Conspiracy

The Trouble with Conspiracy Science

What the social scientists and psychologists who study conspiracy theories get wrong.

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In the run-up to last year's Italian elections, the country's senate did not—I repeat: did not—pass a bill giving legislators 134 billion euros "to find a job in case of defeat." But a satiric story along those lines spread on social media, and not everyone who passed it along understood that it was a spoof. In just one day, 36,000 people signed a petition against the alleged law. Soon it was being invoked at anti-government protests.

Their confusion caught the eye of a quintet of scholars, who were observing how a large sample of Italian Facebook users engaged with different sorts of stories: articles from the mainstream media, articles from alternative outlets, articles from political activists, and fake news crafted by satirists and trolls. In March, MIT's Technology Review covered the researchers' work in a piece headlined "Data Mining Reveals How Conspiracy Theories Emerge on Facebook." The article began with the tale of that imaginary Italian bill and the people who believed it was real, wrapping up the anecdote with the line, "Welcome to the murky world of conspiracy theories."

This was an odd way to frame the issue. The rumor involved a bill that had supposedly been passed by the legislature, not a secret plan being hatched by some invisible cabal; it was not in any meaningful sense a story about a conspiracy. The larger study was concerned with the transmission of false stories, whether or not they involve conspiracies; the word conspiracy and its variants appear only four times in the paper. Yet the Technology Review piece brushes past this distinction, then compounds the problem by generalizing rather expansively from the research. "Conspiracy theories," the writer speculates, "seem to come about by a process in which ordinary satirical commentary or obviously false content somehow jumps the credulity barrier. And that seems to happen through groups of people who deliberately expose themselves to alternative sources of news." Evidently more than one credulity barrier has been breached.

If Technology Review defined the phrase "conspiracy theory" too broadly, other outlets adopt definitions that are too narrow. In 2013, Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Poll concluded that 63 percent of America's registered voters "buy into at least one political conspiracy theory." The press duly reported that exact-sounding number, though it wasn't really accurate: What the survey actually found was that 63 percent of voters believed at least one of the four theories featured in the poll. The number who believe in "at least one" conspiracy is surely far higher.

These aren't the only times researchers or the reporters who cover them have made this sort of mistake. For decades, psychologists and social scientists have been studying conspiracy theories and the people who believe them. They have unearthed a lot of interesting data, and they have sometimes theorized thoughtfully about the results. But they have repeatedly run into a problem: The world they're studying is not the same size and shape as the world of conspiracy belief.

Conspiracy theories feature a wide range of masterminds. In The United States of Paranoia, my history of paranoid American folklore, I divided those conspirators into five categories. There is the Enemy Outside, an alien force based outside the community's borders; the Enemy Within, fellow citizens who cannot be easily distinguished from friends; the Enemy Above, plotting at the top of the power structure; the Enemy Below, conspiring in the underclass; and the Benevolent Conspiracy, which isn't an enemy at all.

Needless to say, this is hardly the only way conspiracy stories can be sorted. And in practice, those five types frequently overlap with one another: The Enemy Outside, for example, might be accused of pulling the Enemy Below's strings, as when various prominent Americans blamed the Communist bloc for the urban riots of the '60s. But it's a useful typology, with plenty of historical examples of each kind.

In these studies, though, Enemy Above stories tend to be overrepresented. And that in turn can skew the results. When researchers draw conclusions about people who are especially prone to seeing conspiracies, they might actually be telling us about people prone to seeing a particular kind of conspiracy.

Sometimes this bias is stated baldly. In 2010, for example, the Rutgers sociologist Ted Goertzel wrote an article for EMBO Reports, a journal of molecular biology, that said conspiracy logic tends to "question everything the 'establishment'—be it government or scientists—says or does." He backed this up on the rather thin grounds that a recent pop text, The Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories, mostly discusses theories about "political, religious, military, diplomatic or economic elites."

