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Why Are Conspiracy Theories Bunk?

Updated on June 1, 2013
The Twin Towers burn on September 11, 2001
The Twin Towers burn on September 11, 2001 | Source
Buzz Aldrin on the Sea of Tranquility, not a soundstage!
Buzz Aldrin on the Sea of Tranquility, not a soundstage! | Source

A Look at the Stories Behind the Stories

Wikipedia describes a conspiracy theory as “an event being the result of an alleged plot by a covert group or organization or, more broadly, the idea that important political, social or economic events are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.” They are stories that go against the conventional historical consensus Their entry has dozens of examples from assassinations, wars, medicine, famine to the supernatural. They run the gamut from the believable, but improvable to the wild, and ridiculous. Many of them are stories behind relatively minor historical events, but a few are unbelievable explanations for major historical occurrences. It seems like the bigger the event, the more ridiculous the story.

I do not believe in most of the major conspiracy theories. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were the product of murdering Jihadists, not a plot by the Bush Administration or the Israeli Mossad. I don’t believe the world is run by the Illuminati, Freemasons, International Bankers or other organizations. The Apollo flights actually landed on the moon, they weren’t faked on a soundstage. AIDS came from African monkeys, it wasn’t developed by the CIA in the 1970s to control the Black race. JFK was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone, he was not a patsy for (take your pick) the Cubans, Soviets, the Freemasons, the Mafia, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon or the Teamsters. Elvis died in 1977 and is still dead, and the US Government isn’t hiding aliens and their spacecraft in Area 51.

Don’t get me wrong, conspiracy theories make very entertaining cable “documentaries” and these stories can make excellent movies. (in fact one of my favorite movies “Independence Day involves aliens and spacecraft in Area 51.) But I take them for what they are: entertaining fiction. But well made movies like “Wag the Dog” and others contribute to the popularity of these theories because they make complicated stories sound plausible.

I don’t believe these theories, not because I have researched them down to the most minute detail, but because they are implausible. People tend to talk. As Michael Shermer said in Scientific American in 2009 “Complex conspiracies are difficult to pull off, and so many people want their quarter hour of fame that even the Men in Black couldn’t squelch the squealers from spilling the beans. So there’s a good chance that the more elaborate a conspiracy theory is, and the more people that would need to be involved, the less likely it is true.

Listed below are a few more reasons for my skepticism.



Free Press

In 1973-74, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post led the nations press in investigating President Richard Nixon ’s involvement in the Watergate scandal. Nixon resigned in August 1974, and the press was credited with bringing down a Presidential Administration. In many ways this was the high point of journalism. Since then it seems the goal of the press is to find the story that will take down a powerful person or institution. Just ask Tiger Woods. How popular is Penn State now? As much as the press loved Bill Clinton, they loved reporting on his various affairs and his dalliances with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky

If there was a germ of truth in any of the conspiracy theories listed above, the press would be all over them. The liberal press hated George W. Bush and bashed him mercilessly for real and imagined misdeeds, mistakes and actions. If they could connect him in any way with involvement in the 9/11 attacks they would with gusto. The press bashed him for invading Iraq because he and other (even people across the aisle) believed the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction. They would have crucified him if there was anything tying him to the attacks and the death of over 3000 Americans. He would be in jail today. Reporters do not report stories like this because they simply aren’t true.

Source
Source

Free Governments

As a prelude to starting World War 2, Nazi Germany accused Poland of aggression as an excuse to invade that country. They staged an elaborate ruse as evidence that the Poles had attacked a German radio tower. When it was announced to the German people, they believed Poland was the aggressor. While it may be possible for a government to fool it’s people in societies that don’t have our freedoms, in countries with Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press it’s nearly impossible. Sooner or later a major lie is going to revealed.

It is possible for a government to carry out covert operations in a foreign country or develop secret weapons. These events occur when a very small number of people who are sworn to secrecy are involved. The events listed above were major news stories which involved a lot of people who were not members of the government and thus were not sworn to secrecy.

