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July 14, 2009 8:52 PM   Subscribe

Not just a huge conspiracy... a TITANIC CONSPIRACY! "There are a number of good reasons to believe that the vessel which sank on the night of April 14/15 was in fact Titanic's slightly older, and very similar, sister ship Olympic."
posted by GuyZero (106 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I heard the Titanic was actually built in Kenya.
posted by uosuaq at 8:53 PM on July 14, 2009 [11 favorites]


There are a number of good reasons

For unusual values of good.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:55 PM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, I can see them getting away with it considering the lack of witnesses and publicity.
posted by vapidave at 8:56 PM on July 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


There's some quality lorem ipsum to be found if you poke around a bit, including some right on the main page.
posted by jedicus at 8:57 PM on July 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


There are a surprising number of Titanic alternative theories.
posted by jedicus at 8:59 PM on July 14, 2009


Seriously you should read it. Like the best crazy conspiracy theories, he lays out the means, motive & opportunity. It's no less crazy for all that, but it's no "TITANIC HAS 4 CORNERS NOT 6" etc.
posted by GuyZero at 8:59 PM on July 14, 2009


I knew it!
posted by nola at 9:00 PM on July 14, 2009


And it couldn't have been pack ice. Pack ice doesn't hide; they chase you down until you're too tired to run and then they get you. The Titanic could have easily outrun even the fastest pack of ice.
posted by GuyZero at 9:02 PM on July 14, 2009 [27 favorites]


Well the pack ice would have had to run away, too, by the time the rescue ships arrived the next day. That pack ice must run fast.
posted by crapmatic at 9:04 PM on July 14, 2009


I hear the Lusitania is in a Texas rest home, fighting mummies.
posted by brundlefly at 9:06 PM on July 14, 2009 [36 favorites]


tl;tc;dr
posted by lysdexic at 9:07 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


The compartmentalized hull was actually constructed of timecubes.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:08 PM on July 14, 2009


There's some quality lorem ipsum to be found

They want you to think it's just filler text for layout. Wake up sheeple sorry.
posted by GuyZero at 9:09 PM on July 14, 2009


Oh, that's just what they want you to believe.
posted by Balisong at 9:20 PM on July 14, 2009


Oh, that's just what they want you to believe.

Oh, that's just what they want you to believe.

Oh, that's just what they want you to believe.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:26 PM on July 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


Who's going to tell James Cameron?
posted by crossoverman at 9:26 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unfastened Coins: Titanic Conspiracy
posted by dhammond at 9:32 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lorem ipsum dolor Sit amet...let them finish the website first, THEN link to it
posted by mds35 at 9:39 PM on July 14, 2009


O.
posted by mds35 at 9:40 PM on July 14, 2009


checked the link, saw that it was mostly words. I'm convinced.
posted by philip-random at 9:46 PM on July 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


The shadows upon the hull and the lack of reflection of the water, combined with the lower overall opacity of the ice, means that it was definitely shot on a Hollywood set!

Don't bother trying to refute my facts. Are you in on the conspiracy?
posted by mark242 at 9:49 PM on July 14, 2009


I heard they served yellowcake at tea time, and it was delectable.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:55 PM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can tell it's a conspiracy website when they use Courier New.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:57 PM on July 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


Funny, I was just informing a friend of the 9/11 conspiracy theory; this is turning out to be conspiracy week.
posted by vvurdsmyth at 9:59 PM on July 14, 2009


Curses! And I woulda gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids conspiracy theorists and your dopey dog fringe-theory websites!
posted by Graygorey at 10:00 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this a viral campaign for James Cameron's Titanic 2?
posted by Hicksu at 10:02 PM on July 14, 2009


Who's going to tell James Cameron?

I think Oliver Stone is going to get dibs on this.
posted by michswiss at 10:04 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen a webring in a long time.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:15 PM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


+2 credibility if they find a way to work chemtrails and reptilians into this site.
posted by neewom at 10:33 PM on July 14, 2009


David Icke is working on the reptilian/chemtrail/British Royal Family links as we speak.
posted by kozad at 10:49 PM on July 14, 2009


Is this something I would need a tinfoil hat to understand? Honestly, I did try to read through it, but seriously, too long, no payoff in sight. And it's not even blatant crazy. Just kind of meh crazy.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:52 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


So.. does the new rebooted Star Trek figure in this somehow? reconfiguring history and all that wossname?
posted by edgeways at 11:11 PM on July 14, 2009


Ghostbusters 2
posted by brundlefly at 11:20 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


What most people believe to be true about the catastrophe that befell the Titanic is only the tip of the iceberg.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:28 PM on July 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wait, does anyone have any good reason to think this guy's claims are false? I mean, besides the tone? He makes a pretty good case, although I'm no expert on ships.
posted by nasreddin at 12:00 AM on July 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well he does sort of breezily wave off the instances where the sunken ship has items that have the right number stamped on them while pointing to the instances that support his case. He sinks his own argument in places.
posted by GuyZero at 12:05 AM on July 15, 2009


Well he does sort of breezily wave off the instances where the sunken ship has items that have the right number stamped on them while pointing to the instances that support his case. He sinks his own argument in places.

