Shhh.  Did you know there’s  a secret cabal that runs the world?

I don’t know why but this idea is hardwired into the human brain as plausible, and also as cool.  Things like the Da Vinci Code owe no small part of their success to the fact that people want to believe that some unseen, all-powerful force is behind history.

I could give you a guess as to why. It’s a guess and a just so story, but it has some merit. After all humans owe no small part of their recent (say last 100 thousand years) success to the retention of PHYSICAL infantile characteristics well into adulthood, as well as the prolongation of childhood.  Now there is no logical reason this would prolong intellectual infantile characteristics… no reason beyond the fact that we are both a body and a mind and mind tends to respond to the body.

As infants and children, we are all born into a world (a very small one) run by a secret conspiracy of one or two.  I mean, I know my parents could turn my world upside down without warning (and often did, without realizing it.  I mean, seriously who forgets to tell their 14 year old they’re supposed to leave on vacation the next day?) upending all my plans and changing all my set habits.

Even as adults, our lives can be upended by nothing we’ve done or can prevent.  Look, almost all the hard times we’ve gone through were caused by stupid economist (manipulating stupid politician) tricks. Then there’s stuff like 9/11 which more or less put paid to Dan’s job at the time because it involved traveling, and suddenly, with the airline industry in disarray we had the choice of moving East or his spending two days a week traveling.  Which made the four-days-on, three-days-off job into a five-days-on-one-day-off.  Nothing we could have done or prevented and definitely unseen forces changing our lives.

Where I differ from conspiracy theorists, is that while I agree unseen forces (or at least too many potentially visible forces to follow and “see”) are at work in everyone’s life, I don’t believe those forces are a conspiracy, or centrally located, or even vaguely coordinated.

Take for instance the “conspiracy against libertarian and right wing writers in science fiction.”  I don’t actually believe in any such thing.  Oh, sure, the usual suspects were positing that we believe there is a conspiracy of elite “feminists and homosexuals” ruling everything and against us.  They countered this by pointing out all the states and other governments that republicans control. Which has nothing to do with publishing or the gatekeepers in the arts in general.

I don’t even… I mean… these people literally don’t know if it’s ass or breakfast time.  That’s as much sense as they make.  They seem to have clue zero of how we think EVEN WHEN WE EXPLAIN IT TO THEM.  In public.  Day after day at Mad Genius Club, for instance.

My friend Bill Reader (who laughed at my shock at their theory above) seems to have been right.  Their only attempts at understanding us seems to come from seeing us as themselves but evil (I need to buy a fake mustache to twirl.) And they believe in centralized conspiracy theories (i.e. the only opposition to “progressive” ideas is the Koch brothers Libertarians who, apparently having taken leave of their senses, are supposed to be financing and spearheading everything from the religious right to banking conspiracies; or the only reason that we don’t already have cars that run on spit and rainbows is because the evil oil companies CONSPIRE against those being made public; or the only reason they’re not personally successful with their degrees in the science of basketweaving is that the MAN is holding them down.)  So, we too must believe in conspiracy theories, but they must involve people the progressives consider allies.  Hence an elite of homosexuals and feminists.

Yep the idea was so strange I’m not going to lie, I giggled.  And when they inevitably pick up on this, I shall gif them because the only way to answer the utterly absurd is with absurd pictures.  I think some of my gay friends who are very successful indeed come closest to an “elite” of homosexuals — which comes to nothing as most of them are conservative/libertarian.  The individualists fail to organize, and, oh, yeah, they couldn’t conspire their way out of a wet paper bag (not even one of those brown racissss paperbags.)  BUT they’re good at the real world of individual work and achievement.  As are a lot of people.

Now I do believe there is a self-proclaimed elite running most of the entertainment, arts, news and publishing.  But I don’t think it got there by a conspiracy, or that they are “homosexuals and feminists.”

