Conspiracy Theory Detector

The Tin Foil Hat Party, http://www.tfhp.org/

Michael Shermer over at Scientific American Blogs has just posted an entry called “The Conspiracy Theory Detector” where he offers a heuristic for testing a conspiracy theory: bullshit or not?

We here at 538 Refugees are fascinated by conspiracy theories, and after the New Year we plan to kick around a few.

(Okay, it’s filistro who’s interested, but she’s so damn cool the rest of us like to humour her, most especially by spelling things like a Canadian does.)

I found Dr. Shermer’s argument especially convincing. He’s been confronted by a 9/11 denier from the University of Lethbridge. (I won’t name the guy here, because clearly he doesn’t need to add me to his list of “pseudo-skeptics” after he Googles himself.) I didn’t think Alberta had any tinfoil hat-wearers but clearly I was wrong.

Maybe we can run each of the theories we cover, early next year, through Dr. Shermer’s “detector” and assess their voracity. (I used to frequent alt.folklore.urban, where many of these conspiracy theories were discussed. Someone, long before I came, had mistyped “veracity” as “voracity” and it had a nice ring to it, so we all started using it. Now it’s become a habit. The alpha couple of alt.folklore.urban started snopes.com and the rest is history.)

I’ve had a long-standing fascination with urban legends ever since I was a wee sprout and my Mother told me about “The Lady of White Rock Lake” in Dallas, Texas—and I believed her. (She is my Mom, after all, and she believed it.) I know now the story is the “Vanishing Hitchhiker”, Brunvand’s ur-urban legend.

Filistro loves conspiracy theories and those who spout them.

The Venn diagram of “urban legends” and “conspiracy theories” has substantial overlap. I’m looking forward to our series. If you have any suggestions for (ahem) alternative explanations for events that you want to see “Shermer-ized”, please post them in the comments thread below.


About Monotreme

Monotreme is an unabashedly liberal dog lover, writer, and former scientist who now teaches at a University in an almost-square state out West somewhere. http://www.logarchism.com | http://www.sevendeadlysynapses.com
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57 Responses to Conspiracy Theory Detector

  1. filistro says:

    As a rabid fan of conspiracy theories, I LOVE this post. The BS detector is a pure delight. Just for fun I ran the birther conspiracy through the BS detector, and the bell rang on every point.

    *Immensely complex, requiring multiple co-conspirators? CHECK

    *All co-conspirators have since remained silent? CHECK

    *Superhuman powers required? CHECK (You try flying to Kenya in the early 1960’s when you’re 17 years old and 9 months pregnant, giving birth in a mud hut and getting back home with your newborn baby, all inside a two-week period.)

    *Lofty disregard for contradictory evidence? CHECK (who cares that there were eye witnesses to Stanley Dunhma’s birth labor in Hawaii, and birth announcements in two Hawaiian papers that would have had to be supplied by the hospital?)

    *Fact and falsity co-mingle without distinction? CHECK (at least four false, entirely different birth certificates from various sources have been produced. All are considered “evidence” on the grounds that smoke=fire.)

    *Conspirators had some kind of grand design to foist a scam on the whole world? CHECK (as Jean notes , 17-year old girls are notorious for seeking world domination. It’s just the way they are.)

    It’s a good thing I’m briefly caught up on work. I’m going to be spending the whole day running my favorite conspiracies through the BS detector. Thanks, Treme 😛

  2. shortchain says:

    I like the heuristic, but I don’t think all the individual markers are of equal importance. I’d suggest that numbers 2, 3, 7, 9, and 10 should be weighted double, and maybe 9 should be triple, to provide a better metric.

  3. dcpetterson says:

    The most fascinating thing about Dr. Shermer’s BS Detector is that nearly every one of Bart’s posts would score rather high.

    I’d also add a nuance. Many conspiracy theories are not unified. There are a range of explanations, starting with relatively small and not-so-unbelievable hypotheses to enormous webs of intrigue. For instance, regarding the JFK assassination, the most simple conspiracy theory is simply that there may have been two shooters, with no further complications. This one would score low (not zero, but low) on Dr. Shermer’s test. Then there is the Oliver Stone hypothesis at the far end of rococo complexity, which would be pretty much off the charts.

