Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yank My Chain If You Will

I guess there is probably one thing that will get me to react faster and more vociferously than anything else: giving credence to a conspiracy theory.  Today, Salon ran an utterly idiotic piece on giving conspiracy theories a chance.   It is such crap that I refuse to link to it (even though it is easy to find).

It was trying to distinguish unworthy conspiracy theory (Sandy Hook) from more worthy (JFK, 9/11).  While the article is fully flawed, the two big logic bombs are these:
  • "“Conspiracy” theories develop, first and foremost, because the official version is obviously bogus."
  • That they develop and are relatively credible when there are people out there who can gain from the event--the defense contractors after 9/11 for example.
First things first: conspiracy theories develop not because the conventional wisdom is bogus but because some people do not want to believe the conventional wisdom.  They are motivated by their prior beliefs to disbelieve events/policies/whatever that challenge their views.*  In retrospect, I am not surprised about Sandy Hook conspiracy stuff because this was a family that fit the general model of the NRA--Mom was a fan of guns, taught the kids, worried about losing the guns, etc and then the kid killed the  Mom and shot up a school, pretty much verifying the idea that guns in "good homes" are dangerous, too.  So, rather than believe that view of events, which would be ... the reality, the truth, the folks who do not want this to be true, make something up.

Same goes for 9/11.  This is about people not wanting it to be true that government failed to protect us, that Arabs/Muslims could be so clever to pull this off, and all the rest.

The second hunk of illogic is arguing that if someone benefited by something, they wanted it to happen.  Americans wanted World War II to happen since it made the US a world power with no equals?  Yes, Haliburton and the rest of the Bush Administration gained heaps of influence and such in the aftermath of 9/11, but that does not mean that they caused it.

I know I am wasting my time with this, as most of my readers are reasonable folks who see conspiracy theories for what they are: distraction sauce.  The folks who buy into them tend to be reality-averse so logic, facts, etc. will not persuade.

*  I am sure there is a heap of psychology and sociology on this but I only have time to rant, not read.

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