Apr 04 2014

Answering Conspiracy Theorists

We like to categorize and apply labels. This can be helpful in wrapping your mind around complex reality, as long as you avoid the pitfall of allowing labels to become mental straitjackets.

I often discuss various  categories of people who are failing, in one or more important ways, to apply critical thinking. These categories are not meant to be dismissive, but rather to help understand various styles of thinking that lead people astray. For example there are deniers, true-believers, ideologues, and cranks.

Perhaps the most interesting category is the conspiracy theorist. I also find them to be the most consistent in their style of reasoning and argument. I do wonder, however, how much of this consistency is due to and underlying reasoning style and how much is culture. When I get the same fallacious argument over and over again, is that because they are all reading the same source material?

I recently came across a conspiracy website offering advice on how to answer “anti-conspiracy theorists” (their word for skeptics). Anyone who has had a conversation with a conspiracy theorist will recognize the style and tone, and now here it is codified in a primer for budding conspiracy theorists.

The article, however, also reveals the logical errors that underlie the conspiracy belief system. Let’s go through each point.

“You sound like a conspiracy theorist.”
RESPONSE: “Conspiracy Theorist? Now tell me the truth, where did you hear that term…on TV? (Laugh.) …So let me get this straight. Are you saying that men in high positions of power are not capable of criminal activity and telling lies to the general public? Are you really that naive?” (Laugh as you say this.)

As you can see this is a literal script. Right up front we see what I have found to be the typical attitude of the conspiracy theorists – anyone who does not buy their fantastical theories is “naive,” – said with dismissive laughter. This response is also a straw man.

Of course people in power are capable of lying and criminal activity. There are even genuine conspiracies. The recent lane-closing scandal in New Jersey was a conspiracy of at least several civil servants who lied and conspired to abuse their power to punish their political enemies (heedless of collateral damage).

When we talk about conspiracy theorists we are talking about grand conspiracies. These are conspiracies that involved large numbers of people, a vast expanse of power and control, unbelievable secrecy, and often sustained for years or decades. Of course there is no sharp demarcation between a small and plausible conspiracy and a grand conspiracy, but the larger the conspiracy would need to be, the more implausible it becomes. The largest grand conspiracies simply collapse under their own weight.

Ah, but the author has heard this response before and has an answer:

“You’re absolutely right. I agree with you 100%. It is impossible to totally cover up a conspiracy so massive. That’s why I know about it! What you must understand is that they don’t have to cover it up totally. Even a bucket that has a few leaks can still do the job of carrying water from here to there! They only need to fool 80% of the public, which isn’t hard to do when you control the major networks and newspapers.”

Of course the conspiracy theorists have to have learned about the conspiracy, but this entirely misses the point. Conspiracy theorists don’t have actual evidence. They don’t have leaked information, documents, photographs, or any hard or direct evidence of their specific conspiracy theory. As you will see from later responses – they simply believe they have perceived a pattern in events.

This cuts to the heart of the logical fallacies at the core of conspiracy thinking. The conspirators in grand conspiracies have as much power, control, and reach as they need to pull off the conspiracy. Any missing evidence was covered up by the conspiracy. Any evidence against the conspiracy or for a more prosaic explanation was planted. Any events that would seem to undermine the conspiracy theory were clearly false flag operations.

Conspiracy theories are therefore immune to evidence. They are closed, self-contained belief systems that resist their own critical analysis. That is why they are a mental trap.

Often conspiracy theorists are generally smart people (even if they lack certain critical thinking skills). Smart people, however, are good at rationalizing and erecting elaborate belief structures. This anti-conspiracy theorist essay is just another example of that – a string of rationalizations dismissing the very serious and legitimate criticisms of the grand conspiracy position.

Also note how casually the author assumes that the conspirators control the major networks and newspapers. This, of course, explains why journalists are not exposing the conspiracy – they are all part of it. The rabbit hole goes down all the way.

In response to ridicule, the author recommends:

“Can I ask you an honest question?” (Wait for “yes”) Do you consider yourself an open minded, critical thinking person – yes or no? (Wait for “yes”) Then how can you possibly ridicule an opinion when you haven’t even done 10 minutes of research into the matter? That’s kind of ignorant don’t you think?” (Wait for response.)

I would like to point out here that these responses generally are designed to be rhetorical tricks, rather than genuinely engaging with a critic. The failure to genuinely engage seems to be a universal feature of every category of non-skeptic. To be fair, you can see this in every sub-culture, but at least skeptics profess to understand the need to engage and strive to do so.

The response here assumes that the skeptic has not done any research. This is a common ploy. Of course, I do advise that skeptics refrain from commenting definitively on topics with which they are not adequately familiar. But the response here is often a straw man.

This strategy here is often combined with moving the goalpost – no matter how much research you have done, it’s not enough. Of course, no generalist skeptic can dedicate as much time and effort to one area as a believer. This often evolves into the “12 foot stack” gambit. Unless you have read my 12 foot stack of evidence, you can’t comment on my bizarre theory.

This approach can be effective in deflecting criticism but is not legitimate. First, it is possible to be familiar with a body of evidence, and to have examined the best cases and authoritative summaries from proponents – more than sufficient to have an informed opinion, without dedicating one’s life to studying every detail.

Second, the burden of proof is on the proponent, and challenging someone with any kind of theory to make their case and put their best evidence forward is perfectly legitimate.

Finally, any claim can be analysed for logical validity and plausibility. It is possible to find flaws in someone’s reasoning, separate from the specific details of evidence. If someone tells me the world is run by lizard people and gives me a string of logical fallacies to make their case, I can determine that it is simply not worth reading through their 12 foot stack of evidence they believe supports their position. Typically I will read a representative sample to gauge the quality of evidence, or challenge proponents to give me their best evidence.

With regard to plausibility, one common criticism of grand conspiracies is that government are simply not sufficiently competent to pull them off. To this point the author responds:

“Don’t confuse your incompetant [sic], dim witted Congressman or Senator with the shadow government. The dark covert elements who stage these events are very skilled at carrying out, and concealing, their plots. Take for example the Manhattan Project.”

The Manhattan Project was a military secret kept in a time of world war, and only for a finite amount of time. Again, skeptics acknowledge that secrets can be kept, as long as they are contained. This is not relevant, however, to the immense scope of claiming a world-ruling shadow government.

Also, this response misses the point about competence. I don’t think that human beings are competent enough to pull off conspiracies as large as the ones that theorists often claim, such as the New World Order the author favors. He seems to think that people in the superficial government are all buffoons, bu the shadow government is run by a separate breed of people who have incredible competence.

The (somewhat scary) truth is that the world is run by ordinary people, although many of them are smart and dedicated. They all, however, have full range of human frailty and failings to some extent.

Grand conspiracies would require incredible dedication, foresight, masterful planning, impeccable execution, all to an extent that I have never witnessed in any person or organization. The conspirators are a cartoon – they don’t exist in our reality.

(The Unresolved Detail Trick) “If this is a conspiracy then explain to me how they managed to do x, y, and z?”
RESPONSE: “I don’t have every missing piece of this puzzle. But I have enough pieces to KNOW that the government-media version is false!

There is a kernel of legitimacy here. Complex theories cannot always explain every detail. The real world is complex, and we can’t always trace every complex chain of cause and effect.

Of course, this complexity cuts both ways. It is this complexity that makes grand conspiracies implausible.

But further, this point can be overplayed and become a cop-out. If someone points out a fatal flaw in one’s theory, it is not legitimate to wiggle out of this criticism by simply saying that they cannot explain every detail.

This particular response also reveals a major flaw in conspiracy thinking. The conspiracy theorist believes that all they need do is poke holes in the standard version of events. Ironically they often do this by challenging people to explain every little detail of what happened, which often cannot be done. What they do not do, however, is provide a plausible alternative explanation for which there is direct evidence.

Their major false assumption is that, if they can find holes or anomalies in a standard explanation of events, there must be a conspiracy. They then make the argument from ignorance and fill in the holes with their preferred conspiracy, for which there is no evidence because the conspirators hid all the evidence.

However, you can find apparent anomalies in any complex historical event. There are simply too many moving parts to be able to reverse engineer everything that happened. There are also numerous opportunities for apparently weird coincidences, which are almost guaranteed by the law of large numbers.

On the point of coincidence, he writes:

“If it were just one or two coincidences, I would agree with you. But when you have a series of 10,15, 20 different anomolies [sic], the law of statistics PROVES that they can’t all be just “coincidence”.

Actually, statistics demonstrate that apparent coincidence should happen all the time. The conspiracy theorists are simply wrong here. They are following their naive gut reactions to apparent coincidence, when statisticians can rigorously demonstrate that such events are common place.

They also ignore the power of confirmation bias. When you are looking for anomalies, you will find them. People are good at pattern recognition. Further, “anomaly” is a very open criterion. Just about anything can be considered an anomaly.

Conspiracy theorists can therefore comb through a vast data set of event details looking for apparent anomalies which they can define any way they wish. With this method you can find large numbers of apparent anomalies in any event. This, however, is their evidence for a conspiracy.

(The Isolated Piece of Evidence Trick) “Other than citing some historical events, you still haven’t shown me one piece of evidence that this was a conspiracy. Tell me just one thing that most proves a conspiracy.”
RESPONSE: “That’s a trick question! If I tell you “just one thing”, you’ll just climb on your high horse and dismiss it as a “coincidence”. What I want to show you is TWENTY THINGS! But you’re too closed minded to consider the case in its totality! You won’t even watch a You Tube video let alone read the case! I sure hope you never get selected to serve on a jury! You want everything boiled down to a simplistic media sound byte. Unless you will commit to a few hours of study, I’m wasting my time with you. Why are you so afraid to study this? (Wait for a response.)

Again, there is a kernel of truth here, but the author misses several important points. It is often not legitimate to challenge someone to defend their theory with one piece of evidence. Evolution, for example, is a conclusion based upon multiple independent lines of evidence each with many pieces.

However, there are individual pieces of evidence that are compelling in and of themselves. A single fossil of a human ancestor may not prove evolution, but it is certainly a compelling piece of evidence.

What skeptics are often really asking is not to prove the conspiracy with one piece of evidence, but to show any piece of evidence that is compelling. Show us your best evidence. But also – go ahead, make your case with a suite of evidence (just don’t let that turn into the 12-foot-stack gambit).