    One of the ways in which the power of conspiracy theories manifests as a political tool is that critics of the theories often ignore the “range” that exists for any given concept, lumping them all together, and ridiculing them all for the excesses of the extreme. This is a great way to dismiss all conspiracy theories as being equally absurd without bothering to actually consider any of them.

  4. filistro says:

    DC.. when are you going to do an article on the JFK shooting? I can hardly wait.

    The Freepers are huge conspiracists, mainly because they have a paranoid, victim mentality… something I note in most extreme right wingers, who are all somewhere along the continuum that leads to living in a fortified cabin in Montana, holding off the gubmint with an array of weapons.

    The Freeper fascination with conspiracy is just one of the many things I love about them. Based on my almost daily encounter with their conspiracies, I would partly disagree with shortchain and suggest #4 and #10 in the BS detector should get the heaviest weighting, too. I agree totally on #9, though.

  5. filistro says:

    “Heuristic” is a great word that I have never met. It looks like an adjective, but is apparently a noun, right?

    I assume it’s a hard “h”?

    And a question for clarification… would a mnemonic device be considered a heuristic?

  6. dcpetterson says:

    Yes filsitro, ‘Heuristic” is a noun, and has a hard “h”. I’d never considered whether a mnemonic device be considered a heuristic — I’m not really sure. Heuristics are generally more associated with problem-solving, something like an algorithm. At least, that’s how I’ve always thought of them.

    (By the way … there’s an equation that proves Global Warming, and it shows temperature rising in repetitive waves … it’s called an AlGoreRhythm.

    My son made that up. Blame him)

  7. filistro says:

    @DC.. My son made that up.

    Clearly the acorn didn’t fall far from the oak 😉

  8. shortchain says:

    filistro,

    My I suggest a modification of number four? We should weight number 4 in the list by the log of the number of people, in dozens, who are supposedly in on the conspiracy. So if a conspiracy requires Bernanke, Obama, McConnell, Boehner, Reid, and a few others to be in on it, the weight would be 1. But if it requires the entire analysis section of the CIA, together with half the NSA, it should get a weight of approximately 5.

    DC,

    I thought exactly the same thing. I’ve read some of Bart’s “justifications” for his reasoning, and it’s conspiratorial thinking if there ever was any.

  9. shortchain says:

    If you’re British, I’m not sure there would be a ‘ard ‘aitch in front of heuristic.

    In algorithms we use heuristics all the time, because a lot of “accurate” metrics are just too hard to compute.

  10. filistro says:

    @shortchain But if it requires the entire analysis section of the CIA, together with half the NSA, it should get a weight of approximately 5.

    Okay, I’m fine with that. In the case of birtherism, which would require the complicity of two Hawaiian hospitals, the Hawaiian registry department, an American airline, a whole array of doctors and diplomats, the extended Obama and Dunham families, the Republican governor of Hawaii, the US passport office, federal courts all the way up to SCOTUS and pretty much the entire Congress, I think we can safely assign it a weight of 126.

    And yet lives are ruined over it. Witness the strange case of Army surgeon Terry Lakin, a LTC with 18 years of honorable service who refused deployment orders because “the Commander in Chief is not an American citizen and therefore illegitimate.” This doofus was just found guilty at court martial last week of wilfully disobeying orders and sentenced to 6 months at Leavenworth, dishonorable discharge and revocation of all army benefits and pensions.

    Here’s an article where Lakin is described as a towering American hero.

    He committed this quixotic insanity just 2 years short of full pension. I wonder what his wife thinks of his “heroism” and “sacred honor.”

  11. fopplssiegeparty says:

    If you are looking for the British pronunciation of heuristic, merely listen to Brian Eno’s song “Black Water.”

