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Martian Jim
2002-Apr-29, 03:34 PM
Why the hell do people make up these stupid conspiracy theories? They are stupid. 51 area conspiracy, (which is just really a secrete project that people are saying it’s an alien ship. They even say that the moan hoax is a conspiracy. Everytime the government dose something they say “it’s a conspiracy, everything the government does is a conspiracy”. What next? They gonna start saying that the Hubbell telescope is really a super giant laser cannon that the government is trying to cover up by saying it’s a telescope and nasas pictures are fake or they gonna say that most major league baseball games are played by aliens?

We should have a bet on what they will point the conspiracy blame at next

Ill bet they are gonna say that atlantis exists and its really a alien research base

Johnno
2002-Apr-29, 03:39 PM
Well, Ill bet that next time a shuttle is in orbit there'll be a earth quake in Iraq or Afganistan, that'll surely start the conspiracy theory spinning about how the US military have a quake cannon installed on the shuttle.

Anybody seen the movie 'conspiracy theory' ?

Anyway, odd enough, it's already happened twice since Sep 11th, quake in afganistan, and guess what, shuttle in orbit...

Cool huh?

The Bad Astronomer
2002-Apr-29, 04:44 PM
Please try to keep these threads polite. I am frustrated by HBs as well, but try to maintain some decorum.

JayUtah
2002-Apr-29, 05:37 PM
The "why" is a very interesting question indeed. Some people just prefer to live in a fantasy world. If these people would just write novels and screenplays instead of trying to be taken seriously, I think they'd be richer, happier, and we'd all suffer them a bit more charitably.

The notion that existence is somehow greater than what we perceive is probably inherent to human thought. Some turn to religion to answer those questions. Others, apparently, evolve these elaborate conceptualizations of an alter-existence.

Both religion and conspiracism (the word of the day) are firmly rooted in an "us and them" philosophy. The idea of membership is itself firmly rooted in humanity's social instincts. You can't have the idea of membership without non-membership, ergo us versus them.

In the conspiracist case the world is divided roughly into two groups -- the elite shadowy ruling class and the sheep. The rulers exert power not necessarily through the overt channels of authority, but in back alleys and smoky rooms. Any secret organization, real or imaginary, feeds this perception. The ruling cabal has its monopolistic agenda, secret from everyone. The conspiracists fancy themselves as those who have broken away from the "sheep" and realize what is going on. They aren't fooled anymore.

It becomes a classic case of good and evil. The whole cabalistic conglomeration of the CIA, the Freemasons, NASA, the Illuminati, and whoever is unpopular this week -- they are the Evil Forces out to enslave us sheep and make us serve their interests. We, the sheep, are the poor and downtrodden. The conspiracist believes he's some sort of Jedi knight fighting the honorable battle against the secret oppressors.

Sounds like a good movie, no?

Conspiracists like to believe they're privy to the Big Secret. This gives them a feeling of importance and self-worth -- the feeling of being "on the inside". And so a delusion of grandeur usually rears its head.

The moon hoax theory gives conspiracists the illusion of being intelligent. They get to talk about cislunar radiation and rocket propulsion and light and shadow and gravity and air resistance and all the things they get to see scientists and engineers play with on a daily basis. But of course most of them probably couldn't pass a high school physics course. In reality they are very misinformed. But they acquire a sort of surrogate intelligence, a simplified view of the universe that makes them believe they're comfortable with difficult concepts. So it's a big thrill for them to say, "Hey, I'm smart; I understand all this."

Hobbes
2002-Apr-29, 05:44 PM
[quote]
On 2002-04-29 11:34, Martian Jim wrote:
They gonna start saying that the Hubbell telescope is really a super giant laser cannon that the government is trying to cover up by saying it’s a telescope...

It is, didn't you know? They already got Bin Laden with it... Sadam is next (heh heh) Say hey, with the recent upgrades to the Hubble, will they be able to look at the moon with it? Just curious...