With evolution, you will notice, each piece of evidence has to stand on its own as a legitimate piece of evidence. Conspiracy theorists don’t have any such evidence – just a string of apparent coincidences and anomalies. They are essentially building a case out of circumstantial evidence.

Of course, if you are working backwards to a desired conclusion, and have loose criteria for what counts as evidence, and allow tangential and circumstantial evidence – you can build a case for literally any theory, no matter how wacky or implausible.

What conspiracy theorists are not doing is hypothesis testing. Predict what evidence there should be, and show us that this evidence distinguishes between the presence or absence of a conspiracy. Or show us smoking gun evidence. That is usually what skeptics mean when they ask for one piece of evidence – not one piece to prove the entire conspiracy theory, but one piece of direct (not circumstantial) evidence; enough to take the theory seriously.

“If this were true, the media would be all over it! It would be on the front page of every newspaper in America.”
RESPONSE: “The media, the government, the International bankers, Hollywood, and academia are all part of the same incestuous complex. The media is part of the conspiracy, so why would you expect them to tell you the truth?” (Wait for response.)

Whenever you uncover a problem with the conspiracy, just deepen the conspiracy. That will solve all problems. It also renders the conspiracy theory unfalsifiable.

How do they know the media is part of the conspiracy? Because they aren’t revealing the conspiracy? This is circular reasoning.

When challenged about how many people a world-wide media conspiracy would involve, he responds:

“The corruption doesn’t come from the outside-in. It comes from the top-down. If the ownership of a major media organization decides that a certain story is to be spiked, or if another story is to be hyped, then the rest of the organization follows. If a low level reporter decides to defy his bosses, he will lose his job and be blacklisted.”

Two words – freelance journalist. In fact, this is increasingly the model in the internet age. Huge centralized organizations with top-down control are going away. Now, freelancers submit article to the AP or Reuters and papers will pick them up. Where’s the top down control?

Also, has the author actually spoken to anyone in the media? Do they have any idea how much freedom vs control they have? Are stories squashed without clear justification?

I always get the feeling that conspiracy theorists (and many others, to be fair) treat large organizations as black boxes. They are run by drones, not people, and operate by their own inscrutable rules and motivations. It is a cartoon version of reality, uninformed by the actual people involved.

Conclusion

What the author’s responses really reveal are the logical fallacies and errors in thinking that drive and sustain grand conspiracy theories. They are ultimately cut off from reality because they are insulated from the kinds of evidence and critical thinking that could actually determine if the conspiracy theory were real or even plausible.

As you can see, however, conspiracy theorists have erected an elaborate justification for their logical fallacies.

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115 responses so far

115 Responses to “Answering Conspiracy Theorists”

  1. stimpyvanon 04 Apr 2014 at 10:05 am

    Dr. Novella, you are obviously just part of the cover-up.

  2. ca1879on 04 Apr 2014 at 10:09 am

    Steven – It’s not clear to me how conspiracy theorists differ from those holding any other non-rational belief. Much of the above description could be applied to creationists or anti-vaxxers, or for that matter those that identify with a single political party’s platform exclusively. All of these are certainly supported at times by conspiracy beliefs, but their core belief is not about a conspiracy. Is the true conspiracy theorist just a tightly proscribed variation on some common human inclination toward holding irrational beliefs?

  3. milesrindon 04 Apr 2014 at 10:31 am

    I find it difficult to feel entirely confident that that site (tomatobubble.com—”Tomato Bubble”?!) is for real and is not merely a parody. The fact that the script directs the defender of the conspiracy theory to laugh at the naivety of the doubter and to make quotation marks in the air with his fingers when using the phrase “conspiracy theorist” makes me suspect that it is a parody, designed to make fun of the shabby and deceptive rhetorical strategies of conspiracy thinkers. On the other hand, to say that is to sound like a conspiracy thinker saying, “This is just disinformation planted by the shadow government to sow confusion and to make us look bad!”

    For me, what tips the balance in favor of the conclusion that the site is for real is, first, its verbosity (I can’t imagine someone going to such lengths just to make fun of conspiracy theorists), and second, the fact that it solicits donations on every page.

    On the subject of parodies of conspiracy thinking, I can heartily recommend the following page as a clear example for laughs: Fake Moon Landings Revealed.

  4. Steven Novellaon 04 Apr 2014 at 12:48 pm

    ca – There is certainly a lot of overlap among any non-skeptical belief systems. Also, the features are common in human thought. As I like to say, everyone has a little conspiracy theorist inside of them.

    But there is a suite of specific features that do define the conspiracy mindset. For example – belief in a group of conspirators who have preternatural abilities of planning, control, and execution. There is also the core feature of using the conspiracy to explain away the lack of evidence or any evidence against the conspiracy. There is further the dominant feature that anyone who does not accept the conspiracy is naive.

  5. Steven Novellaon 04 Apr 2014 at 12:52 pm

    miles – that’s a good question. I did consider that. It could easily have been a parody. In the end I didn’t think so because the rest of the website is pretty straight-up conspiracy stuff. I looked for the usual tells of a parody and could not find them.

    Also, if it is a parody it does a good job of stating the standard conspiracy rhetoric and so it is still useful to address the responses. Sometimes parodies are indistinguishable from the real thing.

  6. Kawarthajonon 04 Apr 2014 at 1:19 pm

    It’s a funny thing, but when I first looked at that conspiracy theories website, I thought it was a skeptic website and that all the questions highlighted in yellow were how to respond to a conspiracy theorist. Turns out it is a conspiracy website (duh). It is funny how easy it would be to convert that page to a skeptic website – just change the title! Of course, when you dig deeper, the conspiracy theory website has some disturbing content, including an excerpt from a pro-Hitler book, called Hitler vs Oprah, which envisions an imaginary conversation between the two, during which Hitler explains how he has been misunderstood and Oprah eventually comes around to his side. The conspiracy theories are often a thinly veiled attempt to justify anti-semetic, racist or other extremist views.

  7. hardnoseon 04 Apr 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I agree that there are no human organizations capable of the efficiency and secrecy assumed by conspiracy theorists. I am sure there is no unified group of powerful individuals that secretly control the world to their own advantage.

    But on the other hand, I think some really awful things are accomplished by relatively powerful organizations. They are not done efficiently or secretly, but haphazardly and in plain sight of everyone.

    How can they get away with doing bad things in plain sight of the public? Just accuse anyone who objects of being an irrational conspiracy theorist.

    “Skeptics” often take the wrong side, because they perceive everyone who questions the mainstream consensus on any topic as a conspiracy theorist. So, for example, you end up being the best friend of Big Drug companies who are doing their best to roll over the public like a giant steam roller. They love having the mainstream scientific consensus back up all their irrational, unscientific, money-grabbing PR.

    There are very few, if any, individuals in the world who have evil intentions. Everyone means well, or at least thinks they mean well. But the more power a person or group has, the more likely their good intentions will cause widespread evil consequences.

    If we bother to notice, then we are called a fringe conspiracy theorist, and ignored.

    You are NOT being rational when you support every mainstream consensus, just to separate yourself from conspiracy theorists.

    And I do have to add that most conspiracy theorists are completely nuts. I have read some of their websites. Being thrown into that category is not a complement.

    But that should not reassure you that the US government and other huge powerful organizations are your loving friend. Your need to feel warm and cared for by the powerful should not obscure the reality.

    And it is worth looking at the conspiracy theories sometimes, as long as you don’t get led down their crazy road. They notice some of the things that powerful organizations are getting away with in broad daylight, that mainstream respectable citizens are afraid to acknowledge.

  8. steve12on 04 Apr 2014 at 1:47 pm

    “But that should not reassure you that the US government and other huge powerful organizations are your loving friend. ”

    This is true. And I am very sympathetic to your point regarding, e.g., drug companies.

    But I want evidence. To wit:
    http://www.bmj.com/content/326/7400/1167

    Now you got something! Skeptics have writtten about this topic before – it’s a problem, to be sure.

    Usually, however, the consensus is the consensus because that’s where the evidence leads. For conspiracy theorists, the power or consensus is itself evidence of conspiracy – and that’s irrationale.

    “Your need to feel warm and cared for by the powerful should not obscure the reality.”

    You talk about about being insulted, but… Questioning motivation is not evidence. You need evidence!

  9. Mlemaon 04 Apr 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I tend to see conspiracy theorists as people who become aware of the many abuses of power, but aren’t able to see it in the big picture, or, on the other hand, understand individual instances. They instead draw a grand theory of subterfuge. For example, i think of the rBGH story by two Fox reporters that was squelched by Fox under pressure from Monsanto. Instead of looking at it for what it is: corporate power controlling the media, they craft a grand conspiracy of an alternate world government. That is, they’re sensitive to the forces of money and power that are at work, but don’t really see exactly how that works in specific instances (or they want to believe that there’s some evil specific motive behind it other than just plain old greed)

  10. Gareth Priceon 04 Apr 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I notice conspiracy theorist sometimes produce facts which do, on the surface, appear rather puzzling but are easily refuted – except that you would need some expert knowledge to do so, which most people don’t have. I remember a 9/11 conspiracist explaining that the melting point of steel is considerably above the temperature at which airplane fuel burns. Then a metallurgist explained that steel loses its structural integrity at a temperature below that at which the fuel burns.

  11. Steven Novellaon 04 Apr 2014 at 2:29 pm

    hardnose – I don’t think you are being fair to skeptics. We frequently acknowledge and criticize the abuses of pharmaceutical companies. We have called for increased regulation – registering clinical trials, rules for transparency, independent research, etc. Just because we also criticize pseudoscientific criticism of Big Pharma or playing the Big Pharma card to defend every quack idea, does not mean we give pharmaceutical companies a free pass.

    Of course I can’t account for every self-described skeptic, but I do have a pretty good idea of the conversation that happens among experienced skeptics. Take a look at the articles on SBM, for example. That will give you a pretty good idea.

  12. rezistnzisfutlon 04 Apr 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Mlema,

    I find it ironic how you’re talking about conspiracy theorists as other people when you’ve engaged in it quite a bit yourself, and in your very post here as well.

  13. Mlemaon 04 Apr 2014 at 5:16 pm

    *sigh* ok, I know I’ll regret this, but, when and how did I engage in conspiracy theory? and how did my post here as well?