  12. Brian says:

    I gotta say, in Army surgeon Terry Larkin’s case, I would rather he just be sent home. I don’t want my tax dollars, as limited as a grad student’s may be, sent toward feeding and homing a guy like that. Sending him to Leavenworth seems like one of the many people I would rather not pay for.

    And unrelated to that, I would love to see more conspiracy posts. Even a debate on that makes me feel better. I enjoy debates on any arguable point, even those I disagree with, like the 9/11 was set up by our government plot. I don’t believe it for a second, but I like the discussion.

    I leave an apology toward any incoherentness in my post, I’m attempting a Modern Drunkard achievement right now (#3 if you want to google it). So if I sound drunk, it’s because I am.

  13. Monotreme says:

    The problem that I, as a scientist, have with #9 and #10 is that it requires that I divine the motives of another person, and I think that’s a dangerous game.

    At least #1 through #8 are more-or-less self-evident and can be marked on a scale. Evaluating #9 and #10 requires that I know something about the person’s history and motivations, which is not always the case. Unlike filistro, I try to stay well away from those who find reality a slippery surface to move upon.

    I’m also quite pleased that I could teach filistro a new word. That doesn’t happen much, because she knows so many more words than I do, some of them quite fine.

    A “heuristic”, as I learned to use the term, is more like a “rubric” but without the evaluation implicit in (say) a grading rubric. It allows one to make a fair decision when the underlying mechanisms are just too complex. For example, in medicine, doctors use heuristics to “direct their clinical suspicion” towards the most likely diagnosis without out-and-out rejecting alternatives. That is, in Shermer’s example, a heuristic assigns probabilities to each of the events.

    As I personally pronounce it, it has a hard aitch so the first syllable comes out pretty close to the first syllable in [Lake] Huron.

  14. Monotreme says:

    Here’s two examples of how medical professionals use the term, one quite technical, and the other one fairly prosaic. Seeing the term in context might help. Words like “heuristic” are best defined operationally.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21165859

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14981676

  15. Monotreme says:

    Oh fopplssiege, that’s a wonderful song. Great catch.

    Black water
    There were six of us but now we are five
    We’re all talking
    To keep the conversation alive
    There was a senator from Ecuador
    Who talked about a meteor
    That crashed on a hill in the South of Peru
    And was found by a conquistador
    Who took it to the Emperor
    And he passed it on to a Turkish Guru.

    His daughter
    Was slated for becoming divine
    He taught her
    He taught her how to split and define
    But if you study the logistics
    And heuristics of the mystics
    You will find that their minds rarely groove in a line
    So it’s much more realistic
    To abandon such ballistics
    And resign to be trapped on a leaf in a vine.

    It even fits with the subject at hand.

    I love early Brian Eno. And he even pronounces “heuristics” like I do.

  16. filistro says:

    @Brian… I would love to see more conspiracy posts. Even a debate on that makes me feel better. I enjoy debates on any arguable point, even those I disagree with, like the 9/11 was set up by our government plot. I don’t believe it for a second, but I like the discussion.

    Hey… Brian’s a kindred spirit! Stay tuned… in the next couple of weeks I’m posting articles on Area 51 and secret military “reverse-engineering of UFO’s” … also on Reagan’s secret deal to release the Iranian hostages, including a close look at the lawyer/witness to the actual deal who died under mysterious circumstances and whose decomposing corpse was found propped on his toilet at home.

    I LOVE this stuff.

    (But on second thought, I think you may need a few more drinks in order to fully participate 😉

  17. shortchain says:

    OK, I ran a few of the conspiracy theories through the filistro-shortchain CCC heuristic (CC = Conspiracy Crackpot Count). (double count 2, 7, and 10, triple count 9, and assign a value proportional to the ln of the number of people, in dozens, required to pull it off — item 4.)

    I calibrated it with “Operation Paperclip” (which we know to be based on true events):
    Operation Paperclip — 6 ( I give it positives on 4, (but not that many people would need to be knowingly involved), and 7.)
    Trutherism — 12 (higher means more likely to be only in the eye of the beholder)
    Birtherism gets a 22.
    And Sarah Palin as neoconservative sock-puppet has a score of around 5 or 6.

