Five Things They Don't Want You to Know About Conspiracy Theories

Exploding the myths about the paranoid tales we tell.

It might seem like we're living at a uniquely rich moment for conspiracy theories. Over the last few years, we've seen it claimed that Osama bin Laden didn't really die, that Barack Obama is covering up the true circumstances of his birth, that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian have encoded Illuminati symbolism in their baby's name, that the National Security Agency has been secretly intercepting Americans' phone calls and e-mails—oh, wait. That last one's true.

It's easy to write off conspiracy theories as the delusions of the political fringe, a minor nuisance fueled by the rise of the Internet. Easy—and inaccurate. Conspiracy stories have been a major part of American life since the colonial days. They are not just found in the political extremes, and they are not invariably wrong. And even when they are wrong, as is so often true, they still have lessons to teach us. To understand why conspiracies matter, it helps to clear away some myths that have attached themselves to the subject.

Myth #1: People today are uniquely prone to believing conspiracy theories

A 2011 article in the British newspaper The Independent flatly declared that “there are more conspiracy theories and more conspiracy theory believers than ever before.” This, the reporter continued, was largely “because the internet has made it easy to propagate rumour and supposition on a global scale.” As an example, he cited a story that the Ku Klux Klan secretly owned KFC and was lacing “the food with a drug that makes only black men impotent.”

But there has never been an age when conspiracy theories were not popular. From Puritan fears that Satan was commanding a conspiracy of Indians to Thomas Jefferson's concern that the British had “a deliberate and systematical plan of reducing us to slavery,” from the assassination rumors that followed the death of President Zachary Taylor to the tales of subversion told during the Cold War, every significant event in American history has inspired conspiracy theories. And a lot of insignificant events have, too.

Some of those stories showed up in major media outlets, but others we know about only because social scientists took the time to collect them. Thanks to the sociologist Howard Odum, for example, who studied the stories circulating among Southerners in the 1940s, we know that there were people who believed, in one white person's words, that “Hitler has told the Negroes he will give them the South for their help.” The chief difference the Internet has made—other than allowing such stories, like any stories, to spread more quickly—is to make them more visible. Rumors that once were limited to a single subculture can spill out into the open. The volume and intensity of conspiracy fears haven't necessarily increased; they're just easier for outsiders to hear.

It's telling that The Independent's example of an Internet-fueled rumor actually predates the Internet age. The folklorist Patricia Turner first encountered the KFC story in the 1980s, though in the version she heard the villainous restaurant was supposed to be Church's Chicken. She eventually determined that the rumor had been around since at least the '70s. You can't blame the Web for that.

Myth #2: Conspiracy theories always involve villains

It isn't always scary to imagine a grand design. Sometimes it's a comfort. People say “Everything happens for a reason” or “It's all God's plan” to soothe you, not to frighten you. And it's just a small step from there to a worldview where the grand design is executed not by God but by a benevolent conspiracy. 

Conspiracy folklore is filled with this sort of story, starring everyone from Rosicrucians to extraterrestrials to a hidden order of adepts based beneath Mount Shasta. The California writer Manly P. Hall, for example, believed the United States was being guided to a special destiny by an Order of the Quest, which had intervened in everything from Columbus's voyage to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Myth #3: Conspiracy theories are just a feature of the fringe

In the most widely read—or at least widely namechecked—study of political paranoia, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” the historian Richard Hofstadter called conspiracism “the preferred style only of minority movements.” Yet the mainstream regularly embraces conspiracy theories, some of which look deeply bizarre in retrospect.

Consider the great Satanism scare. In the 1980s, older tales about Satanic conspiracies collided with three secular fears: a wave of stories about missing children, a heightened concern with child abuse, and worries about religious cults. The result was a period when mainstream reporters and officials embraced the idea that a network of Satanists was kidnapping, molesting, and murdering American children. Innocent people were sent to prison for participating in the purported crimes. Respected shows such as “20/20” uncritically repeated extremely dubious claims. An FBI agent, writing in Police Chief magazine, complained about “a flood of law enforcement seminars and conferences” where cops would hear talks about “satanic groups involved in organized conspiracies, such as taking over day care centers, infiltrating police departments, and trafficking in human sacrifice victims.”

Moral panics have frequently come bundled with conspiracy yarns, from the alleged white-slavery syndicates of a century ago (described by one Chicago prosecutor as an “invisible government”) to the gay subversion feared in the early years of the Cold War. (In 1950, the director of the CIA warned that “perverts in key positions” formed “a government within a government.”) There is always a tendency, in the mainstream as much as the fringes, to blame real or imagined social problems on a folk devil. And the folk devil often takes the form of a conspiracy.

Myth #4: Conspiracy theories are never true

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  • Eduard van Haalen||

    You should take the material from all your articles and write a book!

  • Almanian!||

    OH! I was thinking the same thing but you got here first!

  • Ted S.||

    I'm sure that book would be more interesting than flooding comment sections with whines about alleged persecution of Christians.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Alleged? As in the alleged heat of the sun?

