Straightforward answers to unnecessarily complicated questions, number whatever the hell it is now

by Henry on August 6, 2008

I’ve been too caught up in a genuine academic debate over “UFOs and sovereignty”:http://www.henryfarrell.net/movabletype/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=75&search=UFos over at the Monkey Cage to respond to this quasi-related “query”:http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2008_07/014204.php from Kevin Drum:

Question:

bq. According to a poll done to publicize the new X-Files movie, the #1 conspiracy theory (in Britain, anyway) is the belief that Area 51 exists to investigate aliens. … But down at #10, we get this: “The world is run by dinosaur-like reptiles.” What the hell kind of conspiracy theory is that? Dick Cheney doesn’t look anything like a dinosaur.

Answer:

It’s a conspiracy theory in which Dick Cheney is a _shape-shifting_ “dinosaur-like reptile”:http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/biggestsecret/biggestsecretbook/biggestsecret.htm, that’s what. A shape-shifting dinosaur like reptile who “hunts people down for kicks”:http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/biggestsecret/biggestsecretbook/biggestsecret16.htm in secret federal compounds, to boot. Crooked Timber surely represents the greatest concentration of expertise on this particular set of claims in the respectable blogosphere – see “here”:http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/biggestsecret/biggestsecretbook/biggestsecret16.htm, “here”:https://crookedtimber.org/2004/04/07/shelf-life/, and “here”:https://crookedtimber.org/2004/06/07/i-dont-licke-icke-all-that-much-anymore/ for more, and this “article”:http://www.adequacy.org/public/stories/2002.2.10.183349.284.html, by the mysterious “jsm,” for a fuller briefing on the David Icke phenomenon. Indeed one of our “occasional contributors”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montagu_Norman has actually been identified by Icke as a key member of the international lizardoid conspiracy. Since Icke came out as an actual anti-Semite, I think that our collective researches have ceased. Maybe, given the continued popularity of the theory, we need to start looking at this stuff again …

{ 101 comments }

1

notsneaky 08.06.08 at 9:10 pm

““The world is run by dinosaur-like reptiles.” What the hell kind of conspiracy theory is that?”

It’s a bit of a long story of how I came to know this (it involves a guy we used to refer to as “Crazy Reginald”) but this one’s a standard among serious alien enthusiasts. So standard in fact that some even consider this a distraction from the REAL conspiracy.

2

dsquared 08.06.08 at 9:14 pm

In case anyone cares, the overwhelming majority of what you read in UFO magazines is disinformation put into the public domain by a small office at the Ministry (US: Department) of Defenc(s)e. The UFO panic was started in the 1950s because the US Air Force didn’t want too many people knowing about U2 spy planes, and has been kept going ever since because when you’ve got a disinformation program as fantastic as the UFO cult, you don’t let it die for lack of interest, because it might come in useful at some future date.

3

Pär 08.06.08 at 9:37 pm

According to wikipedias article on David Icke, he believes that Kris Kristoferson is a member of the “Illuminati”, the reptilian humanoids known as the Babylonian Brotherhood. Isnt that a bit extreme, even for conspiracy theories ? I mean, Kris Kristoferson as a member of the “illuminati”?

4

Righteous Bubba 08.06.08 at 9:42 pm

Isnt that a bit extreme, even for conspiracy theories ? I mean, Kris Kristoferson as a member of the “illuminati”?

You clearly haven’t seen Millenium and I envy your innocence.

5

dsquared 08.06.08 at 9:45 pm

Kristoferson is listed because it’s generally assumed among this particular strand of conspiracy theorist that all Rhodes Scholars (he was at Merton College Oxford IIRC) are part of the elite conspiracy. This strand (the anti-British element of the global elite conspiracy theory, viz Lyndon LaRouche’s belief that the Queen controls the international drug trade) has a certain amount of basis in fact, as it dates back to the 1940s when the British government did, in fact, employ a lot of agents of influence in the USA attempting to persuade you lot to join our war.

6

BillCinSD 08.06.08 at 10:22 pm

Eric Garcia’s Dinosaur Mafia Mystery Series answers this perfectly also. the dinosaurs faked their extinction and now wear elaborately designed human costumes to fool the mammals

7

Daniel Nexon 08.06.08 at 10:52 pm

The real question, of course, is whether or not coalition forces found the Baghdad Stargate.

8

dave heasman 08.06.08 at 11:11 pm

Hey, I thought this was likely – “In case anyone cares, the overwhelming majority of what you read in UFO magazines is disinformation put into the public domain by a small office at the Ministry (US: Department) of Defenc(s)e”

Is it true of 9/11 troofers, too?

9

rea 08.06.08 at 11:27 pm

Isnt that a bit extreme, even for conspiracy theories ? I mean, Kris Kristoferson as a member of the “illuminati”?

“Busted flat in Baton Rouge
Munchin’ on some brains
I’se feellin’ ’bout as faded as my scales
Bobby thumb a spaceship down
Just before it rained
We rode it all the way to New South Wales.

“I pulled my raygun
Out of my dirty red bandanna
I’se playin’s soft while Bobby sang the blues
Dilithium crystals slappin’ time
I’se holdin’ Bobby’s claws in mine
We sang every song that pilot knew . . .

10

dsquared 08.06.08 at 11:43 pm

8: My source for this is Robin Ramsay’s rather good book “Politics and Paranoia” and he’s the editor of “Lobster” magazine so he should know as well as anyone. My guess is that there’s a hell of a lot of disinformation in the troofer community but I don’t think anyone’s proved it and in the UFO context it’s apparently more or less established with regard to the 1950s.

11

Righteous Bubba 08.07.08 at 12:24 am

My guess is that there’s a hell of a lot of disinformation in the troofer community

Why?

12

Roy Belmont 08.07.08 at 2:59 am

CSICOP and the Amazing Randi are pretty much HQ for the psi-can’t-be side.
Randi’s got a million bucks waiting for the first impartial laboratory demonstration of psi abilities. It’s got a fairly simple and scientifically appropriate requirement, that the abilities be demonstrated in a controlled environment.
Since no one’s completed the process successfully the safe money’s still on no such thing.

The tacit assumption is any psi abilities would be rising in the general population, spontaneously, like mutations.
But that doesn’t take into account the likelihood of these abilities, if they do exist, having occurred already, continuously. And if they have, the likelihood of some kind of fraternity taking shape around them.

Twins have organizations. Ethnic groups do as well. Model railroad enthusiasts, belly dancers, horse breeders. And there are groups, not the least of them religions, with arcane and esoteric rituals. Some with funny hats and secret handshakes, others with the taint of dark practice.

Anything as powerful as psi ability would be either flagrantly out-front or deeply obscure, if it was a feature of a viable organization.

