November 17, 2010

Government Conspiracy Theories

You know, I'm a member of the Zeitgeist Movement and as such I get some comments at times saying that the movement is all about conspiracy theories. While the first Zeitgeist film certainly touched upon this subject, it is by no means a constant for the movement. Zeitgeist 1 was a personal project of director and filmmaker Peter Joseph and should be viewed as such, although there are some folks out there having difficulty accepting this and rather play a 'guilty by association' type of tactic. Often what you hear is; 'you're [the movement] all about conspiracy theories!' Which is of course a convenient and underhanded way of criticizing something. But if your position is against conspiracy theories, let me introduce you to this one. It's from the Bush administration just before they invaded Afghanistan.

Above is a depiction of the complex at Tora Bora which was all over the news at the time. Allegedly Bin Laden had a state of the art complex there. In the video below secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld can be quoted as saying there were many such installations in Afghanistan! A mountain was supposed to be completely hollowed out, creating many chambers that housed personnel, sleeping quarters, armories, power generator rooms, the works. The Taliban and Al Qaida were also believed to have Stinger missiles. (Supplied by the C.I.A. but that's another story.) How many times have you read that Allied aircraft were attacked by Stinger Missiles? I can't remember one incident.

What happened after Coalition forces captured the complex at Tora Bora? Have you seen videos of news teams (or the military for that matter) showing the inside of the 'complex' at Tora Bora? I haven't. Now why wouldn't there be such a video? Because there was nothing to show, there wasn't a state of the art military complex - just a couple of caves. This story about strong military hide-outs were completely fabricated and politicians such as Rumsfeld are caught redhanded telling fairytales. It's a first grade, first class, top of the line, immaculate, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, outright Conspiracy Theory perpetrated by the U.S. government.

If you want more there are always the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Remember those? Colin Powell heading a U.N. council meeting showing all kinds of schematics of mobile chemical weapons delivery systems, again underground facilities where WMD's were produced, holding a vial of anthrax in his hand. How much of the information that the government provided at the time turned out to be factual? Nothing! Again it was a first grade, first class, top of the line, immaculate, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, outright Conspiracy Theory perpetrated by the U.S. government.

If you're really that hellbent on debunking conspiracy theories might I suggest you start with the Bush administration and how much unsubstantiated nonsense they sold the American public not to mention the entire world? I'm assuming of course that you have the courage and mental integrity to do so in the first place. The Zeitgeist Movement is a grass roots movement and has no impact on your life whatsoever. The U.S. government is the complete opposite. Any sane person would start there.


Muertos said...

Ironically this post indicates that my criticisms of the Zeitgeist Movement and its obsession with conspiracy theories are not only not unfounded, but spot-on. There's no point whatsoever to this post other than to try to make the Zeitgeist Movement's conspiracy theories look more convincing by pointing out some instance where the U.S. government was wrong.

Whether you are yourself an actual conspiracy theorist, this post illustrates the degree to which you've internalized conspiracy thinking. Out of one side of its mouth the Zeitgeist Movement claims "we're not about conspiracy theories, and any attempt to claim we are is 'guilt by association,'" and out of the other side of its mouth it screeches, "BUT LOOK HOW THE EVIL GUBBERMINT IS LYING TO YOU!" You've dredged up an example of government sources claiming something that turned out to be wrong and offered it as a "conspiracy theory," the obvious implication being that the only difference between so-called "conspiracy theories" like this and the conspiracy theories pushed by the Zeitgeist Movement is that one has the official imprimatur of government sanction while the other does not.

This is a classic conspiracist argument. Look at argument #8 in my blog about the top 10 misconceptions of conspiracy theorists: You will see that this type of argument simply holds no water.

Indeed, what type of "conspiracy theory" do you claim the evil gubbermint foisted on us? Does anyone claim that Al Qaeda did not have caves and hideouts at Tora Bora? No. There is ample proof that they did. Your "conspiracy theory" relates to conjectures made at the time as to how well-equipped the caves were. What, then, is the difference between what the govenrment claimed in late 2001 (before anybody had actually seen the inside of Tora Bora) and what turned out to be true? Not much. As for the issue of what sort of weapons Al-Qaida has, need I remind you that Al-Qaida THEMSELVES have deliberately fostered false impressions about what weapons they possess? Osama bin Laden famously proclaimed in October 2001 that he had nuclear weapons. He almost certainly doesn't. Is Bin Laden's alleged possession of nukes a "conspiracy theory" fostered by the U.S. government, then? When it's Bin Laden who said it?

