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Matt Simmons passes away
August 13, 2010 5:10 AM   Subscribe

Matt Simmons, investment banker to the oil industry, has passed away unexpectedly. (Previously, previously) Simmons was a vocal proponent that peak oil is at hand and authored an influential analysis of Saudi oil reserves that lends credence to his view. An energy policy advisor to Dick Cheney, and regular on financial media, Simmons believed emergency action to counter peak oil is required, beginning with independent audits of global reserves.[PDF]

Simmons was a regular public speaker and delivered many, many presentations. In his final weeks he proposed a controversial, and many believe technically impossible, alternative explanation for the Deep Water Horizon emergency that got some attention here.
Being a public proponent of peak oil, his death has stirred up some crazy. A respectful obituary at the OilDrum. He was 67.
posted by bystander (53 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Kind of a shady character who manipulated the conspiracy theorists in a hamhanded attempt to talk his own book - one of the most distasteful things someone in his business can do. Especially when the audience is a bit naive.

Kids - pro tip - whenever someone who works in finance makes public statements assume he or she will personally profit from him or her convincing their audience that they are correct.

But at least he had something interesting to say - even if it was sometimes a little bit nuts. And I mean that as a sincere compliment
posted by JPD at 5:35 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


That Oil Drum writeup is outstanding. Matthew Simmons' analysis of the Ghawar oil field is a landmark document.
posted by bukvich at 5:47 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just FYI, peak oil is not a conspiracy theory.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:53 AM on August 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


peak oil is not a conspiracy theory

I don't think I said that did I?

I do think "Global overreporting of reserves" and "Peak Oil is imminent" are. The concept of Peak Oil of course is not.
posted by JPD at 5:56 AM on August 13, 2010


Define imminent.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:04 AM on August 13, 2010


Define imminent.

The word has a definition - although at his strongest moments I think he would have said we were already past it.

I'm not interested in having a Peak Oil argument. If you want to argue with something I said challenge the talking his own book part - because that's what I found offensive.
posted by JPD at 6:10 AM on August 13, 2010


Kind of a shady character who manipulated the conspiracy theorists in a hamhanded attempt to talk his own book

So....
1) The Earth is not a finite mass
2) Rock Oil regenerates itself in human timeframes
3) Large Corporations and Governments never lie and are 100% open and honest.
Is that how things are in your world?

Because you don't need the politically loaded words "conspiracy theorists" to be aware in the real world that the Earth is a finite mass, rock oil takes time outside of the window of humanity's existence to accumulate and as shown yet again with BP admitting they photoshopped 2 pictures that large corps will lie.

Thus Mr. Simmons' point about oil running out and the official statements of various government and industry officials statements not matching what other document show is somehow "a theory about a conspiracy" and therefore 'shady' and 'hamfisted' to discuss?

Kids - pro tip - if something doesn't fit your worldview rather than slapping a label like 'conspiracy theory' on the non matching piece to make it go away from your worldview doesn't change reality.

And Adults - pro tip - there are conspiracies and they happen every day. Odds are they are not shapeshifting alien reptiles however.

(And if you like "an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot. " as a working definition - Congress is a conspiracy *wink*)
posted by rough ashlar at 6:11 AM on August 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


According to the latest reports, we're still trying to figure out if "static kill" worked, or if "bottom kill" and/or relief wells are still necessary. But a lot of this reads like PR meant to convince people the worst is over, and on that front both BP and the WH (with the first family off to Florida) appear to be winning. But my own impression is that there was, as this crisis unfolded, a learning curve, on the part of both BP and the WH, on how to best manage public expectations and perceptions.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 6:11 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was most recently in the news making the case for a nuclear blast to seal the spewing well in the Gulf.
posted by Brian B. at 6:12 AM on August 13, 2010


If you want to argue with something I said challenge the talking his own book part - because that's what I found offensive.

Author talks about own book! Breaking story at the 5 PM news.
Actor talks about own movie! Breaking story for the 6 PM news.
Congressmembers use franking privilege to tell you how awesome they are, how they work up to be present to vote to protect the children! Story at 10PM.