The common assumptions are second-sight showing you the lottery numbers, etc. This doesn’t take into account clads of the adept. The delusional adept certainly in some cases, but a successful and organized group of such gifted individuals wouldn’t go near Randi, wouldn’t need to, and would have a strong interest in remaining unrevealed.

So really what Randi’s busting is the unaffiliated. No great task.
Rupert Sheldrake has published some astonishing results, but he’s beleaguered enough and pariah enough it’s a personal choice to believe him or not. Certainly nothing we can determine about the validity of his claims from home, though what I’ve seen of his research seems pretty rigorous and unbiased.

Parrots as telepathic, given their millions of years of evolution isn’t that much of a stretch, once you get past the necessity for there to be some way to get outside the limitations of speed-of-light and time. Quantum physics seems to provide that.

Like the 9/11 theories, anything that threatens the scam artists who are in power will be ridiculed and denigrated before it’s attacked directly.
Thus the phrase “conspiracy theory’ now morphed into meaning essentially nonsense, when the US government’s seemingly held together by nothing more than a succession of inter-laden conspiracies.
Diversion and redirection play a big part in those scams.
Anthrax. Yellow-cake. Jack Ruby. The magic laptop of Colombia.

Whether we’re being manipulated by giant reptiles or human monsters isn’t as important as the fact that we are being manipulated. And there’s a lot more going on than consensus reality, such as it is, can account for.

13

bdbd 08.07.08 at 3:06 am

shape shifter conspiracy theories are the best ones, I think.

Jesus was a dinosaur, he ate Gentiles for food
He spat out all their clothing but swallowed all their shoes.

14

yeliabmit 08.07.08 at 3:28 am

Parrots as telepathic, given their millions of years of evolution isn’t that much of a stretch, once you get past the necessity for there to be some way to get outside the limitations of speed-of-light and time. Quantum physics seems to provide that.

What about beetles, then? They’ve had tens of millions of year of evolution. Ferns? Hundreds of millions for them. Bacteria?

And I’m just guessing, but I bet Randi would give you that prize if you could demonstrate how psychic powers use Quantum physics to get outside the limitations of light speed and time. You’d probably be up for the Nobel Prize, in fact.

15

Righteous Bubba 08.07.08 at 3:31 am

Parrots as telepathic, given their millions of years of evolution isn’t that much of a stretch, once you get past the necessity for there to be some way to get outside the limitations of speed-of-light and time.

Indeed. I believe the mechanism for this is super-ultra-boner rays.

16

Lisa 08.07.08 at 4:50 am

Hey, it’s explanatory. At least about Cheney. So it passes the first hurdle for a good theory.

17

dsquared 08.07.08 at 5:15 am

Randi’s got a million bucks waiting for the first impartial laboratory demonstration of psi abilities. It’s got a fairly simple and scientifically appropriate requirement, that the abilities be demonstrated in a controlled environment.

In actual fact, as Sheldrake documents ad nauseam on his website, Randi starts becoming a bit shifty whenever it looks like he’s going to have his bluff called and starts adding all sorts of irrelevant stipulations. My personal opinion is that Sheldrake has found out something interesting about the negative binomial test – specifically that it doesn’t work very well as a significance test in some kinds of experiment – and mistaken it for something incredibly interesting about psi, but I don’t really trust Randi either.

18

Roy Belmont 08.07.08 at 5:48 am

Well okay I was trying to be all deceptively fair about it.

Randi’s pompous arrogance and facile wit is irritating but he’s got the most general support. His position has the most adherents in the brainier corners of the talk-talk world.

Sheldrake has some dog studies that are pretty amazing, and credible from here. Excitement behavior that seems to be from a recognition of a loved one’s imminent return, randomized, nothing to do with clocks or noise, just some cameras and mics in the house, passively recording.
Me I’d make sure there were no real-time observers at the other end of the wire, to avoid psychic feedback looping.

It seems forgivable that he’d go on and on about Randi’s unfairness and shiftiness, considering the minority corner he’s defending and the vehemence of the scorn he receives.

Sort of like how real leftists go on and on about how duplicitous and mendacious mainstream politicians are. Because the mass are virtually drugged by the sycophantic media. To counteract that.

19

Roy Belmont 08.07.08 at 6:03 am

Bubba:
The confines of speed-of light and time are 20th c. sci-fi limitations. We can’t get past them with our mechanical technologies, but theoretical physics has confirmed something something something to the effect that what we’re seeing and using as real is a pretty local thing. Basically a functional illusion.
Mistaking illusion for reality is a big no-no.

Birds have been here for a long time. Orders of magnitude longer than we have.

Asserting that something like telepathy in birds as implausible is one thing, insisting it’s impossible, given the total disarray of the old paradigm, is another, less excusable thing.

20

Righteous Bubba 08.07.08 at 6:18 am

Asserting that something like telepathy in birds as implausible is one thing, insisting it’s impossible, given the total disarray of the old paradigm, is another, less excusable thing.

I believe I offered a not-impossible hypothesis, so you’re preaching to the kooky choir here.

21

dsquared 08.07.08 at 6:21 am

11: I think that there’s a lot of disinformation in the truther literature because it would be completely unusual for there not to be – it would be the only major consipracy literature that didn’t have a sizeable lump of disinformation provided to it by the authorities. It’s an utterly standard tactic when organising a coverup, and we know that there was at least one coverup because we know that there was a concerted effort to trick up a connection with Iraq.

(note that, as Ramsay says in his book, evidence of the coverup cannot be extrapolated to evidence of complicity in the original crime – for example, whatever Lee Harvey Oswald’s status, the CIA and FBI had a massive incentive to cover up their connections to him, because they were just so bloody embarrassing).

Roy: I completely agree that Sheldrake’s been pretty shamefully treated and think he’s a very interesting case for the sociology of science, but as I say, I think the problem is that the negative binomial test he uses isn’t really powerful enough to support the use he makes of it.

22

dsquared 08.07.08 at 6:33 am

erratum: I mean “too powerful”, of course – his problem is too many false positives.

23

Righteous Bubba 08.07.08 at 6:38 am

I think that there’s a lot of disinformation in the truther literature because it would be completely unusual for there not to be – it would be the only major consipracy literature that didn’t have a sizeable lump of disinformation provided to it by the authorities.

Having not read the Ramsay book I don’t have your picture of the amount of disinformation involved in conspiracy theories, but it’s interesting. In the case of 9/11 my general thought is that no disinformation from government sources was necessary: it was a large and harrowing event for a lot of folks, the internet exists, the government of the time was evil and stupid and actually conspiratorial, and the Bushes already figured prominently in Icke’s world. As government-supported kook theory I can’t figure out what it might be in aid of except that the executive branch is fulla Bad Dudes.

