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Conpiracies vs. Conspiracy Theories

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posted on Mar, 2 2005 @ 10:24 PM
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Is there a difference between conspiracies and conspiracy theories?

Daniel Pipes' book "Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where it Comes From" differentiates between "conspiracies" and "conspiracy theories".

According to Pipes a conspiracy theory that has no factual grounds can be identified by a number of defining factors.

Pipes notes that there is consistently factual discrepancy between individual theorists. Also, conspiracy theorists don't disclose sources for their revelations. Forgeries and outright lies are used to build up multi-layers of theories.

Pipes also notes how contradictions to a thesis become additional proof of a conspiracy.

Conspiracy theorists never accept random chance as playing a role in events. they see history as a tapestry of evil. Nothing can ever be as it appears to be: the best evidence is no evidence.

Does this sound like many of the theories presented here?


Butler Crittenden, has noted "they (conspiracy theorists) argue that many key decisions are made in secret or are based on secret information. They observe ‘multiple functions' for decisions (such as laws), social institutions (such as schools), and underlying philosophical assumptions (such as an egalitarian view or its opposite Hobbesian view of ‘human nature'—depicting ‘man' as inherently ‘mean, brutish, and short'). Conspiracy theorists often are uncertain as to exactly who or how many conspirators are involved, but they point out meetings, organizations, policies (e.g., national security), and events that indicate secret planning and execution."

An essay published by the Center for Conspiracy Culture notes:
"The new prevalence of conspiracy theory and the methodology by which raw information is processed and becomes legitimated as knowledge ought to form the basis for study to come, but, as a symptomatic feature of the contemporary condition, the very popularity of conspiracy clearly also figures a postmodern collapse of distinctions between the literal and the metaphorical, the factual and the fictional, the paranoid and the persecuted, the diagnosis and the symptom, the personal and the political, the trivial and the worthwhile, the plausible and the incredible. "


So, I ask again, shall we accept that there is truly a distinction between a conspiracy and a conspiracy theory?

There are several historical events that may have once been rumor, but later turned out to be true. In some cases the U.S. government has engaged in some half baked project of dubious purpose. The CIA has helped fund coups, the Military has conducted extensive studies on absurd contingencies. The atomic top secret paranoia of the cold war perpetuated some shameful testing programs. The Tusgagee experiment is a stain on the medical community. The FBI's activities in the 60's were often quite outside the laws they were sworn to uphold.

Whether these were truly conspiracies in the classic definition is open to debate. Did the people behind them knowingly engage in illegal activities? Maybe, (at least in the case of some of the FBI activities) but you could not answer that with a definite yes to all of them.

Most true conspiracies such as a price fixing scheme or a bid-rigging plot are motivated by short term financial gain.

Most Conspiracy Theories, on the other hand, seem to be motivated by some nefarious sense of evil. Many conspiracy theories have been presented here. Almost all, that I have seen have been based on the idea of a conspiracy first, followed by an attempt to construct the facts and circumstances to fit that theory.


- - - Just an observation





[edit on 2-3-2005 by HowardRoark]




posted on Mar, 5 2005 @ 10:53 PM
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A short follow up, and an interesting counter viewpoint



Some postmodernist critics argue that contemporary conspiracy obsession is in fact symptomatic of the bankruptcy of reason. Political theorists like Jodi Dean, author of "Aliens in America," a study of contemporary UFO conspiracy theories, and several of the contributors to the recent essay collection "Transparency and Conspiracy: Ethnographies of Suspicion in the New World Order" (Duke), tend to adopt this line. They argue that attempts to disprove conspiracy theories are just efforts to impose dominant ideological views on those defined as "backward," "irrational," or "superstitious." In this "replay of the Enlightenment with a vengeance," observe two of the contributors to "Transparency and Conspiracy," hegemonic reason once again seeks to crowd out all competing perspectives.


source


Are the "debunkers" and skeptics trying to force a "hegemony of reason?"

And what is wrong with that?




posted on Mar, 6 2005 @ 01:08 AM
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Well, couldn't you argue this one around for a few decades?

All conspiracy theories are false.

All conspiracy theories are true.

All conspiracy theorists are paranoid loonies.

Conspiracy theorists are the only people who are awake and aware of the real world.

People in power never lie or do anything immoral for personal or fraternal gain.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.


How many of these statements are true? None. The problem comes with trying to fit everything into neat, black or white categories. The truth lies somewhere in between all of these statements. And what does that mean? The scary thing is that it means yes, some conspiracy theories are true. The problem is sorting out which ones. Good luck.

