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February 05, 2008

Comments

Ahmad

I believe 9/11 was an inside job engineered by the White House, something I have quite clearly stated on my blog (http://iluvjihad.blogspot.com/).

Pehaps Oliver Kamm would like to visit my blog and prove the irrationality of my arguments

Michael

You've certainly "quite clearly stated" this belief, but you've unaccountably omitted to back it up with any evidence or coherent argument.

James Graham

Bilderberg is old hat. The current conspiracy theory doing the rounds regards Common Purpose, an international training company which the more nutty wing of the Eurosceptics has deemed to be part of a Nazi plot to impose a police state on the EU. I highly recommend http://www.eutruth.org.uk which, among other things, confidently predicts that the local elections this year are about to be canceled.

I've already come across relatively rational people talking about Common Purpose in foreboding tones. It's really starting to do the rounds. I'm sure Neil Clark has a file on them already.

John Angliss

"What these notions have in common is a conviction that there is a body of esoteric wisdom that is being systematically suppressed by secular powers."

This is usually an excellent rule of thumb to distinguish lunacy from potentially good ideas, except in certain circumstances, such as heavily ideological states. Britain won't get there soon, but there's always the possibility. And the lies our government does tell only strengthens the hand of the nutters.

Bartholomew

Crowley once tried to sue someone for libel over claims that he was a practitioner of black magic - I don't think the "Great Beast" was successful, though. He also had a link-man in the USA named Jack Parsons, who ended up being fleeced and cuckolded by L. Ron Hubbard, of all people.

Martin

Mr. Kamm,

If Bilderberg is unimportant, why do politicians from positions as diverse as Ed Balls and George Osborne attend its meetings?

From The Daily Telegraph, 14/8/2007 -

"Taxpayers foot bill for Ed Balls 'junket'

Cabinet minister Ed Balls spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money attending a private meeting of one of the world's most powerful and secretive organisations.

Mr Balls, widely regarded as Gordon Brown's closest adviser, travelled to Canada for the four-day conference of the shadowy Bilderberg Group of businessmen and politicians when he was Economic Secretary to the Treasury...

Kenneth Clarke, the former Tory Chancellor, and George Osborne, the current shadow chancellor, were also present, according to the House of Commons Register of Members' Interests. Their accommodation was paid for by Bilderberg's organisers, as was part of Mr Osborne's air fare."

I should explain that my only interest in Bilderberg's business is as a British citizen and taxpayer, albeit one who is a member of a political party, who is very concerned at our elected representatives meeting in closed and forever unreported sessions with extremely wealthy and powerful private individuals. It is unhealthy for our democracy, and it is the arrangement's very obscurity that makes it the subject of conspiracy theories. They could all be sitting round playing dominoes for all I care; but while the representatives are being paid wages from coerced taxation,we have a right to know what they're doing.

Incidentally, the more 'outre' anti-Bilderberg sites record that Balls visited the group in 2001, 2002 and 2003, when he was still in the Civil Service. In 2006, I lodged a request under the Freedom of Information Act requesting details of his trips, and were told that there were none. The basis of my request was to find out why a civil servant should be attending a meeting of an international non-governmental organisation to which the UK is not bound by any treaty or protocol. Maybe we need to know more about the civil servants' doings.

Seymour Paine

Over the years I've wondered about what motivates certain people to give themselves wholesale over to the type of conspiracy and other fringe theories which purport to explain much about the world, like, as you mentioned, homeopathy, 9-11 Truthers, Holocaust Denial, alien invasion. I believe for many it's a matter of taking control over their lives. I, like most, take some comfort in the scientific process which seeks to test the truth value of hypotheses. For instance, I'm comforted by the knowledge that vaccines do not cause autism. But many people find this very discomforting. Study after study only proves how corrupt the scientific establishment and how perceptive they are to see that. Perhaps it's the ceding of understanding (and hence control) of their lives to others, to big institutions, slow moving scientific process, and the like. These fringe movements have a few things in common: they attempt to prove the power of the individual over the collective (the few who can perceive the truth, like those who know 9/11 was caused by Bush); their views are easy to understand (unlike, say, quantum theory); they are a merry band of brilliant iconoclasts against the evil machine. I think Heinlein wrote about them in many of his S-F novels, which is, of course, where their theories belong.