Kizarvexis
2002-May-01, 01:48 AM
"They gonna start saying that the Hubbell telescope is really a super giant laser cannon that the government is trying to cover up by saying it’s a telescope and nasas pictures are fake or they gonna say that most major league baseball games are played by aliens? "

Don't forget about the ground based laser cannons that shoot down the manned missions of other nations (oh you didn't hear about those secret missions?) who are trying to muscle in on the US Gov/alien conspiracy.

See first pic on the right of the page below. A laser cannon if I ever saw one. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/expmoon/Apollo11/A11_Experiments_LRRR.html

Kizarvexis
I couldn't resist /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif
Astronomers get really cool toys! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

(reformat of a sentence)

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Kizarvexis on 2002-04-30 21:49 ]</font>

odysseus0101
2002-May-01, 04:53 AM
Don't forget about the ground based laser cannons that shoot down the manned missions of other nations


Don't forget the Crossbow Project, tested in 1984 at a US military facility near the west coast. While I am not sure if the space-based model was ever put into service, the laser was test-fired from a B-1. Although the aiming mechanism malfunctioned and a local professor's house was destroyed, the laser performed as expected.

Firefox
2002-May-01, 04:57 AM
I really need to see that movie again...


-Adam

Moonman
2002-May-01, 06:57 AM
While I don't go along with most conspiracy theories and especially the Moon Hoax, I have a question or two.

a) Is there no such thing as a Government conspiracy?

b) Do Governments ever keep secrets for their own good and not for the good of the people?

GrapesOfWrath
2002-May-01, 07:35 AM
On 2002-05-01 02:57, Moonman wrote:
While I don't go along with most conspiracy theories and especially the Moon Hoax, I have a question or two.

a) Is there no such thing as a Government conspiracy?

Do you mean, is there a policy about keeping offical secrets. Yes, there is such a thing. There are many such secrets.


b) Do Governments ever keep secrets for their own good and not for the good of the people?

Well, that's pretty subjective. In the case of the USA, the "people" includes the "government," and many people in the government are devoted to the good of the people, at least in principle. Are there criminals in government? Well, duh.

Moonman
2002-May-01, 08:18 AM
Well in the UK the Government is very rarely "the people" as most people vote against them but because of the multi-party system they win. Our Government has many, many secrets.

But I'll answer my own questions if I may, there are Government Conspiracies and they are not always in the interests of the people.

...which is why conspiracy stories run and run, because sometimes there is something to them.

In the case of the Moon Hoax there is so much evidence going against the HB's that they really haven't got a leg to stand on, although on a superficial level it does look like there is something to it. But in the end all you have to ask is "what about the Russians"?

As far as other conspiracy theories go I always had my doubts about "the lone gunman". Why? Because Jack Ruby's actions didn't make any sense whatsoever. But maybe that is for another discussion board.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Moonman on 2002-05-01 06:08 ]</font>

The Curtmudgeon
2002-May-01, 08:36 PM
On 2002-05-01 04:18, Moonman wrote:
...As far as other conspiracy theories go I always had my doubts about "the lone gunman". Why? Because Jack Ruby's actions didn't make any sense whatsoever. But maybe that is for another discussion board.

(emphasis added by me)

Yes, as phrased it really is for another discussion board, but I'll address it anyway as a general why-do-people-believe question. The point I've highlighted in your quote simply leads me to ask:

Why do you believe that Ruby's action has to, or ought to, make sense? Why does the senselessness of it make a governmental conspiracy more likely than personal idiotsyncracy or mental instability?

This, to me, is a serious question to ask of any conspiracy theorists, whether it's the JFK thingie or the Moon Hoax or whatnot. In any of the popular conspiracy theories, at least one supporting claim is that Event X (and possibly Y and Z and ...) "doesn't make sense" and therefore is prima facie evidence of The Conspiracy. Generally, it seems to me, sufficient investigation shows that Event X does/did make sense to the person(s) involved at the time, even if from a point of view that the CT hasn't considered (perhaps doesn't want to consider). And many things "make sense at the time" even when the person(s) involved might later admit that yes, it was a mistake and he/they should have done something differently.

