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TheBlackCat
2005-Oct-26, 05:31 AM
I had a course in conspiracy theories in high school. It's real name was "Theory of Knowledge", but it was really a course on conspiracy theories with the goal of teaching you about knowledge. The professor had a collection of dozens of books on conspiracies, and we watched numerous videos on them. Intelligent design was covered, as was the masons ruling the US governement, the evils of TV and soda, the knights templar, alien visitors, and secret nuclear spacecraft, but his main one was the secret conspiracy to save the society from destruction by destroying the minds of the current generation of youth. The assassination of JFK and the Moon Hoax were probably the ONLY conspiracies we didn't cover (although my sister informs me the glaring omission of the Moon Hoax omission was remedied when she took the course 2 years later). I am still not sure whether he actually believed what he said or not, but the course is largely responsible for making me the skeptic I am today (along with the Bad Astronomy book, of course). In the end the class taught skepticism by exposing you unadulterated credulity. I not sure how he did it, but it worked (at least for me). It was my favorite class in High School.

He said that if there wasn't either a fake or real alien invasion within the next 20 years he would give us his pension. I noted in class that there already has been a fake alien invasion (The War of the Worlds radio broadcast), so there is not actually any way to collect.

He would call me "Odd Todd" (Todd is my real name), but he said that he meant it as a compliment. Coming from him, I can believe it.

Taks
2005-Oct-29, 05:21 AM
you know, the funny thing about the war of the worlds broadcast that rarely gets mentioned? they actually announced that it was nothing more than a story before the broadcast. the panic that ensued was exaggerated in subsequent media reports and, not surprisingly enough, carried out by people that joined the show late.

i suppose, however, this is a perfect example of a willingness to believe without corroboration, right? this is how conspiracy theories get their footing.

taks

TheBlackCat
2005-Oct-29, 07:13 AM
Actually, from what I heard not only was it announced before the show but several times over the course of the show as well.

GDwarf
2005-Oct-29, 09:07 PM
Actually, from what I heard not only was it announced before the show but several times over the course of the show as well.
IIRC it was announced at the start, and about once every 10/15 minutes, after short commercial breaks. Now, if you flicked away for the commercial breaks you might miss those. But most people didn't panic, the media got a hold of a few who did and blew it up into mass-panic. However, it is a good lesson as to how credulous people can be, it doesn't matter how few there were, the fact that not only were the viewers told it was a radio drama but that it was also quite clearly based on the book the war of the worlds and people still panicked, seems to show just how easy it is to mislead others.

Gillianren
2005-Oct-30, 08:08 PM
Stephen King had an aunt who nearly committed suicide over War of the Worlds, but she decided to wait until she could see the tripods coming over the hill.

When I was in high school, CBS (I think) ran a similar program about asteroids that turned out to be alien spacecraft. They announced after every commercial break that it was just a TV show, but they still got more than a few calls about it--and, apparently, other networks got calls asking why they weren't broadcasting about it!

jojo180
2005-Nov-07, 05:40 PM
When reading your posts a terrifying thought crossed my mind, what if the USA had the nuclear capabilities then that they have now. Committing suicide over a radio show how freaky is that,

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-07, 09:03 PM
When reading your posts a terrifying thought crossed my mind, what if the USA had the nuclear capabilities then that they have now. Committing suicide over a radio show how freaky is that,

I'm pretty sure that we'd be safe still. The people in the US military would have known that we weren't being attacked by aliens. Joe Public, though, does not have Military Intelligence on his side. Ditto with militaries across the world. Without an enemy to shoot at, it's doubtful they'd have launched nukes ;)

genebujold
2005-Nov-12, 01:35 AM
Actually, from what I heard not only was it announced before the show but several times over the course of the show as well.

Correct. Among my treasures is a 100% intact copy of the complete broadcast of The War of the Worlds, from before it began to after it finished.

It's absolutely incredible to listen to it with your kids while huddled under a fort made of blankets and a couple of chairs!

Nothing but the good life...