I generally dismiss conspiracy theories. If something sounds ridiculous, it's probably not true. Now I find out that the Governor of Illinois was selling a U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.


This makes me reevaluate my rule of thumb on conspiracy theories. I have to move the bar in terms of what is too ridiculous to be potentially true.

If you tell me the government has been covering up alien visits for decades, I still consider that too ridiculous to be true, but mostly for the reason that alien visitation seems unlikely. I have no problem believing that the government would cover it up for some dumbass reason. That is well within the realm of believable.

I have no problem believing that during the 9/11 attacks our government ordered the Air Force to destroy the passenger jet that was heading for the Whitehouse, and found it convenient that the passengers rushed the hijackers at about the same time. It makes a good hero story. I'm not saying that's what happened. I'm just saying that it doesn't qualify as too ridiculous to be true. To me it even sounds more likely than the official version.

The most evil conspiracy theory I have ever heard involves the idea that the 9/11 attacks themselves were planned by the U.S. government as a pretext for military action and subsequent profit by some industrialists. I don't believe that's true, but again, thanks to Governor Asshat, I can no longer rule it out simply for being too ridiculous to consider. The bar has been moved.

I don't know if the Mafia fixed the election for President Kennedy, then had him whacked because he didn't return the favor, but it is well within the realm of non-ridiculous.

What other theories do you think are now in the realm of not-too-ridiculous?

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Apr 14, 2009
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Apr 14, 2009

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Apr 14, 2009

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Dec 18, 2008
There is a comment I once read "The problem with not being trustworthy is not that you cannot be trusted, but that you can't trust anyone else".

The American government and people are paranoid because they know that if they could they would wipe out every other culture. They know THEY are storing WMD's so they assume everyone else is. The politicians know THEY are corrupt, so they assume everyone else is. The American people know that given half a chance, they would lie, cheat and steal, so they assume that anyone actually in a position to get away with lying, cheating and stealing probably is doing exactly that.

Google "4 october 1992" El Al airline crash and be VERY afraid. Everything the US is paranoid about and invaded Iraq and Afganistan for -- they were caught with their pants down doing it themselves. It's public knowledge and no-one did a thing.
Dec 14, 2008
I think there's an inherent fallacy here. You seem to be suggesting certain conspiracy theories can be rejected solely on the basis that nobody would ever want to do what's being suggested, or that they could never actually manage to pull it off (with or without eventually getting caught). Government, state and national alike, has a lot of power to cover things up, although from what we've seen during this past two terms it's safe to say some administrations are considerably worse at it than others. And as for motive... *never* underestimate that.

I prefer to just assume that anything is possible, but there's no sense believing any given theory without hard evidence (as any sane person would with any claim). For all we know, the moon landing might have been faked, but the "evidence" cited by those who actually believe we did is thoroughly unconvincing and silly. "Rejecting" a conspiracy theory just consists of dismissing the evidence presented, just the same as a jury delivering a verdict of "not guilty." It's still *possible* that the guy did it (unless hard evidence was presented that somebody else in particular did); there's just not a basis for concluding that he did.

And that, by the way, is what separates conspiracy theorists from everyone else. They point out that means and motive is grounds to arrest, but ignore that there has to be evidence that the crime was even committed in the first place.
Dec 12, 2008
Unlikely but possible: That no conspiracy nuts are right and that there are, in fact, no large scale conspiracies successfully operating in secret in our modern world.

Unlikely but possible: That all the conspiracy nuts are right and that there are, in fact, a large number of large scale conspiracies operating successfully in secret in our modern world.

Unlikely but possible: Assuming their are some large scale secret conspiracies, the conspiracy theorists have correctly identified some or all of them.

Unlikely but possible: Scott Adams is a pseudonym used by a heterogeneous combine of humourists/writers. This composite character would be a synthetic personality like Simone in the film with Al Pacino, only less life-like and with a penchant for monkeys.

Unlikely but possible: Scott Adams is controlled by the Bavarians, who are in turn the pawns of the Boy Scouts of America, who in turn are victims of masterful manipulation by the Telephone Sanitizers, who are themselves a front for the Grey Aliens, who are acting under the orders of Steve Jackson.

