Thursday, October 05, 2006


Conspiracy Theorists

I recently had an on-line discussion with a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. This was obviously not a scientific survey of conspiracy believers, but I have no reason to suspect that he was not representative. Nonetheless, I think I can draw some interesting conclusions about these conspiracy theorists (in spite of the extremely limited sample) from our exchange:

1. There is no evidence for the conspiracy theories being offered.
2. Those touted as experts are often making claims far from their fields of expertise.
3. Conspiracy theorists cite a lot of poor quality scholarship. (This is common in pseudo-sciences.)
4. True believers are often unwilling or unable to acknowledge rather simple errors.

And perhaps most disturbingly:

5. There is an element of the extreme left-wing that hates American conservatives more than Arab terrorists so much that they are willing to blame American officials for the 9/11 atrocity in spite of the lack of evidence. Apparently this is also true for an element of the extreme right-wing, but it was clearly a leftist that I was debating.

So in the second letter here, Dr. Sandra Sutphen is mistaken about who the conspiracy theorists are. It's not just rightist kooks who are conspiracy mongering. All such nonsense that I've heard personally has come from leftists (who, incidentally, are not kooky on non-political topics). I realize that my sample is probably biased, but 21st century conspiracy mongering is hardly a phenomenon of the right.
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