KorbenDallas

Conspiracy theories and Conspiracy theorists

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First a quote from Rand, from the Lexicon:

If you rebel against reason, if you succumb to the old bromides of the Witch Doctors, such as: “Reason is the enemy of the artist” or “The cold hand of reason dissects and destroys the joyous spontaneity of man’s creative imagination”—I suggest that you take note of the following fact: by rejecting reason and surrendering to the unhampered sway of their unleashed emotions (and whims), the apostles of irrationality, the existentialists, the Zen Buddhists, the non-objective artists, have not achieved a free, joyous, triumphant sense of life, but a sense of doom, nausea and screaming, cosmic terror. Then read the stories of O. Henry or listen to the music of Viennese operettas and remember that these were the products of the spirit of the nineteenth century—a century ruled by the “cold, dissecting” hand of reason. And then ask yourself: which psycho-epistemology is appropriate to man, which is consonant with the facts of reality and with man’s nature?

“The Esthetic Vacuum of Our Age,”
The Romantic Manifesto, 128


Elder Peikoff discusses conspiracy theorists in this short podcast from 2011

 

Yaron Brook, in this short January 2013 podcast, answers the question, "I've seen a significant rise in conspiracy theories among the public lately. Is this a trend and how do we explain the prevalence?"

 

On the forum, I did a search and found two relevant threads:

Here is the current summary excerpt from the Wikipedia page on conspiracy theories:

A conspiracy theory is a belief that a secret conspiracy has actually been decisive in producing a political event or evil outcome which the theorists strongly disapprove of.[3] The conspiracy theory typically identifies the conspirators, provides evidence that supposedly links them together with an evil plan to harm the body politic, and may also point to a supposed cover up by authorities or media who should have stopped the conspiracy. The duty of the theorist is to pick from a myriad of facts and assumptions and reassemble them to form a picture of the conspiracy, as in a jigsaw puzzle. A theorist may publicly identify specific conspirators, and if they deny the allegations that is evidence they have been sworn to secrecy and are probably guilty. Historian Gordon Wood argues that since the Enlightenment of the 18th century, conspiracy theorists always assume that major evil events have been orchestrated and planned, and cannot have happened accidentally or coincidentally or as an unintended consequence of an innocent plan. That is, the jigsaw puzzle really does have a correct solution that ingenious detectives can discover.[4]


As an Objectivist, I identified that the fallacy of the package deal is present in every conspiracy theory I see.  From the Lexicon:

“Package-dealing” is the fallacy of failing to discriminate crucial differences. It consists of treating together, as parts of a single conceptual whole or “package,” elements which differ essentially in nature, truth-status, importance or value.

“The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made,”
Philosophy: Who Needs It, 24

Barbara Branden discusses the package dealing fallacy in her Principles of Efficient Thinking series, lecture 8, and in fact I would recommend the entire lecture series.


Conspiracy theories might pose an intellectual challenge but they are divorced from reality, though using elements of reality to create them.  A conspiracy theory is a lie, a lie is any attempt at faking reality.  Those people who create them are liars, and many fit into Rand's category of the Witch Doctor.

Protect yourself by using Reason, Rationality, Logic, and the epistemic standard of Objectivity, folks.

Better, identify the conspiracy theorist or conspiracy theory and reject outright.

And use volition: self-initiated, independent thought.

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And let's not forget that Iraq having Weapons of Mass Destruction was one of the biggest conspiracy theories ever foisted on an unsuspecting public by the entire political class, establishment and media.

The US deployed massive military resources to dismantle an entire country because people believed that conspiracy theory and conspiracy theorists who sold it. 

Today's conspiracy theorists are pikers by comparison.

Michael

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44 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

And let's not forget that Iraq having Weapons of Mass Destruction was one of the biggest conspiracy theories ever foisted on an unsuspecting public by the entire political class, establishment and media.

The US deployed massive military resources to dismantle an entire country because people believed that conspiracy theory and conspiracy theorists who sold it.

What conspiracy?

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28 minutes ago, KorbenDallas said:

What conspiracy?

What it was, was a big fat whopping lie!  Just like Lyndon Johnson's Gulf of Tonkien attack.  That whopper got 60,000 people killed. 

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43 minutes ago, KorbenDallas said:

What conspiracy?

Korben,

I did not say "conspiracy." I said, "conspiracy theory."