The issue of WMD in Iraq is also not even close to a "conspiracy theory" that's comparable to the conspiracy theories promoted by the Zeitgeist Movement. It's undeniably true that Saddam possessed no weapons of mass destruction. However, who was it who initially led the world to believe that he did? It wasn't George W. Bush--it was Saddam himself, who deliberately fostered the illusion in order to (he thought) stave off attack by Western powers. (Saddam refused U.N. weapons inspections repeatedly for this very reason, and continued to do so even after the build-up to the 2003 invasion had begun--he only relented at the last moment when he realized the strategy wasn't working). The fact that Bush and his cronies made political hay out of this deliberate uncertainty doesn't transform it into a "conspiracy theory" even remotely similar, either in character or magnitude, of the ridiculous theories proposed and promoted by the Zeitgeist Movement.

Not at all convincing, I have to say.

Ed V. said...

It shows that you were a lawyer at one time Muertos. You managed to twist and warp my comments to your own liking. If my blog shows anything it's your methodology.

Your constant rhetoric labeling the Zeitgeist Movement as a bunch of 'conspiracy theorists' (a.k.a. goofballs) is becoming highly predictable. Actually you can't restrain yourself from driving that conclusion home at every opportunity you get. I read your blog about how academia works and you just had to mention the Zeitgeist Movement as conspiracy nuts on more then one occasion while it had very little to do with the focal point of your argument. Are you really that obsessed?

It's abundantly clear that the Bush administration lied about the capabilities of the Taliban and WMD's in Iraq. Can that be construed as a conspiracy theory? Sure it can, but you seem to have a problem labeling politicians as conspiracy buffs while in other facets of society you show no restraint whatsoever.
It has been stated many times that the first Zeitgeist movie was a personal project of Peter Joseph and as such has little to do with the current direction of the movement, yet you come up with a theory of your own connecting isolated points - use a guilty by association tactic in order to discard an entire group of people as irrelevant (to put it diplomatically).

I gotta ask, what's your problem? Spare me that conspiracy theories are detrimental to our society. People will always talk, make their own conclusions and gossip like old women. It's a fact of life.
I think something else is bugging you beside theories. Playing the conspiracy angle is just a means to an end. There's probably much more at hand here than an old movie with some speculation about religion, 9/11 and men with power. But we'll get to that, Mike.

Ed V. said...

Muertos, I just read the topic 'Zeitgeister comes to "make peace" and ends up royally pissing me off' on the CS forums and I must say what an immaculate display of prejudice, generalizations and subjectivity.

I read your facebook discussion and no where did Greyson say charity shouldn't be done. This what he said;
"I agree that education is key to the advancement for social evolution, but I would argue that charity is not a solution it is a band aid. I’m not saying it is bad or has no useful function in todays world, all I’m sayin is that it can’t fix these problems."

You however managed to totally vilify that person while all he set out to do was to engage in a constructive debate. The phrase 'band aid' is there to indicate that while charity is a good thing, it is not a long term solution since the root causes of poverty are not addressed. Not recognizing this aspect and going off on a tantrum shows your methodology.

I thought you were smarter than making sweeping generalizations, perhaps I was wrong.

Muertos said...

Anyone who questions the impact of charity and volunteerism can't have done much of it. The contempt the Zeitgeist Movement has for charity and humanitarian work is, in my view, nothing more than an excuse. The movement rationalizes not doing anything by claiming implicitly that anything that doesn't solve the "root causes" is not worth doing at all.

If your movement really valued charity, why doesn't it do more of it? Why isn't the Zeitgeist Movement doing clothing drives or organizing teams to go serve dinner at homeless shelters? Why isn't the Zeitgeist Movement reading to kids, serving meals to old people who aren't ambulatory, organizing blood drives, sending supplies to Africa for AIDS relief, or even promoting click-from-your-computer type of charities like Keva?

What's the point of having these 400,000 members you claim you have if they aren't doing anything? Even if you really believed that charity doesn't "get to the root" of the problem, how could you possibly beat the positive press and image you would all stand to gain by making a real boots-on-the-ground effort to help people?

What annoys me is how comfortable the Zeitgeist Movement is at deploying euphemisms and token statements and gestures to mask its true objectives (or lack thereof). Every argument I make--that the Movement promotes conspiracy theories, that its ideology is flawed and dangerous, that it doesn't care about helping real people in the real world and is scornful of those who do--goes to what the Movement actually does and actually believes, as opposed to what it says it does and believes. Every counter-argument you make is based on a token statement or fig leaf of one kind or another. That's how I see it.

I am aware that there are some in the Movement who are puzzled at my criticisms and assume I must have an ulterior motive in criticizing it. It's not true, but honestly I have no problem with that belief. While I realize it'll change few minds in your camp, I do what I do because I really do detest conspiracy theories, and more kids start believing conspiracy theories after being exposed to Zeitgeist than to any other source other than Alex Jones. I think you people are doing the world a tremendous disservice, and I for one would like to do what I can to mitigate it.