But that "establishment" has conspiracy theories of its own, even if the Rough Guide overlooked them. At moments of moral panic, it is common for the government and the mainstream media to blame a folk devil—frequently cast in conspiratorial terms—for a real or alleged crisis. Examples range from the white slavery panic of a century ago, when a vast international syndicate was believed to be conscripting thousands of girls into sexual service, to the Satanism scare of the 1980s and early '90s, when politicians, prosecutors, juries, and the press were persuaded that devil-worshipping cabals were molesting and killing children. Often the conspiracy stories believed by relatively powerless people are mirrored by conspiracy stories believed by elites. At the same time that American slaves were afraid that white doctors were plotting to kidnap and dissect them, the planter class was periodically seized by fears of slaves secretly plotting revolution. While the Populist Party was denouncing East Coast banking cabals, many wealthy Easterners were wondering whether a conspiracy was behind Populism.

With that in mind, consider the academic literature on conspiracy believers. In 1992 Goertzel surveyed 348 residents of New Jersey about 10 conspiracy theories that were circulating at the time. Seven of the 10 were Enemy Above theories, in which the government was guilty of murdering Martin Luther King, deliberately spreading AIDS, covering up UFO activity, or otherwise injuring the public interest. Two more—one where a conspiracy killed John F. Kennedy, one where Anita Hill was part of a plot against Clarence Thomas—could take either an Enemy Above form or another shape, depending on the version of the story the person surveyed believed. Only one of the 10 was definitely not an Enemy Above theory: "The Japanese are deliberately conspiring to destroy the American economy." (That one was, interestingly, one of the most popular items in the list, with 46 percent of respondents declaring it either definitely or probably true.)

This does not mean that Goertzel's data are useless or that he didn't produce an interesting paper. But when he writes, say, that conspiratorial beliefs are correlated with anomie and insecurity about unemployment, has he really uncovered a couple of conspiracist traits? Or has he simply been asking about conspiracy theories that people experiencing anomie and economic insecurity are more likely to believe?

Goertzel also noted, "People who believed in one conspiracy were more likely to also believe in others." This idea has become a staple of the literature: As Michael Wood, Karen Douglas, and Robbie Sutton put it in a 2012 paper for Social Psychological and Personality Sciences, "the most consistent finding in the work on the psychology of conspiracy theories is that belief in a particular theory is strongly predicted by belief in others—even ostensibly unrelated ones." It has become a staple of pop-science coverage too, appearing in venues ranging from Bloomberg to Newsweek.

Anecdotally speaking, it's a plausible idea: While everyone is capable of conspiracy thinking, some people do seem more prone to it than others. But are they really more likely to embrace conspiracy theories in general, or just conspiracy theories of a certain sort?

Consider a 2013 paper by the British psychologists Robert Brotherton, Christopher French, and Alan Pickering. The participants in the team's initial investigation gave their views on 59 conspiratorial claims. The list was deliberately composed to reveal a broad, generic interest in conspiracies rather than an interest in specific events (such as 9/11) or specific villains (such as the CIA). It was also wide-ranging enough for the researchers to break down the theories by type: stories about government malfeasance, about extraterrestrial cover-ups, about malevolent global forces, about threats to personal health and liberty, and about efforts to control the flow of information. It is, in short, one of the most thorough efforts around. Even so, the vast majority of the items are clear-cut Enemy Above theories, and the remainder are, with one exception, phrased in such a way that the respondent can insert either an Enemy Above or a different sort of conspiracy into the villain role—for example, "Some of the people thought to be responsible for acts of terrorism were actually set up by those responsible."

Or consider the study that another two British psychologists, Patrick Leman and Marco Cinnirella, published in Frontiers in Psychology last year. In that one, the respondents' conspiratorial attitudes were determined by their responses to a Belief in Conspiracy Theories scale. Of the six items on the list that affirmed rather than denied the existence of a conspiracy, five were Enemy Above stories. The other—"The European Union is trying to take control of the United Kingdom"—is an Enemy Outside claim, but its adherents typically believe that British elites are complicit in the conspiracy.

The contents of such lists may explain why these studies sometimes come to drastically different conclusions about conspiracy believers. A 1999 paper, for example, included a wider range of theories in its questionnaire, asking its subjects not just about government plots but about Jewish cabals, terrorist infiltrators, and the Mafia. It found an association between conspiracy theories and authoritarian attitudes. Other researchers, using a different list of theories, found that conspiracy theorists tended toward defiance of authority and strong support for democratic values. Apparently it isn't easy to generalize about a group as large as "people who believe in conspiracies."