24

Dave 08.07.08 at 8:17 am

“Whether we’re being manipulated by giant reptiles or human monsters isn’t as important as the fact that we are being manipulated. And there’s a lot more going on than consensus reality, such as it is, can account for.”

The trouble with this kind of thinking is that, if it were true, there would be no point in doing anything except sucking up to the All-Powerful Ones who construct reality for us; and indeed failure to suck up would be highly dangerous. Since it’s voiced by people who loudly proclaim their refusal to suck up, and yet have not all died in mysterious plane-crashes or been convicted on child-pornography charges, it seems to me to refute its own logic.

I, personally, will gladly do anything necessary to gain admittance to the New World Order, even as a humble ape henchman of the mighty lizard overlords, and if they let me in, I promise never to mention them again.

25

ajay 08.07.08 at 9:24 am

The UFO panic was started in the 1950s because the US Air Force didn’t want too many people knowing about U2 spy planes, and has been kept going ever since because when you’ve got a disinformation program as fantastic as the UFO cult, you don’t let it die for lack of interest, because it might come in useful at some future date.

1942-5: UFO sightings become commonplace over the US and in air combat over Europe (“foo fighters”); US pursuit launched against them in the “Battle of Los Angeles”.
1945-6: Meteors over Scandinavia repeatedly misidentified as Soviet cruise missile tests (RV Jones, “Most Secret War”).
First highly publicised “flying saucer” sighting: June 1947.
July 1947: At the peak of the “flying saucer” panic, the Roswell “flying saucer” incident. “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch In Roswell Region”.
1948: the wave of UFO reports of 1947 dwindles away.

1955: first flight of the Lockheed U-2.
1960: existence and abilities of the U-2 become public with the shootdown of Gary Powers.

The dates don’t really seem to match up, do they. I suspect, dsquared, that you’re talking bllcks again.

26

bad Jim 08.07.08 at 9:30 am

I wouldn’t put much stock in a pet’s excitement at its owner’s imminent return; when I was young I could detect the sound of my friend’s VW before his cat could. Once I had a premonition of the imminent appearance of my youngest brother, but I suspect I had heard the sound of his old Dodge truck without processing it consciously. (The odd thing was that I was, uncharacteristically, making dinner, and he arrived unannounced to share it. That part I can’t explain, unless his nose was way better than my ears, and he was really hungry.)

I might suppose said brother, alone among us in believing in supranormal phenomena and lacking a degree, might himself be a changeling, if only he didn’t mirror my face or borrow my shoes on formal occasions. My brother right or left, up or down, my brother.

27

stuart 08.07.08 at 9:37 am

One thing that interests me is that of the top 10 conspiracy theories in the UK, at least half of them are entirely US in scope, and only one is about the UK specifically. Does this mean people don’t believe the UK government are behind any big conspiracies, or is it just a reflection of how heavily influenced by US culture/news we now are?

28

stuart 08.07.08 at 9:39 am

I suppose a third alternative exists: the poll was written for a US audience originally, with a list of conspiracies to answer yes/no whether they are believed to exist, and when the same promotional tool was used in the UK market they could only be bothered to change one of the items in the list to make it more localised.

29

randomvariable 08.07.08 at 9:50 am

This isn’t a topic I follow too often, but when did Icke come out as an anti-semite? I thought he was being chased by an anti-anti semitism group in Canada until they realised he was just plain insane.

30

Preachy Preach 08.07.08 at 9:54 am

There aren’t that many UK conspiracy theories that I can think of – there’s a lot of shady stuff that’s an open secret (that the loyalists and the UK security services, at the base level of accusation, have a very dodgy relationship), but the only proper bona fide conspiracy that springs to mind is Hilda Murrell.

For a country with such a vicious official secrets act, you’d have thought that there’d be much more speculation about the dark corners of power, but British government is strangely porous about big secrets. Or, contradicting myself in the space of a paragraph, very good at keeping them secret – look how long Bletchley Park’s activities in WW2 remained unknown,

31

dsquared 08.07.08 at 10:07 am

1955: first flight of the Lockheed U-2.

which, in ajayland, was presumably magicked into existence a week earlier, rather than being the culmination of a research and development program?

32

Preachy Preach 08.07.08 at 10:18 am

Not quite a week, but in a surprisingly short time – if you read Ben Rich’s book about his time at Lockheed’s Skunk Works, the speed and informality with which they worked in those days is surprising.

33

dsquared 08.07.08 at 10:30 am

God am I really going to have to look up this citation? (that one refers to the U2 specifically, but there were plenty of experimental flights in the 1940s too – note that it’s pretty clear from the article that the Air Force inherited the CIA’s disinformation project at about the same time as taking over control of the actual planes)

34

Preachy Preach 08.07.08 at 10:52 am

Oh, that’s an entirely reasonable claim -the USAF used UFOs as a great cover for U2 spottings by innocent civilians – however, it’s a different claim to ‘the Air Force started the UFO craze to cover up U2 flights’. That said, I seem to recall that Roswell was, if not deliberately, but in practice, a cover for a crashed nuclear-test detection balloon.

35

dsquared 08.07.08 at 11:27 am

If all we’re talking about here is the distinction between experimental planes in general and the specific U2 program, and we’re agreed that the USAF (and therefore almost certainly the CIA before it) used disinformation in the UFO community to cover up U2s, then I am content to admit the mistake and apologise, although I think the charge “talking bollocks again” is pretty hard to sustain in context.

36

Alex 08.07.08 at 11:57 am

Further, the fact that people see things that aren’t there quite a lot is well established, as is the fact we tend to ascribe agency to things. In fact, there were waves of entirely spurious airship sightings in the first decade of the 20th century. The UFO thing could perfectly well have got off the ground by itself, and then be exploited as a cover story.

37

Dave 08.07.08 at 12:07 pm

I think the interesting thing about the UFO phenomenon is that it moves quite swiftly from being about ‘lights in the sky’ towards the tropes established definitively by the Betty and Barney Hill ‘abduction’ of 1961 – i.e. ‘lost time’, strange skin markings, later recovered memories of ‘examinations’ [anal probe, anyone?], big-eyed, hairless aliens, etc etc etc…

As this website notes:
http://popculture.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_first_alien_abduction
this is a ‘twist’ on a 1950s ‘contact’ narrative of aliens offering a friendly warning about the dangers of nuclear war, etc.

UFOs, as a ‘mythos’, rapidly moved far beyond anything that could be accounted for by government disinformation [or, rather, beyond anything that resembles the attempt to put together a plausible explanation for something else [except maybe previous sexual abuse??]…]

So, what is it? Are ‘abductees’ nuts? Or do They Walk Among Us?? Personally, I think the same mechanisms of suggestibility and projection are at work here that cause people to see the Virgin Mary in the sky… Our grip on reality is pretty tenuous, but that doesn’t mean that The Man has a better one.

