Saturday, January 12, 2008

It's got to be a conspiracy

Damian Thompson, the writer of this article and of a blog called Holy Smoke at The Telegraph, is publishing a book called, and about, Counterknowledge. It's basically about conspiracy theories; I'm not sure why he needs a new name for them. He included creationism, so it may be the way they dress themselves up in the rags of science to strut their stuff.

He quotes Michael Shermer, the editor of Skeptic magazine, to this effect.

The mistaken belief that a handful of unexplained anomalies can undermine a well-established theory lies at the heart of all conspiratorial thinking, as well as creationism, Holocaust denial and the various crank theories of physics.
Shermer is pointing to the widespread misconception that science 'tells it how it is'. People don't seem to be able to grasp, or accept, that science is, first of all, a method and that its theories are just that: theories, the best ones available to explain the evidence. A scientific theory is never definitive, just as anomalies are only unexplained so far. Science is always a work in progress; the anomaly doesn't necessarily disprove anything.

This is obviously not enough. People need and want conspiracies not least for the comfort that they bring. If the multinationals, the CIA, the Jews are controlling everything, at least someone is - far better that than the chaos which seems the only alternative. In addition, there is the added benefit of an excuse for our own failure - I, or we, can't get ahead because the multinationals, the CIA, the Jews (add for taste) are holding me, or us, back.

It doesn't stop there. Conspiracy theories also single out a clear group of Baddies, just like in the movies. This is the sort of economy of means that the mind always seeks, for the simple reason that it makes the world more comprehensible. As a habit of mind, it is both lazy and a sign of the our (natural) unwillingness to accept the role of chance in all things. It is just unacceptable that often there is no clear answer to the question, why? Conspiracy theories provide it, and, as well, a name to apply to that other great question, who's to blame?

10 comments:

Hazar Nesimi said...

The conspiracy theory works on principle the simplest explanation is never true. Real and proper conspiracy theory is not lazy thinking at all, but a complcated mindgame involving a lot of players and unusual twists and turns. You have to be really smart to make one up. Also, Masons - you forget Masons, or how they call them in Russia - Judeo-Masonic Army. They are involived in a lot of things, they killed Kennedy, actually. And what about Ulluminati - and Hollow Earth society. Did you know that 200 Masons sit in secret World Government - they control coroprations, and they meet every summer solstice to perform their rituals. And they head of this government is an old Jew with long hear and beard. Some say it is Golda Meir.

Riri said...

Well, of course it is a conspiracy! Being a Muslim, I think it is against Muslims in particular. Otherwise, how would you explain that we are not in control of anything and everybody seems to hate us and run a mile at our approach? Am sorry but whoever denies this is a conspiracy is co-conspiring with the others, that is clear. Luckily, we are also conspiring from our side and working very hard to think about what you are conspiring about against us. We reckon we'll have it figured out anytime soon now.

NoolaBeulah said...

200 Masons headed by Golda Meir with a beard - now that's a real conspiracy. But you're right, Hazar, I was wrong to call it lazy. It is often anything but. What I was referring to was the need to have a single cause and Baddy rather than the multiple causes for any event.

Riri demonstrates that she is a master (sorry, mistress) of counterknowledge, and that any attempts by me to illuminate that world are not only redundant, but may lead her to suspect that I'm only criticising conspiracy theories to hide ... (((((the real conspiracy against Muslims in general and female Algerian new car owners in particular))))) And I'm not. Honest!!!!

wodge said...

And this from someone who entertained the idea that Saddam's hide his WMDs in underground caves under the Tigris.

Considering that you've bought the neocon/zionist/bigot story that those "Evil" Muslims are hell bent on dhimmifying the West. This post seems to be a case of pot calling Kettle black.

NoolaBeulah said...

Wodge, do you ever dieal with the argument instead of the person?

wodge said...

I agree with the point that people sometimes use conspiracy theories to make sense out a senseless world.

However, as you thought to illustrate your case with the theory that many people believe that "Jews secretly control the world". I thought it worth adding, for balance (not something there's much of on your blog), that there's just as many people that are totally convinced about the "theory" of the "Evil Muslim Hordes" who are hell bent on dhimmifying the West.

Given the content of your blog, you seem to be firmly in the latter camp.

What's your problem with that, that it's true?