    Your count may differ, depending on whether you agree with some of the positives.

  18. filistro says:

    shortchain… you gladden my heart.

    Sarah Palin as neoconservative sock-puppet has a score of around 5 or 6? On a par with Operation Paperclip, which we know to be true!!

    I feel thoroughly chuffed. Just wait till we run “Reagan/Iran hostages” through the CCC!

    I’ll be totally vindicated, and rub Mainer’s face in it because he doesn’t buy my theory. I’ll brag and gloat and be generally insufferable. I can hardly wait 😛

  19. dcpetterson says:

    Shortchain,

    A fascinating exercise. This may imply that a conspiracy theory with a score as high as 6 or so should not be dismissed out of hand, since Paperclip was actually true.

    As I’ve pointed out, however, the mere label of “conspiracy theory” is often used as a method of getting people to look the other way. “Move along, nothing to see here, just some loonies in tinfoil hats.”

    Here’s another one — we know that the Reagan Administration covertly sold arms illegally to Iran and used the money to secretly fund revolutionaries in Central America. (Reagan’s was one of the most corrupt presidential administrations in US history — until Bush 2, of course.) How high does Iran/Contra score on the CCC Meter?

  20. dcpetterson says:

    LOL filistro, we were thinking nearly identical thoughts again.

  21. filistro says:

    DC, I often think there only needs to be one of us. We are a living, breathing redundancy.

  22. shortchain says:

    OK, here goes:

    Iran/Contra: (and I’ll give details so you can kibitz)

    1. +1 (we have to give this a 1, because the amazing timing in the release of the the hostages and the later sale of arms need not be causally connected)
    2. 0 (no need for superpowers here.)
    3. 0 (not a complex chain of events.)
    4. +2 (a relatively small number of people need to know. A couple of dozen at the most.)
    5. 0 (a little bump in election chances, that’s all.)
    6. 0 (you get the picture.)
    7. 0 (nothing innocuous about anything that happened.)
    8. +1
    9. 0
    10. 0 I’ve never heard an alternate theory, other than coincidence, for the occurrences.

    You can give this one a few more points if you want.

    Really, there’s no question that there was a conspiracy by Oliver North. The only question at issue here is whether it encompassed the hostages in a package deal.

    Quibble all you like with the numbers, add a few points, it all adds up to “plausible”.

  23. shiloh says:

    DC, I often think there only needs to be one of us. We are a living, breathing redundancy.

    So who is gonna volunteer to leave ?!?

    Re: redundancy, that would be most of us at 538 as Bart’s middle name is redundant

    solo estoy diciendo

  24. dcpetterson says:

    @shiloh — is redundancy a Bad Thing? Ask the pilot of any spacecraft how many redundant systems they should get rid of …

  25. shortchain says:

    No, no, no! Trust me, there are those of us who can distinguish between the two of you. Nuance, nuance. In fact, I’d like more of you both.

    Now, in my case, it has often been said that, when they made me, they broke the mold …

    and beat the hell out of the mold-maker.

  26. shiloh says:

    dc, just stating a fact as political blogs, by their very nature, are posters repeating themselves over and over and over again.

    Your side sucks! ~ No, your side sucks! ~ No, your side really sucks!

    Lather, rinse, repeat …

    btw, Reps do indeed really, really suck! or so I hear 😉

  27. filistro says:

    @shiloh… I find most of life is just “repeating the same thing over and over.” But if it’s an enjoyable thing… like eating chocolate truffles or beating on Bart, I don’t see any problem with that 🙂

    I coudl volunteer to leave because DC and I are totally redundant… but if I did Iwould discover that DC had simultaneously volunteered to do the very same thing, and posted his willingness at the exact same time I did… so it would be a futile gesture anyhow.

    A doubly, redundantly futile gesture.

    Shortchain… better keep that CCC oiled up and ready to go. I have about 8 more conspiracy theories to feed into it.

