THE BANALITY OF CONSPIRACY
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clandestine, collusion, concealed, conspiracism, conspiracy, corruption, covert, intrigue, plot, secrecy
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SILKY METEORS", "MOTLEY SKIERS AMUSE", "AMUSE SMILEY STOKER", "ARTLESS MOUSEY MIKE", "ASSES EMOTE MURKILY", "ASSUME MILKY STEREO", "ASSUME MISERLY TOKE", "ASSUME MISTER YOKEL", "ASSUME MOTLEY SKIER", "MOISTLY ASSUME REEK", "ASSUME RISKY OMELET", "ASSUME SILKY METEOR", "YOKELS ASSUME REMIT", "ASSURE TIMELY SMOKE", "ASYLUM SKIES METEOR", "ASYLUM SEEKER MOIST", "ATOMISE LEMURS KEYS", "ATOMISE SEEMLY RUSK", "AUKS EMOTE REMISSLY", "AUKS MEMORISE STYLE", "AUKS MISERY OMELETS", "AUKS SLEETY MEMOIRS", "AUKS SOMETIMES RELY", "AUKS STEELY MEMOIRS", "STYLE AUKS MEMORIES", "SILKY AUSTERE MEMOS", "AUSTERE SMOKY LIMES", "AUSTERE SMOKY SLIME", "AUSTERE SMOKY SMILE", "AUSTERELY KISS MEMO", "AYES SOMETIMES LURK", "EARLIEST SMOKY EMUS", "EARLIEST SMOKY MUSE", "MUSTILY EASE SMOKER", "EASE SMUT IRKSOMELY", "MUSKY MOTELS EASIER", "MURKY MOLES EASIEST", "EASIEST SMOKY LEMUR", "EASIEST SULK MEMORY", "EASIEST SUMMER YOLK", "EAST IMMURES YOKELS", "EASY KILOMETRE SUMS", "EASY OSMIUM KESTREL", "EASY SOLUTE 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YETIS", "MAYO SEEKERS LITMUS", "MUSKY ROES MEALIEST", "MEALIEST MUSKY ROSE", "MEALIEST MUSKY SORE", "MEALIEST USER SMOKY", "MEALY TISSUE SMOKER", "MEASLIER MUSKY TOES", "MEASLIER SMOKY SUET", "MEASLY IRKSOME SUET", "MEASLY MOUSE STRIKE", "MEASLY MOUSERS KITE", "MEASLY MOUSSE TRIKE", "MEASLY SMOKER SUITE", "MEASLY SMOKIER SUET", "MEASLY TRIKE MOUSES", "MEASURE LISSOM TYKE", "MEASURE MOTLEY KISS", "MEASURE MOTLEY SKIS", "MEASURE SILKY TOMES", "MEASURE SILTY SMOKE", "MEASURE SMOKY STILE", "MEASURE SMOKY TILES", "MEASURE TYKES LIMOS", "MEAT IRKSOMELY SUES", "MEATIER MUSKY SLOES", "MEATIER MUSKY SOLES", "MEATLESS MOUE RISKY", "MEEK ASYLUM SORTIES", "MEEK ASYLUM STORIES", "ASYLUMS MEEK SORTIE", "MEEK EMISSARY LOUTS", "MEEK ESSAY TURMOILS", "MEASLY MEEK SUITORS", "MEEK MOUSY REALISTS", "MEEK SISSY EMULATOR", "MEEK TURMOIL ESSAYS", "MEEKEST AIMS SOURLY", "MEEKEST LOUSY AMIRS", "MEEKEST MOUSY LIARS", "MEEKLY ASSUME TRIOS", "ASSURE MEEKLY MOIST", "MEEKLY MISUSE ROAST", "MEEKLY MUSTER OASIS", "MOUSY MEERKATS ISLE", "MOUSY MEERKATS LIES", "MEMORISE SULKY EAST", "MEMORISE SULKY SEAT", "MEMORISE YEAST SULK", "MEMORY LEAK TISSUES", "YULE MEMOS ASTERISK", "MERE LOUSY MISTAKES", "MERIT AMUSES YOKELS", "MERITS AMUSE YOKELS", "MESSIER ASYLUM TOKE", "MESSIER MOTLEY AUKS", "MESSIEST LEMUR OKAY", "MESSIEST MURKY ALOE", "MESSIEURS YOLK MATE", "MESSMATE LIKE YOURS", "MESSY KALE MOISTURE", "MESSY LAKE MOISTURE", "MESSY MOISTURE LEAK", "MESSY RATLIKE MOUSE", "METALISE MUSKY ORES", "METALISE MUSKY ROES", "METALISE MUSKY ROSE", "METALISE MUSKY SORE", "METALISE SMOKY USER", "MIKES ASYLUM STEREO", "MIKES EASTERLY SUMO", "MIKES LOUSE MASTERY", "MIKES MEASLY ROUTES", "MIKES YULE MAESTROS", "MILKY MASSEUSE TORE", "MILKY MOUSER TEASES", "MILKY MOUSSE EATERS", "MILKY ROSEATE MUSES", "MILKY STEREO AMUSES", "MISERLY