Psychology of Conspiracy Theorists

Discussion in 'Conspiracies' started by James R, Feb 18, 2015.

  1. Kittamaru No more Staff Member

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    But... you just spoke about the cover-up...

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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    I was reading through the wikipedia article on Conspiracy Theories (link). This is a good point:
    For the unitiated, Occam's razor is the idea that given two possible explanations for something that can equally account for all the facts, we should prefer the simpler one. So, for example, if the choice is between the idea that JFK was shot by the lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald, or that JFK was shot as a result of a complex conspiracy involving the CIA and other government agencies for nefarious reasons, then we ought to opt for the single gunman theory, provided that it can equally well account for all the facts.

    The Principle of Falsifiability says that any theory is only (scientifically) viable if it could, in principle, be falsified by one or more items of disconfirming evidence. In the JFK case, for example, we should ask ourselves: "What kind of evidence would prove that JFK's assassination was not a CIA/government conspiracy?" And, of course, "What kind of evidence would prove that JFK's assassination was not the act of a lone gunman?" The next step, of course, is to go looking for the evidence - and not just the evidence in favour of our "preferred" explanation, but also for any possible disconfirming evidence.

    Another example: Space aliens are visiting Earth in flying spaceships. We have some blurry video that seems to support this, plus some dubious eyewitness accounts.

    Occam's razor asks: can we account for UFO sightings without introducing something that has never been proven to exist (i.e. space aliens)? If so, then we should prefer the explanation that doesn't involve introducing the "new entity".

    The Principle of Falsifiability asks: what kind of evidence would disprove the idea that aliens are visiting Earth? Possible answers might include: videos turn out to be faked (check!) and "eyewitnesses" turn out to be mistaken or lying (check!). We should think more widely than merely debunking the "evidence" presented, too. For example, we should consider the likelihood of space aliens being able to travel to Earth in the first place, the liklihood that they would hide instead of revealing themselves openly to the world, the likelihood that they would want to mutilate cattle and perform sexual experiments on human beings, and so on.

    At the same time, we should ask: what kind of evidence would disprove the idea that aliens are NOT visiting Earth? I can think of some. For example, picture an Independence Day kind of scenario, whereby hundreds of giant spaceships suddenly appear in the sky over many cities on Earth, witnessed by billions of people.

    Notice the difference in falsifiability in the two examples above, though. Would it be easier to disprove the CIA conspiracy, or the lone gunman theory? In my opinion, it would be much easier to disprove the lone gunman theory than the CIA conspiracy (as elaborated by the conspiracy theorists). In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the usual JFK conspiracy theories are constructed so as to be unfalsifiable. Which makes them worthless.

    Similarly, how falsifiable is a grand government conspiracy to hide the existence of alien spaceships - and how easy would it be to disprove the notion that there are no aliens? Again, I think that if aliens really were visiting Earth regularly, as the conspiracy nuts would have us believe, then it wouldn't be too hard to convince the "skeptics". On the other hand, disproving the existence of a giant government cover-up is, again by construction, virtually impossible. And therefore the idea of a giant cover-up fails the falsifiability test.
     
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    And you just mentioned the cover-up!

    Oh no, I said it myself!

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  7. Q-reeus Valued Senior Member

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    Preaching to the choir? I would suggest as one antidote to that nebulous appeal to 'Occam's razor', actually watch the entirety of this high quality BBC series narrated by Nigel Turner: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-men-who-killed-kennedy/
    It imo destroys totally the emotive appeals to 'common sense'. i.e. that US government, agents thereof, and other implicated parties, were/are beyond reproach or too incompetent to pull off such a feat. BS. Operation Northwoods: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Northwoods is another demolition of this idea one can trust our 'democratic institutions'. And very likely someone on this very forum is acutely aware that Snowden revelations re NSA (and others) Total Surveillance has a disturbing counterpart much closer to home.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015
  8. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Perhaps they thought that a burning cross on your front lawn was advertisement enough.
     
  9. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

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    The Klan burned a cross in my white uncle's front yard once because he had black clients (he's a lawyer). He filled one of their asses with ratshot for their veterinarian to pick out. We left Mississippi about a year later. Remember the Nina Simone song, Mississippi, Goddam?

     
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  10. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Nice history lesson. You know what "secret police" are don't you? Here's a Wiki definition:

    "Secret police (sometimes called political police) are intelligence services or police and law enforcement agencies which operate in secrecy, alternative name for secret service and also quite often in totalitarian statesbeyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator and/or an authoritarian (autocracy) political regime."===http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_police

    Ofcourse there are several examples of secret police in history how they operated. The Gestapo was one of them. The methods they employed were both open and secret. Arresting people to offer them protection from mob violence was one of them. They'd have them sign a protection order, and then end up permanently imprisoning them. The order of the death penalty for Jews as also not announced either. It was given in secret and done in secret. Nobody knew the atrocities being committed in concentration camps until the war was over.

    The Southern conspiracy against black people also employed a secret police in Mississippi:

    "The Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, an agency with the responsibility to enforcesegregation and resist all challenges to it in the American state of Mississippi, manipulated the news media, harassed opponents of segregation, coordinated with terrorist groups, and manipulated the judicial system to defend those who committed violent crimes (even murder) against those who challenged the racist order."==http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_police

    Antigay conspiracies also have employed secret means to harrass gay me. Using legal restrictions against gay business owners would be one of these methods. Vandelism and hatecrimes were also done in secret.