That Iraq had weapons of mass destruction is one of the biggest conspiracy theories ever unleashed on the American public.

I don't trust the conspiracy theorists who sold that conspiracy theory.

That means the entire Bush administration, most of Congress, the mainstream media, etc.

As you said:

1 hour ago, KorbenDallas said:

Or, identify the conspiracy theorist or conspiracy theory and reject outright.

Isn't your idea to:

1 hour ago, KorbenDallas said:

... use volition: self-initiated, independent thought...

?

Or are those folks too big to fail intellectually?

:)

Maybe if they acted crazy and talked goofy, this would be easier to see? But then, would relying on that standard to judge conceptual content be using reason?

:evil: 

Michael

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22 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Korben,

I did not say "conspiracy." I said, "conspiracy theory."

That Iraq had weapons of mass destruction is one of the biggest conspiracy theories ever unleashed on the American public.

I don't trust the conspiracy theorists who sold that conspiracy theory.

That means the entire Bush administration, most of Congress, the mainstream media, etc.

That Iraq had WMDs wasn't a conspiracy theory, it was a lie.  A lie perpetuated by the entities you listed, but that does not imply they were all in on the lie.

22 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

As you said:

2 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

Or, identify the conspiracy theorist or conspiracy theory and reject outright.

Isn't your idea to:

2 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

... use volition: self-initiated, independent thought...

?

Personally, I never believed Iraq had the WMDs.  I remained skeptical, leaning toward Iraq not having them.

22 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Or are those folks too big to fail intellectually?

:)

I don't know what this means.

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1 minute ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Korben,

So you don't think conspiracy theories are lies?

Are they true?

:)

Michael

Conspiracy theories are lies, but not all lies are conspiracy theories.

heh

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3 minutes ago, KorbenDallas said:

Conspiracy theories are lies, but not all lies are conspiracy theories.

Korben,

Saying a country has an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and is intent on using it--when it doesn't--stands the smell test to me for a goofy tin-foil hat conspiracy theory. It's right up there with the black helicopters. Ergo, the elites in Iraq were secretly conspiring... etc., etc., etc.

:)

Michael

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30 minutes ago, KorbenDallas said:

I don't know what this means.

Korben,

It means once a person becomes culturally identified with the ruling class, he no longer has to worry about being seen as a goofy conspiracy theorist. Reputation-wise, he's too big to fail intellectually. And just like the big banks were too big to fail, so the public treasury had to bail them out, when a big ruling class dude shows his hind end, the public intellectuals bail him out.

That way he will never be seen as a goofy conspiracy theorist no matter how bad the howler or how much the destruction, but merely someone who made a mistake based on some lie or other somewhere (and off they go looking for a sacrificial scapegoat).

After all, it's self-evident, mah boy, that conspiracy theorists act crazy and talk goofy. That is their fundamental characteristic. Does the ruling class dude act like that? Nooooooooooo...

Also, lack of logic or evidence is not a proper standard to identify whether a person is or is not a conspiracy theorist. Social standing and demeanor are the correct standards...

Right?

:evil:  :) 

(I don't think that way, but then again, I'm a crazy conspiracy theorist. :) )

Michael

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54 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

What it was, was a big fat whopping lie!  Just like Lyndon Johnson's Gulf of Tonkien attack.  That whopper got 60,000 people killed. 

The first casualty in war is truth. The biggest liar is government. Politicians are professional liars. Government is a poor source of information if you want truth. Most people take government as the best source of information. (authoritative, accredited, official)

Anyone can tell a lie. For example I could say I caught a bolt of lightning in my mouth (because I believed electricity is good for my health) and my throat was so hot that for a whole month I ate food raw and by the time it got to my stomach it was cooked. That probably would be a big enough whopper. But nobody would believe it. Lies are no good unless people believe them. The real challenge in telling lies is to tell such kind of lies and to tell them in such a way that people believe them. Politicians are professionals at the art of telling believable lies and that is how they get elected.

Politicians are the lowest form of life walking on 2 feet.

Don't nobody trust a politician.

 

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44 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Korben,

Saying a country has an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and is intent on using it--when it doesn't--stands the smell test to me for a goofy tin-foil hat conspiracy theory.

With the WMDs, essentials were preserved, there weren't any ascribed properties of Iraq that would make Iraq not Iraq.  A country like Iraq could posses WMDs as a potentiality, so whether they or did not is within the realm of reason.  Our Government lied that they did, but it was within the realm of reason that they could.