By now some readers are ready to shout, "BUT WHAT ABOUT CONSPIRACIES THAT ARE REAL?" Some of those readers may have abandoned this article already and gone to write something to that effect in the comment thread, capital letters and all. And it's a fair point. Some conspiracies are real. The word conspire is in the language for a reason. And that adds further complications to the question of just whom we mean when we talk about conspiracy believers.

Many of these papers, to their credit, do raise this issue, noting that real conspiracies exist and that it is not innately irrational to believe in them. Goertzel's EMBO article discusses the subject in detail, offering some sensible thoughts on how to distinguish a plausible conspiracy claim from an implausible one. Last year, in a special issue of the PSYPAG Quarterly devoted to the psychology of conspiracy believers, Brotherton wrote an entire article on the question of how to define "conspiracy theory," noting that we do not typically apply the phrase to, say, the idea that a conspiracy of terrorists led by Osama Bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks. A conspiracy theory, Brotherton suggests, is not merely a theory that invokes a conspiracy; it is "an unverified claim of conspiracy which is not the most plausible account of an event or situation, and with sensationalistic subject matter or implications. In addition, the claim will typically postulate unusually sinister and competent conspirators. Finally, the claim is based on weak kinds of evidence, and is epistemically self-insulating against disconfirmation." This is a much more limited definition than I would offer—and it opens a whole new can of worms about which theories should or shouldn't be included in a study—but it does have the advantage of establishing what exactly the researchers are investigating.

Still, there are drawbacks to excluding conspiracies that are widely acknowledged to exist. Earlier this year, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a paper that surveyed Americans about several medically themed conspiracy theories, from "The CIA deliberately infected large numbers of African Americans with HIV under the guise of a hepatitis inoculation program" to "Health officials know that cell phones cause cancer but are doing nothing to stop it because large corporations won't let them." The researchers concluded that "conspiracism correlates with greater use of alternative medicine and the avoidance of traditional medicine."

It's a straightforward, respectable piece of research. Yet I can't help wondering what would have happened if that list of medical plots had also included these items:

• As part of a series of mind control experiments, the CIA administered LSD to unwitting subjects, a program it continued even after it led to illness and death.

• In a 40-year ruse, the Public Health Service told hundreds of black sharecroppers that it would give them free health care. Rather than inform the patients that they had syphilis, the doctors deliberately left the disease untreated in order to study whether the illness affects blacks and whites in different ways.

• For a decade and a half, scientists used students at a New York school for the developmentally disabled as guinea pigs, deliberately infecting them with hepatitis in hopes of finding ways to combat the sickness.

All three of those tales are true. The first was one of the most explosive revelations in the Senate's mid-1970s investigation of the CIA. The second is the infamous Tuskegee experiment of 1932–1972, which set off an uproar when it was revealed. The third, which took place from 1956 to 1971 at the Willowbrook State School, is brought up frequently in debates about informed consent: The parents agreed to the experiments, but the kids were in no position to understand what they were getting into.

If those items had been included in the JAMA study, what would the results reveal? Would people aware of real medical misbehavior be more likely to buy into the fictional stories, or would they be grounded in the evidence in a way the other believers are not? Would their beliefs also correlate with an interest in alternative medicine, or would there be a noticeable difference between their behavior and that of the original study's conspiracy believers? How, in short, does an awareness of real conspiracies affect "conspiracist" ideas?

Just as the Facebook paper reminds us that not every false story involves a conspiracy, this alternate version of the JAMA study would remind us that not every conspiracy story is false. It could reveal a lot in the process. But to get there, you have to change your scope.

This story originally appeared at Slate.com. It is a part of Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate.

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  1. Its Reverse Vampires all the way down.

    We’re behind the looking glass, people.

  2. Man, someone oughta write a book about this!

    1. I went to the future and bought a copy!

      Now if Jesse wants, I’ll rent it to him, and he can go to the past and write the book so I can buy it.

  3. I will suggest that Jesse Walker and Ronald Bailey co-write a book or series of books about anti-science paranoia/propaganda. I would not mind seeing one about the anti-GMO nonsense. (But I am biased because I have family members who are afraid of GMOs. I think when they were young they were attacked by a feral pack of GMO corn kernels, but they refuse to talk about it.)

