July 12, 2008

Common Conspiracy Fallacies

By Dave

Sometimes it seems like conspiracies are everywhere, that there are shadowy forms moving behind the facade of the world, and nothing is really as it seems. For most of us this would be a sign that we’re losing control of our grip on reality and sliding into paranoia. For a select few, it’s just the way they view the world.

Conspiracy believers seem to be driven by a certain amount of self-loathing and a feeling of powerlessness which drives them to look for scapegoats wherever they can to blame for taking opportunity away from them and keeping them down, rather than accepting and acknowledging their own shortcomings and trying to do something about them.

Perhaps if we try to understand them and their beliefs we can avoid falling into the same trap and becoming like them.

The Nature of Conspiracies

Much of the time what looks like a conspiracy is just an appealing idea which gets picked up on by more than one person or group with similar interests, with no collusion or organization. The shortage of Nintendo Wii agame machines is not the result of a conspiracy, just of many different people wanting them at the same time.

Not all conspiracies are necessarily malevolent. The American Revolution started as a conspiracy and the Sons of Liberty were a secret, conspiratorial organization. Yet I’m pretty pleased with how their efforts worked out. I don’t even mind the fact that they were terrorists.

Conspirators are extremely unlikely to engage in nefarious deeds which are against their own best interests. Any conspiracy theory which requires them to do so for obscure motives is almost certainly wrong. Like minded people working together to accomplish something which they think is desirable is not necessarily a conspiracy. The Democratic Party is not a conspiracy and neither is the Council on Foreign Relations. You may not agree with their goals and objectives, but they’ve got as much right to pursue them as you do to oppose them.

The more individuals a theory requires to have engaged in conscious acts of evil, the less likely it is to be real. Secret conspiracies requiring the cooperation of entire races, nations or classes of people are extremely unlikely.

To do real harm, conspiracies need to be secret. If a bunch of people band together publicly to do something in the open they are a ‘movement’, not a conspiracy. Ron Paul supporters are not a conspiracy.

When you start to try to connect together wildly different groups as part of a super-conspiracy you know you’ve gone too far. WalMart is not in league with the Peace Corps to take over the world.

Logical Fallacies Common in Conspiracy Theories

Most conspiracy theories are established based on one of several common logical fallacies, which may appear to be true to the believer, but fail certain basic tests of logic and evidence. Some of the most common are:

That one conspiracy can be proven to exist does not prove the existence of any other conspiracies, even if they are superficially similar. (Proof by Example)

Even conspiracies are innocent until proven guilty. You cannot study a possible conspiracy from the starting point that it is a conspiracy and then start looking for evidence to support that assumption. The evidence should lead you to the conspiracy, not the other way around. (Existential Fallacy)

Simple questions don’t usually require complex or farfetched answers. When you burn the roast it’s more likely to be because you left it in the oven for too long than that orbital laser platforms fired on it. (Inductive Generalization)

The fact that a belief is shared by many does not mean that it is correct. At one point 72% of the American public believed there were active WMDs in Iraq. (Argumentum ad Populum)

Just because someone famous says something is true, that doesn’t mean it is. Mel Gibson is a great movie director, but he’s not a holocaust expert. (Appeal to Authority)

You cannot prove that a conspiracy is real by proving that there is no evidence that it is not real. (Argument Ad Ignoratiam).

Just because something happened after another event or in association with another event that does not mean that one thing caused the other. UFOs began to appear at about the time that televisions became popular. That does not mean that televisions cause UFOs. (Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc).

The fact that someone or some group benefits from an event does not mean that they conspired to cause the event. Lyndon Johnson benefitted from the assassination of John F. Kennedy. That does not mean that he conspired to cause it. (Argument from Benefit).

To absolutely prove the existence of a secret conspiracy your argument for the existence of the conspiracy must be the only one supported by all the facts. To have a valid conspiracy theory your association of events with a conspiracy must be more credible based on all the facts than any other explanation for those events, including any proposed by the suspected conspirators. The Burning Man festival is not a conspiracy and neither is the Bohemian Grove. (False Dilemma)
Mistaken Identity and Wishful Thinking

That an organization holds secret meetings, has a secret membership list or is joined by invitation only does not make it a conspiracy. Country clubs and sororities are not conspiracies.