For example, a country with an authoritarian government would have believed the Obama explanation that the murder of our Ambassador to Libya recently was the result of a protest that went out of control. It took about 36 hours for it to be proven that it was a planned terrorist attack. For a government like ours to attempt to orchestrate something like a fake moon landing or a 9/11 terrorist attack would be political suicide. It would be found out sooner rather than later. Governments tend to be (relatively) honest because they know the consequences if they are caught in a lie. Let’s face it, governments do a lousy job of lying, As G. Gordon Liddy, of Watergate fame once said “the problem with government conspiracies is that bureaucrats are incompetent and people can’t keep their mouths shut.” (He should know!)

Believers

I always wondered why some people believe in these crazy theories. I do have a couple of ideas. First they have to want to believe them. They may be skeptical people by nature who don’t like the source of the popular “consensus” For example some members of the Black and homosexual communities believe AIDS was invented by the CIA to control those populations. That is not to say, there is not history there. For most of this country’s history, Blacks lived under slavery and later institutionalized persecution and prejudice. When a story like this gets any footing, it can be believed by people who don’t investigate it too deeply. They see it as just a continuation of past events. Also, when faced with something as devastating as AIDS, they look to others to blame because they don’t want to admit that behavior is the cause of the problem. They would rather look to a big amorphous, faceless organization that’s safe to blame.

Also, there are some people who are contradictory and argumentative by nature. They believe that Government or Big Business is hiding the truth behind the simple stories.

They believe in “Questioning Authority” and these theories (on the surface) seem to make sense.

Lastly, some people simply are gullible. They believe anything they are told. If something seems believable and the people they associate with believe it, that’s good enough for them. Many times they don’t research the issue, but let the opinions of family, friends and neighbors influence them.

Sources

So why are conspiracy theories so numerous? Most of these stories can be very emotional, and with faced with a general distrust for Government or Big Business, some people tend to take facts out of context, and make a story that they can believe. One that points to another power which they believe benefits greatly from the event. (for example, there is one conspiracy that says medicine is sitting on a cure for Cancer. Medical and drug companies make billions a year treating it. A cure would kill the “goose that laid the golden egg”)

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I can honestly say I had a lot of fun researching this Hub. When I first got the idea to delve into this subject, I though that there were only a few big conspiracy theories. In found out there were dozens (and certainly I didn’t see all of them). It was enjoyable reading those stories. They ranged from sensible stories to absolutely ridiculous claims. (According to the English Writer and speaker David Icke, the world is run by the Babylonian Brotherhood, a group of shape shifting, reptilian humanoids. He claims that Queen Elizabeth II, Boxcar Willie and the entire Bush Family are members!). In future Hubs I plan to examine a few of the more prominent conspiracy theories more closely.

At the top, I said that that I did not believe in conspiracy theories. That doesn’t mean that the authorities tell us everything in their official explanations. I’m sure that there are details about 9/11, the JFK assassination and other events that the public does not know.

Conversely, there may be details of conspiracy theories that are true. But by and large they are unbelievable.

Do you tend to believe the official story, or do you tend to believe that there is something we are not being told

See results

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    • billd01603 profile image
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      billd01603 5 years ago from Worcester

      Thanks for reading tammy

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Very interesting! I am pretty open minded and think that conspiracies could possibly be true, especially considering the onset of aids and now chem trails. I tend to think that being too mentally rigid in either directions has its own pitfalls. Very interesting subject!

    • billd01603 profile image
      Author

      billd01603 5 years ago from Worcester

      Thanks for reading Kathleen

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Never fell for any of these conspiracies except the Kennedy assassination on which I've gone back and forth over the years. I think there is evidence of what really happened that won't be made public until Caroline passes. But I think it will confirm what is widely believed. By now someone would have talked and provided proof if some extremely different version was actually the case.