One problem is the coinage and pidgeon-holing of the term "Conspiracy Theory" and the subsequently popular phrase, "Conspiracy Nut". It used to be that when people heard the word "conspiracy", they immediately thought of people hatching very real plans behind very real closed doors, such as in the terms "conspiracy to commit a crime" and "conspiring to overthrow government". Now when we hear the word, we involuntarily think of pimply-faced computer geeks imagining that they're the only ones who know the truth about the vampiric reptiles from Planet X. Where is the truth? Again, somewhere in the middle.

There are those that point to an increase in conspiracy theories over the last ten years. There is one reason for this: The Internet. Before the advent of the Internet, only the media or successful writers could distribute information to large numbers of people with a guarantee of such a large audience. This is simultaneously the best and the worst thing about the Internet. Any old crackpot can publish his crackpot theories, but it also means that information that before would have been known by only a few can now be quickly delivered to millions.

Evidence on the Internet for conspiracy falls into five broad categories:

1. Pure speculation. (e.g. The Earth is hollow and a race of 10-foot tall lizard-men live inside it.)

2. Claims based on unprovable witness accounts. (e.g. Aliens abducted me and took me to Jupiter.)

3. Speculation with some reasoning and logic to support it. (e.g. The ancient Egyptians and Mayans had contact with extra-terrestrials.)

4. Speculation with "smoking gun" evidence, or what the legal faculty calls "circumstantial evidence". (e.g. The WTC collapse was government engineered.)

5. Claims with hard evidence.(e.g. The Nazis burnt down the Reichstaag.)

The problem with the Internet as a publishing medium, and its notoriety for being 90% BS, is that when someone DOES come up with hard evidence, people will still doubt it. Documents can be forged and scanned, photographs can be altered with simple image-editing software, even video can be altered substantially and realistically if you know what you're doing.

Don't fool yourself into thinking that conspiracies and conspiracy theories are a new thing. Mark Twain once wrote:

"Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception."

So what's the moral of the story? Don't believe everything you read, and don't disbelieve everything you read. My Year 7 geography teacher once asked me, "Have you ever been to Iceland? No? Then how do you know it exists?"



posted on Mar, 6 2005 @ 02:07 AM
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Originally posted by HowardRoark
Is there a difference between conspiracies and conspiracy theories?


yes, howard. do you know what 'supersaturation' is? it is the point at which the density of a certain 'matter' turns from a vapour to a crystalline solid, because there's basically so much 'material' floating around in the 'medium' that the medium no longer has room for seperation between p'articles'. the vapour is theory, the crystal, or CON(spiracy)trail is the solid. a trail of paper and data which prove or disprove an accepted scenario.


Originally posted by HowardRoark
There are several historical events that may have once been rumor, but later turned out to be true. In some cases the U.S. government has engaged in some half baked project of dubious purpose. The CIA has helped fund coups, the Military has conducted extensive studies on absurd contingencies. The atomic top secret paranoia of the cold war perpetuated some shameful testing programs. The Tusgagee experiment is a stain on the medical community. The FBI's activities in the 60's were often quite outside the laws they were sworn to uphold.


so, as a science-minded guy, why can't YOU see the patterns? you just used them in an argument AGAINST conspiracy 'theory'. conspiracy theory=conspiracy? c'mon, howard. really?


Originally posted by HowardRoark
Most Conspiracy Theories, on the other hand, seem to be motivated by some nefarious sense of evil. Many conspiracy theories have been presented here. Almost all, that I have seen have been based on the idea of a conspiracy first, followed by an attempt to construct the facts and circumstances to fit that theory.



that's what you see. that's not how i became a conspiracy observer. i FELT that the world wasn't right, and then i was driven to find out why. i think you will find many conspiracy 'theorists' will say the same.
of course, we can't PROVE that we felt it, and that we just didn't glom onto some-else's conspiracy theory(hey, wait, ...where did THEY get it from?).
also, you can't say 'construct facts and circumstances', unless you're actually talking about the circle maker fakers, or photoshop or the really kooky stuff. when we're talking about money trails, bloodlines of power, literature, media releases, and such, it is only the interpretation that is SOMETIMES speculative. and SOMETIMES, it is ROCK SOLID PROOF of secret agreements made in breach of trust of positions of power. it is a natural human trait, howard. why do you need to try and explain away every single 'theory'?
there are no lizards. fine. .....maybe there aren't.
there are no ufos. fine. .....maybe there aren't.
there are no secret societies. fine. .....maybe there aren't. oh wait. both kerry and bush belong to the SAME secret society. they have both admitted it on television. see, howard? this is the ROCK SOLID PROOF i was talking about. there are hundreds or thousands of copies of these reality bytes. it would be very difficult to 'uncreate' these FACTS. THEY SAID IT THEMSELVES! howard, as a sciencey guy, you have to notice that SOME conspiracy 'theory' is just plain old PLAIN FACT.
there wouldn't be a word for conspiracy if there was no conspiracy.

i'd love to go on and on about this, but i have to summon some demons to do my bidding. i'm going to have them go to your house, howard, and they will stand over your shoulder while you study the 'order of the garter' et al.
bill gates can fill you in, now.



posted on Mar, 6 2005 @ 09:48 AM
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Originally posted by HowardRoark

Are the "debunkers" and skeptics trying to force a "hegemony of reason?"

