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  Reply # 523081 19-Sep-2011 15:41
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StarBlazer: Thank goodness for conspiracy theorists proving the ruling bodies wrong.


How were they conspiracy theorists?

Many of those forward thinkers used the scientific method, something that is encouraged by skeptics. 




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  Reply # 523087 19-Sep-2011 15:46
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StarBlazer: Apparently, the world was flat and all the stars and planets revolved around the earth.  Thank goodness for conspiracy theorists proving the ruling bodies wrong.


No, thank you to scientists who used scientific methods to prove theories. Very different of people that believe and preach crazy conspiracy theories.





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  Reply # 523095 19-Sep-2011 15:59
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My point being that Columbus was considered a crackpot at the time and struggled to get funding for his voyage. The church at the time considered the earth to be flat and therefore no point in trying to prove it.

Conspiracy theories are only that until there is enough evidence.




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  Reply # 523105 19-Sep-2011 16:06
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No, not... Those are "theories".

A "conspiracy theory" is different in that some believe there are hidden forces behind some phenomena, trying to use that to their advantage and dominate the world.

Believing the world is round, based on observation of horizon, or that Earth orbits the Sun, based on observation of cyclic events such as seasons, Sun orientation, is a scientific theory, not a conspiracy theory.

The established powers could say those were lunatics, but the lunacy was based on scientific observations, not on some imaginary plot. There lies in the difference.






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  Reply # 523155 19-Sep-2011 17:49
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NonprayingMantis:
to name but one, the watergate scandal was a conspiracy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watergate_scandal
or how about the gunpowder plot "remember remember the 5th of November."  that was a conspiracy.

I don't think there are many people around who would argue that both of these events happened.

Surely you are confusing  fact and fiction. We conspire every day to achieve certain outcomes (whether these be in the near or distant future).  That is conspiracy of fact. And you've given good examples. Geekzone is perhaps another.

Here though we're talking about conspiracy theories, or the conspiracy of fiction.  Which is, I'd surmise, the conspiring of fiction(s) to support a factual outcome.



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  Reply # 523250 19-Sep-2011 20:57
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ScottStevensNZ:Not to invoke Godwins law - the Final Solution was a conspiracy and a very well documented one at that, so was Pearl Harbour. Conspiracies do exist and I would term that actions under taken in secret to produce an outcome can fall within that rubric. As to if a 'Conspiracy Theory' Exists then it needs to be able to stand up to the rigour that the use of the word 'Theory' implies. More accurately they should be called conspiracy assetions IMHO.


Ok, the consensus of the skeptics here is that conspiracies are not only possible but have existed in the past and likely exist currently.

Given that, we now need to assess our ability, and possibly the ability of the general public, to detect a conspiracy. 

What is needed to detect a well hidden conspiracy?
 

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  Reply # 523255 19-Sep-2011 21:09
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oxnsox:
Brendan:
Assuming a competently run conspiracy    ...(edit).... 

I think this statement requires some clarification. 


No, I didn't think so. i thought it was clear enough.

But I'll explain it further. A well run conspiracy is a conspiracy that is both difficult to detect, it's members are motivated (by self interest or religion say) to keep it secret, and the conspiracy is acheiving it's ends.


For example, a few years ago we were all told here in New Zealand by the banking experts of the time that there was no room for another bank; that it was a foolish waste of money.
When one was established anyway, they then said it would not survive, and that the fee's the older banks were charging was rock bottom, cant go any lower, financial suicide to attempt it.
When THAT was also done by the new bank, it was again asserted by the old banks that it would fail, and again they also asserted it was a a foolish waste of taxpayer money. I may also recall them trying to claim that the NZ public didn't want it.
When the new bank went on to gain more and more customers, charging less and less, it became clear that not only could it work, but it WAS working. Now, the old banks are dropping charges to compete.

Now: does this constitute a conspiracy (before it 'failed')? Remember, we had various supposedly unconnected banks all saying the same thing. They were motivated (by money) to conceal the truth (the new bank could work, and they were ripping us off). And it was difficult to detect at the time (they were the 'experts" and beyond questions almost).