Unlikely but possible: Any of these crackpot theories is correct.
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Dec 12, 2008
I fail to see the conspiracy theory here. I was not at all surprised to hear about the Illinois Governor's scandal. Scott, are you telling us you were actually naive to believe there is no corruption in politics? There are two kind of politicians: those that take bribe and are stupid enough to get caught and those that take bribe and are smart enough to be covert about it. And it's not just politicians. One need look no further than wall street to see corrupt businessmen.
I am guessing people who don't see, or refuse to see, the lies and corrupt lives around them have a generally cheerful outlook in life and may even become famous cartoonists.
Dec 12, 2008
You aren't especially familiar with Illinois (particularly Chicago) politics, are you? We have a *long* tradition of putting our governors in gaol. The only remarkable thing about this case is that the corruption was *so* blatant they actually arrested the guy while he was still in office. Normally they wait until after the guy leaves office.
Dec 12, 2008
Celebrities indulge in conspiracy themselves. In order to bring back attention to their failing images, even if it is negative attention.
Take a look all around - they are everywhere.
Dec 12, 2008
This is a conspiracy. DMD.
Dec 12, 2008
In response to your actual question, I think the bar of what's too ridiculous or not slips and slides around a lot. Something ridiculous might not be if you framed the question just a bit differently.

But my larger problem is with the nature of conspiracies themselves. Most of them, particularly the large ones, have in common the requirement that a great many people keep their mouths shut for a long time, and that doesn't appear to be human trait practiced very often.

Even with something like the U.S. shooting down the fourth plane on 9/11 not only assumes that the pilots would keep their mouths shut (as opposed to 'anonymously' sending proof to a reputable news source if one of them was -- or later became -- disgruntled about the action, or a later action taken by the military), but also that none of the people on the plane, some of whom were in communication with family on the ground, saw anything or said anything to support such a theory. Then you have the crash site, and the fact that the first people to arrive on the scene were locals, none of whom apparently saw anything that struck them as odd (in the sense of a plane being blown up as opposed to flying into the ground.)

Or that no one in the chain of command in the military ever became uncomfortable with the idea. Conspiracy theories all assume that everyone in the military/government who might have known about a particular plot either believed in it entirely -- both then and for the rest of their lives -- or were threatened in such a way that they weren't even willing to anonymously send proof to the media of something they disagreed with. The first assumes things about every member of the military/government that's not necessarily true, and the second assumes no one involved would take risks to 'tell the world the truth' either for ideological reasons or simple greed.

In an environment where the government is loathed, or at least distrusted, by many, and the media is always willing to pay for proof of what would be the next story...if someone had absolute proof that the mafia was involved with JFK's death, they'd have supplied those documents to the reputable media by now, taken their money, and vanished.

Human nature, particularly greed and the inability to keep secrets, makes large conspiracies, at least, unlikely.
Dec 12, 2008
Pulling off a conspiracy is like pulling off a prank. The more complicated and the more people involved, the less likely that the plan will work, and that is where luck comes in. I'll give you an example: A few years ago, our local rock radio station decided to play a prank on the local pop radio station, the plan was to execute it on April fools day. The found a girl willing to pose as a singing telegram girl, they wrote her a song, kept everything quiet. The luck came in during the week of April 1st, when the pop radio station decided to showcase young female entreprenuers on their morning show. The girl called up and they agreed to have her on their morning show on April 1st to air her talents, everything went off without a hitch. She sang her song, which was all about how great a radio station was, how everyone loved them, how great the morning show was, and then at the end, said the name and call letters of the rock station.

My point is, conspiracies can work, and most times when they don't work, you'll never know, if everything doesn't align, the conspirators can pull out without anyone noticing. It's when the luck doesn't hold that you find out, or when someone blabs when they shouldn't have. However, if it is the same group of people performing these big conspiracies, then now one is going to blab, and if they are powerful enough, the can manipulate their own luck.
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Dec 12, 2008
I can't accept your thesis that the actions of the governor of Illinois are a watershed that lower the bar on the plausibility of government conspiracies. I lived in Illinois for almost all of my adult life. His actions are consistent with Illinois politics, especially the politics of the City of Chicago which is his political base. Nothing new here. Move along please. Put the conspiracy bar back up where it belongs.
Dec 12, 2008
Regarding aliens - I've always wondered why people look for them at night. It seems to me that if an alien race was technologically advanced enough to cover light years of space to get here, they could easily choose which side of the planet to land on. I'd choose the side that's lit.
Dec 12, 2008
Scott, you have it backwards. The Blagojevich scandal is an argument against conspiracy theories. One guy tried to do something illegal with several other guys, and the whole thing was discovered, and the chief conspirator indicted, within a month. This is because people can't keep secrets. When enough people know about a secret, one of them will inevitably be pissed off that he isn't the one benefiting the most from it and find that he can benefit more from revealing it to the world. Or he might simply do it out of spite, or a change in allegiance, or a moment of conscience, or to cover his ass. That's one difficulty in executing a successful conspiracy. Another is competence; you need everyone involved to do their part perfectly. For a conspiracy to work and remain secret, you'd need a large number of people who are all competent and can keep a secret. That's why most conspiracy theories you hear are ridiculous; they all involve dozens of people who each can make millions and be a hero revealing the conspiracy.