Mostly they got there by gerontocracy, which, except for brief periods is the form of government of most western societies.  Where people live long enough, their power and wealth increases with age.  And the makeup of the ruling class of elders resembles nothing so much as those who got a head start by being born in the right families 70 or so years ago.  Hence the Clintons and the Warrens and others seem to be mostly white, mostly elderly and a little more than half female (perhaps because women live longer.)  That’s all.

Now I don’t say it’s easy for libertarians and conservatives (at least open ones) to make it in the arts.

The people in charge are imbued with the ideas that were fashionable in their twenties and thirties.  And that, due in no small part to the USSR’s agit prop efforts in our universities (no, not a conspiracy.  Both the plans and the documentation of actions are there if you care to look.  An enemy undermining you while at war is not a conspiracy.  It’s just psychological warfare) are mostly Marxist.

(Oh, btw, the usual suspects also say communism is not originally Marxist, because Marx posited the withering of the state.  I’d make a gif post about this — and might — but all they’re showing is that they know as much about Marx as the guy who was ahead of me in line to sign up for Russian classes so he could read Marx in the original.  Yeah, he posited the withering of the state.  After the all-powerful state had freed people of the evil influence of capitalism, so a new generation was born with no greed or self interest.  This would be the Homo Sovieticus.  And it borrows more than anything from the tales of the second coming.  As we’ve found, barring a Messiah, men are still born as men and an all-grasping state doesn’t automagically make them into angels.  Something that would only shock Marx.  Oh, and current “progressives” which are probably the only thing more clueless than Marx.  Their fathers have eaten sour fruit and the children’s teeth are set on edge, or if you prefer, their father was an idiot, and they’re even more brainless. I mean they routinely attribute criminal behavior or even bad behavior to that corruption of morals of living in a capitalist society, but they don’t even know the whole mystical mumbo-jumbo that underlies that “society is guilty” theory.)

This means that in those fields where the gerontocracy has seized power, not being a Marxist is the equivalent of being a child-abuser (this analogy was made by the Puppy Kickers during last year’s Hugo kerfuffle.)  If you’re not a Marxist, you don’t want the evil capitalism that distorts all of humanity’s good impulses to be superseded.  You  actively hate (as opposed to merely not believing in) the idea of a society where we all live in peace and harmony and everyone receives benes according to their talents and needs.

Worse, at least in the arts, (where “Marxist analysis” and writing/painting/composing to “improve the world” have replaced the sense of aesthetics that ruled before and that went back to the renaissance’s rediscovery of Greece and Rome), if you’re not following the Marxist aesthetics of either criticizing the world as exists (particularly the individualist and capitalist parts of it) or trying to change it, you fall outside their ability to classify.  I.e. you will read to them as very bad.  Or possibly as bewilderingly mixed.  To put it another way, they can’t make head or tails of an aesthetics based on ludic enjoyment and cathartic/emotional release.)  So when they say the things we like are very bad or “infantile” or “incompetent” they are right, according to the way they judge.  Of course, according to the way we judge most of their stuff is preachy, puerile and most of all stultifyingly predictable.

So, what we have here is a clash of two cultures, having nothing to do with a conspiracy.  And btw, it doesn’t mean any of us can’t fake their aesthetics and get into traditional publishing.  In fact, if indie hadn’t arisen through disruptive technology, most of us would have gotten in/kept working at it.  Look, Marxist aesthetics aren’t hard to fake, really, and most of us learned them in college ANYWAY.  In fact, removing them from our brain is the hardest part of writing at least at first for most of us with an “excellent” education.

Fortunately we don’t need to fake it, or get into fields that are, at best, limping on towards their logical end, due to technology, economics, and the fact that the current market in literature (and art, and–) bypasses gatekeepers and sells straight to the public.

You don’t need to believe there’s a conspiracy against you to believe your values are at odds with the decadent gerontocracy in control and also that hitting your head against a wall is painful, when there’s a big gate you can go through and which is open right next to said wall.

