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World & Current Events > Conspiracies - what's their real dimension?

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14950 comments Undoubtedly, they exist and are often atrocious, but those who love/believe in conspiracy theories, like illuminatis and others, attribute them a global, decisive role in our lives, world's architecture and other core issues. Can these theories be true or at least to a degree? And since we are talking about evidence, what evidence or proof do we need to confirm/reject them?


message 2: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) I've always felt that real conspiracies differ from conspiracy theories in one glaring respect. Real conspiracies are obvious and well-known. It's not a question of proving them, it's a matter of perception and whose going to do something about it. Conspiracy theories by definition are not provable, and generally attribute far more reason and sense to those who are in power than they deserve.


message 3: by Michel (last edited Dec 31, 2017 06:44AM) (new)

Michel Poulin One example of a conspiracy: Russian hacking of election process in a number of Western countries, with the goal to discredit their democratic process. Existence backed up by findings from numerous intelligence agencies and investigative reporters.

A few examples of conspiracy theories:
- Israel (or the CIA/international Jewish cabal/take your pick) organized the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. A lot of hot air but no tangible proofs apart from claims by 'experts' (who often happen to specialize in conspiracy theories and make a living by selling books and giving interviews about their claims).
- President Obama was not born in the U.S.A. (the famous 'Birther' claim). Many Americans still believe that conspiracy theory, which was used to attempt to prevent the election of the first black American president. Totally debunked, with Hawaii birth certificate publicly produced, but some still swear by that theory.
- Adolph Hitler did not die in Berlin in 1945 and instead fled to South America, where he lived many years. Again, lots of rumors and speculations but no actual proofs.
- A Jewish cabal of bankers, financiers and political donors control the U.S.A.. We heard that before, many times, along various decades. Still no actual proof provided.
- President Obama was ready to let the United Nations invade the U.S.A. and take control of it. A favorite conspiracy theory among American armed extremist/racist militia groups, used to justify the need for private citizens to own fully automatic weapons and even machine guns. So ridiculous that it is not even worth discussing it, apart from saying that the U.N. is so screwed up and ineffective that it couldn't fight its way out of a wet paper bag, let alone defeat the U.S. Army.

The one thing that is common to conspiracy theories is that they are only limited in scope by the size of the imagination of insecure, ignorant and credulous people around the World.


message 4: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Michel wrote: "One example of a conspiracy: Russian hacking of election process in a number of Western countries, with the goal to discredit their democratic process. Existence backed up by findings from numerous..."

Thank you for that wonderful rundown. Those were precisely the kinds of examples I was thinking about when distinguishing between actual conspiracies and imagined ones. The former are always painfully obvious!


message 5: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10739 comments Michel's examples show an extreme of conspiracy theories - they tend to be so outrageous and completely without evidence that they belong to the flat earth society.

However, there are more plausible conspiracy theories, for example, the JFK assassination was not the result of just Lee Harvey Oswald, but others might have been involved. There is no doubt Oswald fired shots, as a bullet was found that matched his rifle, but we do not know that ALL bullets matched the rifle, and it would require that Oswald was a top grade sniper, and it is not clear that he was. Here, the problem is that there is general agreement that the subsequent investigations somewhat botched, with different agencies playing various parts.

The key thing, I feel for such a theory to be taken seriously is there has to be cause to feel that the standard explanation has holes in it, or requires serious low probability events to have happened, and of course they do happen, but just not often, but there also needs to be evidence that has not been properly explained that fits the conspiracy theory. As an aside, I am reasonably happy that Oswald did it, and got lucky with his shooting, but I would be more happy had Ruby not shot him the next day, or whatever.


message 6: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Are we agreed that a conspiracy is by definition a 'secret undertaking'?

If so, then all the successful 'currently operating,' conspiracies are still secret.

Any real conspiracies that have become common knowledge, are either.

[1] Concluded and succeeded - i.e. goal achieved.
[2] Concluded and failed.
[3] Still operating with compromised operational security and at risk of failure.
[4] No longer operating - failed.

Any other conspiracies outside the above are not real.


message 7: by Graeme (last edited Dec 31, 2017 03:05PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan The best way to find out about a conspiracy is for a well placed insider to become a whistle blower, and provide detailed and verifiable evidence of the conspiracy.

Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to happen very often.


message 8: by Michel (last edited Dec 31, 2017 03:21PM) (new)

Michel Poulin About the JFK assassination conspiracy theory, I saw about a year ago an investigative documentary on that event that speculated about something that could well be very possible: that one of the Secret Service agents escorting the presidential limousine and sitting in the car following it accidentaly fired a shot while grabbing his M-16 rifle on hearing the first shot from Oswald. The documentary exposed a number of troubling points, like the angle of entry of one of the President's wounds which doesn't match with the location of Oswald, the insistence of the Secret Service not to let the local Dallas pathologist examine JFK's wounds and 'hijacking' his body to bring it to Washington. There was also a number of discrepancies in the reports made afterwards by these same agents and what smelled a lot like attempts at some coverup. If true, that would explain at least one of the wounds suffered by JFK and would also make Oswald's shooting feat more possible and credible. Right now, this accidental shooting story is only a conspiracy theory, but it could well become a proven one in the future.


message 9: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Hi Michel, that would be a transition to 'conspiracy fact,' when a suspected conspiracy becomes proven.


message 10: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10739 comments The JFK example seems to me to highlight some of the points that make a conspiracy theory stick, namely some points that don't add up, and what looks like a cover-up later. The whole point of a conspiracy theory is that tends to grow when there is a real shortage of obvious facts, which tends to show someone is hiding them. That leaves the question, why?

Mind you, some conspiracy theories are really beneficial. Roswell comes to mind. That little town has really benefitted from what seems to me to be some real carelessness by the USAF. The original claims by the USAF that it was a weather balloon was so patently false that it was bound to start theories. Assuming they have not lost the files, I am sure the USAF knows, and some in there are probably laughing their heads off.


message 11: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5791 comments Matthew said: "I've always felt that real conspiracies differ from conspiracy theories in one glaring respect. Real conspiracies are obvious and well-known."

I'd ask how you came to this conclusion. By definition, a conspiracy is a secret plan.


message 12: by Matthew (last edited Dec 31, 2017 10:16PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Scout wrote: "Matthew said: "I've always felt that real conspiracies differ from conspiracy theories in one glaring respect. Real conspiracies are obvious and well-known."

I'd ask how you came to this conclusi..."


Yeah, but no secret stays secret for long. People conspiring to ensure that they come out ahead, its the oldest play in the book. And since multiple people are involved, and coordinating people is never easy, details always slip. And if all else fails, from their actions, the plans becomes pretty clear.

It's like the old saying puts it: "The only people who think capitalists are rational are communists." Well, that cuts not only both ways, but in all directions. Only the conspiratorially-minded are capable of thinking that powerful people are capable of pulling of a plan and keeping the true architects and purpose hidden.


message 13: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Matthew wrote: "Those were precisely the kinds of examples I was thinking about when distinguishing between actual conspiracies and imagined ones. The former are always painfully obvious! ..."

For the typical conspiracy theorist, whatever they believe in appears to them to be "...painfully obvious! ..."

Being painfully obvious isn't a useful criteria for separating fact from fiction.

After all, it's painfully obvious that I'm standing still and it is the sun that moves across the sky, - it is easy to be deceived by our own perceptions of events.


message 14: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5791 comments Matthew said: "Yeah, but no secret stays secret for long." How can you say that? The Nazi death camps stayed secret long enough to kill a million Jews.


message 15: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan The abuse of children by a well known denomination in Boston was covered up for decades by the institution itself, while the police and judiciary turned a blind eye.

Conspiracies can run a long time - especially if they become institutionalised.


message 16: by Graeme (last edited Dec 31, 2017 11:34PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Matthew wrote: "Only the conspiratorially-minded are capable of thinking that powerful people are capable of pulling of a plan and keeping the true architects and purpose hidden. ..."

Take #1.

Assume I am a powerful person, such as a member of the Chinese central committee, say I'm rich, a 'Chinese princeling,' with wealth, power and influence.

There is a smart, powerful Chinese General, a rabid nationalist and a patriot, I conspire with him to change the very form of Chinese government via a PLA coup... to restore China to her rightful place as world hegemon via conquest...

Could it happen?


message 17: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Take #2.

I'm running the Japanese navy in the 1930s. I conspire (a secret undertaking) to launch a surprise attack on Pearl Harbour to destroy the US Pacific Fleet.


message 18: by Graeme (last edited Dec 31, 2017 11:41PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Take #3.

I'm a German nationalist politician in the early 1930s, I conspire to win the elections in 1933, and then (via a fire in the parliament) shutdown the constitution and bring into place the 3rd Reich.

I could go on.

There have been plenty of conspiracies that have managed to maintain operational security for long enough to execute.


message 19: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin How about the assassination of Egyptian Anwar Saddat in 1982? A group of soldiers that was part of a military parade managed to assault the V.I.P. stands and kill Saddat in a well planned action.

Or the recent failed Turkish Army coup against President Erdogan? While it ultimately failed, it was certainly large scale and coordinated, but it came as a total surprise for everybody.


message 20: by Matthew (last edited Jan 01, 2018 04:05PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Scout wrote: "Matthew said: "Yeah, but no secret stays secret for long." How can you say that? The Nazi death camps stayed secret long enough to kill a million Jews."

