Conspiracy Theories - Something for everyone who won't face facts
Conspiracy Theories: There have certainly been numerous conspiracies in our history. Mostly, these have been discovered and pretty quickly forgotten. They are forgotten because our knowledge of them was based on facts and facts are seldom mysterious. Conspiracy theories continue on forever precisely because they are not based on fact and thus permit endless speculation and wild imagination. Because they are not fact-based, they can't be proven, and no amount argument will dissuade those who believe in the mythical plot. But conspiracy theories are not harmless and their damages need to be discussed.
A conspiracy theory usually attributes the ultimate cause of an event or chain of events (usually political, social, pop cultural or historical events), or the concealment of such causes from public knowledge, to a secret, and often deceptive plot by a cabal of powerful or influential people or organizations. Many conspiracy theories imply that major events in history have been dominated by conspirators who manipulate political happenings from behind the scenes. [Wikipedia]
"Much of human history is the story of people constantly on the move and constantly looking for answers, and when those answers are not forthcoming, theories and scenarios are made up to fill that unbearable void of ignorance." Introduction to Conspiracy Theories
People who believe that [al-Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Towers] live in a very different world from those who believe that al-Qaeda is not responsible for the destruction. [The conspiray supporters believe that] ...the U.S. government is [responsible]. [That] the Pentagon was not hit by a commercial jet; it was hit by a cruise missile. United Flight 93 did not crash after its occupants rushed the cockpit; it was deliberately taken down by a U.S. Air Force fighter. The entire catastrophe was planned and executed by federal officials in order to provide the U.S. with a pretext for going to war in the Middle East and, by extension, as a means of consolidating and extending the power of the Bush Administration.
The population of [conspiracy supporters] is larger than you might think. A Scripps-Howard poll of 1,010 adults last month [August 2006] found that 36% of Americans consider it "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that government officials either allowed the attacks to be carried out or carried out the attacks themselves. Thirty-six percent adds up to a lot of people. This is not a fringe phenomenon. It is a mainstream political reality.Why the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Won't Go Away
There are a many possible answers [as to why] people... favor conspiracy theory. First, conspiracy theory is often compelling and the evidence conspiracy theories reveal is often useful. More, description of the detailed entwinements become addictive. One puzzle and then another and another need analysis. Conspiracy theory has the appeal of a mystery--it is dramatic, compelling, vivid, and human. Finally, the desire for retribution helps fuel continuing forays into personal details.
Second, conspiracy theories have manageable implications. They imply that all was well once and that it can be okay again if only the conspirators can be pushed aside. Conspiracy theories therefore explain ills without forcing us to disavow society's underlying institutions. They allow us to admit horrors, and express our indignation and anger without rejecting the basic norms of society. We can even confine our anger to the most blatant perpetrators. That government official or corporate lawyer is bad, but many others are good and the government and law per se are okay. We need to get rid of the bad apples. All this is convenient and seductive. We can reject specific candidates but not government, specific CEOs but not capitalism, specific writers, editors, and even owners of periodicals, but not all mainstream media. We reject some vile manipulators, but not society's basic institutions. We can therefore continue to appeal to the institutions for recognition, status, or payment.
Third, conspiracy theory provides an easy and quick outlet for pent up passion withheld from targets that seem unassailable or that might strike back. This is conspiracy theory turned into scapegoat theory.
The values inspiring conspiratorial ways of trying to explain events are beginning to drastically diverge from progressive values. Even some sectors of left activists have become so hungry for quick-fix conspiracy explanations they are beginning to gravitate toward any conspiracy claim, no matter how ridiculous. The Appeal of Conspiracy Theory
(to be continued)
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