38

Ginger Yellow 08.07.08 at 2:37 pm

“Kristoferson is listed because it’s generally assumed among this particular strand of conspiracy theorist that all Rhodes Scholars (he was at Merton College Oxford IIRC) ”

Yes, it was Merton.

There was an amusing piece in Private Eye detailing the numerous UFO sighting stories appearing in the Sun (prop. Rupert Murdoch) in the run-up to the release of the X-Files by Fox (prop. Rupert Murdoch).

39

MDHinton 08.07.08 at 3:00 pm

@30 I think the lack of homegrown conspiracies in Britain is due to the very low opinion people have of the capabilities of government agencies. To believe that something like the destruction of the twin towers was planned and executed by your government you have to believe those guys are really, really good – as well as being really, really bad, obviously. Even in the intelligence sector it seems that British agents are too busy leaving laptops on trains to be screwing lap-dancers in exotic resorts and saving the world.

The second factor is the press. Although journalists are much reviled, the British have a lot of trust in their invesigatory diligence. Look at the BBC’s row with Labour over the ‘Dodgy Dossier’ – even the most ‘establishment’ of media institutions simply don’t believe what the government tells them.

However, the impression we have a ‘friendlier’ press in the US leads us to believe, perhaps falsely, that they are easily conned. We also believe in American conspiracies because ‘anything’s possible’ in the States and, deep down, ‘those Yanks are crazy, so who knows?’

40

The Modesto Kid 08.07.08 at 3:09 pm

It seems like when I hear about conspiracy theorists, they are generally theorizing about conspiracies of which they (and the world in general) are putative victims — is there also a breed of conspiracy theorist who believe in benign conspiracies, for instance that the Secret World Government’s black helicopters are ushering in a new world of peace and harmony and should be exalted? Also I wonder if there are people who theorize about secret conspiracies of which they are members, and would this be more or less crazy than the victim fantasies.

41

dsquared 08.07.08 at 3:16 pm

There are quite a few domestic conspiracy theories (in the pejorative sense – quite apart from well-sourced theories about conspiracies like the Wilson Plot, collusion between the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, the Zinoviev Letter, etc) in the UK, viz:

– we have plenty of 7/7 truthers with theories about inside jobs etc
– various theories about the death of Dr David Kelly (which I would say are on the cusp between the pejorative and non-pejorative senses)
– most famously, Diana murder conspiracists#

they’re just not as famous and popular as American conspiracy theories, for roughly the same reason that Dizzee Rascal isn’t as famous and popular as Jay-Z

42

dsquared 08.07.08 at 3:18 pm

Also I wonder if there are people who theorize about secret conspiracies of which they are members

I would imagine that a lot of new members of the British American Project probably believe that they’re going to get more out of their membership than they actually end up getting.

43

ajay 08.07.08 at 3:22 pm

we’re agreed that the USAF (and therefore almost certainly the CIA before it) used disinformation in the UFO community to cover up U2s,

We have done nothing of the sort. You’ve misread your own link. The article says that USAF had (internally) identified the causes of 96% of UFO sightings. Over half of them were U-2 or other reconnaissance flights. But USAF, wanting to keep the U-2 secret, instead explained them away as natural phenomena such as “temperature inversions” or “ice crystals”.

The article doesn’t support your two main claims: 1) that USAF or CIA started the UFO craze in the first place, which, as I pointed out, peaked long before the U-2 project was even thought of, and in fact before the USAF or the CIA even existed, or 2) that USAF or CIA spread any sort of “disinformation” in the UFO community in order to “keep the UFO cult going”. Nobody used UFOs as “cover” for U-2 or any other flights – U-2s were UFOs, at least to the public, and USAF provided false but entirely natural explanations when they were reported. USAF didn’t concoct any false and unexplained UFO reports of its own – which would be the obvious form of disinformation needed to feed the UFO cult – nor did it refuse to explain UFO reports provided by others.

USAF’s behaviour is entirely congruent with wanting a) to conceal the existence of projects like U-2 and b) not wanting to encourage flying saucer cults. It’s not congruent at all with wanting to sustain the existence of flying saucer cults in order to conceal aircraft flight tests. Had it wanted to do so, it would have said something like “that mysterious high-altitude aircraft you say you saw? Yes, we saw it too, it was far too fast for any earthly machine and it was giving out a weird green light” rather than “Oh, that was just a funny looking cloud”.

44

ajay 08.07.08 at 3:26 pm

Also I wonder if there are people who theorize about secret conspiracies of which they are members

The Masons?

is there also a breed of conspiracy theorist who believe in benign conspiracies, for instance that the Secret World Government’s black helicopters are ushering in a new world of peace and harmony and should be exalted?

Quite possibly there are lots, but we wouldn’t know about them. I mean, if you believed a) that the Great Big Secret Conspiracy exists and b) that its actions are benign (although undercover), you’re not going to go around shooting your mouth off about it, because you’ll want to keep it a secret. Just as you don’t get many MI5 whistleblowers telling the press “I’m sacrificing my job and risking prosecution to reveal that we’re doing a really great job against terrorism!”

45

Dave 08.07.08 at 3:27 pm

One needs also to recall the significant link between believing oneself a victim/target of conspiracy and believing oneself *really really important*. On an individual basis this of course manifests itself with the likes of “Son of God” Icke and poor old David Shaylor, so recently announced to actually be Christ. On a collective basis, one could comment on the self-image of Americans in general, as the perpetrators of so much conspiracy-theorising, but I do so hate to be rude.

Of course, an interesting counterpoint to all this can be gained from reading diplomatic history, especially pre-1815. Here you find people who *know* that they are really really important, and generally behave as if any twist or turn of policy they care to undertake is thereby justified. The opposite of a conspiracy, really – open, perpetual, self-interested, blatant back-stabbing manipulation.

46

Dave 08.07.08 at 3:29 pm

Meanwhile, one should never forego the opportunity to introduce the phrase “paranoid pseudocommunity” into the discussion…

47

Preachy Preach 08.07.08 at 3:33 pm

Theosophy has just come galloping into mind for some reason.

As arguably, were the Bolsheviks pre-1917 and the Nazi party in, say, 1928…

48

Preachy Preach 08.07.08 at 3:34 pm

My apologies for the accidental Godwin’s law violation.

49

bdbd 08.07.08 at 3:41 pm

there are no “accidental” violations!

50

The Modesto Kid 08.07.08 at 4:10 pm

The Masons

Yep — I guess also the Scientologists fit the bill pretty well.