  14. Teaseron 04 Apr 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Turn the clock back two months ago.

    You read the following headline in some non-mainstream media location:

    “American car maker continues to use a potentially deadly defective part in their cars. After cost-benefit analysis they decide to continue using part in new models.”

    The question here is how is a joe public supposed to assess the truth in stories like this?

    I realize their is a whole spectrum of conspiracy theories from small to grand. But sometimes where there is smoke there is fire. Which smoldering pile will burst to flames when the oxygen of facts get mixed in?

    I think some conspiracy theorists are tending their smoldering piles waiting for the oxygen to blow in and start the fire.

  15. tmac57on 04 Apr 2014 at 7:34 pm

    My take on the true believers with a conspiracy theory mindset is that they are like a bunch of adolescent campers sitting in a remote and eerily dark campsite,gathered around the fire telling each other scary stories. In that atmosphere,every crack of a twit,any rumble of thunder,any screech of an owl,can elicit a shiver any gasp,and be remembered years forward as the night the boogieman almost got them in the woods.
    When they grow up years later,they realize that,yes,there are real dangers in the world,and they are a lot more mundane and common than any nefarious bunch of omniscient, omnipresent puppet masters that they spent their ‘youth’ fretting about.

  16. aabrown1971on 05 Apr 2014 at 12:30 am

    Dr. Novella: I fell down into the rabbit hole that is tomatobubble. When you have a few free cycles you have to read this madness. It is scary to think that I share the same universe with the author of this: http://www.tomatobubble.com/wonderfulrace1.html

    Cheers,
    ab in Pittsboro, NC

  17. BillyJoe7on 05 Apr 2014 at 12:57 am

    “i think of the rBGH story by two Fox reporters that was squelched by Fox under pressure from Monsanto”

    Apparently the courts found in favour of Fox/WTVT.

    Fox claims that Monsanto sent them a threatening letter saying the reporters were biased against them in their report on rBGH. Fox tried to work with the reporters to address Monsanto’s concerns. This was unsuccessful. In the wash-up, the report didn’t air and one of the reporters was fired. That reporter had also been fired from her previous job. She sued Fox under the whistleblower act but was unsuccessful on appeal.

    Independent assessments of rBGH show no evidence of risk to human health, but a significant risk to the health of the cows treated with rBGH. As a result, most organisations have recommended that it not be used. I can’t find a specific reference, but it seems the reporters were suggesting rBGH also posed a threat to human health. I am happy to be corrected on this.

    So there’s possibly a bit more to the story than suggested in the above quote.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recombinant_bovine_growth_hormone
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Akre

  18. grabulaon 05 Apr 2014 at 2:13 am

    @hardnose

    you’re making some sweeping assumptions about “skeptics” as it were.

    “How can they get away with doing bad things in plain sight of the public? Just accuse anyone who objects of being an irrational conspiracy theorist.”

    I think this is sometimes more about relying on the natural laziness of the human race. while plenty of people are disgusted by the things they see around them they’re often afflicted with the attitude that until it affects them it doesn’t really matter. I think companies, or individuals that run organizations that make despicable decisions often understand this.

    ““Skeptics” often take the wrong side, because they perceive everyone who questions the mainstream consensus on any topic as a conspiracy theorist.”

    This just simply isn’t true of seasoned and serious skeptics. This is often a weak defense used by conspiracy theorists – they often claim to just be ‘open-minded’. All we ask is that there be some evidence, but this is all explained in the article.

    “If we bother to notice, then we are called a fringe conspiracy theorist, and ignored.”

    Conspiracy theorist use these kinds of claims to paint themselves as victims. The idea that you’re being open minded has to come with some real evidence as the blog says. I’m happy to listen to anyone who thinks they have something, but if it’s not falsifiable and strong evidence for a conspiracy you’re going to have to work much harder to convince me. As we often say in the skeptical world, don’t be so open minded your brain falls out.

    “You are NOT being rational when you support every mainstream consensus, just to separate yourself from conspiracy theorists.”

    Strawman. First a skeptics goal isn’t to set himself apart from the mainstream. We responsibly question. We ask for evidence and consensus based on good evidence is fine. We look for rational explanations for the things going on around us and we try to understand that we don’t know enough of certain things and have to rely on the word and experience of earnest experts.

    “And I do have to add that most conspiracy theorists are completely nuts.”

    Some are, but not all. I’m surrounded at work by people who are about 99% normal. Even when asked about some of the conspiracy theories they hold it’s obvious they’re mostly just misinformed or underinformed about the facts more than anything else.

    “But that should not reassure you that the US government and other huge powerful organizations are your loving friend. Your need to feel warm and cared for by the powerful should not obscure the reality.”

    You also cannot assume governments and other big organizations are always out to get you. My favorite example for this is when some people make claims that certain companies, typically pharma based or food based companies are poisoning the public. In what world does it make sense to eradicate those who support you company by giving you money for your product?

    “And it is worth looking at the conspiracy theories sometimes, as long as you don’t get led down their crazy road. They notice some of the things that powerful organizations are getting away with in broad daylight, that mainstream respectable citizens are afraid to acknowledge.”

    I don’t really buy this premise. I think it’s worth while looking into conspiracies to understand where those types go wrong. I think it’s important to try to understand the things going on around you, and certainly to question anything that doesn’t seem right to you.

  19. hardnoseon 05 Apr 2014 at 1:10 pm

    “You also cannot assume governments and other big organizations are always out to get you.”

    I don’t assume that. As long as you’re a good customer for their (mostly) useless drugs, they want you to stay alive.

    And the government isn’t out to get us, as long as we accept their BS and pay taxes.

    But there are a lot of people who have faith in either big governments, or big corporations. Political progressives generally trust the government, while conservatives generally trust any corporation no matter how huge and evil.

    Power is inevitably corrupting, and not all scientific skeptics recognize this. Their faith in science and love of scientific progress can cause unwarranted trust in Big Science research, even when paid for by Big Drug.

  20. sonicon 05 Apr 2014 at 4:09 pm

    hardnose-
    Perhaps ‘agenda 21′ is an example of a conspiracy that exists in plan sight.

  21. rezistnzisfutlon 05 Apr 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Mlema,

    You engage in conspiracy theorizing when you attribute preconceived conclusions, notions, or intent to something sans evidence for such deeds. In this case, you claim that Monsanto somehow controlled corporate media in order to silence dissent in regards to rGBH, which is patently false as BillyJoe7 pointed out. What makes a conspiracy theorist what they are is that they already believe a priori that some entity they are against is up to no good, and if there is an outcome the CT doesn’t agree with, it must have been something nefarious and underhanded by the entity that caused it. That is exactly what you did in this thread, and the irony is, you were trying to use that as an example to point out other conspiracy theorists who are more grand in their claims. Obviously, this isn’t the first instance you have engaged in conspiracy theorizing, as your anti-GMO/anti-corporate/anti-capitalist/small-organic-farming-is-the-best-and-only approach to agriculture entails, when you attempt to impugn Monsanto, and biotech in general, of wrongdoing that there simply is no link to, which all comes from ideologically-based motivated reasoning you are committed to.

  22. BillyJoe7on 05 Apr 2014 at 6:28 pm

    HardNose,

    You should distinguish scepticism from those who call themselves sceptics.
    After all, there are climate sceptics who are anything but.
    And, with all the best intentions in the world, no one can completely overcome their biases.

  23. BillyJoe7on 05 Apr 2014 at 6:39 pm

    “Perhaps ‘agenda 21′ is an example of a conspiracy that exists in plan sight”

    From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agenda_21

    “During the last decade, opposition to Agenda 21 has increased within the United States at the local, state, and federal levels. The Republican National Committee has adopted a resolution opposing Agenda 21, and the Republican Party platform stated that “We strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty”. Several state and local governments have considered or passed motions and legislation opposing Agenda 21. Alabama became the first state to prohibit government participation in Agenda 21. Many other states, including Arizona, are drafting, and close to passing legislation to ban Agenda 21.

    Activists, some of whom have been associated with the Tea Party movement by The New York Times and The Huffington Post, have said that Agenda 21 is a conspiracy by the United Nations to deprive individuals of property rights. Columnists in The Atlantic have linked opposition to Agenda 21 to the property rights movement in the United States. Glenn Beck co-wrote a dystopian novel of this title”

    Interesting collection of bed mates.

  24. hardnoseon 05 Apr 2014 at 6:56 pm

    “with all the best intentions in the world, no one can completely overcome their biases”

    That is true, we can’t, but we can help by trying to point out those biases. I think scientific skeptics can be overly trusting of Big Science, so I sometimes try to point that out.

    Big Science can basically say any absurd thing it wants to, and everyone will believe it, as long as there are plenty of obscure and impressive looking statistics.

    If someone objects to the insane propaganda the statistics supposedly support, they are called ignorant because they fail to understand the “sophisticated” and “expert” statistics. Which are, in reality, often just a pile of garbage.

  25. Bruceon 05 Apr 2014 at 7:16 pm

    “Big Science can basically say any absurd thing it wants to, and everyone will believe it, as long as there are plenty of obscure and impressive looking statistics.”

    Wow dude,

    This is really showing your complete lack of understanding of science, statistics and what skeptics are about. A statistical gish-gallop is something I, and I am sure a lot of others here, know very well and with very little formal training in statistics and just a bit of time invested in learning critical thinking skills anyone can spot bogus stats.

    You keep repeating versions of an argument from incredulity.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_from_incredulity

    Read it and understand it.

  26. tmac57on 05 Apr 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I am quite concerned that ‘Big Troll’* is out to derail meaningful comment participation on internet blogs and elsewhere. We should all ask ourselves ” What is the ‘Big Troll’ agenda?”
    What is it that ‘Big Troll’ does not want us to know?
    Why is ‘Big Troll’ always so johnny-on-the-spot every time a good skeptical discussion arises,just to send it down a rat-hole of fallacies?
    Who is behind ‘Big Troll’ ? The Kochs? George Soros? OBUMMER!!!?

    We must stand together my “Scientific Skeptical ” friends or else the tyranny of ‘Big Troll’ will destroy all reasonable discourse everywhere !!!

    * ‘Big Troll’ is a wholly owned and licensed entity of ‘Scientific Skeptics’.
    All use of ‘Big Troll’ is restricted to contractual agreements between the owners of said property and licensees,pursuant to section 3.5 of the NWG article 21 area 51,under ‘Terms of Service’ executed by NSA.