TOKE AMUSES", "MISRULE YOKES MATES", "MISSUS LEAKY METEOR", "MIST MEEKLY AROUSES", "MISTER MOUSEY LEAKS", "MISTER YOKEL AMUSES", "MISTS MEEKLY AROUSE", "MISUSE RESTYLE AMOK", "MISUSE LEAKY METROS", "MISUSE MEALY STOKER", "MISUSE MEALY STROKE", "MISUSE STREAKY MOLE", "MISUSE YOKEL MASTER", "MITE MEASURES YOLKS", "MITRE AMUSES YOKELS", "MITRES AMUSE YOKELS", "MOISTER LEAKY MUSES", "MOISTER MUSKY EASEL", "MOISTER SEEMLY AUKS", "MOISTLY MAKE REUSES", "MOLE AUKS MYSTERIES", "MORALITY SEEKS EMUS", "MORALITY SEEKS MUSE", "MOSSIER AMULET KEYS", "MOSSIER LEAKY MUTES", "MOSSIEST YULE MAKER", "MOSTLY ISSUE REMAKE", "MOTLEY KAISER MUSES", "MOTLEY SKIER AMUSES", "MOTLEYS MISUSE RAKE", "MOUSES LYRE MISTAKE", "MOUSES MILKY EATERS", "MOUSEY ASSET MILKER", "MOUSEY EARLS KISMET", "MOUSEY ISLE MARKETS", "MOUSEY KAISER MELTS", "MOUSEY KAISERS MELT", "MOUSEY KESTREL AIMS", "MOUSEY LASER KISMET", "MOUSEY LIKES TAMERS", "MOUSEY MALES TRIKES", "MOUSEY MARKET ISLES", "MOUSEY MARKETS LIES", "MOUSEY MASKERS LITE", "MOUSEY MEAL STRIKES", "MOUSEY MEALS STRIKE", "MOUSEY METAL KISSER", "MOUSEY METAL SKIERS", "MOUSEY REMAKES LIST", "MOUSEY SEAT MILKERS", "MOUSEY SKATER SLIME", "MOUSEY SKATER SMILE", "MOUSEY SLIT REMAKES", "MOUSEY SMIRK ELATES", "MOUSEY STERILE MASK", "MOUSIER KALE SYSTEM", "MOUSIER LAKE SYSTEM", "MOUSIER LEAK SYSTEM", "MOUSIER LEAKY STEMS", "MOUSIER STEELY MASK", "MOUSIEST ARMY LEEKS", "MOUSIEST LEERY MASK", "MOUSIEST SLEEK ARMY", "MOUSSE ASTIR MEEKLY", "MOUSY MEERKAT ISLES", "MOUSY MILKER TEASES", "MOUSY TRIKE MEASLES", "MULES SMOKIEST YEAR", "MULES YEAST IRKSOME", "MUMS TREELIKE SOYAS", "MURKIEST EASY MOLES", "MURKIEST MESSY ALOE", "MURKIEST MOLE ESSAY", "MURKY EASEL MITOSES", "MURKY LASSIE EMOTES", "MUSE EATS IRKSOMELY", "MUSE SMOKES IRATELY", "MUSE SMOKES REALITY", "MUSES SMOKE REALITY", "MUSKET LIMO ESSAYER", "MUSKETEER OILS YAMS", "MUSKETEER SAYS LIMO", "MUSKETEER YAMS SILO", "MUSKY EMIRATE LOSES", "MUSKY ISOMER ELATES", "MUSKY LASSIE METEOR", "MUSKY METAL SOIREES", "MUSKY METEORS AISLE", "MUSKY OMELET ARISES", "MUSKY OMELETS ARISE", "MUSKY REEL ATOMISES", "MUSKY REMOTE AISLES", "MUSKY ROSEATE LIMES", "ESTEEM MUSKY SAILOR", "MUSKY SOIREE METALS", "MUST EASE IRKSOMELY", "AIMLESS YOKE MUSTER", "MUSTER SMOKE EASILY", "MUSTIER SMOKY EASEL", "IRKSOME MUSTY LEASE", "MUTELY RAISE SMOKES", "MUTELY RAISES SMOKE", "MUTES YOKE REALISMS", "OILY MUSKETEER MASS", "OKAY SEER SLUMMIEST", "OKAY TIMELESS SERUM", "OMIT ASYLUM SEEKERS", "ORATE MEEKLY MISSUS", "RAISE MUSKY OMELETS", "RAISES MUSKY OMELET", "MOTLEY RAKE MISUSES", "RAKE TIMELY MOUSSES", "RAKE YUMMIEST SLOES", "RAKE YUMMIEST SOLES", "RATLIKE MOUSEY MESS", "REALISE MUSKY MOTES", "REALISE MUSKY TOMES", "REALISE MUSTY SMOKE", "REALISE SMOKY MUTES", "REALITY SMOKES EMUS", "REEK MOISTLY AMUSES", "REISSUE MALTY SMOKE", "REISSUE MOTLEY MASK", "RELATE SMOKY MISUSE", "RELAY SMOKIEST EMUS", "REMAKE MOUSEY LISTS", "REMAKE MOUSEY SLITS", "REMAKE SILTY MOUSSE", "REMAKES LOUSY ITEMS", "REMAKES LOUSY MITES", "REMAKES MOUSE STYLI", "REMAKES SILTY MOUSE", "AMULET YOKES REMISS", "REMIT AMUSES YOKELS", "MASSEUSE YOLK REMIT", "REMOTE