Tag Archives | Conspiracy Theories

Will We Miss HAARP When It Shuts Down This Summer?

Yes, you read that right, the U.S. military installation in Alaska known as HAARP is going to be shut down this summer. What will conspiracy theorists blame weird weather anomalies on now, one wonders. From io9.com:

Can a facility that has inspired global conspiracy theories be designated a World Heritage Site? If so, that might be the only way to prevent the shutdown of the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) in Alaska, which studies the ionosphere—or creates lethal hurricanes—depending on whom you talk to.

HAARP20l

The HAARP installation, not unlike the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is a peculiar hybrid of military and civilian science. It was conceived during the mid-1980s, but found itself without a clear mission by the time construction began in 1993 and the Cold War had ended. Jointly funded by the Air Force, Navy, DARPA and the University of Alaska, the $290 million facility’s principal instrument is an array of 180 crossed dipoles that are spaced over an area of about 30 acres.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Plots to Destroy America

newsweek coverThe title above is from this week’s cover story of that rare beast, the print edition of Newsweek (see image at right). Subtitled “Conspiracy Theories Are A Clear And Present Danger,” it’s essentially another mainstream media attempt to ridicule Agenda 21 activists:

In Baldwin County, Alabama, an award-winning plan to provide guidance for private-sector developers was spiked—it was, constituents complained, part of a United Nations plot to end property rights, impose communism and force locals onto rail cars heading to secret camps. When the blueprint was voted down, residents cheered and sang “God Bless America.” Every member of the zoning commission resigned in disgust.

A federal proposal that would have paid physicians for time spent discussing elderly patients’ medical and personal priorities in their final days of life was shelved. Some conservatives, led by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, slammed the idea as creating “death panels” of bureaucrats to decide who would live and who would die.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Birth of a Conspiracy Theory

Deep Ellum - Conspiracy Bar sign 01Watch LIVE as a conspiracy theory is born (courtesy of Andrew Rosenthal in the op-ed section of the New York Times):

If you spend enough time on the Internet you’ll eventually encounter a conspiracy theory. If you watch closely enough, sometimes you can actually see one being born.

For years now some on the right have speculated that the Obama administration is trying to politicize the national census. Yesterday, Noah Rothman argued on Mediaite that the theory was proven correct by a New York Times article about changes in the way the Census Bureau plans to ask about health insurance coverage.

The idea is that the new questions will show a reduction in the number of uninsured people starting in 2014, which may make it seem as though the Affordable Care Act is working better than it really is. The change in questions will also produce a “break in trend” within the census surveys and thus make it impossible to statistically compare 2013 and 2014 with earlier years.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Fareed Zakaria: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories

CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria thinks he’s cracked the enduring appeal of conspiracy theories:

For those of you tired of the coverage of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, I want you to try an experiment.

When you’re with a group of friends – whose eyes might roll over when you even bring up the issue – ask them what they think happened to the plane. Very quickly you will find yourselves in the midst of a lively discussion – with many, different, competing theories, each plausible, each with holes.

The plane was hijacked, someone will say. But then why were there no demands? It was an accident, someone else will say. But then why were there no distress signals? This mystery of what actually happened is at the heart of the fascination with this story. And the mystery has now morphed into an ever increasing number of conspiracy theories about what actually happened that fateful day last month when the aircraft disappeared.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Half Of All Americans Believe In At Least One Medical Conspiracy Theory

OuchFlintGoodrichShot1941If you believe that the CIA deliberately infected African Americans with the HIV virus or another medical conspiracy theory, you have plenty of company: about half of all Americans, reports Reuters:

About half of American adults believe in at least one medical conspiracy theory, according to new survey results.

Some conspiracy theories have much more traction than others, however.

For example, three times as many people believe U.S. regulators prevent people from getting natural cures as believe that a U.S. spy agency infected a large number of African Americans with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

J. Eric Oliver, the study’s lead author from University of Chicago, said people may believe in conspiracy theories because they’re easier to understand than complex medical information.

“Science in general – medicine in particular – is complicated and cognitively challenging because you have to carry around a lot of uncertainty,” Oliver said.