Huh, could you elaborate? I didn't notice any glaring contradictions, although it's late and I wasn't reading very carefully.

Either way, this is a pretty odd thing to have a conspiracy theory about--like trying to prove that JFK's car was a Ford instead of a Cadillac or something.
posted by nasreddin at 12:09 AM on July 15, 2009


this is a pretty odd thing to have a conspiracy theory about--like trying to prove that JFK's car was a Ford instead of a Cadillac

Stop trying to muddy the truth! John F Kennedy was shot in a car made by Ford Motors.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:20 AM on July 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, does anyone have any good reason to think this guy's claims are false?

Well, the burden of proof is on him to substantiate the claims rather than the other way around. He's asserting a fraud. We generally in this culture presume such claims false until evidence worth considering is provided.

But I found it thought-provoking, and the presumption of "teh crazy" in all the comments above is, well, to put it kindly, no more intellectually rigorous than they accuse the site of being. Particularly as many of the commenters indicate they didn't read any of it. If he can substantiate his claims with documentation he may have something. If he can't then he doesn't. "Ooo look at the whack job" based on no analysis or facts may make you feel clever but it's really pretty stupid.

Well he does sort of breezily wave off the instances where the sunken ship has items that have the right number stamped on them while pointing to the instances that support his case.

The story clearly describes a phase of repairs to the Olympic in which the incomplete Titanic was being cannibalized for parts. Combine that with the story's core assertion that the ship was ultimately deliberately disguised as the Titanic and had to bear sustained examination as such and there's plenty of reasons for "correct" parts to be in place.

Either way, this is a pretty odd thing to have a conspiracy theory about--like trying to prove that JFK's car was a Ford instead of a Cadillac or something.

Really? Sending the fatally crippled Olympic out to sea disguised as the Titanic with a full slate of passengers to die for the insurance? The most infamous maritime disaster in history a deliberate insurance fraud? I don't know it's true, I don't even think it's true. But it's a massively cool story and the fact that he can put together any sort of internally consistent narrative to support it out of available facts -- assuming for the moment that they are facts -- is really interesting. Presumptively fiction, but interesting.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:22 AM on July 15, 2009 [15 favorites]


For all that he does say, there's a lot he doesn't. The Olympic is described as having irreparably damaged engines and drive structures, barely adequate to limp into the shipyard, hopelessly unseaworthy and beyond repair. I thought I understood that the Titanic made record time on that part of the journey it actually completed. So unless the severity of damage to the Olympic was overstated after the fact, it seems like someone would have noticed that the ship wasn't actually making any sort of time at all and was rather more interested in sinking than blasting across the Atlantic with Leo DiCaprio on the prow being king of the world.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:40 AM on July 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just sort of skimmed it, and didn't take much notice of the claimed timeline, but...

If you just take what appears to be documented (e.g. numbered parts on the wrong ship, lifeboats renamed, identical fittings in photographs of each ship, etc), then it could just as easily be the result of stripping fittings from the Olympia to hurry the completion of the Titanic. Remember, the Titanic itself was pretty much finished by the time of the Olympia incident, so it's likely that it was ready for the final fitout. Need to get it into service quickly, in a time of craftsman-built fittings and before JIT inventory control? Pinch fittings from the sister ship...

IIRC there's other well established documentary evidence, including shipyard accounts and contemporary press, to indicate that the Titanic was rushed into service to replace the Olympia.
posted by Pinback at 12:49 AM on July 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The most infamous maritime disaster in history a deliberate insurance fraud?

Lets say it is the case. And? Odds are the insurance company exists, but is there any valid counterparty for the insurance firm to go after? At this stage - other than "truth" - why does it matter if the story needs adjusting?

(and yea, it is a fine story. Better than 'done to kill passenger X' or 'so passenger Y could avoid someone by pretending to be dead' stories)
posted by rough ashlar at 12:51 AM on July 15, 2009


Then throw in the FACT, that it is scientificallly IMPOSSIBLE that ice or any type of frozen water is harder than STEEL.

4/15 TRUTH!!1!
posted by benzenedream at 1:08 AM on July 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Titanic 2

by James Cameron

EXT: The North Atlantic, NIGHT

All is still and quiet. Suddenly, a large SHIP and all of its PASSENGERS bob to the surface with much wooshing, spraying of water, and bubbles.

PASSENGERS: Gasp!
posted by sexyrobot at 2:05 AM on July 15, 2009 [29 favorites]


Too many words with too little weight to them for my short attention span.
posted by moonbiter at 2:09 AM on July 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


What difference does it make to the dead what the ship was called that killed them?
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 2:54 AM on July 15, 2009


Jack is Back
posted by kudzu at 3:26 AM on July 15, 2009


Lies! I saw the movie
posted by Postroad at 3:33 AM on July 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


> What difference does it make to the dead what the ship was called that killed them?

