59 Comments


  1. What? Do some people NOT believe “that a secret society … is conspiring to take over world governments”? Considering that there are a number of not-so-secret societies openly planning to do this, can anyone really believe that no one is plotting it secretly?

    And given how many billions of habitable planets there probably are in the observable universe, it is quite a step of faith to believe that aliens do not exist. The illogical thing is that only 8% of Americans believe in the existence of aliens who have never been within light years of Roswell.

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    1. Peter, one might suggest that “not so secret societies” are dissimilar to secret societies, in that one is secret, the other not.

      The problem is with why they believe in aliens, more than whether aliens actually exist or not.

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      1. Well, I omitted “such as the Freemasons”, but they are not so much a secret society as a secretive one, with declared aims but also allegedly undeclared ones. There are, for example, numerous Islamic groups which are similarly secretive, and whose aims, sometimes openly declared and sometimes apparent from their actions, are to take over world governments. Most likely there are also (pseudo-)Christian groups with similar aims, as well as ones from other religions. Of course if such a society was truly secret we wouldn’t know about it, but we can still judge it likely to exist.

        I guess the real issue is whether a small group of teens plotting political activity, or bomb making, counts as a secret society. I doubt if there is a real threat from any of these groups.

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  2. Not to be a kill-joy, but the study is only reflective of those surveyed–i.e. 1,247–and not the supposed millions of Americans. In other words: “one in five” does not equal “up to 66 million”; “one in four” does not equal “as many as 88 million”; “seven percent” does not equal “as many as 22 million”; etc. As I pointed out (on my blog), the real numbers are less shocking.

    Thus, the epidemic–or in this case, pandemic–is not really as widespread as this post suggests. In fact, the conspiracy theory survey does not suggest that such a pandemic even exists. It’s more like a case of food poisoning at a local diner.

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    1. Spoilsport.. I only posted this because I know Joel believes in the shape changing reptile thing..

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      1. Oh, well, if it’s to have a go at Joel, then by all means–post away. :)

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  3. John C. Poirier

    I agree with Carl — some of these figures seem way too high to represent the whole population. I’d be surprised if more than 1% of people believe that McCartney died in 1966.

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    1. Its a survey and as such is only indicative. Most of us in the rest of the world dont even believe America exists 😛

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  4. What I find more interesting than talking about the beliefs of the kooky minority, are the kooky actions of the majority. For example, the Milgram experiments consistently showed that 61-66% of people were willing to torture people to death just because somebody told them to.

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    1. Yes, 61-66% does appear to be a majority. But 61-66% of 40 people. Not really a representative figure of people.

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    1. Once again: yes, 75% does appear to be a majority. But 75% of 123 people–excuse me: 123 males. Hardly a majority, and hardly representative.

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  5. So from the deafening silence, it’s safe to say that nobody here would torture anyone to death or give the obviously wrong answer just to conform with the majority? Oh good. I feel much safer now.

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    1. No, I won’t say that nobody is secretly plotting to take over the world government just to conform to the majority. But I wouldn’t torture Joel to death for disagreeing with me.

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  6. Tell me Peter, which do you find more alarming: minorities believing crazy conspiracy theories, or majorities willing to torture people to death and blind their eyes to obvious truths in order to conform to what they think the majority believes?

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    1. Bilbo, I think your question is taking this thread rather off topic, as well as in a more serious direction than I was taking it. But to answer it, I am not too alarmed by conspiracy theories, but I am very alarmed that anyone is willing to torture anyone else to death for any reason.

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      1. I don’t think I’m really taking it off topic at all. We have a poll of all those silly conspiracy theorists making the rounds in the blogosphere, so that we can all have fun laughing at those silly people who disagree with the majority, and re-enforce the belief that conspiracy theorists who believe, for example, that 9/11 was an inside job (I’m one of those) should just be made fun of and not taken seriously.

        Meanwhile, we have serious empirical evidence that the majority can be quite self-delusional and dangerous. But nobody tries to re-enforce the belief that the majority can be self-delusional and dangerous. And thus we have two wars, the erosion of civil rights, and torture of people we are told are terrorists, even though there have been no trials to prove that they are terrorists.

        But go ahead and laugh at conspiracy theorists. They’re a riot.

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        1. Bilbo, I agree with you. Not “that 9/11 was an inside job”, but that conspiracy theories should not just be laughed away – and that alleged terrorists should be brought to trial, not tortured. My response to Geoff’s post was to ridicule the attempted debunking of conspiracy theories by pointing out its improbable implications.

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        2. actually, most of the conspiracies mentioned have been debunked to the point that they can be considered ridiculous. There are a couple, for example aliens and bigfoot which it may be possible to prove still… but the rest.. no, they are laughable.