  27. Mlemaon 05 Apr 2014 at 10:32 pm

    BillyJoe and Rez, aren’t you interested in learning more about rBGH, or what was involved in the FDA’s approval, or why Canada, Australia, Japan and a number of other countries didn’t approve it’s use? That might allow you to make a more informed insult to a conspiracy theorist like me. Neither of you seems interested in learning anything about the story of the Fox reporters who were fired for refusing to include false information in a report they did on rBGH. BillyJoe, your comments, extracted from Wikipedia (which apparently wrote its paragraph on the story exclusively from one article in a Florida newspaper) show an interesting pro-Monsanto bent. The reporter Jane Akre’s lawsuit against Fox was argued before a jury, which awarded her $425K for being unjustly fired as a whistleblower. Then, after three other judges, on at least six subsequent occasions, refused to hear an appeal, the jury decision was overturned because it was determined that it’s technically not against any FCC rule to deliberately distort the news on television. Yup, in the US the news can be whatever the corporation that owns it wants it to be! The Fox story is old news, from 1997. And the issues with rBGH have been more fully aired in the years since. But this post isn’t about Monsanto or rBGH, I was simply mentioning the facts that came to my remembrance in order to illustrate how real events can fuel conspiracy theories.

    So yes, Billy Joe. Respectfully, there IS more to the story than the brief facts that I shared. And there’s more than what that Florida newspaper article you referenced through wikipedia said as well.

    Rez:
    I knew I’d regret it :) I really don’t have much to say in reply to your insults except: well, I don’t even know what to say. I’ve grown weary of trying to engage with your bombastic fetishistic attachment to GMOs, and your infantile devotion to Monsanto.

  28. BillyJoe7on 06 Apr 2014 at 12:36 am

    Mlema,

    None of what I wrote was my opinion. I’d never heard of the case till now. So I looked up Wikipedia – because it is usually pretty accurate on most things, though sometimes too brief – to see if it had anything and I simply summarised what I found. I also posted the links to the articles that were the basis of my summary to make that clear.

    I was interested in whether the reporter gave a fair summary of the pros and cons of rBGH and offered Monsanto a right of reply, and whether, contrary to most organisations that look into these matters, the reporter was suggesting bad effects on humans. Everyone seems to agree it harms the cows. And they all seem advise against using it for this reason.

    (There was a recent case of an Australian reporter on a science program called Catalyst who did a pretty one sided summary of the evidence for treating cholesterol. 24 minutes for the contra case with a lot of nodding by the reporter, and 4 minutes for the proponents with a lot of blank stares.)

  29. hardnoseon 06 Apr 2014 at 11:41 am

    “with very little formal training in statistics and just a bit of time invested in learning critical thinking skills anyone can spot bogus stats”

    I am sure it makes you feel good to believe that.

    I have a lot of formal training and experience with statistics, but most MDs do not, and neither does the public. So tons of garbage are accepted as scientific evidence.

  30. Mlemaon 06 Apr 2014 at 11:51 am

    OK BillyJoe. Thanks. I just think that this is one of those stories that, if you only report certain things about it, you really don’t get the true jist of it. I’m very sensitive to the fact that some skeptics aren’t really very skeptical when it comes to certain topics. And worse, they defend stuff they really don’t know anything about on an ideological basis – the very thing they purport to oppose. Cheers.

  31. steve12on 06 Apr 2014 at 12:39 pm

    “Perhaps ‘agenda 21′ is an example of a conspiracy that exists in plan sight.”

    Ahh yes – it makes perfect sense that Sonic believes in this. Even uses his personal flourish of hedging with “perhaps” so that he can say at varying times that he does AND doesn’t believe it. Love it.

  32. steve12on 06 Apr 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Hardnose:

    vague, vague, vague. Some of what you are saying is vaguely true, but again – you need specific evidence. And you just don’t have any.

  33. Fair Persuasionon 06 Apr 2014 at 1:13 pm

    “Answering Conspiracy Theorists” is very enjoyable reading.

  34. Bruceon 06 Apr 2014 at 2:34 pm

    “I am sure it makes you feel good to believe that.

    I have a lot of formal training and experience with statistics, but most MDs do not, and neither does the public. So tons of garbage are accepted as scientific evidence.”

    Seeing your thought process, even with apparent training in stats you are still unable to spot your own logical and statistical errors, so I guess you are right.

  35. rezistnzisfutlon 06 Apr 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Mlema,

    That’s what makes you a conspiracy theorist in your own right, in that you are making claims about collusion and nefarious behavior that you apparently can’t back up. So, we’re being actually skeptical by not accepting just your word for it. If you have evidence for Monsanto having that kind of influence over corporate media to the point where the media covers up, and even lies, on their behalf, by all means post it and we’ll take a look. Keep in mind that, with us being skeptics, critical evaluation of any evidence comes with the territory.

    And worse, they defend stuff they really don’t know anything about on an ideological basis – the very thing they purport to oppose.

    What’s interesting about ideologues is how they seem to unaware of the irony of their statements. You are talking about yourself here.

    I’ve seen you do it over and over again, in true ideologue, unskeptical form, by making spurious claims with little backing against biotech and for organic, at which point you must be corrected on your errors. What evidence you do post either doesn’t actually conclude what you think it does, or is weak. Another thing anti’s do is to try and “nickle and dime” their opposition with minutiae as a form of Gish Gallup in order to catch them in an “aha” moment.

    While it’s all fine and good to be dubious about what “big agra” does, what makes you a conspiracy theorist is that you make up claims about them that has no evidence to support them, because you are cynical about them. You assume the worst. That’s the difference between skeptics in that skeptics will base conclusions on actual evidence of wrongdoing, not just guess that they must be doing something wrong at any given time. That doesn’t make us naive – actually, the cynical position is naive because it tends to accept flimsy evidence and other peoples’ word in order to prop up the cognitive bias.

  36. Mlemaon 06 Apr 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Rez, I’m rubber, you’re glue – what you say bounces off me and sticks to you! hahaha
    Seriously, I’ve literally spent hours trying to introduce you to the skeptical worldview on some of these issues. I’ve linked to dozens of studies which you refuse to read. You link to studies you don’t read and tell me they say something they don’t. I guess I’ m starting to be just like you – because I’m tired of trying to make logical, evidence based arguments. Now, I’m just going to name-call like you do, and make vague accusations like “conspiracy theorist, ideologue, cynic, anti-GMO, pro-organic, anit-capitalist, blah blah blah”
    I don’t think I’m ready to use the royal “we” yet though. hahaha

    I do feel bad about the name calling. It’s not really my way. I guess you found the limit of my civility! Sorry about that. Perhaps in the future I will simply ignore your insults of any and every comment I post. Would that be better for you, or would you prefer that I insult you back? Because one thing I won’t do is waste any more of my time talking evidence with you. THAT is obviously NOT what you want. Let me know.

  37. Xplodyncowon 06 Apr 2014 at 11:32 pm

    So are conspiracy theories one way that brains try to maintain continuity?

  38. sonicon 07 Apr 2014 at 12:07 am

    BillyJoe7-
    The people I read that seem most concerned about ‘agenda 21′ are concerned about property rights.
    I don’t know too much about it- one map showed that where I live is supposed to be ‘wilderness’- I’m guessing I would lose my property rights before this area could be called wilderness.
    I don’t really know.

    steve12-
    Perhaps the word ‘perhaps’ is the word whose definition most closely matches the exact meaning the author is trying to convey.

  39. sonicon 07 Apr 2014 at 10:17 am

    mlema-
    Do you know this one re: rBST?
    http://www.stlr.org/2010/10/labeling-milk-from-cows-not-treated-with-rbst-legal-in-all-50-states-as-of-september-29th-2010/

    I think that’s well written.

  40. steve12on 07 Apr 2014 at 2:30 pm

    “Perhaps the word ‘perhaps’ is the word whose definition most closely matches the exact meaning the author is trying to convey.”

    Perhaps fluoride is killing us all? Perhaps chemtrails are poisoning my kids? Perhaps agenda 21 is a New world order conspiracy to cull human populations and take US sovereignty away. Perhaps since the US isn’t bound by it and it’s just a set of recommendations, this is just a dumb conspiracy theory pumped up by political whores to sell books and get you to vote for a particular candidate.

    Who knows anything? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps!

  41. Bruceon 07 Apr 2014 at 3:16 pm

    “Perhaps the word ‘perhaps’”

    Just asking questions fallacy about the just asking questions fallacy…

  42. sonicon 07 Apr 2014 at 4:20 pm

    steve12-
    Sounds to me like you might be getting a bit paranoid.
    Have you been smoking a lot of weed?
    If so, you might want to put down the pipe for a bit…

    Bruce-
    is asking a question a fallacy?
    if I keep asking, will your subroutine go into an infinite loop?
    Just asking…

  43. Bruceon 08 Apr 2014 at 2:58 am

    Sonic:

    Yes.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Just_asking_questions

  44. sonicon 08 Apr 2014 at 8:29 am

    Bruce-
    I said- “perhaps ‘agenda 21′ is a conspiracy in plain sight.”

    I don’t see the question, nor how I’m trying to lead to a conclusion. In other words, I don’t see how the link provided applies.

  45. Bruceon 08 Apr 2014 at 8:39 am

    Actually, it does, as in asking the question you are making the assumption that agenda 21 is in fact a conspiracy.

  46. steve12on 08 Apr 2014 at 10:08 am

    “Sounds to me like you might be getting a bit paranoid.
    Have you been smoking a lot of weed?
    If so, you might want to put down the pipe for a bit…”

    No, paranoia is suggesting that agenda 21 even MIGHT be a conspiracy in plain site.

    Certain things are so insane that even saying they might be true is ridiculous. Agenda 21 is one of those things.

    Too often you make statements with some sort of hedge in them so that no one can pin down what you think. I suggest you be more clear and straightforward.

  47. Mlemaon 08 Apr 2014 at 11:15 pm

    sonic – to me, this document does a good job of covering the pros and cons of rBGH:
    http://search.cga.state.ct.us/dlps94/Rpt/doc/94-R-0111.doc
    although you can see, it’s old.

