Quote of the Day: Jane Bennet vs. Alex Jones

 

“… I have no idea of there being so much design in the world as some persons imagine.”  — Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Those are the words of Jane, the saintly elder sister of Austen’s spunky heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. Jane believed in the goodness of others, until she was given irrefutable evidence of their perfidy. Even then, she was reluctant to condemn.

I fall short of Jane’s example, but I think she’s right here. I’ll go further. There is far less design in the world than most people imagine. Conspiracies just aren’t that common.

I may be in the minority on this. A University of Chicago study, quoted by NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, says that at least 50 percent of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory. Because a particular personality type is drawn to such stories, I imagine the typical conspiracist believes in far more than just one, lone theory.

Some 60 percent of us believe John Kennedy’s assassination was something more complex than the official lone gunman explanation. (I’m happy to know there are as many as 40 percent who believe, with me, it was Oswald, in the Book Depository, with a rifle.)

According to a Rasmussen report, a mere 21 percent of Americans believe Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide. What I considered an Internet joke has been accepted as gospel.

The conspiracist is said to be of a distrustful and pessimistic bent. He may be alienated from society in general, whether literally, e.g., living alone in a trailer, or just living in a cynical bubble, peering at the world through narrowed eyes.

But, surely, that does not describe half of the country. So, maybe just a dollop of pessimism and a healthy skepticism can lead to dark thoughts of plots and strategems, too. This is a real danger, as we come more and more, with reason, to distrust our institutions and our sources of information.

For some reason, most of the articles focus on Americans’ paranoia. (Dr. Hofstadter, call your office.) We are said to be more prone to such obsessions because of our ingrained distrust of government. But that’s just what lefties like Richard Hofstadter would say.

We Americans may be a bit more prone to believe in conspiracies, although I’m skeptical. After all, one of the most successful conspiracy theories in history—Marxism—flourished around the world for a time, but not so much in American soil, the carefully tended gardens of academe excluded.

Caution is advised in entertaining conspiracy theories, and also in rejecting them. Not too long ago, the idea that the SARS-CoV-2 virus escaped from a Wuhan lab was roundly derided as a conspiracy theory. Now it’s being mainstreamed.

And what of Jane Bennet? Honesty requires me to note that, while I agree wholeheartedly with her quote, it turned out that sister Elizabeth, who suspected a plot, turned out to be on the money.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Most conspiracy theories are nuts, but sometimes…


    This is the Quote of the Day. It can be the easiest way to start a conspiracy theory conversation on Ricochet. Why not choose an open day and sign up for a bit of fun?

    http://ricochet.com/752667/quote-of-the-day-may-signup-sheet/

    • #1
  2. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Suspira: Conspiracies just aren’t that common.

    Compared to what? Sure, they aren’t common, but they aren’t non existent and, historically, exist among the elite ruling classes throughout history.

    Their rarity is not proof of non-existence.

    I think the internet joke about Epstein was born out of no one believing Epstein killed himself. We like to chalk things up to incompetence, but I frequently feel that’s a cop out.

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Stina (View Comment):
    I think the internet joke about Epstein was born out of no one believing Epstein killed himself. We like to chalk things up to incompetence, but I frequently feel that’s a cop out.

    Most of the time, there really is incompetence, but that does provide cover for the conspiracies that can explain things away through incompetence. Both guards happened to fall asleep and the tapes went missing? Just incompetence.

    • #3
  4. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    Stina (View Comment):
    I think the internet joke about Epstein was born out of no one believing Epstein killed himself.

    Well, not NO one. I believe he most likely killed himself. But the jokes are funny.

    • #4
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I think there is a vast conspiracy to put the label, “Conspiracy theory!” on things that are explicitly not conspiracy theories.

    • #5
  6. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I think there is a vast conspiracy to put the label, “Conspiracy theory!” on things that are explicitly not conspiracy theories.

    Like the Obama Administration’s attempts to sabotage the incoming Trump Administration?

    • #6
  7. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    The word conspiracy is not the label it once was.  It’s cousin, the word hoax, can also mean the same thing. For three plus years, many said the Russia investigation was a conspiracy – a hoax. Much time, money and heartache was spent on it, and it turned out to be true. Lies and dis-information can be rampant, so its up to each of us to do our own homework and decide what’s true. Verify as Reagan said.  I think there is more truth behind some of these theories than many know.

