All Articles Tagged "Conspiracy theory"
This morning, everyone rejoiced about the latest unemployment numbers, showing that joblessness dropped to 7.8 percent, a 3 1/2-year low. Everyone, that is, but a few crackpot conservatives who are saying that President Obama somehow messed with the numbers to reflect the improved jobs information for political gain.
This conspiracy started with former GE CEO Jack Welch, who tweeted the statement below:
Welch was quickly joined by people like Rep. Allen West (R, FL, flat top); Generation Operation president and quote source for our story this morning, Paul Conway (we thought you were cool!); Laura Ingraham, who called the numbers “propaganda” in a tweet; and Stuart Varney on Fox News.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has gone on CNBC today to call the allegations “ludicrous.” And The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein points out that the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which collects this information, was specifically set up to avoid the kind of scheming that these crazies are spouting off about. “We’ve hit that moment in the election when people begin to lose their minds,” he writes. True words Ezra Klein.
For his part, Mitt Romney said, ““This is not what a real recovery looks like.” He goes on to say in his statement, “If not for all the people who have simply dropped out of the labor force, the real unemployment rate would be closer to 11 percent.”
More importantly, Romney used a Fox News interview on Thursday night to walk back on his comments about the “47 percent.”
“Well, clearly in a campaign, with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you’re going to say something that doesn’t come out right. In this case, I said something that’s just completely wrong,” he now says. “And I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about 100 percent and that’s been demonstrated throughout my life.” Mmm… no you haven’t actually Mr. Romney. Remember that time back in February when you told Soledad O’Brien, “I’m not concerned about the very poor — we have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.” He also said in that same interview that he doesn’t care about the very rich either. He also put his dog on the roof of his car, so if you count pets in that 100 percent, you have even more proof of his not caring.
For all those conspiracy theorists that swear Tupac Shakur is alive and hiding in Cuba, brace yourself. According to PBS, Tupac was recently sighted in a small resort in New Zealand—or was he?
At 11:30 p.m. Sunday, an article appeared on the PBS NewsHour news blog, “The Rundown,” claiming that not only had Tupac been found alive and well in a small town that could not be named due to security risks, but he allegedly has been living with Biggie Smalls. Despite the suspicious nature of the story, it didn’t stop at least 3,000 readers from ‘liking’ the story on Facebook and many more on Twitter who speculated on whether the story was true or not, reports Forbes.
Unfortunately, for those who had an ounce of hope, the story was declared a hoax that was written by hackers from a group calling itself LulzSec. PBS became aware of the intrusion shortly the story was posted. They counteracted by posting statements acknowledging the hack and that the story was a fake. According to Forbes, not only did the hackers break into PBS’ content management system and pen a “sufficiently-newsy sounding article with a photo and byline,” but they also posted a list of usernames and passwords for PBS’ IT admins and users, along with login details for local PBS television stations.
The reason for all of this? Well, LulzSec said in a pastebin statement that it was “less than impressed” by the “WikiSecrets” documentary that recently aired as a segment of PBS’ Frontline news program and its portrayal of Bradley Manning. Oh, and because they could.
Apparently, LulzSec has an interest in hacking media companies: it targeted Fox News recently, publishing login details for employees and user information of hundreds of people who applied to be updated on X-Factor auditions. It also attacked Sony websites and hinted it will hit Sony again soon.
But for those who still have an urge to play, ‘where in the world is Tupac?’ you can check out the hoax story here.
Last week, President Obama released his long-form version of his birth certificate, verifying that he was, indeed, born in the United States. Consider this a two-for-one deal because not only did he prove that he was in fact, an American citizen, but he also managed to diminish the doubts of some in the black community who questioned if Obama was black enough to be deemed the first black president.