Perhaps you should read the article. It's not just a question of which name was on the boat, it's the difference between sending out a brand new ship and sending out a crippled ship and intentionally letting it sink with passengers on board to collect insurance money.
posted by bjrn at 3:45 AM on July 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sexy Robot, I think it's general knowledge that Titanic 2 will actually be about how the people who sank beneath the ocean along with the ship awoke to find themselves living in an artificial bubble created by the ship on it's way to the bottom of the ocean. Over time, the people have children and come to terms living in the ocean. They name their under-the-sea paradise Titani because those are the only letters visible on the ship after it settled along the sea floor.

Amirite?
posted by Bageena at 3:46 AM on July 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Man, I wish white people would get over the Titanic.
posted by Eideteker at 4:02 AM on July 15, 2009


Like most conspiracy theories, this collapses when you start to think about who all would have to be in on it. I mean, take this guy for instance. Senior surviving officer from the Titanic. Last survivor on the Carpathia. Serious about that women and children first thing. Involved in the Dunkirk boat lift. I mean, after being there for the Titanic disaster he sank an enemy U-boat by ramming! I'm thinking I'd have a bit of a phobia about running into things hard with a ship.

He doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who isn't going to notice he's on a two year old ship that has run into another ship and sorta has a giant hole in its side, and would probably not take too kindly to being sent to his death in an insurance scam.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:16 AM on July 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Postroad, I've gone over and over that footage. It looks shopped.
posted by tigrrrlily at 4:25 AM on July 15, 2009


I thought it was pretty convincing, in so far as a coherent internal narrative. A- conspiracy theory. But, like many conspiracy theories, it fails to deal with perhaps the single most important feature: how something this substantial could be kept quiet for such a long time.

I mean, to switch one ship for another - by the author's implicit admission - required hundreds of manual workers, officials, etc, most of whom could have made themselves very rich by spilling the beans. What stopped them leaking this momentous fact at any point between then and now?

And on top of that, if my facts are correct, the Olympic (or Titanic) was only decommissioned in 1937. If the ship was a write off to the extent that killing several hundred people and destroying the White Star brand seemed like a good idea, it seems to have been a miraculous turn of events to keep an unseaworthy write off in operation for 28 more years.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:04 AM on July 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is the kind of site that, before the advent of the internet, would've made a really great, trashy, small-press published paperback book.
posted by elmer benson at 5:09 AM on July 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Farenheit 32: the temperature at which freedom freezes.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:12 AM on July 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Data points: The ships in the novel Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic and in the Doctor Who Christmas Special Voyage of the Damned were also both involved in insurance fraud.
posted by jepler at 5:20 AM on July 15, 2009


lysdexic: "tl;tc;dr"

That would look great on a t-shir... Hey wait a minute!

Titanic Gallery

Lorem ipsum dolor Sit amet, elit sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt.


Looks like the gallery hit a placeholder iceberg.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:24 AM on July 15, 2009


Excellent discernment in not using the batshitinsane tag on this. Doesn't quite have the necessary guano-density. Still crazy though.
posted by sciurus at 5:41 AM on July 15, 2009


Just wait till he sees my first ask.me.
posted by nomisxid at 5:51 AM on July 15, 2009


The real question is whether the tourist from 9/11 was also responsible for the White Star disaster, or time-traveling to avert both incidents.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:52 AM on July 15, 2009


I guess this is the thread to point out something I noticed when I watched Cameron's Titanic recently. Just before the lookout sees the iceberg and calls out "Iceberg right ahead," he is seen watching Leonardo and Kate necking.

That momentary distraction by two shameless lovers - what more can I say? It's their fault.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:58 AM on July 15, 2009


I thought Titanic II was called Abyss.
posted by drezdn at 6:04 AM on July 15, 2009


Did anyone happen to notice that the webring titanicconspiracy belongs to has disappeared?

Website Error 404
:: Sorry! That page appears to have been removed, or vapourised!

Someone is trying to shut them UP!
posted by orme at 6:21 AM on July 15, 2009


Actually, Bageena gave away the plot to Goliath Awaits.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:22 AM on July 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Iceberg. Steinberg. Same difference.

Thank you. I'm here all week.
posted by The Bellman at 7:26 AM on July 15, 2009


Actually, all snarking aside, it's entirely believable. Royal Navy smashes the hell out of Olympic, the Admiralty court says it's not the Navy's fault (suuuuuure....), so White Star is fucked. They've got a damaged ship that now won't earn what it would have, and they can't make good on the insurance because of the corruption in the Navy circumstances. So what can they do? Pass Olympic off as Titanic, she has an "accident", insurance pays out, and then the real Titanic lives a long and happy life with Olympic painted on her bow.
posted by krash2fast at 8:10 AM on July 15, 2009


Like krash2fast says, it definitely works as a story. I doubt it's true, but as I read through this, I kept thinking it could be expanded into a hell of a fiction project.
posted by COBRA! at 8:20 AM on July 15, 2009


i've been away. are we no longer doing the 'batshitinsane' tag?
posted by lodurr at 8:26 AM on July 15, 2009


guyzero: The Titanic could have easily outrun even the fastest pack of ice.