    1. I’m afraid of NGOs and GSEs. Does that count?

    2. Shhhhhhh! The corn has ears everywhere!

  4. Between the plausible lies or propaganda sold by the government and the news media it’s almost a certainty that people believe some things that aren’t true.

    1. Well, sure, look at how many non-libertarians there are.

  5. “…obviously false content somehow jumps the credulity barrier.”

    With Italian politics, the barrier is pretty low. A ditch, in fact.

    1. What’s “obviously false” about a story of Italian politicians enriching themselves?

      1. The part where they had 135 Billion Euros, or could find someone to loan it to them.

  6. I don’t know if this counts as a conspiracy theory, since it’s no secret that the people involved ARE working together. But I believe that President Obama and at least several past and present members of his cabinet are secretly trying to bring about the collapse of both the US economy and the US system of government, and/or to start a civil war over class/race issues, by following the instructions in Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”.

    This theory, if true, would explain several things that are otherwise hard to fathom: (1) why, in spite of general good news about the environment, the president and his EPA head continue to push new rules (supposedly to address climate change, which is a fraud) that will destroy a large part of the energy industry; (2) why he pursues a foreign policy that everyone knows is self-destructive; (3) why he maintains ongoing friendships with people like convicted bomber Bill Ayers and Rev. “God Damn America” Wright; (4) why he sold weapons to Middle East terrorists and then tried to cover it up by doing nothing about the Benghazi attack; and (5) why he appointed an Attorney General whose first act was to set free thugs already convicted of voter intimidation at the polls, because they did it in his own favor.

    All of these are good reasons to hate the president and his cronies, and none of them is race-related except insofar as they refer to the president’s own race prejudice.

    1. There are several problems with your conspiracy theory. The folks you mention think they are doing the right thing. Although you may believe they are not, they think they are working towards a better society. Secondly, a loosely knit conspiracy doesn’t fit the definition of one we can all sink our teeth into. We know the President and his buddies are all lefties and they do precious little to disavow their beliefs.

      Many of my close friends are socialists, though they never apply that term to themselves. They believe in public education, government run healthcare, government run retirement, and alternative energy subsidies. They all give lip service to continuing the deplorable reservation system for native Americans. They didn’t have to conspire to believe all this. All they had to do was grow up in an atmosphere I call left wing America. Did Ayn Rand think there was a “conspiracy” to turn everyone into altruists? I doubt it, and I’ll bet you do too.

      1. Did Ayn Rand think there was a “conspiracy” to turn everyone into altruists? I doubt it, and I’ll bet you do too.

        No, but today’s anti-gummint libertarian purists were too extreme for even her! That’s not conspiracy stuff, but a close cousin.

        1. Oh, goody! Mr. Nitwit shows up to prove he’s an ignoramus again!

          1. The greatest threat to liberty is the anti-gummint purists I mentioned.
            I just baited one!

            Sevo Oh, goody! Mr. Nitwit shows up to prove he’s an ignoramus again!

            Ayn Rand (“The Virtue of Selfishness” chapter 15)

            Any program of voluntary government financing is the last, not the first, step on the road to a free society ? the last, not the first reform to advocate

            Any program of voluntary government financing has to be regarded as a goal for a distant future

            aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/taxation.htm

            Our anti-gummint purists are too extreme for Ayn Rand!
            Even she chose pro-liberty over anti-gummint. The chapter is on setting achievable goals.

            Eric Hoffer described it in the 1950s.
            Mass movements do not need a God, but they do need a devil. Hatred unites the True Believers.

            Zealots and fanatics all proclaim themselves THE True Believers. The Master Race, The Collective, The Almighty State, a God, a Party, Libertarian Principles … For all of human history … we see the same footprints in the sand … leading to every abuse of liberty … The True Believers … beating their chests to proclaim purity of principle. All the same, all thugs. Don’t dare cross them. Look what they’ve done to libertarianism

            Cato’s 2006 Zogby Poll saw the libertarian label rejected by 85% of libertarians. First take back our movement, then America.

      2. “Secondly, a loosely knit conspiracy doesn’t fit the definition of one we can all sink our teeth into.”

        OK, how about the postulated Obo admin conspiracy to make O-care acceptable?
        I’m sure they don’t meet in a smoke-filled room, but I’m equally sure they discuss the news stories and the court decisions and formulate what they can do, given that no one has blown the whistle on Obo’s Friday afternoon royal decrees.
        I’m calling that a conspiracy; you?

