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Everything you ever needed to know about conspiracy theories

Too bad it’s missing one big one. There’s nothing about the birther movement there:

I think that about sums it all up: moon hoax, 9/11, the Illuminati, the Masons. What more could there be?

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

28 replies on “Everything you ever needed to know about conspiracy theories”

If you like conspiracy humor, years ago on Slashdot there was this guy doing a parody of denialists (thought some thought him a troll) who argued that Native Americans were a hoax perpetrated by liberals in order to create white-guilt. He also claimed that the Moon was a conspiracy that somehow tied into gun control.

What more could there be?

The Templars have something to do with everything. It’s a fundamental axiom.

D’oh. Don’t you know that everything is a sinister conspiracy by the government to let old people die and give their healthcare to illegal aliens? The SAME GOVERNMENT that, in fact, is run by the pharmaceutical industry which pushes drugs on people in a delicate balance of keeping them alive, but perpetually sick, and which gets a pretty chunk of its money from… The elderly? To whom the government has said they want the pharma companies to give a price cut on prescription drugs? But don’t they want them dead? Wait, I’m confused….

I did not make up the above argument. It was presented to me over the course of two conversations on the same day by the same person, who wants to believe that A) America has the #1 health care system in the world, and doesn’t need reform, and B) That alternative medicine is a blessed relief from America’s evil health care system. He denies the inherent contradiction, of course. Which is, I think, one of the key components in buying into conspiracies. Same person is also a birther, so…

The science pundit is clearly unaware that the vatican is run by jewish bankers, the poor benighted fool.

Ramel – “The science pundit is clearly unaware that the vatican is run by jewish bankers, the poor benighted fool.”

Give the guy a break. It is a full time job keeping up with who is the latest individual or group to sign themselves over to the Jewish Bankers.

Besides, the Vatican did not fall fully under Jewish Banker control until they got Ratzinger elected as pope. That is recent history science pundit may not have been aware of since real news was turned off around the world by those same Jewish Bankers in January 2008.

Think about it. When was the last time you saw a news story about Hamas? A year or two? In the 21st century with the internet and satellite TV coverage, a geographical area can be disappeared from the worlds public conscious on orders from a few people. Crazy.

Birthers? Oh Orac, you’re missing the big picture. The birthers are just pointing out the first clues in the Big Bad Conspiracy. Once they prove Obama wasn’t born in America, that’ll lead us to the Shadowy Conspiracy Movers ‘n Shakers. I had a friend give me a DVD laying out how the Bildenberg Group (I believe it’s called) is planning on wiping out 90% of humanity (with the global warming hoax, AIDS, and birth control in Africa) and enslaving the rest. Oh, and they’re building a superhighway through the middle of the U.S. to tie us, Canada, and Mexico together in one big country. So really, the birthers are small potatoes. Funny li’l potatoes, to be sure….

Masonic conspiracies are a family in-joke. My late father always said that they “ran everything” in the USAF(actually, the “pre”AF,USAAC).If they *liked* you,you did very, very well indeed. In his case, he never got sent to the war,worked in offices,played volleyball,and drove jeeps around, supposedly “testing” them.Their stronghold was in Indio, Ca., DTC, or so I surmise.These days it’s probably in the Bohemian Grove in the Russian River valley, Ca., but don’t tell anyone I told you so.(oh, and they killed Mozart)

@ItsoHard: Christianity actually started as a jewish conspiracy to to take revenge on the roman empire for stealing their land and giving nothing in return (except of course for roads, the aquaduct, sanitation, irrigation, education, and the wine).

Bill Gates, folks! What about Bill Gates?

It ought to be obvious to everybody that MS-DOS, on which Gates founded his software empire, was never intended to be used by human beings; it never, ever works the way you’d reasonably think it would. Cryptic, anti-intuitive, with error messages obviously translated from some language with very different epistemological prejudices to any human language.