Which is basic natural selection in action, of course. The function of pack ice is to pick off the old and weak ships, that can't run so fast, thereby leaving younger, faster ships to breed and ultimately strengthening both the ships and the ice.
posted by lodurr at 8:28 AM on July 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wow. That is just about the craziest conspiracy idea I've read so far.

The fact is that there is a conspiracy surrounding the sinking of the Titanic, but it has nothing to do with this nonsense "Olympic" theory; Eveyone knows that in 1912 the Titanic sank because time traveling Nazis boarded her in an effort to open a portal through to the Bermuda Triangle. This is all common knowledge. But what people don't know is that it in the final battle, between the Nazis and the combat forces of Atlantis, when the alien spacecraft was crippled and slammed into the Titanic's hull causing the rupture that eventually sank her, it was not a saucer shaped craft as so often believed, but a dish shaped one.

I know, it's completely shocking, but when you look at the facts, it becomes obvious that the truth has been intentionally hidden from us this whole time. At a guess, I'd say that's why they have the planes fly over and spray that hallucinogenic concoction on us every now and again. Just to keep us confused enough to believe their absurd Saucer-myth.
posted by quin at 8:39 AM on July 15, 2009


Well, this isn't exactly batshitinsane: as krash says there's at least the veneer of plausibility there. The sticking point is the number of people who would have to have kept quiet about the whole thing, but it's possible that most of the people who did the work would have been unaware of the overall plan.

I think it's more likely that bits of the Olympic were nicked for the fitout of the Titanic though.
posted by pharm at 8:43 AM on July 15, 2009


yeh, i guess i don't have the same 'batshitinsane' aesthetic as other folks. to me, this captures the very essence of it.
posted by lodurr at 8:45 AM on July 15, 2009


So...the Olympic was badly damaged in the aft quarter, sonar examination has confirmed the damage to the Titanic's bow quarter (not to mention the numerous accounts of survivors of the disaster which confirm the fact of a collision) and some people think that this theory of "sending a badly damaged boat out to collect on the insurance money" isn't batshitinsane?

It's not just the huge numbers of people who would have to be involved in the "coverup" that makes this utterly lunatic. It's not even the fact that vast numbers of those people would have had no motive of any kind to keep quiet (these vast ocean liners were objects of fascination in their day--you couldn't move them around quietly without anyone noticing their comings and goings. A swap of the Titanic and the Olympic would have been noticed by just about every single person in the harbor(s) involved, as well as a good many amateur enthusiasts.

But even if you accept some sort of mass hypnosis or David Copperfield legerdemain to wave away the sheer impossibility of achieving the very first step in this "cunning plan" you have the brute, unarguable fact that the wreck of the Titanic has, in fact, been discovered and the damage to it confirms the accounts of the eyewitnesses. There's simply nothing at all in this website but sheer barking lunacy.
posted by yoink at 9:11 AM on July 15, 2009


yoink, nobody is saying the ship that went down in the Atlantic didn't hit an iceberg. They are saying it had other damage which was hastily patched. There is nothing batshitinsane about that.

As for keeping it quiet, that's a problem. There would certainly have been lots of chaos with the unscheduled return of the damaged Olympic, and the pinching of bits back and forth to get both ships seaworthy. And in those days once you were out to sea you were pretty effing alone. Obviously there had to be workers who effected the final swap, including repainting the names on the hulls. It occurs to me that one way to keep their number down would be to give them promotions to at-sea jobs on the new Titanic. Because while lots of people might have been needed to do the swap, only a few might have known why.

It seems that it should be possible to establish that both ships were out to sea without passengers at the same time at some point; such a happening would make the whole idea much more plausible. I don't believe they could have gotten away with painting over the hull names in port.
posted by localroger at 9:40 AM on July 15, 2009


I agree with yoink that the logistics of keeping that quiet are sufficiently daunting and sufficiently obviously so that they alone qualify it as BSI.

Civilian shipyards are not exactly highly secure locations; everyone in the bloody yard would know which ship was which; it would have been impossible to do a shell game on them, you can't even move ships of that size like that today, and back then you'd have needed many tugs and many hands to pull it off, and folks kinda woulda noticed; the decision to sink an entire ship whose luxury billets were filled to the brim with gilded customers is one you can only imagine being taken by someone who's quite unhinged enough to realize what bad PR that is, let alone sociopathic enough to conceive of doing it with a ship having such poor accommodation for rescue at sea; and you'd need not just one sociopath, but a whole fleet of them.

It's BSI. I just don't see how it's not.