(Not that I don’t advise people who have yet to break in to try both.  One book for trad, one for indie.  Because the magic of a gerontocracy is that sooner or later the rulers die.  Sooner, since they’re so hot and heavy on assisted suicide and all. And having a foot in the door and a place inside from which you can undermine the establishment has never hurt anyone. At worst, you’ll have a minor part in changing it before it dies.  At best you’ll make a lot of money while doing it.)

But I personally don’t believe in conspiracies.  Not the history-revising conspiracies, not the economy controlling conspiracies, not even the gatekeeper conspiracy.

I believe in chaos.  I believe in chaotic systems.  Which is why I don’t believe in centralized government OR planned economies.  I mean, I believe they can exist. Just like gatekeepers exist, using their fading “power” to control rent seekers and unthinking newbies into following them like blind ducklings into No Awarding fresh blood in the field, even while shrieking they’re being held down.  (Because you know, the most powerful house in the field is fighting against people who have the power to…  No, it doesn’t stand scrutiny.  Also, notice who is leading them.  Gerontocracy again.)

Those aren’t conspiracies so much, as people using the channels of power they acquired through decades of patient climbing on the backs of others.

I also believe they fail spectacularly and in proportion to how much they try to control.  (So, say, the USSR fails harder than someone just trying to control to whom awards are given in a backwater field of a dying industry.)

Conspiracies fail because three can keep a secret if two are dead and even the disorganized chicanery of gatekeepers and rent-seekers can be disrupted by a hacking of emails AND because technicians and engineers stand ready to rock the best laid plans of oldsters in control of dying industries with technologies that bypass them.

Those who see in a clash of cultures a conspiracy or in their opponents’ rejection of the gatekeepers belief in conspiracies are woefully unprepared to deal with a world where change is going accelerating, disruptive technology building on and causing more disruptive technology, no matter how much the “elites” try to slow it down.

And that’s fine.  We have no interest in their useless lawn, when we can plant orchards of of our own.

So let them attempt to conspire.  Let them continue to perceive us as through a distorted mirror.

As I said, gerontocracies are self-limiting.  In the end they collapse for the obvious reason.  And afterwards, we’ll be here, building.  And catching society on our own load-bearing structures which we’re creating under, around, over and beside the ones that the “progressives” are so happily destroying.   (Partly because theirs is a philosophy of destruction and always was. Practical Marxist revolution =destroy what’s there — ????? — utopia. And partly because they’re old and out of touch with the world as it is.  Which means their brilliant ideas don’t work well in the present.  Particularly in science fiction, the gerontocrats and those who follow their lead are the future of the past.)

So.  Go about your business.  Fear not the conspiracy.  Dance happily in the chaos.

While they have some power, they will make our life a bit unpleasant.  But their power is smaller every day.  And in the end, we’re free.  And that’s no conspiracy.



302 responses to “Conspiracies

  1. scott2harrison

    I just had a horrible realization. The SJW’s are presently infiltrating Amazon just as they have infiltrated every other large corporation in this country. It is what they do. If they are not detected and stopped, in about five to ten years, Amazon will go full SJW just as so many others have, then what happens to indie? Admittedly, compeditors exist and more will arise, but Amazon is the 10,000 lb gorilla in the field.

    • That’s why it behooves any budding indie authors to make sure they link up with all of the other ebook sources, as well. It won’t cost anything more than time, when you get right down to it.

    • by that time, Amazon will have gone the way of IBM and there WILL be credible competitors. They kill what they take over. ALWAYS.

      • If Amazon isn’t Amazon anymore, it won’t be a femtosecond before NotAmazon takes its place. A massive market vacancy like that gets filled, always, until there aren’t anymore customers/producers, or until something *better* replaces it.

      • Can’t remember – is Amazon still not turning a profit? If that hasn’t changed, then it’s only a matter of time with or without the SJWs. The latter will just accelerate the process.

