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Alternative London Theories
July 10, 2005 5:56 PM   Subscribe

Blaming Everyone But the Terrorists | Portland journalist Michael Totten vents on the Portland Indymedia crew who blamed Bush for attacks on London. On Friday, Kos banned a handful of his more conspiracy-minded followers for the same reasons: "I have a high tolerance level for material I deem appropriate for this site, but one thing I REFUSE to allow is bullshit conspiracy theories. I can't imagine what fucking world these people live in, but it sure ain't the Reality Based Community." This Seattle Times article indicates even some young British Muslims agree: "Obviously the media is saying that Muslims did it, but I think it was a conspiracy by Tony Blair and George Bush," said Olle Rahaman, 32, a husband and father who, like the other men, was born in London of Bangladeshi parents. "An excuse to say, 'Let's go kick some ass.' " William Bowles of GlobalResearch.ca talks about the use of agent provocateurs and the 'suspicious nature' of the bombings.
posted by jenleigh (121 comments total)

 
jenleigh: I don't disagree with you that an awful lot of discourse surrounding terrorism seems to treat terrorists like rat's in a skinner box who lack any cognitive abilities beyond stimulus.reaction. But, even among the leftiest of lefties I've never met anyone who considers Al Qaeda and their ilk anything other than murderous fanatical scumbags.

But looking into motivations behind these movements can't hurt if only because we once we know that we can counteract their recruiting tactics. For instance, if we flood Iraq/Palestine/Syria with American aid, it'll be more difficult for the Osamas of the owrld to sell US=Great Satan when we're acting more like Santa Claus, dig?
posted by jonmc at 6:03 PM on July 10, 2005


When I first saw the news I wondered how long it would be before we started hearing about how the US or Israel was responsible to promote the current "crusade." I think I should quit my job and open a business making foil lined hats. They would be nice, fashionable and breathable, not like those uncomfortable baseball hats lined with regular aluminum foil that so many people wear. This problem requires science. As for marketing, there is this guy who used to run a circus, and his grandson knows all his techniques.
posted by caddis at 6:11 PM on July 10, 2005


Note that Michel Chossudovsky, the wingnut behind globalresearch.ca, is a conspiratista of the highest order, including the belief that the 9.11 airliners were remote controlled by the Pentagon...
posted by docgonzo at 6:11 PM on July 10, 2005


My co-worker suggested that it might have been orchestrated by the Bush administration to distract from the (then) impending Newsweek headline about Rove/Plame.
posted by jonson at 6:18 PM on July 10, 2005


On the one hand, it's absurd to believe that 9-11 and the London attacks were perpetrated by Bush and Blair.

On the other hand, Bush and Blair are doing their damndest to cynically capitalise on the attacks politically and militarily. They had the motive, means, and opportunity. If you're a conspiracy theorist, this seems like a doozy.

(Disclaimer: I'm not a conspiracy theorist and I don't beleive Bush or Blair had anything to do with 9-11 or the London attacks except by a massive amount of neglect in fighting the war on terror vs. the war on Iraq.)
posted by callmejay at 6:22 PM on July 10, 2005


After we did this thread about 500 times in 2001, is there really anything to add?
posted by Zurishaddai at 6:23 PM on July 10, 2005


Niggling correction: Totten's a columnist, not a journalist. Paid to write opinion, not paid to write factual reporting.
posted by cmonkey at 6:23 PM on July 10, 2005


I blame liberals, of course. I guess they're the ones who placed the bombs on the trains.

anyway, a bit of background: the linked author, Totten, is of course a writer for Tech Central Station, a Republican astroturfing operation that also takes large amounts of money (about US $ 100K a year) from petrol companies to lobby for their interests (following, one imagines, the example of Vice President Cheney, who is not a liberal either).

about the evil murlims hordes, it's interesting to note how
Britain's top Muslim scholars are to issue a "fatwa" which will condemn the terrorists behind the bombings, in an unprecedented move to repudiate the Islamist militants suspected of the atrocities.

It is expected that the religious ruling, which will be drafted this week, will effectively outlaw the bombers among Muslims by stating the attacks were a breach of the most basic tenets of Islam.

...

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "Those behind this atrocity aren't just enemies of humanity but enemies of Islam and Muslims.
And here, more Islamic savagery:
"If these bombers are found to be Muslims, we will make it clear we utterly dissociate ourselves from them - even if they claim to be Muslims or are acting under the mantle of the Islamic faith. We reject that utterly," said the official spokesman of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
...
Imams across Britain were united in condemning the attacks in their weekly Friday sermons, encouraging Muslims to offer all possible assistance to the victims and authorities.

thanks for the post, by the way. we must alert the world of this Ollie Rahman person's wacky theories.
posted by matteo at 6:24 PM on July 10, 2005


The 5,362 deaths from terrorism worldwide between March 2004 and March 2005 were almost double the total for the same 12-month period before the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Mission accomplished?

What's the point of discourse any more? One side wants to widen the war, the other wants to refocus it.
One side is in total power and the other is spectating.

Meh. Republicans are so far beyond reaching anymore. Good luck with your wars, hope you can keep finding people to fight and pay for them, well, lend you money to pay for them.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 6:27 PM on July 10, 2005


You know how in Se7en, Kevin Spacey's character cut off his finger tip skin to prevent fingerprint evidence being left behind?

If the people of the United States, or of France, are behind a terrorist attack on London commuters, that's how carefully they better have covered up the evidence.

The people who are saying that's what's up can't be thinking straight. Because for any operation like that, at best, there's got to be like a 5% chance of it being discovered, even if they pull out all the stops to cover it up. Even if the British government was in on it, still like 5% chance it's going to leak.

The bonds between those countries are too valuable to risk that for some nebulous public sentiment shift. Bush, for example, has shown so many times that he could care less about public sentiment when it comes to what he thinks is the right thing to do. He doesn't need to attack Londoners to sway the opinions of the bad guys, because he doesn't give a crap about them.

This is yet another smoke screen, like gay marriage, like Freedom Fries, like creationism... It doesn't matter if people are smarter than this or not, because look how easily such crap gobbles up chunks of time, public discussion and media time. . .
posted by nervousfritz at 6:29 PM on July 10, 2005


"It is expected that the religious ruling, which will be drafted this week, will effectively outlaw the bombers among Muslims by stating the attacks were a breach of the most basic tenets of Islam."

Almost four years late, don'tcha think?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:37 PM on July 10, 2005


Newspaper columnists are journalists - most of them were reporters first, and they're almost always at least supposed to do original reporting. When the reporting in their work isn't factual, they suffer the consequences just like any other journalist (like Sacramento Bee columnist Diana Griego Erwin, who recently resigned over people quoted in her columns who couldn't be proved to exist.)
posted by transona5 at 6:44 PM on July 10, 2005


The Guardian:
The congregation of around 150 people - three times the usual attendance - had to stoop under red and white scene-of-accident tape to hear their parish priest order them to continue to enjoy living and working in London.

"This is not a time for many words," he said in his sermon, urging them to rejoice in the capital's rich diversity of cultures, traditions, ethnic groups and faiths. "There is one small practical thing that we can all do. We can name the people who did these things as criminals or terrorists. We must not name them as Muslims."
Ok, Father Paul.

Sure.

Let's make a deal: we'll agree not to name them as 'Muslims' once they've sworn off the habit of invoking Allah & Islam—specifically, by name & without hesitance or guilt—when murdering innocent civilians in their quest for martyrdom. Until then, I will refer to them by what they themselves no doubt prefer to be called: Muslims.

Almost four years late, don'tcha think?

Aye.
posted by dhoyt at 6:44 PM on July 10, 2005


I agree. People who make up stories out of thin air, without reguard to professionals who know better, just to advance their wacky, made up, reactionary world view piss me off.
I'm sure glad THOSE people aren't in power.
posted by Balisong at 6:50 PM on July 10, 2005


Jonmc, I don't think it's a stretch to say we've been every bit the Santa Claus to the Middle East and Asia for many, many years so I don't see how throwing more money at the situation will really help. I'm not saying we shouldn't look into motivations; clearly that needs to happen but I think it's important to note that terrorists have been increasingly unwilling to take responsibility or claim a particular position/demand. They let conjecture and innuendo run rampant and I imagine, they get a good laugh out of it...the fucks. Terrorists have not stated the London bombings are because of Iraq, Israel or anything else for that matter. Why? Because they don't need to. They let politicians with their own agendas form the reasoning. This way, their assumed intentions are validated on so many levels, it's ridiculous.

These conspiracy junkies should be patently ignored. The idea that the London bombings (or any other for that matter) were some ploy to continue the occupation of Iraq is negated by the series of events leading up to Iraq. I mean c'mon, all the evidence could only lead you to the conclusion that we should have invaded Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, not Iraq. Even today, we still insist that Iran is the #1 source for terrorism in the world - has been for a long time (if you believe our State Department). Iran....#1. We didn't invade them. No, we invaded a country with no WMD's, no capable army, no nukes, no infrastructure to support terrorists and no Al Qaeda.

Conspiracy? Hell no. Tony Blair could have lit off some firecrackers outside of Hethro and that would have been enough to keep the people running scared and asking dear leader to keep "bombing the hell out of 'em". In America, it only takes Bush intimating that something could, possibly happen down the road to keep a surprisingly large portion of the population enthusiastically supporting the farce that is Iraq. Conspiracy? I think not.
posted by j.p. Hung at 6:53 PM on July 10, 2005


List of selected groups and people suspected of having some involvement in planning the bombings, in descending order of probability:

one of the well-known terrorist groups
a random group of crazy admirers of the above
some other terrorist group we haven't heard of yet
a random group of crazy admirers of G.W.Bush
mr_crash_davis
George Bush
Andy Kaufman
Tony Blair
posted by sfenders at 6:53 PM on July 10, 2005


William Bowles of GlobalResearch.ca talks about the use of agent provocateurs and the 'suspicious nature' of the bombings.

"Wow - I had no idea that the Girl Scouts were responsible for the crop circle phenomenon!" "Few people do. Few even think to ask The Question."
posted by gd779 at 6:55 PM on July 10, 2005


Some of the recommendations of Operation Northwoods proposed by the Joint Chiefs on March 13, 1962 were:

  • Using the potential death of astronaut John Glenn during the first attempt to put an American into orbit as a false pretext for war with Cuba.