But even if no such rationalisation can be found for Event X, the fact that very human people are involved simply makes the statement "Event X doesn't make sense" irrelevant. Without any disrespect intended, I contend that you yourself have at various points in your life done things that wouldn't make sense to anyone else, and perhaps even to your later self. Certainly, I know that fits me to a T, and everyone that I know personally and have raised this question (in some form or another) with.

As a more-or-less native Dallasite (except for less than a year following university, I've always lived in the suburbs rather than Dallas city limits proper), I remember the assassination and the aftermath. In fact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning news photo of Ruby shooting Oswald was taken by a close family friend. Ruby was a fairly well-known Dallas "character"--small-time 'mob' (such as it was in Dallas in those days) connections, beer and strip joint owner, and fond of showing off and shooting off his mouth. And certainly, calling him "eccentric" is stretching the definition only a micron if at all. Given everything known about Ruby hereabouts, the idea that he dropped a neuron or twelve that day, went off on a wild hare and shot Oswald for some deeply personal, and most likely somewhat twisted, reason makes a whole lot more sense than that any person or group serious about committing The Crime of the Century and getting away with it would hire him to off a now-useless and possibly mouthy hit man.

Ruby himself was an uncontrollable braggart; why didn't The Conspiracy, if it existed, off him as they purportedly had him off Oswald, who as a loner was likely to be more close-mouthed than the flashy gambler? Yet he sat and rotted (almost literally, with the cancer eating him up) in prison for years.

Yes, BA Phil, I know I've gone way off thread on this. But I think my point can be seen to be easily generalised to the Moon Hoax or any other grandiose Conpsiracy Theory. These events that "don't make sense" without postulating some grand cover-up scheme, usually do make at least some sense when we bother to look into them. And not all people, even when rational themselves, are always driven by rational purposes.

The (it's part of being human) Curtmudgeon

DaveC
2002-May-01, 08:45 PM
But I'll answer my own questions if I may, there are Government Conspiracies and they are not always in the interests of the people.



I think it might be helpful if you define how you are using the term conspiracy. Maybe you could give a few examples of some government conspiracies from recent times - say the last 30-40 years - that had no conceivable public good associated with them.

Canada, like the UK, has a multi-party system and the "losers" always complain that the winner didn't enjoy the support of the majority of voters therefore has no mandate. Like you, we have three mainstream parties (liberal, conservative and socialist) plus a bunch of fringe parties including the communists. But, like you, we also have a parliamentary democracy wherein the House of Commons debates government policy and the Senate (House of Lords there) provides "sober second thought". I don't share your view that this system spawns conspiracy just because the elected government represents less than 50% of the voters. In fact, it is far easier to be a conspiracist government when there is no effective oppostion. Gaining more than 50% of the popular vote typically means having over 80% of the seats in the House in a multi-party system. It is those governments that are far more likely to be arrogant, aloof and secretive.

I think the dynamics of governing in a democracy are somewhat more complex than you imply. The reality is that elected representatives, despite being members of a single party, have a variety of views on various issues. I find the whole process of building and maintaining party concensus fascinating.

Moonman
2002-May-01, 09:00 PM
OK Curtmudgeon, thanks for your reply, but can you answer my original questions?

a) Is there no such thing as a Government Conspiracy?

b) Do Governments ever keep secrets for their own good and not for the good of the people?

I can't believe that you believe that every single conspiracy theory must be false because it is a conspiracy theory.

When I said Jack Ruby's actions didn't make sense, it obviously made sense to him. What doesn't make sense is the explanations by other people and even his own explanation in front of the Warren Commission. I didn't say that the conspiracy was necessarily a Government one, but I just don't believe the "accepted" lone gunman theory for many reasons.

There is no harm in asking questions, I for one believe it is right to question accepted truth, if we didn't we'd all still be living on a flat earth. I did question the Apollo Moon Hoax for a long time and found no evidence in favour of the HB's. I have also questioned the Kennedy Assasination over a long period and found there are still many things still unanswered.