    So it is just ridiculous to claim that such groups never employed secret or deceptive means to accomplish their persecution of minorities. Ofcourse they did.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015
  11. Kittamaru No more Staff Member

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    It is ridiculous to claim anything is "never" something... "never" and "always" are pretty taboo words in the world, excepting under very specific circumstances, because they imply that whatever you are discussing is absolute.
     
  12. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

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    Again, you're rewriting history.

    The jewish Ghettos were established in 1933
    The Neuremberg laws were enacted in 1935.
    The Kristalnacht happened in 1938.
    The polish jews were expelled from Germany in 1938.
    The Einsatzgruppen were on the eastern front with the Wermacht killing jews in German occupied Russia. They would send photos of this happening back to Germany, some of which were intercepted by the Polish resistance.
    The News Chronicle (of London) published an article in 1938 about an incident at Sachsenhausen (a concentration camp).
    There was a general strike in the Netherlands in February 1941 in opposition to Nazi treatment of Jews (it was largely suppressed).
    Norway and Denmark managed to save the majority of Jews in their borders. It was around this time information started emerging from Poland regarding Auschwitz.
    By 1942 there was sufficient evidence of what was happening that there was allied debate over whether or not to bomb Auschwitz.
    Jan Karski (IIRC) presented an address to the UN titled "The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland". This resulted in The Joint Declaration by the Members of the United Nations."
    The residents of the Warsaw Ghetto were aware of the true nature of the 'relocations' by the end of 1942, resulting in the uprising in 1943.
    The Diary of Anne Frank - her family went into hiding when they were ordered to 'relocate' to a 'work camp' in 1942.
    There have also been several papers published examining the amount of knowledge the average person had, and the general conclusion seems to have been that because of the scale of the operation involved, knowledge was likely to be widespread among the general populace.

    There was nothing secretive about this.
     
  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    So you are saying the extermination of Jews and others in concentration camps WASN'T kept secret? That it was officially announced to the world and to all the Jews? That when they called the gas chambers "showers" they weren't trying to hide them from the future victims? That's ridiculous..
     
  14. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    The existence of the secret police was never a secret, the only secret was who was one of them.
     
  15. Kittamaru No more Staff Member

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    Indeed, many many people knew exactly what was going on... why do you think so much of the Jewish population went underground or left the country?

    Oh, I know... the ones that fled were all empathic / had ESP and were being granted "visions of the future", right MR?
     
  16. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    Most military actions, or those liable to invite military response, are not telegraphed to their foes. This is not considered conspiracy, only military prudence.

    The Final Solution was widely known throughout various government departments.
     
  17. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

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    I'm saying it wasn't the great secret that you're making it out to be.

    You're being at best disingenuine here, at worst dishonest and mischevious. But in a sense, yes, actually, it was.

    The German authorities liked their euphemisms.

    Google, among other things 'Sonderkommando' (but not SS Sonderkommando, that was something different). Prisoners were forced to participate in the process.
     
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Correct; it was not. In fact, the extermination of the Jews was one of the rallying cries of the US war effort.

    Same in Germany, ironically. In fact, Germans used propaganda to 'prove' that such extermination was necessary:
    =========
    http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007819
    Selling Genocide

    While most Germans disapproved of anti-Jewish violence, dislike of Jews, easily stirred up in hard times, extended far beyond the Nazi Party faithful. The majority of Germans at least passively accepted discrimination against Jews. An underground report prepared in January 1936 by an observer for German Social Democratic Party leaders in exile noted: “The feeling that the Jews are another race is today a general one.”

    During periods preceding new measures against Jews, propaganda campaigns created an atmosphere tolerant of violence against Jews or exploited the violence-both calculated and spontaneous-that ensued to encourage passivity and acceptance of anti-Jewish laws and decrees as a vehicle to restore public order. Propaganda that demonized Jews also served to prepare the German population, in the context of national emergency, for harsher measures, such as mass deportations and, eventually, genocide.
    ============
     
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  19. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Ill treatment and discrimination against Jews may have been one of the reasons the US entered the war but extermination was not a factor.
    I don't think that the holocaust ever became a rallying cry.

    Coincidentally the declaration of war by the USA on Germany and the Wannsee conference which set in motion the "Final Solution" were barely over a month apart.
    The declaration was on December 11th 1941 and the Wannsee resolution was made on the 20th January 1942.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015
  20. Kittamaru No more Staff Member

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    The US joined the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor... but the systematic extermination of the Jewish Population (and in fact, anyone the Nazi party did not consider to be part of the "master race", including homosexuals, mentally disabled persons, etc) was part of the reason the US People rallied so strongly.
     
  21. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Any evidence to support that?
     
  22. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

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    I would like to see evidence of that as well. The US was highly isolationist going into WWII, so all the pro-US propaganda was about the threat to the US itself.
     
  23. Kittamaru No more Staff Member

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    http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/american-response-to-the-holocaust

    It would seem to me that anyone who saw images from the concentration camps would have sought justice... though perhaps that's just me. As I said - the Holocaust is not why we entered the war - in fact, news of the Holocaust was not prominently published until after the war:

    http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005182
    None the less, I would put money down that news of these events spurred people to work harder to defeat the Axis powers, both in the military and in the factories back home.
     

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