  • Start false rumors about Cuba by using clandestine radios.

  • Stage mock attacks, sabotages and riots and blame it on Cuban forces

  • Sink an American ship at the Guantanamo Bay American military base - reminiscent of the USS Maine incident at Havana in 1898, which started the Spanish-American War - or destroy American aircraft and blame it on Cuban forces. (The document refers to unmanned drones, fake funerals etc.)

  • "Harassment of civil air, attacks on surface shipping and destruction of US military drone aircraft by MIG type planes would be useful as complementary actions."

  • Destroy a fake commercial aircraft supposedly full of "college students off on a holiday" (really an unmanned drone)

  • Stage a "terror campaign", including the "real or simulated" sinking of Cuban refugees:
    "We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington. The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States. We could sink a boatload of Cubans enroute [sic] to Florida (real or simulated). We could foster attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicized."

  • posted by The Jesse Helms at 6:55 PM on July 10, 2005


    "When I kill one, I create three." - Lt. Col. Frederick P. Wellman

    Those responsible for creating the conditions that support what some believe are necessary violent counter-actions should be held to account. Blame Truman, Kennedy, Johnson and Carter too, if it makes you feel better, but Bush has had a (heavy) hand in boosting terrorist organizations' memberships. To deny this is ridiculous.

    But since self-styled "conservatives" seem to need the obvious pointed out to them repeatedly... Yes, the ones that shoulder the most responsibility are those that planned and committed the violence itself. Duh.
    posted by Pseudonumb at 7:03 PM on July 10, 2005


    Wow, I just lost a lot of respect for kos, who constantly preaches that the Democratic party work to be more inclusive of differing viewpoints and then bans diarists (and those that recommended them!!) for being "embarrassing" to the site's point of view.

    BTW, anti-semitism is most decidedly not left-wing and its adherents shouldn't be lumped together with those who simply believe that the Bush administration has not been forthright with its constituents.
    posted by Saucy Intruder at 7:09 PM on July 10, 2005


    Until then, I will refer to them by what they themselves no doubt prefer to be called: Muslims.

    fair enough. just like the good christians who firebomb abortion clinics, or the KKK gentlemen (see: The Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan) who of course mention the defense of "Christian America" as a priority, just like the John Birchers. they're all Christians. like you.

    Almost four years late, don'tcha think?

    Aye.


    so the attacks are to blame also on teh murlims who don't actually bomb shit, too? cool, these dark people never seem to do anything right in your world -- damned if they bomb, damned if they condemn the bombing.

    anyway, good luck winning a war against 1.3 billion people. not that you'll actually go fight it yourself, of course, but you know what I mean.
    posted by matteo at 7:11 PM on July 10, 2005


    fair enough. just like the good christians who firebomb abortion clinics, or the KKK gentlemen (see: The Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan) who of course mention the defense of "Christian America" as a priority, just like the John Birchers. they're all Christians. like you.

    Sure. Call them "Christians". *shrug* I don't know what "like you" means as I'm not a born USian and am pretty much a lifelong atheist. Don't let that distract you from your endless "dark people" and "savage Muslim" garbage, though.

    What are "teh murlims"?

    so the attacks are to blame also on teh murlims who don't actually bomb shit, too? cool, these dark people never seem to do anything right in your world


    Yeah, kind of like the military: damned if they intervene in oppressed countries and damned if they sit back and let the oppression continue. And so on. And on. Zzzzz.
    posted by dhoyt at 7:16 PM on July 10, 2005


    *washes hands of the whole affair*
    posted by jonmc at 7:17 PM on July 10, 2005


    Someone mentioned this article to me today: London Underground Bombing 'Exercises' Took Place at Same Time as Real Attack. I'd like to see this confirmed or refutted by a more mainstream media source (eg. BBC).
    posted by Stuart_R at 7:21 PM on July 10, 2005


    Juan Cole suggests the trial of Abu Hamza Misri is wrapped up in the bombings.

    Also: The Great London Bombing Conspiracy List

    And from alt.conspiracy (a joke, btw):
    Much has been written in the print media over the last two days about
    the presumed authors of the transit bombings in London. Official, but
    unnamed sources are describing the attack as the work of the heretofore
    unknown Muslim fundamentalist group called 'al-Qaeda Jihad in Europe',
    and that the attack was planned to coincide with the G8 summit meeting
    in Gleneagles, Scotland. This is, of course, entirely wrong.

    The actual perpetrators of this act of terrorism are an unnamed and
    shadowy group of ultra-extremist left-wing republican journalists,
    photographers, and editors who are normally based in Southern Ontario.
    This fringe group of diabolical wordsmiths have a secretive history
    that can be traced back to the Gutenberg Revolution. It is known that
    this group of vile manipulators are the puppet masters largely
    responsible for pulling the strings of more well known but informal
    economic and political groups like the Freemasons, the Barvairan
    Illuminati, and the Buildibergers.

    Local psycho-social indicators such as the software update to the
    Christie Blatchford auto-rant AI expert system, and the intensification
    of the Rex Murphy Psycho-Linguistic Mass Semiotic Positive Feedback
    Loop have been detected by our specialists, who are tirelessly watching
    and analysing the relevant critical indicators. Anomalous spikes in
    the Pseudo-Real Public Emotive Indicies have been identified, but as
    yet there is no conclusive linkage to a causitive originator.

    This is all for now. Further updates will follow ss this startling
    catastrophe continues to unfold.
    posted by dhoyt at 7:31 PM on July 10, 2005


    Also mentioned at BoingBoing...
    London bombings coincide with security exercise

    On July 7 BBC Radio five interviewed Peter Power, managing director of Visor Consultants, a "crisis management" consultant. Power, who used to work at Scotland Yard's Anti Terrorist Branch told the BBC that Visor was running a security exercise at the same times and places that the bombings took place.

    POWER: At half past nine this morning we were actually running an exercise for a company of over a thousand people in London based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up right now.

    HOST: To get this quite straight, you were running an exercise to see how you would cope with this and it happened while you were running the exercise?

    POWER: Precisely, and it was about half past nine this morning, we planned this for a company and for obvious reasons I don't want to reveal their name but they're listening and they'll know it. And we had a room full of crisis managers for the first time they'd met and so within five minutes we made a pretty rapid decision that this is the real one and so we went through the correct drills of activating crisis management procedures to jump from slow time to quick time thinking and so on.
    I should clarify my previous post - I hope the BBC follows up on this story...
    posted by Stuart_R at 7:37 PM on July 10, 2005


    Sorry if this is going to be a bit longish. I'd like to offer some observations about conspiratorialism.

    It seems to me that the conspiratorialist mindset (one might almost call it the conspiratorialist espistemology) is rooted in a natural desire to understand the world around us and to bring new information and events into line with previously assimilated knowledge, understanding and values. The problem arises when people have deep and unexamined values and beliefs that are not validated by their experience. They then thrash out a pseudo-rational explanation (almost always by projecting motives that they have no certain knowledge about) which explains events in accord with beliefs and values that they often can't articulate. Even the most rabid conspiracy monger believe their own spew. But, if carefully examined, the conspiracy theory is really a distorted projection of their own interior landscape, rather than a reflection of the objective reality most people experience.

    The fanaticism of the conspiratorialist's belief is directly related to the unexamined values and beliefs that conflict with experience (or other's reports of their experience.) Most conspiratorialists seem to have an authoritarian streak in them. I suspect that this is due to most of their knowledge and beliefs being acquired as recieved knowledge, rather than something they have worked out the ramifications of. Hence, the way that they fall back on appeal to authority, even when it is neither dispositive or even factually correct. And the tenacity of the insistance on their beliefs being correct is tangled up in how deep these beliefs underpin their personality and identity.

    There's a great passage in Dashiell Hammett's The Dain Curse, where the Continental Op is trying to convince Gabriel Leggett that she is sane enough and strong enough to kick her morphine habit:
    "Nobody thinks clearly, no matter what they pretend. Thinking's a dizzy business, a matter of caticong as many of sthose foggy glimpses as you can and fitting them together the best you can. That's why people hang on so tight to their beliefs and opinions; because, compared to the haphazard way in which they're arrived at, even the goofiest opinion seems wonderfully clear, sane, and self-evident. And if you let it get away from you, then you've got to dive back into that foggy muddle to wangle yourself another to take its place."
    In reading this passage again, it occurs to me that it may be that some people can't distinguish between knowledge and opinion, which could also contribute to conspiratorialist thinking in some instances. This failure to distinguish or tolerate ambiguity has also been widely noted to be a component of authoritarian personalities, with their emphasis on taking and giving of orders.

    So my question (which I hinted at earlier) is: Does the conspiratorial mind-set require a different epistemology (knowing how we know things) than the normal mindset? I strongly suspect that the answer is yes, but I can only argue the postion, not prove it as a hypothesis.
    posted by warbaby at 8:11 PM on July 10, 2005


    Wow, I just lost a lot of respect for kos, who constantly preaches that the Democratic party work to be more inclusive of differing viewpoints and then bans diarists (and those that recommended them!!) for being "embarrassing" to the site's point of view.

    Different viewpoints have to be based on something more than overactive imagination. Even people who are conducting the actual investigation, the ones that are actually out there sifting through the debris, don't have anything conclusive yet. Why should Kos give time to someone who has not a shred of evidence, no connections, no knowledge or experience or anything else besides what they've pulled out of their asses? It's only been two days since the shit happened. It's not even enough time to come up with a decent conspiracy theory.
    posted by c13 at 8:12 PM on July 10, 2005


    Kos gives plenty of time for any and all conspiracies involving Rove, and many others with not a shred of evidence, no connections, no knowledge or experience or anything else besides what they've pulled out of their asses. It's not right to declare some things out of bounds because they make him uncomfortable, or invite the wingnuts to quote from them.
    posted by amberglow at 8:18 PM on July 10, 2005


    I agree with everything c13 wrote with one additional comment.

    Liberals take heat for not treating every viewpoint with respect, but when a person's viewpoint makes no sense and is just insane rambling or spouting, then that person doesn't deserve respect or to have their opinion taken seriously. Kos did the right thing for that reason, and the other reason is that if Kos doesn't delete or remove himself from those comments, then he is condoing them and that ruins the reputation of himself and his site.
    posted by Arch Stanton at 8:22 PM on July 10, 2005


    I think conspiracy theories are just a permutation of religion, in a sense that you set up a theory first, and evaluate all data acquired subsequently from that perspective. That way, any information that would appear contrary to a theory actually only strengthens it.

