Comment: Ancapaaron, If you believe....

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In post: I'm a Skeptic

Ancapaaron, If you believe....

....that Enron's executives made off with billions, you believe in conspiracy. If you believe that 19 evil Islamic extremist hijackers worked together in the 911 attack, you believe in conspiracy. If you believe in the Watergate break-in, you believe in conspiracy. If you believe that Boothe, Mudd, Surrat, and others worked together to assassinate Lincoln, you believe in conspiracies. If you believe that Judas worked together with the Pharisees to hand Jesus over, you believe in conspiracies. And if you value the line, "Ed tu, Brute?", you believe in conspiracies.

How is it, then, that you seem to generally shun the notion of conspiracy arising from GOVERNMENT? Is government somehow exempt from the evils that plague mankind in general?

Yes, there is a GREAT deal of total garbage on the Internet regarding this or that conspiracy theory. Others, however, are quite compelling.

As to Occam's Razor, it is so often applied contrary to its own precepts. For instance, when public opinion holds that it was a 125-foot-wingspanned 757 that crashed into the Pentagon, even though the hole was only 16 feet across, this is only the "simplest" explanation for the cowardly and the insanely stupid. This is by no means "simple" to explain from the viewpoint of science.

Similarly, since 1963, we have been watching video of a man clearly being shot in the head from the FRONT, but telling ourselves that the "simplest" answer is that he was shot from behind, even though that model clearly defies our direct observation.

And on and on it goes. From the Lusitania to Pearl Harbor to the Gulf of Tonkin to the "Global Warming" scare, evidence of governmental conspiracy is overwhelming. But far too many citizens prefer to take not the simplest interpretation of the facts, but the simplest WAY OUT of having to deal with the facts. And that way is simply to believe the lies, even in the face of compelling facts to the contrary.

Occam's Razor, therefore, deserves a bit more care.

Is evil Islamic extremism the ONLY motive for killing 3,000 Americans? Hardly not. We did it at Pearl Harbor just to get into a war for the benefit of the banks. Yet when someone floats the idea that our own government was involved in 911, it is often dismissed out of hand as being "impossible" that the government would stoop so low. And this, even in light of the long track record of similar shenanigans from the government.

Which is more likely?:

1. That government, though filled with normal people, many of whom serve for long periods, will
tend toward evil deeds and conspiracy, or;
2. That government, though filled with normal people, will be amazingly impervious to the temptations that normal people face when given great amounts of power for extended periods of time?

See, when we speak GENERALLY, Occam steers us toward EXPECTING conspiracy, does it not?

And indeed, we can witness conspiracy hard at work for ourselves anytime we turn on CSPAN and watch the Congress deliberating whether to violate the Constitution in this way or that.

Just because a conspiracy theory exists is no reason to assume it true. Conversely, however, it is also no reason to assume it false. Each case must be weighed on its own merits.

I submit, therefore, that it is unscientific and illogical to assume as a rule that conspiracy theories lack merit. It is a fallacy of generalization in the worst way.

Now, as to your question:

Finally I ask the question, why don't the conspiracy theorists take any action against the so called conspirators?

Just what type of "action" did you have in mind? Many have invested a great deal in making video after video for the Internet in order to inform millions of their evidences. And perhaps you remember the whole "impeach Bush" campaign? Or what about petitioning the government to open various investigations? Or gathering a large number of architects and engineers to lend their professional reputations to a scientific disproof of the official account of 911? These things are reasonable "actions", are they not?

Or did you have something more like assassination in mind?

You seem to be suggesting that if the theorists were REALLY sincere, they'd be taking some sort of "action" that they are not now taking. Let's consider assassination for a moment, for example. If it is true that all SINCERE conspiracy theorists would assassinate those they hold responsible for the conspiracies, then should we also expect all those who believe that evil Islamic extremists perpetrated 911 to be "taking action" against those responsible for that?

Indeed, the majority of the nation has a disfavorable opinion of the President and the Congress. Do we see them "taking action" against the President and Congress?

Your suggestion is invalid.

And finally, I will address this:

The next issue is the lack of empirical evidence. This happens to be one of the most challenging things a conspiracy theorist has to present. Often times a conspiracy theorist has to rest his or her case on speculation.

You know, in Poker, the players don't show their cards. So you have to work on incomplete data to draw conclusions as to what the other players are up to. When you have one certain player with a LONG track record of bluffing and cheating, which is more reasonable---to suspect his every move and statement, or to wipe the slate clean of all suspicion with each new hand that is dealt?

Obviously, the Government makes the rules on information. And it can, in the name of "national security" declare ANYTHING WHATSOEVER to be a secret, regardless of FOIA. Similarly, the government declares the rules on evidence, and will not let the public examine it freely. So your argument about speculation becomes immediately suspect when we realize that the playing field is not leveled. Add to this the observable trend of the mainstream media to repeat ad infinitum certain messages that appear to have originated with a single, unknown source, and you have an even greater disadvantage for those who do not believe the "official" version of a story.

And your argument is further weakened when the behavior of the government comes into consideration. For instance, the official 911 report does not address the details of the collapse of WTC Building 7. If only the government may investigate, and only the government may report---and if they choose NOT to report on something that begs for investigation---then how can you set the lowly conspiracy theorist at fault for "speculating" without also faulting the government for ignoring? And I would note that there is indeed evidence that would support certain speculative theories on #7.

Now, I find it very interesting that you would be compelled to write a GENERAL post about the lack of evidence, in which you cite ZERO examples thereof. Is this consistent with scientific method, to generalize in one's conclusion with no supporting evidence?

No, this is an opinion piece, meant to influence others WITHOUT evidence, and on the basis of fine-sounding arguments that appeal to "Occam's Razor" contrary to Occam's own doctrine. Whether you intended to or not, you have basically suggested that, since you are a scientist, your general OPINION in this matter should be valued. But your opinion is no more supported here than is the garbage man's opinion that "the government is behind everything".

But we, the gullible public, are supposed to defer when we see "scientist" in your credentials?

Indeed, I know people in many professions who are idiots, scoundrels, tyrants, fools, and even conspirators. They are doctors, lawyers, politicians, preachers, teachers, managers, etc. If we can observe that the distribution of such people in these fields is so high, it's a wonder that we would ever assume---as so many do---that a "scientist" need not be vetted before we accept his opinion.

Indeed, we have been trained to seek a "second opinion" with the doctor. Why not, then, with the scientist?

Jack