51

Righteous Bubba 08.07.08 at 4:10 pm

it would be the only major consipracy literature that didn’t have a sizeable lump of disinformation provided to it by the authorities

No creation without creator: the ultimate conspiracy!

Cargo cults: conspiracy as religion. The thing that made me wonder about the disinformation angle is that, again, the human animal is awfully creative in its approach to the inexplicable (inexplicabilitinessissitude being a matter of perspective of course). Are we assuming that without disinformation the conspiracy cults would be different or would die out?

52

dsquared 08.07.08 at 4:12 pm

in re this, Nick Cook’s documentary UFOs: The Secret Evidence. UFO theories were fuelled and disseminated by the intelligence community from the war onwards.

2) that USAF or CIA spread any sort of “disinformation” in the UFO community in order to “keep the UFO cult going”.

in re this, Paul Bennewitz. The intelligence agencies were feeding the UFO community well into the 1980s.

This really shouldn’t be controversial.

53

Donald Johnson 08.07.08 at 4:34 pm

Anyone familiar with Sheldrake know if he’s ever commented on the way sports records are always being broken? Bannister breaks the 4 minute mile and then everyone can (well, not me– these days I’d be happy with 7), and so forth. I suppose the conventional explanation for this is a combination of better training and psychological barriers to achievement that get broken, but I was reading the NYT article on Phelps and someone in the article said that he saw no limit to human achievements in swimming. I started visualizing future Olympians outswimming dolphins and ultimately even emitting Cherenkov radiation, perhaps then reaching tranwarp velocities, and in the midst of all this I thought “Sheldrake.”

But he probably thought of this before.

Joking aside, I have a book of his lying around somewhere. I ought to read it.

54

Z 08.07.08 at 4:57 pm

“Also I wonder if there are people who theorize about secret conspiracies of which they are members”

One of the theme of Foucault’s Pendulum is that all conspiracy theory are of this nature, isn’t it? If you are not one of them, you still are one of the secret cognoscenti. And it has been going on (at least) since Philippe the Fair dealt with the Templars. A great book, by the way.

With respect to UFO, sovereignty and the USAF, I don’t know. I once read a book in which the author wrote “Intelligence agencies investigate UFO, deny they investigate UFO, deny that UFO are worthy of investigation and feed propaganda that UFOs are worthy of investigation”. When that is your thesis, no many evidence can disprove it. It might still be true. Strangely, I have found fighter pilots much more prone in believing that UFO are flying around us that average people. People from intelligence agencies, I have found quite prone to believe in conspiracy theories but not specifically UFO. Maybe one believes in the conspiracy in which one gets to saves the day.

55

dsquared 08.07.08 at 5:15 pm

53: I seem to remember him at the very least surmising that the act of climbing Mount Everest in 1953 made it easier for subsequent expeditions to climb it, but I might be misremembering.

56

Dave 08.07.08 at 5:43 pm

55: yeah, well for one thing there was now someone who could describe, step-by-step, how you got to the top, so I expect that helped a bit… Meanwhile, pyschologically, the knowledge that something is possible doubtless assists those attempting it.

57

belle le triste 08.07.08 at 5:51 pm

my experience of working as a stringer and a staffer for magazines down the years is that nearly everyone assumes there is a conniving exclusionary cabal of folks that they are not part of who are in a kind of inner-circle in respect of the culture of the magazine, in on who gets what assignments and what gets onto the cover; in on upcoming decisions and directions

now obviously there ARE outer and inner circles of decision-making on most publications: what’s strange is that people who are clearly innermost as one can get still sometimes labour powerfully under this paranoia — a lot of people seem to be quite bad at getting their heads round the politics of distributed agency; conspiracy theory has always seemed to me a natural response to a world where a lot of events are the consequence of the sum of lots and lots of decisions that aren’t in any strict sense co-ordinated, and yet seem to combine into tellingly directed trends

in agatha christie’s very early novel “the secret adversary”, the villain is revealed to be, in addition to everything else, THE MAN BEHIND THE BOLSHEVIKS — naturally he is a brilliant english barrister

58

Nick 08.07.08 at 6:44 pm

#53:

I had always assumed that the phenomenon of frequently broken sports records had a lot to do with the limited timespan of the record keeping. When you start keeping records for running, it’s pretty unlikely that your first winner will be as fast as humans can possibly be. Thus, as you add more and more trials, you tend to end up with faster and faster records. Add in the effects of better training and equipment, and perhaps more stringent selection from a larger population even before the race is run, and it’s hardly surprising that older record breakers seem like Eddie “the Eagle” compared to modern athletes.

59

Ed 08.07.08 at 7:12 pm

I suspect that alot of the small time conspiracy theorists at the magazines are correct. Many conspiracy theories are just theories that the people making the key decisions are either not the people who are supposed to be making the key decisions, the latter are fooled or intimidated into ratifying the decisions of another group that legally don’t have the authority, or are the result of decisions that are not for the good of the institution.

A “conspiracy” that the senior editors were meeting in private to decide on next week’s cover, in an effort to boost magazine sales, and no one knows what has discussed, isn’t much of a conspiracy. A decision by the senior editor to put the publisher’s mistress on the cover is more of what you would expect of a conspiracy, especially if a meeting of senior editors had settled on another cover, but there was a list minute substition plausibly based on a “miscommunication”.

In other words, to be a conspiracy, an organization must be directed either by people other than the people who are legally supposed to be in charge of the organization, or it must be directed to make decisions obviously contrary to the organization’s own interests. In the 9-11 conspiracy theories, US officials are directing a military operation, but it is against US soldiers and civilians. Keep in mind that the “official” explanation is that it was caused by a secret cabal, the difference with the dissident version is that the dissidents postulate that the cabal includes some people on the US government payroll.

As it happens, all organizations have informal chains of command and they all have agency problems. So you can’t accurately describe how an organization normally behaves without resorting to conspiracy theories. In the interesting theories postulate that the agency problems have gotten really out of hand. One notable historical example is that of “le secret du Roi”, the intrigues conducted by Louis XV to thwart the policies of the then French foreign minister.

60

Jon H 08.07.08 at 10:14 pm

“. When you start keeping records for running, it’s pretty unlikely that your first winner will be as fast as humans can possibly be. ”

And once there are records, later people have a target to train to, rather than just ‘be first in the races I compete in’.