    On preview: amberglow, again, it's only been two fucking days. Anyone who says they know exactly what happened and why is full of shit.
    posted by c13 at 8:27 PM on July 10, 2005


    warbaby writes "It seems to me that the conspiratorialist mindset"

    So, I guess that various al-Qaeda groups didn't conspire together either -- after all, according to your stated viewpoint, conspiracies simply don't exist because, as you pointed out, the mind of the conspiratorialist operates on something else than the reality that most people see and recognize (hence the need for a "different epistemology").

    I think the most generous way to see your little outburst is that you ended up painting things with a brush that's a great deal broader than you intended.
    posted by clevershark at 8:28 PM on July 10, 2005


    Kos has updated the page linked above:
    "Update: I've been reinstating some of the banned accounts as they email me. Some people wondered why there wasn't any warning. There have been warnings from others -- repeated pleadings for people to ground themselves in reality.

    It's telling that I have NEVER done something like this before. Because this has been an extreme situation. This isn't about disagreeing with what people are saying. If that was the case, everyone would've been banned by now. The myth of the "echo chamber" is just that. A myth.

    But as for warnings, well, this has been my warning. I wanted it clear that I was serious, and I think that has come through. I am reinstating those who ask to be reinstated. But the message has been sent."
    FWIW: I will not share a speaking engagement or debate with a conspiratorialist, a holocaust denier or a white supremacist. Others can if they wish, but I won't play into the farce of debating reality.
    posted by warbaby at 8:29 PM on July 10, 2005


    Clevershark, I wish I had caught your remark on preview. You have totally misread my post and I was not referring to terrorist groups, I meant tinfoil hat loons. I'm sorry that wasn't obvious.

    conspiratorialist != conspirator
    posted by warbaby at 8:32 PM on July 10, 2005


    "so the attacks are to blame also on teh murlims who don't actually bomb shit, too? cool, these dark people never seem to do anything right in your world -- damned if they bomb, damned if they condemn the bombing."

    Uh, no. But thanks for putting your spin on it. What I was saying was I don't recall any fatwas issuing forth post-9/11. (or 11/9 for our European friends). Go ahead and twist that however you like.
    posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:34 PM on July 10, 2005


    warbaby writes "You have totally misread my post and I was not referring to terrorist groups, I meant tinfoil hat loons. I'm sorry that wasn't obvious."

    You're the one doing the misreading. Conspiratorialist = one who points to a conspiracy. By saying that conspiratorialists -- and by this surely you must mean all of them -- have a viewpoint which is based on something else than reality, you are also implying that conspiracies just don't exist. Period.

    Surely that's a very silly thing to do. People have been assembling and planning the execution of crimes since the beginning of history. That's what a conspiracy is. If al-Qaeda isn't a conspiracy in the purest of forms I don't know what is.

    Surely what you refer to is the caricature of the conspiracy theorist which has become somewhat of a recurring theme -- someone who happens to both have unusual political viewpoints and suffers from a practically-comical case of OCD.
    posted by clevershark at 8:40 PM on July 10, 2005


    Uh. I live in Portland too and who the fuck is Michael Totten? Looks like Just Another Boring Blogger to me. Indymedia is more or less an open forum. Of course there are nutjobs on Indymedia. Is the fact that there are nutjobs on the Internet somehow news now?
    posted by Skwirl at 8:41 PM on July 10, 2005


    Conspiratorialist = one who points to a conspiracy.
    That should require having some sort of concrete evidence, not of "but dosn't this make sense?" sort. Which in most cases does not happen.
    posted by c13 at 8:48 PM on July 10, 2005


    clevershark: actually, no. You're projecting if you think that I am denying that criminal conspiracies exist, of course they do. Sheesh. If you want to make a position, make your own, don't ascribe it to me.

    "Conspiratorialist" is a widely used term of art in discussing the sociology of people who believe that hidden conspiracies are the driving force behind history. There's a large scholarly literature devoted to it.

    Since I spent years in the field studying and publishing about this sort of behavior among right-wing extremists (and the occasional lefty like the ELF and ALF), I assure you that I'm quite serious and not engaging in caricature. There are lots of people who behave this way. I've been in a room with 450 of them at one time (an appearance by John Trochmann.)

    I'm willing to credit your intellectual honesty at face value, you would do well to return the favor.
    posted by warbaby at 8:49 PM on July 10, 2005


    "I think it was a conspiracy by Tony Blair and George Bush"

    Considering that possibility is perfectly reasonable. Those two are hardly the most likely people to be involved, but it's possible. Lots of things are possible. It's good to keep an open mind about it. To believe that it's actually likely, without any evidence, that's pretty crazy.

    Getting us all to think only of the crazy people when we hear the word "conspiracy" is, of course, the work of a sinister group of ultra-conservative journalists who secretly control the mass media from their underground bunker in Fort McMurray.
    posted by sfenders at 9:03 PM on July 10, 2005


    Police and intelligence agents areinvestigating the theory that a gang of white "mercenary terrorists" was hired by al-Qa'ida to carry out last week's devastating attacks on London. ...
    posted by amberglow at 9:15 PM on July 10, 2005


    There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe, with tribes of human who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans. They may have been the architects of the great pyramids, or the lost civilizations of Lemuria or Atlantis.

    Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive far, far away, amongst the stars.
    posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:19 PM on July 10, 2005


    Who was behind the bombings is not as important as who benefits from the aftereffects. The Reichstag Fire would have worked out just as bad if the Nazis really did have nothing to do with it.

    If al-Qaida is really behind this shit then I hate them for giving the Bushites an excuse to take more of my freedom away -- as well as for this nasty business of blowing up civilians.
    posted by davy at 9:22 PM on July 10, 2005


    warbaby writes "I'm willing to credit your intellectual honesty at face value, you would do well to return the favor."

    Well, the web is completely useless at defining "conspiratorialist". It seems to define it only as "a conspiracist", and defines "conspiracist" as "Someone who believes that a conspiracy explains a set of evidence, as in the JFK assassination."

    However that definition is in itself inadequate. Clearly there is a sense that the conspiracies espoused by a conspiracist/conspiratorialist are outside the mainstream and, frankly, "kooky". But there is no real standard to differentiate "kooky" theories from the ones that get accepted, except for the general acceptance. Pretty much everyone accepts that Osama bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks, but I don't recall anyone actually presenting evidence to back this up -- his cheerleading on the subject, both before and after the attacks, is generally accepted to be proof.

    Sometimes theories get accepted as reality even though the physical evidence points to their unlikeliness or even impossibility. The accepted non-conspiratorial explanation for the assassination of JFK involves a bullet doing things which, frankly, are physically impossible.

    Sometimes theories which later prove to be fact are crudely dismissed as paranoid rantings when they are first postulated. Surely the US government wouldn't infect black men with syphilis just to see what would happen, right? And yet that's exactly what happened, as it turns out.

    So, what exactly IS the standard by which a conspiracy theory may be dismissed as a crazy paranoid figment of a fevered imagination, or accepted as fact? In the end it seems tautological -- the standard for accepted theories is simply that they are accepted.
    posted by clevershark at 9:25 PM on July 10, 2005


    God I hate Kos.

    Just wanted to throw that out there, by the way. But god I hate Kos.
    posted by delmoi at 9:26 PM on July 10, 2005


    You know how in Se7en, Kevin Spacey's character cut off his finger tip skin to prevent fingerprint evidence being left behind?

    Woah, that was Kevin Spacey?!
    posted by delmoi at 9:30 PM on July 10, 2005


    Amber, that's a very interesting story. The possibility of Al Qaida resorting to "boutique terrorism" was the subject of a lot of interest among some of us following the Richard Reid "shoe bomb" incident. At that time, there was no evidence of them reaching out, rather they were "reaching in" to militants who were active in Afghanistan, the Philippines or Chechnia.

    Reading the article closely, the hypothesis appears to be speculation to account for the lack of evidence, rather than information turned up by investigation. Likewise, the speculation that timing devices were involved does not rule out radio detonation by cell phone or pager (which is more common now than timers for simultaneous bombings.)

    The quantity of explosives used is a matter for concern, since implies a yet unknown logistical capability not previously seen in that part of the world. It also appears to have been plastique or a similar high explosive (the clouds of choking black smoke is a sign of them.)

    To date, Al Qaida has not been able to maintain sufficient security to stage "follow on" attacks. In nearly all cases, the cell has been arrested or fled, rather than sticking around for another round. Patience. These investigations typically take one or two weeks before a serious break occurs.
    posted by warbaby at 9:33 PM on July 10, 2005


    It makes perfect sense for Kos to ban those accounts (or, I guess, give them a dressing-down by way of temporary banning).

    Kos is a smart guy, and a partisan who wants to win elections. Democrats don't win elections when they're tarred with the brush of the far left. In fact, although it seems to have been forgotten, a traditional winning strategy of Democrats is to attack the left with gusto.

    Truman, Kennedy and Johnson were all top-caliber red baiters, and the Jimmy Carter 1976 primary campaign was seen in many corners as a crushing blow to the left, who'd thought the fall of Nixon would let them put up one of their own, and instead got stuck with an Annapolis grad from Georgia. While Clinton didn't even have strong left wing opposition, he still took his Sister Souljah moment to deliberately piss off the left in a highly conspicuous way.
    posted by MattD at 9:36 PM on July 10, 2005


    Does the conspiratorial mind-set require a different epistemology (knowing how we know things) than the normal mindset?

    Good question, and the answer is Yes. Scientific investigation is made under the assumption that all information comes from honest brokers, and that there are no agents actively fucking with the measurements etc., but conspiracy theory builds into the mix bad actors, false-flag proponents, and loons.

    Someone 'on your side' could be an enemy agent either feeding you bullshit that will undermine your position later, or just playing an extremist to taint your side of the argument in the minds of third parties.