“To talk about epidemiology and probability theories is difficult to understand as opposed to ‘if you put this substance in your body, it’s going to be bad,’” he said.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

How Misinformation Spreads on Facebook

RIAN archive 988824 Facebook social network's pageSarah Gray reports for Salon (via AlterNet) on research about how people on Facebook interacted with “trolls” posting false information; she says the results are depressing:

From the steady roll of theories on what happened to Malaysian Arlines Flight 370, to Sarah Palin’s “death panels” panic, to Donald Trump’s birther theories, misinformation spreads like wildfire in the age of Facebook.

In 2013, professor Walter Quattrociocchi of Northeastern University along with his team studied how more than 1 million Facebook users engaged with political information during the Italian election. During that election a post appeared titled: “Italian Senate voted and accepted (257 in favor and 165 abstentions) a law proposed by Senator Cirenga to provide policy makers with €134 billion Euros to find jobs in the event of electoral defeat.”

The post was from an Italian site that parodies the news. According to  MIT Technology Review it was filled with at least four major inaccuracies: “[T]he senator involved is fictitious, the total number of votes is higher than is possible in Italian politics, the amount of money involved is more than 10% of Italian GDP and the law itself is an invention.”

Despite the blatant falsehoods of this  parody news post, the story went viral — shared over 35,000 times in less than a month.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Malaysia Air Flight 370: Usual Conspiracy Theories Emerge

Boeing 777-200 (9328013793) (2)Is there no tragedy involving loss of human lives that certain conspiracy theorists can resist deeming a false flag attack or other nonsense? Fast Company reports on the usual suspects crawling over the story of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet:

…Naturally, conspiracy theories are already flying left and right on social media. One theory suggests the plane’s sudden disappearance is a “false flag” operation intentionally planted by CNN. Another claims that some relatives of the passengers onboard have even reported hearing their phones ring–but no one is answering.

Other tin foilers have gone so far as to suggest that the plane simply vanished. “If we never find the debris,” writes one theorist, “it means some entirely new, mysterious and powerful force is at work on our planet which can pluck airplanes out of the sky without leaving behind even a shred of evidence.”

Another, just as bizarre conspiracy theory suggests terrorists hijacked the plane, and have parked the plane intact in an abandoned hanger to use as “a weapon of mass destruction” in the future:

[continues at Fast Company]

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Conspiracy Theory Logical Fallacies

Pic: DTKerns (PD)

Pic: DTKerns (PD)

Conspiracies, of course, do occur.  But, of course, not every theory is true.  If yours isn’t built upon the following fallacies, perhaps it’s legit.  Warp writes:

Most conspiracy theories don’t make sense nor withstand any scrutiny. They usually involve operations so immense that it’s basically impossible for them to be kept secret, and all the proof given by conspiracy theorists usually have a very simple explanation (usually much simpler than the explanation given by the theorists).

Yet conspiracy theories are very popular and appealing. Even when they don’t make sense and there’s just no proof, many people still believe them. Why?

One big reason for this is that some conspiracy theorists are clever. They use psychology to make their theories sound more plausible. They appeal to certain psychological phenomena which make people to tend to believe them. However, these psychological tricks are nothing more than logical fallacies. They are simply so well disguised that many people can’t see them for what they are.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Bad Science Meets Conspiracy Theory in ‘Burning Snow’ Videos

About.com‘s Urban Legends page debunks the burning snow videos that have been making the rounds of the usual sites of late:

Several videos have cropped up on YouTube documenting a “weird phenomenon” variously described as “burning snow,” “fake snow,” “chemical snow,” and “snow that won’t melt.” The videos show people holding cigarette lighters and blowtorches up to a handful of snow and remarking on how the latter seemingly blackens and “burns like plastic” instead of melting, all the while giving off a “chemical odor.”

As is the fashion these days, some folks are resorting to conspiracy theories in lieu of science to explain the phenomenon, the result being one big Internet freak-out over supposed government-backed weather manipulation (“geo-engineering”), chemtrail fallout, nanobot invasions, and HAARP attacks (I even found one article using the term “false flag”).

On the other hand, there’s plain old, ordinary physics.

Read the rest
Continue Reading