    • billd01603 profile image
      Author

      billd01603 5 years ago from Worcester

      Joan wz Thanks for reading

    • billd01603 profile image
      Author

      billd01603 5 years ago from Worcester

      Lone77star Thanks for reading

    • billd01603 profile image
      Author

      billd01603 5 years ago from Worcester

      Hi lrc7815 Thanks for reading and for commenting. I guess I have a lot of faith (maybe niavely) in the press in this country. I agree with you -to a point. The news companies are beholden to there higher ups and sponsors. Just look at Fox News and MSNBC. But I don't believe there is some secret cabal running things, telling reporters what to cover and what to not. Their bosses may tell them not to write negitive (or positive )things about a certain individual. Since Watergate, the press has been very aggressive. That scandal was itself was a conspiracy that was broken open by the press. If the powers that be had this kind of control we would never have heard of Irangate, Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky and many others either.

    • joanwz profile image

      Joan Whetzel 5 years ago from Katy, Texas

      Loved it. I agree with your assesment. THanks for a great hub.

    • lone77star profile image

      Rod Martin Jr 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      @billd01603, interesting, but flawed presentation.

      You start with a moderately good definition of "conspiracy theory," but really a conspiracy is 2 or more people talking in secret about a plan to do something bad, unethical or illegal. And a theory about it would be essentially a hypothesis which needs to be tested.

      In practice, "facts" are frequently called "conspiracy theories" when they cast a bad light on official stories. But the official story about 9/11 was a conspiracy theory! How? George Bush and his gang came up with a theory about Osama Bin Laden conspiring with his pals to attack America. But the distressing fact is that the FBI won't include 9/11 on Osama Bin Laden's list of crimes, because they don't have enough evidence! So much for Bush's conspiracy theory.

      But the Corporate Party media has beat Bin Laden into our brains, as propaganda brainwashing -- as if it was truth, instead of merely a theory. We used to be a nation of laws and innocence until proven guilty.

      And when Bin Laden responded to the news that he had perpetrated 9/11, he said that he had not. Here, an admitted terrorist, was not taking credit for the biggest terror crime in history. Curious! You'd think that any terror group with an agenda would love to take credit for such a coup, even if they hadn't.

      Scientific evidence proves the 3 skyscrapers that collapsed on 9/11 were brought down by controlled demolition. Both unspent and partially spent thermitic materials were found in the 9/11 dust. Thermite is an artificial substance used in controlled demolition. The percentage of iron microspheres in the 9/11 dust indicates that many tons of iron microspheres were created by the incident, proving that there had been tons of molten iron during the collapses. Because the fires were not hot enough to melt steel, there needed to have been some other mechanism to create molten iron. Burning thermite produces molten iron as a byproduct. Because there were tons of molten iron, this proves controlled demolition.

      Because the 3 buildings were highly secure, and because it takes weeks or months to prepare 3 buildings of the sizes of those WTC structures, 9/11 had to have been an inside job. This is simple logic. And Al Qaeda would not have had unfettered access to the 3 buildings for many weeks or months, unless the CIA (the organization which created Al Qaeda) had put them up to it.

      So, who really did 9/11? We don't know, yet. But Bin Laden was an obvious patsy, just like the communists accused of the Reichstag fire 70 years earlier in Germany.

      There are conspiracies going on every day in government. For the CIA, it's their job! But what is in dispute is the CIA's real motives. Are they working for the Constitution and the people, or are they working for the Rockefellers and their ilk?

      With the continued erosion of the Constitution, I've lost my faith in thinking that the government (including the CIA) are working to protect the Constitution.

      When the nation can suffer so many attacks on one day and the officers who were responsible for those failures can all receive promotions for those failures, you have to know that something is rotten in America.

      These are not conspiracy theories. These are facts, begging for further investigation.

      If you can stand to see a few more facts (that some in the Corporate Party media call "conspiracy theories," when they're not), then you should look at,

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ddz2mw2vaEg

      ... where scientists, engineers and architects bring their thousands of person-years of professional experience to bear on this topic in condemnation of the "official story."

      If someone murdered your mother and blamed it on someone else, and the facts didn't stack up, would you merely go along with the "official story?" Or would you want to know who the real culprit was?

      On his death bed, E. Howard Hunt admitted to being involved in the Kennedy assassination. Why would he say such a thing? He couldn't benefit from it. And he certainly couldn't be hurt by such a revelation if someone wanted to quiet him because of it.