When two or more famous or influential people meet together that doesn’t mean they’re hatching a plot or launching a conspiracy. Richard Nixon met with Elvis. That doesn’t mean he hired Elvis as an undercover DEA agent and faked his death.

There really are powerful groups that have agendas and want to influence events in the world. They are almost always proud of their agenda, state it publicly and think it is a good thing, even if you disagree. The Council on Foreign Relations has an agenda, but it’s not secret and it’s got nothing to do with uniting all of North America into a single nation. Conspiracies generally don’t have websites, magazines and PR departments.

If you can buy stock in it it’s not a conspiracy, it’s a company. Halliburton is trying to make money for its shareholders, not rule the world.

The Conspiracy of the ‘Ruling Elite’

The fact that the membership of a group is made up of the rich, powerful and influential does not make it a conspiracy. The NBA is not a conspiracy.

The ruling class doesn’t need to conspire together to seize wealth and power. They already have it. They don’t want your Honda because they already have a Hummer. If there is a conspiracy to seize power look for it to come from an angry and powerless group in society.

The more people who are involved in a group and the more prominent they are, the less likely it is to be a conspiracy. Have you ever seen a politician who wouldn’t like to win votes by exposing a conspiracy and being a hero?

The ruling elite want to keep the lower classes fat and complacent. They are not going to conspire to needlessly oppress or impoverish them. They want you working hard and making money for them, with plenty of food in your belly, a big screen TV to keep you occupied so you don’t plot revolution and a 401k plan so you don’t come begging at their door and trampling their hedges when you’re old.

Real Conspiracies

Yes, there are real conspiracies. They are usually composed of very few people with a strictly defined and limited goal and they can indeed be extremely dangerous.

McVeigh and Nichols conspired to blow up the Murrow Building. The 9/11 hijackers were part of one of the largest real conspiracies, probably involving scores of people and lasting for years. Given their ambitious goals and the number of people involved it’s a near miracle that they were successful.

Once a conspiracy is widely identified as a conspiracy it rapidly loses effectiveness and will either self-destruct, go public, or direct its efforts elsewhere.

When a suspected conspiratorial group lasts long enough to develop arcane rituals and an obsession with secrecy, that’s a sign that it is engaging in mysticism to compensate for a loss of real power. The Bohemian Grove is laughable and pathetic, not threatening.

The claims of individual members and former members of a group suspected of being a conspiracy should always be taken with a grain of salt, especially when addressing the group’s origins, history and purpose. Group members love nothing more than to inflate the importance, accomplishments and mystery of the group they belong to and former members love to get sympathy for being hunted by powerful enemies.

To refer back to the section on logical fallacies, the fact that there are real conspiracies does not mean that all suspected conspiracies are real.

Know Your Conspiracy Theorists

Just as you have to look at who would benefit from a conspiracy, you ought to consider who benefits from promoting belief in conspiracies. If someone is building a carer on promoting conspiracy theories he is the first person you should look out for.

One of the first things a conspiracy does is find some other group to accuse of being involved in a conspiracy in order to distract from their own activities and give their followers an enemy to unite against. So when you hear talk of conspiracies look closely at the real motivations of the accusers.

Conspiracy theories are classic examples of the ‘big lie’ principle in practice. The more outrageous and improbable they are the more likely those inclined to believe are to believe. They could never conceive of telling such a giant whopper themselves, so they assume that the most far fetched story must be true. It’s too outrageous NOT to be true.

More and more it becomes clear that conspiracy belief originates in a perverse form of populism where demagogues like Lou Dobbs and Alex Jones paint anyone who has been successful in business or politics as a criminal elite exploiting and dominating the rest of humanity. They play to the fears of those who feel weak, powerless and uncertain and offer them the strength of irrational confirmation of their worst fears in place of reason.