Now here on the blue self-linking/self promotion is considered in bad form...unlike the big real world. Are we to look forward to FPP's every time someone who self promotes dies and how that self promotion offended?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:17 AM on August 13, 2010


Just because you are so emotionally invested in the concept of Peak Oil doesn't mean you shouldn't think about the motives of other people who you agree with.
posted by JPD at 6:20 AM on August 13, 2010


Kids - pro tip - if something doesn't fit your worldview rather than slapping a label like 'conspiracy theory' on the non matching piece to make it go away from your worldview doesn't change reality.

The heat death of the universe is coming as well, but no one seems to be up in arms about that? Have you asked yourself who profits from that? That's right, the fossil fuel industry. And that asshole with the mustache who shills for the Carrier Corporation.
posted by yerfatma at 6:20 AM on August 13, 2010


Author talks about own book! Breaking story at the 5 PM news.
Actor talks about own movie! Breaking story for the 6 PM news.
Congressmembers use franking privilege to tell you how awesome they are, how they work up to be present to vote to protect the children! Story at 10PM.


Not what he was doing and you should know that. His entire career was predicated on selling financial advice to energy companies, the investment bank he was the founder of was an energy boutique. He had a profound economic interest in seeing oil prices go up and the share prices of energy companies go up. That is the conflict. And yes - in the investment world it is considered incredibly poor form to talk your own book - and if you do it to the wrong crowd it's even illegal.
posted by JPD at 6:24 AM on August 13, 2010


He was most recently in the news making the case for a nuclear blast to seal the spewing well in the Gulf.

If you are calling for "the government" to use government power to "do something" - what tools does the US of A have in their toolchest to 'solve the problem' "quickly"?

Its not like The President can will more drilling rigs into existence or have fully formed ready to go geologists spring from his forehead - He's not Zeus.

Of the tools to apply a massive force to attempt to move rock to close the hole - 'bout all "the government" has that could apply here is a nuke.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:24 AM on August 13, 2010


The heat death of the universe is coming as well, but no one seems to be up in arms about that?

Just because YOU don't hang out on alt.physics.heat.death.of.the.universe doesn't mean we are not concerned you insensitve cod!

(why is the cod insensitive? Corexit! Dead fish tell no tails.)
posted by rough ashlar at 6:29 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


[Officer Barbrady]

"Okay people, move along, there's nothing to see here..."

[/Officer Barbrady]
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:34 AM on August 13, 2010


Just because you are so emotionally invested in the concept of Peak Oil

Someone has an emotional investment all right.

Metafilter - Prop up a dead man, hang a sign that says "conspiracy theory" round the dead guys neck, claim outrage.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:42 AM on August 13, 2010


Of the tools to apply a massive force to attempt to move rock to close the hole - 'bout all "the government" has that could apply here is a nuke.

Well, no. We've got lots of other very powerful explosives that are not nukes, too.

This is sad, but Matt Simmons was also one of the Bush admin energy policy advisors. So he helped contribute to the establishment, under Bush, of one of the most secretive energy policies in American history. And for all we know, those policies played crucially into allowing the Deep Water Horizon disaster to happen in the first place. Wish there was more info about the circumstances of his death.

It's interesting how we seem to be having a spate of folks associated with oil industry dealings and possible corruption dying off lately--or if not dying outright, at least ending up with no discernible pulse. Not to suggest a connection, because these really do seem like unrelated, random events. But interesting nonetheless.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:43 AM on August 13, 2010


rough ashlar, I'm not convinced you're going to get the fight you want here.

I mean, it's clear that you have your particular set of strong beliefs, and that's fine, but you seem to be tilting at windmills a bit here.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:48 AM on August 13, 2010


Kind of a shady character who manipulated the conspiracy theorists in a hamhanded attempt to talk his own book

When you think about it, an untimely (and possibly suspicious!) death is probably the greatest gift one can give to a conspiracy theorist.
posted by electroboy at 6:48 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Psssh there must be somebody else to mourn, right? Or maybe practice mourning for in anticipation of their death? I already miss Abe Vigoda.
posted by electricsandwich138 at 7:34 AM on August 13, 2010


The man was 67 and went quiet three weeks ago and now he is dead. To suggest a suspicious death is pretty damn dumb. (I did not read all the links, but if there were any suspicions I presume they would be in the Oil Drum piece I did read; they have never seemed to me to be afraid of stirring anything up.)
posted by bukvich at 7:37 AM on August 13, 2010


Well, no. We've got lots of other very powerful explosives that are not nukes, too.

