Conspiracy Theories

How Those Trump/Russia Tales Are Like a Bowl of Spaghetti

Three guidelines for keeping your head


Max Pixel

When I speak skeptically about some alleged break in the Russia/Trump story, people sometimes tut-tut and tell me that "evidence is accumulating" that will prove a vast plot. Unfortunately, they're not always clear on how to tell a credible accusation from a kooky one. There's a spectrum of theses out there, with "Paul Manafort is a sleazeball" on one end of the plausibility spectrum and "Donald Trump became a Soviet sleeper agent in 1987" on the other.

In the L.A. Times today, I offer three pieces of advice for people who want to keep an open mind about potential wrongdoing but don't want to get lost in the liberal version of Glenn Beck's old chalkboard. "In conspiracy movies," I write, "covert politics is an octopus: There's a big head at the center manipulating everything with its tentacles. In real life, it's more like a bowl of spaghetti—a tangled mess of connections without a center." I hope you like that metaphor, because I spend the rest of the column belaboring it. Check it out here.

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  1. A bowl of spaghetti????

    1. A serving bowl.

  2. Louise Mensch, who is now being taken seriously as en expert and had an op-ed in the NYT, blamed Muslim riots in Sweden and the London terror attack on the Russia…

    “He was born in Britain Arron. It’s got everything to do with Russia. Russia paying Swedes to riot. Russia killing their Ambassador in Turkey”

    She also said Putin assassinated Andrew Breitbart.

    Have we surpassed birther-levels of conspiracy yet? Obama’s mother forging a birth certificate to give her kid a better life sounds a little more plausible than Donald Trump has been trained by the Russians for 30 years to become president. I’m not in any way a birther, by the way, I just think it is less insane to believe that than believing Bush planted explosives in the twin towers.

    1. No, birthers are clearly delusional. Their theory requires Russians or Muslims or *somebody* planting fake birth notices in newspapers decades before they might bear fruit. How many millions of such fake notices would they have to plant to have even a remote chance of one being useful? Whereas believing a government would blow up its onw buildings is at least plausible without time machines.

      1. The “somebody” would be the maternal grandparents, not the Illuminati or the Comintern

        The likeliest explanation remains that baby Barack was born in Hawaii.

        1. The birther conspiracy gained and retained traction because of all the smoke thrown up by Obama himself, which has two plausible sources. First, that he claimed to be a foreign student at some point to gain easier admission and financial support. Secondly, because there was something embarrassing on his ‘real’ birth certificate that he wanted to hide. The most likely reason, imo, was not that he was born somewhere else, but that his race is listed as “white”, which would have been an act of rebellion at the time and would have made his life easier. But would require a lot splainin on the part of a politician running on racial greivances.

          1. . . . there was something embarrassing on his ‘real’ birth certificate that he wanted to hide.

            “SEC. 23 (Incidental remarks, medical notes, etc.): Attending physician notes that infant was born with extraordinarily small penis and tiny hands. Corrective surgery recommended.”

    2. This is well beyond birtherism. Birthers were not being published in national publications as if their ideas were legitimate. Not even major right-leaning publications published their theory.

      A lot of national publications have discredited themselves

  3. I have yet to read the article, but I like the metaphor.

    I’ve often said that the reason I don’t go in for conspiracy theories (besides the fact that most of them are just ridiculous) is that I can’t believe that any small group of people could be so competent to pull off any big conspiracy without everyone finding out. That’s not to say that there aren’t conspiracies and plots going on all the time. Just that there is no grand, overarching conspiracy, or real control over what is going on.

    1. Zeb, I will put you in touch with some people who will calmly explain how the Trilateral Commission is behind everything.

      1. “You have a Trilateral Commission guy?”

        “Yeah, i got a guy for everything.”

        1. A guy for everything was my nickname in university.

      2. Those guys are just poor Bilderberg stooges.

        1. CFR, motherfuckers

    2. The Trumpies aren’t competent and everyone is finding out.

      1. What sort retard thought of the government as competent before?

      2. “The Trumpies aren’t competent and everyone is finding out.”

        Psst… Tony,
        It was the guy on the grassy knoll, I promise…

  4. First, “Creepy Pasta” was my nickname in college (seriously it would make for a great name for a band, or an obsessive woman, or a man who always wears sweatpants, etc).

    Second, it was a well-reasoned, thoughtful column, so I have chosen to dismiss it because it’s obvious that Walker is on the payroll of both Putin and Trump.

    1. both Putin and Trump

      You poor deluded fool. You really believe there are actually two different people, don’t you?

      1. I mean, it’s not like they had facial reconstruction surgery to look like one another, just like in John Woo classic Face/Off.

