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June 17, 2005

Read This Book!

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Regardless of one's political or religious beliefs, before we all take off for La La Land never to return, we need to become aware of what's going on with conspiracy theory thinking and learn to spot and avoid it. Conspiracy theories always seem to be hyper-logical and are always heavily documented. There's always a grain of truth in them. That's why this is so dangerous.

Every adult should read "A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America," by Michael Barkun, U. of California Press, 2003. He's a professor of political science at Syracuse University and this is essentially a text book. Even so, it's a good read. I got it from Barnes and Noble.

What he does is catagorize the types of conspiracy theories, explain how they originate and the elements that go into them, and analyze the more important current theories, tracing them back to their roots. For example, the New World Order theory actually began to develop before the French Revolution, picking up new aspects as it grew over time. That's why it can be so heavily documented now; plenty of authors have speculated about this through the centuries. It casts suspicion on everyone and everything. The former League of Nations, the UN, former President Bush, who used the term 'New World Order' in a speech and was associated with some of the organizatons included in the theory, Skull and Bones and the CIA. It includes the Masons, FEMA, suspected of setting up concentratin camps, well, read this book and find out. On a more sinister level, it includes the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' and is heavily anti-Semetic. Pat Robertson's book on the New World Order (he believes in it) includes the "Protocols' although he insists he's not anti-Semetic. Since anything can be twisted any way one wants, and things are never what they seem to be, even a hoax like the Protocols can be given hidden meanings. Super theories can take up to six pages just to document the people and organizations assumed to be involved, and some even include evil estraterrestrials at the very top with whom the government has a pact. And people, including people in our government, take all this very, very seriously.

That's only one example. I'm sure we've all heard of many of the various elements included in the various theories and fallen for at least some of them, including me. Us reality-based people have an obligation to become aware of this mode ot thinking and learn to recognize and avoid it. Get this book!

Posted by Meryl Johnson at June 17, 2005 2:17 PM

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Comments

I think your advice, in this particular case anyway, is foolish, simplistic, misleading and down right dangerous. Look around you. Look at your leaders. Look at their actions. Look at the consequences of their actions. Look who benefits. Look who does not. Do you think….are you seriously asking me anyway, to believe the little man in the White House is there as a result of his own endeavors? That his father was there as a result of his own endeavors? Yeah, loner types, white guys, who are so thoughtful as to leave diaries, DIARIES, behind. They are the ones that make history. Yes, yes, please pass the opium pipe to me so I can have some too, Professor.

Posted by: jon st at June 18, 2005 4:06 AM

So what exactly are you saying? You "believe in" the New World Order? You think it's dangerous to distinguish fiction from reality?

Posted by: MJ at June 18, 2005 6:04 AM

There are many examples, of course. And even paranoids have real enemies, too. Still, even the most careful minds are liable to make mistakes. For instance the dubious thimerosal/autism conspiracy theory...

Posted by: coturnix at June 18, 2005 8:46 AM

I recently reread Gary Allen's None Dare Call It Conspiracy from around '72 or '73. I blew it off back then (though don't know why I kept it all these years) as I basically had other things to do (like live), and it was written from a self-professed 'conservative' perspective - not exactly a populist position back then. Not so much in the way of semite* stuff, just a quick and perhaps fearfully introduction to the Illuminati.

*Two definitions from the Merriam-Webster dictionary emphasis added...
Main Entry: Sem•ite
Pronunciation: 'se-"mIt, esp British 'sE-"mIt
Function: noun
Etymology: French sémite, from Semitic Shem, from Late Latin, from Greek SEm, from Hebrew ShEm
Date: 1848
1 a : a member of any of a number of peoples of ancient southwestern Asia, including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs
b : a descendant of these peoples
Main Entry: an•ti-Sem•i•tism
Pronunciation: "an-ti-'se-m&-"ti-z&m, "an-"tI-
Function: noun
Date: 1882
: hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group
Question: If Semites include "Hebrews and Arabs," why is anti-Semitism just "hostility toward or discrimination against Jews" instead of all Semites?

Posted by: Thomas Ware at June 18, 2005 11:28 AM

MJ,

No, I am not indicating I believe in the “New World Order”. Or disbelieve in it for that matter. For me to answer that question I would have to understand what you mean, or what you think you mean, when you use the specific term. You do that and I will give you my answer.

What I was saying I believe in, or believe take place all around us, are conspiracies. You evidently don’t. Period.

Further, you indicate it is important to distinguish “fiction from reality”. Yes, it is important. And beside the point. Who is arguing, or suggesting, otherwise?

Posted by: jon st at June 18, 2005 12:00 PM

Woah, a review of a book on conspiracies by a website that is devoted to nothing but conspiracy mongering! Funny!

On this site, Dave believes EVERY SINGLE LITTLE conspiracy theory if it involves Bush or somehow undermines the legitimacy of the US. He thinks the GOP is basically a Nazi party!

Yeah, I think you should review that book on some other site.

May I also suggest you read many of the numerous histories on America Hating and compare those they study with what Dave says? You'd find a strong correlation.

Posted by: Arcane at June 19, 2005 7:30 AM

I haven't read the reviewed book, but I'd also like to throw in a suggestion for another, less-scholarly but still quite enlightening work, which could be considered supplemental...

The Big Book of Conspiracies

This book is actually quite remarkable. All the conspiracies are presented in the form of black-and-white pen and ink cartoons drawn by a collection of very talented artists. By using this form, the material is actually presented in a medium more appropriate for its message. You really are meant to laugh at this stuff. Why not literally use cartoons to present it?

Posted by: s9 at June 19, 2005 8:19 AM

Arcane, I don't believe for a minute that pointing out what the Bush administration is doing in any way amounts to a conspiracy theory, because they are doing what Dave days they do. Or that anyone being critical of them means that anyone hates America. That's a crazy idea. The Bush administration does not represent traditional American ideals. The exact opposite is true and if we're going to preserve our constitution and American way of life, it's downright heroic to stand up to them.

It requires both guts and solid patriotism, i.e. love for America and its true values, to dare to do that considering how vindictive and hateful the Bush crowd and their minions are. For example, your comments are certainly vindictive and full of hate, or didn't you realize that? Sounds to me like you badly need to read the book I suggested. You need to learn how to analyze what you're being told to believe.

Posted by: MJ at June 19, 2005 2:45 PM

MJ,
Nobody is as full of hate as you and Dave. You guys are basically socialists, demonizing Christians left and right, our troops (most of whom are Republicans), and printing any little smear you can find without any regard as to the effects that it may have to our men and women overseas or our country's reputation, as long as it hurts the Bush Administration. You don't know what "hate" is, being that you are consumed with it.

Without hate, this blog would cease to exist from lack of readership. That's a truth you're not willing to admit.

Posted by: Arcane at June 21, 2005 3:51 PM

Conspiracy theories are usually irrational because they are usually unfalsifiable, but total denial of all conspiracy theories leads to a belief that all politicians are honest and that none are acting out of ulterior motives.

For instance the vague belief that US involvement in Iraq is connected somehow with the oil reserves there (rather than a desire to remove a dictator (lots of other dictators in the world) or to find weapons of mass destruction (even if they are there who's going to use them now, so why the continued military presence), is probably true, but any specific theories about which politicians/factions/corporations stand to gain, how they plan to do this, and whether or not things have gone to plan must remain conjectoral at least for now.

Posted by: Pignut at January 20, 2006 9:47 PM

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