    As an aside, I find Jesse Marcel Sr's story, as it came out, of finding lots of strange, advanced materials scattered all over a ranch near Roswell in 1947 to be believable; but this raises a built-in co-hypothesis is that there would be a rather active sp00k bullshit campaign in place to muddy the picture. Sifting fact from fiction becomes difficult, and one has to go into bayesian logic patterns to operate at any level (attaching a 'truth' coefficient to every piece of evidence).
    posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:37 PM on July 10, 2005


    The American Revolution of the 1770s began as a CONSPIRACY. (One that was also ILLEGAL at the the time.)

    Of course it was a conspiracy. Do you think John Hancock and all the other Founding Fathers politely informed the King's soldiers and law-enforcers when and where they'd be meeting to declare independence? Do you think they invited many British troops to sit in while they planned their armed uprising?

    I love pointing this out to people who rant against "conspiracy freaks" as if conspiracies never happen.

    And by the way, Kos does not fit my definition of "leftist" either, for many reasons.
    posted by davy at 9:38 PM on July 10, 2005


    warbaby, why wouldn't the hypothesis follow from all the videotapes they're watching?
    posted by amberglow at 9:39 PM on July 10, 2005


    Does the conspiratorial mind-set require a different epistemology (knowing how we know things) than the normal mindset?

    I suppose that depends on what you mean by "normal". But everything you said there about the conspiratorialist seems like it could apply equally well to other kinds of beliefs that people hold. Allegiances to political parties, identity groups, ideologies of all kinds, are defended with the same kind of pseudo-rationalist certitude. Taken to the extreme in someone whose assumptions about the world rest on some kind of organized conspiracy, that kind of thinking leads to a lots of conspiracies; with a different set of assumptions, it leads to fascism, or puritanism, or extreme radical environmentalism, or blind patriotism, or irrational exuberance, or whatever.

    Many of those other kinds of delusion share with the conspiratorialist view the dependance on some kind of enemy, some other to blame for whatever goes wrong. I don't know if that's necessary though. Really, all I see that distinctly sets conspiratorialism apart is the fact that it involves conspiracies.
    posted by sfenders at 9:40 PM on July 10, 2005


    So my question (which I hinted at earlier) is: Does the conspiratorial mind-set require a different epistemology (knowing how we know things) than the normal mindset? I strongly suspect that the answer is yes, but I can only argue the postion, not prove it as a hypothesis.

    Sorry, the Authoritarian mindset is normal. We're the freaks.
    posted by delmoi at 9:46 PM on July 10, 2005


    warbaby writes "Likewise, the speculation that timing devices were involved does not rule out radio detonation by cell phone or pager (which is more common now than timers for simultaneous bombings.)"

    Incidentally the Tube has been "mobile friendly" for a long time. When I was there in 1993 it was already set up to transmit signals for the now-defunct Rabbit phone system.
    posted by clevershark at 10:00 PM on July 10, 2005


    *bounces up and down in his chair with pleasure*

    Here is an example of the use of "conpiratorialist." Chip Berlet uses the term in a rigourous manner.

    I suggest that conspiratorialist epistemology is belief-oriented, as opposed to knowledge-oriented (in Karl Popper's sense of falsifiability.) Conspiratorialist knowledge does not appear to be falseifiable. There are certainly many examples of conspiracy theories that have been rigorously debunked and competing knowledge-based theories that has stood the test of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Of course, many conspiracy theories are argued in a "what if" manner and in the near-complete absence of testable evidence.

    Heywood's point is a good one. There are instances of conspiracy theories being knowingly promulgated as part of a disinformation, propaganda or psychological warfare strategy. But the underlying issue of epistemology remains.

    Amber: the article didn't say what they saw on the videotapes, only that they were examining them and we already knew that.

    sfenders: I'm suggesting that there is a difference in the cognitive process, albeit that process may be shared with other stances than conspiratorialism. There is some evidence that organic brain disorders may play a role in some violent political actors. Medical histories of head trauma are statistically way over-represented in key actors in the Patriot/Militia nonsense of ten years ago, as are cases of child abuse and incest. The linked article suggests there may be a clinical explanation for many of these instances.
    posted by warbaby at 10:02 PM on July 10, 2005


    Incidentally the Tube has been "mobile friendly" for a long time. When I was there in 1993 it was already set up to transmit signals for the now-defunct Rabbit phone system.

    Wow, you know the whole "detonation by cellphone" thing is just so, I don't know, facinating. Using pre-existing infrastructure to cordinate an attack like that. The London tube may have aided in its own destruction. (I just assumed that there would be no cellphone use underground, and that the bombs must have beened timed because of that)
    posted by delmoi at 10:04 PM on July 10, 2005


    Also: how do we KNOW there's even an "al-Qaida" behind it? Cf. "Goldstein" in 1984.

    Frankly I have no idea who or what is behind these bombings, or if they're the work of one Evil Mastermind or a hundred cliques of murderers. For all I know it's the Mickey Mouse Club behind it. I roll my eyes at people who blindly believe what they see on TV news, as I also do at people who insist "Skull & Bones" is always to blame.

    Who is "responsible", and in what way, is not the point.

    On preview, I see delmoi said "Sorry, the Authoritarian mindset is normal. We're the freaks."

    I agree with that anyway.

    And incidentally, previewing again, I see warbaby said: "There is some evidence that organic brain disorders may play a role in some violent political actors. Medical histories of head trauma are statistically way over-represented in key actors in the Patriot/Militia nonsense of ten years ago, as are cases of child abuse and incest. The linked article suggests there may be a clinical explanation for many of these instances."

    Why anybody would believe that head injuries and/or incest are responsible for "Militia/Patriot nonsense", in preference to believing, oh, that Mickey Mouse fired the fatal shot from the Grassy Knoll, is beyond me. One goofy theory does not explain or cancel out another.
    posted by davy at 10:11 PM on July 10, 2005


    warbaby, "organic brain disorders" may or may not play a role in everything that has anything to do with the effected parts of the brain. E.g., the consequences of a right-side stroke might make one's left shoe wear out faster, or it might not. Like, gee whiz, guy.
    posted by davy at 10:19 PM on July 10, 2005


    davy: The clinical psychologists I've talked to are pretty much in agreement that people with these disorders are more comfortable around others with the same disorder - which is a pretty human thing when you think about it... Read Gladwell's article and you'll see what I mean. I've sort of been looking forward to the next outbreak (which seems to be gathering steam around the "border militias"). They're about a year overdue. I've made arrangements with a couple of clinical neurologists to come with me if the large recruitment / organizing starts up in this area again.

    delmoi will find more about remote detonation with cell phones if you look back over news articles about the attempted bombing of Musharef in December 2003. About this time, the Iraqi resistance was using wireless doorbells and garage door openers. When I heard about this, I got ahold of a friend with DARPA connections and suggested they borrow some the tech the Brits and Israelis had developed for jamming and interferring with these signals. At the time, I was told, they were already on it, but were having difficulty ramping up large scale production. It's now been in the papers a bit, so I guess it's OK to chat about. The most recent development is the use of infrared signals (which can't be detected or jammed mostly.) Bruce Hoffman describes this same sort of cyberwar trajectory happening in Ireland in his book, Inside Terrorism.
    posted by warbaby at 10:25 PM on July 10, 2005


    I'm off to bed, but before I go, here's one more to chew on:

    Suppose, just suppose, that engaging in the sort of self-inflicted paranoid speculation many conspiratorialists constantly are noodling around with actually causes a chronic and systematic change in brain function, biochemically or something. We know that there are informationally induced illnesses, like PTSD and CIS. Suppose conspiratorialism is an echo chamber and given sufficient exposure, it becomes involuntary?

    G'night. It's been a pleasure.
    posted by warbaby at 11:13 PM on July 10, 2005


    While NOT a "rabid conspiratorialist," I do consider myself a decent student of history, and a pretty keen judge of human character, and the thing that's always struck me as odd is the self imposed limitations of thought "mainstream" thinkers seem to suffer from.

    The people that you hear ranting the loudest about tinfoil hats seem to do so not due to a strict adherence to the scientific, logical, and epistemological processes, but simply because certain possibilities are so upestting that they cant bear to wrap their head around them.

    People who say, George Bush, involved in 9/11? HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY CONSIDER THAT?

    Well, it's easy. I'm unwilling to rule out any preconceptions no matter how ugly their prospects might be. Cui Bono?

    Would it be the most shocking, faith shattering, treasonous abuse of power in American history? You bet. But, that doesn't mean you can't consider it as a potentiality.

    Motive, Means, Opportunity. Those are the criteria I look for, and given those criteria and an open mind, I'm in no way willing to rule out administration complicity or culpability in the events of 9/11. Not saying it happened that way, but I ain't ruling it out either.

    Now as far as "conspiratorialism" in general is concerned, I think it's no more a prevalent and nowhere nearly as dangerous a potential thought disorder as "anti-conspiratorial intellectual blinders syndrome."

    Just because you don't like to think about a possible outcome, doesn't mean it can't be so.
    posted by stenseng at 11:27 PM on July 10, 2005


    "The clinical psychologists I've talked to are pretty much in agreement that people with these disorders are more comfortable around others with the same disorder"

    And Cubs fans are more comfortable around other Cubs fans, and Orthodox Jews like neighborhoods with other Orthodox Jews, and deaf people feel less inhibited around other deaf people, and I reckon clinical psychologists prefer to discuss clinically psychological theories with other clinical psychologists. Should we now suppose that, say, Cubs fans' brains are broken in a "Cubs fan" way? I mean it must be brain damage that makes people watch grown men hit a little ball with a stick, right?
    posted by davy at 11:57 PM on July 10, 2005


    Q: WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING "CONSPIRACY THEORIES ARE NOT TRUE?"

    Gulf of Tonkin - The Johnson administration provoked incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin with the intention of escalating the war in Vietnam.

    Reagan’s October Surprise - During the Iran hostage crisis, Ronald Reagan feared a last-minute deal to release the hostages, which would hand incumbent Jimmy Carter a goodwill vote winning the election. Using their Middle Eastern connections, The Reagan campaign made a secret hostage deal with the Iranian government whereby the Iranians would hold the hostages until Reagan was inaugurated, ensuring that Carter would lose the election.


    Operation Northwoods - The United States government plotted to shoot down US commercial aircraft, sink boatloads of Cuban refugees, and crate a terror campaign targeting Americans, among many other things, all of which would be blamed on Cuba. The Northwoods document was drafted with the intent of getting public support for an invasion of Cuba. The Joint Chiefs of Staff argued that the US population would only support military intervention in Cuba in the event of provocative, aggressive action by the island nation against American soldiers, American civilians or Cuban refugees and Cubans in exile.