1) Magical enough to move the Earth (and perhaps seal it)
2) Somehow not available to a Corporation as large as BP?

Nukes (in theory) fit that bill. The self reporting of the people and firms involved with the incident in the Gulf appear to indicate that such a drastic method is not needed.

This is sad, but Matt Simmons was also one of the Bush admin energy policy advisors. So he helped contribute to the establishment, under Bush, of one of the most secretive energy policies in American history

So did Congress! (axe gind axe grind!)
Ok - non snark/axe grind - Secrecy and tying oneself to the Government looks to be a winning formula to profits. The poster of the FPP did mention how this was all about filthy lucre. So I'm not at all shocked of an acceptance of an offer to 'be on the inside' of Government VS the outside. And there is no evidence of what was said by Mr. Simmons nor if what was said was acted upon. Got some memos or FOIA results - I'll be right there with the dog-piling on.

It's interesting how we seem to be having a spate of folks associated with oil industry dealings and possible corruption dying off lately

Dead men tell no tales. Few men have encrypted files called insurance.aes256 as some form of shield.

Are there people who'd kill someone over millions? Sure - seems in some places Australian Hitman For Hire: Cost: $380.00! life is as cheap as the take home pay from working at a Subway.

But a discussion of Mr. Simmon's death is not what is wanted by the FPP. The FPP wishes to attach emotionally laden words "his death has stirred up some crazy." to stir the pot. I'd love to live in a world where the CIA would be above the reproach of assassination - or be in a world where I knew that such a thing as killing someone over the effects of profits would be unthinkable and anyone who'd suggest such would be insane because history does not support such a claim. And while I like a good old fashion pot stir (waves about my wooden pot stiring spoon, a spoon some say I carved from a larger wooden spoon) if Mr. Simmons' exit was planned by others its not like that will silence criticism of the way the energy industry works.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:42 AM on August 13, 2010


1. Matthew Simmons did more than anyone to popularize the notion of Peak Oil in the sense that it is imminent, any day now, start stockpiling because doomsday is just about arrived.

2. Matthew Simmons did more than anyone to make scarcity a part of policy and discussion, the idea that oil won't last forever.

#1 was unfortunate, but it created #2 and that is good, because prior, everyone mostly acted like oil would last forever, which is fantasy.

The problem with Simmons (and most Peak Oil'ers) is they are far too mechanistic. They see everything as driven by the math of reserves and a few simple laws of Hubbert(*). In fact it's much more complex with unknowable, illogical, messy human actions and motivations being the primary drivers of the price of oil, as the most recent oil spike showed. Of course oil will run out some day, it is finite.

(*)Hubbert actualy got a lot of things wrong, I read a good analysis that basically came to the conclusion that he got lucky with his prediction due to some other factors the he could have never predicted. His later predictions have also been wrong. And Peak Oil'ers have been wrong year after year about global peak - one wonders at how they can be so wrong for so long.
posted by stbalbach at 7:57 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Peak Oil so 2005.
posted by adamvasco at 8:30 AM on August 13, 2010


To suggest a suspicious death is pretty damn dumb.

Any time someone who's appeared in the public eye or has a high position in Government/Large Corporation dies you'll have the charge of suspicious death made.

But this is why local coroners exist. And a couple of "truth seekers" will get those records, compare them to others and if there is oddities it'll be flogged for years. I don't expect such an outcome in this case - but hey I was shocked at the plot twist of gambling at the Cafe Americian.

The airplane crash 1-2 years ago with a geologist as one of the 200+ people on board - that was a plot depending on where you hang out.

If you hung around on the "right" places on the 'net you'd find someone who claims the people on the plane were tired of life and decided they wanted to 'transition to the guff' where they have some kind of immortaltity. Hows THAT for a plot? Or perhaps......

The internet is a big place and humans exposure to different sets of facts will result in a wide range of opinion. That someone found a charge of Assassination! - meh.