    • Hopefully, Amazon will remain ‘customer-centric’. Amazon makes money by being accessible to all, not just the PC. When the SJWs suggest something that would decrease profits, where is the Ferengi in that?
      On the bright side, the Internet keeps growing, capabilities keep increasing. If the 5 ton gorilla falls into the banana patch, something will come along to replace it. Look at how well the SJWs have closed down Chick-fil-A. I believe Internet push-back had a lot to do with that kerfuffle.
      Amazon already has some problems with customer reviews being flooded by SJWs, but they are powerless against the sales list rankings and ‘verified purchaser’ tags. Do you really believe a #1 seller is a 1 star book?
      I typically discount conspiracy when simple incompetence suffices to explain the event. That is a sure thing when dealing with the Government, but less so with a supposed ‘profit-based’ industry like the Big 5. But look at last years Hugos… they wanted to crush SP3, but all they could get out of it is some Noah Wards and Gerrold’s Asterisks (the anti-Tribble: cold, hard, uncomfortable, whisper bad things in your ears). For an insider group with support from their companies for memberships and support from the so-called neutral convention sponsors, that was the best they could do?
      Just suggest to them that Donald Trump will fix everything as President, and if you are lucky, their heads will explode, but they need The Donald living in their heads across the hall from Mr. V.D.

      • scott2harrison

        I was not attempting to suggest a conspiricy, rather just individuals (I know, SJW’s aren’t) joining a company in positions (HR) that give them outsized power to control the workforce both in hiring and in workspace rules (harrasment anyone). They then attempt (usually succesfully) to bias the hiring in all departments to SJW friendly groups and to harm SJW unfriendly groups (especially white men). Eventually marketing is mostly staffed with them and then decisions regarding the products and policies of the company start to be controlled by them. None of this is conspiracy, it is just them favoring their own.

        • Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that. It was more a general comment on Sarah’s topic. You are indeed correct in the SJW infiltration mode. HR departments are naturally sympathetic to the SJ drivel and once firmly entrenched in the hiring and firing, then the SJWs do their real damage. Not conspiracy but groupthink, which seems to serve them well

        • SJW’s in the HR is a self correcting problem. Hire too many incompetents based on the check boxes, and the company starts to go downhill. Investors start to jump off, the stocks start to nosedive, and the rest is history.

        • Because we are devotees of free markets, we tend to be good at understanding the underlying dynamics. The thing about Amazon is that they are not a producer of goods — they do not select which works deserve to be sold at what price — nor even influence what gets promoted (or rather, not significantly influence.) They are a third party broker and as such have very little ability to affect what people want to buy.

          Even their “People who looked at that also looked at this” algorithm is resistant to SJW thumbs on scales.

          So, until SJWs effect a major structural change in Amazon (no “hate speech” may be sold, e.g.) the presence of SJWs in their workforce is essentially irrelevant.

          • Exactly – a third party broker, selling stuff without any regard to the content of stuff. They figured out early on that there was just as much in selling one or two copies of a thousand books, as there was in selling a thousand copies of one or two books.

          • “So, until SJWs effect a major structural change in Amazon (no “hate speech” may be sold, e.g.) the presence of SJWs in their workforce is essentially irrelevant.”

            Tried to buy anything (including historical games) involving a Confederate flag lately? “They’rrreee heeeerrrreeee!”

        • Considering what I’m seeing on Linked in, the rot is deep and across just about every industry. Also higher ups are beginning to realize just how much this is hurting them. They haven’t figured out why yet though.

        • It Depends. The animal rights nuts, a form of leftwing fascist, have very definitely conspired to put their own people into positions of power.

          • Better yet, look at how the EPA funds groups to sue the EPA to impose stricter regulation. We now know some of the activist groups receive 99% of their funds from government grants … making them wholly owned subsidiaries.

      • I am optimistic, myself. The tech is changing so fast, it’s difficult to see when you are standing in the middle of it. If the SJWs crash Amazon, who knows what will grow up to replace it.

      • Gerrold’s Asterisks (the anti-Tribble: cold, hard, uncomfortable, whisper bad things in your ears)

        And there’s his real legacy, far as I’m concerned, now.

        • Sadly for him, yes. He wrote some actual, good science fiction, but he’s going to be remembered by the rising generation as one of the public faces of the trashing of the Hugo Awards.