    Project MKULTRA (also known as MK-ULTRA) was the code name for a CIA mind control research program lasting from the 1950s through the 1970s. It was first brought to wide public attention by the U.S. Congress (in the form of the Church Committee) and a presidential commission (known as the Rockefeller Commission) (see Revelation below) and also to the U.S. Senate.
    "The Deputy Director of the CIA revealed that over 30 universities and institutions were involved in an 'extensive testing and experimentation' program which included covert drug tests on unwitting citizens 'at all social levels, high and low, native Americans and foreign.' Several of these tests involved the administration of LSD to 'unwitting subjects in social situations.' At least one death, that of Dr. Olson, resulted from these activities. The Agency itself acknowledged that these tests made little scientific sense. The agents doing the monitoring were not qualified scientific observers."


    Air America was an airline secretly controlled by the CIA that supplied covert operations in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Air America flights were also used extensively by the CIA to smuggle heroin out of Laos and Cambodia back to Europe and the United States.

    Oh, what’s that? Didn’t know that the CIA has been involved in the drug business? Well, guess what, the CIA was involved in the smuggling huge quantities of heroin and crack cocaine into southern California in the 1980s.



    A: TRICK QUESTION

    (They're all true.)
    posted by stenseng at 11:59 PM on July 10, 2005


    Warbaby seems to think that if one espouses ideas that are outside the mainstream, one must be mentally ill.

    That's certainly the assumption that colors his judgement. I'm not impressed by his unwillingness (I'll be generous) to address the issue of what differentiates a "kooky" conspiracy theory from a "reasonable" or "accepted" one, which I think is a crucial distinction to make, particularly for someone who is in practical terms a short step away from advocating that those who believe in "kooky" theories ought to be treated so that their beliefs are adjusted -- after all, if one is mentally ill, one should be treated, right?
    posted by clevershark at 12:12 AM on July 11, 2005


    For instance, if we flood Iraq/Palestine/Syria with American aid, it'll be more difficult for the Osamas of the owrld to sell US=Great Satan when we're acting more like Santa Claus, dig?

    Just to add to what j.p. Hung said earlier: Egypt is the second-largest receiver of U.S. aid after Israel; they've had about $25 billion stuffed into their stockings since 1978, usually to fund various projects although this is changing. America is also Egypt's largest trading partner, and the second-largest investor in the country. (source)

    And yet, in 2002, only 6% of Egyptians had a "favorable" view of the United States -- significantly lower than countries like Pakistan, Jordan and Lebanon.
    posted by Ljubljana at 12:35 AM on July 11, 2005


    Clevershark, did the US government *really* deliberately infect black men with syphilis? Do you have a reference for this claim, because the one that you posted doesn't make it?

    In all of my reading on the Tuskegee experiment, I've only ever seen claims that they withheld treatment when effective treatment eventually became available, but that's a very different thing to the claim that the uninfected were deliberately infected.

    And isn't this kind of exaggeration precisely the sort of thing that gives birth to the sort of conspiracy theory being discussed here?
    posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:44 AM on July 11, 2005


    clevershark: So, what exactly IS the standard by which a conspiracy theory may be dismissed as a crazy paranoid figment of a fevered imagination, or accepted as fact? In the end it seems tautological -- the standard for accepted theories is simply that they are accepted.

    Not really. One of the key differences between a good theory and a bad theory is falsifiability. Creation science as an example is a bad theory because evidence that doesn't fit cleanly into the theory can be dismissed with "god works in mysterious ways." Believers in the conspiracy theory that the moon landings were filmed on Earth dismiss any physical evidence as just fabricated by the conspiracy. Another warning sign is when people start treating absence of evidence, as evidence for a comprehensive cover-up.

    So a good test is to ask, "what evidence would you accept as disproof of your pet theory?" If the person can't answer this question, then you are not dealing with a rational argument, but one grounded primarily on faith.
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:46 AM on July 11, 2005


    Just to follow up my question about Tuskeegee, I suppose the subsequent infections of wives and children of the untreated research subjects could be regarded as 'deliberate infections' but that's not what your comment implies.
    posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:53 AM on July 11, 2005


    And I do think there is something there to what warbaby is saying. I know some people who can talk your ear off until their voice wears out, leapfrogging over perceived connections between the function of catalytic converters in cars, to brain function, to the speed of light, tachyons, the Bible, and back again. However, these are rather extreme people.
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:58 AM on July 11, 2005


    What evidence would you accept as disproof of your pet theory?

    Huge.

    I'll have to remember that one. Thanks, KirkJobSluder.
    posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:20 AM on July 11, 2005


    Stuart_R, that very same story is being hashed in another thread here on MeFi posted by Dunvegan yesterday.
    posted by dabitch at 2:25 AM on July 11, 2005


    Once and for all, you can't use cellphones underground, although of course you can on the overground parts of the tube network. Plans are in place to bring cell networks underground, but they won't be realised until at least 2008, and security reviews might nix them altogether (the linked piece, from March, mentions security concerns). The Rabbit service only ever worked above ground.
    posted by jonathanbell at 2:57 AM on July 11, 2005


    There are a lot of conspiracy theories going around the muslim populace, young muslims in particular as some things just don't add up to them and the mass majority of muslims simply don't act that way.

    The recent responses, of which I collected a group here: http://www.sunniforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6934 were primarily in condemnation of the act itself, regardless of the perpetrators (as no conclusive proof has been found) - I haven't found a single major muslim group that hasn't condemned it and will be adding more arabic sources soon. The subsiduary aspect of these responses was due to the inevitable media backlash/ascription to the ideology of groups such as al Qaeda, which all mainstream groups have condemned over the years as being out of sync with mainstream Islam.

    Here's a collection of condemnations post 9/11 from all major muslim organisations for those who were wondering above: http://www.muhajabah.com/otherscondemn.php.

    I'll be interested in the contents of the new fatwa for a number of reasons.. There have been many, many fatwas condemning acts of terrorism before..
    posted by Mossy at 5:50 AM on July 11, 2005


    Here's a nice summary of other predictable reactions to the bombings, in bingo card format.
    posted by funambulist at 6:05 AM on July 11, 2005


    OK, I did jump the gun on the Tuskegee experiment. Having read more about it now it is clear that the government did not actually infect people with syphilis, but did refuse to diagnose and treat it in the 399 African-American men involved.
    posted by clevershark at 7:01 AM on July 11, 2005


    davy and clevershark, I'm not saying this is a necessarily causal situation. It's more like an epidemiological question -- why are people with these sorts of conditions or syndromes overrepresented in these particular populations?

    Famous public health case: All over town, dead bums start turning up. Oddly, all of them have blue lips and are cyanotic. Even more oddly, the deaths all occur in the morning of succeeding days. WTF? A public health investigator finally discovers the diner where the salt (which they all put in their oatmeal, the cheapest thing on the menu) was mistakenly replaced with saltpeter.

    Coincidence or chronology is not causality. Just because dogs are often seen after rabbits doesn't mean the rabbit causes the dog.

    KirkJobSluder has a good answer on the distinctions that differentiate conspiratorialist knowledge from rationalist knowledge. I would add that conspiracy theories often are accretive of new information -- adding facts doesn't change the theory, it just gets tacked on as an elaboration. So they grow more baroque over time, but don't really get any different.
    posted by warbaby at 7:16 AM on July 11, 2005


    Personally, I make this distinction:

    Strong Conspiracy Theory: Every facet of politics/sport/research is secretly controlled by the Illuminati/Trilateral Commission/Whathaveyou. There is a small cadre of elites who control the destiny of the world.

    Weak Conspiracy Theory: World history is dictated by both large trends and well-positioned individuals. Non-public, informal agreements are commonly made among individuals with individual agendas. Perhaps more freqently than is commonly acknowledged, these informal agreements determine to some extent the outcome of public events.

    It is possible to be both open-minded and reasonable. "Tinfoil hat" is a stopword that inhibits a particular train of thought, rather like "Nazi" or "Commie" in other contexts. If you immediately think "tinfoil" at the merest hint of something untoward happening, you are clipping your own brainstem.

    Don't be credulous, but remember that credulity lies on both sides of a hypothesis.

    That said, there are several strange stories surrounding the London bombings (-999 points to the next person who says "Blair"). Interested parties should probably look elsewhere; there are certain MeFiosos who, like PP in an Israel thread, are so irrationally disturbed by some lines of thought they feel the need to quickly post some lame quip and dispel the upsetting possibility.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 7:46 AM on July 11, 2005


    ...That said, there are several strange stories surrounding the London bombings ...

    And there are disturbing similarities to previous attacks and govt's responses...not wanting an independent investigation, simultaneous "exercises", jumping to conclusions immediately about who did it without real proof...
    posted by amberglow at 7:51 AM on July 11, 2005


    right on, stenseng.

    while i don't necessarily believe the PTB fomented NYC, Madrid or London (they aren't that smart, IMO, and can't keep secrets that well), that doesn't mean it isn't possible. how could it be outside the range of possibility when history has proven over and over again the depths to which gov'ts will go to get their way?

    that story about the "coincidental" exercises being conducted at the same time, for instance, bugs the crap out of me. WTF is that about?

    one of the conversations i'm going to have with my dad the concrete guy in my upcoming week in republican-land is to work out how the WTC pancaked so neatly straight down instead of tipping over (said conspiracy theorist believes this points to detonation rather than the airplanes. i don't believe him, but i want to be able to rationally discuss, doncha know).
    posted by RedEmma at 8:21 AM on July 11, 2005


    sonofsamiam: what makes the weak position a conspiracy theory? I mean, that's so weak it's dishwater.
    posted by warbaby at 8:24 AM on July 11, 2005


    i just realized i deleted the part where i explained that good friend of mine is a devoted conspiracy theorist. that would explain the "said" part. my apologies.
    posted by RedEmma at 8:33 AM on July 11, 2005


    adding facts doesn't change the theory, it just gets tacked on as an elaboration. So they grow more baroque over time, but don't really get any different.

    Lots of things follow that pattern. Easiest examples are found in religion. Others I can think of either fit in all to well with the typical tinfoil hat thing or else are more complex and debatable. But no doubt at least some people do the same thing with "Reagonomics" or whatever they're calling it these days, and with communism, and libertarianism, etc.

