Weekend reflections

It’s time for another weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. Side discussions to sandpits, please.

28 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. To particularise: people who reject the conclusion that JF Kennedy was assassinated by a conspiracy don’t take the view that he was assassinated by a coincidence, nor do they take the view that he was assassinated by a cock-up; people who reject the conclusion that the Reichstag building was burned by a conspiracy don’t take the view that it was burned by a coincidence, nor do they take the view that it was burned by a cock-up. In both cases the alternative explanation to a conspiracy is the deliberate action of a single individual.

    In the case of the destruction of the World Trade Centre towers, I don’t know of anybody who doubts that it was perpetrated by a conspiracy; I don’t see how anybody could doubt that, or attribute it to a coincidence or a cock-up (or to the deliberate action of a single individual). What people disagree about is who was involved in the conspiracy (and with what motives, and what methods they used).

    It is for reasons like these that I don’t make general use of the description ‘conspiracy theorist’, although I can imagine that it could have limited usefulness in some special contexts.

    However, given the common pejorative use of the expression, when I see people preface whatever they have to say with some variant of ‘I know this will make me sound like a conspiracy theorist but …’ or ‘Don’t call me a conspiracy theorist but …’ or ‘I’m not a conspiracy theorist but …’, I suspect that it’s because they’re expecting to be accused of being a conspiracy theorist in the pejorative sense, meaning that they’re expecting to be accused of spouting baseless rubbish, and I further suspect that it’s because they have frequently had the experience of being accused of spouting baseless rubbish, and I also suspect that the commonest reason why people frequently have the experience of being accuses of spouting baseless rubbish is because they’re frequently guilty of spouting baseless rubbish. Qui s’excuse s’accuse.

  2. @rog

    My Baysian expectation, given tonight’s observations, is that Joe Hockey will not hear the questions. That is, the words given by the current Treasurer in reply to a question from the audience may be an answer to a question but not to the question that has been asked.

  3. Conspiracy theories exist because conspiracies do, but not all theories are equal. The suggestion that American aristocrats are placing their children with foreign corporations to provide leverage is such elementary powerbroking that it barely deserves to be called a conspiracy.

    That’s somewhat different from suggesting the world trade centre was laced with explosives or shot with a hologram or whatever.

    I just think it’s funny that, if not for an unusual and probably unique set of circumstances, today people would be laughing about the nutty conspiracy theorists who actually believed Richard Nixon would send goons to burgle a hotel.

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