Conspiracy Competition. I lay down the gauntlet.

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
The existence of conspiracies, current and historic, is uncontroversial. (as we all agree)
OK, then we are, to an extent, on the same page. It's just a bit odd that you feel the need to contradict me so often and so vociferously when we largely agree on the fundamentals. I wonder if it's mainly a question of language and style rather than content.

The internet is laying bare the collective unconscious and it is as fascinating as it is horrifying.
Laying it bare, yes, but also playing a huge role in shaping it in the first place - or rather, reshaping it, from one year to the next.

I consider it to be hubristic to assume that one has a better grasp on reality than anyone else. This is the basis of my railing against ‘common sense’ which is just an unwillingness to examine underlying and often unconscious assumptions.
Now this is where I have to disagree. I don't think it's hubristic for me to think I have a better grasp on reality than someone who thinks global warming is a con perpetrated by the Chinese state, or that vaccines cause autism. I'm happy to accept that there are many things I don't know, and that even that some things I think I know are probably false, but the relativism of worldview you're talking about cannot lead anywhere but madness. I cannot accept that the statement "The Earth is 6,000 years old" is equivalent to, or just as useful, or just as good, as the statement "The Earth is some billions of years old". I don't think "The Earth is flat" is on an equal footing with "The Earth is roughly spherical", or, for that matter, "The Holocaust is a Jewish hoax" is on an equal footing with "The Holocaust was a real event".

What's interesting is the extent to which this "Nothing is True..." gambit is being used, and with an undeniable degree of success, by forces in world politics - the very real-life conspiracies you allude to - which are overwhelmingly reactionary in nature. This is coming simultaneously from the well-oiled alt-right lie machine that helped put Donald Trump in the White House, and the constant stream of dezinformatsiya emanating from their opposite numbers in the Kremlin and their various fronts and organs. It seems pretty obvious to me that placing some sort of value in empiricism and objective truth is likely to be a good weapon for counteracting all this. You don't have to make it the only thing that matters to you, but at least not dismissing it out of hand might be wise at this point.

Basically, much of what you've written here rings true, although you lose me again when you go all "if you can't rearrange matter, force and spacetime at will through your Third Eye like I can, then you're not as good as me" - that stuff just reminds me of zhao at his most pompous and risible. It's also ironic given your constant railing against smugness, hubris, condescension and so on, and just makes me want to say physician, heal thyself. (Please don't take that as an attack on imagination per se - just a recognition that it is by amplifying and manipulating the public's imagination that so many conspiracies are perpetrated in the first place, and it's only by causing these lies to snag on the hard, sharp rock of something real that they can eventually be unravelled. You can't fight them just by using your own imagination in the opposite direction.)
 
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luka

Moderator
i was just depressingly sure i would get a response from you that looked exactly like that one did. lazily quoting huge chunks of text and giving rote responses. it gets me down.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
I do, for what it’s worth, believe power to operate conspiratorially to a large extent, and in that sense am able to accept the illuminati, or the reptilians, as broad, crude but functional metaphors to describe the power elite. Power is in some sense a conspiracy against everyone outside of its circle.
The essay I posted above endorses this pov, and it makes a lot of sense. I agree with it, broadly. I differ - I think I'm largely going to restate what Tea said, only without his scientific orientation.

I guess where we'd differ is in the attitude towards verifiable truth - I think that someone actually pulled that trigger, dropped that bomb and in some cases, it's possible to uncover who this is. I don't want to be forever "poised in ambiguity" to use your phrase. I want the waveform to collapse and a truth to be uncovered, rather than to hover forever in a cloud of not-knowing. It depends on what your intentions are. I'd like the truth to be told about a number of atrocities and injustices, so I can't rest in an intoxicating "neither/neither" to use Austin Spare's phrase. It depends on what you are committed to, what you've made choices about.

I agree that conspiracies can be fascinating and yeah, they tell us something about humans, and our weird psychology. But as they increasingly becomes part of what-passes-for normal political discourses my fascination diminishes and my frustration grows.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
the purpose of this thread was to see if it was possible to weave our own thread into that mythos which i thought would be more interesting and educational than rehashing this conversation for the nth time but never mind. i guess people enjoy rehashing this conversation.
Give it a go then, but I find it hard to think of a political reality weirder than the one we inhabit.