The fact that it sounds good, in my BSI aesthetic, actually counts in favor of the designation: The best BSI stuff is stuff that can be explained in clearly rational terms and which makes sense, as long as you don't take account of anything outside of the theorist's account. As soon as you do in this case, it's clearly insane.
posted by lodurr at 9:50 AM on July 15, 2009


(actually, btw, localroger, this particular theory does in fact claim that the ship didn't hit an iceberg: Part of the claim is that she collided with a rescue ship, which for some reason was running without lights, and not an iceberg.)
posted by lodurr at 9:51 AM on July 15, 2009


yoink, nobody is saying the ship that went down in the Atlantic didn't hit an iceberg.

The guy's claim has to do with insurance fraud. He is saying that the "Titanic" (i.e., the re-named Olympic) was deliberately sunk so as to claim insurance money. Either you are suggesting that his theory is that the White Star line deliberately arranged for an iceberg to get in the Olympic's way with some as yet undiscovered remote controlled iceberg technology, or you are saying that his theory is that the White Star line planned to sink the Olympic out at sea, and then in a startling coincidence, the Olympic hit an iceberg before their cunning sinking plan could be effected.

Either way, we're in the deepest, stupidest, nuttiest region of batshitinsanity along with the 9/11 truthers and the TimeCubers.

If the only reason the Olympic sunk was because she hit an iceberg, then this story--false and lunatic as it is--would be entirely irrelevant. All he would be claiming would be that the White Star people made a perfectly adequate repair to the Olympic, sent her to sea in a perfectly seaworthy condition (although for some reason decideding to pretend that she was her sister ship Titanic) and that the accident happened exactly as history records. Big whoop.
posted by yoink at 9:55 AM on July 15, 2009


The time travel theorists are not quite getting the real reason the Titanic sank: from the weight of all the time-travelers who went back in time to watch it sink.

(By the way, anyone have tickets for My American Cousin at Ford's Theater for 4/14/1865 they want to sell? Prices in 2009 dollars only please; balcony seats preferred.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:10 AM on July 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure whether arguing the differences between merely insane and batshit insane should happen here or in MetaTalk, but to me this is merely regular insanity as it is somewhat internally consistent and attempts consistency with reality.

Timecube is batshit because it makes no sense - you need to be a whole other level of insane to even try to write stuff like that.


But I'm sure reasonable people can disagree on the topic.
posted by GuyZero at 10:18 AM on July 15, 2009



Way to ruin a really interesting read yoink.
posted by notreally at 10:26 AM on July 15, 2009


I think it's general knowledge that Titanic 2 will actually be about how the people who sank beneath the ocean along with the ship awoke to find themselves living in an artificial bubble created by the ship on it's way to the bottom of the ocean. Over time, the people have children and come to terms living in the ocean. They name their under-the-sea paradise Titani because those are the only letters visible on the ship after it settled along the sea floor.

No, no, no! It's really much more of a 'buddy comedy'/'road trip' kind of movie, but with a huge ensemble cast and lots and lots of swimming.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:54 AM on July 15, 2009


Yeah, the assertion that true or false is an "aesthetic" distinction that can be made without reference to the facts strikes me as, in breif, what's wrong with the world. And the assertion that "wrong == insane", as opposed to something more in keeping with actual dictionary definitions such as "irrational == insane" doesn't seem to, um, have a lot of merit, to put it mildly. Then to put the two together and say "I think he's wrong entirely because of some unstated aesthetic distinction unique to me, therefore he's insane", is frankly, insane under a far less idiosyncratic definition of the term.

Having got all that out, the fun thing about conspiracy theories is that they can be remarkably simple to construct even when you confine them to the facts. You do it like this: Every historical fact that supports your case is a fact. Every historical fact that does not support your case is a lie fabricated as part of the coverup. You can base any lie entirely on the truth this way. Not saying that's what he's done, or at least not all he's done: there seems to be a huge amount of cherrypicking going on as well, i.e. simply not mentioning facts that support the opposite conclusion. But I still think it's interesting.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:31 AM on July 15, 2009


(grr. wish I'd caught that "breif" typo.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:34 AM on July 15, 2009


Yeah, the assertion that true or false is an "aesthetic" distinction that can be made without reference to the facts strikes me as, in breif, what's wrong with the world.

Who are you arguing with here? I don't see anyone saying he's "insane" because of some "aesthetic" failure. I see people saying he's "insane" because he's trying, apparently seriously, to argue a case that is absurd on its face. I think "advances claims about the world that are demonstrably absurd" is a pretty standard layman's definition of "insane," isn't it?
posted by yoink at 11:37 AM on July 15, 2009


yoink, you might search the thread before denying that a particular thing was ever made in it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:39 AM on July 15, 2009


("said", not "made". Preview, dammit.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:39 AM on July 15, 2009


Civilian shipyards are not exactly highly secure locations;...