  • Entropy Void||

    Sales droppin' off a bit, eh, Jesse?

  • Libertarius||

    His book conveniently forgets to mention the fact that American women have been bernankified by the Fed. It's very simple: in order to keep the debt monetization ponzi going, the Fed needs new suckers (men) to constantly be paying down debt by buying assets from other men who were conveniently liquidated in kangaroo divorce courts. So we get a bunch of "you go girl" bullshit, which really means "go get a divorce so the government can loot your husband and liquidate his assets in order to keep new suckers buying the land, buildings and capital goods with newly-minted fiat debt". It's a cycle of marriage-debt-divorce-liquidation.

    Do you think it's any coincidence that Ben Bernank closely resembles The Architect from the Matrix? lolzozlzozlzozlzolz

  • Pathogen||

    Sell gold, but tinfoil...

  • Pathogen||

    *buy*

  • Warrren||

    That's just what you want us to think.

  • Libertarius||

    Sell gold, buy bitcoins lolz

  • Tamfang||

    THEY took real tinfoil off the market!

  • ||

    Pepe Silvia!

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Ya know, they say the saddest thing about professional athletes is when they don't realize it's time to hang em up.

    The same can be said about Reason writers promoting their books.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    OR...

    You know who else couldn't stop promoting their book?

  • Almanian!||

    The "Chicken Soup for FUCKING EVERYTHING" guy?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Herodotus, when he plugged his book at the Olympics?

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Obama?

  • Nazdrakke||

    Gideons?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    I am dissapoint.

    Gillespie
    Welch
    Doherty
    L Ron Hubbard

  • Sevo||

    "L Ron Hubbard"

    Naah. He quit when he died.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    I just made a comment that vanished.

  • Almanian!||

    I didn't see what you did there...

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    hmm

    It might seem like we're living at a uniquely rich moment for conspiracy theories

    …or so the Germans would have us believe!

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

  • Pathogen||

    Man... that sux.

  • C. Anacreon||

    I'm bummed. She really made Edna into a distinctive character. She was also awesome on Bob Newhart -- so much so that Rev. Jim had a crush on her on Taxi. RIP.

  • Ted S.||

    Nobody reads my comments. :-(

  • ||

    What's that? Did you say something?

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    You know Jesse, you could have just linked to this episode of Pinky and the Brain

  • Sevo||

    And no one thing about Hitler and Nixon in Uruguay in '56! I'm disappointed!

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    And just why were there two Darrens on 'Bewitched'?

    IT'S A CONSPIRACY!

  • Warrren||

    She needed two Dicks to scratch her witch itch.

  • Austrian Anarchy||


    In the infamous Tuskegee Experiment, which lasted 40 years, the Public Health Service deliberately refrained from telling hundreds of black patients that they had syphilis

    Which grew its own conspiracy theory that those men were intentionally infected by the federal government. It was a whole different set of people, in Guatemala, that the US Health Service infected on purpose.

  • Sevo||

    It also grew as a myth that the study was conducted by EVEEEL KORPORASHUNS!

  • DarrenM||

    It also grew as a myth that the study was conducted by EVEEEL KORPORASHUNS!

    Is there any other kind?

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Of those conspiracy theories going around in the late 1970s and early '80s that were the most consistent and pervasive, including one not mentioned the Neiman Marcus cookie thing, came from people who worked around FAX machines. At least I was always hearing about them from people who worked in an office with a FAX machine.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    The Beckerhead is the King of CT although the idiot denies it vehemently.

    My favorite of his was when Cash for Clunkers had some little applet to download with a SLA to sign. Glenda went off on that and claimed that signing it would allow the feds to suck all your personal data out of your PC. Then he cried for a bit.

    What a fucking whackjob.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    You sure put all the Glenn Beck fans on this site in their places!

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Yeah, if I were highlighting some comment by Matt Iglesius(?) over at Salon the Peanuts would all be jacking off like monkeys in unison laughing at him.

    Somehow the Beckerhead just does not illicit the same response despite saying even dumber things.

    Why is that?

  • Pathogen||

    Soo.. you're pro-'Matt Iglesius(?)', and anti-Beckerhead ? Is that the point?

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "Yeah, if I were highlighting some comment by Matt Iglesius(?) over at Salon the Peanuts would all be jacking off like monkeys in unison laughing at him."

    Wouldn't happen because

    A) You're too much of a pathetic, bootlicking, follower fuck-up to ever say anything contrary to anything Yglesias would write (and deliberately pretending you can't spell his name doesn't fool anybody, shitheap).

    and

    B) Everyone everywhere hates you too fuckin' much to ever "jack off like monkeys" to anything you would ever say, even if you were to somehow pull a Broken Clock.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    I don't read Yglesius, you jizz-mopper. I don't know what he says and I don't care.

    It is the GOP who have fucked this country in the ass - the bigots, rednecks, Chrisfags, fascists, and felons who vote GOP and the lickspittle like you who shill for them.