MS-DOS was designed for the offworld trade, and Gates made his billions in Intergalactic Federation credits, or more likely, technology transfer.

The Mac OS, on the other hand, is entirely homegrown, designed by humans for humans, which explains why it is so easy for us to use and learn.

(Someone will bring up Windows, which was Bill’s attempt to emulate a purely human-built operating system. The problem is that every version of Windows still has the MS-DOS lizard brain buried deep inside it, so what we get is a clumsy human interface laid over an alien kernel, in other words an essentially incompatible kludge, which gives rise to all the well documented problems that all Windows-based products consistently exhibit.)

Who are these aliens? There’s no way to tell, yet. All one can say is that, if they’re happy with DOS, their minds are alien indeed. (Any DOS-lovers out there: are you sure you’re human? Maybe you’re changelings. Or if you’re certifiably human, check your nostrils for tiny metal pellets.)

I am a linux lover, and I find it very intuitive, I get lots done easily and quickly using it. I try to stay away from the whole Mac/Win thing as much as possible. Sadly I type this from a WinXP beasty.

Actually, the denialist conspiracy theorists who think that AGW is a hoax to control the world would make an excellent addition to the video above.

Erin, 35

Actually, the proposed health care reform bill does do all that. Any legislation that gets as large as this bill has is going to incorporate a fair number of contradictions. An example of enacted legislation laden with contradictions and conflicts is our current tax code. Which part applies in which situation depends on who’s doing the work. An IRS auditor who says A is permitted can be contradicted by his supervisor; who, in turn, can be overturned by a tax judge, with all three being, legally speaking, correct.

It has to do with how we put our laws together. One legislator proposes a bill, other legislators glom on to it and add riders and amendments. Pretty soon you’ve got something once meant to regulate what can go into a food item that commits us to building a mile tall tower in Biloxi using local union labor and incorporating 90% bristlecone pine in the structure. Ludicrous? Of course, but only common sense stops such things from coming about, and when certain parties cooperate on hysterically pushing an item common sense can become rather scarce.

BTW, Mozart’s death was an accident. We were trying to turn his pee green as a St. Patrick’s Day joke and it kinda got out of hand.

I really get annoyed with those who claim that the moon landing was a hoax, a conspiracy. But, even though it is easy to mock those who readily resort to conspiracy claims of the most outlandish nature, conspiracies do exist. That is why most western societies pass legislation, including criminal code, competition and racketeering legislation which criminalize certain types of conspiracies.

In Canada our Competition Act, Criminal Code, National Defence Act and Security of Information Act all contain sections setting out offences described as conspiracies. It is my understanding that in the United States similar prohibitions against conspiracies exist, including in the RICO Act. These conspiracy sections, and other sections dealing with organized fraudulent activity, do not exist because of the whims of legislatures. They exist because fraud and conspiracy are, unfortunately, part of the fabric of criminal activity in any society.

Here in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada our people were shocked by the charging, trial and conviction of several prominent directors of a public hospital on multiple counts of defrauding a hospital corporation of funds. One of the directors involved in the Criminal Code case of R. v Stymiest was, until his conviction, a sitting Provincial Court judge.


The United States in fact has seen conspiracy proceedings involving officers in the tobacco industry as set out on the pbs web site at:

“Judge Finds Big Tobacco Guilty of Racketeering, Conspiracy”

If you need to know anything more about actual conspiracies let me know and I can provide some case citations if you wish.

This video forgot to include the biggest and most consequential conspiracy theory of modern times. There was this guy named Saddam Hussein and he was in league with this other fella named Osama bin Laden. Saddam was producing all the horrible weapons of mass destruction, sarin, tabum, anthrax, botulinum toxin etc. As well, he was working towards building a nuclear device which he was planning on giving to a terrorist group like Al-Qaeda and then before we knew it there would be mushroom clouds over American cities.