    That process of the model getting more and more evidently out-of-touch with reality as complications are added also reminds me of the basic process of science. The difference being that the scientific method involves dismissing the outdated theory when it gets too convoluted, and constantly searching for something better with which to replace it. The lack of that determination to clean out the old ideas when they're shown to be wrong, and the constant effort to keep things as simple as possible is the difference, and I think it's a difference of the weight of importance that part of the process is given, not a fundamental difference in kind.

    I know some people who can talk your ear off until their voice wears out, leapfrogging over perceived connections between the function of catalytic converters in cars, to brain function, to the speed of light, tachyons, the Bible, and back again.

    Yeah. I have no real direct experience with the conspiratorialist crowd that warbaby describes, but I do know people like that. Wouldn't surprise me at all if it turns out there is some unusual brain chemistry involved. In some of those people I know, it doesn't seem pathological at all. They're just brilliant. Perhaps in order to handle that kind of thinking successfully, you need to understand something basic about the nature of cognition, something which isn't necessary for more ordinary kinds of thinking. Or maybe such freedom of thought just magnifies the effect of any unexamined psychological defects that are distorting one's reasoning.

    Anyway, maybe as a society we're going to be forced to get used to uncertainty. Seems like there are more than the usual number of big things going on that nobody has a chance to know the truth about.
    posted by sfenders at 8:48 AM on July 11, 2005


    Anyway, maybe as a society we're going to be forced to get used to uncertainty. Seems like there are more than the usual number of big things going on that nobody has a chance to know the truth about.

    Why is that tho? And why accept that? Why can't we have answers? Why can't we have real independent investigations? Aren't we supposed to be free and open societies? Why is it ok for govts to not answer and not provide information requested?
    posted by amberglow at 8:56 AM on July 11, 2005


    Let's make a deal: we'll agree not to name them as 'Muslims' once they've sworn off the habit of invoking Allah & Islam—specifically, by name & without hesitance or guilt—when murdering innocent civilians in their quest for martyrdom. Until then, I will refer to them by what they themselves no doubt prefer to be called: Muslims.

    Okay, and I'll refer to all the domestic nutjobs we've had over the years as Christian Terrorists.
    posted by mosch at 9:08 AM on July 11, 2005


    Thank you amberglow! Why is it ok for govts to not answer and not provide information requested? All of our discourse as to who is responsible for what is indeed pointless as long as our elected officials are putting themselves above the law and any accountability. Hence much becomes speculation on "the people's" side because the truth is kept hidden from us.
    posted by threehundredandsixty at 9:15 AM on July 11, 2005


    Maybe it would be more accurate to say that people are just more aware than they used to be of all the big things going on that they have no chance of knowing the truth about, thanks in part to all this communication.
    posted by sfenders at 9:22 AM on July 11, 2005


    amberglow: noopolitik and here
    posted by warbaby at 9:44 AM on July 11, 2005


    god, it has a name and a strategic studies about it? we're doomed.
    posted by amberglow at 9:46 AM on July 11, 2005


    some people will use any excuse to slam islam. I would prefer these people not to talk to me.
    posted by mcsweetie at 9:57 AM on July 11, 2005


    warbaby: you got me!
    I didn't mean that those were the theories, but my mental classification for various "conspiracy theories" I come across. Call them "crazy" and "not" if you prefer.

    Some conspiratorialists seem quite reasonable, others not so much. Usually the various theories espoused by any particular individual can be consistently classified.

    mcsweetie: I'm just glad the bigots are revealing their true colors these last few months. You can't argue with people in denial about their real motivations.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 11:52 AM on July 11, 2005


    some people will use any excuse to slam islam.

    Yes, radical Islam sure does get slammed around here at MeFi. And for petty reasons, too: decapitations, suicide bombings, subjugation of women, fanaticism and so forth. I mean, you'd have to be a real "bigot" to point out the endless, near-daily documented instances of murder in the name of Allah. Clearly, racism is the culprit here, not a manaical love of dynamite + martyrdom. You're pretty bold to diassociate yourself from those 'racists' mcsweetie & sonofsamiam! Real gutsy.
    posted by dhoyt at 12:07 PM on July 11, 2005


    hm, that's funny, because if I were to characterize Christianity as the religion of scheming deluded pseudo-moralistic authoritarian douchebags who are perfectly willing to subvert American democratic values in the blind pursuit of an American Theocracy, I'd imagine some folks on MeFi might say I was painting with a bit of a broad brush.
    posted by stenseng at 12:15 PM on July 11, 2005


    No, they'd blindly kiss your feet for being so "righteous".

    Then again, those few Christians killing loudly & proudly in the name of God couldn't hope to garner these kinds of numbers in support of their cause, depsite what a few impotent apologists might tell you about tiny blips on the radar like the KKK or Army of God — those factions hardly have the teeming global presence enjoyed by militant Islam, though most would rather die than admit that unfashionable bit of data.
    posted by dhoyt at 12:30 PM on July 11, 2005


    "Let's make a deal: we'll agree not to name them as 'Muslims' once they've sworn off the habit of invoking Allah & Islam—specifically, by name & without hesitance or guilt—when murdering innocent civilians in their quest for martyrdom. Until then, I will refer to them by what they themselves no doubt prefer to be called: Muslims."

    Hey, Mefi sucks! I hate you all! my name is dhoyt! I know it says Smedlyman but it's really dhoyt! I totally believe everything dhoyt says - and we both think you are all assholes! So dhoyt and I say: Fuck you all!!!

    (Am I belaboring that point? sorry - just for illustration sake, no offense meant dhoyt.)

    ----
    Define "normal mindset" warbaby.
    -----

    Certainly there are adherants of invalid theories. Any idiot can find something wrong with anything - that's why they're idiots.
    But to dismiss all theories not conforming to the explaination by authorities as "tinfoil hat" does a great diservice to the scientific method of enquiry one espouses.

    I agree with much of what you said sonofsamiam.

    But how is history NOT a small cadre of elites controling the destiny of the world? We had aristocracy, pharohs, Tzars, etc. etc. etc. Democracy is still brand new. Do you think they consulted the peasants? Included them in on what was going on?
    The first toe outside the line of thought that the "king is appointed by God" and you had the inquisition. (I'm using that as an illustrative concept not literally - pardon my imprecision, but I hope you take my meaning).
    Is there some reason the rich & powerful now change their M.O. and decide to clue us in on what their plans are?
    Whether the "Builderburgers" or conspiracy group du jour decide to do "X" "Y" or "Z" is not necessarially an intentional behind the scenes puppeteering.
    Big fish make big waves. That some fish go crazy trying to swim in their wake and make explainations doesn't invalidate the fact that there are very powerful very wealthy private individuals connected to other powerful wealthy individuals who are doing things which affect the lives of those who aren't rich & powerful.
    Seems to me little fish fearing the whales is natural, whether they're killer whales or plankton eaters.
    Watch it swim by, say "Jesus that thing is huge, I wonder where it's going?" fairly straightforward.

    Tangential to the topic, but relevent. In that - what are a few schools of fish to a blue whale?

    What would invalidate any provocatuer theory is a nice line of connection to the terrorists. We don't seem to be getting much of that.

    There is/was lots of evidence connection "President Gonzalo" and shining path to the deaths of teachers, nuns, etc. Hard evidence. Criminal evidence. Tangible things, like in a police investigation. And it was made public.
    I'm with amberglow on this point - why does the government clam up on evidence concerning some terrorist acts?
    That alone gives rise to suspicion of provocatuering.

    ---
    "it also appears to have been plastique or a similar high explosive"
    Is it conspiratorial to hypothosize it was probably compound 4's ugly little brother Semtex?
    (Wiki it)
    It's traditionally used by terrorists. Lybia has tons. You can pick it up off the testing grounds at Bragg. The stuff is everywhere. Few household chemicals in the right measure - add some frozen concentrated orange juice....*spins off into hyperbole land*

    ---
    I think Kos is wrong, but then I always default to free speech as an absolute (within the "fire in a crowded theater" parameters of course)
    but it is his site and he’s perfectly entitled.

    I'd gladly debate a white supremacist on reality. But then I'm lazy and enjoy one sided beatings. If only for practice.
    posted by Smedleyman at 12:38 PM on July 11, 2005


    "Let's make a deal: we'll agree not to name them as 'Muslims' once they've sworn off the habit of invoking Allah & Islam—specifically, by name & without hesitance or guilt—when murdering innocent civilians in their quest for martyrdom. Until then, I will refer to them by what they themselves no doubt prefer to be called: Muslims."

    Hey, Mefi sucks! I hate you all! my name is dhoyt! I know it says Smedlyman but it's really dhoyt! I totally believe everything dhoyt says - and we both think you are all assholes! So dhoyt and I say: Fuck you all!!!

    (Am I belaboring that point? sorry - just for illustration sake, no offense meant dhoyt.)

    ----
    Define "normal mindset" warbaby.
    -----

    Certainly there are adherants of invalid theories. Any idiot can find something wrong with anything - that's why they're idiots.
    But to dismiss all theories not conforming to the explaination by authorities as "tinfoil hat" does a great diservice to the scientific method of enquiry one espouses.

    I agree with much of what you said sonofsamiam.

    But how is history NOT a small cadre of elites controling the destiny of the world? We had aristocracy, pharohs, Tzars, etc. etc. etc. Democracy is still brand new. Do you think they consulted the peasants? Included them in on what was going on?
    The first toe outside the line of thought that the "king is appointed by God" and you had the inquisition. (I'm using that as an illustrative concept not literally - pardon my imprecision, but I hope you take my meaning).
    Is there some reason the rich & powerful now change their M.O. and decide to clue us in on what their plans are?
    Whether the "Builderburgers" or conspiracy group du jour decide to do "X" "Y" or "Z" is not necessarially an intentional behind the scenes puppeteering.
    Big fish make big waves. That some fish go crazy trying to swim in their wake and make explainations doesn't invalidate the fact that there are very powerful very wealthy private individuals connected to other powerful wealthy individuals who are doing things which affect the lives of those who aren't rich & powerful.
    Seems to me little fish fearing the whales is natural, whether they're killer whales or plankton eaters.
    Watch it swim by, say "Jesus that thing is huge, I wonder where it's going?" fairly straightforward.