MUSKY LASSIE", "REMOTE SKIES ASYLUM", "REMOTELY AMUSE KISS", "REMOTELY ISSUE MASK", "RESUME TIMELY SOAKS", "RETAKE MOUSY SMILES", "RETAKE SUMO MESSILY", "RIOTS MEEKLY ASSUME", "RISKY OMELET AMUSES", "ROSEATE MUSKY SLIME", "ROSEATE MUSKY SMILE", "ROSIEST MEEK ASYLUM", "ROTE MILKY MASSEUSE", "ROYAL SEEKS TUMMIES", "ROYALISTS MEEK MUSE", "ROYALS SEEK TUMMIES", "YOKE RUMMEST LASSIE", "RUSK IMMOLATES EYES", "RUSKS IMMOLATE EYES", "SALTY OSMIUM SEEKER", "SALUTE MEMORY SKIES", "SAME MUSTIER YOKELS", "SAME SUET IRKSOMELY", "SAME SUITORS MEEKLY", "SATE MOUSEY MILKERS", "SATE SULKY MEMORIES", "SAUTE SMILEY SMOKER", "SEAMIER MUSKY STOLE", "SEAMIEST MORE SULKY", "SEAMIEST MURKY SLOE", "SEAMIEST MUSKY LORE", "SEAMIEST MUSKY ROLE", "SEAMIEST SERUM YOLK", "SEAMIEST SMOKY LURE", "SEAMY ELKS MOISTURE", "SEAMY ILEUM STROKES", "SEAMY LEEK TOURISMS", "LEEKS SEAMY TOURISM", "SEAR YOKELS TUMMIES", "SEEK MEASLY TOURISM", "SEEK MOISTER ASYLUM", "SEEK MOUSEY MISTRAL", "SEEKS YUMMIEST ORAL", "SEEMLIER MAYO TUSKS", "SEEMLIER MUSKY OATS", "SEEMLIER MUSTY OAKS", "SEEMLIEST MAYO RUSK", "SEEMLY MUSTIER OAKS", "SEMI LOUSY MEERKATS", "SEMI MOUSEY STALKER", "SERIOUSLY MEEK MAST", "SERIOUSLY MEEK MATS", "MEET MASK SERIOUSLY", "SILKY EURO MESSMATE", "SILKY METEOR AMUSES", "SILKY ROUE MESSMATE", "SIMULATE MOSSY REEK", "SIMULATE SMOKY SEER", "SKIM AUREOLE SYSTEM", "SKIM EASTERLY MOUSE", "SKIM EMULATORS EYES", "SKIMMER SEES OUTLAY", "SKIS AMUSE REMOTELY", "SLAKE MISTER MOUSEY", "SLAKE YUMMIEST SORE", "SLEEK SEAMY TOURISM", "SLEEKER SOYA SUMMIT", "SLEEKER TUMMY OASIS", "SLEEKEST MOUSY AMIR", "SLEETIER MOUSY MASK", "SLIEST MOUSY REMAKE", "SLUMMIEST EERY OAKS", "SLUMMY IOTA SEEKERS", "SLUMMY STEAK SOIREE", "SMILEY MOUSER STEAK", "SMILEY MUSKET AROSE", "SMILEY ROSEATE MUSK", "SMILEY MOUSE SKATER", "SMOKE ESTUARY SLIME", "ALTRUISM SMOKE EYES", "SMOKE MURALIST EYES", "SMOKE MUTELY ARISES", "SMOKE SAREE MUSTILY", "SMOKE SUETY REALISM", "SMOKER MUTES EASILY", "SMOKERS MUTE EASILY", "MEALY SMOKERS SUITE", "SMOKIER MULES YEAST", "SMOKIER MUSTY EASEL", "SMOKIER SUETY MALES", "SMOKIER SUETY MEALS", "SMOKIEST EARLY MUSE", "SMOKIEST LEMUR EASY", "SMOKIEST EMUS EARLY", "SMOKIEST MEALY RUSE", "SMOKIEST MEALY USER", "SMOKIEST MUSE RELAY", "SMOKIEST YULE SMEAR", "SMOKY AMULET SERIES", "SMOKY ATELIER MUSES", "SMOKY ATRIUM LESSEE", "EMERITUS SMOKY ALES", "SMOKY ISLET MEASURE", "SMOKY MALE SURETIES", "SMOKY MEASURES LITE", "SMOKY METAL REISSUE", "SMOKY MUTE REALISES", "SMOKY TILE MEASURES", "SMOKY MEASLES UTERI", "SOLE MUSKY EMIRATES", "SOME AIMLESS TURKEY", "SOME MUSKETRY AISLE", "SOME MUSKY ATELIERS", "SOME SKIM AUSTERELY", "SOME SULKY EMIRATES", "SOME TURKEYS EMAILS", "LURK EASY SOMETIMES", "SORELY MISTAKE EMUS", "KEYS SOUR MEALTIMES", "SOUREST MEEKLY AIMS", "SOUREST LEAKY MIMES", "STEAMIER MOUSY ELKS", "STEELIER MOUSY MASK", "STEELY OSMIUM RAKES", "STEELY SURMISE AMOK", "STOKE SEAMY MISRULE", "STOKE SUMMER EASILY", "STOKE SUMMERY AISLE", "MOUSEY SLIME STREAK", "STREAK SMILEY MOUES", "STREAKY LIME MOUSSE", "STREAKY LOUSE MIMES", "STREAKY OSMIUM EELS", "STREAKY SLIME MOUSE", "STRIKE MEALY MOUSSE", "MEASURE