          • Because of my schedule, I wasn’t going to be able to get to BuboniCon this year. Gerrold’s being the co-guest of honor made me less unhappy about missing it.

    • The SJW’s are presently infiltrating Amazon just as they have infiltrated every other large corporation in this country.

      Y’know, this sentence makes me think of cockroaches for some reason, which can either be amusing (I’m thinking the giant Monty Python foot) or depressing (what? they’re still here? how many do I haveta squash). Anyone want to provide a Raid commercial?

      • The thing is, generally even infiltrators have to, you know, work, so where it’s darn easy to infiltrate and take over any random volunteer membership organization’s upper ranks with minimal effort, taking over a public company with products it sells to consumers for profits tends to be harder to do. And Bezos is not reported to be one who is accomodative of underperformers.

        • The split between white and blue collar is probably even larger at Amazon than at most companies. All of corporate are basically management and “information workers”; the warehouse people are little better than temps, with virtually no connection to the rest of the company. And as far as I know, nobody at Amazon even has to look at a customer, much less actually dirty themselves by talking to one.

          • Not true! I am one of the five people with Fire phones (which I like, by the way) and of COURSE I had to try the help line video chat thingy. Real people who were able to help! Well, now that I think about it they couldn’t see me, but I could see them and we did talk. Nobody died. I think.

            • Actually, we have 4 fire phones in my family. None of us has ever had to use the help line. Best and easiest to use phone I’ve ever had. Unfortunately someday the battery will die, and there’s no second or third generation fire phone coming out to replace it. That we know of.

              It’s also one of the few touchscreens that work with my fingers. Most of the time, anyway. Touchscreens and me do not get along.

        • yeah, and this generations of vile progs is even less inclined to work.

      • No. Think of independence day “They’re like locusts.”

    • The costs of building a competitor to Amazon, especially in the ebook world, are fairly low. The reason that Amazon in the 5 ton gorilla in the field is because Amazon enjoys huge network effects. Sellers go to Amazon because that’s where the customers are, while customers go to Amazon because they can find anything they want. When the latter is no longer true, people won’t go to Amazon as frequently, which means they’ll have less power to negotiate with sellers, so even fewer people will find a reason to go to Amazon, so…

      In the digital world that network death spiral can happen rather quickly, see Myspace and Friendster. Amazon is no more immune to it than Twitter.

      • And twitter is seeing that in real-time today. You cannot treat people as second class citizens especially when it’s obvious that’s what you’re doing.

      • Valve gets the same benefit with Steam in the video game market. Everyone goes to Steam, so that’s where all of the publishers go (except Electronic Arts). All of the publishers go to Steam, so that’s where all of the customers go.

        Electronic Arts runs their own similar service called Origin. But afaik, they’re the only publisher that uses it.

      • Another Amazon advantage is in their infrastructure, and that is one place they are pushing the state of the art, and marketing those web services and server hosting to the tech world at large.

    • I can’t see them successfully taking over Amazon. Amazon is the most anti-SJW company of the tech world (perhaps excepting Oracle, but that’s because Oracle is Larry Ellison).

      • Larry Ellison is no longer involved with the day-t0-day running of Oracle. The example of what happened to Brandon Eich, formerly with Mozilla, is on the mind of every IT executive.

    • Simple, indie titles get sold by Baen and “he who must not be named”. I know the publishing house associated with the second intends to expand, if it can be shown to be profitable I’m sure others can be persuaded to do the job.

    • “I just had a horrible realization. The SJW’s are presently infiltrating Amazon just as they have infiltrated every other large corporation in this country.”

      This phenomenon is real, and can be seen in action right now at Twitter. And Goodreads, for that matter.

      That’s why conservative commentator and all-round mean girl Kathy Shaidle has for some time now ‘gently suggested’ that Conservatives should start a new Twitter/Facebook/Amazon instead of wasting time, money and energy on one more political magazine or whatever.

