Conspiracy theorists tend to be smarter than the average bear

Stay with me on this, as it leads to a point a little closer to home. Back when the Iraq War was on everyone’s mind, studies done indicated that civilian casualties were extremely high – perhaps as many as 1.2 million overall. At that time – it’s still going on.

Here’s what happened: The sources of the studies were viciously attacked, and reasonable people concluded that such numbers could not possibly be true.

No other studies were done, of course. No counter-evidence was offered. Mere denial became the reasonable intellectual position regarding casualties inflicted on another country by the emperor. End of story.
Lizard put up a link at 4&20 Blackbirds that cited a study done by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent (UK) that concluded that people who hold “conspiracy theories” tend to be more reasonable and thoughtful than those who believe official stories about some events.

The negative stereotype of the conspiracy theorist – a hostile fanatic wedded to the truth of his own fringe theory – accurately describes the people who defend the official account of 9/11, not those who dispute it,

according to an article that Lizard linked at Before It’s News.”

I’ve known this from the beginning just based on my own encounters. But who believes a conspiracy theorist? Think about it – refusal to look at evidence, anger and hostility and ridicule against those who do, is not a thoughtful way to go through life. That is not the typical skeptic of 9/11, one not wedded to official truth, not claiming to know the whole story, and having a better overall historical perspective.

Anyway, follow the link. Draw your own conclusions.

Here’s what prompted me to write this. Polish Wolf quickly chimed in,

Those sound like truly atrocious social scientists/psychologists. First, to a take online comments as a representative sample of anything whatsoever, and second, to posit that the beliefs of a majority of people have any bearing on the plausibility of those beliefs.

That’s what triggered my memories of the Iraq casualty deniers – in essence he’s saying “I’ve got nothing of my own to counter this, but what you’ve got is not good enough. After all, I don’t like what they concluded. And oh, yeah, I’m not going to think about it any more.”

I’ve encountered this again and again … there is so little credible evidence to support such theories as Oswald or 19 Arabs that a thoughtful person should be embarrassed to hold such beliefs. But in a thought-controlled environment all of the social pressure favors mindless following. Skeptics are subject to abuse and ridicule. In public life, mere mention of doubt about official truth will end a career.

29 thoughts on “Conspiracy theorists tend to be smarter than the average bear

  1. I see the orderlies have handed out more crayons.

    There were other studies about Iraq war casualties. They just didn’t fit your narrative.

    The evidence for all the conspiracies you subscribe to isn’t all that great. You protest too much.

    There is a big science of psychometrics out there. Check into it sometime. But there is too much cheap power in awarding the title “smart”. There will be blood.


    1. Link please. These would have to be independent studies – that is, the criminal cannot investigate his own crimes. Bush went off-leash one time, and right away someone asked him how many civilians had died in Iraq – he said he didn’t know – 10? 20 thousand? Didn’t much care, that much as obvious. Never went off leash again.

      Evidence is overwhelming. I have a hunch you’ve never looked at it. But it is overwhelming. There’s not one aspect of the official stories that holds up. You name any aspect of JFK or 9/11 and I’ll show you where there is no evidence, fake evidence or counter-evidence. You’re on call here. Have at it.


        1. Wiki itself is not reliable in my experience, as it is easily hacked and government has compromised most important entries such as events of 9/11. However, since this article links to outside sources, they are worthy of mention:

          The Iraq Family Health Survey can be considered a project of the Pentagon, as they were under thumb when they reported.

          AP reports fewer deaths than Iraq Body Count, and so is not credible, see below.

          Costs of War projects lists no criteria other than that they were 30 assembled “experts,” and so is a mystery to me.

          Iraq Body Count only counts those deaths reported in newspapers. Such reporting tens to under-count severely, as Lancet mentioned, perhaps missing 4 of 5.

          Lancet, actually Johns Hopkins, published its methodology and data for peer review. The individuals involved stand behind their work.

          ORB is high end, and so can be regarded as the stretching the limit of surveys using scientific methods.

          PLOS used the Lancet method of household surveys, so can be grouped with Lancet as credible.

          Classified War Logs has to be held at arm’s length, as it is a Pentagon source and could have easily been “leaked” to Wikileaks as a PSYOP. They do that stuff.

          So among the reports using credible methods as are used in all natural disasters, we have a low-end of 500,000 and a high of 1,033,000. There is no basis for averaging, and can only conclude that the actual number will never be known. After all, they were not Americans, and so were unworthy victims.