SMOKE STYLI", "STYLISE MOUE MASKER", "STYMIE MOUSERS LEAK", "MEMORIALS SUET KEYS", "SUETY ALOE SKIMMERS", "SUETY ALOES SKIMMER", "IMMERSE SUETY KOLAS", "LISSOM SUETY REMAKE", "SUETY MAILER SMOKES", "SUETY MAILERS SMOKE", "IRKSOME SUETY MALES", "IRKSOME SUETY MEALS", "SULKIER YEAST MEMOS", "SULKS ATOMISE EMERY", "SULKY MEMOIR TEASES", "SULKY MEMOIRS TEASE", "SULKY ROSEATE MIMES", "SULKY SEAT MEMORIES", "SUMMARILY SEEK TOES", "SUMMER YOKEL SIESTA", "SUMMERY TOKES AISLE", "SUMO KALE MYSTERIES", "SUMO LAKE MYSTERIES", "SUMO LEAK MYSTERIES", "SYSTEMISE AMOK RULE", "SYSTEMISE MOUE LARK", "REMISSLY TAKE MOUSE", "TAKE MOUSER MESSILY", "TAKE SMILEY MOUSERS", "TAKE YUMMIER LOSSES", "TAMERS MISUSE YOKEL", "TEASE MOUSY MILKERS", "TIME MEASURES YOLKS", "TIMELESS MOUSY RAKE", "TIMELESS SMOKY UREA", "TIMELY MOUSSE RAKES", "TIMER AMUSES YOKELS", "TIRESOME MUSKY ALES", "TIRESOME MUSKY SALE", "TIRESOME MUSKY SEAL", "TIRESOME YULE MASKS", "MEMORY TISSUE LEAKS", "TISSUES MEEKLY ROAM", "TISSUES MERELY AMOK", "TOES MILKY MEASURES", "TREELIKE MOUSY MASS", "TRIM YOKEL MASSEUSE", "TRIO MEEKLY ASSUMES", "TYKE MEASURES LIMOS", "TYKE MISUSES MORALE", "TYKE USES MEMORIALS", "USER IMMOLATES KEYS", "USES MATE IRKSOMELY", "YAKS IMMERSE SOLUTE", "YAKS MEMORISE LUTES", "YAKS SOMETIMES LURE", "YAKS RULE SOMETIMES", "YAKS TIRESOME MULES", "YAMS SOIL MUSKETEER", "YEARS SMOKIEST MULE", "YEAST SULK MEMORIES", "MOLES YEASTIER MUSK", "YEASTIER SLUM SMOKE", "YETI SMOKES MAULERS", "ALTRUISM SEEMS YOKE", "YOKEL ASSUMES MERIT", "YOKEL ASSUMES MITRE", "YOKEL ASSUMES TIMER", "YOKEL ERASES SUMMIT", "YOKEL MEASURES MIST", "YOKEL SEARS TUMMIES", "YOKELS ASSUME MERIT", "YOKELS ASSUME MITRE", "YOKELS EMIT MASSEUR", "YOKELS MASSEUR TIME", "YOKELS MEASURE MIST", "YOKELS MEATIER SUMS", "SLIME MATURES YOKES", "YOLK EMITS MEASURES", "YOLK ERASES TUMMIES", "YOLK MEASURES ITEMS", "YOLK MEASURES TIMES", "YOLKS ISSUE AMMETER", "YOLKS MEASURE ITEMS", "YOLKS METIER AMUSES", "YOUR MEATLESS MIKES", "YOUR MEEKEST MISSAL", "YOUR SEEMLIEST MASK", "YOUR SLEEKEST IMAMS", "YOUR TIMELESS MAKES", "YULE MEMO ASTERISKS", "YUMMIER LASSES TOKE", "TOSSES YUMMIER LEAK", "YUMMIER STAKES LOSE", "YUMMIER SKATE LOSES", "YUMMIER SKATES LOSE", "YUMMIER STEAK LOSES", "YUMMIEST ALSO REEKS", "YUMMIEST ELKS AROSE", "YUMMIEST KALE ROSES", "YUMMIEST KALE SORES", "YUMMIEST KOLA SEERS", "YUMMIEST LAKE ROSES", "YUMMIEST LAKE SORES", "LAOS REEKS YUMMIEST", "YUMMIEST LASSO REEK", "YUMMIEST LEEK SOARS", "YUMMIEST LEEKS SOAR", "YUMMIEST RAKE LOSES", "YUMMIEST ROSE LEAKS", "YUMMIEST ROSES LEAK", "YUMMIEST SLEEK OARS", "YUMMIEST SLOE RAKES", "YUMMIEST SOLE RAKES", "YUMMIEST SORE LEAKS", "YUMMIEST SORES LEAK" ) //get random index rnd = Math.floor(Math.random()*(arrAnagrams.length-1)); //retrieve anagram strAnagram = arrAnagrams[rnd]; //split words and randomly recombine arrAnagrams = strAnagram.split(" "); strAnagram = ""; while (arrAnagrams.length>0) { rnd = Math.floor(Math.random()*(arrAnagrams.length-0.5)) strAnagram += arrAnagrams.splice(rnd, 1); if(arrAnagrams.length>0) strAnagram += " "; } //return anagram return strAnagram; }