A much better conspiracy theory is that FDR cut a deal with organized crime to quietly beef up harbor security during the Battle of the Atlantic when loose lips probably were sinking ships. Not that I think it really happened, but the mob is a more credible counter-intelligence group than the White Star line.

I also suspect that it fails the cui bono test. I've always read that the sinking of the Titanic was a disaster to the finances and reputation of the White Star line.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:45 AM on July 15, 2009


yoink, you might search the thread before denying that a particular thing was ever made in it.

I searched the word "aesthetic." The only person using it is lodurr, and he isn't saying that his "aesthetic" is the basis of his rejection of the argument; indeed, he (she?) is very explicit about the logical/factual problems with the argument. Either you're misreading lodurr's argument or you're inferring this "aesthetic" claim in some other poster's argument. So, I ask again, to whom are you referring?
posted by yoink at 11:49 AM on July 15, 2009


George Spiggott: The relationship between what you're talking about and anything I can see in this thread is abundantly unclear to me. It certainly doesn't have anything to do with anything I said.
posted by lodurr at 12:09 PM on July 15, 2009


Yoink, if your cool plan is to sink a ship then running it into an iceberg would certainly be an effective way to do that. It's not like there was a shortage of them, and it could have been an opportunity that arose looking better than the original ship-collision plan.

In any case,while the criticism of unlikeliness is valid, your method of expressing it is extremely off-putting. This theory certainly has a lot more going for it than 9/11 truthiness or Obama birthiness, both of which depend on steadfastly ignoring outright disproofs that are readily available. While I would not count the Titanic switcheroo as likely on the basis of what we now know, I also certainly wouldn't call it crazy or impossible either. With such vast sums of money at stake, people can make amazing things happen.
posted by localroger at 1:45 PM on July 15, 2009


Could we please be clear on something w.r.t. this theory: It does not involve icebergs. It involves the faux-Titanic accidentally colliding with a rescue ship that's waiting out there to collect passengers after they sink the faux-Titanic.

(I'm not being cute, that's the actual content of the theory.)
posted by lodurr at 1:55 PM on July 15, 2009


Yoink, if your cool plan is to sink a ship then running it into an iceberg would certainly be an effective way to do that. It's not like there was a shortage of them, and it could have been an opportunity that arose looking better than the original ship-collision plan.

Actually, it's a crappy plan to send an ocean liner out on a course that takes it much farther south than the usual extent of large icebergs at that time of year and hope it will run into one. It's also a crappy plan to run a ship at an iceberg in the hopes of sinking it when you are highly confident that that ship will survive an encounter with an iceberg without sinking (it's widely assumed that if the Titanic had steered directly into the iceberg rather than hitting it an unlucky glancing blow--a glancing blow that, presumably, was struck mostly against an underwater ledge of the iceberg and thus could not have been deliberate--it would have been fine). It's an unbelievably crappy plan in general that relies upon your ability to find a crew bound and determined to risk their own lives and the lives of thousands of others simply to earn their bosses some insurance money.

Every singly part of this "theory" is laughably insane. That anyone thinks it worth defending is just baffling.
posted by yoink at 2:29 PM on July 15, 2009


Hi there. I'm a naval historian, and I've written a thesis on Edwardian naval technology, and I just thought I should chip in here with some observations. Not that I suspect anybody in this thread of actually taking this conspiracy theory seriously, but just to clear up any residual confusion...

1. Titanic and Olympic were not identical, nor would they ever be confused by a knowledgeable person of the time. Even if it were possible to completely disguise the thousands of superficial differences between the ships, Titanic was bigger. This would have been instantly apparent to any one of the thousands of highly experienced sailors who saw the ship in port for weeks before she set sail (not to mention the thousands more who worked in the various shipyards, regulators, ports, the ships themselves, etc). In other words, those people in the thread who said that a switch would be impossible without the cooperation of thousands of disconnected people are quite correct.

2. Even if point 1 were not correct, which it is, the damage to Olympic caused by the Hawke collision was no where near severe enough to irreparably harm the ship.

3. Had irreparable damage actually occurred, the White Star Line would have written off the ship under her existing insurance, collecting both a hefty insurance payout and the profits from her scrapping.

4. As somebody has already pointed out the damage to Olympic was to a starboard side coal bunker and engine. If the Olympic was really damaged so badly that she was no longer a viable transatlantic liner, how did she manage to average 21 knots all the way to the Grand Banks?

5. Let's ignore the 'rescue ship' for the moment, and concentrate on the suggestion that they just hit the iceberg on purpose: a) finding an isolated iceberg is quite difficult, as is hitting it with an ocean liner, b) while I'm all for the principal of loyalty to one's firm, concocting a situation in which the senior captain of the line and the constructor of the ship both selflessly give their lives for the plan, and the managing director of the shipping firm barely escapes with his own... well that sounds like three likely candidates for Employee of the Year.