Have you read Peter Pomerantsev, Luka? You should try and read his "Nothing is True and Everything is Possible". It's about modern Russia, Putin, Russia Today etc. and it gives you a sense of what's it like to actually live in that intellectual vertigo, to be right in the midst of it, and at points, engaged in its manufacture. It's wide-ranging as well, it looks at how this relativism plays out in many areas and what its roots might be.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
Your post above very much puts me in mind of Pynchon also, esp. Gravity's Rainbow and The Crying of Lot 49. He avoids the final collapse into the real in the latter by ending the narrative. In the former, he avoids it by (literally) ending the narrator. Slothrop fades into non-existence.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
i was just depressingly sure i would get a response from you that looked exactly like that one did. lazily quoting huge chunks of text and giving rote responses. it gets me down.
I quoted three lines. Feel free to engage with what I've written rather than playing the enlightened-master-wearily-trying-to-educate-a-swineherd role that's surely as rote by now as anything I've put down here.
 

luka

Moderator
I want the waveform to collapse and a truth to be uncovered, rather than to hover forever in a cloud of not-knowing.
I'm not disputing the desirability of this so much as I'm pointing out how difficult, and to all practical purposes, impossible in many cases, this actually is, particularly for people (peons) in our position. i think the desire can lead us to reach for certainty when it's not there (and this tendency can be and is exploited by Authority.) it's about the human propensity to lie (and fantasise). this uncertainty is one of the fundamental conditions we operate under. there's a balance of probability of course, and this can stand in perfectly adequately for certainty in most cases.

the book sounds interesting. i haven't read it and i will buy it whenever it next deigns to manifest itself in a 2nd hand bookshop. i would like to note though that you are concerned with a few very specific cases and something like ancient astronaut theory has (as far as I know) nothing to do with Russian interference in Syria or what have you.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
Yeah but I'd say, this is how this stuff plays out in the real world. Try and spend an afternoon watching Vanessa Beeley's Youtubes if you want full immersion. Book an exorcism afterwards. On one level, I find all the disiformation stuff completely fascinating - it is like one of the strangest weirdest sci-fi novels ever. But then the grimness of what's been covered up brings me back down again.
 

luka

Moderator
its one of the ways it plays out. i am very resistant to letting the discussion become narrowed down to russian disinformation and propaganda campaigns though becasue its far from being the whole or even the main story imo. fascinating and nightmarish as it may be.

disinformation and propaganda and not new concepts
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
Surely its the most active theatre for this sort of thing at the moment? Where does propaganda stop and conspiracy start? They are fundamentally intertwined. There's such a complex overlap throughout the history of the topic. All the UFO/military disinfo material for instance.
 

luka

Moderator
it might be danny i dont know im not an expert i was just trying to explain some of the reasons i think the conspiracy stuff is interesting which is what people were asking me (very reasonably) to do.

if you lot think its not interesting, or its bad, cos its 'not true' then ok, fine, we're back where we started. but at least ive said my peice
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
Well likewise really. I think it's interesting but only when you're writing about it at a critical remove (as your long post above does). Most "end users" don't have this distance and are convinced say, Robert F Kennedy (and his Syria pipelines theory) has uncovered a truth hitherto unknown to the uninformed masses.
 
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john eden

male pale and stale
What Luka wrote is great and I basically agree with Danny's replies (obviously).

I think that maybe there is a difference between Luka and I which boils down to looking at CTs from a distance vs immersing yourself in them. Obviously there are pros and cons to either approach. We both agree that CTs tell us something profound about humanity and society.

I don't think it's a question of whether or not someone has a better grasp of reality or not (that feels like a bit of a dead end). For me it's more like what tools do we use to understand the world.

And maybe as Danny has highlighted, Luka's is more of an artistic approach and mine is more scientific. If it stings or feels condescending when people bring up the worst excesses of CTs or the potential for them to cause real harm in the world then I'm afraid you're on a well worn path of artists who have tried to get right up close to the abyss. And likewise if people on the other side are painted as killjoys, people shutting down discussion etc that's hardly a new thing either.
 

sadmanbarty

New member
Do any of the broadly anti-conspiracy theorists (which I'd count myself as) see the negative impacts you're warning of in Luka or Sufi? If not, doesn't that suggest they've found a reasonable approach to them?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Lol, luka wrote another rude reply to me but then reconsidered and deleted it.

I think what winds me up the most about your attitude here is that you sound like you're treating the whole question of conspiracy like an amusing intellectual parlour game, rather than something with very real consequences for real people. I don't think the relatives of the passengers on flight MH17 particularly enjoy being 'poised in ambiguity' - as Dan says, somebody fired that missile, and it is in principle possible to find out who that person or group was and their ideological motivation. Same goes for victims of chemical weapon attacks in Syria, people sexually abused as kids decades ago by MPs and high-profile entertainers, and all the other real victims of real conspiracies. All this relativism and po-mo contempt for fusty old notions about evidence and facts can only ever serve the purposes of the conspirators.

You're also totally wrong that the far-out Twilight Zone type of conspiracy theories have nothing to do with actual political and geopolitical conspiracies. I mean, to me it's just blindingly obvious. The overlap between those obsessed with UFOs, lizard people, ancient super-civilizations and so on with the extreme right is vast, to the point of it being a virtual identity in some circles. Just look at the company David Icke keeps. It's not even new, I mean it goes back to the founding myths of the Nazi party and the occult movements that it grew out of. Yes, it's 'fascinating' and 'interesting', but it is also being used for notably unaltruistic purposes by the very elites you rail against. You've admitted as much yourself, in fact, so again I'm slightly at a loss to understand why you get so worked up at me in particular when we largely agree on this point, at least.
 
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