44 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

It's right up there with the black helicopters.

I had to look it up, from Wikipedia, "Black helicopters is a term which became popular in the United States militia movement and associated political groups in the 1990s as a symbol and warning sign of an alleged conspiratorial military takeover of the United States, though it has also been associated with men in black and similar conspiracies.[1 "

That is ascribing properties that don't exist to the helicopters, in which those properties have no potentiality to exist.  There's no logical necessity or potentiality.

The WMDs isn't a conspiracy theory, it is a lie.  The black helicopters is a conspiracy theory.

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Korben,

It means once a person becomes culturally identified with the ruling class, he no longer has to worry about being seen as a goofy conspiracy theorist. Reputation-wise, he's too big to fail intellectually. And just like the big banks were too big to fail, so the public treasury had to bail them out, when a big ruling class dude shows his hind end, the public intellectuals bail him out.

I got the banks part but didn't get the rest.  But I don't know who, specifically, are the members of the ruling class or how to group them.  I'd just say that if a grouping is made on non-essential properties, that it doesn't become their essence.

1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

After all, it's self-evident, mah boy, that conspiracy theorists act crazy and talk goofy. That is their fundamental characteristic. Does the ruling class dude act like that? Nooooooooooo...

Hah, well many conspiracy theorists do act crazy and talk goofy, some don't...  not sure about the ruling class still..

1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Also, lack of logic or evidence is not a proper standard to identify whether a person is or is not a conspiracy theorist. Social standing and demeanor are the correct standards...

Right?

Well no, but I'm wondering why a comparative standard of being a conspiracy theorist is being done to actual conspiracy theorists and public officials.

1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

(I don't think that way, but then again, I'm a crazy conspiracy theorist. :) )

Michael

I would in no way imply, infer, or suggest that in any way...  nope,  :P

 

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2 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

With the WMDs, essentials were preserved, there weren't any ascribed properties of Iraq that would make Iraq not Iraq.  A country like Iraq could posses WMDs as a potentiality, so whether they or did not is within the realm of reason.  Our Government lied that they did, but it was within the realm of reason that they could.

Korben,

That has all the elements of a great conspiracy theory.

If you take a quacking bird that's kinda black, has a wide flat orange beak (bill), webbed feet and water rolls off its back, then say it isn't a duck, fine with me.

But it's a duck.

:)

(For your information, impossibility is not a prerequisite of a conspiracy theory, not even of a kooky one. Think the John Kennedy assassination. How many conspiracy theories exist about that? I can cite a million others.)

Michael

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1 hour ago, wolfdevoon said:

Scott Fitzgerald nailed it two generations ago, the rich are not like you and me. They're different.

Wolf,

Woo hoo!

Somebody else knows this. I wrote about it back in 2007.

On 6/8/2007 at 10:02 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Full story: The Rich Boy
Summary with commentary: F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Rich Boy"

Quote
Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.

With Objectivism, we have so much focus on providing a moral justification for wealth that we forget that most wealthy people are just people. Some react well and others become spoiled.

I have met people who fit the above description to a tee. Even if they lose everything, they somehow imagine that they are innately superior to the rest of mankind.

If I were to comment on that quote nowadays, I would not say "some react well and others become spoiled." I would say, "almost nobody in the elites reacts well and almost all become spoiled and conceited."

What's worse, they don't even have to be rich to be that way. All they need is to be accepted by the other elites as one of them.

:)

Michael

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2 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

But I don't know who, specifically, are the members of the ruling class or how to group them. 

Korben,

Within the context of this discussion, you could start with the Bushes and the Clintons and those around them. Then all you need to do is start working out from there. By the time you get to the fifth degree of separation, you should start encountering a commoner or two.

:)

Michael

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59 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Korben,

That has all the elements of a great conspiracy theory.

If you take a quacking bird that's kinda black, has a wide flat orange beak (bill), webbed feet and water rolls off its back, then say it isn't a duck, fine with me.

But it's a duck.

That's a duck.

But are there ducks in Iraq?
 

59 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

(For your information, impossibility is not a prerequisite of a conspiracy theory, not even of a kooky one. Think the John Kennedy assassination. How many conspiracy theories exist about that? I can cite a million others.)

Michael

I know this, and I'm pretty sure you knew that I would know this.