    Of course the Dems are not much better but they are at least honest - much unlike yourself.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I don't read Yglesius, you jizz-mopper. I don't know what he says and I don't care.

    It is the GOP who have fucked this country in the ass - the bigots, rednecks, Chrisfags, fascists, and felons who vote GOP and the lickspittle like you who shill for them.

    Has anyone ever mentioned to you that you are really, really homophobic?

    By the way, what has "Chris" ever done to you?

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    felons who vote GOP

    Lately you've been pushing the idea that people on welfare are overwhelmingly Republican voters.

    Now you're saying people with criminal records vote Republican as well? Like, substantially more often than they vote Democrat (when they're allowed to vote at all, of course)?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Lately you've been pushing the idea that people on welfare are overwhelmingly Republican voters.

    I never implied that.

    I do say that most ENTITLEMENTS go to GOP voters. SS/Medicare/Medicaid dwarf food stamps/TANF by about 12-1. And the beneficiaries of those elderly programs vote GOP.

    As for me being homophobic, Herotio - fuck you in the ass.

  • Pathogen||

    Citation?

  • Marshall Gill||

    Citation? From the shreiking idiot? Not likely. Even when he pretends, the citations do support what he claims.

    Seriously, it is a mendacious turd. Expecting intelligence from it is like expecting attractiveness from Rosie O'Donald.

  • Pathogen||

    *shudder*

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    You can't even quote Shakespeare correctly. It's "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy." Hamlet never made a reference to sodomy. Shakespeare limited that to his sonnets.

  • ||

    Now, now HM. Is that a way to treat a classical liberal like Palin? Tsk, tsk. For shame.

  • cavalier973||

    And when we say "Shakespeare" we mean Edward de Vere.

    There's another conspiracy--the efforts of the imbecilic Stratfordians to suppress the truth about Shakespeare's true identity.

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    I never implied that.

    Really? It certainly seemed to me that's what you meant to imply when you said

    The "welfare queen" of the new millennium is a Red State Rand Paul voter!
  • VG Zaytsev||

    Does OFA pay you more for each homophobic reference shreeky?

  • Pathogen||

    Soo... we've got it all wrong? It was the GOP, in the Library, with the Lead Pipe Revolver?

  • C. Anacreon||

    How many people write you Shrike? Your writing style is totally different today.

  • Jquip||

    "... the [wow, trainload of conspiragoats] who shill for them. ... Dems ... are at least honest"

    By your account you must be a Republican voter.

  • everyone||

    Somehow the Beckerhead just does not illicit the same response despite saying even dumber things [than Yglesias].

    I don't read Yglesius, you jizz-mopper. I don't know what he says and I don't care.

    Of course the Dems are not much better but they are at least honest - much unlike yourself.

    Yes, Shrike, we agree with the voices in your head that allow you to compare Beck and Yglesias without knowing what Yglesias says. Nice projection on that "honest" comment, too.

    Palin's Buttplug| 9.2.13 @ 5:57PM |#

    If everyone agreed with me I would quit posting.
  • ||

    I just realized something. What if...what if...and I'm just what iffing but what if Palin is....MATT YGLESIAS?

    A conspiracy?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Seems legit.

  • Pathogen||

    What if he's... Rafael Yglesias

  • Redmanfms||

    I just realized something. What if...what if...and I'm just what iffing but what if Palin is....MATT YGLESIAS?

    I thought the going theory was that he was a Weigel sockpuppet.

  • DK||

    What if...what if...and I'm just what iffing but what if Palin is....MATT YGLESIAS?

    Well, that might explain the "I don't know what he says and I don't care." comment. I imagine even Yglesias can't bear to hear himself.

  • Sevo||

    "It is the GOP who have fucked this country in the ass"

    So FDR was a GOPer?
    Go fuck your daddy, shitpile.

  • ||

    It has the worst case of the "FUCK YOU DAD"s I have ever seen.

  • Irish||

    It is the GOP who have fucked this country in the ass - the bigots, rednecks, Chrisfags, fascists, and felons who vote GOP and the lickspittle like you who shill for them.

    This is just ludicrous. I think you should look at a map of high crime areas and then look at which party those areas tend to support.

    Hint: They are not generally Republican strongholds.

    As for bigots, rednecks, "Christfags," and fascists...well, yes. The GOP does have a good number of those, although so do the Democrats.

  • Marshall Gill||

    When you say bigots and rednecks, would that include any former Grand Wizards of the KKK?

  • Kid Xenocles||

    "does not illicit the same response"

    *elicit

  • General Butt Naked||

    Why is that?

    'Cause you're an asshole that no one likes. There actually used to be a lot of Beck bashing around here before you arrived, but it's stopped because nobody wants to be associated with a pathetic thing such as yourself.

    Hell, Beck looks good standing next to an Obama fellating little shit like you.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    And there it is in a nutshell.

    Spot on!

  • Marshall Gill||

    I have only seen Beck on TV briefly. He cried. As pathetic as Beck seemed, the Shrieking Imbecile has nothing on Beck.

