Birthers, Truthers, and Aliens: A Conspiracy of Stupidity

The world seems angry about a whole heap of idiotic issues these days. I want to take a second to address these ideas with my usual diplomatic tact (roughly akin to a blunt-force trauma).

The Rumor: 9/11 was an “Inside job”. This group, known as “Truthers” believe that Bush and his cronies either set up 9/11 or allowed it to happen so that the country would rally around their cause and allow the invasion of Iraq.

My Take: I wouldn’t be surprised. Mind you, I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out that it was Clinton or Gore. The stories spin everywhere, but the truth is we simply don’t know, and we probably never will. We publically accuse Bin Laden, but there is no formal charge against him for 9/11 or terrorism on his FBI Wanted List citation.
As of about noon on September 11, 2001 it didn’t matter. If it was Bush, he’s never going to be tried or convicted for it. If it were Bin Laden, he’s never going to be caught. If it was a Clinton/Gore conspiracy, well kudos, they did a good job. No one suspects them… yet. But all this conspiracy talk is just that: talk. Nothing will ever come of it, and no one will ever be called to account. Shit happens, and the best we’re ever going to do is guess at what it was. There’s no use arguing.

The Rumor: Barak Hussein Obama was born in Kenya. Known as “Birthers”, this group are seriously convinced that Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii. This makes him ineligible to be the POTUS.

My Take: Assume the Birthers are right and Obama is Kenyan. Who the hell cares? The law that governs this was set up at confederation to prevent agents of the English Crown from infiltrating U.S. politics. These days, if a foreign government wanted to get someone to do their bidding they wouldn’t send one of their own. They’d set up lobbyists and donate heavily to both parties (via surrogates) to make sure that whoever won the election was in their back pockets. [Wait… this is sounding familiar…]
In the end, though, he IS the President of the United States. He may have lied and cheated to get there, but if you look closely at the job description I think lying and cheating are in there somewhere. As president, he will have the power to deflect any and all legal challenges until after his presidency, by which time your concerns are too late. He’s going to be there no matter what you believe of his heritage. As such, I say quit worrying about it and get to worrying about whether he can do the job he was elected to do.

The Rumor: An Alien Cabal and/or Satan is Secretly Running our Governments. The theory goes that aliens and/or Satan have been actively taking over the world and are in power behind the scenes.

My Take: If they want political power, I am happy to give it to them. They can’t do worse that we’ve been doing for a century or so. Now, put those elongated temporal lobes and red pointy ears to work and find us a way out of this damned recession, solve the Middle East Crisis, and for the love of Pete balance the damned budget. If they manage to do this I foresee strong returns for the Alien/Satan ticket in 2014.

The Rumor: The Moon Landing was faked.

My Take: It’s definitely possible that the US government decided to fake the moon landing in a (successful) effort to thwart Soviet aggression.  From where I sit, though, it’s equally possible that it happened exactly the way NASA says it did. The point is, why freak out about it? Your government either  successfully reached the moon, or it successfully staged a phenomenal ploy to defeat the expansion of an enemy superpower.  Who’s being hurt here? Of all the conspiracies out there this is the one that I just don’t understand people getting angry about. No one was hurt, and unless you’re a former Soviet cosmonaut you’re not likely to be effected by “the truth” either way.

Written by Wm. Hopper, author of
thumb-heathens-guide-front-cover The Heathen’s Guide to World Religions.

(Not for Sheep.)

www.Heathensguide.com

14 Responses to “Birthers, Truthers, and Aliens: A Conspiracy of Stupidity”

  1. Bill Says:

    From one William to another, I do enjoy reading your blog… one of the few I actually take the time to follow.

    I’m going to take issue with one item, however, that being the equality you place on the likelihood/unlikelihood of the US having gone to the moon. It is a real stretch of the plausibility factor to come to the belief that the Apollo program and landings were faked. I’ll refer you to an excellent site and book, Bad Astronomy [http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/apollohoax.html] authored by CSU Sonoma professor Phil Plait. He lays out the logic very, very well.

