Robert Wiblin has a question

Which conspiracy theory is most likely to be true?

Comments

That President Obama was born in Kenya.

There are two major parties.

http://www.pentagonstrike.co.uk/flash.htm

Occam's Razor would recommend that the simplest explanation is the most likely, but of course... the simplest explanation is that none of them are true, because they all carry relatively low probabilities, an inherent advantage of a (secret) conspiracy. Also, people are historically not very good at keeping secrets - the more people that know about something, the more likely the cover is to be blown.

Having said that, I think that terrorist organizations (and perhaps large-scale events like 9/11) could be controlled by foreign interests who are not necessarily extremist Muslims. The structure of al-Qaeda, for instance, seems to be that members generally only know people in their little knot of people, and their group leader, and maybe some subordinates themselves. So it goes up the ladder to, ostensibly, the head mucky muck of terrorists, say... Osama bin Laden. He's taken credit and denounced the West, but was he taking orders or assistance from anyone else? It's not like he's giving interviews, nor would he likely volunteer that information. Given the disconnected nature of the organization, it would be difficult for any outsiders to get much of a picture of what the leader(s) are doing.

At its heart, a conspiracy is just a group of people with a goal, no different than any other organization except that they aren't advertising.

The theory that group of people X planned and perpetrated a crime together, for any X such that one or more of the members of X were tried and convicted of said crime. Any such theory is a 'conspiracy theory'. Although perhaps some such theories are false, most of them are probably true.

Ewing to the Knicks

That the public option is intended as a Trojan horse to nationalized health care.

Disastrous, failed Soviet Moon landing! Not at all likely to be true, but, if true, would make for the best story.

I'm a bit of a conspiracy theory buff and one of my favorites is the meta-theory: all conspiracy theories that become popular are actually produced by the government to keep the paranoids occupied looking for aliens, bigfoot, and psychics instead of focusing on the more nefarious intrusions into civil and social rights. Meta-theory has a lot of benefits, such as that it explains why government explanations for things like Roswell are so terrible: a good explanation would leave only a few true believers, a bad explanation actually creates more believers in the conspiracy. As a final benefit, generating conspiracy theories as red herrings is cost-effective. A conspiracy theory works by arguing from the void/gaps. All the government need do is create a few vague clues and let the mind of the legions of paranoids do the rest of the work filling in the huge, ambiguous spaces. Why would anyone investigate mundane government corruption when there are aliens and psychics to research?

I think smaller conspiracy theories are more likely to be true, because they involve less people who'd have to shut up about them.
E.g. I think there is some chance (though personally I think it's less than 50%) that (some of) the conspiracy theories around the death of German hacker Tron
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tron_(hacker)#Death
are true.

Some other things would sound like conspiracy theories, if we didn't know they were true - the Iran-Contra affair comes to mind.

If the Chinese were our adversary instead of the Russians, they would have just kept shooting people to the moon in barrels until one survived long enough to send back a smiling photograph seconds before running out of oxygen. The Russians preferred large fuel explosions on the ground.

Here's my first cut at a model of conspiracy:

p = f(1/#, $, -/8)

# = participating conspirators, or difficulty of secrecy
$ = the amount of benefit to conspirators
- = cost to other individuals
8 = how many people the cost is spread over

So, according to this model the proverbial "BIG lie" by a government leader is the ultimate conspiracy, if not quite fitting the definition, especially if it tells the masses what they want to hear, effectively making them part of the conspiracy and eliminating the need for secrecy

A 2nd gunman doesn't seem so implausible to me.

I'd say one of the theorys about JFK is a least partially true.

He was also an alien.

Well, regarding Tyler, we know that Tyrone is a conspiracy theory, or maybe it is a conspiracy theory that he is really
just an alter ego of Tyler's, and he is actually Tyler's insane cousin locked up in a looney bin in South America somewhere.