  • Pathogen||

    Sooo.. cash for GM/Volt hucksters clunkers wasn't a conspiracy after all?

  • Jon Goldberg||

    So when you hear someone suggest, say, that Obama wasn't born in the United States, it's not enough to note that the evidence for the claim isn't there. It's worth considering what fears are afoot that allow such a story to find believers despite the facts. Something may be happening that we should not ignore, even if the form it takes happens to look absurd.

    Right indeed. We need to have a talk about race relations in the United States. How about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright character? He said that "Jews" weren't letting him talk to Obama. The Jews Anti-Defamation League got mad about that. Why would he say such a thing? What does that say about politics and race relations in America?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    That is actually a good topic.

    Blacks and rednecks both hate the "Jews" - out of ignorance I say. Many rednecks even concoct CT about the "Jew bankers" at the Fed who "sekretly run the world". Much of this CT is paleo-conservative in nature.

    Why is that?

  • Pathogen||

    Who is this cabal of influential rednecks? Is it like... blazing saddles? Like... Mongo? He seemed relatively harmless... and seemed to get along with Mel Brooks...

  • Jon Goldberg||

    Palin's Buttplug|10.26.13 @ 6:38PM|#

    That is actually a good topic.

    Blacks and rednecks both hate the "Jews" - out of ignorance I say. Many rednecks even concoct CT about the "Jew bankers" at the Fed who "sekretly run the world". Much of this CT is paleo-conservative in nature.

    Why is that?

    Shriek is too stupid to be politically correct. I guess that is why he thinks he is a libertarian. Did you know that three out of the seven federal reserve Board members are Jewish? Or should I say "happen to be Jewish."

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Did you know that three out of the seven federal reserve Board members are Jewish? Or should I say "happen to be Jewish."

    Why do you give a fuck if they are Jewish?

  • Pathogen||

    Jews need love too, PB...

  • Jon Goldberg||

    Well, I have a scientific mind, I naturally wonder why such a thing is the way it is. The main reason is that Jews have higher IQs than non-Jews. But there is another reason to give a fuck. The politics that is promoted by the Jewish elite is very different from the politics of the rest of the American people. Did you know that over half of all Democrat campaign contributions come from Jews? You can not understand politics in this country without understanding the Jews.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Did you know that over half of all Democrat campaign contributions come from Jews?


    Do you have a cite for that?
  • Jon Goldberg||

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Interesting. I was looking for the actual numbers though.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    So what have paleo-conservative rednecks ever been right about and why should one believe them over the "Jewish elite"?

  • Pathogen||

    Define "paleo-conservative rednecks".

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Did you know that over half of all Democrat campaign contributions come from Jew

    s?

    I NEVER understood this. Why?

  • ||

    There were a few groups in the lead-up to the '60s who probably would've skewed more Republican than Dem, but were outright rejected. I read someplace that a lot of the Jews who were just gaining traction in Hollywood in the '30s-'50s tried to join the country clubs frequented by the gentile wealthy but were blocked from doing so. They finally said "Have it your way..." and stopped trying. Over time that voting preference became habituated and still holds sway.

  • PapayaSF||

    I think it's a number of things. As an historically oppressed people, Jews (on average) probably have more sympathy for people they see as oppressed. And as people who are (on average) smarter than average, they are more susceptible to what Orwell was talking about when he said (more or less): "There are some ideas so stupid that only intellectuals will believe them." Hence, the attraction to progressivism/socialism.

  • Jon Goldberg||

    I NEVER understood this. Why?

    Because you adhere to the doctrine of political correctness which leads you to automatically reject certain views without actually trying to understand them.

    Thus, it is unsurprising that cosmotarians have explanations that don't make any sense. The High IQ of the Jews doesn't cause them to support mass immigration in Israel. The persecution argument also makes little sense. Italians suffered from similar discrimination, yet after their position improved, their voting changed to reflect that. That didn't happen with the Jews. And who are they to protest White protestants having their own institutions when they do the same thing?

    The only sensible explanation is that there is an inherent hatred of gentiles among many Jews. Be it Whites in America, Russians in Russia, or Palestinians in Israel, who did nothing to the Jews but saw brutal oppression. But that explanation will not satisfy political correctness.

  • ||

    Oh hai Merkin.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    I feel stupid.

    Wasn't thinking and I bit. Fuck me.

  • ||

    Wasn't thinking and I bit. Fuck me.

    Eh you jumped in before he revved up the crazy. We all do it at some point. Besides it's festive that he came in here on an anti-semitic tear with the name Jon Goldberg.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Russians in Russia ... who did nothing to the Jews

    Are you fucking joking?

  • Redmanfms||

    Are you fucking joking?

    I think he's claiming that the Palestinians never did anything to the Jews, which, of course, is also abject bullshit.

    I haz a confuzed anyway, as I thought Merkin just loved him some Israelis.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Indeed. It's a shame that the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement never saw fruition, of course that's mainly due to Faisal's more moderate, Jeddah-based Kingdom of Hejaz falling to the forces of the bat-shit insane Wahhabist House of Sa'ud.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I haz a confuzed anyway, as I thought Merkin just loved him some Israelis.

