Conspiracy Theories

The Foucault's Pendulum Effect


Following up on last week's post about building your own conspiracy theories, I point you to the saga of David Levine, a man who wrote a game, posted it on the World Wide Web, and learned 15 years later that it had been incorporated into an elaborate theory about aliens and government cover-ups.

Bonus: A modern-day John Todd who came across Steve Jackson's satiric Illuminati card game, heard a garbled account of the unrelated Secret Service raid on Jackson's offices, and concluded that the deck of cards is the key to understanding the New World Order:

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  1. The Robot Sea Monsters and the Girlie Magazines are attacking to control the Boy Sprouts…

  2. Time for Gabe.

  3. Two of my favorite quotes from Foucault’s Pendelum:

    I believe that you can reach the point where there is no longer any difference between developing the habit of pretending to believe and developing the habit of believing.


    Not that the incredulous person doesn’t believe in anything. It’s just that he doesn’t believe everything. Or he believes in one thing at a time. He believes a second thing only if it somehow follows from the first thing. He is nearsighted and methodical, avoiding wide horizons. If two things don’t fit, but you believe both of them, thinking that somewhere, hidden, there must be a third thing that connects them, that’s credulity.

  4. Reason is also part of the conspiracy.

  5. I don’t mind Reason ridiculing this stuff. Ex-satanist-strip-mall-church dudes who are talking about the Illuminati.

    Who wants to join the prophecy club?

    In spite of all the huckster-wackiness, this still doesn’t mean that the Warren Comission was a honest investigation.

    1. 24 minutes. Not bad at all.

      Castro, the Masons, International Jewry, the Cosa Nostra, the CIA, the KGB and Lyndon Johnson all teamed up to kill Kennedy. Everybody knows that.

  6. When do we get Kochtopus trading cards?

    1. The original Illuminati (not NWO) comes with a blank card(s?) to let you add your own betes noirs to the game. Good times.

      And yes, there is a Libertarian card. Nothing is sacred.

  7. I remember that last quote. The problem is that great advancements in theory require the investigation of these “believed” connections. For example, e=mc^2. It was 30 years before there was a flow of evidence to allow the incredulous to believe in this matter-energy relationship, but it took a credulous theorist to make the connection.

  8. And of course this guy could be a useful-idiot puppet of the actual conspiracy. What better way to discredit conspiracy theorists than by trotting out nutcases like this, eh?

    I mean, even if it’s not actually true this time, it could happen.

    1. My 10:37 was a direct response to Gabe @ 12:25. The Gnomes of Zurich are obviously on to me and trying to undermine my credibility…

      1. So the Gnomes of Zurich control the server squirrels?

  9. A large part of the failure of conspiracy theorists comes from the inability to accept the fundamental dictum “Shit happens”. There’s no reason, there’s no grand pattern, there’s no logic. Reality doesn’t care about your desperate attempts to forge a meaningful story out a collection of random events.

    Conspiracy theories are, much like philosophy or religion, an attempt to impose some sort of ordered framework on a vast, uncaring, and essentially random universe. I suspect, although I can’t verify, that it is an attempt to make the world less frightening and scary. It is more soothing to a certain mindset that there be someone in control than to accept chaos and disorder.

    1. But, of course, that’s what they want you to believe.

    2. It’s actually just a natural human response to the flow of information from the senses. Your conclusion that reality is vast, uncaring and random (66% of which I agree with), is itself an ordering. There is no escaping the attempt to make sense of things; there is only the point where one gives up on specifics and takes comfort in generalities. I’d agree, though, that conspiracy theorists need such grand detail as a result of needing to qualm some fear or other.

      1. The universe is random in the statistical sense. Low probability events are not evenly distributed in time or space. Is the guy next to me on the freeway going to have a heart attack and drive his suburban into me during his death throes? Maybe, but the odds are with me. If he does, won’t that appear to be a completely random accident to the casual observer?

        1. “If he does, won’t that appear to be a completely random accident to the casual observer?”

          Yes, but what we perceive as disorder may in fact be an order we haven’t discerned yet. My point is that one can’t know either way, and that belief one way or another amounts to the same thing: an explanation of the unexplainable. To quote Fernando Pessoa, “Changing from the ghosts of faith to the spectres of reason is just changing cells.”

          I’ve had some pretty crazy coincidences in my life, and there does seem to be a pattern therein, but I remain as sceptical as anyone else.

        2. “I’d agree, though, that conspiracy theorists need such grand detail as a result of needing to qualm some fear or other.”

          This explains why the government apologists cling to the official(9/11 comission) story in spite of many of the people on the commission explaining how the conclusion was pre-determined and the investigators were continuously lied to. It makes people feel safer to just believe what “the authorities” tell them.

          1. I agree. Some choose generalities, others choose particulars. In both cases, they’re just trying to stay warm in the midst of cold and unyeilding uncertainty.

            1. Personally, I could give a shit. That’s my blanket.

              1. You mean “couldn’t.”

                1. There are different schools of thought on the matter. If one says they could give a shit, they mean they have shits they aren’t giving, but theoretically could. To say one couldn’t give a shit implies an external barrier to giving shits one would otherwise not mind giving. I suppose going with ‘don’t’ would have been less ambiguous.

    3. I would be much happier if it seemed random. The predictability of the government lying about events to start wars is not comforting to me.

  10. Liberman is proof positive of the existence of a malicious cabal working behind the scenes to destroy the American way of life.

  11. Another hallmark of a conspiracy theory with legs, you gotta have the conspirators themselves confess the conspiracy. And there’s no conspiracy bigger than the ones Satan puts together…

    …which is why, if you want to get ahead in the crowded and competitive field of evangelicals, it probably helps if you go do a stint in the Church of Satan first–then you can confess what the Satanists are really up to like no one else can.