Now, if this is deemed a conspiracy (of market manipulation), why is it difficult to assume there are other, less obvious conspiracies we did NOT get evidence for? 
 

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  Reply # 523259 19-Sep-2011 21:16
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Linuxluver: 
Politics isn't a matter of faith.


I beg to differ.

It's the process by which people work out who gets to drive, who sits in the front seat..and who rides in the back. It's played out every second of every day everywhere.


That's called an 'election'.

Religion is a club for people who choose to believe something. It might be true and it might not. Most often they involved a deity who doesn't stand up to empirical scrutiny.


I agree, but would go further. That's a whole other thread though.

Ideology is religion without the ghosts. Ideology and politics are frequently confused as ideology is frequently acted out in the course of conducting politics.


I do not think there is an example of practical politics without ideology. Yet. Do you have one?

It's important to understand what's real...and what isn't. :-)


Of course.

It's also important to not accept arguments from authority. Sometimes the most interesting answers we get are from asking the most basic questions. 

gzt

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  Reply # 523272 19-Sep-2011 21:39
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Besides me, does anyone else here think a geekzone skeptical enquiry forum is a good idea? (as Freitas raised earlier in this thread)

I find these semi-philosophical discussions very interesting, but it seems everytime one starts up in off-topic it just goes all over the place without achieving a good discussion and then very soon ends up repeating without achieving optimum topic coverage.

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  Reply # 523303 19-Sep-2011 22:55
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BurningBeard: The Anti-freemansonists really tick me off.


Why is that? Are you pro cults?
Freemasonry really ticks me off
Edit; on reflection I don't think Freemasons quite fit the label of cult. But it is certainly bad news. It bothers me that good friends are involved. Top blokes.

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  Reply # 523318 19-Sep-2011 23:29
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StarBlazer: My point being that Columbus was considered a crackpot at the time and struggled to get funding for his voyage. The church at the time considered the earth to be flat and therefore no point in trying to prove it.

Conspiracy theories are only that until there is enough evidence.


No.  No they didn't.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth#.22Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth.22_in_modern_historiography

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth

"The myth of the Flat Earth is the modern misconception that the prevailing cosmological view during the Middle Ages saw the Earth as flat, instead of spherical.[1]

This idea seems to have been widespread during the first half of the 20th century, so that the Members of the Historical Association in 1945 stated that:
"The idea that educated men at the time of Columbus believed that the earth was flat, and that this belief was one of the obstacles to be overcome by Columbus before he could get his project sanctioned, remains one of the hardiest errors in teaching." [2]
During the early Middle Ages, virtually all scholars maintained the spherical viewpoint first expressed by the Ancient Greeks. By the 14th century, belief in a flat earth among the educated was essentially dead.

However, among Medieval artists, depictions of a flat earth remained common.[citation needed] The exterior of the famous triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch is a Renaissance example in which a disc-shaped earth is shown floating inside a transparent sphere.[3]

According to Stephen Jay Gould, "there never was a period of 'flat earth darkness' among scholars (regardless of how the public at large may have conceptualized our planet both then and now). Greek knowledge of sphericity never faded, and all major medieval scholars accepted the earth's roundness as an established fact of cosmology."[4]

Historians of science David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers point out that "there was scarcely a Christian scholar of the Middle Ages who did not acknowledge [Earth's] sphericity and even know its approximate circumference".[5]

Historian Jeffrey Burton Russell says the flat earth error flourished most between 1870 and 1920, and had to do with the ideological setting created by struggles over evolution.[6] Russell claims "with extraordinary [sic] few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat," and credits histories by John William Draper, Andrew Dickson White, and Washington Irving for popularizing the flat-earth myth.[7]"

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  Reply # 523390 20-Sep-2011 09:14
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Skolink:Why is that? Are you pro cults?


No I'm not. Freemasonry is no more a cult than a cricket club.

Freemasonry really ticks me off


Why?

 Edit; on reflection I don't think Freemasons quite fit the label of cult. But it is certainly bad news. It bothers me that good friends are involved. Top blokes.


What is wrong with an organisation of men who adopt the fundamental principle of integrity, goodwill and charity as the foundations for an individual's life and character???