          They do, I admit, only become laughable once they have been successfully debunked, but if they have, feel free to laugh away.

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          1. Hi Geoff,

            As a 9/11 Truther, of course I disagree with you about at least one of those conspiracy theories. But my deeper point is that by diverting our attention to what appear to be ridiculous minority views, we lose sight of things the majority of us swallow unquestioningly.


          2. Anyone who honestly believes that the american government had something to do with 9/11 should probably leave the country now, and go live somewhere safe like Mozambique.


  7. Hi Geoff,

    But what happens when the U.S. government declares that there are al Qaeda terrorist cells in Mozambique? Where would you have me go, then?

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    1. I dont know.. anywhere you want.. (ps, irony.. Mozambique is not safe, or pick any other dangerous place, Iraq, Afghanistan, Texas..)

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  8. As far as I can tell, Michigan is as safe a place as any…so far. But you appear to think that this would be some kind of refutation of 9/11 Truth. Why?

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    1. Its not a refutation of anything. But I know I wouldnt want to live in a country were I suspected the government would brutally murder 3 or more thousand of its own citizens and then many more innocents in other countries because of it. I’d be on the first plane to somewhere sane.

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  9. But it’s not at all clear to me that there is any place that is “sane.” So I might as well stay here and try to change the country and the government that I’m already stuck with.

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    1. well that’s nice, but surely you’d want to change things they actually do, instead of things people imagine they might have done..

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  10. Oh yes. I voted for Obama…the first time. Guantanamo’s still there. We’re still in Afghanistan. Lots of shiny new drones for everyone, at home or abroad.

    Both our foreign and domestic policy is based on 9/11, now. If we want to change our government the easiest way is to get people like you to see that we were lied to right from the start.

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    1. I dont care, I dont live in the USA..

      But I have studied 9/11 and read the conspiracy theories, and the debunks of the conspiracy, and the debunks of the debunk, and the debunk of the debunk of the debunk, etc, for fun. I think I can be pretty objective about it in that case, and well.. its a joke.

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  11. Okay, so we disagree. It won’t be the first time reasonable people have disagreed about something.

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    1. that’s true. At least you didnt say “we agree to disagree then” – because I never agree to disagree. I just disagree because everyone else is wrong! 😛

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  12. I have friends that I know are reasonable who disagree with me about 9/11. Why should I think you are any different?

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    1. Dont get me wrong, I dont mind being thought of as reasonable 😛

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  13. It makes blogging more pleasant when people aren’t immediately assuming you’re an idiot, doesn’t it?

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  14. From the letter:

    Today, the conspiracy-theory label is widely used as a verbal defense mechanism by U.S. political elites to suppress mass suspicions that inevitably arise whenever shocking political crimes benefit top leaders or play into their agendas, especially when those same officials are in control of agencies responsible for preventing the events in question or for investigating them after they have occurred. It is only natural to be suspicious when a president and vice president bent on war in the Middle East are warned of impending terrorist attacks and yet fail to alert the American public or increase the readiness of the nation’s armed forces. Why would Americans not expect answers when they are told that Arabs with poor piloting skills managed to hijack four planes, fly them across the eastern United States, somehow evade America’s multilayered system of air defense, and then crash two of the planes into the Twin Towers in New York City and one into the Pentagon in Washington, DC? By the same token, it is only natural to question the motives of the president and vice president when they drag their feet on investigating this seemingly inexplicable defense failure and then, when the investigation is finally conducted, they insist on testifying together, in secret, and not under oath.

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  15. Surely a more likely explanation of the observed facts is that there was a monumental but accidental failure by the government, right up to presidential level, to take appropriate action to prevent 9/11. The authorities of course wanted to cover this up, so as not to look incompetent and deflect criticism from themselves. And that is very believable. What is not, surely, believable is that a large number of people from the President down deliberately and with premeditation colluded to cause the death of thousands of Americans, and then more thousands in Afghanistan, Iraq etc.

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  16. Hi Peter,

    You wrote:

    What is not, surely, believable is that a large number of people from the President down deliberately and with premeditation colluded to cause the death of thousands of Americans, and then more thousands in Afghanistan, Iraq etc.

    Why do people always assume that it had to be “a large number of people from the President down…”?

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    1. Bilbo, the letter you quote with approval implies that the President and VP were involved. It also mentions “America’s multilayered system of air defense” implying that each of many layers would have had to be disabled. And it mentions agencies responsible for investigating the crimes. If all of these were involved in the conspiracy, many people would have had to be involved. Conceivably some of these could have been ordered to take strange actions without being part of the conspiracy, but then why did none of them talk afterwards?