Of course, this conspiracy theory has led to the deaths of thousands of Americans and ten of thousands of Iraqis. Yet, I wonder why no one calls it a conspiracy theory? Oh that’s right, it was promoted by our government and we call know that our government has a monopoly on the truth.

Excellent! I’ve lured in an anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist and a 9/11 Truther!

As for Harold, he gives the most amazingly silly argument against making fun of Truthers, moon hoaxers, etc. Yes, there is such a thing as a conspiracy. But these conspiracy theories (moon hoaxes, the Illuminati, the birthers, the 9/11 Truth movement) are so unhinged from reality that they are worthy of satire..

Lured in? A bit on the melodramatic side are you?

I am not an anti-vaxxer. If you can point to a statement I have made condemning vaccines and arguing against vaccination as a sound public health strategy please do so. Or admit your error.

I support vaccines to address most deadly diseases and have previously been vilified publicly for doing so. I also recognize though that vaccines have caused serious side effects, sometimes deadly side effects. I believe in giving the public the full picture, all the evidence from all sides and treating them like intelligent, thinking adults.

I do not think that the safety of vaccines have been vetted in respect of all issues, particularly the increasing load of vaccines being given to children with immature immune systems. I also respect the cautions expressed by vaccine program supporter Dr. Bernadine Healy who, notes the lack of research on a number of vaccine autism issues. In particular I note her comments that thimerosal passes the placental barrier and is contained in flu shots given to pregnant women (and will be presnet in flu shots, along with adjuvants for the swine flu vaccine. Pregnant women will be amongst the first in line to receive the swine flu vaccine. Let the experiment begin.

The Swine Flu vaccine, which is not yet even fully developed, let alone tested, is being purchased in massive quantities by governments around the world and governments have “encouraged” their people to get vaccinated even before knowing if they will be safe.

You pretend to have a critical mind when attacking the “anti-vaxxers” as you like to demean them. But you are Missing in Action when it comes to asking serious questions about the rush to massive vaccination with vaccines untested, for either safety or effectiveness.

It is easy to mock people who think the moon landing was a hoax. I cheered when I saw the video clip of Buzz Aldrin punching the moon landing hoax/conspiracy theorist who was harassing him. But to dismiss all those who have legitimate concerns about vaccine safety despite the historical record of so called “rare” side effects (including death in some instances} is weak and only puffs up your ego and converts those already converted to your faith described as science.

Harold, you’re not an anti-vaxxer but you’re pushing the thoroughly discredited thimerosal/autism link? Right.

Dealing with a twoofer over at my place, now. Had to point out to him that I know of precisely zero people who claim the airplane fuel fires melted the supports. The heat merely weakened them.

Orac, Harold isn’t anti vaccine – don’t you see where he denied it? The fact that he denies or is completely ignorant of the science doesn’t make him a crank, does it?

It does? Never mind. He is a crank.

[not original to me, mostly based on something I once read, perhaps in the early days of Screw Loose Change]
The main difference between the real-life conspiracies mentioned by Harold and the fantastic conspiracies postulated by conspiracy theorists is that the former require buying the silence of a relatively small number of people at a large cost. The latter require that the vast majority of the population be bought off very cheaply, and also require that very powerful people and institutions with fundamentally conflicting interests all agree to keep the secret.

Burning jet fuel may not melt steel, but the burning stupid from people who say “fire can’t melt steel” (and other trooferisms)is hot enough to cause kryptonite to volatilize on contact.
Besides, everyone knows that the world is run by Skull and Bones memebers!
Trilateral Commissioners
Or was it the Bilderbergers ?
No no wait! it’s the Stonecutters Guild!

Why couldn’t ATC find the hijacked flights? When the hijackers turned off the planes’ transponders, which broadcast identifying signals, ATC had to search 4500 identical radar blips crisscrossing some of the country’s busiest air corridors.

The most amazing thing is how rational defenders of the official story won’t denounce transparent falsehoods made in defense of the official story (or part of the official story, as the case may be).

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