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The science of conspiracy - an open discussion

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posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 10:01 PM
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While heading through the airport this weekend, I decided to pick up the latest copy of Scientific American Mind. I used to have a subscription to this magazine (which I should really renew...) and have always enjoyed the articles. Because I was in somewhat of a hurry, I didn't really read the front to see what articles were headlining this month's issue.

Imagine my amusement when I finally noticed the title "The Appeal of Conspiracy Theories."



I could name a litany of ATS members with whom I have sparred over the subject of conspiracy just within the past two weeks. I am known to be a skeptic on this forum, although not a disbeliever in "conspiracy" from a general sense. Therefore you can't begin to understand my introspective surprise that I found myself defending the nature of a conspiracy theory.

This article...and many others...typify conspiracy theories as an individual's effort to make a complex world more simple and predictable. They generalize the personalities and belief systems of all conspiracy theorist to say they share common traits - such as a distrust in authority. I do not necessarily disagree with these observations. (note - I didn't say "facts," just mere observations). But just as the complex world cannot be so simplified by a conspiracy theory, neither can the theories (or theorists) themselves.

I would like an open discussion about the psychology and sociology behind conspiracies.... I have seen individuals on ATS who will believe anything and everything they read. As is common with many who believe in CT, they usually hold more than one belief related to conspiracy. For example, they believe in the Illuminati and also in reptilian aliens. I often feel it is useless to debate with individual's of this mindset because there is NO possibility of falsification. In scientific study, a hypothesis is presented which gives a proposed explanation for an event. (Notice I didn't say "theory"!!) If any testing disproves any element of the hypothesis, it is invalidated and must be changed. In the world of conspiracy theorists, such invalidation doesn't seem to exist. It has been my experience that they disregard evidence that doesn't fit their "theory" or simply say something like "that's what they want you to think" or "your evidence is misinformation put out by them." Again and again, concessions are made of what doesn't "fit" and the "theory" holds no matter how much evidence is presented against it.

On the flip side...and contrary to the inferred beliefs from the article in Scientific American....I do not necessarily believe that all conspiracies evolve out of paranoid lunacy. I even found myself more than a bit dismayed at the following statement from the article:



Even cursory defenses of conspiracy theories may sow mistrust and divert attention from critical, scientific, political and social issues.


I was recently following a very hotly discussed topic on the safety of the flu shot and vaccines in general. As with many conspiracies, each side is very passionate about their belief that the other is wrong. If the above quote were applied to this topic, it could be inferred that any debate on conspiracies relating to vaccines is dangerous to the public health. This was certainly an opinion that is/was held by many in the thread, as well. So I began to reflect on why the quote affronted me...a skeptic...in relation to this one topic (as a singular example). I do not have any general aversion to vaccines. My children have all been vaccinated with no side effects. However, I do not and will not *ever* get a flu shot. Why? Because I have personal knowledge of events where people have been injected with something else other than what they thought they were getting. And while I do not have any reason to believe this is happening with a flu shot (or any other vaccine), just the potential that it has/could happen again is enough to encourage me to remove the possibility within my personal control. Is that paranoia? Maybe.

So while I do not necessarily believe in any current conspiracy, I can acknowledge that a past one opens any future situation up to possibility...and thus, doubt....which brings me back to the question of falsification. I believe the question which must be asked of anyone who entertains a CT is "what possible evidence would I need to see/read/touch/ or otherwise experience to make me believe (or disbelieve)?" Or does that threshold exist?

Thoughts?




posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 10:14 PM
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Here, by way of contribution, is my confession,
my own pet conspiracy theory.





The dream of space was suppressed because of fear.

The _method_ of suppressing the dream was a meme
that first surfaced in my area in the late 70's early 80's
People said "Space!? We have enough problems here on Earth."


It was useful to the average six-pack or grocery-shopper when they found themselves in a conversation above their education level.

Also, once on the defensive, most space fanatics
were hard pressed to explain the safety issues,
how to effect a rescue, and how unpleasant
life in zero G really is.



I've been looking into this since the 70's when I
first became a conspiracy theorist over the political
shuttle redesign (in committee) where they divided
it into two parts so it could be in Florida AND Louisiana.


(the original was twice as big and all the fuel was in the wings, no external tank to shed a piece of ice and cause catastrophic loss of life later (but politicians know best don't they) )

So I've been sniffing around for the hidden why of it all
for many years, and here is my theory.





