April 20, 2004
The TriLateral Commission did it!
Posted by Jon Henke
Good Toronto Star article on the nature of Conspiracy Theories....
"Political conspiracies are sexy right now," says Robin Ramsay, publisher of a British magazine called Lobster, which devotes itself to the thorny task of separating genuine political conspiracies from the vastly more plentiful bogus ones. "I take the view that conspiracies are normal."
There is a difference, however, between a healthy skepticism....and obstructive cynicism. The latter doesn't ask questions...it assumes conclusions. And there's a reason it's often useless to argue with many (but not all) conspiracy theorists....
In these post-9/11 days, conspiracies are just about everywhere — or, at least, conspiracy theories are.
Why don't we just believe what we're told?
"We are skeptical because we will never trust governments to tell us the totality of what happened," says Mark Fenster, a professor of law at the University of Florida and author of a book about conspiracy theories. "A certain amount of skepticism is a perfectly logical response."
"It's virtually impossible for a conspiracy theorist to admit that they're incorrect," says Fenster. "It's a commitment that is so absolute that any empirical evidence that contradicts your theory has got to be explained or it has got to be ignored."They're committed. It justifies their cynicism, and it's hard to ask somebody to re-evaluate something so deeply ingrained in their personality.
So, why do I generally dismiss such conspiracy theories? As the author writes...
Dewdney, for one, looks askance at most such ideas, but the writer is especially critical of theorists who seem to endow governments with a nearly perfect ability to keep the people in a state of complete ignorance about certain deep, dark secrets.
Obviously, there are conspiracies. I think, though, that it's fair to say that the larger, more important and more complex a conspiracy must be...the less likely it is to be true. Hell, Nixon couldn't even manage to keep a two-man burglary secret. What are the odds (fill in the blank) could manage a cover-up of 9/11, dozens of murders, or a "war for oil" without letting it slip?
"If governments were as effective as these people give them credit for," he says, "they'd be much more effective than any government I know of. We know that governments are a quagmire."
What are the odds they'd even try such a implausible and complex undertaking? Not very likely.