Sunday, 29 May 2011

"The Crowning Attainment of Historical Study" - David Aaronovitch on the Death of Osama bin Laden

THE TIMES | Tuesday May 10 2011
Times Modern, pp4-5
Bin Laden dead? Only in theory
With the death of Osama bin Laden, the conspiracy theorists have mined a rich vein of incredulity. Yet, asks David Aaronovitch, are the internet and 24-hour   news channels making us all susceptible to exotic disbelief
What Americans now "needed" to do, the BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner told Radio 5 listeners on Saturday night, was to match the newly released video of a blanketed Osama bin Laden watching TV with the rooms in the house where he was killed. And to do it so that we could all see. That was what was required.
But, the sceptical soul demands, why would President Obama and company "need" to do any such odd thing? Might such "proof" be of assistance to the US in fighting the remnants of al-Qaeda? Hard to see how. Or could it help to reassure the world community — some of whom seem to believe that bin Laden should have been taken as though he were a local villain being apprehended by the parish plod — that the killing was justified? Nope.

Sceptical? What is the scepticism about here? Sceptical about what Obama "needs" to do? That's a funny kind of thing to claim scepticism about; more a practical matter than one of belief. Or is the scepticism about there being any necessity to provide evidence? Again, that's a funny thing to be sceptical about. It's almost a one-liner: You say we should not believe things without evidence, but I'm sceptical. (You can have that one for your next dinner party.)

I think it's really a matter of the 'sceptical soul' - that is the person who is by nature a sceptic - and I think Aaronovitch is suggesting that scepticism is relevant here because - you guessed it - he's about to go off on another sneering binge, in which he and the rest of the quietists are, despite appearances, sceptical by nature, while the rest of us are flaky weirdos with fixed ideas.

Gardner's concern was not, in fact, connected with the practicalities or ethics of what we may not any longer call the War on Terror. His advice was aimed at quieting the idea that it wasn't bin Laden who was shot that night in Abbottabad, or that if it was bin Laden he was already dead, or any of the other exotic conspiracy theories that started almost the instant the news broke.
The fact that Aaronovitch has chosen Frank Gardner, of all people, to upbraid for conceding too much to the shabby basement-dwellers illustrates just how implacable his demand for orthodoxy is. And see how the sceptical stance 'account of covert op not to be trusted' has been transformed into a positive thesis - that what actually happened was one of (x,y,z...), that is, anything incompatible with the official account, including its bare denial. In other words, the rejection of a claim has been presented as a family of positive assertions, the only common component of which is of course the rejection of the claim. Thus scepticism becomes credulity, credulity scepticism. Voodoo Bollocks!


Producers on the BBC World Service described themselves as "astonished" by the number of listeners round the globe who contacted them by phone, tweet and e-mail to say that they did not believe that OBL was extinct On the BBC's website Have Your Say communicants such as one Honor Savage Scott mailed that "I'm not into conspiracy theories, but it seems odd they wouldn't take a picture for proof before throwing his body in the sea"
'I'm not into conspiracy theories, but' - no, that won't wash. Of course you're into conspiracy theories - otherwise how could you find an aspect of an official story odd? I mean, by any reasonable standard, it is indeed odd, but if you should say so, Aaronovitch's paranoid ear will hear an insinuation of... well, something or other; he'll let you know what you're insinuating later. But whatever it is, it's a conspiracy theory. That much is certain, bedrock of Aaronovitch's intellectual life.

Of course you might mean you're not into conspiracy theories as a rule, you're not a conspiracy theory hobbyist. But that's not good enough. Any hint that there could be any funny business, so much as a simple bit of noble lying, means not only that you're propounding some impossibly detailed theory as truth, but that you believe anything else Aaronovitch can dream up.
Within hours there were internet sites pointing to the imagined strange coincidence of the raid with the anniversary of George W. Bush's "mission accomplished" soundbite, with Hitler's birthday and even the event's proximity to the royal wedding. (Alas, conspiracists missed what my colleague Daniel Finkelstein noticed: that Osama bin Laden is an anagram of "lob da man in sea". Very fishy.)
There were - yes I bet there were, along with internet sites saying just about anything else you can imagine. What of it? The anagram, though - nice. I love anagrams. They're funny and clever. Not. Especially not when they require deviant spelling/strained slang. You have to admire Aaronovitch for this though - he can't resist this: it's the kind of faux-'clue' the conspiracists in his head would love, so he reports that they 'missed' this one.
In the lexicon of conspiracy theory, "truthers" refers to those who believe that George Bush brought down the twin towers. "Birthers" are those who contend that Obama was not born a US citizen and therefore was not qualified to become leader of the free world. To which we can now add "deathers" — the people who argue that bin Laden was not killed last week by US Navy Seals, for the uncomplicated reason that he had expired a few years earlier.
The 9/11 truthers are rather forced into this view by the logic of their own favoured conspiracy theory. If the malignant, omnipotent Bush conspired to fake the attacks on September 11, then it follows that bin Laden was not responsible. In which case one has to account for the subsequent videos claiming responsibility. Answer? They were faked. But why did bin Laden not disown these forgeries? Because, dummy, he was no more. According to a man who'd met a man who knew a doctor in Dubai, he'd been pushing up desert daisies since 2001. So whose was the body that the Americans let slide into the Persian Gulf? Either that of the long-frozen bin Laden brought out of cold storage like a timely casserole, or of a doppelganger.
Ah, I see - it came from some recess of David Aaronovitch. What do we call him and his ilk then? Spoofers?
Truthers and birthers are both served by such a narrative. For anti-Obama conspiracists in the US there is something too "convenient" about the business in Abbottabad. How fortunate for the beleaguered President, criticised for his weakness abroad, that — just eight months before the presidential election cycle kicks in again — he should be afforded such a masculine success. It all reminds them of the so-called October Surprise theory from the Carter-Reagan election in 1980. According to this story Ronald Reagan's intermediaries secretly acted to prevent the release of the Iranian hostages, for fear that it would assist the incumbent Jimmy Carter. They weren't released in time and Carter lost.
Divide and rule. Think there may be something in the October Surprise (and why wouldn't you)? Turn to defending that - by showing how it's different from whatever Aaronovitch says the 'deathers' believe. Think it must be rubbish? Well, exactly - then so must the story believed by the 'deep-freezers', deathers, truthers, birthers, what was it? Them, anyway. What you're unlikely to do, as Aaronovitch knows, is infer from the fact that the October Surprise scenario is plausible that the hotch-potch theory devised by Aaronovitch is too. 
Conspiracy theories, like other stories, tend to some shapes more than others. The idea of body swaps or body movements is a favourite conspiracist notion. John Kennedy's brain was supposed to have gone missing, Lee Harvey Oswald was said to have a double, the murdered anti-nuclear campaigner Hilda Murrell's body was theorised to have been moved by British state servants, as was that of Dr David Kelly, as was the corpse of Bill Clinton's dead aide, Vince Foster, in 1994. The bin Laden theories fit this preoccupation with cadaver mobility.
Aaronovitch, of course, also believes that fact tends to some shapes (the cock-up, the co-incidence) more than others (the sneaky trick, the institutional stitch-up). In his Voodoo book, he claims to have reached The crowning attainment of historical study...an intuitive understanding of how things do not happen.