Rather than play the unproductive word game of 'look at the crazy' - why not shoot for a world where Corporations and Government bodies would be above reproach that way reasonable people couldn't make such a charge based on past evidence?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:41 AM on August 13, 2010


From the Oil Drum link:
“The health problems are so serious,” Simmons said. “When you inhale methane you just die.”

In the interests of national security, I recommend making farting illegal...and imagine if someone did it on a PLANE!

Kook.
posted by grajohnt at 9:06 AM on August 13, 2010


.
posted by zoogleplex at 9:08 AM on August 13, 2010


What? Imminent peak oil is still controversial? The Pentagon says demand is going to outstrip supply as soon as 2012, is there a reason we're not taking their word for it?
posted by zjacreman at 9:14 AM on August 13, 2010


I am no expert, but lots of people in the energy business believe that while there is obviously some limit to extractable carbon reserves, there is no actual "peak oil" problem.

The school of thought has two main legs. First is the slowing (and eventually halt) of demand increases thanks to vehicle and building energy efficiency improvements, and policy restraints imposed out of fear of global warming. Second is the view that with oil averaging well over $60, exploitable crude resources are quite large, and convertible shale, gas, coal, oil sands, etc., add to that -- decades at current levels of demand. These two legs combine to the view that however glacial is the pace of development of non-hydrocarbon energy solutions, those solutions have enough time to percolate that they will suffice before a hydrocarbon under-supply crisis.
posted by MattD at 9:16 AM on August 13, 2010


Simmons was either a con man, wildly deluded about his own competence, or both. He was certainly keen on promoting himself. Nevertheless, a broken clock is right twice a day.

Peak Oil likely will not occur when, or in the manner Simmons described - enough that calling it "Peak Oil" may be something of a misnomer, but then we'd be arguing about semantics and not substance. Call it whatever the fuck you want. Oil will end, though, and soon enough to be cause for concern to us, living here and now.

The stuff about Deepwater Horizon...I dunno, the guy was just plain nuts? Or a troll?

Yall can stop bickering now. I solved it for you.
posted by Xoebe at 9:32 AM on August 13, 2010


These two legs combine to the view that however glacial is the pace of development of non-hydrocarbon energy solutions, those solutions have enough time to percolate that they will suffice before a hydrocarbon under-supply crisis.

Well, maybe so, but the Joint Chiefs of Staff in their latest joint operating environment report estimate that daily production will be running daily deficits in the range of a million BPD relative to consumption by as soon as 2015--and that's assuming the most optimistic production/consumption scenarios. By 2012 we'll already only be breaking even at best. Production capacity obviously isn't the same issue as supply, but what difference does it make? One of the major reasons production can no longer be ramped up quickly enough to meet the pace of demand is that the remaining reserves are harder to get at, and other oil sources, like oil shale, are too costly and difficult to bring on-line at the same pace.

The cap and trade push has been an abject failure and other significant reform pushes to slow carbon based fuel consumption down seem to be dead in the water for the next couple of years at least. Public sentiment still seems remarkably resistant to the mounting evidence of the severity of the problems fossil fuels create even now when we're seeing spills all over the place. And there have been no major breakthroughs likely to dramatically increase production capacity anytime soon--if anything, there are only more factors likely to contribute to production declines now--so even the Pentagon's pessimistic projections might be too rosy.

If there really is a view such as you describe among many in the energy industry, my own less informed, but also less interested take on the situation is that they're engaged in wishful thinking.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:35 AM on August 13, 2010


Peak oil. Hmmm?

In my mind, the jury's still out. I'm no expert, of course, though both of my parents were geologists and the one thing that this perspective offers is a sense of just how BIG the world is and how LONG geological time is. The BIGness of the world argues against peak oil (ie: we just need to keep exploring and drilling, there's always more to be found). The LENGTH of geological time argues for peak oil (ie: if we are fast running out, don't go deluding yourself that Mother Earth is going to create some more any time soon).

Add that part of human nature that conspires to this pot and you're making one helluva rich, weird, convoluted gumbo. For instance:

BASIC SCENARIO ONE:
we're running out oil. keep it quiet lest there be A) mass panic, B) government intervention that interferes with our business plan.