  28. drfunguy says:

    Filistro Thanks for the freeper link.
    I noticed this on the Scott Brown thread:
    “To: SeekAndFind
    The political class are completely coo-coo.
    The tree of liberty needs watering. ”
    That is a death-threat.
    As in “The tree of Liberty needs to be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

  29. shiloh says:

    ok, I’ll volunteer to leave ~ the crowd cheers! 😀

    Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow.

    You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things! O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome, knew you not Pompey?
    ~~~~~

  30. filistro says:

    @shortchain… Now, in my case, it has often been said that, when they made me, they broke the mold …

    Yes, I’m afraid that’s true.

    What a pity…. because the world could use a whole lot more shortchains.

  31. drfunguy says:

    Free Republic Censorship
    They are apparently afraid of open debate at freeperville. Not that I hadn’t experienced it myself, but I didn’t realize they were so open about their fascism.
    Re. Homosexuals already have the same rights as everyone else I guess he missed the memo that you can legally be fired from your job or evicted from your home for no other reason than being gay. In most states.

    “If you support the homosexual agenda you are anti-Constitution and you’ll get the zot from FR!
    Jim Robinson
    Posted on Saturday, December 18, 2010 11:33:01 AM by Jim Robinson
    A couple more posters got zotted today.
    Guess we need another reminder:
    If you support the homosexual agenda you are anti-constitution and you’ll get the zot from FR. Homosexuals already have the same “rights” as everyone else. God did not grant and the constitution does not guarantee homosexuals any special rights. In fact, the homosexual agenda is a full frontal attack on OUR God-given, constitutionally protected rights to free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, Life, Family, Marriage, Pursuit of Happiness, etc.
    I don’t want it on FR and won’t have it on FR.
    Like abortion, if you support the homosexual agenda on FR, your account here will be zotted!
    Don’t like it? Tough frickin Shinola! Get the hell OFF this conservative site!!”

  32. filistro says:

    @shiloh… ok, I’ll volunteer to leave

    Why should you leave? You’re not in any way a redundancy… in fact, there’s NOBODY quite like you 😉

  33. filistro says:

    doc… the Freepers are just OUTRAGED over the DADT repeal. It’s been a bloodbath there all afternoon. A few of the less-crazy types (even some retired military, as a lot of Freepers are) have been saying “it was inevitable” and pointing out mildly that “almost all the major militaries in teh world have open service”.. and then the admins instantly freak out and ban then, and erase their member profiles. Some of the newly- banned have been Freepers for 12 years. It’s astonishing.

    I haven’t seen them in such turmoil since they had the massive purge of Guiliani and Romney supporters back in early 2004…. and even that wasn’t as brutal as this. Makes you wonder what’s wrong with them psychologically. Something has to be deeply, tragically awry in a person’s emotional makeup, to be so terrified of The Other that they would over-react with such violence.

  34. shortchain says:

    filistro,

    Have you read “The Authoritarians”?

    It explains the freepers quite well, I believe.

  35. shiloh says:

    there’s NOBODY quite like you

    Coincidentally, what my sister said to me when I was a teenager!

    One may have noticed how many times I use Again in my posts ie repeating myself over and over and over again lol

    Again 😉 just the facts, Ma’am, just the facts.

    Again ~ When the legend becomes fact, print the legend … ~ The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

    but, but, but again, repeating oneself can be fun, just ask Bartles …

    Read me lips! 1,000 points of light! You’re either w/us or against us! America, love it or leave it, notwithstanding.

  36. shiloh says:

    Again, I screwed up the HTML 😀

  37. filistro says:

    @shortchain: yes, indeed.

    “Once our government leaders and the authorities condemn the dangerous elements in our society, it will be the duty of every patriotic citizen to help stomp out the rot that is poisoning our country from within.” Sounds like something Hitler would say, right? Want to guess how many politicians, how many lawmakers in the United States agreed with it? Want to guess what they had in common? Or how about a government program that persecutes political parties, or minorities, or journalists the authorities do not like, by putting them in jail, even torturing and killing them. Nobody would approve of that, right? Guess again.

    Utterly chilling.