And the 'shape' Aaronovitch observes is not of course common to conspiracy theories that are not about suspicious deaths. And those that are are, it's entirely reasonable that they should take this 'shape'. Cover-ups of suspicious deaths may be expected to involve some degree of tampering with the body or parts thereof. Tampering with dead bodies is suggestive of concealment of what really happened to them. How Lee and Harvey Oswald are supposed to fit in to Aaronovitch's latest voodoo theory is anyone's guess.
This stuff can seem maddening, but is it, in any way, dangerous? In the US and here, whatever some may say, conspiracism is a minority pastime. Obama's stated reason for not releasing photographs of the dead bin Laden — that the gruesome nature of the pictures might inflame opinion against the US (Arab sites are not known for their squeamishness) — seem solid to Americans. An NBC poll showed that nearly two thirds agreed with Obama's view. Unlike Frank Gardner, the President took the view that even if he produced a whole album of kicked-bucket photos, there would still be those convinced that bin Laden was not killed on May 2.
Maddening. Well, he said it. But the premise seems to be that the only reason why the public deserve to be provided with any kind of evidence is to stop them slandering the state. And even if we accept that, we certainly shouldn't suppose that providing such evidence would be pointless just because 'there would still be those convinced that bin Laden was not killed on May 2' - the sceptical switch is openly done here - the aim is not to convince the public of a narrative, but merely to prevent them from clinging to mad delusions. As if Aaronovitch would be satisfied if the population reserved judgement.

Aaronovitch also tries the reverse bandwagon by saying 'conspiracism' is a minority pastime (not something you, dear reader, would want to get involved in). This is obviously at odds with the message of his voodoo book, which presents 'conspiracism' as a source of all history's ills and associates the 'role of the conspiracy theory in shaping history' with Hitler, Stalin, McCarthy/HUAC, and about 15 flavours of virulent antisemitism), but a propagandist must use whichever tool is needed on a given occasion, and of course consistency (thus truth) is one of the first casualties of such an approach. 



But there are places where conspiracism is not such a harmless hobby. At the weekend the pollster YouGov published the results of a survey in Pakistan, conducted just after the Abbottabad raid. The poll, probably over-representing Pakistan's educated classes, was not reassuring. No less than 66 per cent of the sample believed that, whatever else happened that night, the death of Osama bin Laden didn't. And less than 25 per cent thought that al-Qaeda had brought down the twin towers in the first place.
Ah yes, the curious habit of ex-colonials to be distrustful of the West. Being a conspiracist is evidently one of those Yes, Minister irregular verbs. 'I am a judicious consumer of credible intelligence, you are a pathetic loser who should be embarrassed, they are dangerous maniacs who must be stopped. Just for the record, the answer that 66% of respondents chose was 'No, I suspect the person they say they killed was not Osama Bin Laden'. The precise semantics of this labyrinthine formula resist analysis (I'm pretty sure the person they say they killed was UBL), but the verb 'suspect', rather than 'believe' is rather prominent. 

Also for the record, the less-than-25% figure excludes both the 46% who said  'Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda had nothing to do with the attacks', and the 31% in the 'Don't know/ prefer not to say' camp. The usual Aaronovitch shenanigans when it comes to interpreting doubt and uncertainty: suspicion or doubt is translated into certainty one way or the other, as it suits him.

