Friday, April 4, 2008

THEY are After McCain: Conspiracy Theories, Anyone?

No, I don't think so, but here's a headline and excerpt that could start one:

"Secret Service: McCain Is Not Protected"
myway (April 4,2008)

"WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. John McCain travels the campaign trail without Secret Service protection although he is the Republican Party's likely presidential nominee, the agency's director told Congress on Thursday."

President McCain would most likely have policies, particularly regarding the War on Terror, significantly different from those that President Clinton or President Obama.

'Obviously,' They have plotted to ensure that McCain will not survive to sit in the Oval Office.

A vast international cartel of oil producers, corporate leaders, and wineries are conspiring to assassinate McCain, and make it look like the work of a lone madman!

(Yes, wineries! California wine producers have joined forces with the real leaders of organized crime in Sicily. They plot to make Americans, and people world-wide, drink too much wine: softening them up for the NWO, or New World Order!)

The Tree of Liberty and Loose Nuts

I've said this before: When elections shake the tree of liberty, quite a few loose nuts fall out.

And, that paragraph - the one that starts with 'Obviously,' - is a joke. I don't really think that the house of Saud, Gallo wineries, and the "real leaders" of the Cosa Nostra are plotting to take over the world.

There are people, however, who really believe at least one conspiracy theory. It's hardly a new phenomenon. In my youth, secret mind-control satellites and imaginative applications of numerology to the Book of Revelation were popular among conspiracy theorists. Not much has changed. Today, "They" are the NWO, and Princess Di has floated to the top of the pond: but the basic idea that some vast conspiracy is plotting world domination is still there.

Conspiracy theorists won't change their minds, at least not as a result of reading this, but I have a suggestion or two for everyone else.
  • Accept conspiracy theories as part of the background noise of a society
  • Let yourself enjoy the unintentional humor of theorists' statements
  • Don't let opposing crazy ideas distract you from real issues
  • Don't become a conspiracy theorist, yourself
"Don't become a conspiracy theorist, yourself" ??!

I'm personally immune to most conspiracy theories, because most don't come even close to tugging my heartstrings. JFK was never one of my idols, although I found Profiles in Courage (book and movie) a good story. And, I still get a little teary, remembering the lyrics, "I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill With Abraham, Martin, and John."

So, my emotions and beliefs leave me immune to the bulk of alternatives to the JFK assassination account.

My experience of the Vietnam War era in America might, on the other hand, leave me open to a story that explained the idiocy. I might write a story about some shadowy conspiracy that infiltrated American political and military leadership. Once the fifth columnists were in place, they started a campaign of Dilbertesque micromanagement of east Asian battlefields from Washington offices. I don't know what motive I'd pick, but I think it might involve space aliens.

Sounds ridiculous, right? I wouldn't be likely to believe that flying saucer people conspired with the military-industrial complex to subvert the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But it's (barely) conceivable that I'd fall for a story involving more plausible bad guys.

Occam's Razor

Common sense, and applying Occam's razor, are a pretty good defense against loony ideas. Occam's razor is a Franciscan friar's idea: that when you've got two ways of explaining something, and one is simpler, the simpler one is true. William of Occam said it more eloquently, of course. My father gave me good (and needed) advice: "Never attribute to malice, what can attributed to stupidity."

Conspiracy Theories: Treat Them like the Flu

Conspiracy theories are caught, when they appeal to some combination of a person's desires, fears, or assumptions. Problems start when a crazy idea gets past our minds' defenses, and starts growing inside. The process is a little like what happens when our immune systems don't control a flu virus.

Believing a conspiracy theory could be worse news than a bout with the flu, so make sure you're immunized against crazy ideas.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.