    As Altemeyer goes on to say:

    “Don’t think for a minute this doesn’t concern you personally. Let me ask you, as we’re passing the time here, how many ordinary people do you think an evil authority would have to order to kill you before he found someone who would, unjustly, out of sheer obedience, just because the authority said to? What sort of person is most likely to follow such an order? What kind of official is most likely to give that order, if it suited his purposes?”

    Half the time I think these people are ridiculous buffoons who are being left behind in world that’s moved on without them.

    The other half of the time I think they’re dangerous, terrifying and a threat to our way of life.

    And I don’t know which half the time I’m right… but if it’s the latter, we should probably all be DOING something about authoritarianism instead of just talking. Problem is… (as we’ve found in our “war on terror”)… it’s really hard to go to war against an IDEA.

  38. shortchain says:

    filistro,

    In addition to being difficult to go to war against an idea, Altemeyer’s research indicates that fear is one of the driving factors which creates an authoritarian mind-set, which means stoking fear of authoritarians is a self-defeating strategy.

  39. filistro says:

    shortchain… Does he specify fear of what? (I’ve only read excerpts)

    Fear of change? The unknown? Disorder? The “Other”?

    More likely all of the above?

  40. shortchain says:

    filistro,

    As everyone who has read Dune knows, “fear is the mind-killer.”

    No, to the best of my recollection, Altemeyer doesn’t have results that indicate what kind of fear is at the root of authoritarian tendencies. But I’m guessing it isn’t fear of spiders. It’s pretty much got to be fear of other people or of the future.

  41. filistro says:

    shortchain… Bart is very authoritarian. I wonder what he fears the most?

    Bart… what is it that frightens you?

  42. fopplssiegeparty says:

    I think it would be a much easier task to list the things that don’t frighten conservatives. They are afraid of darn near everything.

  43. filistro says:

    Things That Frighten Republicans:

    Death
    Taxes
    Poor People
    Muslims
    Gays
    Hispanics
    Black People
    Social Change
    Questioning Religion
    Other Religions

  44. Monotreme says:

    Things that Don’t Frighten Republicans:

    Global Thermonuclear War
    Anthropogenic Global Warming
    Sarah Palin

  45. fopplssiegeparty says:

    Mono: That’s a pretty good list.
    I would only add: Being forced to think on their own.

  46. shortchain says:

    You missed one of the big things that frightens Republicans: anybody smarter than they are, and most especially any office-holder smarter than they are.

    But they’re not afraid of soulless, rapacious, money-grubbing corporations.

  47. Mainer says:

    You missed what may be the biggest one eyed monster under the teaper bed. Change. Any form of change, any whiff of change, any possibility of change. For it appears their capacity to assimilate such is completly missing in their character. People in the military that have avowed that they would leave rather than accept gays serving openly most likely don’t do well with blacks and Hispanics being there either.From experience they have a hard time taking orders from women and do not do much better with orders from minorities. This would be the same crowd that is really struggeling with taking orders from a 1/2 black CIC.

    Here is an odd one for you. I have had young sailors that I knew damned well (in my own mind) were gay. Some times they were also minorities in other ways. I never had issues with one that I can remember having a problem taking an order from an old white straight guy………..M E………… I have dealt with all kinds of these afraid to change clowns that really didn’t want to accept any one that did not look like, think like and act like them.

    Now for the really odd part they are only authoritarian if the authority, is what they see as them a little older, better positioned or more senior. Any other person in a position of authority that is not like them some how does not deserve to be in authority, or got preference or was lucky when they were not. They can never look at themselves and see that the fact that they are dirt bag sailors that refuse to advance or work hard can have any bearing on the situation.

  48. filistro says:

    @Mainer>> They can never look at themselves and see that the fact that they are dirt bag sailors that refuse to advance or work hard can have any bearing on the situation.

    Mainer… that’s a very wise observation. Along those lines, one of my favorite bits of wisdom lately (and I can’t even recall where I heard or read it, though it sounds a bit like Jon Stewart…)

    “If you can name more than three people in your life right now that you consider to be total and complete assholes… well then, dude… maybe it’s YOU.”