Conspiracy theorists are often very free with comparisons to Hitler, Mussolini, Nazis and Fascists when applied to the actions of government and business. Yet they are blithely unaware that they are responding to exactly the same arguments which motivated Hitler’s brown shirts in very much the same way.

Conspiracy promoters are often xenophobic and target particular groups which may or may not have actual power as the source of all the problems which good people (those who are part of their self-identified group) face. Jews have been a traditional target, but Catholics and immigrants have also been and remain popular targets.

Apparently once you accept one conspiracy theory it’s easy to accept others. Many conspiracy believers seem to have their critical filters turned completely off and rather than just believing in selected conspiracy theories they accept them all as real, accepting an entire sort of altered reality.

Belief in the mystical truth of the existence a conspiracy requires no factual evidence. It is in many ways just like a religion. When challenged, unreasoning faith can become dangerous fanaticism very quickly. Because their beliefs cannot be tested by logic, conspiracy theorists become especially strenuous in their defense and often prove utterly impervious to reason.

Many conspiracy theories are easy to dismiss as harmless. Who really cares if a handful of people believe the earth is hollow and full of mole men? But even the most seemingly harmless bit of fabulism can become dangerous when believers attempt to make it the basis of actions in the real world, such as medical treatment or a political movement. When actions are being taken which impact peoples lives, welfare and liberty it is incredibly dangerous to base those actions on a theory or a suspicion rather than on empirical reality.

Even worse, perhaps, is the role which obsession with conspiracy fantasies can play in distracting from real threats. A farmer who spends all of his time worrying about alien cattle mutilators and chupacabras may overlook an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease. Medieval doctors who leapt to the conclusion that Jews were conspiring to poison wells overlooked the fleas which were actually causing the Black Death. Similarly, if we spend all of our time worrying about the grand plans of the Rockefellers and Rothschilds we are likely to overlook the more immediate threats posed by petty tyrants closer to home.

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39 Responses to “Common Conspiracy Fallacies”

  1. Randy Says:
    July 27th, 2008 at 11:47 am

    you mentioned in your article that the cfr isn’t a conspiracy………yet all thru the 80′s and most of the 90′s it’s existence was denied by the US gov’t. It’s denial made it a conspiracy that just happened to be true, much like the conspiracy of the USS Liberty, and the Gulf of Tonkin “conspiracy theories” that the gov’t denied. I personally have a ton of questions about 9/11, the Taliban, our wars, etc……it just seems no one, including the gov’t, seems willing or able to answer them. By the way, i wonder where those pesky WMD’s are that were the cause of a war, a debt that will still be unpaid when my future grandchildren are born, and the loss of well over 1,000,000 lives….many of which are women and children. Just another Vietnam and Korea again…..a war built on lies, deceit and deception. The only winners are the defense contractors and the politicians that have invested in these companies. You would be amazed at how much money congressmen, cheney and bush have made just on their stocks during this war. Cheney for instance has made $9 for ever person killed so far in iraq…….that’s $9,000,000. I’m not saying the theories about our gov’t being the perpetrators of 911 are true……but i do know that several ppl on the 911 commission that put out the report have publicly stated that a full, INDEPENDENT investigation needs to be done because the “official” investigation was inconclusive and was not un-biased. also the congressional hearings with bush and cheney were extremely irregular in the way they were handled. I don’t care one way or the other which group is right or wrong as long as the TRUTH comes out and the guilty are punished. I also find it interesting that the CIA has disbanded the task force whose only goal was to find osama a couple of years ago. Hanging Saddam, who by the way never attacked us, is much more important than finding the culprit that attacked the USA. Much like the hunt for the sarejevo war-lord that the US wanted so badly. Full page ads, billboards, rewards, etc……and the toll free number on all of them for years was only usable in the usa itself…..which would have been nice if those ads, etc were being run in the usa, and not sarejevo. Also, just another point of interest…the nuremberg trials found many many many nazi’s guilty of torture…..a very large percentage of them were convicted of water boarding…….the usa helped bring them to the tribunals so they could be tried, and now years later Bush wants us to believe that water boarding isn’t torture, that our freedom is at stake *even though he’s the only one stealing our freedoms like habaes corpus, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom from illegal search and seizure, freedom from illegal spying etc* and that we should all give up our rights freely……in his own words, “the constitution is just a goddamn piece of paper”. While you’re doing your investigations and putting up your pen and teller videos to “disprove” theories think about something, the usa has already proven it is more than willing to engage in “false flag” operations….research the uss liberty and the gulf of tonkin. if it happened once, it can happen again. I would also like to point out that i am an avid shooter, and in the 10′s of thousands of rounds i have shot off, i have never had one make 90 degree turns like that one that killed kennedy……….not saying the gov’t was involved……just not buying that BS “official gov’t” bullet story.