61

Donald Johnson 08.07.08 at 10:50 pm

#58

I’m not seriously defending Sheldrake, but I wonder which factor is the most important one in explaining why records are steadily broken. I have no basis for this, but I’d guess the psychological factor along with better training methods would be the top two reasons. I’m not sure how much of an effect the increasing population is going to have. It would be expected to have some effect, of course, but would you expect a big difference between someone who is the fastest out of 3 billion vs. someone who is the fastest out of 6 billion? (Not that those numbers are quite right–maybe a larger fraction of the larger world population is able to compete now, but if you stick to first world countries, you still see improvement and I doubt the fraction of competing athletes is that much greater now than in, say, 1970. For men, that is.)

Also, getting back to the “no limit” claim, I would think there would eventually be an asymptotic approach to whatever the theoretical maximum performance would be for humans in any given quantifiable event. I think people have claimed to see that in the data for some sports, but I don’t recall where I read this.

62

Donald Johnson 08.07.08 at 10:56 pm

BTW, I have no intention of defending the knowledge-free opinions I trotted out in post 58. I’d like to see what people who might know more have to say in response–better yet, I wonder if anyone has done any serious research on the subject. (Call this trolling, but it’s a well-intentioned kind, I think.)

63

Righteous Bubba 08.07.08 at 11:09 pm

I’m not seriously defending Sheldrake, but I wonder which factor is the most important one in explaining why records are steadily broken.

Drugs.

64

Roy Belmont 08.07.08 at 11:35 pm

dave #24:
The trouble with this kind of thinking is that, if it were true, there would be no point in doing anything except sucking up to the All-Powerful Ones who construct reality for us…”

Sadly, it is true. Thinking.
Also true stating.
Whether there’s any point in resistance is a personal thing, we all must make that choice ourselves, flippant or no.

Since you’re already of a mind to gladly join the NWO, you’ll have lots of opportunities for advancement as things slip down into the irreversible. Provided you’re not particular about the actual terminology.

You could get a job at the Wall Street Journal, for instance, which scarcely ever uses phrases like “New World Order”, while manipulating the shit out of its readership.
Or hook up with FOXNews or any other of Murdoch’s saurian orifice array, or try CNN, or Homeland Security. There’s always politics.

Or stay at home why not, and take up the “independent” disinformation program, you can expect some nice under the table gratuities if your work has effect.

I wasn’t specifying extraterrestrial manipulation. That was the point.
“Whether we’re being manipulated by giant reptiles or human monsters isn’t as important as the fact that we are being manipulated…”

I can’t see much difference between aliens sucking the brains out of 300,000 children then feeding their discarded bodies back to their own families as hamburger, and the Iraq war and its associate campaigns.
But then I’m prone to excitability, and overly sensitive when it comes to that kind of thing.

65

Matt McIrvin 08.08.08 at 2:51 am

Parrots as telepathic, given their millions of years of evolution isn’t that much of a stretch, once you get past the necessity for there to be some way to get outside the limitations of speed-of-light and time. Quantum physics seems to provide that.

Seems to, but doesn’t. Quantum theory as currently understood cannot be used to send faster-than-light or backward-in-time messages. Quantum theory as currently understood could be wrong, but then you don’t get to claim it’s explained by quantum theory.

I don’t know how central disinformation was to the UFO phenomenon, but I’m pretty sure some of the flying-saucer rumors were at least tolerated with a wink early on. The Roswell incident had to do with a secret military project involving balloons called Mogul; the staff at the Army air base issued a press release at the time that actually played up the “flying disc” angle, maybe as an attempt at a cover, though I get the impression they decided not to run with it later.

(Keeping in mind, too, that Roswell became much more famous during the 1990s UFO craze than it had been originally–the Kenneth Arnold sighting was a much bigger contributor to the Fifties UFO phenomenon.)

I have also heard it claimed that some large fraction of 1960s Soviet UFO sightings were really of treaty-violating ICBM tests, and rumors of aliens once again provided a natural cover.

66

Bruce Baugh 08.08.08 at 4:34 am

I couldn’t find a citation, but I remember that space historian James Oberg was really hopping mad when documentation about the Air Force’s spreading UFO rumors came out. Examining and debunking UFO claims is something he does out of a sense of duty, not because he loves it, and finding that his own government had been making his work harder did not delight him. I’m not sure he went on to draw some broader conclusions from that, though.

67

Dr Zen 08.08.08 at 4:44 am

When did Icke “come out” as an anti-Semite? Seems like one of those theories that gets “truer” for being repeated so irresponsibly and often. The guy’s a nutter and he’s quoted from the Protocols, but he thinks lizards wrote them, not Jews.

68

Roy Belmont 08.08.08 at 5:22 am

#65:
My point isn’t that quantum theory provides the technology, but that contemporary theoretical physics provides an openness that consensus reality, based on subjective observation, lacks.

We don’t know what time is, or even if it’s plausible to talk about it outside our experience of it. We have no solid idea what light actually is.
And unless I missed it, how gravity works is still a problem for the scientists whose professional interest it is. It would seem to have something to do with spacetime curvature, which provides that openness. Get outside the locus of human experience of spacetime and lots of things start to look possible, just not explainable yet.

None of which is evidence that parrots can communicate telepathically. But what’s used to discount that idea is outdated old school physics and consensus subjective experience.
Add the bias of fear to the mix and you have Sheldrake battling heroically against all kinds of biased negativity.

One reason some people don’t want telepathy to be real is because it threatens their interior autonomy. Another is that it contradicts the rules of the tangible world we depend on for daily living.

UFO’s are a whole nother thing. Something I’m more skeptical about than the average layman, evidently.
They all get lumped together, the paranormal, ghosts, UFO’s, as crackpot absurdities, and dismissed en masse by right-thinking pragmatists.
But Sheldrake’s not arguing for the presence of flying alien abductions and neither am I.

69

Dave 08.08.08 at 8:54 am

I’m still hung up on the very concept of psychic parrots. In the wild these creatures fly around the rainforest canopy and eat fruit. Where’s the evolutionary pressure to develop ESP? Now, psychic *wolves*, beaming messages about the availability of fresh caribou for miles across the tundra, coordinating their attacks, homing in on isolated travellers with uncanny precision, that I could get into…

BTW, if telepathy is real, *wanting* it not to be doesn’t come into it, any more than wanting drug-resistant TB [for example] not to exist will make a difference. Suggesting that it might is just magical thinking – of the same kind that wants ESP to be real, yet can’t find reliable evidence that it is…

70

Ben 08.08.08 at 9:06 am

Maybe Godwin’s Law could be expanded to incorporate misguided comparisons or invocations of quantum physics to support a tenuous theory.

71

ajay 08.08.08 at 9:15 am

I started visualizing future Olympians outswimming dolphins and ultimately even emitting Cherenkov radiation, perhaps then reaching tranwarp velocities, and in the midst of all this I thought “Sheldrake.”

But he probably thought of this before.

Thus making it easier for you to think of it too!