    And related to the above, I’d like to encourage you and your readers to be careful with our culture’s tendency to automatically make all positions equal simply because they present an opposite point of view. The argument that the Earth is a flat object is not equal to the argument that the Earth is spherical because the data overwhelmingly supports a spherical Earth. Whether you’re considering killing your pigs to protect yourself from swine flu or stopping payment of your taxes because the Lord is coming on November 14th, your attraction to one position or the other has nothing to do with the weight of data unless you inform your emotions with that data. Perhaps your blog would be well-served if you provide links to references that allow you and your readers to come to informed, empirical conclusions.

    At any rate, my regret now is that I haven’t praised your blog up ’til now. I like your slant, and perhaps I’m missing the point that your writing is provocative, getting people like me to take notice and comment. Keep up the good work, and despite the preceding paragraph, don’t change a thing!

    • heathensguide Says:

      I should clarify. I have looked at the evidence pro and con regarding the space program/moon missions. (I was in fact at NASA to see one of the Apollo mission blast off. I also watched the moon landing on TV. I am getting old.).

      That said, I maintain that the government COULD have faked it. Not that they did or did not… merely that the technical ability existed at the time to fool the public into believing a hoax. Ergo, those that disbelieve the moon missions have a basis for believing as they do, however tenuous.

      In this line of logic, the evidence means nothing. If every question is answered to scientific standards it would only mean that the government did very, very well in composing this hoax. Given that I have zero inside information, I maintain that I really have no absolute answer to the question “Did we go to the moon?”. This is the only rational answer to the question in the midst of heated debate.

      The only valid response to this, however, should have been a pride in your government, not anger and acrimony. As I said, the bottom-line “proofs” leave you with two scenarios… your government either went to the moon or orchestrated a phenomenal hoax to defeat an enemy of the United States. Either way I don’t see it is as a reason to attack astronauts with microphones and cameras, demanding “the truth” from them.

      NASA did good for Western interests, one way or the other.

  2. Angie Jackson Says:

    Either that was the best conspiracy-theory parody *ever* or my irony meter just exploded. (And I have no clue *which one*!)

  3. Anita Says:

    What’s your take on Michael Jackson’s death? Just curious. Also Elvis.

  4. William Hopper Says:

    The point was that people are going to believe what they believe regardless of facts. As such, the best you can do is try to find compromise that doesn’t leave everyone screaming at one another.

  5. Anita Says:

    If the truth has so little bearing, it’s a wonder you need to discuss this at all.

    • heathensguide Says:

      Truth has seldom mattered in this world. It’s all about a negotiation of divergent beliefs. Problem is, most beliefs start with the notion that any opposition is clearly wrong and usually heretical. There is no way to negotiate that kind of dogmatism.

  6. Anita Says:

    Writers such as you enjoy the possibilities of the worlds they create. But as Bill above stated, you need to be careful giving opposing positions moral equivalency. In real life, sitting on the fence as you do is double-plus-ungood, to quote Orwell. Some divergent beliefs can be negotiated, but many cannot.

    Say you have a wife who has never exhibited any signs of mental illness. One morning, out of the blue, she tells you that you kicked her while you were both awake the previous night. You know for sure this is not the case. You might chalk up her inaccuracy to her high stress job and let it go. What’s a kick between friends? you chuckle.

    A week passes and your wife now falsely accuses you of raping her. Now the stakes have gone up. You’ve got a crazy lady on your hands who refuses to see reason. She tells the police, and you find yourself preparing for a trial. I doubt you’ll want to be negotiating with her now. Her grip on reality doesn’t exist. It’s pointless to talk to her. If you don’t do something fast, you’re going down. So what do you do? You take an offensive position and give the lawyer all sorts of info about any odd behaviours she’s ever exhibited. That’s a big shift from last week.