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      1. Hi Peter,

        There have been plenty of whistleblowers about failures of the government to take appropriate action both prior to and during the attacks. Now if people in our military also took part in the events by, for example, bringing the WTC buildings (1,2, and 7) by controlled demolitions, I would not expect whistleblowers to step forward for that. Those would have been clearly criminal actions, and criminals only volunteer to rat out their bosses once they have been caught and need to make a deal. Since there was never an even an attempt to catch such culprits, there would be no volunteering of such information.

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        1. Controlled demolitions require a large number of people. My point proved. As for the lack of military whistleblowers, have you heard of Bradley Manning?

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          1. When you say a large number of people, how many do you mean? If they all know they are involved in criminal activity, why would any of them become whistleblowers, unless they had strong motivation for doing so?

            No, I haven’t heard of Bradley Manning, but I’ll look him up.


          2. This is my second reply: Ah yes, wikileaks provider. Okay, so if there were a record of a military operation to demolish the WTC buildings, and if Manning had access to that record, we could expect him to release it to wikileaks. Two very iffy premises.


          3. And my third reply: Regardless of how many people were involved and why there weren’t any whistleblowers, if there is hard physical evidence of controlled demolition, then there is hard physical evidence of controlled demolition. Is there such evidence? Here is where the Asch Conformity experiments become relevant. Frankly, I think the only way people can look at the collapse of Building 7 and not see a controlled demolition is because of the phenomenon that the Asch tests revealed. They don’t see a controlled demolition because that would conflict with what the “majority” say they see.


          4. Bilbo,

            The same applies. The only reason people think it is a controlled demolition is because it _looks like_ one. As there is no evidence other than the way it fell. There is plenty of counter evidence to show that the way it fell is how it was designed or at least expected to collapse in those circumstances. This is when Occam’s razor applies. The most simple explanation is that the building was built in a certain way, and collapsed a certain way because of that, and the effect of the plane hitting/fire/explosions.

            There is no need for it to be a controlled demolition, in fact, the amount of things that had to be put into place for it to occur make it highly unlikely when there is a more simple logical reason.


          5. Hi Geoff,

            Well at least you agree that it looks like a controlled demolition. In fact it looks so much like a controlled demolition that the burden of proof should be on those who think that it isn’t one. And that’s my main point: we should think that it is a controlled demolition until someone can prove it isn’t one. NIST offered an explanation of how Building 7 came down because of office fires, but they refuse to release the data upon which they based their computer simulation. By refusing to release their data, they have effectively removed their explanation from the realm of science, which demands public access to all data.

            But is the evidence for controlled demolition only that it looks like one? I and many others disagree. But should we discuss that here?


          6. Bilbo,

            You can discuss what ever you like about it, I may not necessarily be able to respond though.

            Unfortunately there is no “physical” evidence, apart from video evidence of the event and a few experts opinions. However, there are as many contrary opinions, including those who designed the building and various other structural and demolition experts. Add to that the massive conspiracy and cover up over decades of time, and hundreds if not thousands of people, who may or may not (most not) have a vested interest in silence, and, as I said, the likelihood of it being fact becomes increasingly remote. The truth is stranger than fiction.


          7. Hi Geoff,

            Again, we disagree on whether there is physical evidence, but also again, the burden of proof is on those who say it wasn’t a controlled demolition. It is up to them to provide an explanation of how Building 7 came down. NIST claims they have provided one, but they refuse to release the data for their computer simulation. Until they do, they cannot claim that they have provided a scientific explanation.

            As to the idea that people who knowingly committed such a horrific crime voluntarily coming forward and confessing? Really? Do we have any parallels in history to that happening? The only reason Watergate was revealed was because of vigorous independent investigation that kept digging until leads were discovered. Deep throat could have leaked all he wanted, but if nobody was willing to follow up on the leaks and print it, it wouldn’t have mattered.

            If you read the article I linked to, the professor provides a prima facie case that the Republicans stole the 2004 elections through rigging the computers. But unless someone in the mainstream media or with power in the government is willing to follow up with a real investigation, it doesn’t matter one hill of beans.


  17. I like the concluding paragraph of the letter:

    But most run-of-the-mill reporters have embraced conspiracy denial, and for them it has become an emotionally charged, self-reinforcing belief system. The mindset is self-reinforcing in the sense that it engenders feelings of superiority and is dismissive of evidence. Ironically, conspiracy deniers think they are protecting civility and reason in public discourse, when in fact, by ridiculing reasonable concerns and appealing to elite prejudices, they are doing just the opposite.

    The exact point I’ve been trying to make here. Yes, there is a God.

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