      The bad thing about SJWs is they infiltrate and take over stuff that starts off cool. The good thing about the Internet is you can start a new hosting site any time. Packet switching networks treat censorship and damage and route around it.

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Going along with this, IMO people “like” conspiracies because it means that there are somebody to blame when things go wrong.

    Of course, this “somebody to blame when things go wrong” idea is IMO very old and helps to explain things like the “witchcraft mania” that still happens in many places.

    The “witch” that people feared wasn’t some “pagan” practicing their “Old Religion”.

    It was a person (or persons) who caused bad things to happen via magic to their neighbors “just because”.

    It’s easier to hate the witch (or the Jew) for causing the Black Plague (or whatever) than to believe that “bad things just happen”. :frown:

    • Also because conspiracy = cabal = get rid of cabal = everything is all right again. Like in movies or books, kill the dark lord/evil emperor/pretender to the crown so that the rightful heir/rebels/well, the good guys can take over and puff!

      That would be so much easier than a lifelong struggle to change things one by one, a little bit by a little bit, at least half of the time failing and most likely never seeing if you and yours actually succeeded or not.

    • It’s also easier to blame the witch/Jew/bad white person/cabal/whatever than it is to take responsibility for *causing* bad things to happen. My cow died because it was cursed, not because I underfed and overworked it. My house burned down because of a witch, not because I was careless. I didn’t get that award/job/contract because I am being oppressed, not because my work is sloppy and my education is substandard.

      And then, yeah, there truly *are* the ‘bad things happen that no one can control’ like the Black Plague. (Which, at that place and at that time, they had no way to prevent/control–but humans being what they are, they sure figured it out. It took a few centuries, sure, but…)

      • “My cow died because it was cursed, not because I underfed and overworked it. ”

        Or just bad luck. Bad things do just happen for reasons that humans can not fathom.

        The Spanish Inquisition kept the witch hunts down in Spain by the nasty habit of holding witch trials to the same standard of evidence as other crimes. One thing was demanding evidence that an incident was not just natural.

        • I bet that is the nicest thing anyone ever said about the Spanish Inquisition 🙂

          • I blame the Inquisition’s bad rap on Edgar Allen Poe.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Well, a lot of people “damning” the Spanish Inquisition were Protestants who had to make the Spanish Inquisition look worse than what their own governments did. [Evil Grin]

            • I certainly hope they didn’t waterboard!

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Chuckle Chuckle

                Seriously, the Spanish Inquisition was less likely to use torture to gain information than many governments (Protestant or Catholic) of its day.

                Note, much of the new information about the Spanish Inquisition comes from the Inquisition’s internal files. IE Files that only they would normally see so those files weren’t created to “put them” in a good light.

                Further note, one internal document was quoted as complaining that their own prisons were too crowded and their prisoners did not deserve to be put in secular prisons. 😈 😈

                • Bibliotheca Servare

                  Seriously? “Did not deserve”? As in “that would be cruel and unusual”? That is awesome. I must google this stuff!

          • Patrick Chester

            …and something you didn’t expect from the Spanish Inquisition? 😀

            • Christopher M. Chupik

              Our chief weapons are reason, admissible evidence and a fanatical devotion to due process!

              • And purity of our souls! Our FOUR weapons are…

                • Patrick Chester

                  …Cardinal Biggles, YOU will do the introduction!

                  • Bibliotheca Servare

                    “Bring out…THE COMFY CHAIR!!!” “Confess! Confess! Confess!” Inquisitor: “I confess!” Michael Palin inquisitor: “Not you, her!”

                    I love that sketch. Not as much as the parrot sketch (I almost “joined the choir invisible” I laughed so hard…actually, I still risk death every time I see it!), but it’s awesome.

        • Wow, that’s…I totally did not know that about the Spanish Inquisition! That’s really kinda cool.


      • A friend I’d known for twenty-odd years at the time, otherwise mostly sane, was suddenly “enlightened” about the Great Jewish Conspiracy, and insisted on telling me about it at great length. It was pretty much straight out of “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

        “So, Ron.” I said. “Now that you know who is in charge, you know what to do.”