    That was old half-Jewish with Asian "girlfriend" Merkin. Merkin 2.0 is a different creature.

  • Irish||

    I haz a confuzed anyway, as I thought Merkin just loved him some Israelis.

    Well, since American is just a sockpuppet troll who exists to say racist things, it isn't surprising that the troll pretending to be a racist isn't particularly consistent.

  • Davis||

    I doubt this new guy is the same guy as the original American. Did you see his recent post on feminism? He totally contradicted what the old American would have said. He also accused "Tiger Mothers" of being "communists." And he seems to hate the Jews, the old American claimed to admire the Jews. The old American claimed to be a libertarian, this guy is a socialist.

  • Irish||

    The old American claimed to be a libertarian, this guy is a socialist.

    Old American never claimed to be a libertarian. OA argued in favor of 'Marxism for White People' and would actually trot out Marxist axioms about the Surplus Army of Labor.

  • Irish||

    Wow. This escalated quickly.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I think you also can't dismiss voting as a social marker with many Jewish voters.

  • Pathogen||

    Stalin never understood it either, and kept right on purging them...

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Did they convert to Judaism or are they like Larry David, atheists with a Jewish mom, or other?

  • Pathogen||

    "Did they convert to Judaism or are they like Larry David, atheists with a Jewish mom, or other?"

    You have to be bitten by a Jew to become one.. I think...

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    So that's where all these new TV shows and movies came from.

  • Jon Goldberg||

    Most Jews are either atheists or very secular. It is an ethnicity more than it is a religion.

  • ||

    Shriek only pawn in game of life...

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "Many rednecks even concoct CT about the "Jew bankers" at the Fed who "sekretly run the world"."

    And for every one of them there's fifteen Regressives ready to tell you all about the evil Zionist conspiracy that keeps Palestinians in an imaginary apartheid because they don't just stand there and smile when the Hamas try to blow them up.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    ^ OH, and lest we forget that the whole 9/11 'Truther' movement comes to us thanks to a handful of Lefties who didn't see why their beloved Islamist fundamentalists should have to take teh heat for something they could scapegoat on TEH JOOZE.

  • Pathogen||

    Either way... "Palestine is still the problem"...

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Listen, you fucking dumphole.

    I hate Islam even more than the GOP rednecks how spew Christ-gasms like candy corn. Islam is a fucking disgrace to humanity.

  • Pathogen||

    Soo... Boooosh! ≥ Islam?

  • Marshall Gill||

    Islam is am a fucking disgrace to humanity.

    There, fixed that for you.

  • Pathogen||

    I'm still confused here. He's saying he loves 'W", but hates brown desert people, and everyone else is a hate spewing "GOP redneck"... and Julio Yglesias sucks less than Beck... Oh, and... Jews.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Do not attempt to make any sense from what it says. Just think of the insane homeless guy screaming at a wall. That is the Shrieking Idiot.

  • Pathogen||

    But, he's the mystery inside the enigma, inside the Tupperware bowl, in the back of the fridge... behind the relish and baking soda... He intrigues me...

  • ||

    You hate Islam?

  • ||

    Christ-gasms

    Why do you hate St. Teresa PB?

  • Entropy Void||

    i think the general consensus around here is: Shut the fuck up, you stupid fucking fuck.

  • Jon Goldberg||

    It looks a lot like the Apartheid system to me. Only very recently has Netanyahu even considered a possibility of a Palestinian state. Before that, he insisted on keeping the Palestinians in the West Bank under perpetual occupation, not citizens of their own state but not citizens of Israel either, with no right to elect their own government. It isn't a conspiracy because a conspiracy requires secrecy. There is no secrecy. I suppose you would have told the White South African government to stand there and let their citizens be blown up by ANC terrorists?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Fuck the "Palestinians". They're not a people. It's not a country. It's all bullshit stirred up by Arabs to distract the public in their countries from the shitty dictatorships that oppress them.

  • Hrar||

    Whether or not the Palestinians are a people or not, they should have the right to live on land that they have owned for hundreds of years, in the West Bank and Gaza. They have already given up enough land to Israel itself. And they should have the right to vote as well. Either in their own, small Palestinian state, or in a the state of Israel itself. That is the libertarian solution.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Except that they have not owned the land for hundreds of years. Nor do they simply want to live peaceful productive lives. The freest Arabs in the middle east live in Israel.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Except that they have not owned the land for hundreds of years. Nor do they simply want to live peaceful productive lives. The freest Arabs in the middle east live in Israel.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Christophe||

    The comments are all kultur wars on there. Nobody suggesting the state fuck off and leave these guys alone.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    CNN comments are just youtube comments with spell check.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Sounds like they need prop 13 there.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Kids MMA.