As for your earlier comment about counterknowledge, well, let's see:

Faced with the evidence that a high level defector had admitted Saddam had no WMDs left, that the Weapons Inspectors had found nothing, that the tens of thousands of troops there had found nothing and that even the Israeli detection systems, which are apparently so sophisticated that they can detect whether or not an unborn Muslim child will have unAmerican thoughts, had found nothing. You're conclusion wasn't that there were no WMDs, it was that appaently they'd been hidden in underground caverns under the Tigris and smuggled out to be shared amongst the "Evil Muslim Hordes" who are hell bent on dhimmifying the West.

Then there's Mark Steyn's "theory" that the "Evil Muslim Hordes" are going to breed their way to dhimmifying the West. When i provided you with links that showed pretty conclusively that he was wrong, that he'd more or less fabricated it. Your conclusion was not that the theory was wrong instead you reached the conclusion that demographics is an inaccurate science.

NoolaBeulah said...

About the WMD, firstly, I never said that this was the Truth. I said, "If this is true, ...", which is rather different. The point about the WMD, a point I have belaboured, is that no-one knows what happened to them. Circumstance ripe for conspiracies, yes, but Saddam hiding them in a large bunker would not count as a conspiracy. It would count as entirely predictable behaviour. An American multinational (or the CIA, or the Israelis) that bought them and then passed them on to the Teleban, that would be a conspiracy. But, I don't know.

Islamist conspiracy? I don't recall ever using the expression. It is undeniable that there are many Islamists conspiring against us. Just as it is undeniable that a good number of them believe that they will have Europe in the not too distant future, the most memorable being that Danish mullah who spoke of Muslims breeding like mosquitoes. In fact, the whole cartoons idiocy was whipped up by a few, tireless activists; it was by no means a movement 'from below'. But a conspiracy within the proper meanings of that word, no. Because that would have to come from 'above', and the whole point about the Islamist threat is that there is no above and below.

In any case, my main beef is not against them, but against us. It is we who have brought into being multiculturalism and the rhetoric of the oppressed and the oppressors. It is we who have elevated the sensation of offense into a battle-cry. It is we who have denigrated our own system so that we don't even know what we are defending. It is we who have passed laws against free speech so that they can be used against us. It is we who have told the 'Other' that he must be right because we, being powerful, must be wrong.

That is not a question of conspiracy. It is something deeper and more dangerous.

Riri said...

Oh dear, that's got to be the cherry on the cake! Even NoolaBeulah is angry with the West!

wodge said...

The king of counterknowledge strikes again!

On the WMDs again. During the Gulf war, the Americans destroyed most of Saddam's WMDs. This is a FACT. Subsequently, a high level defector admitted that even more of them had been destroyed. This again is a FACT. After that, the Weapons Inspectors found nothing. This again is a FACT. After that the tens of thousands of allied troops stationed there found nothing. This again is a FACT. Even after the capture of Saddam and a significant number of his cronies, who presumably would have known and told of their location had there actually been any left, nothing was found. This again is a FACT. And last but not least, Bush, Blair and their cronies have admitted that they were wrong about saddam being in possession of WMDs. This again is a FACT.

Now, most people adding up these FACTS would probably come to the conclusion that there were no WMDs. However, for you it seems to be an opportunity to say "Well, we just can't know for sure what happened. Anything's possible!" For you it seems to be an opportunity to promote any half baked story, based on rumours and conjectures, that comes along as near certain fact and cause for concern that "the evil muslim hordes are hell bent on dhimmfying the West".

Of course, "anything" is possible but what you appear to have missed out is that sometimes "anything" is not even remotely probable. In fact, I think the chances that if you look out of your window right now that you'll see a flying pig are infinitely greater than are the chances that saddam actually had any WMD at the time he was invade.

As for "Muslims breeding like mosquitoes", well, you've completely missed the point or more likely ignored it. It doesn't really matter who says it, Whether it's MarK Steyn or some crazy Mullah in Denmark or indeed you, if the birth and death rates don't match the predictions (AND THEY DON'T) then it's just a complete load of hysterical waffle.

NoolaBeulah said...

I repeat, no-one has establised what happened to Saddam's weapons. You have made up your mind, but I would guess that it was made up long ago. I await a more authoritative conclusion. In the meantime, if anything interesting comes up, I will certainly reproduce it. In any case, the real point is what the intelligence services of Europe and the US thought at the time and we've already been over that.

Concerning the Muslim threat, I repeat that my real concern is not what they can do to Western societies but what we do in reaction to their acts and words (or even to our anticipation of their acts and words). It is the damage we do with draconian security measures or retreat in the face of wounded hypersensitivities that makes me worry. The issue Mark Steyn raises about civilisational confidence precedes all the others, whether they be demographic, political or social and it is this point that has driven most of my posts.