That's not to say that conspiracies don't exist, but that the ones you hear about aren't real. There could be some successful conspiracies you haven't heard about and never will, because they're successful. And the most plausible ones of the ones you have heard about are the ones that involve the fewest number of people. For example, the "David Stern fixed the 1985 NBA draft so that Patrick Ewing plays in New York" conspiracy theory is plausible becuase it really only takes three people to pull it off.
Dec 12, 2008
I recently heard one from a friend about Google being a CIA initiative with each product from Google a tentacle encroaching into the common man's life. Take a closer look at the ostensibly harmless Google Earth. The theory just might not be as ridiculous as it seems! So raise your bar of permitted ridiculousness no further. :)
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Dec 12, 2008
what about the whole Weapons of Mass Destruction theory regarding Iraq?....Saddam Hussein was killed, but did they ever find those WMDs?
Or was that yet another "reason" to bomb a country for oil?
Dec 12, 2008
It's easy to spot conspiracy theories. They are often started by people who resent a powerful entity or group, and want you to think they are evil. So they start a CT to create ill will towards that group amongst the wider population - with the hope to erode the power-base. Anything that shows the powerful group is taking advantage, ignoring the rules, etc, works well because it is believable because people in power often let it go to their heads - and I'm sure they don't try too hard to stop events that they profit from if they can be seen to not be responsible for them.
If you want a conspiracy you should consider whether these comments we add are analyzed to work out our interests to target the adverts on the website to, and whether Scott is deliberately encouraging conversations to increase his revenue through targeted advertising. Actually I think advertising is the biggest conspiracy - how many things would you purchase if there was no advertising?

Dec 11, 2008
You are constantly espousing insane conspiracy theories! Just the other day you said that you believed that the stock market is entirely controlled by a secret group of rich people who manipulate it for personal gain. You've said much the same thing about all news sources with (I assume) a straight face. Are you saying that these things are more believable, given the sheer number of people who would have to be involved in these conspiracies, than aliens coming to earth? I think the arrival of aliens is perfectly believable; I just don't think the government could possibly succeed in covering it up with even limited success for so long.
Dec 11, 2008
> What other theories do you think are now in the realm of not-too-ridiculous?

The degree to which you find a theory to be ridiculous depends on your willingness and ability to:

1. Question what you've read or heard
2. Think for yourself

For most, our belief systems are based on the information we have absorbed since day one. And this informaton has always been controlled by - parents, teachers, clergy, talking heads, corporations, politicians, etc.

Information is only as reliable as its source, and the source communicates information BECAUSE IT WANTS THE RECIPIENT TO BELIEVE SOMETHING.

The source always has an agenda.

Sometimes, the agenda involves truth.

But sometimes, the agenda is to control, mislead or divert the attention of the recipient.

The problem lies in the fact that most of our beliefs are built upon assumptions - which can be faulty.

"Don't be stupid, we all KNOW the Earth is flat!!"

"Dummy, everyone knows heavier than air machines can't fly!!"

"Of course we landed on the moon - it was on TV!!"

If you develop the ability to think for yourself, to question things, you may find yourself pondering things such as:

- Why does a private corporation (the Federal Reserve) control our money supply?

- Does our current president, along with all of his oil/energy cronies, *really* have the US's best interests at heart?

- Why would a president-elect who promised "change" fill his cabinet with those who ran the businesses and administrations that got us into this mess in the first place?

Who benefits from misrepresenting the truth?

Just follow the money. It always leads to the source.

If you assume and believe the source is reliable, you will consider any alternative theory to be ridiculous.

But if you develop the ability to question things, the accepted truth starts to look absurd, while a consideration of the ridiculous becomes a way of life.

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