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44 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:
2 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

But I don't know who, specifically, are the members of the ruling class or how to group them. 

Korben,

Within the context of this discussion, you could start with the Bushes and the Clintons and those around them. Then all you need to do is start working out from there. By the time you get to the fifth degree of separation, you should start encountering a commoner or two.

:)

Michael

Strong influence, degrees of control they shouldn't have, corruption...  But how do they "rule"?

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16 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Korben,

Pomp and ceremony or dirty tricks. Whichever is relevant at the time.

:)

Michael

Okay, but how do they "rule"?   heh...   How can a class called "the ruling class" be created when there isn't actual rule in America?

 

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4 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

Okay, but how do they "rule"?   heh...   How can a class called "the ruling class" be created when there isn't actual rule in America?

 

They could be called  "the screw  up your life"  class.

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23 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

Rand, from the Lexicon:

[...] fact: by rejecting reason and surrendering to the unhampered sway of their unleashed emotions (and whims), the apostles of irrationality, the existentialists, the Zen Buddhists, the non-objective artists, have not achieved a free, joyous, triumphant sense of life, but a sense of doom, nausea and screaming, cosmic terror.

I ride along the argument made by Rand to the point where I agree: rejecting reason (has consequences, sometimes dangerous consequences). But, frankly, when Rand generalizes to the point of depth-psychology, when she groups some noxious-sounding types together and then plumbs their psyches, I am unconvinced.  I don't know that Reason-Rejectors (whatever they are) get but a doom-laden, nauseous sense of life, within which their senses scream with 'cosmic terror.' 

I mean, does that seem to typify the Zen Buddhists?  I'd give that the Scottish Verdict.

But, peeling back the emotive, loaded language, she may still be divining something about a purveyor of outlandish secret plots. She might have over-drawn the doom, nausea, terror with which some 'theory'-peddlers are subject to, but there may be a kernel of something interesting in it as a hypothesis.. Does a named Tale-Teller, Peddler of nonsensical plots, does he feel a sense of doom in the face of the world he has sketched in place of reality?

Does Alex Jones have  a free, joyous, triumphant sense of life, or is he subject to fits of paranoia, irrational fear, a sense of foreboding and bad events approaching?  does he feel fear about the huge consortium of people who have him in their targets?

I don't watch enough of Alex Jones to make those psychological conclusions, I'll just put that out there. Instead of matching patterns until Alex is the perfect exemplar, emotionally and cognitively, of the Rand warning, I make my judgments contingent on a trial. A trial in the sense of an interrogation of reality. I take the plots sketched one by one, and deal with that reality before capturing and label-gunning the person.

Otherwise, I think I might make the mistake of thinking of defective persons instead of defective arguments. 

23 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

Conspiracy theories might pose an intellectual challenge but they are divorced from reality, though using elements of reality to create them.  A conspiracy theory is a lie, a lie is any attempt at faking reality.  Those people who create them are liars, and many fit into Rand's category of the Witch Doctor.

Protect yourself by using Reason, Rationality, Logic, and the epistemic standard of Objectivity, folks.

Better, identify the conspiracy theorist or conspiracy theory and reject outright.

And use volition: self-initiated, independent thought.

I get off before the Witch Doctor whistlestop. And I keep open some categories and rubrics for filling: unwitting error, procedural mistake, fumble. This lets me approach any particular tale as a kind of explanation, hypothesis, and attempt at logical reasoning and rational investigation. 

If the explanation has 'hallmarks' of bad generalizations, and shaky assumptions, I don't always take a psychological/sense of life approach.

For example, the Boston Marathon false-flag crisis-actor conspiracy was introduced here by an OLer with lots of brains, conservative-Randian bona fides, and no reputation for going down the rabbithole of shonky hypotheses. He had been open to correction, education, investigation in the past. Reason was his touchstone.

It turned out to be a disgusting encounter. That he believed that nobody was actually hurt, I understood. How he got to that belief I never understood. He didn't stick around to defend his hypothesis, perhaps because his questioners were "sheeple."

Otherwise, yah. Protect yourself from an infection of UnReason. And yah, identify the theory as unproven or debunked or preposterous after investigation using the tools of Reason..

23 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

And let's not forget that Iraq having Weapons of Mass Destruction was one of the biggest conspiracy theories ever foisted on an unsuspecting public by the entire political class, establishment and media.