    But, to tie things back to conspiracy theories: when Europe banned the import of affected products, they had to start paying fines via the WTO. Also, the US retaliated by raising tariffs on imports from opposing countries. All the while, the FDA continued to say “substantially equivalent” therefore: safe! (and that was given as the justification for the financial punishment)
    When the FDA and the industry enjoy a “cozy relationship”, you can see why someone unable to unravel the economic interdependence would believe in a “shadow government”. (although we can always find representatives who aren’t “cowed” by big money.)
    http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/documentStore/e/n/t/ent92e00/Sent92e00.pdf

  48. Mlemaon 08 Apr 2014 at 11:27 pm

    And just to further illustrate the ubiquitous nature of corporate influence, Monsanto is working hard to show that its products assist the fight against global warming. Here’s an article in ScienceDaily explaining how rBGH helps reduce the carbon “hoofprint” of dairy cows:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080630173934.htm
    when we check out the research:
    http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2008/07/supplement-slims-down-cows-carbon-hoofprint
    we see Monsanto –
    “Also tied up in the rBGH debacle are Margaret Miller and Susan Sechen. Miller, the deputy director of the Office of New Animal Drugs at the FDA, and a former Monsanto scientist, helped develop rBGH. Sechen, a data reviewer in Miller’s department, worked as a graduate student on some of the initial bovine drug studies. These studies were conducted at Cornell University and were financed by none other than Monsanto..” (Sechen was a student of and assistant to Professor Dale Bauman, who had been paid by Monsanto to test the GM hormone at Cornell University – and who helped author the above linked research.)
    And the claim for reduced greenhouse gases is contradictory to the FDA’s own research.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-bovine-growth-hormone-slow-global-warming/

    And you know what? I GET IT. Some people say: if humans are going to continue to consume milk as they do, and the population continues to grow as it does, then maybe the suffering of cows, the increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria, the increase in IGF-1 in milk, etc. is an acceptable trade off for the conservation of resources. But what does the research actually say? And how do we compare these things as values? That’s where an honest discussion needs to happen. Maybe if people realized the real issues at hand, they would make better decisions overall – for themselves AND the environment.

  49. Mlemaon 08 Apr 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Bruce, JAQ isn’t a logical fallacy.
    You could learn a thing or two from BillyJoe. He addresses the actual content of a comment instead of just trying to dismiss it by pinning some “fallacy” on it. You’re employing the fallacy fallacy. Don’t be lazy.

  50. sonicon 08 Apr 2014 at 11:54 pm

    steve12
    I looked into ‘agenda 21′ a bit.
    What they call ‘sustainable agriculture’ is similar to what I do- no herbicide, pesticide or fossil fuel based fertilizer.
    I understand the ‘sustainable ag’, but I also understand that in order to implement the directives, I would lose a great deal of my personal property rights.

    So, whomever is saying that the implementation of ‘agenda 21′ will include the removal of personal property rights in the US is correct. I doubt that is the entire purpose, but it is certainly a consequence.

    Bruce-
    The word ‘perhaps’ means- maybe, possibly… to assume that one is implying that what follows ‘perhaps’ is a statement of fact from the author– ‘perhaps agenda 21 is…’ is to misunderstand the communication.

    Based on my current understanding I would say that it is true that a full implementation of ‘agenda 21′ (which is the stated intention of the signees) would include a substantial lose of personal property rights in the USA.

    Mlema-
    Nice paper you linked to re: rBST. It is old- which just goes to show how long these things have been known about.

  51. steve12on 09 Apr 2014 at 1:04 am

    “So, whomever is saying that the implementation of ‘agenda 21′ will include the removal of personal property rights in the US is correct. ”

    A. No, because it’s not binding. It’s a guideline with no force of law.
    B. The conspiracy theory is that Agenda 21 is a plan to establish one world order, and this is pure unadulterated bullshit.

  52. Mlemaon 09 Apr 2014 at 1:18 am

    I meant to link to the research paper from Cornell in the comment on Monsanto, Cornell and the FDA:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/28/9668

    Did you know we used to inject cows with diethylstilbestrol? That was phased out in the ’70s, but we still insert steroid pellets into the ears of cows that enter feedlots to increase their growth. Some farmers say they could command a higher price for meat that is 25% more tender when not grown with hormones. The drugs are also becoming an environmental problem.
    In Europe, where these drugs are banned, they’re illegally available and used.
    No conspiracy. Just humans being humans.

  53. Bruceon 09 Apr 2014 at 4:10 am

    “Bruce, JAQ isn’t a logical fallacy.
    You could learn a thing or two from BillyJoe. He addresses the actual content of a comment instead of just trying to dismiss it by pinning some “fallacy” on it. You’re employing the fallacy fallacy. Don’t be lazy.”

    While you are right in that it is not a fallacy per se, I would argue that JAQing off is the laziest of the conspiracy theory tools. As soon as I see it it switches me off as it shows me that whoever is trying to argue their point has no real evidence.

    I think BillyJoe does a fine job in addressing the content and I feel I don’t need to add to his specific arguments right now. It is well documented that he has much more patience than most on this blog and I envy his dedication, but unfortunately I do not have his will to argue especially in areas like this where what they are arguing against is quite clearly “pure unadulterated bullshit” (to quote steve12).

  54. sonicon 09 Apr 2014 at 9:30 am

    steve12-
    I should say–
    The full implementation of ‘agenda 21′ would include the removal of many personal property rights in the USA.
    That is an accurate statement- why would anyone want to hide that and/or lie about it?

    I don’t know what is meant by ‘one world order’. As I mentioned before, what I hear is from people worried about property rights.
    They are correct to be concerned.

    Mlema-
    That link is wild. :-)

    Bruce-
    Agenda 21, if fully implemented would reduce the property rights of people in the USA. That’s clear from the paper itself. Do you not know that, or are you thinking that’s a mistake?

  55. Bruceon 09 Apr 2014 at 10:05 am

    Sonic…

    You have jumped from me calling you out on claiming that agenda 21 is “perhaps” a conspiracy in plain sight to me denying that “if fully implemented would reduce the property rights of people in the USA”.

    I don’t care if it reduces property rights… Americans are so concerned about their rights and freedom that I think they sometimes blind themselves to possible realistic solutions and good practice when one of those freedoms may or may not be under threat.

    Even if I do concede that it reduces property rights and that that loss is a negative thing, I am still at a loss as to why you would jump to the conclusion that it is a conspiracy.

    You should know this blog better by now and provide evidence (with clicky linky goodness) to the bits you think would reduce the property rights, why that would be a bad thing and how that links into a conspiracy theory. It would help to explain what that conspiracy is, who you think is running it and what you think their goals are too. Nail down your claims and we can look at them and either hang our hats on them too or try to knock them down.

  56. Bronze Dogon 09 Apr 2014 at 10:32 am

    I wouldn’t say JAQ is a fallacy, but it’s certainly a common trolling technique and something of a defense mechanism. I’ve seen my share of trolls who have every argument shot down and their profound ignorance exposed. In an attempt to save face, many try to invoke JAQ to retroactively soften their position from one of firm conspiracy believer to an “innocent” anomaly hunter who isn’t intentionally loading everything with common innuendo. It’s also a way to deflect the appearance of incuriosity onto the skeptics; instead of admitting that they’re repeating ideas and questions without thinking about them, doing some basic research, or trying to understand the alternative answers, they try to cast the skeptics as punishing them for “simply” asking questions.

    The problem with JAQ is the intent, context, and sincerity behind various questions.

  57. Mlemaon 09 Apr 2014 at 11:46 am

    “The problem with JAQ is the intent, context, and sincerity behind various questions.”

    That sounds pretty smart to me.

  58. steve12on 09 Apr 2014 at 12:54 pm

    “That is an accurate statement- why would anyone want to hide that and/or lie about it?
    I don’t know what is meant by ‘one world order’. As I mentioned before, what I hear is from people worried about property rights.”

    Well then why did YOU refer to it as a conspiracy theory taking place in plain site? What did you mean? Who are the conspirators? What is their goal? Just a few people worried about environmental regulation does not a conspiracy make – right?

  59. sonicon 09 Apr 2014 at 2:35 pm

    steve12-
    I never said ‘agenda 21′ is a conspiracy.
    Please look up the word ‘perhaps’.

    On the other hand, if we define conspiracy as:
    “a combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose” I can see how someone might call ‘agenda 21′ a conspiracy.

    Based on what I have heard from those complaining about it (they always talk about property rights)– Here’s my guess as to how it would go-
    1. Freedom and liberty are better than the alternatives.
    2. Individual property rights are needed for freedom and liberty to be realized.
    3. The attempt to remove individual property rights is an attempt to reduce liberty.
    4. This is ‘unlawful’ (by the constitution) and/or an evil purpose.

    I just made that up, but it doesn’t seem to far out of line to me. Is it?
    How do you define ‘conspiracy’?

    Bruce-
    I never said ‘agenda 21′ is a conspiracy, nor did I say that you denied that the implementation would reduce property rights.
    Above you will see what I consider a plausible use of the word ‘conspiracy’ with ‘agenda 21′, but I’m not sure how the word ‘conspiracy’ is being used– so I’m not sure if that usage would fit of not.
    Does it?

    The reason I’m concerned about property rights is that I consider property rights to be a necessary foundation for liberty and freedom.

    Do you disagree with that?

  60. Bruceon 09 Apr 2014 at 2:47 pm

    “#sonic on 05 Apr 2014 at 4:09 pm
    hardnose-
    Perhaps ‘agenda 21′ is an example of a conspiracy that exists in plan sight.”

    You just JAQed off about it.

  61. sonicon 09 Apr 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Bruce-
    The word ‘perhaps’ means ‘maybe’ or ‘there is a possibility’.

    The statement ‘perhaps x is an example of y’ means ‘there is a chance x is an example of y’.
    This is not the same as saying ‘x is an example of y’ as one involves some uncertainty and the other is a statement of certainty.

    “Perhaps the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series”, is an example of a statement expressing doubt about the outcome.

    “The Chicago Cubs will win the World Series”, is an example of a statement implying certainty.

    The English language includes a number of words and phases expressing or implying doubt-
    perhaps, maybe, possibly, conceivably, it might be, it’s possible, it’s not impossible…

    So, do you understand that I have doubt about this?

    I have less doubt that property rights are fundamental to freedom and liberty.
    How about you?