6. So maybe the rescue ship scenario is the most plausible one! After all, I'm sure that Lloyds, the two independent inquiries, and the thousands of family members of the dead conspirators could very easily accidentally fail to notice an entire missing ship.
posted by Dreadnought at 3:09 PM on July 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Every singly part of this "theory" is laughably insane.

So the entire deck of cabins that were installed and then ripped back out to no apparent purpose except to make the ships look more alike, that's insane? The lengthwise bulkhead added to strengthen the weakened Olympic which was not on any of the plans but which Ballard found on the wrecked ship, that's insane? The marble facade quite definitely photographed on the Olympic which perfectly matches the one on the bottom of the Atlantic, that's insane too? And of course nobody ever hatched a murderously criminal conspiracy just to save themselves billions of equivalent modern dollars, no that's obviously insane too.

The reason I'm defending it is that while it might be unlikely, it is absolutely not impossible and some of the evidence is quite compelling. Granted there are holes in the presentation (I had frankly skimmed the account of the actual scuttling, and you're right I think as presented it's one of the holes) but the basic idea is not unsound at all and deserves serious consideration, unlike many other similar sounding theories that don't.

You remind me very strongly of the people who laughed at Alfred Wegener. Nuts he must be they proclaimed, everybody knows that frigging land masses can't move around no matter how well they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle and no matter how many similar fossils are found on now separated coastlines. And true enough, he was wrong about why the continents move, but he was completely right about the fact that they do.

This fellow may have a lot of the details wrong in his theory, but he has a lot of little clues that very strongly hint that the ship at the bottom of the Atlantic is the Olympic. He could be quite wrong about any number of things and still be right about that.

If anyone were to firmly establish that both ships were out to sea at the same time (trials of some sort perhaps?) without passengers after they were repaired and "twinned," I would go from considering his theory unlikely to considering it quite likely. I don't think they could have been swapped at port, but I think a pretty hasty job at sea could have done the trick with no more than a handful of people made certain of the secret. And as for them, it's not unheard of for evil people to simply kill their own henchmen to keep such secrets, and that would have been a relatively small thing if they were planning on scuttling it fully loaded.

Skepticism is a virtue and certainly needs to be exercised here, but dismissing the whole idea out of hand is just stupid. Much crazier things have actually happened.
posted by localroger at 3:24 PM on July 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dreadnought, since I seem to have volunteered to play Devil's Advocate here, let me go through your points:

1. I have difficulty believing that even the most experienced seahand would instantly notice the extremely trivial difference in size between the two ships both so huge that you could only see the whole thing from shore half a mile away. Given an enthusiastic campaign of parts swappage I would imagine the situation could be made quite muddy. And muddy is usually all you need; big lies are usually believed unless the evidence against them is overwhelming.

2. The article goes into detail on the nature of the damage and why its severity was of such concern. The bent crankshaft was going to prematurely wear the bearings, and likely reduce the engine's lifetime from decades to months. The ship was operable, but not likely to ever be very reliable.

3. The Navy claimed the accident was White Star's fault, so the insurance did not have to pay.

4. See #2, the ship was operable but not likely to remain so for long.

5. Perhaps the accident was genuine, and messed up a ship-based plan; perhaps they did not plan to lose so much life because the 'rescue ship' was supposed to already be there when the 'accident' occurred.

6. The most important evidence was at the bottom of the Atlantic and the very reaction seen on this thread would suggest that a thorough investigation of the possibility of a swap would not need to be withstood.
posted by localroger at 3:38 PM on July 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


7. You haven't yet addressed the fact that you'd need thousands of participants in the scheme, all of whom would have to have kept quiet all these years -- and none of whom would have been turned by investigators from Lloyds.

Seriously, localroger: Yes, skepticism is a virtue. But credulous skepticism is the surest way to get conned into invading a foreign country because you're convinced that its ruler is involved in a conspiracy to shoot yours full of anthrax.
posted by lodurr at 3:41 PM on July 15, 2009


localroger, I have no idea why you are trying to nail this particular piece of jelly to the wall. Please just stop and think for a minute, though, before you take the hammer up again. Try to think of any scenario at all under which the "switcheroo" between Titanic and Olympic could have been performed without just about every single person in the very busy dockyards where they were being built/repaired knowing.

I mean, let's not even get into the laughable absurdity of thinking that the switch could be made unbeknownst to the crew serving on the Titanic, many of whom would doubtless have served on the Olympic as well. Let's not even get into the more palpable (and rather morally disgusting) absurdity of thinking that you could have a conspiracy of hundreds of people all agreed to risk their own lives and the lives of thousands of others for pecuniary considerations that don't affect them directly. Just try to think of some way you can get over the very first hurdle in this story: that at some point the White Star line managed some clever piece of legerdemain and put these two enormous vessels under two walnut shells and whisk whisk whisk the Olympic becomes the Titanic and vice versa (remember that in order to make this change, you not only have to repaint the names while they're under the shells, you not only have to pull all the furniture and fittings out of one and put it onto the other, but you have to reconstruct large parts of both vessels: e.g. The forward third of Titanic's promenade Deck "A" was enclosed. Olympic's was open all the way; Bridge Deck"B" was drastically different on both ships.Olympic had a first class promenade whereas Titanic had two private verandas and suites that were flush with the sides of the superstructure, etc. etc.--and none of the workers involved ever tell a soul about this extraordinary "secret" activity, and nobody notices the giant walnut shells).