    I didn't know that we had this in the States. When I was in Thailand, I would watch kid kickboxing on tv all the time. I always thought we had laws against this or something.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Missouri man serving life in prison for three nonviolent marijuana convictions:

    ""Jeff [Mizanskey] was convicted under Missouri's "prior and persistent drug offender" statute, a Three Strikes-like statute that permits a court to hand out a life-without-parole sentence to somebody with three nonviolent drug offenses. But Missouri's law is unique in that it doesn't require at least one violent offense to lock up a person for life, whereas most states' habitual-offender laws do. California requires at least one violent offense. So does Georgia. And even Alabama, which doesn't require a distinction between violent and nonviolent felonies, paroled a man who had initially received a life without parole sentence for three nonviolent felonies -- the third of which happened to be a selling-marijuana conviction.

    "But when it comes to pot, Missouri can be stricter than Georgia or Alabama -- and Jeff Mizanskey might never get out of prison."

    h/t Lucy Steigerwald

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    I Love Lucy!

  • Sevo||

    So does Ricky.

  • cavalier973||

    It seems like the "one violent offense" requirement should be easy to get around. All a policeman has to do is shove the culprit and claim "resisting arrest" or something.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Interesting Bloomberg article compares Ted Cruz's tactics with those of John Quincy Adams

    History is replete with senators and representatives who have, against all odds, forced their colleagues to revisit matters that the majority wished to avoid. Like slavery, for example.
    For sheer, unrelenting doggedness and one-man obstruction of government, though, John Quincy Adams, an anti-Southern abolitionist, surely deserves the prize.
    [...]
    Though he was a gradual convert to the antislavery cause, Adams believed silencing debate to be unconstitutional. And he fought back. In the heated discussion over the proposed rule change, Adams at one point screamed at the House speaker, “Am I gagged, or am I not?”
    His outburst gave a name to that procedural tactic: the gag procedure, or gag rule.
    After the rule was adopted in 1835, Adams began a long, lonely campaign that infuriated his colleagues. As thousands of petitions flowed into Congress, Adams brought them to the floor, disingenuously asking whether they were subject to the gag rule. The sheer volume brought the legislative process to a temporary halt, even if they were immediately removed from consideration. The petitions began piling up in a 600-square-foot room designed to hold them. By 1838, they filled almost the entire room to the height of its 14-foot ceiling.

    And yes, JQA was accused of treasonous behavior.

  • Sevo||

    Those rethuglicans trying to shut down the government have to realize that O'care was passed and is LAW, unchangeable except by decree of His Honorable Self!
    They have no right to try to change a LAW that was passed by jamming it through before some new legislator took his seat!

  • Ted S.||

    Obama needs to stop rooting for the failure of Citizens United and Heller, which are both established law.

  • Sevo||

    And the Obots, too!

  • DK||

    I never knew that a former president was elected to the House. Apparently, Adams was the only former president who later served in the House and Andrew Johnson the only former president who later served in the Senate.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    And as discussed in a new book about conspiracy theories, JQA got elected to the house as an anti mason, as I knew before reading the book. But THEY made sure to keep that out of standard histories. Sheeple, wake up!

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I wish to hell that it wasn't the accepted "norm" for former Presidents to spend the rest of their lives meddling from the sidelines. Damnit, if Jimmy Carter is so goddamned Wise, let him run for office again. Pretty much ANY office. If nothing else it might keep him from making extraneous comments on foreign policy issues on which he is (and always has been) clue less.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Slavery is Settled Law!

  • Winston||

    So when will a new Star Trek Tv series happen? How about Aaron Sorkin?

  • Winston||

    Also I think many conspiracy theories are spread thanks to government lies and untrustworthiness. The US government did cover-up UFO sightings but those UFOs weren't extraterrestial. The Soviets did cover up the death of a cosmonaut but said cosmonaut died in training.

  • Redmanfms||

    So, OT, but is anybody else having trouble viewing HD videos on YouTube?

    My set-up autos to 360p and then I usually change it to 720p for certain videos, but for the past day or so the video just freezes when I attempt to change video quality (up or down).

  • Sevo||

    I'll stick this here tonight and I promise I'll beat it to death over the next day or two.
    The SF Bay Area had a strike by the (SEIU, overpaid, over-bene'd) workers of the gov't-sponsored BART commuter rail. By any reading of the web comments, the overwhelming public opinion was 'fuck the union, fire them all, we'll wait for new workers'. Instead, the union was given what they wanted and more after a 4-day strike.
    Well, "BART lobbying goes to board member's doorstep"
    "A host of local politicos lobbied behind the scenes for the unions during the recent BART strikes, but none came close to state Assemblyman Robert Wieckowski and Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle - who went thumping on BART board member Tom Blalock's door one night, scaring his wife half out of her wits."
    Now, imagine if the management had done anything of the sort. The NLRB would'a been on their ass in a minute.
    But, hey, in CA every politico in power is a sleazy Dem, answering to their bosses in some union or other, so, who cares?
    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/.....929110.php
    Fucking moonbeam signed the Dill act.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Huh huh , they dhould call it the Dillweed act, huh huh.

  • PapayaSF||

    Yeah, what a joke. Welcome to the one-party state.