          1. Wiki is reliable in that I bet if you track down their list you will find data and a report. Now whether it’s good data or not, and well organized and interpreted is of course another story.
            Wiki is just a starting point not the end all. take the Wiki challenge! (as Andrew Johnson says) My point is that lots of groups have attempted to count the casualties, which directly disproves your statement that no other studies have been done. Just to keep you on your toes.

            I’m sure we will never know the exact number, and what the exact number is isn’t really very important. It’s a lot of people no matter how you slice it. A whole lot of humanity. And , nyes it is important, or the Pentagon wouldn’t have stopped counting casualties and releasing the data as a matter of policy.


          2. Very little systematic beyond Hopkins and ORB. I was aware of IBC but their methodology is severely flawed. What I want is a scientific study that is done openly, publishes its methodology, releases it’s numbers for peer review. There were only three, two of which I cited, the third, PLOS I had not heard of.

            So I beg to differ. There have not been serious studies from independent sorices that contradict the findings of Lancet, though ORB remains an outlier. To call AP or Cost of War projects which was primarily a study of costs, “war death studies” gives them credibility they do not deserve. And we do not lack resources. It can be done.

            My opening sentence was that since Wiki linked to outside sources, that it was worthy of consideration.

            58,151 American soldiers died in Vietnam. We know this.


          3. By the way, I thought I was arguing with Fred, my nemesis. I never concede a point to him, even when he’s right. We have that agreement, he favoring me the same way.

            Since it was you, I’ll concede the point. There were other attempts and summations of data, and one formal study, PLOS that I did not know about.


  2. The criticism of the Lancet study was that they had bad data. And so what if the authors stand behind it? Maybe they are like you.

    Quite a lot of these deaths were from the internecine strife. I’m not sure how much of this you can pin on us. There might have been an internal coup and an even worse body count. Just sayin’. If you are going to put everything on the table, you have to consider this.

    You seem anxious for us to accept the high number counts here. Is it a contest? If the body count tops a million, do you get a prize? Do you get the levers of power and thus get to set public policy? Do you gain more credibility with a higher body count?

    As for CT in general, they come to a point where one has to take a leap greater than that required by the mainstream story. Not that they are all wrong, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.


    1. The data for Lancet was attacked form the usual sources, but was not “bad.” It’s just that power did not like it.

      My only stake, just as with Vietnam, is that when people really understand what their country is about, they change. As I concluded, based on scientific studies, the death toll was between 500,000 and 1,033,000. Very few people know this because our news is controlled. So yes, getting the information out, even for people to evaluate on their own, is like a small cause with me. The ignorance of the American people is a constant source of wonderment for me.

      And that last sentence – are you even slightly self-aware? There’s no credible evidence to support the official story, and it is one based on extraordinary claims with no proof. So you got that and no proof and you’re sitting there saying the opposite. That’s bizarre.


    2. The claim is a group of people got together and coordinated to do something that was ultimately criminal, or they knowingly furthered the enterprise whether they got together or not. If that’s an extraordinary claim then what kind of polyanna existence do you live in, Fred?

      in my world people always work together, for good or ill. Not many hermits around.


    3. I’ve said before that I don’t want to get invested in defending the mainstream view.

      But CT seems to be largely a political thing, to the point where one gets cred in certain circles just by announcing they believe in a CT.


      1. I guarantee that does not happen. Believing in evidence-based theories on the major events of our times is discouraged by social pressure, ridicule, and fear of implications. Mainstream media avoids it in total, even punishes those who dare go near it, unless in a debunking manner. Consequently, to believe that the offical story of 9/11 is bogus requires belief that the media is complicit and that government officials are as well. But it need not be that way – media merely recruits gullible people, and they advance while the smart ones jump ship. Governmetn officials know to STFU, as they see what happens to those who do not.

        All of the pressure is to beleive offical truth or shut up, yet quite a few of us manage to overcome it and speak our mind. But it is not easy.


      2. I see plenty of publications, radio shows, and websites devoted to CT. I don’t see any suppression of such, more like encouragement, to the point where celebrities cough it up when they want some attention.


        1. With the advent of the Internet more and more people are getting news outside the mainstream, hence the rise of people like Alex Jones to manage them. He’s an op. It’s a puzzle palace, a house of mirrors, and designed to confuse and discourage more than enlighten. It’s all under management for the most part, very few people can figure it out and escape.