      If you're not completely terrified of learning the truth, you might be interested in a video that sheds some light on quite a number of things in our modern society. This was produced by Foster Gamble, one of the Procter & Gamble Gambles.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEV5AFFcZ-s

    • billd01603 profile image
      Author

      billd01603 5 years ago from Worcester

      Hi Wayne thanks for reading. Your point about the state of technology, and the niavety of the public at the time makes sense.

      Also, I changed the selections on my quiz

    • rafken profile image

      rafken 5 years ago from The worlds my oyster

      I believe that your commenters are certainly more aware than you. As Irc7815 says, the press in the west especially the US are not free or unbiased. As Wayne Brown says, some conspiracy theories do not really take too much secrecy from too many people, a small amount misleading others builds up your conspiracy numbers. As you obviously said correctly, you haven't looked much into these things, perhaps you should. A few questions you could start with.

      1. Why do the World Health Organization figures for the inoculation program in Africa, mirror the cases of confirmed HIV, although any forecast, given the supposed origin, do not. Remember Apes do not cross water.

      2. Given that the government has now agreed that there did seem to be explosions in the basement at 9/11 but they do not know what they were. This was in the same building as the CIA, so are the CIA incompetent of securing their own building let alone the country, or are they lying to the government. Check- did the company responsible for the security of Twin Towers, belong to the Bush family?

      3. If there is no "elite", why when during a senate hearing to stand as vice president, it was found that a Rockefeller company was supplying arms to North Vietnam a Rockefeller could not run for the position. He was not tried for treason? Yet if an average person has any dealings with an enemy of the state they are faced with board and lodging in Cuba?

      Certainly not all conspiracy theories are true. However if one was true, would it not be in the interests of the conspirators to instigate more in order to camouflage their own? Each one should be looked into with an open mind and certainly NOT just a belief of the western press.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

      An interesting hub for sure. I just wrote one this week on a similar subject from a different perspective. I don't live in fear of any "theory" but I will take issue with one statement you made. In your "Free Press" capsule you state..." Reporters do not report stories like this because they simply aren’t true." I think it is very misleading to insinuate that the press only reports the truth. Mainstream media is biased and will twist a story to tell you what it's corporate leaders/sponsors want you to hear. Other than that, I feel like every human has a right to their opinion and can only hope they do their homework before stating that opinion as an expert. Good job on this hub.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

      You may want to rethink the "vote" question in terms of the choices. When I read it, I see no way to answer without selecting "Yes". What determines the "No" choice or, for that matter the "Yes" choice? Is this intended to be a conspiracy? LOL! I tend to agree with most of your points here with the exception of the Kennedy assassination. In that instance, a small number of men within the government and the CIA exercised control over multiple layers of people who had an axe to grind with Kennedy. That control extended out through contract workers in organized crime, Cuban fighters, and even in political and international circles. The system in place exercises the power of suggestion, planning, and direction yet as the goal moves further toward the level of reality, those charged with carrying it out know little of the plot other than how their own passions fit into it and what they stand to gain personally from the execution of it. When those conditions exist, the environment is ripe to successfully carry out a conspiracy with few ever knowing the mechanics of it at the highest level. The public that witnessed what happened right in front of their eyes wants to believe there is an obvious, honest, explanation for if there was something going on, they would have seen it. The Kennedy assasination was flawed and had to be corrected. That correction took place initially with completing the death sentence of Oswald who should have died and not been captured. The final step was eliminating Jack Ruby and the correction was done. We also have to consider the state of technology, law enforcement, and naive mindset of the public at the time...very much changed in our world of today. Those who were not of age at the time of the Kennedy assassination would be hard pressed to envision those conditions based on our society today. Regardless of the subject matter, the makings of a good conspiracy require that it can be carried out right in front of those watching and the perpretators can walk calmly through the crowded chaos in the aftermath. Such was the case with JFK and, in much the same way, his brother RFK. Can it be proven without a doubt....not likely. ~WB