Arguable.

16 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:
17 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:
19 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

But I don't know who, specifically, are the members of the ruling class or how to group them. 

Within the context of this discussion, you could start with the Bushes and the Clintons and those around them. Then all you need to do is start working out from there. By the time you get to the fifth degree of separation, you should start encountering a commoner or two.

Strong influence, degrees of control they shouldn't have, corruption...  But how do they "rule"?

I think of the Ruling Class as all who make rules, who have 'rule' in their hands. Ruling means issuing decisions bound by law to my mind.  Those who are currently in office, who are appointed to boards, cabinets, administrative power, the alphabet soup of regulatory institutions -- these are part of the class, but not all of the class. Outside governing/judging proper are all the institutions formal and informal that 'produce' both the policies and the personalities to elect.

It is a bit messy and nuanced and what-have-you, complicated.  A Ruling Class can be beset by divisions, struggles, even pitched battle.  The class as a whole might not have a single centre of gravity, but be distributed, networked, dynamic.

So, who can we not include in the Ruling Class? I think the media is in a bit of a grey area, because the minute you say The Media, you have to begin to segment and classify the 'power potential' and the network position.

Examples of the edges of power and influence and policy circles comes in the freakiest of the Podesta Emails. We can see the interactions, not of state, but of a whole field of operatives and hangers-on, and influence-seekers.   We can sense from this that only folks of a certain stature get to interact with the nexus of Clinton power.  The entire orbit of the Clinton Foundation is evidence that leaders, rulers or attendants in various forms will coalesce given the right physics and chemistry.

Back to conspiracy theory and purported conspiracy theory, in the context of the day, who here is actually pushing a particular theory about the Ruling Class? Who is making claims of conspiracy? Nobody, reallly.

I figure every theory can be examined somewhat dispassionately.  To do this needs specifics, verifiable claims. It requires that the conspiracy can be ''disproved," if only in theory. 

Today, it is really difficult to investigate the claims of conspiracy, rigging, fraud, collusion and so on -- when they are all thrown into the same bucket. 

As for the utility of using the WMD scandal to prove another conspiracy theory, it doesn't work that way. Better to return to today's situation, where a presidential candidate is not offering specificity to his charges of 'rigging,' let alone a coherent rendering of an action-plan, a counter-action.

Counter-action!

580e56941b0000582cef8ff8.png

Edited by william.scherk

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3 hours ago, william.scherk said:

I think of the Ruling Class as all who make rules, who have 'rule' in their hands.

William,

This is an incorrect assumption.

The Ruling Class is a mentality more than anything else. It is made up of people who WANT to rule others and believe they are ENTITLED to do it. And this feeling goes all the way down to their gut. They recognize each other, too, so a lot of them actually do make the rules. A Ruling Class person will admit a similar to his or her particular power club, but will block an independent thinking person devoted to reality and reason.

Here's a concrete situation for you to see the difference. And I'll deal with one that hits home to me, addiction. If a person is loved by a Freedom Class person (which is the opposite of a Ruling Class person), and he is a destructive addict, the Freedom Class person generally will put up with the addict (and put up with a hell of a lot) and try his damnedest to help. But in the end, he will tell the destructive addict to go his own way.

The Ruling Class person would think of staging an intervention right off the bat once the addiction becomes inconvenient, then forcing or tricking the addict into taking pharmaceuticals. The patience of Ruling Class people is generally short, so after they get tired or bored with the addict, they have him committed. If Ruling Class people get in power, real power, they eventually opt for some kind of eugenic cleansing of the addict. They keep calling it different names, but killing and sterilizing troubled people--or turning them into human vegetables--is what they mean. 

I'm not saying a Freedom Class person will not try an intervention. It's just that this will be a last resort, highly emotional, and, even then, he will not treat the addict as an inferior life form.

To a Freedom Class person, respect for the free choice of people, even self-destructive people, is a fundament. The Ruling Class people couldn't give a flying fuck about the free will of the hoi polloi. Cattle are to be herded, not respected. Human beings are among the Ruling Class. Commoners are a form of subhuman.

Oh... I forgot something else. They despise the fact that The Cattle can vote.

Michael

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23 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

Strong influence, degrees of control they shouldn't have, corruption...  But how do they "rule"?

That which isn't permitted is prohibited.

--Brant

not original with me

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