    Tangential to the topic, but relevent. In that - what are a few schools of fish to a blue whale?

    What would invalidate any provocatuer theory is a nice line of connection to the terrorists. We don't seem to be getting much of that.

    There is/was lots of evidence connection to "President Gonzalo" and shining path to the deaths of teachers, nuns, etc. Hard evidence. Criminal evidence. Tangible things, like in a police investigation. And it was made public.
    I'm with amberglow on this point - why does the government clam up on evidence concerning some terrorist acts?
    That alone gives rise to suspicion of provocatuering.

    ---
    "it also appears to have been plastique or a similar high explosive"
    Is it conspiratorial to hypothosize it was probably compound 4's ugly little brother Semtex?
    (Wiki it)
    It's traditionally used by terrorists. Lybia has tons. You can pick it up off the testing grounds at Bragg. The stuff is everywhere. Few household chemicals in the right measure - add some frozen concentrated orange juice....*spins off into hyperbole land*

    ---
    I think Kos is wrong, but then I always default to free speech as an absolute (within the "fire in a crowded theater" parameters of course)
    but it is his site and he’s perfectly entitled.

    I'd gladly debate a white supremacist on reality. But then I'm lazy and enjoy one sided beatings. If only for practice.
    posted by Smedleyman at 12:38 PM on July 11, 2005


    ARGH! This work computer sucks! Sorry - Again!
    posted by Smedleyman at 12:40 PM on July 11, 2005


    dhoyt:
    um. wouldn't many of those in our armed forces consider themselves to be "killing loudly and proudly in the name of God"? Bush seems to think God's on his side, after all.
    posted by RedEmma at 12:49 PM on July 11, 2005


    keeping in mind that proponents of "militant Islam" are a tiny percentage of the total Islamic population, Islam being the world's second largest religion, with over 1.2 billion adherents, how did militant Islam get so powerful and so persuasive?

    Could the United State's history of arming, backing, and propping up thuggish puppet regimes throughout the Middle East (and the world) have anything to do with the problem?

    Could the Western powers' cynical and usually bloody meddling in middle eastern politics since T.E. Lawrence's time have had any effect on how trusting residents of the Middle East feel towards the US and her allies?

    Further, could the funding, training, and connections given to CIA assets like Usama BinLaden and other Jihadis, Mujahadeen, etc. in the Afghan war with the soviets, and their subsequent realpolitik abandonment by the US after the fall of the cold war have had any impact on their sense of goodwill toward Western interests?

    I don't think it's Islam that's the problem. Islam is just a handy way to get some Afghani shepherds to pack an AK for your cause.

    the real cause of our problems in the Middle East are our willingness to subvert national sovereignty whenever convenient to our economic interests, our willingness via the CIA to take on dangerous allies such as Usama binLaden, train them, arm them, and then turn our backs on them when they are no longer convenient, and ultimately and most importantly, our willingness to do business and ally with real state sponsors of terrorism such as Saudi Arabia. 15 of the 19 9/11 conspirators were Saqudi, these people hold hundreds of beheadings a year, funnel huge amounts of money to al Qaida, hamas, and other terrorist organizations, and THEY are our big ally in the “war against militant islam?”

    Our real problem is that we have an administration that understands fully that there’s no better business than war, that there’s no business at all without oil, and that an enemy you create yourself is far more easy and reliable to manipulate than any outside influence.
    posted by stenseng at 1:00 PM on July 11, 2005


    um. wouldn't many of those in our armed forces consider themselves to be "killing loudly and proudly in the name of God"? Bush seems to think God's on his side, after all.

    um. The armed forces are not a suicidal, religious fringe group designed to slaughter innocent civilians no matter how you spin it, RedEmma. I know you know better than that. And the Bush quote is laughable as proof of a 'militant' religious perspective.

    I don't think it's Islam that's the problem. Islam is just a handy way to get some Afghani shepherds to pack an AK for your cause.

    Agreed. Yet other cultures & religions suffer as much or more as Muslims every year, but which one has no trouble recruiting thousands of AK-wielding, decapitating, airplane-hijacking suicide bombers throughout the world? There is nothing about the religion itself which should distinguish it from all the others in regards to its teachings on violence—and yet there it is, distinctly tied to images of fanatical violence day after day after day, with limp, belated 'condemnations' from its leaders. What sticks in my craw is all the lazy pro-Islam posturing at MeFi by people who a) could give two shits about Islam, and b) are exactly the kind of useful idiots the fundies would love to see dead. It's only fashionable to seek justifications for Muslim violence (see stenseng's post) because an unfashionable president is currently waging war against it.
    posted by dhoyt at 1:14 PM on July 11, 2005


    stenseng, you're my hero.

    on preview: no dhoyt, i guess they're not suicidal or fringe. (not being fringe just manages to scare me more, i'm afraid.) i do, however, think the rank and file are overwhelmingly religiously committed to this war as a cause, just as is our government. (at least on the surface/in the media--in reality, it's all about profit for a few.)

    i concede that the Bush quote is weak, but my time for looking was limited. but hasn't he declared this as a godly cause?
    posted by RedEmma at 1:21 PM on July 11, 2005


    dhoyt isn't a vampire, but he still can't self-reflect.
    posted by sonofsamiam at 1:22 PM on July 11, 2005


    i do, however, think the rank and file are overwhelmingly religiously committed to this war as a cause,

    And you're basing this on...what, exactly?

    Unless you've spent years and years of your life interviewing soldiers & officers on their religious outlook and policy ideas regarding Iraq, I'll continue assuming that what you're haphazardly tossing into this discussion are brittle (and unfair) clichés about the military in a desperate hope they will stick. For all the shaky rhetoric about 'crusades', the evidence that coalition forces are fighting for religious reasons is just extremely thin. The same cannot be said of the thousands of Muslim militants around the world who have deliberately sought the murder of civilians to advance their cause. Try again.
    posted by dhoyt at 1:34 PM on July 11, 2005


    But to dismiss all theories not conforming to the explaination by authorities as "tinfoil hat" does a great diservice to the scientific method of enquiry one espouses.

    I'm not really seeing this.
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:41 PM on July 11, 2005


    "It's only fashionable to seek justifications for Muslim violence (see stenseng's post) because an unfashionable president is currently waging war against it."
    That's a completely cyclopean perspective dhoyt.
    Certainly clarifying the difference between violent extremists that self-identify with the Muslim religion and the typical Muslim adherant does not equate to justifying "Muslim violence."
    I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and not assuming your advocating genocide against Muslims.

    "Yet other cultures & religions suffer as much or more as Muslims every year, but which one has no trouble recruiting thousands of AK-wielding, decapitating, airplane-hijacking suicide bombers throughout the world? "

    Since I'm wont to delve into hyperbole myself I'll let this slide as a reflection of popular portrayal.
    While one might think (from watching T.V. news maybe?) for example it's the religious nuts doing the most suicide bombings, from what Dr Rohan Gunaratna says (writes for Jane's) it's the relatively secular* Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which does the most suicide bombing by far. Almost double Hizbullah & Hamas put together over the past 20 years.
    They're in India and Sri Lanka by the way, not the middle east.

    *started as the Tamil Students Movement to protest government plans to limit access of Tamil students to universities.

    So who's really buying into what bullshit here?
    posted by Smedleyman at 2:23 PM on July 11, 2005


    It's only fashionable to seek justifications for Muslim violence (see stenseng's post) because an unfashionable president is currently waging war against it.

    yeah, we're all just being trendy--it's the latest thing: not wanting innocent people to die in Iraq and all over the world for lies and stuff---you didn't hear, dhoyt? We call it the Anti-Crusades.
    posted by amberglow at 2:44 PM on July 11, 2005


    "But to dismiss all theories...as "tinfoil hat"
    "I'm not really seeing this.
    posted by KirkJobSluder "
    ----------
    Ok....
    -----------
    "I think I should quit my job and open a business making foil lined hats."
    posted by caddis at 6:11 PM PST on July 10 [!]"

    "Note that Michel Chossudovsky, the wingnut behind globalresearch.ca, is a conspiratista of the highest order, including the belief that the 9.11 airliners were remote controlled by the Pentagon...
    posted by docgonzo at 6:11 PM PST on July 10 [!] "

    "These conspiracy junkies should be patently ignored.
    posted by j.p. Hung at 6:53 PM PST on July 10 [!]"

    Etc. Etc. + no response to The Jesse Helms post on Operation Northwoods, or others who point to documented evidence or in some cases shaky evidence (but perhaps worth debate) of government malfeasance.
    Mostly playing "attack the messenger" or not reading or ignoring posts, etc.
    I'm not arguing one side or the other is doing all the sniping. I thought sonofsamiam 's comment on dhoyt was a snipe. I see the reasons behind it (or them) and lots of people like to trade the ascerbic witicisms & barbs including dhoyt himself.

    I respect much of what you post KirkJobSluder, but either your not reading or I'm not understanding what it is your not getting. Is it that people aren't dismissing other "what if" scenarios as useless? Is it that people aren't focusing and magnifying one spelling mistake or grammar error as rebuttle to cogent thought they can't refute? Is it that people aren't arguing as though their perspective is that this bombing occured essentially in isolation from world events?
    Or is it that people aren't posting the rough equivalent to "Um...No it isn't" to far more worthy arguments?

    Perhaps I haven't made myself clear. It's more important to inquire into all possiblities no matter where they lead than it is to concern oneself with what harm one might do in the pursuit. It is more harmful to argue otherwise than it is to pursue truth wherever it may lead. Conjecture, building hypotheses and subjecting them to rational analysis is more important than avoiding looking foolish or appearing to be a terrorist sympathizer or a 'conspiratorialist' or what-have-you. The sole contribution of my 'faith' in this process resides solely in the belief that ultimately the truth will be revealed.