  62. steve12on 09 Apr 2014 at 3:57 pm

    My initial response to Sonic’s “perhaps” this is a conspiracy theory:

    “Even uses his personal flourish of hedging with “perhaps” so that he can say at varying times that he does AND doesn’t believe it. Love it.”

    This is precisely what you’re doing.

    I prefer open and straighforward discussion.

  63. Johnnyon 09 Apr 2014 at 4:24 pm

    “For example there are deniers, true-believers, ideologues, and cranks.”

    I recall from the coursebook for a critical thinking course I took at university, there was a taxonomy of different types of irrational thinkers. They were “the credulous person”, “the person of contradiction”, “the dogmatist”, and “the skeptic” (“skeptic” not used in the sense of scientific skepticism, but rather someone with extremely high bars of evidence who will not believe any claim no matter how well-supported). These were contrastes with “rational thinkers” (basically, scientific skeptics).

    It would be interesting to read a taxonomy of non-skeptical thinkers, like groups you mentioned in my quote. It could complement the taxonomy I quoted.

  64. ccbowerson 09 Apr 2014 at 6:13 pm

    JAQing can be fallacious, depending on its usage, and when it is those questions are often “loaded” ones. Because such fallacies are informal ones, we have to distinguish asking a series of questions from something like the Socratic method, which is not a fallacious form of asking questions.

    The Socratic method asks questions in order to clarify the other person’s argument by utilizing critical thinking tools, which can expose failures of logic and self contradictions.

    This has to be contrasted with what people mean when accusing others of JAQ, in which the person is really making statements or arguments in the form of questions. The main purpose of this type of JAQ is not to elucidate or clarify another’s perspective, but to argue through implication.

  65. sonicon 09 Apr 2014 at 7:46 pm

    steve12-
    I started by wondering if hardnose might think ‘agenda 21′ is a conspiracy.
    After a bit I thought I would look into it more than I had- so I went to the website that has the document and scanned it and then I spent some time reading the part about ‘sustainable agriculture’ because that is something of particular interest to me.
    What I saw was that I actually understand the ‘sustainable ag’ thing pretty well- it is how I grow my food now. I also understood from the way the paper is written, that if it were actually fully implemented it would entail a large reduction of property rights.

    At that point I understood that the people who claim that ‘agenda 21′ would reduce property rights (Fox News– really?? I can’t watch that, it feels like I lose an IQ point for every minute it’s on… :-) hmmm–)
    Anyway– the point is that they are right about this.

    As I understand it, one basic of political science is that freedom and liberty are connected to property rights. Certainly this is in accord with what the founders of this country thought.

    At this point I could formulate the argument that a person might make to come to the conclusion that ‘agenda 21′ is in fact a conspiracy- and I gave the definition for conspiracy and the reasoning behind that.

    I believe if you read what I said, this is basically it.

    Do you have a different definition of conspiracy?
    Is there a problem with the notion that removal of rights is evil?

  66. grabulaon 09 Apr 2014 at 11:05 pm

    @hardnose

    ““You also cannot assume governments and other big organizations are always out to get you.”

    I don’t assume that. As long as you’re a good customer for their (mostly) useless drugs, they want you to stay alive.

    And the government isn’t out to get us, as long as we accept their BS and pay taxes.”

    Is this irony on purpose?

    “I have a lot of formal training and experience with statistics, but most MDs do not, and neither does the public. So tons of garbage are accepted as scientific evidence”

    You say this a lot but I’m calling BS. You haven’t shown even a simple understanding on how statistics and numbers are utilized in “Big science” much less that you have a background in it. Again, in a twist of irony you claim MD’s have a hard time with evidence, yet you have a background in it but continue to show a profound ignorance on the subject.

  67. steve12on 10 Apr 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Is there anything that I want to do less, or would find less interesting, than having a line drawing competition re: what constitutes a conspiracy theory? Especially in the context of Libertarian extremism.

    When people’s property starts getting confiscated en masse by the gov’t pursuant to Agenda 21, I’ll be happy to say that I was wrong.

    But since that’s never going to happen, and the Agenda 21 nonsense is simply a ploy to get people to vote for conservative candidates and sell books to enrich that moron Glenn Back, I doubt I’ll get my comeuppance.

  68. Bronze Dogon 10 Apr 2014 at 1:09 pm

    The thing I find funny and sad about extreme libertarian conspiracy theories that involve Communism and compulsory environmentalism being just around the corner is that, from what I can see, America is pretty much a libertarian playground right now, and trending further in that direction. I see little reason to expect change.

    I suspect a lot of the people in power see conspiracy nuts as useful idiots because they can get on far right/far libertarian media and keep their audience afraid of and angry at shadows instead of demanding genuinely constructive political action.

  69. sonicon 10 Apr 2014 at 3:06 pm

    steve12-
    What is the point of discussing something if you refuse to define what you are talking about?
    I used the dictionary to define the term. I think that is rational.
    I’ll assume you agree to the dictionary definition for this discussion–

    So, Given what the dictionary says and what the document entitled ‘agenda 21′ says; I make the tentative conclusion that ‘agenda 21′ is a conspiracy.

    It seems the ‘conspiracy’ might all ready have had consequences–

    http://napavalleyregister.com/news/opinion/mailbag/sustainable-nightmare-to-plague-napa-county/article_60b4b004-8ca0-11df-a43c-001cc4c002e0.html

    So, if the conspiracy is to remove property rights, and property rights have been removed under the auspices of ‘agenda 21′, then are you saying you were wrong?

    Bruce-
    I’m guessing you agree that ‘agenda 21′ is a conspiracy aimed at removal of property rights and that you are for it.
    Is that correct?

    Bronze Dog-
    What is the definition of ‘conspiracy’ you are using?
    Does ‘agenda 21′ fit the definition?

  70. steve12on 10 Apr 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Other people may get into these ridiculous conversations with you, but I’m not. SAve for telling you that I’m not, I suppose.

  71. steve12on 10 Apr 2014 at 3:41 pm

    “from what I can see, America is pretty much a libertarian playground right now, and trending further in that direction. ”

    Exactly. And has anyone noticed that since we’ve gone further down this road, thing have gotten worse? Especially where finance is concerned, more people are victimized by predatory and/or powerful private actors, and the middle class has taken a huge hit.

    Libertarianism is a nice philosophy to aspire to. But pretending that the philosophy will not have to be adapted for the real world, and must maintain some sort of purity regardless of circumstance, is childish silliness. I just hope more people can appreciate libertarianism’s failings along with the virtues.

  72. Bruceon 10 Apr 2014 at 4:00 pm

    “Bruce-
    I’m guessing you agree that ‘agenda 21′ is a conspiracy aimed at removal of property rights and that you are for it.
    Is that correct?”

    I would love to know how you got to this conclusion.

  73. BillyJoe7on 10 Apr 2014 at 6:00 pm

    sonic,

    “I used the dictionary to define the term. I think that is rational”

    Not really.
    For example, how does the dictionary define the word “yes”:
    ” Used to express affirmation, agreement, positive confirmation, or consent”
    Yet I can say “yes” with a sarcastic tone of voice, or in a certain context which makes that sarcasm clear, that means the exact opposite of the dictionary definition.

    There ought to be a fallacy called” Argument from Dictionary Definition”.

    It is possible that everyone misunderstood your use of the word “perhaps”, but perhaps in the future you could add your own thoughts when using that word or similar words, so that what you are saying is clear, because the following quote about you posted by Steve rang true for me when I read it:

    “Even uses his personal flourish of hedging with “perhaps” so that he can say at varying times that he does AND doesn’t believe it. Love it.”

    Since then – apart from stating that you are not saying so – everything you’ve posted suggests you do believe there is a conspiracy. So, really, what are we to conclude about your use of the word “perhaps”. Certainly a quote from a dictionary is not going to be convince us otherwise.

  74. tmac57on 10 Apr 2014 at 8:44 pm

    sonic- I am assuming that you are referring to section 14 of the Agenda 21 document,is that right?

    What part (section and subsection) are you specifically citing to be concerned about property rights/liberty/freedom removal?
    That is a 300 page document,and I really don’t want to go on a ‘snipe’ hunt for it,so if you can please direct me to the specific part that you found worrying,and maybe even why the wording of it led you to be concerned,that would be helpful.
    And also,why,if this is truly a conspiracy,did the UN freely publish this document for all to see? What kind of conspirators would be that transparent?

  75. ccbowerson 10 Apr 2014 at 10:00 pm

    “America is pretty much a libertarian playground right now, and trending further in that direction. I see little reason to expect change.”

    I agree that libertarian views are growing in popularity (most popular in the young, white, male demographic), but I think this is an overstatement.

    Libertarianism is still a minority ideology, and the percentage of people who identify with the term is still pretty low (but, yes, growing). Many people identify with certain aspects of libertarianism, but IMO the problems arise when people hold that ideology above other considerations and let it cloud their thinking.

    Like with all ideological commitments, there is a tendency to either deny inconvenient facts, or, if those facts are undeniable, find a way to argue that those facts are as they should be. Of course this is motivated reasoning, which always results from ideological commitments.

  76. tmac57on 10 Apr 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Regarding the tangent of libertarianism, I generally find myself arguing against the more fundamentalists breed of such,but I have found an interesting podcast by Russ Roberts called Econ Talk,that has a decidedly libertarian host who also values data and empiricism. He regularly invites guests that challenge his beliefs,and they exchange polite and intellectually honest (for the most part) arguments and discussion in a refreshing manner. I still find myself disagreeing with the host often,but I do like the style and format of the show. I really think he is more interested in getting to the facts rather than pushing his own biases,and I like the fact that he isn’t afraid of differing points of view being presented on the podcast.

  77. sonicon 11 Apr 2014 at 2:49 am

    tmac57-
    Good question. Thanks.

    My thinking is that much of what goes on today would not be allowed under a ‘sustainable only’ paradigm which I take as the underlying goal.
    If you think of ‘sustainable development’ as ‘not what property owners currently do’, then it becomes clear why one might consider that property rights would have to be altered to achieve the stated goals.
    That’s why I think a reduction in rights would be required to achieve ‘full implementation’.

    Do I need to quote a specific line or does that explanation suffice?

    What do you know?

    As to your question about conspirators- History is filled with generals who declared the intention to do harm to some other group. Hello??