    In fact, it’s become a bit of a cliche, to the point that the real Church of Satan might want to start looking at possible copyright infringement. If you’re the Church of Satan, and evangelicals are using your calling card like that–all the freaking time–that’s gotta be watering down your trademark.

    Where’s the shock value if every other evangelical youth group in the country’s got its own former High Priest of the Church of Satan?

    Islam’s quickly catching up to Satanism in the minds of evangelicals as the worst imagined evil anyway–in 20 years, all the charlatans will probably be self-professed ex-imams… And nobody will be able to argue the truth with evangelicals, not once the self-professed “ex-imam” has come to the their kid’s youth group and given them the inside scoop on what the Muslims are really trying to do!

    In fact, I should start a web order business… For the low, low price of $49.95, I will make you an official Imam in the Muslim Church of J.R. “Abdul” Dobbs.*

    *Delaware Corporation.

    1. I think the ULC will sell you any sort of divine ordination you like for $100 or so. I haven’t checked in a while, since I’m fine with my free online ordination. Weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies officiated for the low, low, price of buying me some drinks afterward.

    2. Thou shalt not tithe any god before me.

  12. Good one, Ken.

  13. We need to start a thread with our own wacky but plausible libertarian-related conspiracy theory.
    I posit Gabe as the prime puppet-master secretly trying to release the Kochtopus from its confines within the Pentagon.
    (I love me some Foucault’s Pendulum by the way. One of my favorite novels.

  14. The easiest conclusion to reach is the one already in your mind.

    1. I like it. Pithy. Insightful. Universally applicable. With your permission, heller, I may submit that to the Committee for the Evaluation of Proposed Iron Laws. I have the feeling they will want to see it shed a few syllables, first.

      1. The easiest conclusion to reach is the one you hold

        1. Hey stop stealing my ideas! I will SUE you so HARD!

          1. RC was looking for potential edits. I was just trying to help. Really 😉

            1. Still going to SUE you.

              1. My defense will be that mine is better.

  15. Wow that really makes a LOT of sense.


  16. Psst… You can’t begin to unwind the grand conspiracy theories until you understand the basis of the Time Cube!

    1. If you can understand the Time Cube, seek help immediately because you have gone flat insane.

      1. I don’t really know, but I’ve already supplanted his lame-ass “four simultaneous days” with my Time Calculus. My system has an infinite number of simultaneous days offset by infinitesimal amounts.

        Or something like that. I gave up on it after I got that far.

        Back a few years ago, that site didn’t have all of the religious stuff. It looks like you have to scroll to the bottom and click to the next page to get to the original, time-wasting goodness.

        1. Yeah, Time Cube in the original version was pretty irreligious. Wasn’t he the guy convinced time travelers were messing with him, or did I get him confused with somebody else from the early days of the internet?

          He’s still barking mad, tho’.

        2. It all looks like the same incomprehensible shit to me.

          1. “Man evolves from teenager –
            in cube metamorphosis but ignores teenager to worship a male mother, guised in woman’s garb, churchman called father.” — excerpt.

    2. Don’t cubes have 8 corners?

  17. i’ve never understood why people care about the kennedy assassination. the worst case scenario is “a member of the ruling class gets iced by other members of the ruling class.” that sounds like another way of saying “all of history” but on video.

    1. we don’t have a ruling class, the people have chosen all of our leaders. The government conducts honest bi-partisian investigations anytime something fishy happens. These investigations are always to be trusted.

    2. I never understood why people care about policy issues that politicians are working on. Worst case they make a mistake and it is correct int he next election right? This is all of history. People shouldn’t worry about messy little details with policies or inconsistent logic…just trust that your government is watching out for your best interest.

    3. “i’ve never understood why people care about the kennedy assassination.”

      dhex is obviously trying to throw us off the trail of something.

      1. policy is one thing – that actually affects people.

        but the ruling class jacking each other? one less for the road.

        1. Kennedy was friends with Goldwater and would have joined him on the debate tour that he wanted to do. It would have been the most interesting event in American politics in the 20th Century.

  18. In spite of all the huckster-wackiness, this still doesn’t mean that the Warren Comission was a honest investigation.

    Yes, clearly a byzantine conspiracy to assassinate JFK was so much better than just exposing his whoring.

  19. Was the ruling class in the Byzantine empire particularly adept at manipulating their subjects through the conspiratorial arts?

    1. Yes, instead of byzantine, I should have written “convoluted, intricate and utterly pointless”.

      “Utterly pointless”, in that while assassination did have the efect of getting rid of JFK, exposing his personal life would have destroyed not just him politically but his entire family.

      So I suppose any well constructed conspiracy theory in re JFK ought to include the possibility that his family acted to get rid of a stumbling president whose personal behaviour put the family’s reputation in jeopardy and who’s popularty was flagging.

      Dang, this is fun.

      1. They all have affairs/misstresses/boytoys…it was part of their code to stay away from that topic lest everyone enters the shitstorm.

        1. The people who want the power of the throne are not going to do things that would obviously destroy the marks respect for the throne.

      2. My dad thinks that JFK, killed himself. Not on purpose, mind you, but Oswald was supposed to kill Jackie. He wanted her dead so he could get mucho sympathy pussy, and also who would vote against a guy whose wife was just murdered. The crux of it was that Oswald wasn’t the crack shot he once was, and missed…by a lot…blah, blah, blah…Jack Ruby kills Oswald ’cause he’s going to squeal.

        I am just asking questions here.

  20. Be sure to play Illuminati with the “advanced rules” where cheating is allowed. Only do this with good friends however.

  21. It’s simple: conspiracy theorists do not believe in observational equivalence.

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