Actually, they didn't. The Allies received intelligence about the concentration camps when they first began being converting over from prison camps to death camps. They kept the information buried for their own selfish purposes. And people all over Europe knew exactly what was happening down the road from them, they simply chose to turn a blind eye out of fear or complacent.

But by 1944-45, the camps were liberated and the entire world came to know. At that point, the lie that these were somehow kept secret became a convenient political lie.

Also, "a million Jews"? The concentration camps killed 6 million Jews, not to mention an additional 11 million gays, lesbians, Catholics, prisoners of war, and other people.


message 21: by Matthew (last edited Jan 01, 2018 03:30PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Graeme wrote: "Matthew wrote: "Only the conspiratorially-minded are capable of thinking that powerful people are capable of pulling of a plan and keeping the true architects and purpose hidden. ..."

Take #1.

As..."


I strongly doubt it. Such an attempted coup would result in widespread resistance from other Party members and the PLA. China may be ambitious and powerful, but its leaders are not about to allow an internal coup that would threaten their own power, or risk letting two people endanger the nation for the sake of their own ambition.

That being said, there's no reason they couldn't convince more officers and Party members to get on board, but that too would be a tough sell. Is this hypothetical, or are you referring to an actual event here?

I don't see how Take 2 and 3 contradict what I said though. Not only were the architects in these two situations well known, their purpose and agenda was obvious. For instance, the Japanese navy didn't conspire to attack Pearl Harbor until 1941 when it became clear to them that the negotiations were getting them nowhere. The US certainly knew an attack was likely, but they were under the impression that the negotiations were still underway.

As for what took place in Germany, the Nazis didn't win the election. Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933 after they conspired to burn down the Reichstag and blame it on the communists. To those watching, it was obvious the Nazis were responsible and they were using this to seize power and pass martial law.

Like I said, the real conspiracies are obvious and their agendas are clear. The fact that they succeeded doesn't mean no one anticipated them or didn't know they were coming. They simply failed to prevent them.


message 22: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5791 comments So, we're agreed that conspiracies have existed and succeeded. Of course some people knew about them and participated in them, so they weren't entirely secret. But they were kept hidden from the public by powerful people for enough time that they could cause harm. Therefore, conspiracy theories shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.


message 23: by Matthew (last edited Jan 04, 2018 10:30AM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Scout wrote: "So, we're agreed that conspiracies have existed and succeeded. Of course some people knew about them and participated in them, so they weren't entirely secret. But they were kept hidden from the pu..."

That's what I'm talking about though. They were not hidden when they were being done and were often apparent in advance. More than just a few people knew, lots of people knew. The question was one of knowledge, but more of belief and inaction. Complacency and denial are what allowed for he harm, not ignorance. If it were ignorance, people would be innocent when it came to some of history's greatest crimes.


message 24: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5791 comments Ok, I went back and looked at what you originally said: "Only the conspiratorially-minded are capable of thinking that powerful people are capable of pulling of a plan and keeping the true architects and purpose hidden. "

I disagree that one must be "conspiratorially-minded" to think this. History proves that powerful people have pulled off plans and kept the true architects and purposes hidden from those who had the power to stop them. Not forever, but for long enough to do great damage to the innocent: e. g. abused children; the U.S. Pacific Fleet; the Jews, gays, Gypsies, etc.


message 25: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Scout wrote: "Ok, I went back and looked at what you originally said: "Only the conspiratorially-minded are capable of thinking that powerful people are capable of pulling of a plan and keeping the true architec..."

Yeah, I can hardly disagree with that. I would never deny that those who enacted terrible conspiracies didn't get away with it, be it temporarily or otherwise.

One question, you said "the U.S. Pacific Fleet". You mean the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor?


message 26: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 0 comments I would disagree that military action is a conspiracy compared to operational security. E,.g Japanese action on Pearl Harbour was a military plan shrouded in secrecy which is a characteristic of most military operations at a tactical or strategic level

Military action that is a conspiracy is more like a military coup lots of examples or the more recent attempt in Turkey

Other conspiracies of note are when a group of politicians work against the prevailing politics, for example the gang of four in China and the same named group in the UK who broke away from the Labour Party to create the Social Democrats


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10739 comments In my opinion, something carried out in secret is not necessarily a conspiracy. Any military operation done properly is an example - you hardly want to tell the enemy what you are doing. A lot of commercial activity is carried out in secret also to get an advantage over competitors. In my view, a conspiracy is more like people planning to do something illegal. The recent plot against Erdogan might well qualify.


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