  78. sonicon 11 Apr 2014 at 2:51 am

    Bruce-
    I have made what I thought a rational argument for why ‘agenda 21′ is a conspiracy.
    You have not attempted to refute that argument, but you have intimated that you agree with the goal of reducing personal property rights in the USA.

    That’s how I came to that conclusion.

    BillyJoe7-
    Actually I didn’t know much about ‘agenda 21′ when I asked the question.
    Since then I have seen the document and have concluded that a person who has an interest in maintaining personal property rights might consider that it is a conspiracy and laid out a reasonable argument for that conclusion.
    I have consistently asked if there is a different definition of ‘conspiracy’ in use- but to no avail.

    I made the argument earlier- if you want I could repeat.
    Perhaps you would be willing to address some of the points in a manner that would lead to a refutation of the argument- that would be fine with me.
    Thus far I haven’t seen any attempt to do that.

  79. Bruceon 11 Apr 2014 at 3:47 am

    Sonic,

    I have said your reasoning and argument methods for arguing agenda 21 is a conspiracy are not sound.

    I have nowhere said that i agree with the goal of reducing personal property. I may have intimated that having property rights reduced as a result of a greater goal might not necessarily be as bad as you and others are making out.

    The rest is all conjecture by you.

  80. grabulaon 11 Apr 2014 at 4:00 am

    @Sonic

    “I have made what I thought a rational argument for why ‘agenda 21′ is a conspiracy.”

    That’s like saying the Declaration of Independence is a conspiracy. Agenda 21 is not secret and it’s voluntarily so how does it follow that it’s a conspiracy exactly?

  81. sonicon 11 Apr 2014 at 9:34 am

    grabula-
    I said–

    “On the other hand, if we define conspiracy as:
    “a combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose” I can see how someone might call ‘agenda 21′ a conspiracy.”

    Note- a conspiracy need not be ‘secret’ under this definition.
    Can you give me the definition you think applies when someone says ‘conspiracy’?

  82. tmac57on 11 Apr 2014 at 11:23 am

    sonic- It seems to me,that by your way of thinking,that anytime a group of people came together to address a social,environmental,political etc. set of problems,then the fact that they met together and proposed solutions,could be the basis for a conspiracy,since,the solutions might entail creating laws or restrictions,no matter how reasonable they seem.Any law can be twisted to appear evil,if you want it to seen as such to prevent it from being adopted.
    The Declaration of Independence and Constitution could just as easily be seen as conspiracy by your mindset. I don’t think this is what we are (should be) talking about here.

  83. steve12on 11 Apr 2014 at 11:31 am

    …and the tautology begins….

  84. grabulaon 11 Apr 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Sonic, I can ride with your definition, and I don’t want to bicker about semantics. The point being Agenda 21 doesn’t fall under your description of a conspiracy either, yet you’re trying to shoehorn it in there.

    If that were the case, any time the UN set out a policy it would be a conspiracy yes?

    You’re basically interpreting any group of people gathering together to determine a course of action YOU DON’T LIKE as a conspiracy.

    Agenda 21 pretty clearly sets out guidelines…and that’s it. There’s no one forcing anything on anyone in this agenda. Of course anything that helps try to define a way of life that’s sustainable and long term is the enemy of freedom according to most right wing nutjobs is just someone trying to take your freedom to burn as much fossil fuels as you want, build wherever and however you want and basically walk around pretending everything you do can’t possibly be a problem in the future.

  85. tmac57on 12 Apr 2014 at 11:36 am

    I guess if you get to define ‘evil’ as anything that restricts absolute freedom,then the mere act of forming a lawful, functioning,benign society becomes a conspiracy.

  86. sonicon 12 Apr 2014 at 12:07 pm

    tmac57-
    Yes, anytime people get together there is a possibility there will be a conspiracy.

    What one considers evil, another might not.

    For example, in the 1930′s a well known country carried out actions based on the notion that having certain familial connections made one evil. The people were rounded up and put into camps and many were killed.
    Other people thought the actions taken to kill the ‘evil” people were evil.
    So, yes, there can be disagreements about what is evil.

    The Declaration of Independence is a good example all right– it contains a list of crimes against the people carried out by the king.
    Of course the king thought the people producing the document were the ones commiting the crime.

    At this point the problem might be mine– I don’t know what is ‘good’ or ‘evil’, so others have to tell me. So far what I have learned is that what is good or evil depends on who I ask.
    Is there some other method of determination?

    grabula-
    Why doesn’t agenda 21 fall under my description? I can’t tell from what you say.

    I note you have a rant against ‘right wing nutjobs’ that is pretty silly and I find it humorous.
    Do you have a similar rant about ‘left wing nutjobs’?
    I enjoy a good laugh.

  87. Bruceon 12 Apr 2014 at 12:59 pm

    “For example, in the 1930′s a well known country carried out actions based on the notion that having certain familial connections made one evil. The people were rounded up and put into camps and many were killed.
    Other people thought the actions taken to kill the ‘evil” people were evil.
    So, yes, there can be disagreements about what is evil.”

    Sonic… killing people for having certain familial connections is evil. Having certain familial connections is not evil. I think if you can’t determine this by yourself you might have more problems than we initially thought.

  88. BillyJoe7on 12 Apr 2014 at 6:17 pm

    sonic: “Is there some other method of determination [between "good" and "evil"]?”

    There are no absolute morals, so there can only be guidelines as to what is “good” and what is “evil”.

    One guideline as to what is “good” is:
    “Treating people the way you would like them to treat you”
    Not absolute, because it doesn’t work in the case of a psychopath or masochist dealing with someone who is not a psychopath or masochist.

    One guideline as to what is “evil” is:
    “Killing people”
    Again, not absolute, because a person can kill someone who is in the process of randomly killing them, if that is the only way to stop them from doing so.

  89. sonicon 13 Apr 2014 at 11:57 am

    Bruce-
    If you give me a reason something is evil- then I can understand why the term is being applied. It’s just not a term I would use to mean something objectively true.

    To the point of ‘agenda 21′- many people think liberty and freedom are the most important aspects of a good life and a good society. As I understand it, personal property rights are key to liberty and freedom in some political theories.
    The claim is that ‘agenda 21′ fully implimented would erode those rights.
    That is to say ‘agenda 21′ is an attempt to take away the cornerstone of liberty.
    This is considered ‘evil’.
    I believe the collapse of the USSR and the continued domination by the USA is considered experimental proof of the concept people are better off when they live in a place with property rights– even the people who don’t own the property amazingly enough.

    There is a chain of reasoning and claims and I am not going to say with certainty that each link is ‘truth’. But that is the chain that seems to underlie the notion ‘agenda 21′ is a conspiracy. Some of that is conjecture. on my part.

    On the other hand, any attempt to protect one’s rights is seen as an effort from a ‘right wing nut job’ to stop humanity from any possibility of future survival due to personal greed and isn’t greed a deadly sin (evil)?

    I’m not taking sides- I’m seeing the sides call each other ‘evil’ and I just don’t care about who calls who what- I’m more interested in the reasoning behind the name calling.

    An extreme example of the difficulty with determining evil-

    Genocide is something that has gone on and continues to go on around the world. It appears from time to time the notion that killing the ‘other’ becomes fashionable and people start killing the other. And it is not evil but for good. The Hatfields are not doing evil shooting the McCoys- they are dealing with vermin in the proper manner.

    In China the ‘one child policy’ is certainly a form of genocide– or is it a responsible way for the Chinese to bring their population under control?
    I can’t answer that based on what ‘evil’ is.

    Consider– In the recent past ‘eugenics’ was promoted in the Universities and by people like Teddy Roosevelt- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics

    I doubt any of those people thought they were doing evil. At what point did it become clear that there was something wrong with a college course in eugenics?

    For the sake of argument– Suppose someday it is decided human life begins at conception.
    Won’t those people see us as evil for allowing so much mass murder in the name of ‘rights’ to continue year after year?
    And isn’t the argument now that it is evil to force a woman to take the child to term?
    And does the designation of ‘evil’ help in anyway to adjudicate the position?

    One reason a ‘conspiracy’ might be in the open– the people involved don’t think they are doing evil–

    If Germany had won the war…

    BillyJoe7-
    I’m aware of the guidelines you present- I live in a society informed by Christianity.
    The ‘golden rule’ and one of the ten commandments, right?

  90. steve12on 13 Apr 2014 at 12:51 pm

    There is an evil conspiracy keeping me from freely setting up a retail operation in my house. They’re called “Zoning Laws”. I did some research, and it turns out, most cities across America are engaging in this conspiracy!

  91. BillyJoe7on 13 Apr 2014 at 5:53 pm

    sonic,

    ” I live in a society informed by Christianity.”

    Thanks for the Monday morning hilarity, sonic.

    Religion is nearly always either irrelevant or inimical to process of ethics.
    It was human reasoning that led to the morals associated with religion. Certainly no an omniscient superior power. That was about two centuries ago and, since then, religious morals have acted as a brake on any progress in human ethics. It had to be dragged kicking a screaming into the twentieth century and it will decades before it emerges into the twenty-first century.

    Your society is not informed by christianity, sonic, it is being obstructed by it.

  92. BillyJoe7on 13 Apr 2014 at 6:01 pm

    “Suppose someday it is decided human life begins at conception”

    We can decide this right now if you like.
    It makes no difference to the argument.
    Abortion is argued in terms of the rights of a conscious, sensate mother as opposed to the rights of a unconscious, insensate foetus that it totally dependent on the former.
    The anti-abortion argument is mostly argued on the basis of a soul present within the foetus.

    Good luck with proving that one.

  93. sonicon 14 Apr 2014 at 12:30 am

    steve12-
    I think you are suggesting that private property rights are not absolute in any sensible situation.
    I would agree.
    Are you suggesting there should be no private property rights?

    I believe the people who own land in the USA today are well aware that their property rights are not absolute.
    The argument would be about protecting aspects of what remains.

    BillyJoe7-
    You studied to be a preacher- right? :-)

    Actually I thought that the idea that conception was the start of human life was scientific- and it was a religious idea that something else happened later (the entrance of the soul) that made the life truly human.

    Science- The sperm and egg are sufficient to produce a new member of the species.

    Religion- It takes more than that to make a human- something enters the body later.

    I really do have everything backwards- don’t I?

  94. BillyJoe7on 14 Apr 2014 at 8:09 am

    sonic,

    “I really do have everything backwards- don’t I?”