    Clear enough?
    posted by Smedleyman at 2:49 PM on July 11, 2005


    So, what have we learnt today, kids? That refusal of blanket bigotry against Muslims has to signify unconditional acritical pro-Islam pandering. Never ever for a second think there can be anything as ordinary interest or indifference, as may be the case, for a particular religion itself, plus extreme dislike for its fundamentalist variety, and at the same time ordinary basic empathy and assumption of a shared humanity with its nominal followers, especially if they are 1 fifth-ish of the world population. You have a golden opportunity to pour your infinite scorn over 1.5 billion people across the globe, just take it. It doesn't happen so often.
    Also, if you by any chance happen to dislike the way the US handles something, it's just a knee-jerk reaction to that grossly uncool fake-Texan you feel sooo superior to. Because he is, has always been, and always will be the alpha and omega of all US foreign policy, amen, and you're just a worthless pleb. Only the anointed can handle simultaneous references to crusade language and tight relations with disgustingly wealthy and corrupt military or royal leaders of the main terrorist-sponsoring countries in the world, democracy talk and continued funding for dictatorial regimes, posing against class B fundamentalists while entertaining generous relations with those of class A, but you are a soulless hypocrite if you dare suggest there's something a bit iffy with that. All right?
    Class dismissed!
    posted by funambulist at 2:52 PM on July 11, 2005


    *goes out behind the dumpster to smoke after class*
    posted by Smedleyman at 2:55 PM on July 11, 2005


    ok, dhoyt, you're not a racist or a bigot or whatever.

    you're now free to resume listing all the shitty things muslims (as they like to be called) have done.
    posted by mcsweetie at 3:03 PM on July 11, 2005


    Hmmm: ...Moreover, the Mossad office in London received advance notice about the attacks, but only six minutes before the first blast, the paper reports. As a result, it was impossible to take any action to prevent the blasts.

    “They reached us too late for us to do something about it,” a Mossad source is quoted as saying. ...

    posted by amberglow at 3:11 PM on July 11, 2005


    smedley, not yours, apparently. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

    Amber, noopolitik (I hate neologisms, but what are you going to do..) is cool. It's a policy of openess. Never mind that R&A are on the outs with the thugs Bush installed, I think it's a good concept. And some of it is based on my work zapping the militias. *preens*

    One of the original sources on the supposed warning was DEBKA, so I'll wait for further evidence, thank you. It may be true, but these guys don't even bat .500 on accuracy.
    posted by warbaby at 3:34 PM on July 11, 2005


    I'll take that as a compliment warbaby.
    *nipples explode with delight*

    amberglow, I don't know WTF is going on with this advance notice stuff.
    http://www.aljazeera.com/me.asp?service_ID=9211

    http://www.israelnn.com/news.php3?id=85346

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/597425.html

    I think it's mitigated only by the fact the Mossad seems to know pretty much everything anyway.
    posted by Smedleyman at 3:51 PM on July 11, 2005


    Smedleyman: But to dismiss all theories not conforming to the explaination by authorities as "tinfoil hat" does a great diservice to the scientific method of enquiry one espouses.

    I thought that what I said was quite clear. I'm not seeing the rejection of "all theories not conforming to the explanation by authorities." I am seeing rejection of the ones that are ludicrous, improbable, or weak prima facie.

    Perhaps I haven't made myself clear. It's more important to inquire into all possiblities no matter where they lead than it is to concern oneself with what harm one might do in the pursuit. It is more harmful to argue otherwise than it is to pursue truth wherever it may lead. Conjecture, building hypotheses and subjecting them to rational analysis is more important than avoiding looking foolish or appearing to be a terrorist sympathizer or a 'conspiratorialist' or what-have-you. The sole contribution of my 'faith' in this process resides solely in the belief that ultimately the truth will be revealed.

    And I would argue that subjecting these hypotheses to rational analysis is more important than looking closed minded or a government stooge. Not all hypotheses are created equal, and persuing bad ones can just as easily blind one to the truth.
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:29 PM on July 11, 2005


    Unless you've spent years and years of your life interviewing soldiers & officers on their religious outlook and policy ideas regarding Iraq, I'll continue assuming that what you're haphazardly tossing into this discussion are brittle (and unfair) clichés about the military in a desperate hope they will stick....thousands of Muslim militants around the world who have deliberately sought the murder of civilians to advance their cause. Try again.

    ~chuckle~

    Well, thanks for not haphazardly tossing any brittle and unfair cliches about what "Muslim militants" are all about. What right have they to be "militant", anyhow, eh?

    After all, it's not like we illegally invaded a country full of Muslims or anything.

    But oh, ok. We got it. It's not Muslim "militants" people like you and jenleigh object to (over and over, kind of frankly ad nauseum). It's just "militants". That's why neither of you ever, ever, ever mentions the phrase "Muslim" or "Islam".

    Yeah, it's not Muslims you guys hate. It's "militancy." That's why you spend a lot of your time also condemning the terrorism and civilian deaths resulting from "American militancy". Hell, it's not like the folks training to righteously bomb Our Foul Enemies are a bunch of wild and crazy-rabid Christians or anything.

    Heh.

    And, dammitall, color me puzzled that the exact same MetaFilter folks are found constantly protesting that they are neither racists nor bigots. Clearly, they must not be, given the amount of protesting they truly, endlessly find themselves doing.

    ~wink~
    posted by fold_and_mutilate at 5:41 PM on July 11, 2005


    Having an open mind is a good thing, but some people overdo it and everything just falls out and makes a mess on the floor.
    posted by warbaby at 5:44 PM on July 11, 2005


    a must-read: Boy President in a Failed World?
    ...There's something so confoundingly dream-like about all this, so fantastic, even absurd, especially set against the background of the murder of random people taking public transportation in one of the globe's great cities. As reality grows ever darker, our President never ventures far from his scripted version of a fictional world that is nowhere to be seen. ...
    posted by amberglow at 6:23 PM on July 11, 2005


    And you're basing this on...what, exactly?

    Unless you've spent years and years of your life interviewing soldiers & officers on their religious outlook and policy ideas regarding Iraq, I'll continue assuming that what you're haphazardly tossing into this discussion are brittle (and unfair) clichés about the military in a desperate hope they will stick.


    i'm basing my statement on the several hours of Military Channel and Discovery Channel documentaries that are continually airing, showing massive prayer meetings, focusing on soldiers' clear cultural disconnect from the "enemy" and General Boykin. and Bill Moyers, because i think he's a smart fella.

    And the Christians themselves, who appear to disagree with you.

    Some stats that say the majority religion of soldiers is overwhelmingly Christian. (but that's a duh.)

    (sigh.)

    honestly, one of my personal myriad reasons for being against this war is that i don't want yet another generation of soldiers coming home completely off their nut because of the trauma of war. the "crusade" mentality is how they're fooling themselves into killing people they know deep down they shouldn't. it's not that i think they're suckers or stupid--it's that they're being snowed by the same drum that's brought volunteers out of the woodwork since the beginning of religious wars. and that makes me mad.

    in some parallel universe there's gotta be somebody standing up and telling it like it is from the president's dais: war doesn't make boys into men--it makes them into killers. and killers don't make very good community members. it's gotta stop somewhere.

    i don't think the idea of this war being a religious war is something i'm making up for kicks. but hey, i can't find a poll that says specifically "we're in it because Jebus wants me to bathe in the blood of the Muslims." so i'm sure that means you win.
    posted by RedEmma at 10:07 PM on July 11, 2005


    and from the National Review:

    NRO: What does honor mean for the American on the battlefield?

    Mansfield: Honor on the battlefield results from living by a code that rescues the warrior from barbarism and elevates the profession of arms. It means understanding soldiering as a spiritual service as much as a martial role. Honorable soldiers are devoted to the moral objectives of their nation in war, are willing to lay their lives on an altar of sacrifice, are courageous in subduing the enemy yet compassionate to civilians and prisoners, are devoted to a godly esprit de corps, and are eager to master the art of arms by way of fulfilling a calling.

    NRO: How important was it that the Iraq war be addressed in theological just-war terms?

    Mansfield: It is vital for a government to establish the morality of a war before sending soldiers into battle. The traditional just-war concept has to be satisfied. Soldiers don’t want to fight simply to defend a nation’s vanity or to support a corrupt vision. They want to know they are doing good. This is essential for them and for the nation that is going to welcome them home again. I have talked to hundreds of soldiers during the research of this book. Almost every one of them mentioned his or her need to believe in the goodness of their nation’s purposes in war.

    posted by RedEmma at 10:24 PM on July 11, 2005


    oops.
    posted by stenseng at 11:57 PM on July 11, 2005


    KirkJobSluder - define bad hypothesis.

    "I thought that what I said was quite clear."
    Yes. Perhaps I don't grasp english well. Perhaps I can't extrapolate: " I am seeing rejection of the ones that are ludicrous, improbable, or weak prima facie. I would argue that subjecting these hypotheses to rational analysis is more important than looking closed minded or a government stooge. Not all hypotheses are created equal, and persuing bad ones can just as easily blind one to the truth." - from a single contrarian sentence.
    Yeah, that must be why I asked for clarification.

    Obviously we must reject truly ludicrous hypotheses. I don't think anyone suspects extraterrestrials for example. But at early stages, in absence of evidence, it's perfectly reasonable to allow the field to be as wide as possible given motivation, ability, etc. Only as the evidence comes in should we begin to narrow the field. This is deductive reasoning 101 - why am I explaining this to you?
    Is there some way Bush's policies couldn't possibly benefit from this? They appear to be.
    Is there some way Bush doesn't have the ability to get this done?
    - etc.
    I'm not at all debating what is likely. I certainly concede Bush's involvement as far less probable that al-Queida's. I simply don't think any line of inquiry should be closed A priori.
    By the very definition of analysis. Hypotheses are devised from observable predictions which either corroborate or refute them. Only by seeing how well they hold up can you compare the value of competing hypotheses as an explaination. Falsification of a hypothesis is often a matter of choice, so again, I think we should default to the widest possible field in absence of evidence.
    Particularly considering this is a blog chat, not an investigation or matter of public record.

    My objection therefore is to those who cry "tinfoil hat" at any possibility other than the most obvious conclusions drawn from the first blush of evidence. Which I had previously illustrated as done by others.

    Speaking of which, what the hell do you mean rejection of 'weak prima facie'? There is enough initial evidence to indict al Queida on this barring a defense or further evidence. The inclusion of that in your statement would seem to support my argument for a wide field of hypothesis and further investigation and debate.

    Perhaps we're (or in this case I'm) simply making assumptions on each other's argument. We do seem to agree on many points.
    posted by Smedleyman at 12:30 PM on July 12, 2005


    Perhaps I should use more precise modifers than "any" or "all" etc.
    posted by Smedleyman at 12:33 PM on July 12, 2005


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