Thomas

How come Bilderberg is secret if y'all know so much about it. Did the members at the last meeting decide to have a recession in the US?

Oliver Kamm

Ahmad, I don't wish to be discourteous, but I have no interest in your blog, and I'd be obliged if you were to have none in mine.

James, thank you for that. I'm familiar with the crank anti-Europeans such as John Laughland who associate European integration with Nazism, but I wasn't previously aware that our mandate for that task had gone to Common Purpose. Nice to hear from you again.

Martin Kelly, I see the Telegraph story about Ed Balls and the Bilderberg group came from Norman Baker, the Lib Dem MP who believes not only that David Kelly was murdered by a shadowy conspiracy but that Robin Cook was as well. You'll forgive me for taking his protestations every bit as seriously as I take yours. Well done on managing to keep your self-pity in check this time, though.

Fabian from Israel

Daniel Pipes wrote a book about conspiracies in the Middle East. "The hidden hand" it is called. I found it very good and enlightening of some strange ideas some people throw around.

Sigivald

I nmy experience, the "chinese discovered america" belief doesn't belong with the others.

It's powerfully under-evidenced, and really more a matter of faith than rational belief, but it has one powerful and relevant difference with the other beliefs given.

In the various discussions of the hypothesis that I've read, I've never yet noted one where the "fact" of Chinese discovery of the new world was being suppressed by a conspiracy; just that the Chinese at the time didn't care much, and nobody bothered to publicise it, and it was entirely forgotten.

I don't believe it to be true, on the Ockhamist grounds that it would be silly to given the lack of any decent evidence (nor am I scientifically convinced it's false; but paucity of evidence isn't the same as disproof), but it doesn't depend on conspiracy theorising, which is important and relevant in the context of Trutherism or even Homeopathy.

(Nor does it require anything, like homeopathy, contrary to current scientific understanding and that somehow fails to be detectable in double-blind tests. But unlike homeopathy, it's a historical rather than scientific claim, so that veers off the point.)

Matthew

It looks a good site, but is that the same Damian Thompson who used to write that somewhat bonkers column, Beebwatch?

Martin

Mr. Kamm,

It is gratifying to see such an open mind at work. Norman Baker says some strange things that may be unworthy of consideration - so everything Norman Baker says is strange and unworthy of consideration. This does not strike me as being a particularly adult mindset, but hey, it's your blog.

I'm afraid the rather patrician put down doesn't really close the door on discussion of Bilderberg as far as I'm concerned; although having been patronised with such elan, I suppose I should go away and pity myself for a while.

Arrivederci.

antrastan

I thought 'Ahmad's comment quite funny, in the vein of Nick Cohen's on the other thread I contributed to. Your response could be considered humourless -- if it wasn't ironic itself, in which case I'd accept your jibing return of the aspersion I've just cast.

Gavin

Conspiracy theories tell us a lot more about the irrationalism of their practicioners than they do about the 'issues' ostensibly in question (UFO's, the Templars, the Masons, the Global Zionist Conspiracy, etc). What concerns me is the manner in which this stuff has become a substitute for informed, rational inquiry and how opinion in popular culture is now being shaped by this kind of puerile fantasy. The 9/11 conspiracy theories are a case in point; it's much more comfortable to indulge our prejudices about a reactionary US administration run by an inarticulate buffoon than it is to confront the reality that a bunch of nihilistic jihadi fanatics were responsible. The history of western involvement in the Middle East doesn't explain their irrational actions any more than Nazi anti-semitism can be explained by anything that the Jews in Weimar Germany actually did.

I'd love to see a website which actually archived some of these fantasies which have now sadly passed out of fashion; who cares about the Bank of International Settlements these days? Has David Icke given up on the 'Prince Philip is a lizard' gag yet?

CharlesW

Found CounterKnowledge through your site (which I enjoy reading, although I admit to skipping your Chomsky entries). I was given a great book called The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Hidden History as a present, it contains a mine of conspiracies. While the entries are not always comprehensive, it gives a good starting point when looking in to the barking world of New World Orders, black helicopters and the like.