          1. No – it means that those in power know how to control public opinion. They knew after 9/11, given the weakness of the official story, that it would start to collapse, and so when it did were ready for it with operatives set up to lead skeptics in various directions. At the right time the “9/11 truth movement” was founded. As long as people were going that way anyway, it is good to lead them. The object is to keep them in suspended animation, never reaching a conclusion.

            You jump back and forth form one extreme to another, taking things out of their intended meaning, stretching points beyond their logical conclusion. It’s neverending.

            And your stated intent of never looking at evidence says all I need to know. Until you do, you’ve got nothing.


          2. I’ll look at all and any evidence. But you come across as someone with little experience in how mechanical systems work, and you are easily lead around by marginal explanations. You are too anxious to embrace sketchy alternatives.


          3. I’ve spent my life observing mechanical failure. I don’t see anything that happened on 9/11 other than hijacked airlines bringing down buildings. Structural steel all but gives up its strength north of 300 degrees F. It is well known that unchecked fires bring down high rises. I don’t know anyone in the industry who disputes this, yet you buy into something else. Fires no doubt brought down building 7 in a way soft enough to dissipate the energy so as not to trigger a seismic shock, yet you buy into something else.

            We depend on a hierarchy here. If I have a question about thermite, I go to a thermite expert, who assures me that the only product on 9/11 was across the river in a New Jersey warehouse. Maybe you know more, but it looks like you are easily led astray by a need to fulfill your political narrative.


          4. Structural steel all but gives up its strength north of 300 degrees F.
            False. 1000-1300 degree f.

            It is well known that unchecked fires bring down high rises.

            False. Never until 9/11.

            Fires no doubt brought down building 7 in a way soft enough to dissipate the energy so as not to trigger a seismic shock, yet you buy into something else.

            You’re speculating without evidence, no doubt, having not exposed yourself to it.

            If I have a question about thermite, I go to a thermite expert, who assures me that the only product on 9/11 was across th river in a New Jersey warehouse.

            See how failure to examine evidence affects you? Nanothermite was a red herring put forward by Dr. Steven Jones. It’s present in the rubble, but as Dr. Wood mentioned, you might find some chocolate chip cookies in there too. So what? (Jones was the man who undermined and destroyed Pons-Fleischman.)

            Again, if you ever, ever actually expose yourself to the evidence, send me a postcard.


          5. I didn’t know you were off the thermite kick.

            I suppose I should correct my statement: structural steel starts to lose its necessary strength at a few hundred degrees.

            You clearly have no technical knowledge in this area. Just keep writing, and that is all the evidence we need. The defense has to present no case.

            A couple things:

            )We have a vast engineering culture in this country that sizes cables, builds amusement park rides, designs cars, etc. You implicitly trust them in these cases, yet you are willing to think they go into the tank when examining 9/11 phenomenon. The engineers I know will speak the truth not matter what; even if their lives or loved one’s lives are threatened. Can you tell me of one engineer or physicist who is afraid to speak out about 9/11?

            )You have a problem with uncertainty: you need nice, clean answers. Thus you gravitate toward a certain kind of sweeping political discourse. But the world as we know it is messy and uncertain in uncomfortable ways, including mechanical failures. Things fail in weird ways. In the early 80’s Caterpillar was having exhaust manifolds on their large engines fail repeatedly to the point where they had their best people looking at the problem. Here we had repeated failures, and guys sitting around a table looking at the things, and there was still a lot of uncertainty and unknowns. They got the things to work a little better, but it is not such a clean cut thing.


          6. God almighty – thermites were upended years ago. You really don’t read here. You just go to where it says “Comment.”

            I went to an engineering reference manual yesterday, over 600 pages lone, to retrieve the numbers. Frankly, Fred, you’re full of shit. You’re wrong. And there is no unanimity among the engineering community, mostly silence. But if all you are interested in is authoritative testimony, there’s enough on each side to render it moot.

            High rise structures are built with high-grade steel capable of sustaining high temperatures and coated with fire-proofing material as well. So if you were to dump an airplane load of jet fuel (kerosene) on one and set it afire, it woudl burn for a while. Period. And that even assumes suspension of Newton’s Third Law, which allowed the aircraft to enter the building without resistance. But ignore that while you work on kerosine fires.