    A liberal is just a conservative who hasn’t been mugged yet. If enough people believe the falsehoods spread by people like Michael Moore, it changes who gets voted in and how public policies are written. In the last fifty years, we have witnessed many forms of evil proliferating, many of which might have been prevented if the fence-sitters and pacifists realized how much they aid aggressors and evil-doers. There’s no such thing as neutrality. Any bully will rightly think of a fence-sitter as a useful idiot.

    • heathensguide Says:

      Wow… I could not disagree with you more.

      The very existence of the word “moral” is an ambiguity, open to various cultural and religious interpretations. I am very aware that you believe intently that your morality is THE morality, so morals that disagree with yours are inherently wrong. What you do not get is that this is exactly how other cultures and religions see you, for exactly the same reasons. We live in a world of pluralities, and nowhere is this more evident than in moral issues.

      As in the rape case you gave as example, dire situations such as these have to be resolved by an impartial court of law that blindly assesses the facts. A court of law is, by definition, a negotiation of the facts before an impartial judge. It is the cornerstone of our justice system, and a very liberal concept.

      As for the line “A liberal is just a conservative who hasn’t been mugged yet” … I have always retorted to it by saying that a conservative is someone who has become cold, selfish, and uncaring. I have been mugged. I’ve also been shot, stabbed, gut punched, and robbed. This does not allow me the luxury of dismissing the vast majority of the world as feared scum.

      As for Michael Moore, I love the guy. But I accept that you do not. However, I would defend his accuracy. Most of the points of his movies are made by the interviewees, not the interviewer.

      You seem to believe that liberals are fence sitting idiots who would rather surrender than fight. This is an obvious slant propagated by right-wingers. Mao was a leftist. Stalin was leftist. Che and Castro were leftist. They certainly had no problem killing.

      The difference between a leftist and a conservative is that when a leftist wins a fight he or she tries to find a way to make sure it never happens again. A conservative wants to just keep punching the guy when he’s down, making sure to kill him so the big scary monster can never come back and hurt them.

      I see conservatives as bullies who are terrified of the world they live in. They will kill before risking anything. No negotiation, no consideration. Just stomp on anything different until it stops moving. For a conservative, there is no plurality. There is only one way: Thier way. (Let’s not forget, Al Qaida and the Taliban are conservatives ).

      Leftists will look an enemy in the eye over a negotiation before killing, but will put a bullet in the other guy’s head when there is a need to do so. Conservatives are much happier sending bombs and never having to resolve the problem.. just kill it because it’s a problem.

    • heathensguide Says:

      As I said in the original post, I do not believe in “bad people”, any more than I believe in “good people”. We’re just “people”, all of us falling within a small variant of the norm. To consign the vast majority to hell, prison, or death for not sharing your beliefs is (imo) a shallow response to the complexities of life that everyone (including the nutbar wife in your example) is dealing with.

      What I immediately thought when reading your rape example is: Why did you not offer the option for the husband standing by his wife? By understanding her illness, explaining it to the court, and suggesting the court order psyche evals for both of them he could still stand by her in the midst of her mental problems. Instead (in good Conservative form) you instinctively made the wife an enemy instead of the woman he promised to stand by for the rest of his life. The “liberal” approach looks for resolution, not a chance to beat her down and “win” the case.

      Conservatives see allies and enemies, nothing more. For them the world is a blackness that they strive to convert to their own way of life. Liberals see people– as screwed up and messy as they are– and they try to find ways for their disparate philosophies to live together without killing each other.

  7. Anita Says:

    Did you edit either of your two last responses? I seem to recall some line suggesting my thinking will result in me losing something. Anyhow…

    My example didn’t work out well because I wasn’t clear enough. Essentially I was looking for a situation where negotiation isn’t possible. These situations are far more common than you seem to think. Even if you want to negotiate til the cows come home, the other person or government may not give two whits what you think. Take terrorists for instance.