Speaking of the Iraq War, well, right after 9/11 there were these vague rumors and reports that people in the administration
were trying to use that as an excuse to go to war with Iraq, and that indeed there was a cabal that came in with this
agenda to go to war with Iraq no matter what under whatever pretense or excuse that could be cooked up. Lots of people
at that time dismissed it as a conspiracy theory, especially as in fact we did not invade Iraq but rather more sensibly
invaded Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban and attempt to get at al Qaeda and bin Laden (no comment on how that was
ultimately handled or is now). Of course eventually we did invade Iraq under false pretenses, and it has in fact come to
light since that indeed there was a cabal, led by Cheney and Wolfowitz primarily, that came in with the agenda to invade
Iraq no matter what and made an effort after 9/11 to do it then.

So, some things that get dismissed as conspiracy theories end up turning out later to be true.

Didn't Megan McArdle once say that 9/11 was really executed by an Israeli-Irish terrorist group called the Roth-IRA? I'm going with that.

Rather than a single conspiracy theory, it is better to go meta and use an outside view of what traits makes a conspiracy likely. The Man Who Is Thursday has found just such an implicit rule of conspiracy theories in the writings of Steve Sailer.

"So, some things that get dismissed as conspiracy theories end up turning out later to be true."

/facepalm

"Right-Wing 9/11 Truther Conspiracy: "Its the Jews!!! The Evil Jews!!!""

Though there are what could be termed "right wing" extremists who blame (among others) "the Jews," the majority of propagaters of Jews-at-fault-for-everything rhetoric I hear comes from the left of the aisle. It may not have the same tenor, it's certainly repackaged, but it's much more prominent.

The value of most conspiracy theories is in what they reveal of those who place stock in them on a case-by-case basis.

One historical conspiracy theory that I dismissed but later proved to be true was that the Communist Party in the US was in fact just a front for the Soviet Government's propaganda arm (it really was). So now if someone argues that Country X (with money and an ideology) is actually behind organization Y (which has the same ideology), I'm much more sympathetic to that explanation.

Re: Obama, I think it quite likely that Obama was formally adopted by his mother's second husband, Lolo Soetoro.

I'm partial to the notion that Flight 93 may have been shot down (out of necessity) but then the more palatable hero story presented.

Do remember a false story of credible threats to Air Force One was initially given as the reason for Bush not returning to Washington, instead of the truth: it's sensible not to put all your eggs in one basket.

But I guess this would count more as a cover-up than a conspiracy.

Speaking of the Iraq War, well, right after 9/11 there were these vague rumors and reports that people in the administration
were trying to use that as an excuse to go to war with Iraq

Actually, at the time the vague rumors where that the U.S. wanted to build a pipeline through Afghanistan, and using the attacks as a pretense to invade and build the pipeline. It wasn't until the administration started actually started talking about Iraq, that Iraq was incorporated into the conspiracy theory.

The big handicap of the anti-war left was that they where too busy to jump onto any anti-American conspiracy theory at the outset. Had they not blown their legitimacy protesting some conspiracy theory the day after 9/11, they might have actually managed to build a better coalition to oppose the invasion of Iraq. Had they gone with the more moderate Democrat argument of "We should focus on going after Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 - Lets fight our real enemy", instead of the tired and predictable "The U.S. is an evil racist imperialist state what wants to take over the world!!!! Nah! Nah! Nah!", the anti-war movement wouldn't be the sad little pathetic excuse for a social movement that it is now. Organizing an anti-war rally during the most hated presidential administration in history, and your turnout is less than the Backstreet Boys Reunion Tour... that is pathetic! Nice job guys!

Only one conspiracy theory is true. All the others were invented by the conspirators in order to discredit conspiracy theories and so protect themselves from discovery. Unfortunately no-one knows which conspiracy theory is the true one and which are inventions.

I agree with Burger Flipper: Flight 93

Does the "Shakespeare did not write/could not have written any/all of the plays attributed to him" (IT WAS NOT FRANCIS BACON) notion count as a "conspiracy theory"? (Personally, I prefer to think Shakespeare was murdered in place of Marlowe, and Marlowe wrote his own plays, and Shakespeare's, too . . . but not Bacon, not the author of the Novum Organum, no, no, and no.)