Combating conspiracy theories is a hobby for me. I have a full time job and a course of study (as well as charity activities). Only a very small portion of the words I write during a given week have anything to do with conspiracy theories in general or the Zeitgeist Movement in particular. On my list of 1000 things to do every day, commenting on the Zeitgeist Movement is about number 847. Since all you see is what I post here and at other related places, I understand how it seems that I must be on a relentless and single-minded crusade to smear you. That's not what it's about, but I understand why it may seem that way.

Devan Evans said...

I would not even bother with Muertos. He makes a habit of ignoring important statements, evidence that is given that would otherwise contradict him and when you point out that he is committing logical fallacies such as ad hominem's, guilt by association, faulty generalizations, etc... he ignores and continues as if nothing you said nothing at all.

Muertos seems to be the very definition of a closed mind, in fact his friends over at conspiracy science make it a habit of ridiculing others at their own forums when they've been mercilessly been to shown have been wrong, and yet all they do is constantly point and call names and engage in childish trollish behavior..

If you want a prime example, check out the comment section of a blog of mine.

Accordingly, Muertos himself demonstrates many of the characteristics of a creationist... even when shown to be wrong about absolutely everything he espouses he continually says that he is right, regardless if you point out the evidence that contradicts him, regardless if you point out the logical fallacies used to reach such a conclusion and regardless if you prove him wrong.

Also another tactic is that when proven to be wrong, he switches the subject and then later makes a blog post as if you haven't proven him wrong on the exact subject.

Muertos is the prime example of an intellectual bigot and an established closed mind.

Ed V. said...

Thanks for your comments Devan. It's nice to hear another opinion. I see Muertos more as a lawyer, he's mostly preoccupied by how things should be seen, not as they are.

Devan Evans said...

Check out the conversation down there in the bottom. Look how he avoids my points and doesn't even address them.

Ed V. said...

Hey Devan. Tried to look at Muertos' blog but I got a severe malware warning so I disengaged from the website. (You might want to be careful as well.)

Yeah, sometimes Muertos skirts the issue at hand. I tried to point out to him that some conspiracy theories might be spot on, for example if an Iranian man in 1953 claimed the C.I.A. was behind the regime change in his country he might have not be taking seriously at the time and could be called a 'conspiracy theorist,' but that doesn't mean his analysis was utterly correct.

Muertos doesn't want to get into mechanics like these, and others, because it doesn't support his endeavors. What I find most disturbing is his tendency to find fault with some Zeitgeist member he's having a discussion with and then sticking that negativity on the entire movement. That's a lawyeresque smear tactic, a gross misinterpretation and generalization.

You can find his earliest correspondence with me here, and where he already tries to steer away from some subjects;

Ed V. said...

meant *INcorrect.

Devan Evans said...

I find it interesting that he calls labels Acharya's book "The Christ Conspiracy" as a conspiracy theory, which for those who have read it... it's a marketing gimmick in the title to get people to read her book.

The entire subject of the book is basically, "oh look, other god's have some similarities to Jesus. Here is a possible reason why that was. Hey are some interesting facts I bet you didn't about Christianity and Judaism. Hey here are some interesting about an Ancient World Wide civilization."

No where in the book is there a mention of a conspiracy or anything like Muertos to give and yet when I ask him what he is talking about, he harpes on Acharya for an argument she never even did, such as "Sun = Son in translating from Hebrew to Greek." I found no such argument anywhere in her writings and this seems to be a fundamental strawman also harped on with the film Zeitgeist as just doing a pun on words.

I also find it interesting how he said that "none of the cases you mention was the pattern of the event even remotely close to the way conspiracy theories work" yet he misses the entire point of what you even wrote without even addressing the logic behind it. He seems to engage in a number of logical fallacies, I also seriously doubt he is even capable of leaving his profession of a lawyer behind, since he keeps playing semantics and dodging issues.

Devan Evans said...

I also like how he stated that "conspiracy theories are also corrosive to democracy. They teach people to disengage from the political process because "it doesn't matter anyway, 'they' are in charge." Hitler came to power in Germany in part because he advanced conspiracy theories." Such a statement seems to indicate that conspiracy theories will lead antisemitism and genocide, this is purely an emotional reaction and the relevancy of Hitler to that conversation is really null. It is basically like me trying to bring up Saddam Hussein. The difference between the "Conspiracy theories" offered by Hitler and those offered in America are that the ones offered by Hitler were to disengage the public in politics and allow Hitler to actually take control on advocate that he will fix everything. The conspiracy theory message in America is that if we participate more in politics, we end up with a world far worse off than we would like had we participated.

