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Contemporary Conspiracies Internet Version


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The psychology and logic behind 9/11 and other conspiracy theories

Published in: Technology

Contemporary Conspiracies Internet Version

  1. The western conspiracy theories scapegoats, minority groups and common bias
  3. <ul><li>What is conspirationism /1 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conspirationism against minorities . Mass movements in search of scapegoats (R. Girard): </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>anti-Semitism and racism in general </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>pogroms against Roma </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>witch trials </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>strangers during the plague. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> scapegoats </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. <ul><li>What is conspirationism /2 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Minority group conspirationism . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Traditional definition: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>cultural, ethnic or religious minorities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>hostility to central authority </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>refusal of the official truth </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(potentially) forging or embracing millenaristic, Masonic or hermetic doctrines </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>preference for Big Conspiracies </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. <ul><li>Structural causes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>spectacularization of international events </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>technology : reality ~ fiction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the Internet : </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>auctoritas : substitutes autonomous fact-checking </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>written medium : increases legitimacy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>multimedia: visual images confer plausibility </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>marketing strategies.  conspiracy theories are standardized and mass-produced . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Contemporary minority conspirationism </li></ul>
  6. <ul><li>Types of minority conspirationism </li></ul>By topic : hermeticism / rusicrucianism; UFOs and aliens; religious phenomena; military secret projects; historical and political deceits. By power distance : isolation / ascetism v. challenging the establishment / government / scientific community. <ul><li>Our purpose: to analyze modern and contemporary active political conspiracy theories: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>discursive features </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>narratives </li></ul></ul>
  8. <ul><li>Typical discursive features /1 </li></ul><ul><li>Straw man </li></ul><ul><li>Informal fallacy frequently employed to avoid real discussion on the matter. Psychologically, the person employing it feels like s/he managed to defend his/her positions. Person A has position X. Person B ignores X and instead presents position Y. Person B attacks position Y. Person B draws a conclusion that X is false/incorrect/flawed. </li></ul><ul><li>Big Conspiracy </li></ul><ul><li>Almost every significant official actor in the world is indiscriminately involved in occulting the truth. </li></ul>
  9. <ul><li>Typical discursive features /2 </li></ul><ul><li>Burden of proof ( onus probandi ) reversal </li></ul><ul><li>Ordinarily, the necessity of the positive proof lies with he who states something. Conspirationists, instead, use a negative proof: X is true because there is no proof that X is false . </li></ul><ul><li>Occam’s razor ( lex parsimoniae ) refusal </li></ul><ul><li>Abnormal multiplication of entia , usually fictitious, supposed to be acting in secrecy. </li></ul>
  10. <ul><li>Typical discursive features /3 </li></ul><ul><li>Verbal aggressiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Towards critics / sceptics. </li></ul><ul><li>Towards impartial bystanders.  very similar to messianism . </li></ul><ul><li>Bite and run </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of data or sources is usually self-evident </li></ul><ul><li>To avoid criticism, some pre-made thought is thrown into the arena and no reasonable rebuttal will be held acceptable. </li></ul>
  12. <ul><li>Narratives/1: the 9/11 conspiracy theories </li></ul>Conspiracy theorists think that the impact of the planes could have never pulled down the towers by itself. The towers must have been bombed, and the only institution who could be able to stage such a grand plan is the United States government. The bombed towers <ul><li>Arguments offered : </li></ul><ul><li>Negative: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>not enough fire </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the towers were not highly damaged by the impacts. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Positive: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>free fall of the towers proof of bombs in the basement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>auditive witnesses of ground explosions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>towers started collapsing from the ground. </li></ul></ul>
  13. <ul><li>Debunking the 9/11 … /1 </li></ul>Enough fire <ul><li>The fire following the impacts melted the pillars of the building, causing structural damage. </li></ul><ul><li>In a skyscraper, the whole structure carries the weight of the building. </li></ul><ul><li>Additionally, great fires developed in the central hollowed structure of the building. </li></ul>