The dream was suppressed because of fear.
In my opinion anyway.
I'm still nervous about speculating openly about this.
It has no context.
It's so far outside the normal perspective on society that it almost seems to lack motivation to most who hear it.

The fear is that a fundamentalist Cult goes to orbit, nukes the world, then returns to repopulate.

This is the hidden motive that, I feel, is behind the suppression of the space dream. So much that it shouldn't even be possible for someone to conceive of such a thing. That such an idea is even a factor, or even exists in any way.

AND THAT is the pop culture world we live in this day.











Dystopian science fiction











I'm tired of dystopian futures.







It seems like the 50's sci-fi was more optimistic.







It is the very rare scene in the modern Sci-fi that shows a bright future.




It's a tired out thesis.
Sci-fi seems to think it's job it to take one of this day's problems,
project it into the future and magnify it to some horrible proportions.

How droll.


Mike
edit on 29-9-2013 by mikegrouchy because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 10:19 PM
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Ah yes, but can any Theory of Conspiracy Theories explain Murgatroid?



posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 10:24 PM
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The whole modern conspiracy movement, in my opinion, is fostered by the very people who vehemently treat those who don't believe everything they hear in media and government with a condescending attitude and tone.

Their own statements and actions betray them. My signature is one example among many. Giving public apologies for crimes against the American people are another...

Giving aids to humans intentionally.
Forced sterilization of thousands of women.
Mind control experiments.

Just these three alone are enough to create distrust and paranoia in a percentage of the public. That percentage is thinking, if they're apologizing for that, decades after the fact, what are they up to now?

So really, our own government and media are the ones perpetuating conspiracies on the one hand, and poo pooing them on the other. The precedent has been set.



posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 10:29 PM
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reply to post by Klassified
 

J. Edgar Hoover was a raving lunatic, you know.



posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 10:35 PM
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Astyanax
reply to post by Klassified
 

J. Edgar Hoover was a raving lunatic, you know.


True enough. But even lunatics sometimes spit out things that are coherent, and have an element of truth to them.



posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 10:56 PM
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I just wanted to be clear that this thread isn't about any particular conspiracy theory but rather about how and why they exist. I am asking everyone to honestly exam your own beliefs to understand and explain why you believe, don't believe, or take a particular perception against the opposite side.

I want you to objectively and honestly ask yourself what you would need to flip your opinion to a converse one.

Or are you adamant that nothing would ever change your mind?
edit on 29-9-2013 by CIAGypsy because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 11:00 PM
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Sorry bout that.

I was just offering myself as a test subject for the head shrinkers.



But I'll take a swing at it since you asked.











CIAGypsy

I want you to objectively and honestly ask yourself what you would need to flip your opinion to a converse one.




In 1871 two brothers who owned a bicycle shop
conducted the first powered flight.

What the #ing hell happened to education in this country.

To reverse my conspiratorial view of the world, government,
and so-called figures of authority, would be simple.

This country would be full of kids who had made their own
bicycle part airplane/glider/powered wing by the age of 11,
the gas mileage of cars would be steadily increasing since
1950 not going down, and the wattage of household appliances
would be getting more efficient, not less.

But they are not.

    Refrigerator-Freezer 1950's
    16 cu. ft. | 380 Watts
    20 cu. ft. | 420 Watts

    Refrigerator-Freezer (frostless) 2010's
    16 cu. ft. | 600 Watts
    20 cu. ft. | 800 Watts


It's not that solar power isn't awesome,
and the original design of panels last as long as glass,
but that our appliances are grossly inefficient,
and haven't gotten any better since the 50's.

One would think in 60+ years that the appliances
would at least be a tiny bit more efficient, but they aren't.

The day companies start selling 38 Watt refrigerators
is the day solar will eclipse oil.









And then, after all that is reversed,
and we actually start making progress
on the front of space and space exploration
I will stop being a conspiracy theorist and digging
for the real truth behind everything, and the elusive
dark forces shaping the world view of future generations.


Mike
edit on 29-9-2013 by mikegrouchy because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 11:48 PM
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reply to post by CIAGypsy
 


Most of the time I visit conspiracy sites for entertainment. Some of the threads I've read here and on other websites just blow my mind! What amazes me are the people who believe some of the crazy stories they post. There are some super spooky people out there roaming the streets.