    I don’t hold much score in negotiation. For starters, it isn’t much fun. ;)

    If it was so effective, you’d see far fewer divorces in the last fifty years. Presumably men and women should be doing all sorts of negotiating because women have more say, both genders are more educated, and men are being raised to be “sensitive”. But in fact the divorce rate is much higher. A similar situation occurs when it comes to education. Liberals often think if we just keep telling kids of ever decreasing age how to have safe sex, we’ll markedly reduce teen pregnancy and stds. But somehow the message doesn’t take, and these consequences continue to rise. People aren’t infinitely malleable. After 40, they’re even less malleable. There’s more to life than negotiating and educating, an entire realm I’ll call the spiritual realm.

    Your last sentence is funny because it’s just not true. I see people as screwed up and messy. Yes, I hope for them to be converted…more than you know! But, I have also come to realize that God is the best at converting, and I am only marginally effective. I’m not terrified of the world, just tired of it. I seek what beauty there is.

    • heathensguide Says:

      I wrote the responses quickly late at night, then rethought the answers and did a better job of it the next day.

      Again you seem insistent that negotiation is the only thing a liberal does. Liberal does not mean brain-dead passivist. It means considering the liberties of all involved when dealing with problems. Conservatives generally adhere to the “might makes right” philosophy. But aside from the peacnicks in the Vietnam protests, pacifism has never really been a part of liberalism. [Even in this, though, the concerns of the peaceniks were basically for the civil rights of the Vietnamese civilian population.]

      As to not holding with negotiation, given conflict the resolution is either bloody or negotiative. Either way you’re not in fun territory.

      As for the divorce rate… you assume there is conflict here. Many marriages that fail (I’d wager most of them) do so by mutual consent. This is the element of it that conservatives scorn: that a couple has the right to decide not to be married any more simply because they wish it.

      As for sex education… teens do not need anyone telling them how to have sex. They know. What they do not know is the biology of it and how to plan properly for pregnancy/prevent pregnancy. Not to educate them on this is setting them up for huge mistakes. IMO the people who work to stop this education are generally the kind of parent who wants to believe their child is sweet and innocent and would never do such things without evil people telling them about sex. Teens have sex. Always have, always will. To deny that is silly. Not to educate them on it is like allowing them to play with firearms and not telling them what bullets do.

      “Tired of it” is as good as “scared of it”. Both are based on the same idea: the world is deeply “bad”. It’s not. nor is it deeply “good”. It simply “is”, which is where we will always disagree. You see yourself as living in a world fallen from grace as you aspire to a perfect heaven. I see the world as a planet with people. Sometimes things go well for you, sometimes not. Most days are just days… they come and go. But there is no ultimate good or evil, just life.

  8. Anita Says:

    Quote: It means considering the liberties of all involved when dealing with problems. Conservatives generally adhere to the “might makes right” philosophy.

    People like Stalin, Lenin, Mao, and Castro were all leftists and didn’t care about people’s civil liberties or even their lives. They killed millions. Leftists certainly believe in “might makes right”. A world of “might makes right” is the natural result of a world without God, as Christians define Him.

    Conservatives are always fighting for the rights of the weak and innocent. For instance, we think it’s evil to cut a fetus into bits, while liberals talk a lot about rights but won’t give them to the weakest amongst us. .

    Quote: But there is no ultimate good or evil, just life.

    But the people listed above WERE certainly evil. The people who plotted 911 were evil. I’m sure family members of those killed on 911 believe there is an ultimate good or evil. I’m also sure they’d be insulted by your blog entry respective to that day that “shit happens.”

    Quote: (Re: teen sex) Not to educate them on this is setting them up for huge mistakes.

    But your type of education DOESN’T prevent these mistakes, neither in children nor in adults for that matter. That was my point: the message doesn’t take. Children need to be taught properly about the role of sex and be told to abstain until they are married. The biggest reductions in AIDS in Africa have occurred in Uganda, when the government began to support abstinence programs. (In hot temperatures especially, such as in Africa, condoms have a higher failure rate than their usually high mechanical failure rate, not to mention their usage failure rate.)