  49. Monotreme says:

    Both fili and I have got blockbusters scheduled for our inaugural Tinfoil Hat Tuesday. It’s going to be a Twofer Tinfoil Hat Tuesday!

  50. Mainer says:

    Fili some one else sent me a quote much like that not long ago and I don’t remember where it came from either but while it could be true there is also the chance that you just know or live around too many conservatives.

    I caught your piece up thread about the hostage release and the numbers are interesting. While I could accept the possibility of such an action that is not to say it was probable or even doable. Some of this stuff to still be unknown or under wraps for this long does stretch my ability to buy in. There were way too many egos involved here…….on both sides. We found out a crap load of stuff out of the Iran Contra hearings and books since then and I have yet to see anything that leads me to think there was a secret plan to release the hostages.

    I read a great piece a couple years back that opined that the Iranians felt that they had milked the situation for about as much as they were going to get and they had some level of concern the Reagan would make some grand stand military play right out of the gate and they just saw it a better deal to close the play out than risk it. I wish I could remember where it came from but I see that too as plausible.

    Have any of you myth chasers thought about the whole the Pentagon hit was an inside job that took advantage of circumstances………I haven’t seen any thing on it but have a couple of friends that seem pretty wound around that spindle.

  51. filistro says:

    @Mainer… I have yet to see anything that leads me to think there was a secret plan to release the hostages.

    Oh ho… just you wait, bucko! Coming soon to a Tinfoil Hat Tuesday near you, I plan to introduce a witness who knew a guy who flew with George H.W. Bush to Paris to negotiate the deal with the Iranians.

    Okay, the witness is unfortunately dead (he’s the guy who died on the toilet…)

    But still… the Truth Is Out There. You’ll see…

  52. drfunguy says:

    One of the more interesting observations that lends _some_ credibility to the Iranian hostage conspiracy is that GHWB was in an undisclosed location for several days at the time the negotiations took place. Seems odd that the VP candidate would be incomunicado for two plus days during the last two weeks before election…
    I say negotiations took place because the Reagan campaign admitted that they were communicating with the Iranians they just don’t admit to the October surprise of delaying release of the hostages until after the election.
    OTOH I tend to agree with Mainer that keeping all parties involved quiet for this long… seems unlikely.
    “Two people can keep a secret, as long as one of them is dead.” – Anonymous

  53. drfunguy says:

    On the other, other hand. I am always ready to believe the worst of fomer CIA Director GHWB, Campaign Director /future CIA Director-who-died-suddenly-from-a-brain-bubble Casey, Reagan (though mostly in absentia since he was generally checked out) and his nefarious gang of foreign policy cowboys. Were North, Poindexter and the other pardoned felonys involved in the actual election campaign?

  54. shortchain says:

    No matter how good the heuristic, it cannot give us a positive proof of a conspiracy or, for that matter, a positive proof of the absence of a conspiracy. All that we can get is a “plausible” or “implausible”.

    I’m going to put the f/s CCC into a spreadsheet and have it on the tripwire. I’ve got to do some grading and stuff between now and then, so I’ll be off-line.

    And if anybody wants, they can certainly suggest a recalibration or new values for any of the positives.

    Remember, “the purpose of computation is insight, not numbers.”

  55. shiloh says:

    he’s the guy who died on the toilet… Elvis ?!?

    Elvis wanted to help Nixon fight drugs, but who knew he was involved in international intrigue as well. 😉

    hmm, a witness who knew a guy who flew with …

    Bueller?……. Bueller?…….Bueller?

    Um, he’s sick. My best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with a girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it’s pretty serious.

    6/7/8 degrees of separation …

    >

    My mom’s longtime friend Kate’s grandson is Brian Mosteller, a personal aide to Obama ie Deputy Director of Oval Office Operations.

    carry on

  56. Pingback: Tinfoil Hat Tuesday | 538 Refugees

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    http://bers73.narod2.ru набор программ, предназначенных для рекламы Ресурсов и сервисов в сети Интернет.

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