BASIC SCENARIO TWO:
we're not running out of oil but man, it would sure ramp up the short term profits if we could convince folks that we were. that is, nothing's better for business than a little imagined scarcity, particularly if you control alot of that thing that's imagined to be scarce.

And so on. The only remedy, of course, to all of this convolution is factual information, lucidly communicated. Which leads to ...

BASIC SCENARIO THREE:
who's profiting from allowing liars and morons to so infiltrate our news sources, and get books published?

And so on ...
posted by philip-random at 9:39 AM on August 13, 2010


We don't have to run out of oil in the ground to have a problem. We just have to want more than we can extract and process in any given day.

Saul beat me to the punch on the problems with MattD's theory - the policy environment just isn't changing enough to meaningfully affect demand on the Pentagon's timeline. At the very least, it seems like we're headed for a fragile system susceptible to shortages and price shocks. That might be a feature, not a bug, for energy industry affiliates.

The only mitigating factor might be ongoing economic problems depressing demand, but this is obviously problematic for its own reasons.
posted by zjacreman at 9:50 AM on August 13, 2010


Well, whether the oil's running out or not, our capacity to get it out of the ground and make it usable is declining quickly relative to the increase in demand, and that's not really in dispute, as far as I know. In particular, the Joint Forces Command doesn't have the same economic motivations as the oil industry, and yet, their conclusions are roughly the same: whether or not there's more oil left, we're not going to have enough capacity to produce enough oil to meet demand in the near to mid-term.

By 2030, the Joint Operating Environment Report essentially predicts a collapse in our ability to meet global demand. Whether that's due to there not being enough oil left, or due to production capacity not being able to keep up with demand doesn't really matter.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:52 AM on August 13, 2010


The cap and trade push has been an abject failure

As well it should have.

How effective is the effort - how much money is spent and how much goes to remediation. How much is 'captured' by overhead and who's the overhead.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:59 AM on August 13, 2010


Well, we're sure as shit through the looking glass here, aren't we people. Thank goodness someone's willing to call those self-serving Peak Oil fatcats on their bullshit, otherwise we'd have only the world's richest and most powerful industry's meagre public awareness efforts to convince us that all's well . . .

Anyway, here are some declassfied documents from a couple of Peak Oil co-conspirators in high places:

Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency

The impressive "Unidentified Projects" supply gap graph from a 2009 EIA presentation

Worth noting that the IEA was still dismissing the very notion of a peak as "doomsaying" as recently as '05, and the EIA has long been even more contemptuous of the notion that there is any sort of supply shortage in the offing. (Also worth noting IEA = intl industry information service and EIA = US Dept of Energy.)

Worth noting further, MattD, that the EIA graph takes into account a fairly ambitious build-out of unconventional supplies like the oil sands. And still arrives at a scenario just ten years out where 20 million barrels of new oil from wholly unknown sources - all of it on at least the same magnitude of scale and complexity as BP's Deepwater Horizon, some of it perhaps many orders of magnitude harder to get at and refine - must be somehow discovered, developed, and brought smoothly and economically online. By comparison, when oil kissed $150/barrel in the summer of 2008, every oil company on the planet was operating at pretty much full throttle on every front just to keep supply flat at around 87 million (as opposed to growing it by 20 million barrels, I mean).

The IEA's 2008 World Energy Outlook is a pretty amazing document, well worth a read. As the Monbiot link above notes, it was the first World Energy Outlook to actually sytemically study production levels (historic, current, projected) at the world's 800 largest oil fields, rather than simply take reporting countries at their word regarding proven reserves. Contains many surprising passages such as this: "The world’s energy system is at a crossroads. Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable – environmentally, economically, socially.”
posted by gompa at 10:04 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Peak oil isn't really all that controversial. I had never really heard of Matt Simmons before he said those insane things about the oil leak and if he is the most prominent proponent of peak oil job the US, I can see why people would dismiss it as lunacy.
posted by Authorized User at 10:55 AM on August 13, 2010


I was sure oil production had already peaked sometime around 2005. I googled around, and foudn the stats from the EIA. According to their data, global oil production has indeed been flat since 2005.