    I hope you wake from your moral slumber.

    • heathensguide Says:

      People like Stalin, Lenin, Mao, and Castro were all leftists and didn’t care about people’s civil liberties or even their lives. They killed millions. Leftists certainly believe in “might makes right”. A world of “might makes right” is the natural result of a world without God, as Christians define Him.

      They were Left Wing… they were not liberals. Leftist believe in taking care of society as a whole with common food, universal health care, libraries.. that sort of thing. Right Wing believe in an every-man-for-themselves philosophy.
      Liberals (who are often left wing) believe that the right to liberty and freedom is sacred so long as this freedom doesn’t impede on another’s freedom. (“Your right to swing your fist stops at my nose”). Conservatives (who are often right wing) believe that civil rights are important, but must fall within a moral and ethical code.

      Conservatives are always fighting for the rights of the weak and innocent.

      You’re kidding, right?

      For instance, we think it’s evil to cut a fetus into bits,

      Wow, you’re not kidding.

      While liberals talk a lot about rights but won’t give them to the weakest amongst us. .

      There are many anti-abortion left wingers in the world. Conservatives just lay claim to the issue like they own it. The argument really boils down to when you think life begins, and there are rational arguments o n both sides. There are also very irrational arguments on both sides. Unfortunately that’s what we usually hear.

      But the people listed above WERE certainly evil. The people who plotted 911 were evil.

      No, they weren’t. They were a bunch of idiots who figured out how to fly planes into buildings. Period. You’re making them into “more than human” by saying they’re “evil incarnate”. They were just lucky idiots. The more the West exults their “evil” the longer the recruiting lines get at Al Qaida.

      I’m sure family members of those killed on 911 believe there is an ultimate good or evil. I’m also sure they’d be insulted by your blog entry respective to that day that “shit happens.”

      At the start of WWII the London Blitz killed a hell of a lot more than 9/11 did. The English shrugged it off and went about the war. Why? Because shit happens. Sometimes very, very bad shit. But as a nation you do not get paralyzed by it. Morn if you can, but as a nation you need to get strong and move on.

      Quote: (Re: teen sex) Not to educate them on this is setting them up for huge mistakes.

      But your type of education DOESN’T prevent these mistakes, neither in children nor in adults for that matter. That was my point: the message doesn’t take.

      About 4 million condoms are purchased per year in the USA (not including free ones… just purchases at drug stores basically). They go somewhere, and are doing something. When I was a kid you couldn’t find a condom to save your life. So yeah… the message has made it out there. Condoms are being used. Either that or there’s a lot of funny-looking balloons across the USA.

      Children need to be taught properly about the role of sex and be told to abstain until they are married.

      Tell them all you want. It has never worked and will never work. A few… less than 10%, might “heed the warning”. The vast majority do not. Besides, there is the fundamental issue here that I simply do not buy your contention that sex outside of marriage is “bad” and must be eliminated from our society. If a teenager is having sex and they are responsible about it and not having kids, I see no reason to stop them from doing so. [Culturally, btw, the Virgin Mary would have been a young teenager when she married Joseph.]

      The biggest reductions in AIDS in Africa have occurred in Uganda, when the government began to support abstinence programs. (In hot temperatures especially, such as in Africa, condoms have a higher failure rate than their usually high mechanical failure rate, not to mention their usage failure rate.)

      Nice try:
      The approach used in Uganda has been named the ABC approach – firstly, encouraging sexual Abstinence until marriage; secondly, advising those who are sexually active to Be faithful to one partner; and finally, urging Condom use, especially for those who have more than one sexual partner.
      “The [HIV/AIDS] program in Uganda promoted the ABC approach – abstain, be faithful, use condoms. ”

      I hope you wake from your moral slumber.

      And I have always hoped that one day you might see the world as it is, not through the Catholic blinders. In the end, though, the best we can do is negotiate a median where everyone can get along, regardless of how right we think we are.

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