A guy who calls himself Markadelphia asked me a question on Kevin’s blog:
Phelps, just so I am clear, all of the conspiracy ideas…ALL of them are just plain wrong, have no basis in fact and are just plain looney?
No, the VAST MAJORITY of them are based on a tiny sliver of fact and the rest is just plain looney. Here’s the state of conspiracies as I see them.
The Kennedy Assasination:
Lone shooter, who was Lee Harvey Oswald. This is the granddaddy conspiracy theory, and one that I know lots and lots about. I live in Dallas. I have been to Dealey Plaza many many times. I worked on the first searchable Warren Commission CD-ROM (along with the House Select Committee on Assassinations CD-ROM.) I’ve seen the evidence. I started out as a believer. My personal flavor was that a mafia assassin shot from the records building, and was supposed to shoot Oswald when the Secret Service returned fire on him, but the Secret Service never fired, so he was unable to kill the patsy.
And then I thought about how wide this world’s most popular conspiracy would have to be to stay secret. And it just didn’t make sense. Then I started looking at the evidence from that standpoint (instead of assuming a conspiracy and trying to make it fit that mindset) and it because pretty clear that Oswald was just a nut with communist leanings. The reason the Warren Commission looks like a coverup is because it is. It is a coverup of Oswald’s communist dealings so that we didn’t end up in a shooting war with Russia. That is why they were on the phone with Johnson within minutes of the shooting. They wanted to make it clear, “we had nothing to do with this.”
The late 60s / early 70s were a hotbed of assassinations. When one guy does it, all the other looney kids want to try it. There is no conspiracy needed for people to act in concert. Any student of the free market can tell you that. James Earl Ray, Sirhan Sirhan, all nuts who didn’t need any help.
The Communist Invasion:
Real conspiracy. Yes, communists were trying to subvert America, and yes, they picked Hollywood as a soft target. Yes, Hollywood was a hotbed of communist sympathies, and yes, the KGB was behind it. The records have been released, and we can all go look.
Yes, there was a group called the Bavarian Illuminati in the 18th century. No, they aren’t around anymore in anything other than a few losers running around calling themselves by that name. They don’t run anything, and they have no power.
Skull and Bones:
Yes, there is a Skull and Bones Society. Yes, the members come from powerful families and often end up powerful themselves. No, I don’t think that there is some concerted effort to take over the world. Yes, there is a concerted effort to protect each other. That is how fraternities work.
The Bilderbergers/Trilateral Commission:
Yes, the groups are real. Yes, people in these groups have agendas. No, they do not have a plan to take over the world, and even if they did, they do not have the means to put it in place.
The Michael Icke lizard people:
This one is interesting in that I haven’t heard any really good refutations, and that all the people necessary to keep the secret are dead. Dead people keep secrets remarkably well. I keep my eye on this one.
Gnomes of Zurich:
Anti-semitism at its purest, and complete fantasy. Made up by Russian propagandists and stupidly cartoonish.
Yes, thee are Freemasons. Yes, they did run things for a period of time. I believe they were formed from fugitive Templars in Scotland, and many of the policies of the Masons come from this fugitive heritage. They did have an ideal, which was heavily influenced by the free thinkers of the time, that culminated in the American Experiment. I believe that Masons on both the Rebel and British sides conspired to have the war go our way, and Masons continued to run the country in the ideal of this experiment for many years. Public opinion turned against Masonry in the mid 19th century, and, under attack from a sensationalist press, the Masons shifted away from political powerhouse and into a traditional fraternity.
It is real, but it isn’t a conspiracy. It is a product of a perverse incentive in the free market. The perverse incentive is that we have the same people who are acquiring equipment for the armed forces working for the people providing the equipment a year later. You don’t need a conspiracy for a General to know that there is a good chance of him getting a hefty salary working for Contractor A when he retires a year after pushing Contractor A’s $6BB contract through.
The Moon Landing:
It really happened. It was cheaper to actually go to the moon than it would have been to fake it and keep everyone paid off.
Yes, Zionists are real. They are called Israelis. No, they do not run the White House, Hollywood, the Record Industry, Television, or anything else other than Israel. They don’t care about running America or anyplace else in the world. They would be happy if people would just stop bombing them and let them grow oranges.
September 11, 2001:
Yes, there was a conspiracy. I believe that 20 or more Islamist hijackers conspired through the Al Queda network with several nation-states (including but not limited to Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria) to take over several American commercial jetliners and fly them into prominent American targets.
I don’t think that UFOs are aliens or time travelers. I think that the vast majority are natural phenomena, and the rest are military projects or the occasional hallucination.
Sleep disorder. Once you get past the modern trappings, these are plain old nightmares. A gray’s face is pretty much what you get if you try to draw a textbook monster (large featurless eyes, pale skin, many 45 degree angles.) It is what we are hardwired to fear in our brains. The paralysis is the natural paralysis that you get when you are asleep. Other people have dreams where they can’t move. It is the same phenomenon. They just don’t have a hypnotist convincing them that aliens are causing it.
The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy:
Very, very real. I am a member, as is Kevin. Glenn Reynolds works as the liaison for the blogosphere, and we get talking points from him every other day (unless an emergency action message goes out. Those come through ACE with flaming skulls.) We meet for ice cream in small cells once a week, and occasionally have giant, drug laden homosexual orgies. We don’t want to, but we have to so that they have blackmail material on all of us.
If there are any more you feel the need for me to opine on, just let me know in the comments. I am somewhat of a conspiracy theory afficiando, so you are unlikely to surprise me. I did all of this from memory, so if I mispelled a proper name, that is why.