So can you tell me that there is no such thing as a Government Conspiracy.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Moonman on 2002-05-01 17:03 ]</font>

Moonman
2002-May-01, 09:35 PM
...and as a final point, if you can't tell me 100% there is no such thing as a Government Conspiracy then that is the very reason we have "stupid conspiracy theroists".

Deep down, we don't really trust our Governments. (I certainly don't trust mine in the UK with good reason over the last 25 years since I was able to vote)

The Curtmudgeon
2002-May-01, 10:04 PM
On 2002-05-01 17:00, Moonman wrote:
OK Curtmudgeon, thanks for your reply, but can you answer my original questions?

a) Is there no such thing as a Government Conspiracy?

In the sense of the popular Conspiracy Theories about JFK, Moon Hoax, Area 51, Roswell/UFOs, Nazi Antarctic bases, and so forth, then I say Yes, there is no such thing in a democratically-elected government such as exists today in the US, UK, Canada, etc. Could such a thing happen in a tightly-controlled autocratic government? Certainly, there are countless examples of things hidden, for example, by the Soviet government that didn't come out until many years/decades later, some not until the whole governmental system collapsed. Hitler seems to have very successfully covered up The Final Solution from the vast majority of the German populace at the time. The effectiveness of Pol Pot's regime at killing its own citizens; the gassing of the Kurds by Saddam Hussein during/after the Iran-Iraq war--none of these became known to the general "outside world" until quite a while after they occurred.

Ask yourself: Can you really, in all seriousness, believe that the same governmental system--and in many cases, the exact same governmental politicians, that were unable to keep a lid on Watergate, the My Lei massacre, the invasion of Cambodia, the Clinton Whitewater and sex scandals, (and going back a bit) Teapot Dome, the various scandals of the Grant and Harding administrations, etc., actually pose such an effective, not to say efficient, conspiracy as is required by JFK, MLK, Area 51, Apollo Moon Hoax, Roswell/UFOs, et-bloody-cetera theories?

I simply can't. The mental image of Government-as-Super-Criminal-Cartel is too bloody hard to hold onto in the face of Government-as-Laurel-and-Hardy-slapstick that we see on a day-to-day basis.



b) Do Governments ever keep secrets for their own good and not for the good of the people?

Oh yes, certainly. But in probably 3/4 or more of the time, they do so because they think, or at least convince themselves, that they are doing it "for the good of the people." Official Secrets Acts are nothing new--in your country, Winnie Churchill actually used his power to put some of his personal war-time correspondence and files on ice for longer than the Official Secrets Act required; some documents are only now coming to light 50+ years after the facts, when the Act required only 30 in most cases, and some of his papers are under lock for 75 years or more. Did he do this for your good, or for his own? I think the answer is quite obvious.

But as those papers are becoming available, do they reveal any massive against-the-good-of-the-people conspiracies similar to what the CTs of today are all on about? No. Certainly not yet, at any rate. No behind-the-scenery deals with Hitler, no Patton-assassination plots to keep the Americans from controlling post-war Germany, no exchanging-British-Jews-for-RAF-POWs plots. Just the dirty little details of day-to-day politics, especially in wartime, that we've all come to know and love from the evening news since at least the Vietnam War (or maybe the Falklands War in the UK--I don't know how much coverage you got at the time of our little Southeast Asian carnival).



I can't believe that you believe that every single conspiracy theory must be false because it is a conspiracy theory.

I believe in conspiracies; I do not believe in conspiracy theories. And yes, my initial reaction to any conspiracy theory is, "I don't believe it; prove it to me."



When I said Jack Ruby's actions didn't make sense, it obviously made sense to him. What doesn't make sense is the explanations by other people and even his own explanation in front of the Warren Commission. I didn't say that the conspiracy was necessarily a Government one, but I just don't believe the "accepted" lone gunman theory for many reasons.

But that's part of what I'm saying, Moonman--Ruby's explanation in front of the Commission didn't make sense because Ruby himself didn't make sense. And the other people--his various lawyers and other spokespersons over time--didn't make sense because they were getting most if not all of their information from Ruby himself. Ruby was quite a few cards short of a full-house--sometimes intentionally because he loved all the attention paid to him, and sometimes just because at a certain core level the guy was nuts. Not can't-function-in-society nuts, but just a bubble off plumb anyway you measured him. And the people in Dallas who knew him in and before those years, and interacted with him whether frequently or just occasionally, knew this. And yet the JFK CTs won't take it into account.