  2. Randy Says:
    July 27th, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    PS….I’ve enjoyed some of the points of your aticles, but to be honest you seem more interested in bashing “conspiracy theorists” than in bringing forth an Un-biased story. I for one find some of the things that are said about 911 to be outlandish…..but then again so are some of the claims in the gov’ts official story. You fail to mention that not only the conspiracy theorists are questioning the “official story” but many world leaders and intelligence leaders as well. I would just like to remind you again that many, many so called conspiracy theories have actually been proven true in later years. I’m still waiting on the verdict of global warming as well…..whose scientists will stand out, big business or the tree huggers…..oh, and lets not forget, there isn’t any proof that cigarettes kill, lol, or so big business would have you believe, and marijuana wasn’t made illegal for purely racially biased reasons. and why did the gov’t deny the existance of the cfr for decades if there wasn’t anything to hide. also, the freedom of information act guarantees us the right to a ton of information, except it doesn’t seem to grant us the right to see the actual law that makes federal income tax mandatory. I personally have requested a copy of the specific law, and low and behold, i was denied a copy of the law, even though the constitution guarantees me the right to see any law made. Sooo many questions, so few honest answers. I also love the way that the gov’t is now legally able to spy on us, our mail, our phone calls, our emails, our doctors, our bosses, and thru any other means they want. I agree with you on some things……much of what alex jones does is no different than what bush did, fear mongering……but than again, much of what he says about our rights being destroyed, a trackable national id, etc is true.

  3. Dave Nalle Says:
    July 27th, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Ok, let’s see some evidence that the US government denied the existence of the CFR, because I certainly knew it existed back then and so did your friends at the John Birch Society.

    The CFR is not a conspiracy primarily because it is not secret in any way. They are entirely above board and open about what they do and what their plans are. In fact, they don’t eve agree on what those plans are. Different members have different ideas for how the world should be run. What’s more, the CFR as a whole is generally pro-American and in favor of preserving American sovereignty and even strengthening the US relative to other governments.

    As a rule, I find that those who fear the CFR know little or nothing about it, and you seem to fit into that category.

    BTW, your quote from Bush that “the constitution is just a goddamn piece of paper” is apocryphal. Those who were at the supposed meeting have never confirmed that he said it and it comes from a single source who was not there and who has previously been proven to be a propagandizing liar.

    Dave

  4. Dave Nalle Says:
    July 27th, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Randy, I actually agree with you on Alex Jones. There are genuine issues to be concerned about. My problem and why I think he’s so destructive, is that he distracts from the real issues with all of his ranting about bogus conspiracies.

    The government can do us plenty of harm without having to resort to bizarre and complex plots, and focusing on them instead of on very real threats weakens us and makes them stronger. Jones behavior and methodology help to discredit all of those who are concerned about excessive government and as a result when you or I express legitimate concern about REAL ID or the Patriot Act or torture we’re taken a little less seriously by the general public and written off as paranoid like Jones.