        1. Conspiracy THEORY is not the same as a CONSPIRACY

          “Conspiracy theory” is the BELIEF that a conspiracy exists. In normal usage, the belief is OUTSIDE the conspirators.

          Conspiracy is WHAT exists … not a belief that it does.

          Does that answer both your posts on this.?

    2. I can give you my theory, although this too is going to sound like a conspiracy theory, even though there’s plenty of documented evidence. You brought up Saul Alinsky, which is interesting because he happens to be a Russian Jew. Not many people are aware of this, because it’s always quickly dismissed as an “anti-semitic myth,” but the Bolshevik Revolution was led almost entirely by Zionist Jews. Many political leaders at the time recognized the threat, and there are plenty of documented sources that prove it to be true, such as an article written by Winston Churchill in 1920 entitled “Zionism Versus Bolshevism.”

      In the early 1930s, there was a research organization in Germany called the Institute of Social Research, which was basically a sociological and philosophical think tank comprised mostly of Jewish Marxists, some of whom had emigrated from Eastern Europe. When things in Germany started to heat up, the packed up and relocated, first to Geneva and then to New York, where it merged with Columbia University, thus spreading “Critical Theory,” or Cultural Marxism, all across America.

      1. Communism is an explicitly anti-Zionist philosophy. Zionism advocates a Jewish state in the geographic area of Palestine. Communism advocates worldwide revolution with the eventual goal of a stateless society (of course that’s a fantasy, but nonetheless relevant to whether or not an adherent could even be a Zionist)

        1. The following quotes are taken directly out of Encyclopaedia Judaica. Call it what you will, but it’s undeniable:

          “Individual Jews played an important role in the early stages of Bolshevism and the Soviet regime.”

          “Communism and support of the Soviet Union thus seemed to many Jews to be the only alternative, and Communist trends became widespread in virtually all Jewish communities. In some countries Jews became the leading element in the legal and illegal Communist parties and in some cases were even instructed by the Communist International to change their Jewish-sounding names and pose as non-Jews, in order not to confirm right-wing propaganda that presented Communism as an alien, Jewish conspiracy”

          “But from June 1941, when Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union and the Communists in occupied Europe excelled in anti-Nazi resistance, and particularly after the war, when the Soviet Union actively supported the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, Jewish Communists the world over achieved the highest degree of inner contentment and intellectual harmony in the whole history of the Communist movement.”

          “The *New Left groups that emerged in the later 1960s and enjoyed heavy support from Jewish youth, particularly in the U.S., France, and Germany, were not Soviet-oriented.”

        2. You SEEM to be saying that a Zionist cannot be a Marxist. But a kibbutz is a commune.

          Then you say a communist society becoming stateless is a fantasy … because communism would always have a state … so a Zionist cannot be a communist, because Zionism would always have a state!

    3. For a good explanation of how Cultural Marxism can be used as a form of ideological subversion to destabilize a population over decades, look up the explanation on YouTube by Yuri Bezmenov, ex-KGB and Russian Jew (real name Tomas Shuman).

      That brings us to today, where we have an undeniable Jewish influence in American politics and media, most obviously highlighted by our blind support of Israel. In a nutshell, you have no chance of getting elected if you don’t pander to the extremely wealthy and influential Zionist lobby, and the Zionist lobby is very clearly still pushing Cultural Marxism on America. This is the only theory that makes sense to me, and there is plenty of evidence to support it.

      1. Murkin! Is that you again?!
        Fuck you and your anti-semitism.

        1. Disprove me, be my guest.

          You should check out what Shulamit Aloni had to say about using the “anti-semite” tactic: http://youtu.be/LLbtu0-mgvw

          1. Disprove me, be my guest.

            You did it yourself!

            You should check out what Shulamit Aloni had to say about using the “anti-semite” tactic: http://youtu.be/LLbtu0-mgvw

            Ummm, she’s a former Israeli Minister. Do you have any cites from Hamas on the “anti-Semite” tactic?

          2. Paper Tiger|8.21.14 @ 6:28AM|#
            “Disprove me, be my guest.”

            Uh, you made the claim, twit. You prove it.