    • #7
  8. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Suspira: Caution is advised in entertaining conspiracy theories, and also in rejecting them

    That’s why I don’t believe in conspiracy theories . . . except when I do

    • #8
  9. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Suspira:

    The conspiracist is said to be of a distrustful and pessimistic bent. He may be alienated from society in general, whether literally, e.g., living alone in a trailer, or just living in a cynical bubble, peering at the world through narrowed eyes.

    But, surely, that does not describe half of the country. So, maybe just a dollop of pessimism and a healthy skepticism can lead to dark thoughts of plots and strategems, too. This is a real danger, as we come more and more, with reason, to distrust our institutions and our sources of information

    Well, there is the conspiracy “nut” — the one who sees it everywhere, who explains all of existence in some nefarious grand plan being executed by a master mind. This is the James Bond formulation. But I think  the 50% number certainly doesn’t describe that. Humans are programmed to see patterns, so it is unsurprising that most people are open to the notion of a conspiracy when events seem to move in a direction they see as bad. (Interesting how the only positive “conspiracy” is seen as the benevolent hand of G-d.) So there is some number of people (I wouldn’t try to estimate a percentage) who are inclined to deep conspiracies, and a much larger number of people who are open to the potential for a transactional conspiracy. Because, in truth, there are transactional conspiracies. Most of them are temporary alliances of mutual benefit rather than long-term controlled coordination. But they do exist. And all of the conspirators only realize a part of their goals since they do not act in a fully disciplined fashion under tight controls. But that does not mean they do not do harm to those in opposition to the ends of the conspirators. So caution and skepticism is always called for.

    • #9
  10. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Worth noting that a writer at the New York Times just won a Pulitzer for a conspiracy theory.  Sometimes the source or sources pushing the theory elevate it.

    • #10
  11. Tree Rat Inactive
    Tree Rat
    @RichardFinlay

    Maybe Epstein did kill himself.

    Having (apparently?) tried suicide once before, perhaps he was told that the camera system was going to be defective while the guards would be napping at a certain time.

    Maybe he was given a choice between offing himself or something bad happening to someone else.  Or maybe he was told what detailed information about himself was going to be revealed and he wanted it hidden for some reason.

    Conspiracy theories can be spun in more than one dimension.

    Given that it seems reasonable that he knew a lot of very damaging material about a lot of ‘important’ people, it is not ridiculous to believe it possible that his death was more than a spontaneous whim on his own part.

    Not dispositive, of course, but not totally implausible.  Keeping an open mind here, when I bother to think about it, which is rarely.

    • #11
  12. Scott R Member
    Scott R
    @ScottR

    My mom is a consumer of more or less exclusively mainstream news. When I visit and fill her in on some news and perspectives which the MSM has denied her, I often find myself sounding and feeling like a conspiracy theorist, despite my knowing that I am not one.

    That’s a troubling state of affairs, but a reassuring one for those who caused it.

    • #12
  13. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    Scott R (View Comment):

    My mom is a consumer of more or less exclusively mainstream news. When I visit and fill her in on some news and perspectives which the MSM has denied her, I often find myself sounding and feeling like a conspiracy theorist, despite my knowing that I am not one.

    That’s a troubling state of affairs, but a reassuring one for those who caused it.

    I’ve had exactly this experience. I’m trying to work on a tone that says I’m not a crazy hater when I tell my sister “Actually, it looks like the FBI set a trap for Michael Flynn to discredit him, and now it looks like Obama knew about it.” Tough one.

    • #13
  14. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Suspira (View Comment):
    I’ve had exactly this experience. I’m trying to work on a tone that says I’m not a crazy hater when I tell my sister “Actually, it looks like the FBI set a trap for Michael Flynn to discredit him, and now it looks like Obama knew about it.” Tough one.

    I understand the problem. But maybe I’m not keeping up, because I don’t know much about what basis there is for saying Obama knew about it. I guess nothing would surprise me any more, but is there some new news on this front that I don’t know about? 

    • #14
  15. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Suspira (View Comment):
    I’ve had exactly this experience. I’m trying to work on a tone that says I’m not a crazy hater when I tell my sister “Actually, it looks like the FBI set a trap for Michael Flynn to discredit him, and now it looks like Obama knew about it.” Tough one.