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  Reply # 523394 20-Sep-2011 09:24
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BurningBeard:
Skolink: Freemasonry really ticks me off


Why?

 Edit; on reflection I don't think Freemasons quite fit the label of cult. But it is certainly bad news. It bothers me that good friends are involved. Top blokes.


What is wrong with an organisation of men who adopt the fundamental principle of integrity, goodwill and charity as the foundations for an individual's life and character???


Freemasonry is an association of free men with a core set of morals that work together for the betterment of humankind in general. They are not out there to overthrow anything.

There's the assumption it's a "secret society" but the only secret is really how one freemason makes himself known to another and how the teachings are spread.

In some countries members prefer not to make it public their affiliation, in others they can and make it  publicly known. In some countries you have to be invited, in other countries you can just walk up and ask to join.

They can't even be a shadowy "New World Order" government because freemasonry in each country follow different rules.

Disclosure: I'm a Freemason, but since moving to New Zealand I have not been involved with them at all. Because of the different rules mentioned before I'd have to go through a few steps again, and I couldn't be bothered.

 




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  Reply # 523396 20-Sep-2011 09:31
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freitasm: No, not... Those are "theories".

A "conspiracy theory" is different in that some believe there are hidden forces behind some phenomena, trying to use that to their advantage and dominate the world.

Believing the world is round, based on observation of horizon, or that Earth orbits the Sun, based on observation of cyclic events such as seasons, Sun orientation, is a scientific theory, not a conspiracy theory.

The established powers could say those were lunatics, but the lunacy was based on scientific observations, not on some imaginary plot. There lies in the difference.




Conspiracy theories are not theories - they are at best assertions.




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  Reply # 523410 20-Sep-2011 10:09
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Brendan:
oxnsox:
Brendan:
Assuming a competently run conspiracy    ...(edit).... 

I think this statement requires some clarification. 

No, I didn't think so. i thought it was clear enough.

But I'll explain it further. A well run conspiracy is a conspiracy that is both difficult to detect, it's members are motivated (by self interest or religion say) to keep it secret, and the conspiracy is acheiving it's ends.
For example, a few years ago we were all told here in New Zealand by the banking experts of the time that there was no room for another bank; that it was a foolish waste of money.
When one was established anyway, they then said it would not survive, and that the fee's the older banks were charging was rock bottom, cant go any lower, financial suicide to attempt it.
When THAT was also done by the new bank, it was again asserted by the old banks that it would fail, and again they also asserted it was a a foolish waste of taxpayer money. I may also recall them trying to claim that the NZ public didn't want it.
When the new bank went on to gain more and more customers, charging less and less, it became clear that not only could it work, but it WAS working. Now, the old banks are dropping charges to compete.

Now: does this constitute a conspiracy (before it 'failed')? Remember, we had various supposedly unconnected banks all saying the same thing. They were motivated (by money) to conceal the truth (the new bank could work, and they were ripping us off). And it was difficult to detect at the time (they were the 'experts" and beyond questions almost).

Now, if this is deemed a conspiracy (of market manipulation), why is it difficult to assume there are other, less obvious conspiracies we did NOT get evidence for? 
 

Businesses conspire all the time, it is the nature of business. It is perhaps part of the definition of business. They conspire for outcomes. (Call it a business plan if its a more comfortable term.)

That does not make their actions fit any formal conspiracy theory model, unless you accept that traditional business models and practices are based on embedded conspiratorial practices that are not widely known within the management structures of the organisations.

Businesses, above all, are driven by financial goals designed to improve the lot of their stakeholders. Sometimes altruistic aspirations may dictate that financial gain is secondary, but this is more typically applied either when the business is financially stable and such actions really have a minimal short term impact, or, more typically, when the long term plan sees benefit in the short term altruistic goal. 
Businesses look forward.

Conspiracy theories (and theorists) are different beasts. If anything they are deconstructionists. They work backwards from an outcome. 

Soo... back to your original comment. 'A competently run conspiracy..'.  Sounds like a forward looking plan, to me. Not an after-the-fact theory thats conspired to explain unforeseen events and outcomes. 

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