Notice that we haven't had any explanation of why Aaronovitch says that in Pakistan, 'conspiracism is not a harmless hobby'. If he had established anything relevant at all, it would be that 'conspiracism' is quite widespread, which is not the same thing. 
The political context of this finding was more worrying. Maybe as a consequence of this conspiracism, maybe as its precursor, three quarters agreed with the view that the US "does not respect Islam and considers itself at war with the Muslim world" — 86 per cent opposed drone attacks and 70 per cent were against accepting economic aid from America. In other words, conspiracist thought fits the pattern of distrust of America. If bin Laden didn't launch the 9/11 attack, then everything subsequently done in Afghanistan and Pakistan is based on another, ulterior motive.
OK, so this is worrying rather than harmless because conspiracist thought fits the pattern of distrust of America? This is weasellyer than a Kenneth Graham battle scene. Fits the pattern? What does that even mean? Correlation? Where is this correlation? And do we have any reason to suppose that such a correlation would indicate causation from the 'conspiracism' of "don't trust their story about a recent covert op" to the virulent anti_Americanism of "don't like their flying killer robots" and "don't want to be dependent on their largesse/have the junta borrowing money from them and saddling us with the repayments"?

Surely if the point is to establish that 'conspiracism' has harmful effects, we should have something a bit more convincing than a transparently evasive remark about 'fitting a pattern'? (And note that Aaronovitch is very fond of accusing the 'conspiracists' of imposing patterns where there aren't any.) Still, Aaronovitch wasn't able to establish this thesis in the course of a sizable book supposedly dedicated to exactly that purpose, so we shouldn't expect too much from him here. I suppose the point must lie in the final sentence, which exemplifies another favourite tactic of Aaronovitch's - telling other people what they 'must' believe. For one thing,
believing that everything subsequently done in Afghanistan and Pakistan is based on a motive other than - what? Catching UBL? is neither an odd belief, nor one that depends on any view at all about who did 9/11.

But what about the inference that Aaronovitch does attribute to the mad Pakistani conspiracists? 
If Bin Laden had nothing to do with 9/11, then... what? Well, Aaronovitch supposes (as anti-9/11 strawmanners will) that the only alternative is that 'Bush' dunnit. Non-USians are of course capable of observing that the erstwhile Mr President is not the sharpest apple in the barrel, so this idea itself is hardly going to be a runner. More to the point, Aaronovitch is rather obviously not using one of his favourite tools here: the anti-semitism card. Surely everyone knows that conspiracy theories are intimately intertwined with antisemitic accusations that the Mossad get up to dodgy activities, especially in the mid-East/Muslim Central Asia, all round there, you know what they're like. And many of the more substantial and detailed 9/11 hypotheses posit Israeli (and domestic pro-Israeli) involvement. So the fact that he's overlooked that possibility would be very odd, except of course that it doesn't suit his purposes in this particular sentence to consider it. 
 
Then there was another finding, just as relevant. By far the biggest concern among Pakistanis was official corruption. There is no trust whatsoever in officialdom, or government sources. Indeed, government tells you one thing in Pakistan, it seems most prudent to believe the opposite, no matter how far-fetched.
One question is whether, over time, Pakistan will become more like us, or we'll become more like them. Is it possible that the capacity of the internet to permit the rapid dissemination of bizarre "truths" is making more of us liable to conspiracist thought?
Possible? Weeell, yes, I suppose so. (It's good to ask people questions to which they can only really answer 'yes'. It softens them up and makes them think they agree with you.) 
But just to piss in Aaronovitch's swimming pool a bit, I'd like to point out that the biggest concern among Pakistanis was official corruption is not actually the same as, and doesn't imply, There is no trust whatsoever in officialdom, or government sources. Oh yeah, and neither of these implies the ridiculous government tells you one thing in Pakistan, it seems most prudent to believe the opposite, no matter how far-fetched. No-one uses heuristics like that - not even Aaronovitch and his anti-conspiratorial colleagues, who are concerned about opinion, not provenance. Maybe characters in logic puzzles, or something. 