As for the Warren Commission itself, I won't argue that there are quite a few things that they bobbled. Was it because they were covering something up, or because they were simply trying too hard to put to rest something that they really thought should be cut-and-dried and so they approached it that way? It seems fairly evident that the Commission made mistakes. Does that make them criminal, or merely human?



There is no harm in asking questions, I for one believe it is right to question accepted truth, if we didn't we'd all still be living on a flat earth.

Umm, no. We'd all still be living on a not-quite-spherical earth, just as we always have. We, or the majority of us, might believe that we're on a flat earth, but that would never make it true. But the idea of a flat earth wasn't demolished because some would-be-CT started asking, "Why do 'They' want us to believe in a flat earth? What are 'They' trying to hide from us?", but rather that people who simply observed plain facts started asking, "Why is the shadow of the Earth round where it falls on the Moon? Why does a ship sailing away disappear from the hull up gradually, instead of merely becoming smaller and smaller?"



I did question the Apollo Moon Hoax for a long time and found no evidence in favour of the HB's. I have also questioned the Kennedy Assasination over a long period and found there are still many things still unanswered.

Yet unaswered questions are not evidence of a conspiracy to keep them unanswered. There are countless questions in history to which we may never know the answers, but it's not going to be because some conspiracy has pulled a cover over the facts. It's annoying when this happens with something as recent as the JFK assassination or the like, when we think that we as moderns should be able to dig up all the documentary evidence we should want, but it's still a fact of historical research.



So can you tell me that there is no such thing as a Government Conspiracy.

What's that Sagan quote? "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Something like that, at any rate.

The (but then, there's always the IRS /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif ) Curtmudgeon

The Curtmudgeon
2002-May-01, 10:08 PM
On 2002-05-01 17:35, Moonman wrote:
...and as a final point, if you can't tell me 100% there is no such thing as a Government Conspiracy then that is the very reason we have "stupid conspiracy theroists".

Deep down, we don't really trust our Governments. (I certainly don't trust mine in the UK with good reason over the last 25 years since I was able to vote)


I certainly don't trust my government in general, although I'm a lot happier with "The Governor" in the White House than the previous regime. But a large part of that distrust is based on the fact that I can see, and have been able to watch, what 'They' do as a government. It is not because 'They' are so good at covering things up that I have no idea what's going on. I have an excellent idea of what's going on--that's why I don't trust government.

Hell, if those idiots in Washington could learn to keep a secret or two, I'd probably like them a whole lot better. Or at least trust them, as having little choice.

The (familiarity breeds contempt, especially with politicians) Curtmudgeon

Peter B
2002-May-02, 06:29 AM
Folks

If you're interested in a discussion of the Kennedy assassination, have a look at the forum on James Randi's web-site (randi.org). There's a thread on the topic that's been running hot over the last few weeks. That might be a better place to discuss such things.

DaveC
2002-May-03, 04:18 PM
The discussion isn't as off topic as it appears. The possibility of Apollo being hoaxed rests on an assumption that the government is able to, and does, routinely pull off large conspiracies. The Curtmudgeon
and I seem to share the view that there is no such thing as a conspiracy (of the type being discussed) in a western democracy - therefore no basis to conclude the government could or would hoax Apollo. The references to JFK, area 51 etc, are, in my view, contextual and very much related to the topic. We do need to avoid getting into detailed discussions of the JFK assassination here, but showing it is more an issue of investigatory bungling than conspiracy is germaine to the broader discussion.

I'm still waiting for Moonman to give me a few examples of conspiracies in western democracies where no public good was served. Actually, prior to that, I want Moonman to define "conspiracy" as he is using it in this thread.

Moonman
2002-May-03, 04:34 PM
Top of my head...

Watergate?

Whitewatergate?