        Oh my God!

        1. They are just a couple of three dimensional projections generated by the eight dimensional superbeing that is really pulling the strings. Some people call that superbeing ‘Tulpa’ but I prefer to call it by its more well-known name, ‘God’.

    1. By a former Soviet state too.…..ire-233446

  5. In real life, it’s more like a bowl of spaghetti?a tangled mess of connections without a center

    And yet your picture shows a pile of spaghetti noodles with a wad of meat and sauce at the center. It’s the meat and sauce what controls the meal. SMDH

  6. I’d say it’s like a bowl of spaghetti dumped on the floor while your house is on fire. Human beings are rationalizing creatures and they gotta have a reason for everything, they can’t accept that shit just happens. That’s why an evil genius cabal secretly running things from behind the scenes is a more comforting explanation than random order for shit happening. At least somebody’s steering this ship and there’s a plan and a purpose rather than that we’re just aimlessly drifting around.

    Suppose Trump and Putin and the Evil Genius Club were plotting to get Trump elected to further their nefarious schemes – how much could they really have accomplished? Hillary won the popular vote so it’s not like they manipulated tens of millions of votes, do you think their tentacles are such fine instruments that they could have manipulated the vote at a precinct level to pull off an electoral college victory of that magnitude? I don’t think so – I think whatever conspiracy might have been going on had next door to fuck-all to do with the way the election played out. The whole thing’s merely a juicy, scandalous, tabloid-fodder distraction from the real issues that matter.

    Like the millions of real organized conspiracists operating right out in the open, going so far as to publish their plans for robbing you blind and screwing you over – they’re called the government.

    1. Apophenia is a hell of a drug.

    2. The human brain is a pattern recognition machine. It’s so good at finding patterns that it will find them even when they don’t exist.

      1. That simple observation explains like half of the dumb shit that people do.

        1. If any computerized gadget ever comes close to mimicking a human brain, I’d put my money on Alexa or the OK Google device. Like the brain, in order for them to do their designed function they need to be open to all input and learn how to separate out the relevant material.

  7. The assumption of grand government conspiracies are asinine.

    Our government isn’t exactly laden with competence…yet they can hide all of these massive conspiracies from people who are actually looking for them?

    1. That’s how good they are.

    2. The government only appears incompetent because you cannot see the overall grand design. It appears incompetent to you because it’s designed to appear incompetent. Designed by greater minds than yours to achieve maximum control while appearing to be nothing more than bumbling fools. Let me ask you this, when has the government become less powerful?

    3. yet they can hide all of these massive conspiracies from people who are actually looking for them

      While leaving a trail of clues scattered all over the countryside.

    4. The assumption of grand government conspiracies are asinine.

      Our government isn’t exactly laden with competence

      the former does not require the latter

      …yet they can hide all of these massive conspiracies from people who are actually looking for them?

      Which people would that be? The mainstream media that have buried numerous conspiracies* over the last ten years?

      * Fast & Furious, Politicized IRS proceedings, Gun Running to ISIS, the IRAN Deal, etc.

    1. Potential Spicy Meatball was my nickname in college.

      1. Huh. Small world.

  8. I’m pretty sure the Russians have hacked the LA Times website, its effectively an unreadable mess of shitty ads constantly reloading and making the page jitter/jump back to the top every 3 seconds or so.

    It looks like it was a trap designed to kill Kurt Eichenwald.

    1. I didn’t read the article because they wanted me to turn off my ad blocker (which I do have set to allow a limited number of ads, I’m not insensitive to the need for revenue).

      1. I did turn off my ad-blocker, and was rewarded with a non-stop burst of advert scripts which kept resetting the article to the top of the page every 3 seconds, while simultaneously running autoplay videos.

        It gives you the impression that the people who run news webpages don’t actually read their own site. Do they really think ANY ads are ‘effective’ when they’ve got multiple things competing for attention simultaneously? Its ultimately counterproductive.

        Its like the “Racecar” philosophy of advertising, which seems to think that stuffing as many different logos/brands/slogans/billboards as possible onto an object moving at high speed is supposed to result in ‘effective consumer impressions’. The actual result is a blur, and a headache.

  9. Steve Jobs deserves to be listed as co-author on this one, Jesse, because you phoned it in.

    1. Are you proud of yourself for that one?

      1. He’s been saving it up for the right moment.

  10. I’m still waiting for someone to make a specific statement regarding ‘Trump’s ties to Russia’; WIH does that mean, specifically and why does it deserve any investigation whatsoever?

  11. I thought life was like a box of chocolates? And all the deplorables were the cherry filled sweets that one leaves for others to choke down.

    1. How can people not like cherry cordials?

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