            1. Uh, did you see he provided a link to document his claim??
              When I checked, his source was obviously biased, so I disproved him, exactly as he challenged.

              You FAILED to notice it had been disproven 11 hours BEFORE you called HIM a twit. This happens if you seem to be cruising around for more people to attack and insult

              (I only saw your twitiness because it was below my own comment)

        2. Encyclopaedia Judaica agrees with me – is it also anti-semitic for telling the truth?

          The following quotes are taken directly out of Encyclopaedia Judaica. Call it what you will, but it’s undeniable:

          “Individual Jews played an important role in the early stages of Bolshevism and the Soviet regime.”

          “Communism and support of the Soviet Union thus seemed to many Jews to be the only alternative, and Communist trends became widespread in virtually all Jewish communities. In some countries Jews became the leading element in the legal and illegal Communist parties and in some cases were even instructed by the Communist International to change their Jewish-sounding names and pose as non-Jews, in order not to confirm right-wing propaganda that presented Communism as an alien, Jewish conspiracy”

          “But from June 1941, when Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union and the Communists in occupied Europe excelled in anti-Nazi resistance, and particularly after the war, when the Soviet Union actively supported the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, Jewish Communists the world over achieved the highest degree of inner contentment and intellectual harmony in the whole history of the Communist movement.”

          “The *New Left groups that emerged in the later 1960s and enjoyed heavy support from Jewish youth, particularly in the U.S., France, and Germany, were not Soviet-oriented.”

          http://www.encyclopedia.com/ar…..unism.html

          1. From YOUR source

            “Violent polemics raged between Jewish Communists and Zionists in all countries”

            UH-OH
            Now your cite, unedited

            “Individual Jews played an important role in the early stages of Bolshevism and the Soviet regime. These Jews were mostly confirmed assimilationists who adopted their party’s concept of the total disappearance of Jewish identity under advanced capitalism and socialism. They thus opposed the existence of separate Jewish workers’ movements

            UH-OH I’m guessing they were ethnic Jews but not religious Jews — a difference the hateful bigots like to ignore. (Or they’re too stucking fupid?)

            Encyclopaedia Judaica agrees with me – is it also anti-semitic for telling the truth?

            Is it truthful to link a different encyclopedia?

      2. Aw SHIT. I agree with Sevo.

          1. I’m lying in in the bathtub with my wrists slashed … and you’re LAUGHING??

  7. Jesse, I hope you’ve noticed the new conspiracy theory about Ferguson: the robbery “never happened” because Mike Brown actually paid for those cigars, and the police deceptively edited the video!!1!

    1. Update: Mike Brown never existed. It’s all one of those plots by the Kenyan army to help Obama. Their headquarters are in Roswell, NM.
      Film at 11

  8. I would just put the definition of conspiracy theory you’re using earlier in the article. I was one of those readers ready to shout about the real or plausible conspiracies that exist.

  9. Jesse,
    The problem here is that you haven’t defined what you hope to measure.
    There was, for instance, a conspiracy within the Nixon admin to hide what had driven the Watergate break-ins. There is a conspiracy within the Obo admin to keep tweeking O-care in the hopes of making it acceptable. Both of those are/were supposedly hidden, but not successfully.
    In fact, given that 3 people can’t hold a secret, I’d guess the definition you need is a ‘conspiracy’ that lasts longer than the time inquiring minds start looking.
    The LSD was well hidden; it was, after all CIA, but how long did it take to find it? The Tuskegee debacle was revealed pretty quickly, in spite of the reverence the press accords those in whit lab coats; how long after was it news? Given the kids’ parents agreed, the kids had no agent to act in thier behalf, but how long did that take to show up?

    1. Sevo

      The problem here is that you haven’t defined what you hope to measure.

      He compared several different definitions … which is his entire point. (See title)

  10. Most conspiracy theories in my inbox are directly or indirectly ant-Muslim. Indirectly would be the “We are no longer a Christian nation” fable, and related myths.

    The conspiracy to install Sharia Law may be the wackiest. It traces to Britain approving Sharia Law for MEDIATION, if all parties agree. Similar to Jewish Law in many jurisdictions.

    Literally dangerous, that the Koran commands Muslims to kill all Christians, which is precisely backwards. The Old Testament commands the immediate slaying of ALL followers of other gods and prophets — even slaying your own spouse, children, brother or friend. Today, that means killing all Muslims.