52: I’m sorry, but “This is obviously true because I saw a documentary about it by Nick Cook, and a strange man stood up in a hotel in Las Vegas and said it was true” doesn’t pass my giggle test.

72

dsquared 08.08.08 at 9:44 am

Well, your giggle test doesn’t pass my giggle test. I could give two fucks what you believe, frankly, as long as you don’t accuse me of talking “bollocks, again” on my weblog.

73

dsquared 08.08.08 at 9:52 am

When did Icke “come out” as an anti-Semite?

See my review of “Tales From the Time Loop”, linked above. Icke’s position at the time when I stopped reading him was that there was a global Jewish banker conspiracy and that there was no Jewish race, only a global conspiracy to defraud Gentiles. He made a few remarks about “ordinary” Jewish people not necessarily being in on this conspiracy, but his view in that book was necessarily that any politically prominent Jewish person was a global conspirator. That’s “coming out as an anti-Semite” if the term is to have any meaning. He might have changed his views since I stopped reading them, but I don’t know because I stopped reading them.

74

Dave 08.08.08 at 11:02 am

Since David Icke “came out” as a raving loony some time before extending his speculations to persons of the Hebrew persuasion, I think we can safely not worry about his impact on the question.

I’d be more worried about the fact that you had ever started reading him. One appearance on “Wogan” was enough for me, as I vaguely recall.

75

Johnny Pez 08.08.08 at 1:22 pm

Parrots as telepathic, given their millions of years of evolution isn’t that much of a stretch

Except for the minor fact that every organism on Earth is exactly as evolved as every other organism. We all have just over four billion years of evolution behind us, so pointing out that species X has been evolving for Y years actually makes no sense.

As for the original point about Britons believing that the world is run by dinosaur-like reptiles, I blame that on the Doctor’s run-in with the Silurians back in 1970.

76

randomvariable 08.08.08 at 2:38 pm

dsquared: I was thinking of this episode in his life, which predates TFTTL. It could have been his encounters with the Canadian Anti-Defamation League that made him incorporate them, and then the wider Jewish community into the great medium lobster lizard conspiracy.

77

Roy Belmont 08.08.08 at 7:35 pm

Dave 69:
if telepathy is real, wanting it not to be doesn’t come into it
Until it’s time to demonstrate it in the lab, then bias will come into it, strongly. Sheldrake’s early work was marred some by that.

J. Pez 75:
Parrots have 3-digit millions of years of evolution as parrots. They’re substantially more noetic than most other birds.

Canids, horses, birds, all have anecdotal scientifically unverifiable reported telepathic connects with humans. Which proves nothing. But those are animal populations which would benefit greatly from linked mind. So if it is a real aspect, that’s where you’d expect it.

Some of the problems with incidents of human-animal teleptathy are human unawareness on one side and human pro-bias on the other. If you aren’t aware something exists, or if you’re trained to believe it doesn’t, you’re a lot less likely to recognize it.
People learn to ignore weak signals with no cultural corroboration.
On the pro side, eople want their pets to be linked to them mentally.

Making absurd extrapolations about it is just disdain, which originates in bias.
Some of that bias understandably comes from the attributes of many of the in-favor crowd, new-age shallowness, lightweight eccentricity etc.
A fundamental prejudice is the tacit assumption, like I said above, that any telepathic human examples will have arisen spontaneously as contemporary mutation. As opposed to pre-existing threads in the cultural genome.
Not only is there rationalist prejudice against anything outside the rational frame, there is a culturally-driven prejudice whose roots are a little murkier.

78

Righteous Bubba 08.08.08 at 7:43 pm

Until it’s time to demonstrate it in the lab, then bias will come into it, strongly. Sheldrake’s early work was marred some by that.

But not his later work, as bias of the kind we like does not affect results.

79

Roy Belmont 08.08.08 at 8:24 pm

Bubba your bias has caused you to make a fatuous comment, though surely it’s the first only…
Not Sheldrake’s early reception, his work. Marred. By bias.
You’re presenting an example of the point you’re attempting to score on.

80

Righteous Bubba 08.08.08 at 8:32 pm

Not Sheldrake’s early reception, his work. Marred. By bias.

I did not write or intend “reception” Mr. Parrot telepathy advocate.

81

Roy Belmont 08.08.08 at 8:42 pm

Yes, I see that now. While not in any sense apologizing to your unpleasntly snarky self, I have to admit the error.

82

Porlock Hussein Junior 08.09.08 at 6:04 am

dsquared refers us to “the 1940s when the British government did, in fact, employ a lot of agents of influence in the USA attempting to persuade you lot to join our war.”

That reminds me — how much did your guys pay Hitler to declare war on us? Surely one of the greatest covert action coups in history.

83

Nat 08.09.08 at 6:19 am

My Dad worked for Kristofferson’s dad with Pan Am in Brownsville, Tx in the early ’40s. The elder K eventually got to be company president. So my Dad actually got to see a shape shifting reptile member of the illuminati as an infant. Cool. But Dad says the really cool part of the job was flying to Medellin every week. He says it was paradise in 1941.

84

David Ichor 08.09.08 at 7:35 am

It’s not just the power elite; all the humans are reptilians in mammalian garb. But the boneless ones are returning and will soon end this vertebrate interlude; just ask your marine biologists. The pelagic argosy sights land!

85

Dave 08.09.08 at 8:04 am

So, when do I get my telepathic wolf? Can I have one with laser guns fitted, or is that only sharks?

Hey, Roy, just in case you’re not clear here, this is overt mockery, OK?

86

roy belmont 08.09.08 at 3:56 pm

One of the reasons the idea of telepathic animals is important is it gives them a stature that makes killing them more like killing a co-equal, and less like mowing the lawn.

It confers on them presence, and a self, qualities and states that for people such as yourself will likely scramble vital moral supremacy when confronted directly.

As things stand they’re trivial creatures, little more than bugs, way off at the margins dying unimportantly, while triumphant humans crow their importance to the void.

Animals like parrots and wolves don’t need telepathic powers to matter, to be important in and of themselves, but the idea they might have them is a direct affront to anthropocentric chauvinists, such as yourself, like the idea those gibbering naked savages down in the jungle might have intelligence or souls, might be deserving of respect and responsible treatment, when their brutish animal-like lives and living places were smack in the way of empire, back in the day.

Now of course the superiority of man has been unquestionably proven for all time, and the dignity of the savage heathen long since disproved and gone, along with most of the animals and birds.

This is, Dave, apparent to you or no, mockery as well, under a bleak veneer of quasi-pretentious solemnity, itself masking an undying rage that comes from helplessly watching the extermination of far more noble creatures at the hands of the craven and vicious.

87

Roy Belmont 08.09.08 at 9:13 pm

Fractious Bubba:
You could read that too, sort of as if you were Dave.