The log of the submarine that sank the General Belgrano was "lost"?

Regan's arms to contra rebels?

Wasn't there an innoculation programme in America that was a bit dodgy?

There must be more.

I would think a 'government conspiracy' is any secret action intended to self serve and not serve the public good.

and

Any action designed to cover up embarassing mistakes by a Government.

Do you trust your secret services? They are very powerful but who voted for them? Who runs them? Are the fully answerable to Government? How would we know? I include secret services in any 'Goverment Conspiracy'.




<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Moonman on 2002-05-03 12:36 ]</font>

Chuck
2002-May-04, 08:58 PM
There is no America. The Columbus voyage was a hoax.

Curious George
2002-May-05, 01:39 AM
There is a certain percentage of the population (7%, if memory serves) that believes a percentage of the moon is made of... cheese!
Now, seeing as cheese is a man-made product, I wonder how the HB'ers deal with that statistic. -Food for thought, literally.
/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Matt

Hale_Bopp
2002-May-05, 04:16 AM
The green cheese misconception is my fault. I didn't have a moon filter when I first got my telescope 20 years ago. Since the moon was so bright through an 8 inch scope, I put a green filter in and told everyone the moon was made of green cheese.

I apologize for the inconvenience /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Rob

Peter B
2002-May-05, 08:00 AM
Moonman

The interesting thing about a lot of what could be called Government Conspiracies is that they're uncovered.

We had a similar business here in Australia. Over the last couple of years, there have been considerable numbers of people seeking to enter Australia as refugees, travelling here by boat. On one occasion, word got out that the people on a boat threatened to throw children overboard if they weren't accepted as refugees in Australia.

The way the Australian public heard that information probably had a big bearing on the result of our last Federal election, with a conservative coalition retaining government.

However, six months down the track, it's been revealled that no children were in danger of being thrown overboard, and that the government almost certainly knew this at the time.

So while there was almost certainly a conspiracy to keep certain information from the public, it took only six months for the truth to come out - largely because there was a political opposition seeking the truth, and a disinterested Navy captain who was on the scene at the time, and who gave evidence to a Parliamentary inquiry of what he saw.

However, it's worth noting that the conspiracy served its purpose - helping the governing coalition win an election.

Why would it be necessary for the US government to continue to keep a Moon landing hoax secret? And given the number of members of Congress who are hostile to NASA, don't you think one of THEM might've found some evidence? In fact, I reckon they'd be the most eager consumers of any evidence that would embarress NASA. Yet how many have jumped onto the hoax bandwagon?

Moonman
2002-May-06, 07:16 AM
Why would it be necessary for the US government to continue to keep a Moon landing hoax secret?

Err.. You've got the wrong person. The Moon Landing took place as advertised as far as I'm concerned.

I don't go with most conspiracy theories, my original point is that I believe that Government Conspiracies are a possiblity and you always need to question everything.

I don't trust Government and I certainly don't trust Intelligence Agencies.

Of all the conspiracy theories, the nearest I come to believing is that LHO was not on his own, but what really happened I don't know. That's it really.

DaveC
2002-May-06, 03:12 PM
OK, Moonman. I accept that you have identified some "conspiracies", but the very fact that the government was the instrument for investigation of the actions of, in each case, a small group of perpetrators gives me more rather than less confidence in government.

Your distrust doesn't seem to arise from anything in particular, just a general feeling that THEY shouldn't be trusted. I think it is right to be diligent about the actions of government - on the other hand western democracies spend a huge amount of time and money looking for scandal and conspiracy where none exists. The Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky debacle is a perfect example of government paralysis over an event that nobody cared about. I figure if Hillary was OK with it, who else should care what two consenting adults did. It was stupid, it was tasteless (no pun intended), and it was unprofessional. But a criminal conspiracy? Hardly.

Conspiracy is NOT the same as secrecy. In order to have a conspiracy an act needs to be planned or committed that is either illegal or intended to cause harm. Watergate probably meets that definition, although it was a long way from being a Government conspiracy. A few individuals may conspire to do something illegal or harmful - they may even, as Nixon did, try to co-opt others in government, but unless the conspiracy involves several branches of government in the silence, I just don't share your view that government can't be trusted.