Despite releasing his birth certificate, 40 percent of Americans are still holding on to the belief that Obama was not born on American soil. It makes you wonder what else these people believe. So, for the purpose of giving you a heads up on all the other distractions posing as “news” items that may be coming down the pipeline—or just for sheer kicks and giggles—I present to you a list of my top five wackiest conspiracy theories involving President Obama:
1. Obama is an undercover Muslim scheming to bring tens of millions of Muslims from the Middle East into the United States to turn this country into an Islamic nation by the end of his second term: That’s right, Obama wants to turn our God fearing nation into a big ‘ole theocracy dictatorship. You know what that means, right? Burqas for everyone! According to Mother Jones, this gem of a theory was started by Avi Lipkin, a former assistant of the Israeli Prime Minister Assistant. Lipkin said that a senior “United Nations official told him that the United States” will be a Muslim country by the end of Obama’s second term. Lipkin also claims that Barack is short for Mubarak and that his overall goal is to destroy Israel. Of course, Obama was spotted eating pork on a few occasions, so I imagine he as some explaining to do.
2. Obama is a closeted homosexual and a crackhead, who once murdered his gay choir leader to cover up his secret lifestyle: [Blank stare] Larry Sinclair, a petty criminal specializing in forgery, started spreading his wild accusations via YouTube prior to the 2008 election. I won’t go into much detail since it is too convoluted and vulgar for print, but the video is available to watch in its entirety. It should be noted that at one point, journalists apparently took Sinclair seriously enough to attend a press conference held at the National Press Club.
When I first heard of the political unrest happening in Tunisia, I, like the rest of America, was enamored. The images of a bunch of average folks waving signs of democracy, chanting a chorus of ‘Yes We Can,’ and taking their own political destiny into their own hands all seemed so surreal.
Tunisia was then followed by Egypt, which also sent chills down my spine. What we were supposedly witnessing in Egypt was the textbook case of a revolution. And it’s easy to get caught up in the images of ordinary folks toppling the entrenched autocrats and corrupt governments.
But since Tunisia and Egypt, uprisings have now taken on a life of its own with similar demonstrations occurring throughout the Middle East and North Africa in countries such as Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain, and most recently, Libya.
That’s when I had to pause my celebration of the Jasmine Revolution and wonder, what the heck is really going on here?
You can say it’s my skeptical mind or a case of paranoia brought on by watching too many episodes of Jesse Ventura’s Conspiracy Theory, but all of this, all at once, and all in one particular region? Surely, I am not alone in my curiosity. So, for the purpose of exploring all options, I propose this question: Is it at all possible that a bunch of people inspired by one single event decided to just get up one day and demand their leaders to step down?
Most of these countries have little in common except for being in the same geographical region. In contrast to the Arab monarchies of Egypt, Bahrain and Morocco, countries such as Iran and Yemen both have free elections and their presidents do not rule for decades. Moreover, some of these countries, such as Egypt and Jordan, are largely modern and secular societies in comparison to the clerical caste of ayatollahs, who impose a theocratic dictatorship in other parts of the region.
Of course, the media has over-simplified the nature of these movements as being the people’s revolution brought on by a desire for democracy. However, none of these demonstrations and uprisings can be traced back to a single flagship issue.
In Tunisia, Ben Ali was ousted because of mass corruption within the government. The uprising in Egypt had a lot to do with rising unemployment and increased costs in food and energy. And in Bahrain, where it is divided unequally between Islamic denominations, the unrest there is between the Shiite Muslim majority and the Sunnis, who are the ruling class.
It’s easy to speculate that much of the unrest is rooted in attempts to destabilize the region for political and economic purposes. Saif al-Islam, son of Mummar Khadhafi, has gone on record to accuse foreigners and opposition groups that have ties to both the United States and Al-Qaeda of fomenting unrest in Libya. In the Daily Telegraph, it speculates that the U.S. government has secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising, and has been planning a “regime change” for the past three years. In most of these cases, the White House—U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in particular—has been supporting the protests across the region.
However, there is no clear link to prove that the U.S. or any other group had a hand in any of the uprisings. Nor is there proof of how destabilization of the Middle East and North Africa region would greatly benefit the U.S. Government.