88

Righteous Bubba 08.09.08 at 9:20 pm

You could read that too, sort of as if you were Dave.

Let me read his mind and I will respond, as Dave, when I am successful.

89

Roy Belmont 08.09.08 at 9:26 pm

I felt it when you wrote that, but had to confirm it by actual reading, I’ve been so thoroughly brainwashed by the cynically pragmatic dominant paradigm mindset.
Plus coffee, which I had two cups of, of instant, on four+ hours sleep, seems to negatively impact the functionality of the internal antennae.
While green tea, which I intend to return to the regular use of, seems to augment it.

90

herr doktor bimler 08.09.08 at 11:29 pm

Wait, wait, let’s go back to Sheldrake. He reckons he has found strong evidence for the phenomenon of morphic resonance, right? Does this mean that it’s now easier for other researchers to also demonstrate that morphic resonance is real?

One of these days I plan to write a book about morphic dissonance, which is the opposite phenomenon, making it harder to perform certain activities once someone else has performed them first. Look at all the scientific observations that no-one was able to replicate. N-rays, polywater, the planet Vulcan…

91

Righteous Bubba 08.10.08 at 1:38 am

One of these days I plan to write a book about morphic dissonance, which is the opposite phenomenon, making it harder to perform certain activities once someone else has performed them first.

My book about morphic assonance is ging ti kick iss in yir bik.

92

Matt McIrvin 08.10.08 at 3:14 am

My point isn’t that quantum theory provides the technology, but that contemporary theoretical physics provides an openness that consensus reality, based on subjective observation, lacks.

This actually strikes me as backwards. Of the nonscientists I know, who aren’t trained in contemporary theoretical physics but are perfectly functional in the commonsense everyday world, a lot of them believe in telepathy, precognition, etc. on the basis of their subjective observations. They believe they’ve got it to some extent; they’ve had various experiences which strike them as inexplicable unless some kind of unusual psychic influence is happening. It’s the people who are scientifically trained who are more likely to discount those experiences as coincidence or self-delusion and generally disbelieve in this stuff, whether or not they come by that disbelief fairly.

(Granted, it’s not an airtight association; in the Seventies it seems like there was a wave of physicists believing in the powers of famous psychics, and Randi became famous in part for saying, probably correctly, that he was better at seeing through simple stage-magic ruses than they were. But this isn’t so common today.)

Now one thing that’s happened is that, starting around the Seventies, there’s been this little industry devoted to writing books that say modern physics makes this or that paranormal claim more plausible, on grounds that are usually sort of metaphorical and aesthetic: space-time is dynamic, we don’t know how it works on a fundamental level, quantum correlations are nonlocal and spooky, etc.

But you could do this general type of thing at any stage in the development of physics. Newtonian mechanics includes a cosmic influence of every particle of matter on every other particle, which propagates at infinite speed across universal distances without benefit of any palpable medium and can penetrate any solid substance; how much simpler to carry a thought at infinite speed from one brain to another! Maxwellian electrodynamics, with its invisible Hertzian waves pervading space? I don’t even need to make that one up: late 19th- and early 20th-century spiritualists were very big on magnetism and aetheric vibrations. I’d be suspicious of claims that recent physics is radically different in this regard.

93

herr doktor bimler 08.10.08 at 8:39 am

My book about morphic assonance is ging ti kick iss in yir bik.
Righteous Buddha has too many morphic consonants.

morphic dissonance […] making it harder to perform certain activities once someone else has performed them first
It occurs to me now that according to this same effect, by covering similar ground, publications like the Annals of Improbable Results* have made it more difficult for me to write the promised book about the effect. My inability to get around to writing a coherent paragraph in fact demonstrates the reality of morphic dissonance. It has nothing to do with my normal state of indolence.

* Or for older readers, the Journal of Irreproducible Results.

94

Roy Belmont 08.10.08 at 6:49 pm

There’s a Logic term I’m sure for when the guy’s wrong about one thing therefore the assertion is he’s wrong about everything? So anybody arguing for the validity of one thing the guy says is undone by the lack of validity of the other thing he says, even though they’re not talking about that?
Taint.
Hey, miasma?
The medically official accepted cause of puerperal fever in early 19th c Europe.
Whoops.
Lack of perspective caused that.
But we struggle on don’t we?
Wrong about some stuff, right about other stuff.
How come no one ever talks about Velikovsky, speaking of voices crying in the non-positivist wilderness?
Velikovsky said Earth getting smacked by sizable celestial bodies was a major contributing factor to how things are. Dinosaurs gone missing,
continents shifting, mountains lifting…
Scorn, ridicule, ignominy.
The sneering babble of self-righteous professionals confirming each other’s ignorance.
Craters abounding, many of them not readily apparent, some of them huge.
Velikovsky was right, and so was Ignatz Semmelweiss, early discoverer and pioneer of medical hygiene practices.
Highly respected contemporary experts sneered at both of them in their respective days emphatically, confidently, often.
To the point Semmelweiss basically lost his mind and died in the gutter.
Velikovsky I’m not sure what happened to, maybe because he was Canadian.

95

Righteous Bubba 08.10.08 at 7:19 pm

Highly respected contemporary experts sneered at both of them in their respective days emphatically, confidently, often.

Holy crap I’m JUST LIKE THOSE SNEERERS! I need a cracker to properly absorb the meaning of th– CURSE YOU POLLY!

96

Roy Belmont 08.10.08 at 8:09 pm

Yeah Bubba, just like them. Except for the expert part, and the highly respected part.
Definitely a contemporary of Sheldrake (and me!) though, unless you’re posting across the Feynman checkerboard via your unique brain wave oscillator.
Which I somehow doubt given the frequency of your comments.
Pun intended.

97

herr doktor bimler 08.10.08 at 9:17 pm

Velikovsky I’m not sure what happened to, maybe because he was Canadian.
I have a great deal of difficulty keeping my Inner Pedant in check when I read statements like that.

98

Roy Belmont 08.10.08 at 9:25 pm

That’s either because you have an essentially vestigial sense of humor, or you’re assuming I do.

99

Righteous Bubba 08.10.08 at 9:41 pm

Morphic humorousness has led to non-jokes becoming jokes.

100

herr doktor bimler 08.10.08 at 11:28 pm

I can confidently say that I would never have laughed at Semmelweiss, owing to my under-developed sense of humour.

101

Roy Belmont 08.11.08 at 12:02 am

Well yeah that’s just it, there’s laughter born of humor, then there’s sneering and its accompanying derisive laughter.
Humor tends to advance the species by lightening the load, scorn by leaving the scorned behind.
Semmelweiss was basically undone by scorn.

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