Now, it's hard to realistically extract a curve from four noisy data points. Maybe there's some huge production about to come online that I'm not aware of. The problem is you don't really know for certain you were at a peak until you're already well past it, but things certainly seem to be looking that way.

Anyone out there able to make an educated guess if we should ever expect to see more than 84 million barrels per day in the next decade or so?
posted by heathkit at 3:29 PM on August 13, 2010


And Adults - pro tip - there are conspiracies and they happen every day.

I respectfully disagree. People are way too disorganized to make a meaningfully sustainable effort at a true conspiracy. Cracks will appear in any plan. Those who look closely will eventually see the truth. The idea the we live in a world of intricate lies fabricated by the powers that be is ultimately damaging. Use your head and the "conspiracies" reveal themselves.
posted by quadog at 11:13 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Matt D: I am no expert, but lots of people in the energy business believe that while there is obviously some limit to extractable carbon reserves, there is no actual "peak oil" problem.

I'm sure that lots of people in the energy business will tell us this. However, consider some relevant statements from Chevron..
posted by quadog at 11:23 PM on August 13, 2010


Yeah, Simmons was pretty good with the peak oil stuff. Too bad he flipped out over DWH and went total nutso there at the end.

Peak oil is real, but it won't be as suddenly catastrophic as many fear. It will likely be a continuation of or something similar to our present stagnation rather than a sudden "all the lights go out and nobody can afford to drive a car tomorrow" kind of thing. I'm more concerned about the eventual expense of using oil for things where it can't be replaced or his much harder to replace, like flying airplanes, making plastics, and making fertilizer, since we seem completely unable to make a societal choice to leave some of the stuff in the ground for later.

Hell, a lot of drugs use chemicals in their production that are derived from oil. Most everything that involves chemistry does, it seems.

As far as whether we've hit peak oil yet? It's impossible to know for sure. The economic downturn and the residual reduction in consumption thanks to the oil bubble/price manipulation is masking the trend. I would say that the extremely high price we saw in July 2008 had much more to do with speculation than an inability to meet demand. A lot of people thought differently, but supply wasn't really an issue at the time, so it seemed reasonable to think it wasn't actually peak oil at work in the traditional sense. Also, there is an interesting correlation between the price peak and a particular pipeline company shorting crude finally going bust.
posted by wierdo at 5:45 AM on August 14, 2010


If you do not like the oil drum as a source, Bloomberg has got a writeup: he drowned in his hot tub. That stuff he said about the BP spill was silly. A pity.
posted by bukvich at 5:57 AM on August 15, 2010


I respectfully disagree ... a true conspiracy.

You can do that.

Conspiracy - a secret agreement between two or more people to perform an unlawful act.

Thus two or more people who decide to do an illegal act are in a conspiracy. Sometimes they are mundane - you act as lookout while I steal/sell illegal drugs/whatever.

Now, lets take my snarky Congress comment. If Congressmen offer up something that 'a reasonable person' would determine was unconstitutional on its face - is it only illegal once a court says so or was it illegal from the start?

That stuff he said about the BP spill was silly

Silly - yup. Like when he said "BP is lying". BP is a multi-national corporation and as sucvh it would never EVER tell a lie.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:47 PM on August 15, 2010


rough ashlar wrote: "Silly - yup. Like when he said "BP is lying"."

Yeah, I don't think that's what most people who are referring to his silly statements are talking about..
posted by wierdo at 5:11 PM on August 15, 2010


what most people who are referring to his silly statements are talking about.

Considering there are people calling 'peak oil' 'silly' - I would not put it past someone to call "BP is lying" 'silly'.

If one is going to call Mr. Simmons' statements 'silly' or flawed or wrong it's not that hard to show which ones.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:48 PM on August 15, 2010


No, it wouldn't be his ridiculous assertions about the BP gusher, it would be his statements regarding BP's truthfulness. There's just no way you could interpret the statement you quoted otherwise, could there?
posted by wierdo at 12:17 AM on August 16, 2010


I respectfully disagree. People are way too disorganized to make a meaningfully sustainable effort at a true conspiracy.

"True conspiracy"? What the hell is that supposed to be, anyway? This is becoming the modern version of the True Scotsman fallacy.