  14. <ul><li>Debunking the 9/11 … /2 </li></ul>Impact damage <ul><li>The impacts themselves caused important structural damage to the buildings. </li></ul>
  15. <ul><li>Debunking the 9/11 … /3 </li></ul>Towers did not collapse in free fall <ul><li>Conspirationists say it took about 8 seconds for the towers to fall to the ground. </li></ul><ul><li>actual time was </li></ul><ul><li>15-18 seconds. </li></ul><ul><li>Also, conspirationists do not prove that the free fall of the Towers would have taken 8 seconds or less. </li></ul>
  16. <ul><li>Debunking the 9/11 … /4 </li></ul>Auditive witnesses <ul><li>Some of the auditive witnesses were firefighters . </li></ul><ul><li>They stated hearing many ground explosions, and one of them said it was as if ‘there were bombs in the basement’. </li></ul><ul><li>All of those reached later retracted their depositions. </li></ul><ul><li>A plausible explanation: </li></ul><ul><li>auditive hallucinations in a highly-stressful, chaotic and unprecedented situation. </li></ul><ul><li>explosions in the basement may have been caused by anything falling through the hollowed central part of the building from the upper floors. </li></ul>
  17. <ul><li>Debunking the 9/11 … /5 </li></ul>Collapse start <ul><li>These pictures show quite clearly where the collapse of the towers started from. </li></ul>
  19. <ul><li>Arguments offered (often visual): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>impossible plane maneuver </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>no wreckage on the ground </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the hole in the Pentagon is too narrow for a plane crash. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Narratives /2 : The 9/11 Pentagon attack </li></ul>Conspiracy theorists say that what hit the Pentagon was not a plane. But eye witnesses saw an airplane (or at least a flying object) flying right into the Pentagon. The bomb hypothesis was discarded and the theorists resorted to the Cruise-missile theory. The no-plane theory
  20. <ul><li>Debunking the Pentagon /1 </li></ul>Arguments offered (detail) Impossible maneuver Hole too narrow
  21. <ul><li>Debunking the Pentagon /2 </li></ul>The real maneuver
  22. <ul><li>Debunking the Pentagon /3 </li></ul>The real hole
  23. <ul><li>Debunking the Pentagon /4 </li></ul>Wreckage
  25. <ul><li>Narratives /3 : Moon landing </li></ul>Conspiracy theorists say that the first moon landing never took place in reality. It must have been staged at Hollywood or at another secret area of the US, for political reasons. The 1969 moon landing hoax
  26. <ul><li>Debunking the Moon hoax /1 </li></ul><ul><li>Sample of the arguments offered : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the flag behaves as if there was wind. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>there are no stars in the pictures. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>wrong shadows appear on the ground. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>scenic objects are visible. </li></ul></ul>
  27. <ul><li>Debunking the Moon hoax /2 </li></ul>The flag <ul><li>The flag was actually made from different parts so to be portable by the astronauts. </li></ul><ul><li>Even in vacuum conditions, an object touched would react in the very same way as if it was in air ( Newton force reaction laws). </li></ul><ul><li>The flag itself had an horizontal wire woven into it so that it could simulate waving in the wind and it could stand by itself (as shown in any moon landing video). </li></ul>
  28. <ul><li>Debunking the Moon hoax /3 </li></ul>No stars In the moon pictures there are no stars because there should not be . To avoid overexposing the bright ground, the diaphragm must be almost closed. The light of the stars could not impress the film. The astronauts could see the stars thanks to their own shifting diaphragm: the pupil.
  29. <ul><li>Debunking the Moon hoax /4 </li></ul>Converging shadows
  30. <ul><li>Debunking the Moon hoax /5 </li></ul>Scenic objects … the C-rock is a hair!
  32. <ul><li>Conspirationist’s narrative method /1 </li></ul><ul><li>Visual </li></ul><ul><li>Preference towards visual proofs. </li></ul><ul><li>The visual information is distorted . </li></ul><ul><li>Not an innovative use; simply a mystifying use. </li></ul><ul><li>Intuitiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Exaggerate seemingly plausible facts, treating them as if they were intuitive. </li></ul><ul><li>Science or direct experience already offers a mediate or counter-intuitive correct answer. </li></ul>
  33. <ul><li>Conspirationist’s narrative method /2 </li></ul><ul><li>Intricacy of reasoning </li></ul><ul><li>Complicate matters so as to make it harder to find fallacies. </li></ul><ul><li>Burden of proof reversal plays on their side. </li></ul><ul><li>Update paradox </li></ul><ul><li>(recent phenomenon pertaining to the new mass-produced conspirationism) </li></ul><ul><li>To sell new material, the manufacture of “ new ” proofs is needed . </li></ul><ul><li>The new evidence re-introduces the whole theory in the market, comprising the outdated versions of it. </li></ul>
  34. <ul><li>Conspirationist’s narrative method /3 </li></ul><ul><li>Messianism proposed as critical thinking </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific parts of the theory are incorporated in the political process of accusation of the establishment. </li></ul><ul><li>Reader’s trust is achieved not through the correctness of the method applied, but directly through an appeal to reader’s beliefs (the political ideology supported by the theory). </li></ul><ul><li>Massified messianism ≠ personal critical thinking </li></ul>
  35. I know that most men (…) can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives. Lev Nikolaevič Tolstoy