    “Kill the infidels” only when they attack the Temple. Ironically, libertarian principles of non-aggression and self-defense come from Muhammad. The Koran uses parables where violence may be used in self-defense. Jesus preached surrender. (How many Christians follow Muhammad on that, instead of Christ?)

    The Koran is Islam’s Third Testament, so they are taught those grisly verses in Deuteronomy. And they learn Jews first obtained their land by committing mass genocide (of the Canaanites)

    We don’t have to be religious to be concerned that, for many, anonymous emails have more credibility than the Bible.

    Muslim hysteria has cost us thousands of military lives, and tens of thousands elsewhere. How many more must die from all the lies, bigotry and imaginary conspiracies?

    1. Michael Hihn|8.21.14 @ 12:13AM|#
      …”It traces to Britain approving Sharia Law for MEDIATION, if all parties agree. Similar to Jewish Law in many jurisdictions.”

      And, as an ignoramus, I’m sure you can tell us why government approval for some activity is a good idea!

      1. Once again, Sevo is too extreme for even AYN RAND! (laughing)

        Umm, I stated a historical fact. And the anti-gummint goobers go into slander mode if one forgets to say, “git da gummint out entirely or you’re a statist.”

        We’ve all seen it right?

      2. And, as an ignoramus, I’m sure you can tell us why government approval for some activity is a good idea!

        I’d be happy to educate you. Again

        In this case, government will help defend, protect and enforce the resulting agreement as being equal to a court decision or judgment.

        So unlike some anti-gummint goober, I’d like to see the legal right expand that level of protection on ALL agreements (if requested), not just SOME mediations.

        When anti-gummint libertarians deny gummint the power to EXPAND rights, we can better appreciate your threat to the movement and to individual liberty.

        Any questions?

        1. Michael Hihn|8.21.14 @ 1:30PM|#
          …”Any questions?”

          Why would I ask questions of an ignoramus?

    2. One of your errors is to think that because there are problematic parts of the Bible, that Christians and Christianity are just as dangerous as Muslims and Islam. A brief glance at the world should tell you otherwise. Where are the dozens of Christian terror groups? Where are their millions of supporters?

      Christianity is essentially different. Christians know the Bible in translation, and that it was written by dozens of different people, “inspired” by God, in different cultures and languages, over hundreds of years. There’s a lot of room for interpretation.

      In contrast, the Koran was written by one person, taking dictation from Allah (who speaks medieval Arabic). When he says kill Jews, he means it. You cannot be a Muslim and not believe the Koran is Allah’s direct word. Being afraid of people who believe that is not “hysteria.”

      1. And what about Talmudic Jews? They believe that God taught the oral Torah to Jews only because they’re the supreme race, that the life of a gentile is worth less than the life of a Jew, and their Talmud openly calls for the killing of gentiles, among many other despicable, racist acts. Do you condemn the Jews as much as you condemn the Muslims?

        1. Population wise they are no where near the threat, and I dont really see them practicing these acts.

          Papaya is dead on. Islam leaves no room for evolving as a religion, while christianity does and has.

          I dont hate muslims but I do recognize that their religion as a whole is not modern (womens rights anyone) and doesnt seem on its way to modernization.

          1. Islam leaves no room for evolving as a religion … I don’t hate muslims

            (smiling broadly)

          2. Population wise they are no where near the threat,

            How small must the population be, for you to excuse atrocities?

      2. One of your errors is to think that … that Christians and Christianity are just as dangerous as Muslims and Islam.

        YOUR error is that I NEVER referred to Christians — other than following Muhammad instead of Jesus on self-defense vs surrender.

        In contrast, the Koran was written by one person, taking dictation from Allah

        YES!! One of the Islamaphobes I went trolling for. You can SHOW how wacky you are, with far more credibility than I could possibly achieve.

        When he says kill Jews, he means it. You cannot be a Muslim and not believe the Koran is Allah’s direct word.

        “He” never says that. So only a fool would swallow it. Or a bigot EAGER to swallow it.

        The Old Testament definitely tells Jews to kill all Muslims, ALL other religions. Deuteronomy 13, applied to today. Click below. VERY barbaric.

        http://www.biblegateway.com/pa…..ersion=NIV

        Excerpt” and (if) the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods and let us worship them,” That prophet or dreamer must be put to death”

        Being afraid of people who believe that is not “hysteria.”

