Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Conspiracies aplenty.

I have a friend, let's call him "Andy" — actually, he's more of an acquaintance that I've kept in touch with over the past couple of years — who seems to get suckered into believing a lot of fantastical theories and ideas which "the mainstream" deems unpalatable, untenable, or just outright fucking crazy-town.

He'll read a pop-culture book on Subject X and then get completely obsessed with it. Now, I get obsessed with things just like anyone else — with the musical stylings of Hall & Oates, with buying bananas in bunches of five only, with scaling the Big Apple beside the 401 using nothing but dollar-store suction cups — but I try to keep at least one foot planted in reality.

Here are some of the things he's been obsessed with over the past couple of years:
  • spooky recordings you listen to that change your brainwaves and make you smarter
  • ludicruous applications of quantum physics that suggest rats learn mazes from each other on the other side of the world
  • militant veganism (actually, this one does make a little sense on environmental grounds)
  • the 9/11 Truth conspiracy which suggests it was an inside job by the US government
  • the Illuminati, a global cabal of world leaders which secretly controls everything
Now, I'm certainly not the kind of guy who would watch the NBC Nightly News and believe everything I hear; heck, I've even donated to Zmag on several occasions and have stared down more than my fair share of riot cops at protests over the years. I regularly read books by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn and Richard Clarke and Paul Hellyer (sometimes). I'm more inclined to believe NOW Magazine than anything I see on Fox.

At some point, though, you have to figure out where to draw the line. You have to touch base with reality (although I'm sure Andy and I would disagree on what "reality" actually is; gotta love postmodernism, eh?), and in the end, the simplest explanation is usually the right one. In Matt Taibbi's latest book The Great Derangement, he attacks the 9/11 Truthers in a satirical conversation involving Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Irv Kristol and others; the following is Wolfowitz's response to why, instead of just slamming a plane into the Pentagon (like they apparently planned for the World Trade Center), they'd fake that whole crash scene:

WOLFOWITZ: Okay, let me back up. Rather than just finding some patsies who can fly — which is exactly what we'll be doing in New York — we instead seize an actual passenger flight and remove the passengers to a remote location and kill them, disposing of the plane later. Then we attack the Pentagon and kill one hundred or so of our own people with either a missile or a Global Hawk drone plane, banking on the probability that no one will see a plane shooting a missile in broad daylight in the nation's capital. Then, after we execute this attack on the Pentagon, we go back to the site and cleverly rearrange the evidence to make it look like a plane crashed there, including planting the samples of DNA of all the people we killed in Ohio or whatever. I'm not saying it doesn't sound like a good plan, but can I ask why we're doing this? If we can't find a patsy who can fly a plane, why not just crash a plane into the Pentagon?
. . .
CHENEY: Are you suggesting that instead of executing hundreds of sinister, secretive, murderous subplans that all must go off flawlessly together to create a single underpublicized deception, that instead of that we just blow it off and go with the much larger and more spectacular World Trade Center event?
. . .
FEITH: I don't know, Dick. It just seems much easier to go with the whole fake-the-flight, kill-the-passengers, fake-the-cell-phone-calls, pass-off-the-missile-attack-as-a-plane-crash thing. I can't think of any simpler way to do this plan than that.
KRISTOL: Yeah, Dick, frankly, neither can I. I like your plan better. It's so much more... cloak 'n' daggerier!

Anyway, the point is, there's a lot of bullshit out there. If it sounds too convoluted to possibly be true, it probably is.

No comments: