George Carlin began one of his many famous live performances by saying, “I have one rule when it comes to what the Government tells me: I don’t listen to a f**king word they say, not one f**king word”. Carlin is my big, alltime American hero. But he was in the business of framing engagingly intelligent bull deconstruction – not droning on about madcap ideas going back to the 7th century BC and beyond.
The lunatic fringe has always been with us, but since the arrival of the internet its influence has gone out of control. So bad are things now, it is the effortless process of a few well-chosen paragraphs from the Establishment to tar all doubters worldwide with the same brush. The entirely predictable result of widely disseminated conspiracy bollocks is that anyone assembling a well-constructed argument to question ‘the official account’ can have all credibility blown away by the sort of smears that nearly closed me down for good six years ago.
Don’t get me wrong: the ‘official account’ is increasingly dubious. I probably pen two posts a week on the subject of why 1+1 doesn’t and never can equal 56. That’s over a hundred a year – so heaven knows how much disinformation there is out there. But while I submit that – in a world where the outright lie has seen an explosive population growth and the Truth is down to a few isolated tribes – there’s always a role for intelligent speculation, it must be informed speculation.
One of the problems of the blogosphere is that for every Anna Raccoon there are 500 nutters. Few can dismember a barmy conspiracy theory with her inspired thoroughness backed up by extensive legal knowledge: but her very thoroughness makes it impossible for her to debunk 499 potty theories a day.
Despite some pretty vile accusations to the contrary over the years (and yes, some accusers are paid to do it) I only ever act on helpful tips and desk research, followed if possible by taking a look for myself. I do not doubt that I get many things wrong, and I openly admit that on two or three occasions I’ve been led up the garden path before being dumped into the compost bin’s ordure. What I can say without fear of contradiction, however, is that there are thousands of blogsites out there where roughly 2% of conspiracy theories ever check out.
Some fields of sensation are notorious in this regard: Care Home sexual abuse, for example, has yielded very little for me when investigated – abuse by celebs even less. This only makes it more difficult for those genuine abuse cases to get a proper hearing: the Yorkshire Islamic cab-driver child trafficking, for example, was well-known among those who write about such things – but simply wasn’t believed…thanks to a combination of deadly pc, and refusal to believe that anything so big could be the subject of blind eyes. In Plymouth, there has been without any doubt a longstanding trafficker/abuse/politico-legal corruption ring that still exists. In Mid Staffs, perverted psychiatric theory was employed via the Secret Courts in a few cases to supply paedophiles with unwilling meat. The entire gold and libor investment spaces were rigged for many years…the latter of which I didn’t believe for a long time.
But first up, these remain exceptional cases, in every sense of the word: small ripples in a gigantic ocean of piss and wind. Second, most genuine conspiracies are merely there to disguise a previous Snafu. And finally, most conspiracy fact is found exactly where you’d expect it to be: in among the sociopaths who inhabit the upper circle of banking, multinational business, and the security services. Unfortunately, in the last fifteen years, media spinners have become a big sector of global behemoths…and the protection of the banking elite has become a keen interest area of spooks allegedly working for governments in hock to such institutions.
Not many folks give air to that recency thought, but it is a key one, and it explains why I have reached one conclusion above all others when it comes to conspiracies: anything that goes back to the 1970s and beyond to find the “reason” for something is simply in denial….enjoying the chase for the sake of it, rather than keeping their feet firmly attached to the planet.
On this side of the Pond, it’s only since around the arrival of Tony Blair in Downing Street (along with his terrible twins Mandelson and Campbell) that the smear, spin, divide, distract, invent, deny and pervert profession has seen explosive growth. There are, for sure, far more real conspiracies than there used to be, and there are four reasons for this: the failure of neoliberal capitalism to live up to its promises, the need to quash any and all influential criticism of its influence and idiocies, the rise of fanatical Islam….and the arrival of an internet information contagion that gave 24/7 access to myth-makers either pernicious, deranged, or both.
Nowhere is the conspiracy genre more mad than in that obsessive space devoted to the death of somebody famous. Ironically, this began at the very birth of spin itself: the selling of Jack Kennedy’s charisma to the American people, and his assassination in Dallas four years later. There is but one JFK conspiracy to my mind that remains intact, because it is part of a reliable record: namely, the certainty that the Warren Commission was a hastily produced whitewash. We know this for certain because the memoirs of all those involved have long ago been published, and the security papers released. They show unequivocally that LBJ believed the Russians had committed the crime using Oswald, and therefore he must be made the lone gun headcase come what may. Nobody Russian or American really wanted Word War III. This became over two years the sole objective of Warren and his colleagues, and it then spawned (unsurprisingly) millions of suspicions about the details Warren had obviously ignored.