Do Freemasonry and/or Rosicrucianism count as "conspiracy theories"?

That United Airlines Flight 93 was shot down by the US Government. It would probably have been the right decision, but impossible to justify publicly.

Regarding the Obama Birth Conspiracy, wouldn't it be interesting if it was found out true. Obama steps down. Democrats vote for an amendment of the constitution on the fact the President must be born in America. Then, then, in the next election, we have an election race between Obama and the Governator.

James Earl Ray was a hired to kill MLK by a unkonwn person or group.

Farrakhan ordered Malcolm X's murder.

I thought the apartment bombings in Russia were pretty obviously just an excuse to blame Chechens. I think that is at the top of the list.

I think the idea of flight 93 being shot out of the sky is pretty reasonable too. I think the 75% of America that is level headed will understand the reason behind it. The other 25% would go apeshit.

The one we've never heard about.

Universities, public schools, and the mainstream media, are all coordinating (sort of) via the bureaucracy to control the thought of the American people (they've already made quick work of Europe).

Following Kyle Munkittrick: The Obama birth rumor is being promoted by the Obama administration. It does him no harm because it's mainly believed by magical-thinking republicans who already hate him. It allows Democrats to tar all right-wing opposition with the crazy brush. It distracts from unpopular things he's doing. There's more of a slam dunk case for this than any other conspiracy theory I can think of.

I think there is a hint of truth to most conspiracy theories. The problem is conspiracy theorists build it up into grandiose schemes perpetrated by all knowing powers. For example, aliens crashing and the government not only having knowledge but covering it up is a typical conspiratorial type idea. There may be some truth to a government official fudging something about something with regards to an incident, but it gets built into a story where everybody is trying to support one grand hypothesis.

I agree with the posters that say we overlook the small "conspiracies" in search of a bigger, better story. Hell, your local government screwing over the taxpayers and public is pretty much a conspiracy. It happens everyday in South Florida though, one of the most corrupt cities in the US is probably Miami.

I also agree with the poster that made the statement about the Iran-Contra affair. If it hadn't been shown to be true, most would have discounted theories about it as conspiratorial.

Can't believe nobody brought up my favorite one.

Osama is dead and has been dead for years. I would bet my house on it.

Well, first we still don't know why the US invaded Iraq. All the justifications put forward at the time have been pretty conclusively discredited, but no one still has any idea for the real reason for the invasion.

Also "no one" includes senior US military officers, which is a good part of the reason why the US military was so ineffective in accomplishing whatever it is it was supposed to be accomplishing there.

Second, with 9-11, the members of the only US government commissioned to investigate 9-11 have complained about their investigation being stonewalled and obstructed, that their report was "only the first draft", and that there were things about the event we don't know. So yeah, there are probably important things about 9-11 that we simply don't know. Maybe not that the towers were destroyed by remote controlled explosives or space aliens, but who knows?

The JFK assassination is third on my list of events where the conspiracy theories are not so crazy. Oswald was a US Marine AND a KGB agent (or at least a defector to Russia). Ruby had mob ties. Even believing every word of the Warren Commission report, you have a smorgasboard of suspicious organizations involved in this. LBJ thought the assassination was blowback for US attempts to assassinate Castro. A conspiracy theory about an assassination is not that unreasonable if one of the guys being shot at thinks it was a conspiracy.

This is a true story.

When they were still looking for John Doe # 2 in 1995, my wife and I saw a dead ringer for the composite sketch, stretching after getting off his motorcycle, at a tourist trap outside of Moab, Utah, called Hole-In-the-Wall.

I believe almost no conspiracy theories ... but I still wonder if we should've called this guy into the FBI. I still have a lot more faith that Oklahoma City was a conspiracy than any of the others in this list.

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