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Behind Conspiracy Theories

Date: 09-19-10
Host: George Knapp
Guests: David Aaronovitch, Richard Dolan

George Knapp was joined by author David Aaronovitch for an examination of the origins of conspiracy theories, why people believe them, and also to make an argument for a true skepticism based on a thorough knowledge of history and a strong dose of common sense. Based on his research, Aaronovitch defined a conspiracy theory as "an explanation for something which is far more complicated and removes responsibility from the obvious people to the not obvious people, in situations where the more obvious explanation is more likely."

Aaronovitch detailed a number of problematic attributes which he feels "attach themselves" to conspiracy theories and those who subscribe to them:

  • Conspiracy theories do not allow for accident, incompetence, or coincidence.
  • The official version of events "almost always, at its heart" has anomalies that cannot be reconciled.
  • Scholars, usually with exaggerated credentials, are named as proponents of the theory.
  • The theory is anti-elite and, thus, the theorist becomes "kind of a minuteman" warning the populace about the "powers that be."

On why there needs to be skepticism about conspiracy theories, Aaronovitch used the example of recent developments in the UK which arose as a result of rumors that vaccines cause autism. He explained that this theory became so pervasive that people began to stop having their children vaccinated. In turn, Aaronovitch lamented, the measles virus re-emerged back into the population after it had been eradicated in previous years. "This stuff has to be combated because it does have consequences for people," he declared. On a far larger scale, he noted that the widespread belief in the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Nazi Germany acted as a proverbial "warrant for genocide" for many misguided players in WWII.

Aaronovich also looked at a number of suspect issues surrounding a variety of conspiracy theories. With regards to the Moon Landing hoax, he observed that to complete such a fabrication would require far more manpower than the actual lunar landing itself. In addition to that, he pointed out that lunar conspiracy theorists often focus solely on the Apollo 11 landing and ignore the many other trips made to the moon. Regarding 9/11, Aaronovich conceded that the official version of events is also a conspiracy theory, but that its very simplicity is what makes this theory much more plausible than a grand overarching plan by nefarious forces inside the US government. To that end, he noted that if the government was truly clever enough to "organize conspiracies," then they would have planted WMDs in Iraq rather than invade the country and find none. "It would have been a much simpler thing to do," he mused, "and yet they didn't."

After Disclosure

During the first hour, historian Richard Dolan talked about his impending book, co-authored with Bryce Zabel, titled AD After Disclosure. He noted that the book was inspired by the fact that disclosure is often discussed in the UFO community, but few researchers ever go beyond that idea to contemplate "what happens next." Dolan was optimistic about the forecast for humanity in the event that UFO truth is revealed, but cautioned that a lot will depend on what we learn about the ETs. While he was adamant that UFO disclosure is an inevitability, Dolan was skeptical of the idea of a long-range conditioning process. On the contrary, he said, "what I see is that they have no plan to prepare us for contact."

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Bumper music from Sunday September 19, 2010

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