And what is wrong with that?




Howard - nothing at all. You should try How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World by Francis Wheen:

www.amazon.co.uk...=1110123316/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl/026-6793534-1479622

I think you will enjoy it. Even when you don't agree with him it is always witty and easy to read. He demolishes the postmodernists and their "all theories are equally valid" rubbish. A good question he asks of them is "If all theories are equally valid then how can you codemn something like Nazism?". The answer is that they can't, and have to accept it as equally valid to any other political movement.

billybob - I think you may be missing Howard's point somewhat. He isn't suggesting that all conspiricies are wrong or don't have factual elements. I think he is saying that conspiricy theory has become a genre in itself, with certain themes that always run through it.

For example: I think we have all just been the victim of a massive conspiricy to fool us into thinking that Saddam Hussien possesed WMD, so that invading Iraq (for whatever reasons it was really done) was justified. However this doesn't really count as conspiricy theory because it was too mundane. It only really entered this domain when people start suggesting that the invasion was organised by the NWO/greys/reptoids etc.



posted on Mar, 7 2005 @ 11:45 AM
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Thank you, Padre, I will have to look into that book. And yes, the point is Conspiracy theory has indded become somewhat divorced from conspiracies in general.

A couple of points:

Most conspiracy theories tend to way oversimplify human behavior patterns. The world is never as black and white as suggested. People do things for a wide variety of reasons. Greed, compassion, stupidity, inertia, etc. Yet a conspiracy theory will always ascribe the most negative of motivations.

I sometimes wonder about the emotional well being of those who subscribe whole heartedly to conspiracy theories. If they are so willing to think the worst motivations are behind every world event, how do they function in everyday interpersonal social relationships?



posted on Mar, 7 2005 @ 02:08 PM
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The world is a very complicated place, and even when you live in a democracy the majority of things that happen to you are outside your control.

People's lives often don't work out as they had planned so they try to find third parties who are at fault, usually this is the government, or your manager at work, or your parents. But some people like to find something grander, such as the "NWO" or "aliens" to blame. Having a perceived knowledge of these conspiracies can give you a sense of empowerment; you are no longer "one of the sheep", but an insider or "knows what is really going on."



posted on Mar, 7 2005 @ 03:01 PM
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Originally posted by HowardRoark



Butler Crittenden, has noted "they (conspiracy theorists) argue that many key decisions are made in secret or are based on secret information. They observe ‘multiple functions' for decisions (such as laws), social institutions (such as schools), and underlying philosophical assumptions (such as an egalitarian view or its opposite Hobbesian view of ‘human nature'—depicting ‘man' as inherently ‘mean, brutish, and short'). Conspiracy theorists often are uncertain as to exactly who or how many conspirators are involved, but they point out meetings, organizations, policies (e.g., national security), and events that indicate secret planning and execution."


isn't that just being out of (someone elses) the information loop? & a desire to penetrate into that 'world'?


An essay published by the Center for Conspiracy Culture notes:
"The new prevalence of conspiracy theory and the methodology by which raw information is processed and becomes legitimated as knowledge ought to form the basis for study to come, but, as a symptomatic feature of the contemporary condition, the very popularity of conspiracy clearly also figures a postmodern collapse of distinctions between the literal and the metaphorical, the factual and the fictional, the paranoid and the persecuted, the diagnosis and the symptom, the personal and the political, the trivial and the worthwhile, the plausible and the incredible. "


isn't this what is termed 'Holistic Thinking'??



The FBI's activities in the 60's were often quite outside the laws they were sworn to uphold.


all those bothersome little-laws & jots & tiddles...were never abridged (only deemed less important)
because the 'Agency' 'obeyed' the Most-Foremost-Directive...Preserve The UnitedStates Government
~~~~~~~

Every person or group is in some type of conspiracy
if you or I are not privy to the info. it then becomes a conspiracy
and it must be nefarious (until proven otherwise) because it wasn't 'open source' or
out-in-the-sunshine for all to see, but required a discovery process

thanks,







[edit on 2-3-2005 by HowardRoark]



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