        Link the verse like I did, and how long since you last read it. (Mine, just now) If not, then you’re a crazy as a Birther, which saves me the trouble of explaining it.

        YOU scare ME shitless.

  11. I’m always amazed, Jesse, in that all of your articles on conspiracy theories is the biggest one that exists today, and is believed by many here at Reason. That being that all of science has been bought off when it comes to human induced global warming. It is trotted out here often.

    The definition you use for a conspiracy theory: “…it is “an unverified claim of conspiracy which is not the most plausible account of an event or situation, and with sensationalistic subject matter or implications…the claim will typically postulate unusually sinister and competent conspirators. Finally, the claim is based on weak kinds of evidence…”

    That is exactly what so many Libertarians believe about climate science today. Someone has bought off every single major science organization, 97% of climate scientists, and scientists the world over. Laughably its even suggest that it must be Al Gore.

    Maybe that’s one conspiracy theory you yourself subscribe to, Jesse, as you mention so many others but not that one. After all, you are a Libertarian.

    1. Someone has bought off every single major science organization, 97% of climate scientists, and scientists the world over

      Is that YOUR conspiracy? 🙂

      I have a recent new story on all those scientists that works well. If there was no global warming they’d have no funding. So the Al Gore premise isn’t that far off, just a lot of them.

      Don’t EVEN get me started on the Koch Conspiracy.

      1. Nope. That is the conspiracy trotted out in the comments section here at Reason all the time.

        So to you, Mike, there never was any funding for scientific research before AGW was understood? Last I looked, organizations such as National Academy of Sciences was well into existence before AGW was a twinkle in you mother’s eye. In fact, to be precise, NAS was founded by Abraham Lincoln/.

        But thanks for proving my point…you did your best to provide cover for Libertarian conspiracy theorists.

        1. So to you, Mike, there never was any funding for scientific research before AGW was understood?

          (laughing)
          Scientific research predates Global Warming by over 1,000 years.

          You contend that Global Warming funding would continue, if scientists concluded it was no threat?? That’s ALL I said, despite your wacko conspiracy theory.

          Last I looked, organizations such as National Academy of Sciences was well into existence before AGW was a twinkle in you mother’s eye.

          (lol) And?

          In fact, to be precise, NAS was founded by Abraham Lincoln.

          (yawn) It’s a private non-profit, CREATED by Congress, SIGNED by Lincoln.

          Pay attention. Do you know what “those” means?

          I said THOSE scientists, which means a specific group of scientists!!! duh
          What group? The only ones he mentioned were “97% of climate scientists” and an unstated number of scientists worldwide? Right?

          Or do you assume ALL worldwide scientists are involved with Global Warming studies?

          Your hit-and-run attack not leaves you looking like a total ass, ALL from a failure in reading comprehension. And a stupid assumption.

          There you see it, readers, typical global warming hysteria

          P.S. I said NOTHING to indicate my views on global warming, did I?

          1. Good to see you wake up, Mike.

            Indeed, scientific research predates AGW. And in fact, its in many different areas of study. Interesting that none of those scientists, none of those areas of study, were subject to putting out false information just in order to get funding, like you suggested. And there have been climate studies before AGW was accepted. Yawn indeed.

            NAS was created by Lincoln…it was his suggestion. History is not your strong suit along with science, is it Mike. And pay attention, Mike…did I mention scientific organizations along with scientists? Try reading again, as you can’t seem to comprehend.

            “Those” scientists Mike? Hate to tell you this, but it isn’t just the 97% of climate scientists who are warning us about AGW….its scientists in ALL fields, as you would know if you were familiar with American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Physical Society, and so many more. They all say the same thing. You see, they are finding the effects of AGW in some studies they do in their own fields. But you wouldn’t know that would you? Because as Libertarian, you think ALL of science is bought off.

            And since you love to quote, here is one:
            “I have a recent new story on all those scientists that works well. If there was no global warming they’d have no funding. So the Al Gore premise isn’t that far off, just a lot of them.”

            Gee, Mike, what conspiracy theorist said that?

  12. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go? to tech tab for work detail

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