I can't think of any conspiracy theory that has solid undeniable proof. (I guess that's why it's called a theory.) The one that I believe has some meat on the bone is the JFK assassination. Another is the 9/11 attack I think there is a lot of information that was never released to the public about 9/11.

The majority of the theories are a bunch of paranoid fluff but they're fun to read. Especially when some bizzare claim or theory is debunked but the op refuses to listen to logic. Some of the debates are hilarious.

In a nutshell it's a break from reality but if you're wise you take it with a grain of salt and in small portions because you don't want to lose your way......(or your mind).
.





edit on 29-9-2013 by tweetybird0428 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 11:56 PM
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reply to post by mikegrouchy
 


Well...A "Frostless Fridge" has a cycle that generates heat so up goes your power consumption. I just replaced my older car with a new same model, same size engine and fuel tank. The new car has half again the power and fuel consumption is down a full 25%.



posted on Sep, 30 2013 @ 12:11 AM
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CIAGypsy
I just wanted to be clear that this thread isn't about any particular conspiracy theory but rather about how and why they exist. I am asking everyone to honestly exam your own beliefs to understand and explain why you believe, don't believe, or take a particular perception against the opposite side.

edit on 29-9-2013 by CIAGypsy because: (no reason given)


In general I do believe that some people in power can and do act together to suppress truth. Why do I believe that? The same reason I believe some people work together to make and distribute drugs- because that's what criminals do.

Just because someone holds a position of power doesn't automatically make them honest.

Most people will take what ever CNN says as 110% truth. In their minds, people at such a high level MUST have a high ethical standard. I don't believe CNN is any more honest than someone posting on the internet.



posted on Sep, 30 2013 @ 12:18 AM
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minkmouse
reply to post by mikegrouchy
 


Well...A "Frostless Fridge" has a cycle that generates heat so up goes your power consumption. I just replaced my older car with a new same model, same size engine and fuel tank. The new car has half again the power and fuel consumption is down a full 25%.





This video alone is five years old.

The Idea of not having to get body work to repair
a vehicle involved in a minor scrape
with a shopping cart goes
back to the late 80's.

edit on 30-9-2013 by mikegrouchy because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 30 2013 @ 01:21 AM
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reply to post by CIAGypsy
 


Just one...

For public consumption

I remember the Vietnam "conflict". They only began to call it a "war" after it was over. Up until that time the media was very careful not to use that word. Afterwords its "okay" because its over. History is thus rewritten.

Watch for yourself how they cage Iraq and Afghanistan in the mainstream.



posted on Sep, 30 2013 @ 01:40 AM
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Well, I'm usually pretty skeptical. The only conspiracies I think we've been flat out lied to about would be the JFK assassination, and 9/11. And perhaps parts of our own government helped those things happen.

Personally, I think it's kind of crazy to suggest there are reptilian aliens in disguise on earth, and other more "out there" theories. However, I can agree that these things are possibilities. Everything is a possibility, it may not be very probable, or even logical, but anything could or would happen I suppose. You just need enough hard evidence. And usually most theories usually don't have much evidence to them. It's just usually eye-witness accounts, or pure speculation.

But I will say it's hard for me to trust the media. Nearly all of the news, entertainment, movies, etc. come from the media. And of course, the big media companies are owned by major corporations. So obviously it's going to be biased in some way.

I encourage people to question everything and anything. But don't automatically assume something just because you heard a few people talking about it. You can't always take someones word for it. We humans surely aren't perfect, and we aren't always right. Knowledge is power, and I'm sure some people out there would benefit greatly from keeping the knowledge out of the hands of the public. And it's logical to assume that the people with the most control (the wealthy, and politicians) would be the ones keeping secrets.



posted on Sep, 30 2013 @ 03:49 AM
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reply to post by CIAGypsy
 


There's two kinds of conspiracies I like. One is low probability stuff, like reptilians. The classic name for these stories we repeat as true even though they probably aren't is "folklore", and its been part of America since the beginning. The second is high probability stuff, which is mostly criminal conspiracy. I think the attraction to that that comes from being an outsider to society at times, looking in and realizing this isn't a meritocracy, and sometimes well executed and concieved crime pays very well. Contemplating crime, its really indistinguishable from assymetrical warfare in many ways. When you can see it through a martial lens, you see what a big force in the world it is, yet so few others see it as such. So its a sense of special insight, but also isolating.

