the truth. You can find “proof” of pretty much anything online if you’re willing to look and you are strong of faith.

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Why JFK Conspiracy Theories Won’t Go Away

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On the 50th Anniversary of the infamous Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, TIME looks at reasons why the many conspiracy theories endure:

Half a century ago today, the Warren Commission released its comprehensive 888-page report, concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating President John F. Kennedy. Since then, exhaustive investigations, such as those by Gerald Posner (Case Closed, 2002) and especially Vincent Bugliosi (Reclaiming History, 2007) have backed up that original finding: Oswald acted alone.

Nevertheless, according to a 2009 CBS News poll, between 60 and 80 percent of Americans believe that President Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy; that is, that there was more than one shooter in Dealy Plaza that November day in 1963.

Consider just a few of the many facts that are not in the conspiracy believers’ favor: Oswald’s Carcano bolt-action rifle — with his fingerprints on it — was found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building, where he was employed, in a sniper’s nest he built out of boxes that also had his fingerprints on them.

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Tech Company ‘Proves’ Faked Moon Landing Conspiracy Theory As Hoax

Nvidia, the tech company that makes the graphics card for your gaming PC, says it has debunked the faked moon landing conspiracy theory. Here’s the video, about which Nvidia says “Explore the truth behind the iconic Buzz Aldrin moon landing photo. See how modern graphics innovations can shed new light on a 35-year-old conspiracy theory”:

What do you think, disinfonauts?

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Do Conspiracy Theorists Feed on Unsuspecting Internet Trolls?

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Have fun with this one, disinfonauts, found at Pacific Standard:

You know who you are. Somebody posts some daft claim about chemtrailsfaked moon landings, and a supposed connection between vaccines and autism. You step in, trying valiantly to show them the error of their ways.

Well, your plan won’t work. No, if anything, it’ll make it worse.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by a team of Italian computer scientists, physicists, and, yes, social scientists. They scoured data from Italian Facebook—acquired through the publicly available Graph system—that showed how users had interacted with Facebook pages devoted to science news, conspiracy theories, conspiracy debunkers, and satirists and trolls.

Generally speaking, fans of actual science news and fans of conspiracy theories were pretty similar.

Sorting through 1.2 million users in all, the team first identified individuals who had used 95 percent of their likes on either science or conspiracy pages.

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Malaysia Airlines MH370: The Persistence of Conspiracy Theories

A reflection on why conspiracy theories about Malaysia Airlines MH370 are enduring from Tom de Castella at BBC News Magazine:

Six months after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 it is still the subject of a slew of explanations. Why has this tragedy prompted such a wave of conspiracy theories?

Sudden, dramatic events often provoke conspiracy theories – particularly where the official version is disbelieved. Think JFK, Princess Diana, 9/11.

But in the case of MH370 there is not even an official version. Nobody knows what happened to MH370. It’s a modern mystery.

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Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-2H6ER by Aero Icarus (CC)

“It is very rare to be able to proffer no convincing answer for an event,” says Times columnist David Aaronovitch, whose book Voodoo Histories tackles conspiracy theories.

Then there’s the context. After the revelations by Edward Snowden about the extent of global surveillance by the US National Security Agency, it seems somehow hard for laymen to believe that an airliner can just disappear.

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[Poll] The most damaging U.S. president of the last 50 years?

United States Capitol by Phil Roeder via Flickr.

United States Capitol by Phil Roeder via Flickr.

It’s time for a quick poll recap. This past week, we voted on everyone’s favorite “conspiracy” theory. New World Order/Illuminati was in the lead for awhile, but the 9/11 conspiracies ultimately won out. This week, with the help of some fellow commenters, we’ll be voting on which US president has been the most damaging of the last 50 years.

Favorite “Conspiracy” Theory

  • The theories around 9/11 (21%, 156 Votes)
  • New World Order/Illuminati (18%, 135 Votes)
  • Who really shot JFK? (14%, 100 Votes)
  • Reptilian Conspiracy (12%, 87 Votes)
  • The theories around MKUltra (7%, 54 Votes)
  • The theories around Area 51 (7%, 49 Votes)
  • Faked moon landing (6%, 46 Votes)
  • FEMA Concentration Camps (4%, 32 Votes)
  • HAARP (4%, 29 Votes)
  • Water Fluoridation (4%, 26 Votes)
  • Chemtrails (3%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 735

The most damaging U.S. president of the last 50 years?

  • Barack Obama
  • George W.
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MTV Says The Illuminati Controlled Last Night’s VMAs

When MTV starts posting tongue-in-cheek articles about the Illuminati controlling its Video Music Awards (VMAs), you know that the Illuminati pop music meme has just about run its course:

Last week, we gave you two sides of a much-heated national debate. First, we gave you 16 examples that prove the Illuminati control the VMAs. Then, we flipped the argument on its head, giving 16 more reasons why they totally don’t. Both sides were compelling and convincing enough, but only last night’s epic show could settle the matter once and for all. Take a look at the evidence and judge for yourself.

The Snake Debacle

(C) MTV (Fair Use)

(C) MTV (Fair Use)

PRO-ILLUMINATI: Nicki Minaj sang a song called “Anaconda.” Which is a snake. A satanic snake. Need we say more? Even though she’s, uh, probably not singing about a real snake (we’re thinking it may be a metaphor), the symbolism is so there.

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Catch of the Day: Who Believes in Crazy Conspiracy Theories?

climate changeJust to wind certain commenters up (you know who you are), here’s Jonathan Bernstein’s critique of that article I posted “Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Just For Conservatives,” at BloombergView:

A catch to Andrew Gelman for correcting an attempted but inaccurate catch by Alfred Moore, Joseph Parent and Joseph Uscinski, who thought they had caught Paul Krugman in an error on the always-fun topic of conspiracy theories. Not so!

Here’s Krugman’s original assertion:

Unlike the crazy conspiracy theories of the left — which do exist, but are supported only by a tiny fringe — the crazy conspiracy theories of the right are supported by important people: powerful politicians, television personalities with large audiences.

Moore, Parent and Uscinski take that quote and attack it on the basis that both liberals and conservatives are equally likely to believe in crazy conspiracy theories. That part, as Gelman agrees, is correct. Plenty of examples in both items for those liberals who are skeptical of it, but I’ll add one more anecdotal one: the belief among liberals in 2003 and 2004 that George W.

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Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Just For Conservatives

911 Was an Inside JobConcluding that “Neither liberals nor conservatives are more credulous or crazy,” co-authors Alfred Moore (Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, working on the Conspiracy and Democracy project), Joseph M. Parent and Joseph E. Uscinski (Associate Professors of Political Science at University of Miami and authors of American Conspiracy Theories), suggest that “Republicans and Democrats are equally prone to believing in conspiracy theories.” From the Washington Post:

Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? Liberals, that’s who. Take Princeton economist Paul Krugman who ominously warns that:

Unlike the crazy conspiracy theories of the left—which do exist, but are supported only by a tiny fringe—the crazy conspiracy theories of the right are supported by important people: powerful politicians, television personalities with large audiences.

Krugman makes a fair point: in moderation conspiracy theories may show healthy skepticism, but in excess they can erode the trust needed for states to fulfill their basic functions and warp the respect for evidence necessary for sound decision making.

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