  • AuH20||

    So I've been reading that reddit thread that Reason linked to, the "Things Americans don't Realize Are Weird About America" one.

    Apparently, the key things other countries don't get:

    1)Tipping
    2)Our Friendliness and Service Culture in general
    3)Our Gun Culture
    4)Driving Everywhere
    5)Our Lack of National Healthcare

    Adding it up, it seems the thing they are most mystified by is Our Not Embracing Socialism whole heartedly. Whenever I feel depressed about the way America is going, I look at stuff like that, and realize it could be much worse. At least we haven't gone full on retard authoritarian socialist.

  • Redmanfms||

    1)Tipping

    Fee commiserate to service is pretty foreign.

    2)Our Friendliness and Service Culture in general

    Europeans (especially) see being friendly and polite as a sign of mental weakness.

    3)Our Gun Culture

    Yeah, it's not like there aren't literally thousands of years of historical precedence that unarmed people end up being slaves to armed people, or worse...

    You should see the looks I've gotten from Germans when I ask them if history would have been different if the mythical "decent Germans" had been equipped to slauther brownshirts.

    4)Driving Everywhere

    I've noticed this in my encounters with Europeans. Of course most Europeans haven't the vaguest conception of how fucking huge the U.S. is, making personal transportation necessary. They also have a substantially lower standard of living. Owning a car in the U.S. is cheap, the same is not true of Europe (or anywhere really).

    5)Our Lack of National Healthcare

    They really don't know any better. Unless they've been gravely ill and had to travel to the U.S. to actually get effective treatment, or known somebody who has.

    Limeys especially think the NHS is just tits. Why? They're stupid. Even when it's pointed out to them that America has better healthcare outcomes (you know, people not dying) they'll argue about "price." Because, like NHS is "free." Like I said, they're stupid.

  • Redmanfms||

    Sentence fragment, you fuckers need to stop linking to Marcotte.

    Unless they've been gravely ill and had to travel to the U.S. to actually get effective treatment, or known somebody who has.

    they really don't know just how poor the quality of care they receive is.

  • Pathogen||

    "Limeys especially think the NHS is just tits. Why?"

    My particular slice of Florida is just crawling with Brits, most are polite and congenial, and they avoid other Brits like the plague. I was told that the NHS is pretty much for binge drinkers, broken arms, and lingering death. Many of them marvel at the cost of gasoline, clothing, and food in general. The 'Litre' capacity of the standard car engine baffles them, as does the long straight nature of the roads.... They often come here to escape the crime and crowding of the English cities, and have no illusions as to why their "social" taxes are so high... along with everything else.

  • Redmanfms||

    My particular slice of Florida is just crawling with Brits, most are polite and congenial, and they avoid other Brits like the plague.

    Like I said, most don't know any better. Those that do, usually move here.

    Plenty of the Royal Navy types I met when I was in the USN retired (or plan to retire) here because of how low the cost of living is (and better the quality of life). Sailors on pass from the boats that pulled into Kings Bay would go hog-wild at malls buying clothes, especially shoes and jeans.

  • CE||

    America has a frontier, do-it-yourself attitude, based on our history and the types of people who were adventurous enough to move here while it was still mostly unsettled.

    Tips are to show your appreciation for good service, and to indicate that you've made it.

    On the frontier, you're friendly to your neighbors because they're all you have in a pinch.

    On the frontier, guns are a necessity of life. Americans experienced government tyranny early on, and learned that armed resistance can overcome it.

    We drive everywhere because it's a big country. Walking takes too long, and trains are smelly and noisy. And taking the bus means you can't afford your own car.

    We pay our own way for healthcare because we're self sufficient, and justly skeptical of government programs.

  • DarrenM||

    America has a frontier, do-it-yourself attitude

    Anathema to lefties. It's much better to hire servants, preferably low-cost illegal immigrants.

  • mtrueman||

    "Owning a car in the U.S. is cheap, the same is not true of Europe (or anywhere really)."

    Very true, man. Why? Coz car culture is tax payer subsidized in the USA like no where else. Leave it to the gormless commenters of Reason to celebrate this.

  • Redmanfms||

    Very true, man. Why? Coz car culture is tax payer subsidized in the USA like no where else. Leave it to the gormless commenters of Reason to celebrate this.

    Oh yay, the tedious mendacious twat has arrived and spouting unsubstantiated horseshit.

    Tell me weasel, how is owning a car "tax payer subsidized?"

  • mtrueman||

    There are some 15,000 US troops stationed in Kuwait to protect energy supply lines. These are funded by US tax payers. The GPS that people install in their cars is largely thanks to tax paying funding. The roads they drive on are also tax payer funded.

    Libertarians are now defending these horrid policies? Out of some misguided belief that subsidized car culture makes America great?

  • Redmanfms||

    There are some 15,000 US troops stationed in Kuwait to protect energy supply lines.

    That's an example of taxpayer funding of automobiles, really?

    Try and connect the dots, show your work.

    The GPS that people install in their cars is largely thanks to tax paying funding.