For instance, when we learn that money is created as debt, the criminal mind asks how we can get it printed for us for free. The answer is pretty simple. Set up a reputable lending company, take out a $100000 loan, lend $50000 to drunk hobos with no payments due this year and 1000% intertest rate, pay yourself the other 50k, and sell the business within the year, with its fantastic balance sheet for $200000. That sounds absurd, but its basically a sketch of the 2008 crisis. The more complicated versions involve a conspiracy of players, throwing around assets at inflated prices for their balance sheets. But all the plans ask the same question, how can I get free money? Just like some dumber guys might decide to rob a bank, its the same question, same spirit. But for some reason, only the CT community can concieve of these smarter criminal actions though. Its isolating.



posted on Sep, 30 2013 @ 04:52 AM
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Maybe there are 3 reasons why they exist .1 bad people doing bad things . 2 bad people creating a CT to distract . 3 people being paranoid . I guess it might be too easy to find a inconsistency or what might look like one without having all of the information to come up with a logical explanation .But when you see something like the Georgia guide stones and read about Agenda 21 , is it possible to not wonder ? When you hear Al Gore spouting off about global warming and starting a carbon stock exchange while buying sea side properties , is it possible to not wonder . ..Maybe people have too much time to wonder and are suspicious by nature .But you can be sure that there are people out there right now conspiring to do something nefarious .$$$



posted on Sep, 30 2013 @ 08:13 AM
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reply to post by Klassified
 

Oops. I just noticed my gross error...


Giving aids to humans intentionally.

That should read syphylis. Aids didn't exist back then.



posted on Sep, 30 2013 @ 09:54 AM
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reply to post by CIAGypsy
 


Your refusal to have yourself vaccinated doesn't seem to have anything to do with the anti-vaccine conspiracy theory at all.


I do not and will not *ever* get a flu shot. Why? Because I have personal knowledge of events where people have been injected with something else other than what they thought they were getting. And while I do not have any reason to believe this is happening with a flu shot (or any other vaccine), just the potential that it has/could happen again is enough to encourage me to remove the possibility within my personal control. Is that paranoia?

You don't say who received the wrong stuff in an injection, or any other details, but I'll assume a medical misadventure of some kind. Well, once bitten, twice shy. Your fear is not irrational (it is based on direct personal knowledge), yet in another way it's not very rational either (the chances of it happening again are pretty slim). You're like people who fear flying, or snakes — the danger they fear is real, but statistically rather small.

Refusing to get yourself vaccinated is still a bit of an anti-social thing to do, because you're compromising herd immunity. On the other hand, you're talking about vaccinations against the 'flu. Hardly polio or smallpox, is it? If a really deadly mutation occurs and spreads, existing vaccinations are probably of little use anyway. I've never had a 'flu shot in my life and I seriously doubt they are of any use in forestalling epidemics.

The question of how to respond to conspiracy theories and theorists is still vexed, though. It's okay engaging them here on ATS, which is purpose-designed for it, and we may even do a bit of good by demonstrating to uncommitted readers that these theories are nonsense. In the real world, though, giving these people the time of day is equivalent to giving them a platform — ultimately, it does more harm than good. Best to ignore them.



posted on Sep, 30 2013 @ 08:21 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


Actually, your assumptions are incorrect. The "personal knowledge" I referred to previously had to do with a group of individuals who were injected with a disease strain for research purposes. The individuals being injected did not know they were being injected with a disease. They were under the impression they were receiving a vaccine. Horrifying stuff, really.... I don't know how many were ultimately injected and/or died as a result but some were just young children.

As a scientist, I have sworn to never...and I mean NEVER....test on an unwilling or unwitting subject.



posted on Sep, 30 2013 @ 10:18 PM
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reply to post by CIAGypsy
 


Thank you for the clarification, Gypsy. Does the first part of your screen name refer to a previous employer?

The scenario you describe certainly justifies your anxiety about vaccination. That anxiety, however, is still clearly distinct from the hysterical fears of people who think vaccination campaigns are a conspiracy to poison or render infertile the general public, or to make money for the pharmaceutical industry by making people sick so that they will have to buy more drugs to cure themselves.


As a scientist, I have sworn to never...and I mean NEVER....test on an unwilling or unwitting subject.

This does you credit, I'm sure, but aren't there fields of research, particularly in psychology, where such tests are unavoidable if one wishes to obtain accurate results?





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