    I understand the problem. But maybe I’m not keeping up, because I don’t know much about what basis there is for saying Obama knew about it. I guess nothing would surprise me any more, but is there some new news on this front that I don’t know about?

    @thereticulator, https://nypost.com/2020/05/08/obama-knew-details-of-michael-flynns-wiretapped-calls-docs/

     

    • #15
  16. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Suspira (View Comment):
    I’ve had exactly this experience. I’m trying to work on a tone that says I’m not a crazy hater when I tell my sister “Actually, it looks like the FBI set a trap for Michael Flynn to discredit him, and now it looks like Obama knew about it.” Tough one.

    I understand the problem. But maybe I’m not keeping up, because I don’t know much about what basis there is for saying Obama knew about it. I guess nothing would surprise me any more, but is there some new news on this front that I don’t know about?

    There’s some excitement on Twitter about documents. I probably should wait for more information before going with this.

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Rodin (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Suspira (View Comment):
    I’ve had exactly this experience. I’m trying to work on a tone that says I’m not a crazy hater when I tell my sister “Actually, it looks like the FBI set a trap for Michael Flynn to discredit him, and now it looks like Obama knew about it.” Tough one.

    I understand the problem. But maybe I’m not keeping up, because I don’t know much about what basis there is for saying Obama knew about it. I guess nothing would surprise me any more, but is there some new news on this front that I don’t know about?

    @thereticulator, https://nypost.com/2020/05/08/obama-knew-details-of-michael-flynns-wiretapped-calls-docs/

     

    Very interesting. Thank you.

    • #17
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Suspira (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Suspira (View Comment):
    I’ve had exactly this experience. I’m trying to work on a tone that says I’m not a crazy hater when I tell my sister “Actually, it looks like the FBI set a trap for Michael Flynn to discredit him, and now it looks like Obama knew about it.” Tough one.

    I understand the problem. But maybe I’m not keeping up, because I don’t know much about what basis there is for saying Obama knew about it. I guess nothing would surprise me any more, but is there some new news on this front that I don’t know about?

    There’s some excitement on Twitter about documents. I probably should wait for more information before going with this.

    Thank you.

    One. This proves that my latest settings to block video and audio autoplay on Firefox really work!  The settings accessible through the menus were not working, but there are some more obscure settings in about:config that do work. Until now the usual sequence when somebody linked to a Fox article was for me to start reading, and close the browser window the moment I heard it autoplaying. Fox was #1 on my list of offenders.  Now I can read such articles! Dealing with those settings is like extracting information from the FBI.

    Two. Amazing sentence:

    Obama “specified that he did not want any additional information on the matter, but was seeking information on whether the White House should be treating Flynn any differently, given the information.”

    So a possible translation goes as follows: Obama didn’t want to be told more about what he wasn’t supposed to know about and already knew, anyway, but wanted to know how to act on the information he wasn’t supposed to have. 

    Whether or not my translation is right, there is a lot about this that needs further explaining.

    • #18
  19. GFHandle Member
    GFHandle
    @GFHandle

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I think there is a vast conspiracy to put the label, “Conspiracy theory!” on things that are explicitly not conspiracy theories.

    I read somewhere the CIA invented the term. No kidding. It’s one of those notions that shuts down thought. Just because there are plenty of crazy theories out there doesn’t mean that some outlandish things don’t happen. Mueller report, dossier, or Flynn case anyone?

     

    • #19
  20. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    GFHandle (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I think there is a vast conspiracy to put the label, “Conspiracy theory!” on things that are explicitly not conspiracy theories.

    I read somewhere the CIA invented the term. No kidding. It’s one of those notions that shuts down thought. Just because there are plenty of crazy theories out there doesn’t mean that some outlandish things don’t happen. Mueller report, dossier, or Flynn case anyone?

    It would certainly be ironic if the CIA invented a term that was used (overused?) to implicate the CIA in so many . . .conspiracy theories.

    • #20
  21. GFHandle Member
    GFHandle
    @GFHandle

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    It would certainly be ironic if the CIA invented a term that was used (overused?) to implicate the CIA in so many . . .conspiracy theories.

    They invented it as a debunking tool to protect themselves when their deeds were uncovered, no? Drugs and guns passing from lawmen to crooks? Don’t drink the Kool Aid. Couldn’t possibly happen. Coup attemps? Naw. Propagandizing the American citizenry? You must be joking….

     

    • #21
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