Today I was fortunate to talk in depth with a member of the Rotary Club. We mostly discussed the organisation, structures and activities of the RC, but I’m interested in the Masons and in invitation-only organisations in general so I asked about comparisons. He didn’t have much to say about the Masons but when I tangentially mentioned Article 17 of the Hamas Covenant which namechecks the RC as one of a number “Zionist organizations under various names and shapes, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, espionage groups and others, which are all nothing more than cells of subversion and saboteurs”, it’s safe to say that he was mildly astounded. Zionism is far from the reckoning of the Rotary Club which, outside Hamas, is probably most famous for its polio vaccination work.
It’s important to combat conspiracy theorists because I know from walking around London and accepting meticulously put-together leaflets that they are on the rise and actively seeding their deluded cynicism.
Several people have picked up on this cheering Guardian piece by Charlie Brooker on conspiracy theories but I heard it first from MuteBoy. MuteBoy was with me when we encountered these Truthers, who were absolutely barking.
Brooker is a titan of popular criticism – exactly what is required – and he could do this with one hand tied behind his back, but on this occasion he didn’t appear to be trying hard enough. He made it easy for his commenters to call him a conformist, which they duly did. You can’t win with these people – they’re as slippery as piglets – but you have to fight for their constituency, talk to the gallery by demolishing their arguments about motivation and logistics. I also think it helps to try to explain conspiracy theories as a social phenomenon.
I’ve asked two structural engineers (one of whom specialises counter-terrorism) of my acquaintance to write a guest post for this blog addressing with the technical side of the Truther arguments. Matt (my Matt, one of them) remarks from time to time that you’ll never see a proper engineer crediting a conspiracy theory about 9/11. I’ve asked him to address the theories advanced by Engineers and Architects for 9/11 Truth. We’ll see.
Here’s a selection of comments from the Brooker piece (not representative). :
“The silliest conspiracy theory of all is the one to the effect that a score of wealthy young muslims took flying lessons to learn how to pilot jetliners into the WTC because “they hated our freedom. And our way of life.”
If you believe that, and that basically is the narrative promoted by “sensible” people, I don’t see why the relatively mundane fantasy of large green cats and a planet whose existence can be verified with binoculars should be treated with such contempt. It is, after all, rather harmless whereas the one involving an innocent America, suddenly attacked by religious fanatics beyond the reach of reason, has led to carnage on a world wide scale.
It really is a pity that none of the hundreds of totally innocent bystanders currently being tortured in Guantanamo has the opportunity to share in these satirical occasions.”
This commenter ignores the documented research into Al Qaeda’s objectives and activities, and appears to favour the motiveless theory that the US government would have killed – with horrible suffering – 3000 of its own people and traumatised the entire nation on September 11th.
“The problem with all this conspiracy theory stuff is if you say ‘they’re all mad’ people think you’re with the official version. I want to to join the cock up theorists club because I don’t believe a govenment who can balls up the Iraq war in the way that they did or the economy as they are doing now could do something which according to the theories would take such precise planning and execution.”
I think that this is a fair point made really badly. Yeah, a conspiracy on the scale of 9/11 would inevitably leak. But this bloke’s cock-up theory implies that governments would hoodwink us if they could only be confident in getting away with it. Adhering to this theory in a parliamentary democracy is dangerously cynical and in fact just as demented as believing the conspiracy theory.
So I get labelled a conformist by Truthers – big deal.
“I am reminded of two events that are now widely accepted as historical fact: the collusion of the U.S. in the overthrow of the governments of Iran and Guatemala in the 1950’s. Both of these were widely disputed in my youth as “paranoid leftwing conspiracy theories.” Nor was this restricted to the meanderings of the anti-communist right: I recall picking up an old college history of the middle east that was, in most respects, reasonably well done, but which insisted that there was “no evidence” that the U.S. had anything to do with the overthrow of the government of Iran.
9/11 conspiracies are relatively easy to disregard for the reasons outlined in this article. But, 25 years ago, it was almost as easy, for very similar reasons, to disregard claims about the U.S. in the 1950’s. So how, then, are we to distinguish between the two? At least here in the U.S. this would seem to be a necessary skill, as far too much of the left is given over to conspiracy or quasi-conspiracy theories. Some of them, may in fact be true: but which ones?”
I don’t read detective stories, but I think you’re supposed to look at motives and means and then work your way through the theories, most obvious first (rather than slinging out the most obvious as being too conformist)
Before I go though, of course, I have to link to these again.