    Yes, the idea that everything you said above is in disagreement with anything I said does mean, in effect, that you have everything arse forwards.
    Well done, sir.

  95. steve12on 14 Apr 2014 at 8:58 am

    Turns out that in Boston, we have a much more evil gov’t than I ever thought – and how they conspire!

    Did you know that the gov’t here has staged a conspiracy wherein I’m not allowed to build a shanty town in my back yard? As a child, I always wondered – is evil real? Now I have the answer.

    Well, I gotta run. I have a 55 gallon drum of dioxin that I’ve been paid $12 to dump in my back yard (where I WAS going to erect the shanty town). Hopefully there are no evil conspiracies in the gov’t that keep me from doing that!

  96. sonicon 14 Apr 2014 at 3:42 pm

    BillyJoe7
    Your analysis of my statements is as insightful as ever.

    steve12-
    A while back you said you wouldn’t engage in this conversation.
    You have done a stellar job of demonstrating how a series of straw man arguments is not a form of engaging in the conversation.
    Well done!

  97. steve12on 14 Apr 2014 at 5:00 pm

    I wouldn’t call my comments engagement. Just pointing out the humor.

    I meant that I’m not engaging in some continuum fallacy, semantics nonsense to defend the indefensible.

    Far as I can see, I did not.

  98. BillyJoe7on 14 Apr 2014 at 5:19 pm

    sonic,

    “Your analysis of my statements is as insightful as ever”

    I wish I could say the same for you.

  99. sonicon 14 Apr 2014 at 11:26 pm

    An analysis of what has transpired leads to the conclusion there is no cogent argument against the notion that ‘agenda 21′ is a conspiracy.

    Did I miss something?

  100. steve12on 15 Apr 2014 at 9:23 am

    “An analysis of what has transpired leads to the conclusion there is no cogent argument against the notion that ‘agenda 21′ is a conspiracy.”

    This is about right. Except for the fact that there is no conspiracy, and it’s a set of guidelines from the UN to be taken up voluntarily. Or not. That’s how guidelines w/o force work.

    What you’ve shown us that if you become sufficiently promiscuous with semantics, you can make anything mean anything.

  101. sonicon 15 Apr 2014 at 12:08 pm

    steve12-
    I really don’t care if something is a ‘conspiracy’ or not.
    But I don’t see your argument- only assertions.
    “there is no conspiracy’ coming from a person who has demonstrated an uncaring attitude towards personal rights isn’t really all that comforting, however.

  102. steve12on 15 Apr 2014 at 12:30 pm

    “But I don’t see your argument- only assertions.”

    That’s because I’m not going to say the sky is blue only to waste my time in a discussion over the definition of “blue”. What is blue anyway? What if we had a red sun? What if we had evolved a different color perception system? I don’t do arguments like this, because they are silly nonsense.

    And even considering this, your statement is wrong. I pointed out that guidelines done in the open without force of law can’t be a conspiracy. These aren’t simply assertions w/o evidence. They are actually quite important in determining whether this is a conspiracy or not.

    “there is no conspiracy’ coming from a person who has demonstrated an uncaring attitude towards personal rights isn’t really all that comforting, however.”

    I deserve insults for mocking you. But this is wrong. I care a great deal about personal rights, as I care about a workable society.

    And again, I gave real evidence why this is not a conspiracy theory that went unanswered. YOu offered (semantic horseshit) + (continuum fallacy) = it’s a conspiracy theory.

  103. sonicon 16 Apr 2014 at 12:08 am

    steve12-
    The definition of the word ‘conspiracy’ includes–
    “Law– an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act.”
    Please don’t tell me it is wrong to use that definition.

    I’m thinking that part of what would happen if the agenda were fully implemented is that people like you would have his property rights reduced.
    Has this been advertised?
    No, in fact it is denied.

    Note- if you read the document, you will understand that when ‘agenda 21′ is fully implemented, there won’t be too much voluntary about it.
    And I have been talking about ‘fully implemented’.

    I understand the problem of misdefinition– I have not done that.
    I understand the ‘continuum fallacy’ I am not falling for that. I am talking about programs that will without doubt change what people are doing with the land.

    BillyJoe7-
    I finely figured out how to explain this in a manner you will understand.
    Think about this– If agenda 21 is implemented in my area, people will have to live a lot more like I do than they do now.
    That has to be an evil plot- right? :-)

  104. BillyJoe7on 16 Apr 2014 at 12:36 am

    sonic,

    You’re confused.
    We were discussing religion v science regarding conception.

    And in order to explain something to another person, you have to understand it first yourself.

  105. BillyJoe7on 16 Apr 2014 at 7:38 am

    “That has to be an evil plot- right? ”

    The only evil plot I’ve come across recently, is the plot to keep me from finishing The Great Train Race this year. The Dandenong ranges was revealed as part of the conspiracy when it bent back the second toe of my right foot putting me off my training for three weeks. My own place of abode was also in on the conspiracy, jabbing a piece of furniture into my right thigh side-lining me for another week. Then, only last week, one of my employees laid me low with gastro, costing me five days. And, finally, just now I opened my email to discover that even the race organisers are in on it. They’ve used the recent heavy weather as an excuse to re-route the race adding another half a kilometre to the distance.

    So, sonic, go suck yourself. You got nothing.

  106. steve12on 16 Apr 2014 at 1:39 pm

    The City of Boston is engaging in conspiracies yet again! The end result of their conspiracy is that I can’t raise livestock in MY OWN BACK YARD!!!!! These conspiracies never end!

    Some have advised me that these aren’t really conspiracies so much as local ordinances, but in a very obtuse – but technically, semantically correct way – they are conspiracies. So I can now say that the City of Boston is conspiring against me, and be correct. OF course, the word “conspiracy” is not meaningless becasue it’s synonymous with any human activity involving >1 person, but who cares?

    Family reunions, marriages, graduation ceremonies: conspiracies, conspiracies, conspiracies! I just hope I can conspire with my brother to score some tix to the Orioles v. Sox conspiracy this Friday. It’ll be my first baseball conspiracy since the Red Sox conspired to win the World Series conspiracy.

  107. sonicon 16 Apr 2014 at 2:53 pm

    steve12-
    I have stated the definition of the word ‘conspiracy’ I’m using and where it comes from.
    I note that you have failed to do the same.
    Perhaps a more fruitful discussion could be had if you would allow me the possibility of understanding your position by actually stating what you mean by the word ‘conspiracy’.
    Or you could continue to demonstrate that repeated straw man attacks, while sometimes humorous, seldom lead to any rational discussion of the subject at hand.

  108. steve12on 16 Apr 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Nahh. The mockery is funny and makes the point. Classic 2-for.

    And I did define conspiracy, as you have.

    “…it’s synonymous with any human activity involving >1 person…”

    Then I carried your definition to it’s logical conclusions. Refute it if you don’t like it.

  109. tmac57on 16 Apr 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Steve12- I feel your pain! Here in Mesquite Tx. the city constrains me from using all the water that I care to use on MY OWN DAMN LAWN!!! That is clearly a restriction of my property rights!
    Sure they cite drought conditions and that all responsible citizens should help pitch in to curtail water usage so that shortages can be avoided,but WTF!
    If I want to use as much water as I personally deem necessary to maintain my PERSONAL PROPERTY,then who are THEY (conspirators?) to tell me what I can and cannot do on my property?
    Tyranny is rampant I say!

  110. sonicon 17 Apr 2014 at 2:02 am

    steve12-
    Here’s where I got the definition I’m using.
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/conspiracy
    Note definition 3.

    Here is a more in depth discussion-
    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/conspiracy

    The definition you gave is not what I said (a lie) and it is not from any dictionary I could find.

    Is it your position that your lie about what I said supercedes any dictionary definitions?

  111. sonicon 17 Apr 2014 at 3:14 am

    steve12-
    Getting a bit pissy there aren’t I?
    Sorry about that.

    tmac57-
    Where does the water you are using coming from?
    Are you saying they aren’t piping water to you that they don’t have?
    How is that a property rights issue?

    Now if they are telling you you can’t water your plants with the rainwater that you captured in a rain barrel on your property —
    Well- that sounds like the ‘left wing nut jobs’ that populate the political positions where I live. :-)

  112. steve12on 17 Apr 2014 at 10:50 am

    You shouldn’t worry about being pissy when I’m being a dick!

    Listen, I’m not into semantic discussions like this. The Agenda 21 conspiracy theory is that there’s a plot for the UN taking over the US, and it’s BS. I’m not into splitting hairs that I see as completely irrelavant but if you et. al. want to have at it. So no worries, I was just trying to be funny – no offense meant.

  113. sonicon 17 Apr 2014 at 9:55 pm

    steve12-
    OK- that’s fair enough. And I prefer some humor to none…

    I hope you understand — this ‘conspiracy theorist’ isn’t feeling ‘handled’ and is not impressed.

  114. JRockon 19 Jun 2014 at 12:43 am

    I think I have a conspiracy theory of my own. after reading the entire “argument” section I’m pretty sure some evil troll of masterful humor is setting up unwitting theorists with positions that would get them flayed alive (verbally) by any half decent skeptic with knowledge of logical fallacies. the fact that they instruct participants to wait for a retort is setting them up for a hitch slap.

    I also read the tomato bubble, less interesting theory.

    then I happened upon the ole “secret history of the new world order” sections. oh man. its so pact with perfect hypocrisy, razor sharp irony, false (although very entertaining) reconstructions of history, misinformation, not to mention every crackpot theory spanning the last 180 years. all done without a shred of proof. I’m tempted to donate 5 dollars just to finish this hysterical rhetoric.

    if it isn’t a massive troll, say perpetrated by someone annoyed to death by conspiracy nuts, then its just silly beyond words.

    if you haven’t at least read through some of it you’re missing out on a whale of a time.

  115. JRockon 19 Jun 2014 at 4:28 am

    driven to the brink by the same nonsense over and over again a small enclave of skepticism sets out for revenge. the plan? creating the ultimate conspiracy theorist. every flaw…. every symptom… every freakin dumbass word that comes out of their unceasing fat mouths… a huckster so complete and foul they could endlessly reap their justice on them. but something went wrong, terribly wrong. the great beast was loosed on the internet. now it devours whom it may. the team must spread critical thinking to the unwitting masses of cyberspace, least it be consumed by the behemoth they themselves created…

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