Perhaps this is just a peasant uprising, or maybe there are more orchestrated agendas occurring behind the scenes. Either way, it’s pretty clear that the Middle East and its people are heading for uncharted destinations that will take years to fully understand the implications. As the demonstrations and uprisings in both Bahrain and Libya turn deadly, and with the Jasmine Revolution now spreading to Iraq—a country with a government less than six months old—we in the Western world should watch carefully but resist taking sides too quickly because we really don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
From the 9/11 Truthers to the grassy knoll theorists, proponents of alternative explanations of causation, otherwise known as conspiracy theories, are openly ridiculed and sidelined by the collective red, white, and blue colony. In a country which thumps its chest and proudly proclaims its adherence to the principles of liberty and freedom, this is a curious defect. Proving that although freedom may exist in theory or in meaningless choices such as Nike vs Adidas or Starbucks vs Dunkin Donuts, it is thoroughly lacking in the area of thought.
In our modern lives we only have access to tiny slivers of information. Where the government is concerned, that sliver becomes increasingly narrower as information is usually redacted for “security” reasons. All this begs the question; why do we follow the government’s or the corporation’s conclusions in lockstep given the massive amount of information that we just don’t know?
Even worse, we all fall in love and in line with the narrative we create using our ideas, and- inevitably – our actions follow our most dominant narratives. Many of us never challenge the narratives that we write to fit our own perspective. If we did, we’d find that one narrative is not necessarily any more or less true than any other. But where conspiracy theories are concerned, most people are eager to mock those who adopt an outlook which drastically diverges from the prevailing meaning ascribed by the national mob.
It follows that the marginalization of conspiracy theorists is the marginalization of ideas. Somewhere along the way in America we began to discount ideas which were out of line with the majority’s thinking. The same Republicans who don’t believe in hate crimes because they regulate and punish people for the thoughts behind their actions condescendingly lord themselves over the domain of relevant thought when they dismiss conspiracy theorists as loons and crazies.
But again, how can you know what’s true if you don’t know what’s false? Rightly or wrongly, many conspiracy theorists are among a narrowing group of critical thinkers.
Where conspiracy theorists diverge from ordinary thinkers is in their cognitive process; they look closely at what they don’t know and build a theory around that vast emptiness while more mainstream minds build theories around the little they do know. Conspiracy thinkers understand that what they don’t know can be more relevant, and more impactful, than what they do know. They listen to the silence. They hear what’s not being said. They are, in a word – skeptics.
And in this era of imaginary WMD’s, where handouts to the insurance companies masquerade as health care reform, skeptics are essential to the functioning of our democracy.
I would go even further to suggest that it would be a net positive if schools offered classes in conspiratorial thinking where students would be required to create as many scenarios as possible to explain how a particular event could’ve unfolded. The more flexible and nimble a mind, the better. Followers don’t grow up to become investigative reporters or creatives. To teach people to cling to sameness in the depth and variety of their ideas encourages complacency and recycles drone-like behavior.
Take for example Peter Schiff who, in the days, months, and years leading up to the current mortgage crisis and recession that followed, was sounding the alarm bell for anyone who’d listen. Schiff, President of Euro Pacific Capital, was ridiculed by market cheerleaders on FOX and CNBC as – you guessed it- a conspirator and a dangerously pessimistic thinker. They mocked him, asking him such inconsequential and condescending questions as “are you fun at parties?” or “do you carry blades to cut your own wrist?” Schiff turned out to be right. The peanut gallery was wrong.
Knowing that most people are wrong most of the time creates mental space for alternative theories. Going along to get along, or worse, shouting down those who do not share your sense that a dynamic universe produces a set of human events which are utterly predictable, shrinks human thought. And as evidenced by Peter Schiff, sometimes a small, quiet prediction grows into a big and dangerous truth. You’ll never notice the tipping point though if you’ve spent the vast majority of your time and intellectual energy jeering those whose charge it is to warn you.
Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill Staffer turned political blogger. She currently publishes two blogs, Spatterblog.com and GoGirlGuide.com.