Sort of a Primer on Conspiracy Theories

For most, the phrase “Conspiracy Theory” brings to mind kooks wearing tin foil hats who blame the government or aliens armed with anal probes for everything wrong with the world.  However, our history is littered with examples of conspiracy theories that eventually proved to be true.

 

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident

On August 4, 1964, two American destroyers (the USS Turner Joy and the USS Maddox) reported that they had been attacked by three North Vietnamese gunboats.  Within 30 minutes, President Lyndon Johnson made the decision to retaliate, using the attack as justification for the invasion of North Vietnam.  History calls the results of this decision The Vietnam War.  

But…the attack never happened.  An article published by the New York Times on December 2, 2005 discusses documents released by the NSA, and includes the following revelation:   "The overwhelming body of reports, if used, would have told the story that no attack had happened…So a conscious effort ensued to demonstrate that an attack occurred."  Statistics indicate that both sides suffered a total of 1.475 million military casualties, 2.094 million wounded, and 4 million civilian casualties.  All in the name of a war justified by a lie.  

 

The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

This is perhaps the mother of all conspiracies, and everyone knows the official story.  The Warren Commission found that Oswald acted alone, firing on and killing the President from a book depository window.  

But…did you know that an official governmental body investigated the assassination and released a report in 1979?  The Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives includes the following:

“In conclusion, the committee found that the scientific acoustical evidence established a high probability that two gunmen fired at President John f. Kennedy.”

Well.  How’s that for explosive?  The committee also found that:  

“The Secret Service possessed information that was not properly analyzed, investigated, or used by the Secret Service in connection with the president's trip to Dallas.”

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President”

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation was deficient in its sharing of information with other agencies and departments”

“The Central Intelligence Agency was deficient in its collection and sharing of information both prior to and subsequent to the assassination”

“The Warren Commission failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President.”

The amount of controversy surrounding JFK’s murder, the Warren Commission, and the report they issued is ridiculous.   The number of books and web pages devoted to the subject is staggering (I recommend Crossfire by Jim Marrs), but I’m not going to get into any of that here.  I suggest that you do, if you have any interest in the subject. My point is that our own government decided that there were at least two gunmen and that the Secret Service, the FBI, and the CIA were essentially incompetent with regard to this murder.  Let that sink in for a few moments.  The committee also made a number of recommendations, but to the best of my knowledge, nothing ever came of them.  

 

The Mafia

Today, the existence of La Cosa Nostra is a given, and some of our best entertainment is based on the organization’s activities.  The Godfather, Goodfellas, The Sopranos, The Untouchables, and Casino are just a few examples.  

But…prior to the 1950s, the government’s stance was that the Mafia was a myth. They weren’t real.  They were a conspiracy theory.  The first real knowledge we the people received came in the form of New York mobster Joseph Valachi.  In 1963, he broke the Mafia’s code of silence, became an informant, and gave the world details on how the Mafia worked that had never been heard before.  

So, we had a highly profitable and powerful criminal organization that not only managed to go largely undetected, it also had the United States government publicly proclaiming that it didn’t exist.   How’s that for influential?

 

The Manhattan Project

One of the battle cries used by those who debunk conspiracy theories is that the secrecy required makes them impossible to remain hidden.  They believe there is no way a large number of people could keep silent; that someone would come forward as a whistleblower.  

But…the development of the first atomic bomb (code named The Manhattan Project) was carried out in extreme secrecy.  It eventually involved 40 laboratories and factories, and employed nearly 200,000 people.  There were leaks, as discussed here, but ultimately, the project was kept hidden from the public.  The Office of Censorship did their job.  Was this necessary?  Perhaps, but that is not the point I’m trying to make.  The simple fact is that a project involving a large number of people was kept secret from the public.  It would be ignorant to assume that this was the only time that this has occurred.  

 

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study

There are some who believe that our government would never purposefully harm its citizens; that any statement to the contrary is a lie at best and treasonous at worst.  

But…the U.S. Public Health Service withheld treatment from 400 black men infected with syphilis for 40 years.  The Public Health Service and the Tuskegee Institute started the study in 1932.  The men in question were lied to about the disease they had, and even when penicillin became a standard cure, treatment was withheld.   Why?  "The study was conducted to determine from autopsies what the disease does to the human body."

Just think about that.  A group of people decided that letting 400 men die from a disease, even after a cure was discovered, was acceptable.  This directly affected not only the men involved, but their wives and children as well.  In 1973, a class action lawsuit awarded a $9 million dollar settlement and free health care to the survivors.  However, that does nothing to reduce how despicable the whole affair was.  How angry would you be if you were one of those 400 men, or a member of their families?

 

There are plenty of other examples.  I encourage you to look into Operation Northwoods, the 1990 Testimony of Nayirah, and The Business Plot.  I’m not saying that every conspiracy theory you hear has merit.   I am saying that those in power – any kind of power - are usually there by choice.  Consider the personality type of those who seek power.  How many of them do so in order to benefit mankind?  

In her book “The Sociopath Next Door,” Dr. Martha Stout states that as many as 1 in 25 people are a sociopath.  Dictionary.com defines a “sociopath” as “a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.”

How many of those who are in control of this world might fit that description?  How many of our past leaders have?  Is it so hard to believe that the powerful might do whatever they think is necessary without any real regard for those they are supposed to serve, or for their own misguided reasons?  

 

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