This is grade A nonsense. It actually makes the Truther's look almost sane by contrast.
posted by yoink at 4:21 PM on July 15, 2009


Props for effort, localroger. Here's my quick response (I'm really sorry but I don't have time for anything longer... I'm currently packing up my house for a move, so this may be my last comment before the computer goes into a box for a few days)

1. I know this doesn't fit with your experience, but yes, they could totally tell. I'm nowhere near as steeped in the lore of the sea as these people were, and I can tell the ships apart by sight instantly. Think of those 'car people' you might know, who can just glance at a car on the street and tell you that it's an '89 Mazda without even thinking about it. Ship people are like that, but even more so, and the Edwardian world was full of both shipping professionals and amateur enthusiasts.

2. Look, I haven't read the article in great detail (because of the move) so I'm willing to concede that it is possible to damage a ship in such a way that it will break down after some time, but not immediately. On the other hand, these are reciprocating engines, which are prone to breakdown, so it doesn't make sense to me that they wouldn't have had a way of replacing even a major engine component (you're talking about the screw shaft?) for less than the cost of writing off the whole ship in a staged disaster.

3. That's not how ship insurance worked in the Edwardian period. I think this is one of those times where our conspiracy-spinner has had to embroider the facts for the sake of his story. Generally speaking, shipping companies insured their ships against any and all accidents, and in this case it's pretty clear that Hawke rammed Olympic anyway. When I get the chance I'll look up the case on Lexis-Nexus.

4. Skipping... we've been there

5. Yeah, maybe. But then what happened to the rescue ship? I mean I know you're playing devil's advocate and all, but doesn't this seem like a pretty byzantine plan when they could have, say, sent the ship out on trials and set fire to it or something? The reason people are comparing this to 9/11 Truthers is that this scenario has a similar feel of adding thousands of unnecessary complications to obtain a fairly simple result.

6. Yep, totally agree. And, as it happens, this is one of the most thoroughly investigated wrecks in the world, and countless hours of video tape and thousands of photographs have been taken of features that are unique to RMS Titanic. Also, the actual damage to the stbd side of the hull has been investigated, and found to be consistent with an iceberg. I mean I don't want to pick this apart too much, because it's really just a bit of fun, but cross-my heart, honest, the ship on the bottom of the sea is 100% certain to be the Titanic.

I guess I'm just going to have to cop out and appeal to my own authority here. I'm a naval historian teaching in an actual university. From what I've seen of this site (a cursory glance at the 'photographic evidence' which had several laugh-out-loud bits of foolishness on it) this is Z-grade moon hoax stuff. I'm all for a bit of fun, but that's all this is. You don't have to take this guy seriously, and your laudable skepticism is misplaced here. So by all means have fun with this, but don't think this is anything more than a guy with a fun idea for a book and a loose relationship with the truth.
posted by Dreadnought at 4:56 PM on July 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


OK Dreadnought, you've won me over. And it was a spot of fun, wasn't it? Thanks for taking me seriously enough to play it through. I concede that the top-post conspiracy is *extremely* unlikely to be real. Thanks for setting me straight.
posted by localroger at 6:43 PM on July 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK, you've got me, the real Titani is parked in my garage disguised as a Datsun. I'll promptly return it, sorry for the trouble.
posted by Vindaloo at 6:54 PM on July 15, 2009


Don't you mean "disguised as a Datsu"? I call fake.
posted by lodurr at 7:07 PM on July 15, 2009


You guys are crazy AWESOME. That is all.
posted by GuyZero at 7:34 PM on July 15, 2009


The iceberg was made of Thermite.
posted by blueberry at 9:32 PM on July 15, 2009


Titanic. Olympic. Aesthetic. Lunatic.
posted by grubi at 1:54 PM on July 17, 2009


Ok, back online now.

OK Dreadnought, you've won me over. And it was a spot of fun, wasn't it? Thanks for taking me seriously enough to play it through.


Sorry for the crappy (and strictly speaking fallacious) pulling of rank. Yes, it's a lot of fun. When I recover a bit from the move I'm planning on revisiting this link for the entertainment value. And yes, your points were very well thought through, although quite understandably lacking in specialist knowledge of this highly arcane subject. It's always an interesting exercise to entertain heretical ideas like this, and playing devil's advocate is fun, so well done. I wish I had had the time to go through this more thoroughly with you and see what you make of it in greater detail, as this is obviously something I like talking about.
posted by Dreadnought at 8:07 PM on July 17, 2009


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