            Anyway, Dr. Wood has scientifically proven (and I rarely use that word) that the collapse could not have been pancake. But you don’t go there. I’ll give you just a juicy tidbit – she used billiard balls as an example and stated that even had all of the energy that supposedly was causing collapses one-by-one (and not explaining pulverization in the process, a feat that requires outside energy sources), that each floor necessarily has to collapse the floor below it, and that the process would take 110 seconds or so. After that, there should be thirteen floors of rubble and a seismic signal.

            Of course, you now instantly know that her experiment was there and why it is false. Have a nice Saturday.


          7. You really don’t read here. You just go to where it says “Comment.”

            Sheesh. Testy. I’m sorry I haven’t internalized every frickin thing that spills out of your gourd.

            But if all you are interested in is authoritative testimony, there’s enough on each side to render it moot.

            Yeah, like you really want to play the expert testimony game. I noticed you didn’t name one person who is afraid to voice their opinion on this.

            You lean pretty heavily on Judy Wood. Usually how these things work is that you establish some cred in the community, or get some people with cred to endorse your work. She has a PhD and a teaching position, but it is not like she headed anything significant to give her work the attention you think it deserves.

            If you want a game changer? Have Steven Weinberg call a press conference and announce that the physical evidence of 9/11 clearly contradicts the initial findings. I guarantee you that things would change overnight. That he doesn’t do that is because there is less there than you think.


  3. Salright!

    Gotta go, i’m trying to navigate the red herrings of the Polish wolf.

    By the way, thanks for sharing your trip with us, it was fun!


  4. Whoa. A new look here. Interesting. I’ll have to check it out.

    Is there an etiquette on commenting on older internet threads? I try to stay within a couple days.

    On reflection, you have good chops regarding Social Security and health care systems, but after that you fade, and what we get, at best, is some enlightened pedestrianism; mainly formulaic rants about American imperialism, pro-socialism, and White privilege.

    I wanted to come back to this thread because your technical knowledge, and your knowledge of the physical sciences in general, is pretty sparse, and it is pretty egregious here. If I can’t convince you of your flaws here, much is hopeless in advancing the dialogue.

    (Structural steel all but gives up its strength north of 300 degrees F. )
    False. 1000-1300 degree f.

    What you found here was the heat where structural steel, when cooled slowly from this temperature, goes through a phase transition to a lower strength crystalline structure. That is different from what is at issue here.

    I went to an engineering reference manual yesterday, over 600 pages lone, to retrieve the numbers.

    This is no way to learn about such things.

    (It is well known that unchecked fires bring down high rises.)False. Never until 9/11.

    If you want to stake your reputation here, have at it.

    I challenge you to do a home experiment. Find some appropriate metal strips, heat them to various temperatures, and test their strength. Clamp one end in a vise; lock some pliers on the other end; use an infra red temp indicator; a blow torch; and have a spring scale on a pry bar. Or tap a pressure gauge into a hydraulic ram and run some tests. The industry would like to know that the tensile strength of steel doesn’t change with temperature, and maybe you are the man to fill them in.

    So go. Do some home experiments. Collect data. Report results. Come to a conclusion.


    1. I am not going to delve into matters of engineering. If you want to focus on one small aspect if the debate as a means of avoiding the massive body of evidence against the official story, fine. I’ll rely on Dr. Wood, who is in fact degreed and competent in these matters.

      Some have tried to tell me that Newton’s third law was suspended that day, others that things have happened in the past that have not (collapse of high rises buildings in fire), still others that an unreported hurricane off NY that day is unremarkable.

      Belief in kerosine fires bringing down the buildings also requires pancake collapse at free fall speed. Dr. Wood showed this to be physically impossible by means of her billiard ball example, in effect mathematical proof. But then, you’ve still not looked in that direction.

      All in all, to believe the official story requires suspension if disbelief, rhetorical and argumentative deception, and most importantly, ignorance of the evidence. Until such time as you have actually examined the evidence, I think it pointless to argue with you.


    2. I’m genuinely interested in any counter-evidence. If something else went on that day, I want to know.

      You are reasonably engaged in the world, and I’ll consider what you have.

      But part of me thinks that you don’t have anything here. My own experience and experts I talked with casually don’t discern any technical strangeness in the towers’ collapse, including the fires; the collapse speed; the amount of rubble; the effects of planes; the reality of the planes; etc. The evidence you cite looks either wrong (thus my wondering what you do when pushed on engineering details) or rather shaky. I can’t even begin to explain away the technical problems from your side of things. You’ve got one person: Judy Wood. Heck, there were a lot of mathematicians lining up on the wrong side of the Monte Hall problem back in the early 90’s


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