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Speaker: Why we should not dismiss conspiracy theories

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  • mark taslov, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    If conspiracy theory gets claimed only to include the wacky claims used to put down the person talking, then we’ll lose the use of a particularly useful phrase.

    The term needs to be reclaimed. As for the perjorative, there’s:

    Or more descriptively: conspiracy nut.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    If conspiracy theory gets claimed only to include the wacky claims used to put down the person talking, then we’ll lose the use of a particularly useful phrase.

    Boy, do I have a book to sell you then. Because that's what I argue, although at slightly more length and with more references to the assassination of Julius Caesar.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • tussock, in reply to HORansome,

    I'm with you up until that point, and all I want to say is that I don't think we need to bake into the definition of a conspiracy theory that it's for personal gain or anything vaguely nefarious or malevolent.

    True. I'd protest that I'm coming from the view where "personal gain" includes doing things you feel good about, incentives in general. People can conspire to throw someone a surprise party for "selfless" reasons that totally give them a high and great sense of accomplishment and community building. But that would be silly. So I won't.

    I agree people can be disinterested conspirators, just in it to be in it, or benevolent conspirators (AKA creepers) aiming to brighten someone's day. The deniability and lack of openness is very prone to problems though, no matter how well meaning folk are.

    Not every plan is a conspiracy, you can inform all the interested parties (and even just the curious). Banks do just loan people money at a profitable published rate, as well as conspire to jack house prices up with their mobile mortgage managers helping everyone bid as much as they can afford at auctions because they're loaded up on cheap credit and need to get it out there.

    Since Nov 2006 • 610 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Boy, do I have a book to sell you then. Because that’s what I argue, although at slightly more length and with more references to the assassination of Julius Caesar.

    Feel free to use my line for the back cover. No charge even.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Comms Piracy...
    Perhaps not a conspiracy, just an action taken behind the scenes...

    I had to laugh this morning - The Press ran this Editorial...

    OPINION: The internet has been responsible for many good things, as a Google executive has observed, but the dark and horrible practice of "trolling" - spreading abusive and offensive comments - and similar such activities is not one of them. In the past, nasty and ugly remarks made by people generally did not go much beyond those they were in close touch with. It was limited by the size of social circles and naturally limited from spreading further by the general reluctance of people in civilised company to pass on wounding stuff said about others.
    ...
    Regulations and laws have been put in place to try to control the worst of this material and they have been effective up to a point. But laws and regulations, though they may deter some people, generally operate after the event, by which time damage may have been done. The best deterrent may be to try to bring home to internet users the fact that obnoxious behaviour is obnoxious wherever it occurs. There needs to be the cultivation of a greater awareness, possibly starting with young people who seem most likely to engage in ungoverned behaviour, that if it is not acceptable to say or do something directly to others, it is just as unacceptable to do or say it online.

    Their usual anti-trolling editorial - all very noble...

    Except when I first saw it - it had comments enabled - so I posted my usual 'oh the irony' comment about an anonymous leader writer railing against trolls and then enabling the Fairfax comment section, which is riddled with anonymous alias-bearing snipers ad snarkers - behaviour Fairfax doesn't allow in its 'hard copy 'Letters to the Editor' section - I then suggested that perhaps the next action after a call for change, might be to be part of that change themselves and insist that people own their own words on line.
    Nek Minnit© the Comments box is not available any more.
    Sorted!

    Much like the knee-jerk reaction of the State's punitive raid on Nicky Hager, it seems people with power (like Fairfax) don't like to see it questioned in public...

    I guess they just really like things to stay the same, despite protestations to the contrary...

    Life, eh, funny old game!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7944 posts Report Reply

  • James Robb, in reply to HORansome,

    I think the key test is how much weight the 'believer' gives to verifiable facts. Refusing to face unpleasant facts is the psychological starting point of many a conspiracy theory. For example, many people were unhappy with the outcome of the New Zealand elections, and could not believe that so many people had voted for the Key government. Their conclusion (unsubstantiated by any evidence) was that the result must have been due to electoral fraud or some such jack-up.
    An example that interests me at present is the 'theory', put forward by a Liberian-American academic and widely publicised in Liberian newspapers, that the current Ebola epidemic was deliberately initiated by the US military as part of their experimentation with the Ebola virus as a biological weapon. To me, this 'theory' is not totally implausible - the US military and health authorities have a proven history of conducting medical experiments on unknowing human guinea-pigs, especially African Americans, including several where people were deliberately infected with syphilis. However, there has been no evidence presented to date that this was the case with Ebola, therefore it remains a useless conspiracy theory that can only disorient people who are trying to address the epidemic.

    Link to article in Liberian Daily Observer:
    http://www.liberianobserver.com/security/ebola-aids-manufactured-western-pharmaceuticals-us-dod

    Auckland • Since Dec 2013 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to James Robb,

    For example, many people

    Name 6.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to James Robb,

    I think the key test is how much weight the 'believer' gives to verifiable facts. Refusing to face unpleasant facts is the psychological starting point of many a conspiracy theory. For example, many people were unhappy with the outcome of the New Zealand elections, and could not believe that so many people had voted for the Key government. Their conclusion (unsubstantiated by any evidence) was that the result must have been due to electoral fraud or some such jack-up.

    I'm certainly not one of them; I'm of the view it was a perfect storm of factors.

    On the flipside, there are also the conspiracy theories of the 'beneficiaries with SKY dishes and BMWs', which is basically the NZ version of the American 'welfare queen'. And those who throw the term 'PC gone mad' are themselves rooted in conspiracy theorism of the McCarthyist kind.

    It wouldn't surprise me if most of these people also happen to believe in the Eurabia dystopia, which is basically a reheated Cold War Domino Theory - Pamela <cough> Geller is probably its most infamous figurehead.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5430 posts Report Reply

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