SteveF

On, the subject of 9/11 conspiracy theories, this is a nice site that goes through the Loose Change documentary and rips it apart, piece by confused piece:

http://www.loosechangeguide.com/LooseChangeGuide.html

It also contains links to a lot of other excellent debunkings, including this one in popular mechanics (that I believe Oliver has mentioned before):

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/1227842.html

Personally, when chatting with 9/11 troofers, I simply use one word; parsimony. It apparently exists outside their vocabulary.

Oliver Kamm

Sigivald, I disagee. Not all crank beliefs are equally absurd or disreputable, but there is a continuum rather than a sharp break. The chances that Loch Ness is inhabited by a large unknown marine creature are so close to zero as to make no practical difference, but a belief in the Loch Ness monster is still not on the order of silliness as David Icke's conspiracy theory regarding reptilian aliens. Nonetheless, they have two important characteristics in common: first, they require a suspension of critical inquiry; and secondly, they appeal to the amateur's taste for hidden knowledge as against the scientific or political establishment.

Matthew, don't know the answer to your question, I'm afraid. But it is a good book.

Martin Kelly, I do not believe everything that Norman Baker MP says may be dismissed. I believe that everything Norman Baker MP says about conspiracies may be dismissed. I'm sorry if my comment appeared ungracious, but it was more polite than you were entitled to given your expressed position on the Iraqi interpreters facing the risk of sectarian murder, and your defence on that subject of the conspiracy theorist, Srebrenica denier and vulgar fraud Neil Clark.

Antrastan, you may well be right. I didn't trouble to look at Ahmad's blog, as I've seen enough 9/11 "truth" material, and I apologise to him if I missed irony in his comment.

SteveF, thank you for the link, which I hadn't seen.

Sigivald

Oliver: Oh, I wasn't meaning to suggest that the Chinese Discovery claim wasn't crankish (or equally depends on your exceedingly relevant point about the appeal to the taste for hidden knowledge - in my experience that's a key part of the crankish psychology).

I was merely attempting to distinguish between crankery that requires conspiracies and crankery that doesn't, since your original post mentioned that angle.

bruce

The 'Chinese discovery of America' suggests a distinct category of 'counterknowledge', those nationalistic beliefs where 'foreigners' conspire to suppress the 'true history' of one's nation.

Another example we will increasingly have to deal with in the future is the belief held by hundreds of millions of Hindus that all civilisations and languages began in India, with British and American Indologists somehow conspiring to suppress this 'truth'.

http://www.stephen-knapp.com/proof_of_vedic_culture's_global_existence.htm


Join the Revolution

Can someone explain why both President Bush and Gordon Brown have made statements praising a global shift to a New World Order? That is in their own words.

Join the Revolution TV, on the WorldTV platform, is the world's first TV station dedicated to exposing the New World Order Agenda.

Can you handle the truth?

Gavin

Join the Revolution, I suspect the actual question at hand is 'Can you handle reality'?

Oliver Kamm

Good grief, not another one. When the first President Bush used the term "New World Order" after the Gulf War of 1990-91, he meant it in the sense of a more stable international system, as had been envisaged by the founders of the UN. He meant it, in short, in a different sense from that promulgated by cranks and frauds prone to conspiracy theory. I am aware that some of these nutters perceive in Bush's rhetoric a knowing allusion to the REAL meaning of "New World Order", as a sign to his fellow conspirators and indeed his Bilderberg controllers, but I think we may discount this speculation.

Gavin

To return to my obsession with retro-crankery, I seem to recall some grade-A gibbering froth from opponents of FDR's 'New Deal' which followed the NWO/black helicopter tramlines, and if that's correct it might be worth confronting the new generation of psuedo-lefties mistaking conspiracy theory for historical analysis with the bedfellows that historical precedent involved.

BTW, can one of you other Illuminati apologists please tell Plot Control HQ that I could do with some access to their Oil-Blood money slush funds? I assume the rest of you are all on retainer.

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