        “Go down to the nearest synagogue and sign up. You want to be on the winning side, don’t you?”

        He was horrified. “I can’t do that! I’m a Presbyterian!”

        He gave it up after a few months. Perhaps it was my observation that the biggest enemy of such a conspiracy would be all the Jews who weren’t rich or in positions of power. “Yes, I’m really one of the Secret Masters, I just work as a clerk at the 7-11 to maintain my cover identity…”

        • That’s lucky. Orwell observed that when Stalinists said that Trotskyists were in Hitler’s pay, they were impervious to the obvious fact that if they were in anyone’s pay they would occasionally have some money.

        • An Orthodox Jewish friend of mine in college always lamented that her family had somehow been overlooked by the Vast Zionist/Jewish Conspiracy, which was why her father (the rabbi for a small congregation) worked as a plumber and why her brother needed new glasses every time she wanted to buy a stereo. 😉

          • A friend and I made a pact in HS to be on the lookout or the people secretly controlling the world. After either one of us found them, we’d tell the other, then both go an apply for a job. Alas, 43 years later, we’re still looking. I could really use a higher paying job.

            So if any of you know of a secret cabal that’s hiring…

            • We’re not hiring right now, but we have your resume on file.

            • I used to have a bumper sticker (in Russian) that said “The world is run by small, secret group to which I do not belong.” Also had one that said “God Bless America.” They got double takes (were on my dorm room door), and the students who read Russian all giggled.

            • have you looked into the EVIL LEAGUE OF EVIL, it is a start-up world domination org.
              don’t know if they are hiring

          • Speaking of Jewish conspiracies, there is the blood of Palestinian children to make Passover matzah myth. I know it is a myth because in my travels when I used to work, I would check each and every grocery store looking for ‘Blood of Palestinian children’. I never found a single can, bottle or freeze-dried concentrate. It is a hoax, there isn’t a conspiracy, and considering how much blood of Palestinian children the Palestinians spill yearly, it wouldn’t be too hard to collect.

            • That’s just the latest incarnation of an old, old conspiracy.

              Similar to the one calling Christians cannibals.

              • The Other Sean

                Well there is a lot of talk about devouring the body and blood of Christ, and doctrines of transubstantiation and consubstantiation that relate to it.

    • Anonymous Coward

      I think the truth is even more brutal. If I am the victim of a conspiracy (1) it inflates my self-importance – after all, the Koch Brothers don’t pick on nobodies (2) it shows how much smarter/more perceptive I am than the Great Unwashed who don’t see The Truth (3) it explains away a lot of my failures with something other than incompetence/lack of talent/laziness/etc. Of course, if you don’t agree with this comment, it’s only because you have been duped by the Trilateral Commission.

      • THIS * 1000. Most people can’t stand that they aren’t important enough to be harassed.

        And as for 2), Gnosticism is a very old heresy.

      • Paranoiacs who are treated often develop depression of sufficient severity to require treatment. Apparently it’s depressing to realize you are not the cynosure of some conspiracy.

      • YellowShapedBox

        This is very true of the conspiracy theorists I’ve met. If you engage the people waving the Investigate 9/11 banners, the primary emotion they exhibit is smugness. They don’t want to overthrow the cabal, they just want to know something you don’t. (And I get the impression they’re not big on work in general, really.)

        Of course, especially when you get to the non-rally-going conspiracists, a dash of plain old mental illness seems to help…

        • they just want to know something you don’t.

          Or that some/many do not. This is the attitude of many conspiracy theorists. Worked with one who was stunned that I believed the moon landing was real. He was further taken aback when I pointed out that faking it would have been even more difficult than actually doing it. Also didn’t like how I pointed out we know what a “government conspiracy” of about that time period looks like: Watergate.