All that the term "conspiracy" has ever referred to, denotatively, is a crime on any scale organized and carried out by more than one person working in concert. The legal charge of conspiracy--which applies to acts as modest as two people in an accounting department cooking the books to enrich themselves--is all the term means.

This term has never, despite the more recent pop cultural trend to dramatize the idea of criminal conspiracy to the point of fantasy, been reserved only for far out-plots like organizing secret takeovers of political institutions (which I'd point out, the National Socialist's did successfully in Germany, despite being "way too disorganized," in your version of reality). You'd have to ignore huge swathes of documented history to hold to this incredibly naive view of reality (not to mention, overturn millions of legal prosecutions).

The 9-11 attacks, for another example, no matter how you look at it was a conspiracy. I don't mean in the woolly, "Cheney orchestrated it," or "There were holographic planes!" sense, but in the actual, ordinary and original sense of the term conspiracy: 11 men and an unknown number of collaborators plotted together in secret to board three planes, commandeer them, and fly them into various targets. According to your more "enlightened" understanding, 9-11 could never have happened. Or, if it did, it all happened quite by accident.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:46 AM on August 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are plenty of the run of the mill conspiracies. Most of them are probably never discovered. I don't think there's a lot of evidence of grand scale conspiracies like what Alex Jones advocates. I'm open to evidence to the contrary.
posted by wierdo at 8:52 AM on August 16, 2010


speaking of conspiracy ...

I believe it's said in the Illuminatus Trilogy that there are two kinds of completely successful conspiracy.

1. completely invisible (ie: THEY've achieved their ends without being noticed, the world carries on but now it carries on in THEIR chosen direction)

2. overtly visible (think of the Nike swoosh here, or just advertising in general; that is, we've so completely bought into THEIR way of doing things that we don't even notice THEY're right smack in our faces every day, every night, everywhere)
posted by philip-random at 9:27 AM on August 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


the woolly, "Cheney orchestrated it," or "There were holographic planes!" sense,

Am I the only one who remembers the short lived claims of 'it was alien spaceships and here are the photos'?

There are plenty of the run of the mill conspiracies

Yes. Yes there are.

I don't think there's a lot of evidence of grand scale conspiracies like what Alex Jones advocates.

It strikes me as Alex is trying to make some sort of coherent sense of the various happenings into some kind of thwartable plan. Cut the head off the snake and the snake dies type of talk. A cut the head off the snake will get ya buy in - it seems to be a do-able task.

VS

Groups of people who are disproportionally sociopaths acting in their own self interest. If 8% are sociopaths and 12% are trained to act as sociopaths - fixing that kind of problem is going to be a hard sell.

10% of the human population with sociopathic traits all scrambling to maximize profit and using the various levers of power - be that media via propaganda, (sorry. Public Relations) crafting various legislation, and private networking (like going to places like Harvard). Various people and personalty traits are going to repeat. And in that repetition - one may see patterns of conspiracy that are just not there (along with actual conspiracies).

Organized snake VS sociopaths - which sounds more defeatable so the world can become paradise?

I'm open to evidence to the contrary.

The closest I can come is to tell ya to join the Masons and watch what they do - you'll walk away going "These people? Run the world? They can't run a meeting or do the ritual work". The Alex's of the world will just claim you were not let into 'special' group is all.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:08 AM on August 16, 2010


rough ashlar wrote: "It strikes me as Alex is trying to make some sort of coherent sense of the various happenings into some kind of thwartable plan. Cut the head off the snake and the snake dies type of talk. A cut the head off the snake will get ya buy in - it seems to be a do-able task."

I never thought of it that way. It would be comforting to believe that there was a single grand conspiracy to be defeated.
posted by wierdo at 5:38 PM on August 16, 2010


comforting to believe that there was a single grand conspiracy to be defeated.

Alex is doing this to make money - hard to extract money from people unless you are offering up hope. Dieoff.org have similar sources - but the die off message is not one of hope and it doesn't "sell".

(Cancer centers of America and many TV Evangelists would be examples of making money off of hope.)
posted by rough ashlar at 9:30 PM on August 19, 2010


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