But as technology has improved since 1963, almost all the leading theories have vapourised in the white heat of forensic investigation: there were no men behind the grassy knoll, there was no accomplice, and whether he acted alone or under the auspices of angry mobsters or redneck Texans remains a mystery, if only because anyone who might have confirmed that is dead.
Last year, I think the final credible piece of the jigsaw that’s left in existence fell into place. Two strongly held witness views had always worried me: one, that passers by insisted they’d smelt cordite; and two, that the last shot came from within the motorcade. Also impossible to comprehend was why three shots went straight through the car’s occupants, but the last one literally blew the President’s head off. The documentary I saw during 2014 made it hard to deny the conclusion that Kennedy’s head was hit by a different bullet of a much large calibre….and from a few yards behind his limousine.
Further careful reconstruction by an Australian detective (and the testimony of two former Secret Service guards) confirmed than an agent’s gun had gone off and killed the President (it was policy, believe it or not, for all immediate bodyguards to have guns cocked at all times). Whether it went off by accident or was part of a CIA plot to assassinate JFK remains a mystery. But thanks to lateral thinking and then clinical scientific method, it looks like we do at least know why things happened as they did on the day.
With a trail of humanity now colder than a graveyard, it is highly unlikely we will ever know more than that. But still the theories – more and more bonkers with every year – pour in. At the moment, one prominent site with huge hits is going with the theory that Mossad assassinated Jack Kennedy “because he didn’t want Israel to get the bomb”. That’s it. No support at all beyond vague conjecture. He didn’t like the French having one either, so maybe De Gaulle popped him from behind the grassy knoll. Do they not think that, just maybe, over half a century – with literally tens of thousands of Kennedy anoraks crawling all over this – one visible link to Tel Aviv might have turned up? Hey – Jack once ate kosher and slagged off the gefilte fish – maybe that was it.
For the same reason, anyone blathering on about the Elders of Zion, the Rothschild family, Masons, Hitler clones, Lizard Architects building pyramids and Sarkozy being a direct descendant of the Arthurian knights is not going to get my attention, because (a) I’ve never got beyond base camp in interrogating any of it and (b) it simply is not possible for one family or religion to have the exact same agenda over 1000 years. Sorry, it isn’t: nobody – but nobody – is that boring.
If people genuinely want to look for conspiracy fact rather than theory, my advice would be as follows – in exactly this order:
1. Observe something you think doesn’t make sense
2. If you’re not an expert, find a few and ask them
3. If it still doesn’t make sense, look for a credible motive why it might be presented as a fact
4. Look for hard evidence of the motive being in play
5. Check if this has been done or tried before
6. Find someone in the trade/professional media and ask – generally and non-directively – what they make of the something
7. Always, always, always check the provenance of tips you get and articles you read
8. If you see an identical theory being pushed on another site and it’s surrounded by fairyland fantasy plus threaders with a mental age of -56, go back to 1 and start over.
9. If you publish and find everyone living off that sector telling you in the comment thread that you are barely above the orangutan when it comes to understanding the markets, chances are you’re onto a winner.
10. When organised trolls turn up to rubbish everything you say, redouble your efforts. As Ghandi might have said, this is when you know you’ve won.
I first started questioning the prices recorded by gold trackers in 2006 – as a potential investor. I am by training a writer, market researcher, communications strategist and house renovator. At the time, everything I knew about the gold market could’ve easily been written on the backside of a dime.
But I was a practical marketing man, and I did know some fundamental rules that are – on this planet at least – irrefutable. First among these is that, if the tracked price of a commodity is going down – but in the world outside requiring only one telephone call, it’s so heavily demanded you can’t buy any without an account – chances are that market is rigged.
Going through through the ten steps above – funny how there’s always ten – I learned a huge amount about the entire gold industry. My revenge upon those who thought I inhabited an outer ring of nougat near the planet Saturn was to make money out of my Page 1 observation. The learning in all of it was this: anyone who tells you markets are rational is a charlatan. Markets are simply crowds of people….and some of them are more honest than others.
I wish there was a trade association for those in search of deconstructing bollocks, but that would be protesting too much. However, I confess to being increasingly wary about being called “a blogger”. One of the great but not entirely good remarked in a press profile some weeks ago, “The blogosphere is so much noxious farting, and should be ignored”. There are millions of the passive majority out there who agree with that, and frankly we have only ourselves to blame.
The future is not, I’m sure, two billion bloggers yelling their heads off – any more than it is globalist and neoliberal. Krishnan Guru-Murthy correctly remarked in 2009 that, in an MSM-driven world of elite media ownership, “The internet is the Resistance”. I don’t buy fully into KG-M’s politics, but I do note that he said ‘internet’, not blogosphere.
Too many lunatic fringes mean the cap is for dunces. And if the cap fits, then those who buy it must wear it.
Related at The Slog: Seven deadly doubts about the Hebdo attack