Advocates of 9/11 Truth are considered heavy patriots because they take part in political rallies, vote to support politicians that would support their views, exposing political corruption at every chance they get, etc... the same thing goes with many people who are apart of American Conspiracy Theory movements. To say that Conspiracy Theories disengage people from taking action in politics and using Hitler as an example of this is basically ignoring two things.

1. The movement's of the 1940s are not the same as the movement's of the 21st century.

2. Comparison of a completely culture will not work unless you point to similarities.

He seems to not follow the obvious logic and doesn't recognize his own arguments flaws.

VTV said...

There certainly is a "guilt by association" methodology here. Kind of like you stating that "Conspiracy theories" ruined my life. That was total conjecture on your part yet you state it like fact. You don't know much of anything about my home life yet you think you can make that judgement. My problems at home have to do with issues that have absolutely nothing to do with the Zeitgeist Movement.

VTV said...

@Ed V he just makes a lot of assumptions. The most ironic thing about him and the rest of the CS people is that they jump on anyone they consider to be a "conspiracy theorist" yet they have zero problem inventing theories with little to no evidence against the people they consider the theorists themselves. The addiction to ad hominem is such that they must find something negative, and when they don't they are inclined to make it up. Like when they suggested that I let complete strangers live in my house. Or that I was not married to my wife, or that I worked at McDonalds, etc. All three things were absolute bullshit. And proof positive that like they claim Conspiracy theorists do, they are willing to fill in the blanks to suit their agenda. And they love to repeat that your a liar again and again so that when you deny anything they say they are free to play the "well your lying" card. I still remember all the times that anti-cultist guy repeated that I was a liar for not admitting that I supposedly worked at McDonalds. Then it was Burger King. Then FINALLY he got one part of it right and it was my wife who had worked at Burger King at the time. But EACH TIME he repeated loudly that I was a big liar and that he was right when clearly he was very half assed in his research about it.

They say they are all about research and facts, that is of course until it's a personal attack or an ad hominem. Then the "theories" fly, and are touted as reality.

VTV said...

Your beliefs about Al Qaeda are laughable. (As in, I actually laughed about this topic.)

This is not a conspiracy theory series, it's a BBC series with confirmed information and sources. Outside of the United States everyone already knows the Al Qaeda issue is hugely overblown.

Now, if you choose to respond to this information in typical anti-conspiracy theory fashion it will likely be with ad hominem against the film maker or his sources. And then we will hear all sorts of nonsense about why BBC is not a good news outlet. Or whatever other reasoning that all of this is wrong. (Anti-conspiracy theory fanatics are just as irrational sometimes about their willingness to discredit any source that does not suit their agenda) but you could prove me wrong.

Al Qaeda was we have been lead to believe is bullshit. It exists, but it is a tiny fringe group. We are in Afghanistan and Iraq supposedly to respond to 911 when in fact the hijackers were Saudis? The notion that there was no "conspiracy" to lie to the American people about WMDs to get us into these wars at this point is denounced even in mainstream circles.

This brief video proves it, and it does so solely with quotes from the people in the government themselves. And not in obscure quotes. Public statements.

I don't claim to know everything that has went on. But I do know that a lot of what we are lead to believe is bullshit.

VTV said...

Conspiracy theories are not why people don't bother to vote. They don't bother to vote because it is pretty clear the whole thing is a ponzi scheme. Poor people cannot get elected. Ever. The system was designed that way from the start. No money equals no election. Only in extremely rare instances is anyone able to get elected who does not fit into the corporate establishment. Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are pretty much the only two I know of who have pulled it off. Please don't tell me your naive enough to not understand the power of money, lobbyists, campaign contributions etc to see to it that people who fit their agenda are elected. Even the people in congress admit this, which is why they tried to pass legislation to fix the problem. Which was of course rejected.

Ed V. said...

VTV, you gotta keep in mind that Muertos and other CS forums contributors also seek attention. I haven't made one comment on Muertos' blog or the CS forums, yet he is the most prolific commentator on this blog. That says something.

Yes, I read some of the accusations directed at your person and it's quite distasteful to say the least. They go after Peter Joseph in similar fashion. Digging in someones personal life in order to find dirt is another indication of what kind of people you're dealing with. And like you said, they have no inhibitions theorizing about Zeitgeist members nor do the CS "leaders" like Muertos or Winston make any effort to stop the homemade conspiracy theories.

Devan Evans said...

Hey, Muertos made an entire article about me.

Suffice it to say, the article is filled with logical fallacies, leaps of logic, misuse of sources, vacuous statements, and a number of other plethora of problems in his article, which I have made a response towards.

Let me know what you think.

By the way, VTV I saw some of that myself... much of it seems much like the tactics Muertos uses in the article above.