    GPS was built for the military. The carrier signals' encryption is now public domain and used by people all over the fucking planet for all sorts of navigation purposes.

    And I'll let you in on a little secret dipshit, lots of people don't use GPS and cars existed and were owned en masse in the U.S. long before the system was created.

    The roads they drive on are also tax payer funded.

    The roads are funded primarily with a fuel and tire excise tax.

    When this is not true it is because of financial malfeasance and politicians make-work boondoggles.

    Libertarians are now defending these horrid policies? Out of some misguided belief that subsidized car culture makes America great?

    How about you attempt to make an honest argument just once, instead of being a lying, dissembling, mendacious, tedious fuckwit.

  • mtrueman||

    "That's an example of taxpayer funding of automobiles, really?"

    Cars run on fuel and ever since the Carter doctrine, never repudiated by subsequent administrations, the Persian Gulf has been essentially home to tax payer funded US military. An enormous subsidy amounting to billions if not trillions of dollars. Policy makers realize that cars owners need fuel, and are willing to use tax funds to make sure the access to fuel is not about to be interrupted.

    Whether or not you have a GPS in your car, the fact remains that the money that went into the research and infrastructure was entirely thanks to US tax payers. It didn't grow on trees.

    Financial malfeasance and boondoggles, far from being the exception, are the politicians bread and butter. They are funded by tax payers.

    You seem, bizarrely, to favour these tax payer funded projects. Are you sure you are a libertarian? Perhaps just another hypocritical car owner?

  • Redmanfms||

    Cars run on fuel blah blah blah

    You still failed to show how the existence of U.S. troops in the Middle East amounts to a subsidy, fucking awesome.

    You are stating that U.S. car owners, and only U.S. car owners wouldn't have access to fuel were it not for troops being in the Middle East. Why do you deny that oil exists elsewhere? Why do you deny that oil was in fact cheaper than it was before the existence of the troops?

    Whether or not you have a GPS in your car, the fact remains that the money that went into the research and infrastructure was entirely thanks to US tax payers. It didn't grow on trees.

    Again, you're unable to show that the existence of GPS amounts to a subsidy for U.S. car owners. Stating the technology exists and that cars sometimes have it is not evidence dimwit.

    You seem, bizarrely, to favour these tax payer funded projects. Are you sure you are a libertarian? Perhaps just another hypocritical car owner?

    Why are you shilling for public transportation? Why are you promoting tax payer subsidies for bus builders and railroads? Why do you support taxes that will make transportation more expensive for all? Why are you opposed to human migration? Are you a sasquatch? How much is the sasquatch lobby paying you?

  • Redmanfms||

    Why do you deny that oil was in fact cheaper than it was before the existence of the troops?

    Correction: Why do you deny that oil was in fact cheaper before the presence of the troops?

  • mtrueman||

    "Why do you deny that oil was in fact cheaper before the presence of the troops?"

    I urge you to look more closely into the Carter Doctrine. You're presumably paying for it, after all. The troops in the middle east are not there to make your gas cheaper. What ever gave you that idea? They are there to ensure that, cheap or expensive, it keeps flowing.

  • mtrueman||

    I see you have many questions for me, and I'm flattered that you would seek answers from me. If you are confused about the Carter Doctrine, I suggest you ask your congressman. That's what he's there for.

    Things like roads, GPS and the military are tax payer funded. Tax payers may or may not benefit from such expenditure. But car owners certainly do. And they also benefit from the fact that non car owning tax payers are subsidizing them.

    I thought this was straight forward. I'm not a sasquatch, and I certainly don't support public transport. I really don't know what you are driving at.

  • CE||

    There is no good reason to believe... that alien bodies have been concealed in Roswell.

    Except for published articles from the time of the crash saying that the US Army Air Force had captured a flying saucer. Those things don't fly themselves, you know. Unless the aliens had drones way back then.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F.....8,1947.jpg

  • PapayaSF||

    Don't believe everything you read in the paper.

  • Jackand Ace||

    I always get a chuckle when Reason dishes on conspiracy theories, when many of the contributors buy into one of the largest in circulation today...that being that science has been bought off when it comes to climate change, that Al Gore drives the topic, and that it all is a hoax.
    Now that's a conspiracy theory.

  • Redmanfms||

    So you've literally never read any of the articles or threads about "climate change?"

    I know having your religion challenged must be difficult for you, but do try to have a substantive argument...

  • Jackand Ace||

    Oh really?

    Here:
    http://reason.com/blog/2009/11.....ntific-jou

    But Zorita makes an even more interesting and very disturbing observation:

    By writing these lines I will just probably achieve that a few of my future studies will, again, not see the light of publication...I may confirm what has been written in other places: research in some areas of climate science has been and is full of machination, conspiracies, and collusion, as any reader can interpret from the CRU-files..."

    Of course, Zorita tells us he does not think it is a hoax, and then tells us it is. And I note Ronald does not take him to task for it, and says he makes good points.

    Found that one in one minute. Please.

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