But, really. I mean, Aaronovitch actually is saying what he says: that Pakistanis automatically believe the opposite of the official story - no matter how far fetched. (Let's hope the junta don't find out, or they might work out a cunning logic trick to get round the problem of mistrust at a stroke.) What a knob-end.
So, to re-program all you bovine consumers, let me provide my own push-polling question: is it possible that distrust of the government is due to having a corrupt government, rather than something to do with a mysterious infection called 'conspiracism'? Say yes. No, actually say it. Good.
This last weekend the online Guardian newspaper published an article by the actor Keith Allen (Lily's dad, for you youngsters). The subject was a "documentary" that Allen is showing at the Cannes Film Festival this week.. The film is called Unlawful Killing and concerns itself with the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the subsequent inquest in 2007-8. Allen's ostensible complaint was that the film couldn't be shown in Britain because "lawyers" had demanded 87 cuts that he wasn't prepared to make. Allen portrayed this as a sinister form of muzzling by the British Establishment of a film that clearly raised big questions about Establishment complicity in Diana's death.
What Allen doesn't tell readers is that the censoring lawyers were almost certainly his, and that their advice [almost certainly?] was based on his vulnerability to actions for libel and slander. [slander?] This is unsurprising, given the tone of a five-minute YouTube section of the film linked to by Allen himself in his article. In essence [rather than actually] this clip accuses the Duke of Edinburgh of being a Nazi when younger because he attended a school in Germany in the 1930s and "marched" in a filmed funeral procession alongside Nazi bigwigs. In fact the Duke followed the Jewish founder of the German school Kurt Hahn to Britain after two terms, and was just 17 at the time of the funeral of his sister, brother-in-law and two nephews who had been killed in an air crash in Ostend.
Allen claims to have been convinced by Michael Mansfield, the vain but brilliant QC who represented
Mohamed AI Fayed at the Diana inquest, that there was something very suspicious about the crash that killed her. Mansfield has repeated his suspicions in his recent autobiography. But the actor fails somehow to notice what happened at that inquest. In summary Mansfield was humiliated by the difficulty in providing even the most basic evidence for Al Fayed's contentions. His cross-examination of Diana and Dodi's Fayed-hired bodyguards was at times catastrophic.
[For more conspiracy theories and to tell us yours, go to thetimes.co.uk/life]
Shhhhlpp..unh? Whassat? Oh it's a sidebar. Nodded off for a bit there. Sorry, I think I may have dribbled on your shoulder. Let me know if we get back to the topic.
Even so, the film is instructive in technique and intention. He claims there was a conspiracy-not just by the Royal Family and MI5 "but collectively by the British Establishment— judges, lawyers, politicians, police chiefs; secret services, even newspaper editors". Allen includes interviews with a Simone Simmons (Diana's medium), the schlock biographer Kitty Kelley, his own researcher, an American comedienne, the late Tony Curtis (an interview conducted, one hopes, before his death) and the former newspaper editor and now star of CNN Piers Morgan.
Hang on, I think that was a gag. The late.. Yes. Definitely a gag.
Morgan is interviewed by Allen in a restaurant. He tells Allen of his incredulity on hearing the claim that the British security agencies hadn't assassinated anyone for 50 years.
Morgan: "I laughed out loud! What's the point of them then? We've all been to James Bond movies ... So if you don't believe that where does that leave the rest of the Establishment evidence? It's weird when you think that the British Establishment can think of nothing worse than Dodi Al Fayed impregnating and possibly marrying Diana, that she's conducting an international offensive against landmines, with all the crippling economic problems that would bring for the British Establishment again, and the British Government .. .
Allen: "And America."
Morgan: "And America. If you add all those to the mix then if you were going to do something dodgy to Diana then that's the time you would do it. As she used to say to me. 'I'm trouble to them. I won't go away. I won't go quietly'."
Allen (voiceover): "Presidents have been killed for less."
Viewed as Allen presents it, Morgan's comments are the essence of conspiracism. It defies his intuitive belief in how things happen that Diana would not have been a target for the royals and the "Establishment", and therefore she probably was.
Ah, the intuitive belief in how things happen. Where have I heard that before? Ah yes, Voodoo Theories
fraught though the understanding of history is, and although there can be no science of historical probability, those who understand history develop an intuitive sense of likelihood and unlikelihood. This does not mean they are endorsing the status quo. As the great British historian Lewis Namier wrote, 'The crowning attainment of historical study is a historical sense — an intuitive under-standing of how things do not happen.'' Conspiracy theories are theories that, among other things, offend my understanding of how things happen by positing as a norm how they do not happen.
 
It may be that, in this case, Morgan was the victim. According to him, his interview was misrepresented by Allen. "I don't think Diana was killed," he tweeted on Sunday, "nor do I think there was a plot to kill her. I was asked why I thought others believed that"
Because they wanted to, Piers. Because they wanted to. And something else that increasingly unites the Pakistani truthers and recreational theorists in the West. [sic.] The era of 24-hour satellite news means that people who now see so much and who hardly trust what they do see, will certainly not trust what they don't see. From Cairo to Java, they expect to be shown the thing, from the body to the birth certificate. Meanwhile, internet access turns everyone into their own instant expert, surfing the sites to see which truths they prefer, and which authority (no matter how precariously claimed) they wish to acknowledge. So much so that countering the claims of these faux experts can be seen, as Frank Gardner saw it, as being almost as important as fighting terrorism itself.
The era of 24-hour satellite news means that people who now see so much and who hardly trust what they do see, will certainly not trust what they don't see? Can you run that past me again, please? Actually, don't bother.

[UPDATE 30 May 2011 16:30: spelling, grammar, style, minor expansions and clarifications]

1 comment:

  1. First thing first. I've just discovered this site and am pleased to have done so. I've disliked the wretched Aaronovitch intensely for many years now. So it's a real delight to find a site where tearing Aaronovitch a new one whenever an occasion arises is the order of the day.

    I am an unabashed 9/11 Truther.
    Here is a small package I devised for the purpose of blowing a hole through the official story for those new to the game. The whole pack takes only 30 mins to consume:

    [David Chandler 9/11 - WTC7 NIST Finally Admits Freefall (Part 1). (10:48 mins}
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23VGrABNBlQ

    David Chandler 9/11 - WTC7 NIST Finally Admits Freefall (Part II). (5:40 mins)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCtf5A1IvUk&feature=watch_response_rev

    David Chandler 9/11 - WTC7 NIST Finally Admits Freefall (Part III). (10:16 mins)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=af6-NF15CNU&NR=1

    At the start of his introductory speech at the puplic meeting announcing the Final Report into The Collapse of WTC7, Dr Sunder, Director of NIST's investigation team, said that WTC7 was the FIRST ever steel framed building to collapse due to fire.
    Well unprecedented first events are by their nature unforseeable.
    Here is the building's owner not only forseeing it but admitting to discussing organising that very collapse with the fire chief.

    WTC 7 - Pull It By Larry Silverstein
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WYdAJQV100]

    ReplyDelete