I think we'd all agree that governments are often too secretive about things that need not be secret, but secrecy isn't conspiracy.

JayUtah
2002-May-06, 03:54 PM
Most conspiracy theorists adhere to the adage, "Where there's smoke, there's fire," which, from a logical standpoint is utterly ridiculous. Where there's smoke, there's smoke. If you want to argue for fire, show evidence of fire. Until that's done, evidence of smoke is insufficient. After that's done, evidence of smoke is irrelevant.

Keeping any secret among two or more people, whether for legitimate purposes or selfish ones, requires a conspiracy -- in the strict definition. But that's the same definition that applies to surprise birthday parties, and so the moral is that conspiracy, per se, is not harmful.

We know people and agencies in the government keep secrets, and we grudgingly admit that it's probably better that way for some purposes, such as for national defense. Sure, we'd all like to know how fast American nuclear submarines can go, but there's no way for the Navy to tell us without telling everyone else in the world, and that's clearly not always the best policy.

NASA "conspired" not to tell anyone Apollo 11's flag blew down when the LM lifted off. Why? Obviously for romantic reasons. Let the nation ride high for a few years and enjoy the success. These days, however, we find it easy to talk about the flag blowing down. We aren't as romantically attached as we were to the notion of the first American flag on the moon.

That little secret couldn't be kept for very long. And the secrets put forth as examples of government conspiracy share that same trait. Some were kept for a few years, and some were kept only a short time. And in nearly all cases those were "compartmentalized" operations, limited to small groups of people that already operated autonomously.

NASA was a far more public organization, and the postulated conspiracy would have involved other branches of government service. It makes it hard to equate such a massive, cross-departmental effort with the Watergate break-in or the Iran-Contra arms scandal.

DaveC
2002-May-06, 10:41 PM
On 2002-05-06 11:54, JayUtah wrote:

Keeping any secret among two or more people, whether for legitimate purposes or selfish ones, requires a conspiracy -- in the strict definition. But that's the same definition that applies to surprise birthday parties, and so the moral is that conspiracy, per se, is not harmful.


I guess the Canadian and American definitions are different. We don't have "conspiracies to commit a birthday party" here. I guess loosely speaking, people might conspire together to plan a surprise party, but I don't think the strict (Oxford English) definition of the word allows it to be used in any context other than illegal or harmful. Perhaps it's that loose definition (any secret shared by two or more people) that is causing people like Moonman to see governments as conspirators rather than the keepers of secrets.

In the strict definition, a hoaxed Apollo record would be a conspiracy because it would have set out to defraud the American taxpayer. Beyond that, there may be nothing illegal or harmful in what the HBs claim the government did. Well, maybe there was harm inflicted on the Soviet space program - and maybe in the long term that harmed humanity in general because the Soviets may have developed some invaluable spin-off technology that we have now been denied.

I think your definition would make the early Soviet space program a conspiracy rather than a secret. I don't think it would be correct to say there was a Soviet conspiracy to put Sputnik in orbit, or put Gagarin in orbit. These were simply secret government programs, kept secret by the totalitarian control exercised by the government. If there was a conspiracy, it was to hide their disastrous failures from the world - totally the opposite of the US where the failures, like Challenger, were live on public TV.

JayUtah
2002-May-06, 11:26 PM
I agree with that. The American usage of "conspiracy" does not cover suprise birthday parties, but if we must consider all examples of government secrecy "conspiracies", then we must also consider birthday parties "conspiracies". "Conspiracy" has the same negative connotation in American English, but in a definition that does not consider the morality of the conspiracy's intent, any two people agreeing on a secret course of action will have conspired.

The proper answer is that the government engages in a very few activities that might be considered conspiracies in the common sense, because they have morally questionable intent and outcome. But the keeping of a secret between two or more people does not itself qualify as a "conspiracy". We must allow for legitimate keeping of secrets, and if the government does this then we can't use that as evidence they are conspiratorial.