    Dave

  5. Mike Says:
    September 2nd, 2008 at 6:43 am

    Your analysis of existential fallacy vis a vis conspiracy theories seems odd to me. The scientific method involves forming a hypothesis and testing it and only after you’ve gathered the data can you reach a conclusion and hence have a theory. All the “9/11 was an inside job” conspiracies started when some kids made movies about the things that didn’t add up about 9/11. The conclusions notwithstanding, they arrived at them (whether or not “cherry-picking” evidence or whatever) by first examining the evidence. This is why Building 7 remained such a thorn in even normal people’s side until the NIST report which leads me to…

    Your analysis of the argument from authority fails because laypeople must believe scientists and other experts in very specific fields, otherwise they’re the ones being paranoid. Why? Most laypeople can’t conceptually grasp the science or do the math involved. The whole peer review process and dissemination to the popular science media is a long trail of argument from authority, and the public must take the scientists’ conclusion–or the science journalists’ report of it, for that matter– to be the case. Couching it in terms of “famous people” is misleading. Argument from authority is more like “Plato says that we have our notions of universals and particulars because we see the Forms between lives, therefore our notions of universals and particulars come from seeing the Forms between lives”

    Your critique of inductive generalization is describing Occam’s Razor, you idiot! (don’t get offended, this is, after all, idiotwars!). All crows are black, or all potheads listen to Bob Marley are better examples of inductive generalization (because unless you’ve observed the plumage of every crow, or observed every pothead in the world listening to Bob Marley on a regular basis it is an inductive generalization). Your characterization of False Dilemma is also Occam’s Razor in action: the simplest explanation turns out to be the right one. To paraphrase your logic and put it in terms of a scientific debate, both the heliocentric and geocentric models provided explanations explaining the observed data, only the heliocentric model was less convoluted mathematically (also see Maxwell’s laws being subsumed by Einstein and the concept of “elegance”).

    As a final point, whereas you call out Alex Jones as perpetuating a “Big Lie,” they use the same idea and call the official 9/11 story a “Big Lie.” The truth, I would imagine, is of course, somewhere in between at an intersection called “reality,” (a place that Jones will never reach because of his paranoia, megalomania, and greed, and you, Dave, will never reach because of your naiveté, poor arguments/examples, and blind trust in power. Otherwise beware of Alex Jones and Lydon LaRouche’s future armies of conspiracy zealots, as you would have them, the Islamic Fundamentalist Fanatics of the West.

  6. Dave Nalle Says:
    September 2nd, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Your analysis of existential fallacy vis a vis conspiracy theories seems odd to me. The scientific method involves forming a hypothesis and testing it and only after you’ve gathered the data can you reach a conclusion and hence have a theory. All the “9/11 was an inside job” conspiracies started when some kids made movies about the things that didn’t add up about 9/11. The conclusions notwithstanding, they arrived at them (whether or not “cherry-picking” evidence or whatever) by first examining the evidence. This is why Building 7 remained such a thorn in even normal people’s side until the NIST report which leads me to…

    I didn’t try to apply the existential fallacy to 9/11 theories. It does apply in many conspiracy theories, but it’s certainly not the only fallacy or the primary one in the 9/11 conspiracy theories. It tends to come up more often when a conspiracy theorist reaches one conclusion and points the finger at a villain and then begins looking at other situations and trying to figure out how that same villain was responsible for all of them. That’s the fallacy – starting with your answer and then trying to prove that it is correct.

    Your analysis of the argument from authority fails because laypeople must believe scientists and other experts in very specific fields, otherwise they’re the ones being paranoid. Why? Most laypeople can’t conceptually grasp the science or do the math involved. The whole peer review process and dissemination to the popular science media is a long trail of argument from authority, and the public must take the scientists’ conclusion–or the science journalists’ report of it, for that matter– to be the case. Couching it in terms of “famous people” is misleading. Argument from authority is more like “Plato says that we have our notions of universals and particulars because we see the Forms between lives, therefore our notions of universals and particulars come from seeing the Forms between lives”

    I’ll admit to oversimplifying this, but there IS a difference between a false argument from authority and a genuine referencing of a genuine authority. That’s what makes a fallacy like this so effective. Lots of conspiracy believers practice an argument from authority which is based on an assumption of authority unsupported by the source’s actual qualifications or negated by the source’s proven record of unreliability.

    Your critique of inductive generalization is describing Occam’s Razor, you idiot! (don’t get offended, this is, after all, idiotwars!). All crows are black, or all potheads listen to Bob Marley are better examples of inductive generalization (because unless you’ve observed the plumage of every crow, or observed every pothead in the world listening to Bob Marley on a regular basis it is an inductive generalization).

    Ok, but I do think there’s a difference between leaping to a conclusion without considering any other possible conclusions and picking a more complex conclusion when a simpler one would do, violating Occam’s Razor.

    Your characterization of False Dilemma is also Occam’s Razor in action: the simplest explanation turns out to be the right one. To paraphrase your logic and put it in terms of a scientific debate, both the heliocentric and geocentric models provided explanations explaining the observed data, only the heliocentric model was less convoluted mathematically (also see Maxwell’s laws being subsumed by Einstein and the concept of “elegance”).

    Occam’s razor is quite broad. In this section I was trying to define a particular type of violation of the basic concept. If you want to you can just slap Occam’s Razor on most conspiracy beliefs, but there are specific different mistaken though processes which can be identified within that broad fallacy.

    As a final point, whereas you call out Alex Jones as perpetuating a “Big Lie,” they use the same idea and call the official 9/11 story a “Big Lie.” The truth, I would imagine, is of course, somewhere in between at an intersection called “reality,” (a place that Jones will never reach because of his paranoia, megalomania, and greed, and you, Dave, will never reach because of your naiveté, poor arguments/examples, and blind trust in power. Otherwise beware of Alex Jones and Lydon LaRouche’s future armies of conspiracy zealots, as you would have them, the Islamic Fundamentalist Fanatics of the West.

    And which you will probably never reach either because of your fallacious assumption that I have a blind trust in power or am motivated by naivete. Unlike Jones who accepts all conspiracies, I do not reject them all out of hand. I acknowledge the existence or potential existence of all sorts of conspiratorial behavior. I just ask for believable evidence and logical motivations.

    Dave

  7. Mike Says:
    September 2nd, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Dave, you’re a good man, and I very much appreciate your response. You could’ve said nothing and I would’ve never had known where you stand. I was simply using 9/11 conspiracy theories as the paradigm example because they are currently the most prevalent in this country (as opposed to UFOs or JFK theories that dominated the conspiracy set before 9/11). I will chalk up your shoddy examples to playing to an audience, but ultimately I laud your skeptical voice, and for that I give you an A+.

    Apologies for the ad hominem, by the way, it was just right there…

    You’ve found yourself a new frequent visitor, so expect to see me trolling around these boards.

  8. Dave Nalle Says:
    September 2nd, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Thanks for visiting, Mike. You seem to have a sharp eye for discrepancies. I probably ought to rewrite this article and make it more precise. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge. The section on fallacies ought to be able to stand on its own as an article.

    Dave

  9. Tom Paine Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 8:52 am

    You should be ashamed of yourself for referring to the sons of liberty as terrorists. You are falling in with the official government line, that anyone who resists a government by force is a terrorist. Terrorism is war that is carried out by deliberately attacking the innocent (i.e. those who are not voluntarily involved). Most of the real terrorism in the world is perpetrated by governments and corporations. There is a huge difference between terrorism and revolution, and those who try to blur the line between the two are only trying to make excuses for terrorist governments like those of the US, UK and Israel. It is not terrorism when the Palestinians resist the genocide being directed against them. It is not terrorism when the Irish resist the UK’s occupation of their lands. It wasn’t terrorism when the sons of liberty dumped a bunch of tea in the harbor to protest taxation without representation. But it IS terrorism when Israeli soldiers beat innocent Palestinians in the streets, just because they think it will discourage them from supporting Hamas. It IS terrorism when British loyalists (armed and funded by the UK) murder innocent Irish nationalists. And it IS terrorism when the US army bombs Iraqi and Afghan cities, killing thousands of innocent people…oh, but they say they are just trying to find the terrorists…what a joke.

  10. Dave Nalle Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 9:44 am

    You, amigo, are utterly full of self-serving crap. What you’re saying is that if they win they aren’t terrorists and if you agree with their cause they aren’t terrorists.

    Terrorism refers to the methods used. Period. Doesn’t matter if the terrorism is for a good cause or not. And by the definition you yourself give, the Palestinians, Hezbollah and their Iranian backers as well as the Sons of Liberty are ALL terrorists. They all attacked innocent civilians who were not party to their cause or committed to their enemies to sow terror in the population and radicalize people. End of story.

    You can’t have it both ways and just call the people you don’t like terrorists. You’re indistinguishable from Bush in that way.

    Dave

  11. Tom Paine Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Look here buddy, that’s not what I said. I didn’t even mention Hezbollah at all, and the palestinians are an entire nation, not just one group. Even if some of them have committed terrorism, you are speaking of them as if they are all the same. That is bigotry. I have never seen any evidence that the Sons of Liberty attacked innocent civilians, and even if they did, it wouldnt affect the argument I was trying to make because I only said that it was not terrorism when they dumped a bunch of tea in the harbor. They did attack those who chose to be agents and informers for the british crown, true, but those loyalist scum made a choice to involve themselves in the conflict by becoming informers and agents, and at that point they ceased to be innocent civilians. And the Sons were not even really all that violent anyway. Mainly, they were known for taking crown agents and tax collectors and giving them the ‘ol tar and feathers.

    It’s funny, you are using the same straw-man tactics to attack me that you use to attack Alex Jones. You COMPLETELY misinterpreted what I said, and now you attack your misinterpretation. If the Israeli army only attacked members of Hamas, the PLO, etc., I would not call them terrorists. If the British military in Ireland only attacked members of the IRA, INLA, etc., I would not call them terrorists either, and if the US military only killed terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, I wouldn’t call them terrorists. I would still dislike all these groups, but I wouldnt call them terrorists.

    Again you resort to personal insults rather than reasoned argument. This seems to be your usual method, though, so it’s no surprise. The only point I was trying to make is that there is a difference between resistance and terrorism, which you don’t seem to understand. Your tactics of argument show that you are wrong, because if you were right, maybe you would be able to attack what I actually wrote, instead of the bullshit that you inferred from it. I don’t think you realize that when you choose to distort my words and insult me, you only discredit yourself. I mean, I could also sit here and compare you to Bush or some other scumbag…I could also hunt you down and beat your ass, but I’d rather be the bigger person and use reason instead of insults.

  12. Tom Paine Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 10:46 am

    One thing I forgot: I only referred to the actions of the US, UK, and Israeli militaries as terrorism (in certain cases) because they have a clear and well-documented history of deliberately attacking uninvolved civilians in the countries I mentioned. I’m not calling them terrorists just because I dislike them…it’s the opposite; I dislike them because they are terrorists. And perhaps I should have added that yes, some of their enemies have also engaged in terrorism, and that was wrong too, but for some reason I find it a little less despicable when it’s a case of an oppressed people acting out of desperation, rather than a gang of imperialists seeking to conquer others to satisfy their own greed.

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  14. Dave Nalle Says:
    October 10th, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Tom, the basic problem there is that sometimes the terrorists are right and justified. Terrorism in the cause of liberty might be excusable, for example.

    Dave

  15. Heloise Says:
    October 10th, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Conspiracy buyers can be chalked up to the addictive nature of humanity. Yes, all beings are addicted to something by degree and kind. It’s something to think about and talk about, or in the wingnuts case something to do or live up to.

    And most of all it is something to believe in. And as you wisely point out some have made it a religion complete with a multitude of “bibles.” You don’t mention (I think) the millions of books written about said beliefs but that is all implied in this paragraph you wrote:

    “Belief in the mystical truth of the existence a conspiracy requires no factual evidence. It is in many ways just like a religion. When challenged, unreasoning faith can become dangerous fanaticism very quickly. Because their beliefs cannot be tested by logic, conspiracy theorists become especially strenuous in their defense and often prove utterly impervious to reason.”

    JFK case — it was a single man with a single gun whodunit. But look at the cottage industry that has grown up around his death…something to do and even make money from.

    Heloise

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