        • My mother was telling me that there’s a very popular conspiracy theory running around right now, something about oil, China and the US. Apparently it is viewable on Youtube. She was expressing deep disappointment that most of her peers apparently believe the theory, while the illiterate, unschooled woman who comes to weed the garden, do the laundry and do a few other tasks that my mom is no longer physically capable of was the one who brushed the theory aside with “If it’s on youtube, then it’s not really a secret, is it?”

    • Patrick Chester

      There was also a South Park episode where the 9/11 conspiracy theory was a government conspiracy in itself. They wanted to look cool and all-powerful. 😉

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        I sometimes wonder if that’s actually true. I imagine some bored bureaucrat posting rumors of a vast government conspiracy just to make his dull job seem important.

        • Anonymous Coward

          Not entirely far-fetched. If you read the reports the government produces regarding ‘domestic terrorists’, you can see how it claims anti-government conspiracies require more staff & bigger budgets.

    • Conspiracies often serve a useful purpose in distracting from genuinely harmful behaviours. While it is no picnic being the target of a conspiracy theory, targeting some source often enables the sufferer to refrain from non-productive “solutions” to their problems. I have often thought that if we had decided Kliebold & Harris had been victims of demonic possession our efforts to ameliorate re-occurrence would have been less destructive than what has been attempted.

      Blaming some kind of conspiracy is at times the least harmful way of addressing an unresolvable problem, if only because it causes you to stop digging the hole you’re in any deeper.

  3. the only reason that we don’t already have cars that run on spit and rainbows is because the evil oil companies CONSPIRE against those being made public

    To be fair, with gas at only 17¢/gallon (with VRWC membership card), the joy of contributing to Conservatogenic Global Warming is well worth the cost.

  4. I’m currently reading/ Slogging through the new edition of Roger Scruton’s analysis of the Marxist influence on the intellectuals (mostly in Europe, or who started in Europe and migrated west). Slog because . . . Marx and Hegel are not easy going no matter how good the translation and because Sartre, Lukas, and company are painfully erudite, recondite, recursive, to the point that there’s practically neon lights around them flashing “Intellectual!!!” But it’s useful if depressing reading about the infiltration of culture by the Marxists. A vast conspiracy? Nope. A bunch of people who drank each others ink and attracted a critical mass of young people who wanted desperately to be cool and to DO SOMETHING. And now we have to pick up the pieces and clean up the spilled inky goo.

    • THIS. And the disillusionment after WWI was largely responsible for this.

      • This. An entire young generation afflicted either by massive survivors guilt or those slightly younger with “Thank the Deity I was too young to have to go” guilt, searching desperately for a reason they were spared, some group effort they could contribute to that would force their lives to a higher purpose, some great wrong they could help right that would make the sacrifice worthwhile.

        Note a certian young Austrian corporal was in this same cohort.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Nod, the “We were betrayed” idea was strong in Germany.

          They had suffered great loss of life among their young men but were still holding ground in France.

          When their government wanted to end the war, they were treated as if they had completely lost the war.

          I seem to remember hearing that before the armistice officially started, the French Military continued to bombard the German positions up to the last second.

          Both the French and Germans knew that the armistice would start soon but the French just had to have the “last drop of blood from the Germans”.

          I blame WW2 mainly on Hitler, but the French & British created the situation that Hitler used to gain power.

          Of course, France could have stopped Hitler when it would have been easy to do so. [Frown]

          • It wasn’t really possible for France to do that. Their military was controlled by an elderly group of WW1 vets, and their only plan was “total mobilization,” which was unnecessarily drastic for running the Germans out of the borderlands. There was nothing the government could do; their parliament had disintegrated into the “government of the week club” that spent all of its time churning and re-organizing and undoing anything the previous week’s government had started.

            Shirer’s “The Collapse of the Third Republic” isn’t nearly as well known as his “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, but it’s a pretty good description of how the French government had tied itself into knots.

            Basically, every single one of the people involved knew what was going on and what was coming, but they couldn’t stop stabbing each other in the back long enough to do anything about it.

            There are some sad parallels to 21st-century America there…

            • I’ve heard an anecdote of refugees fleeing France and one was asked why it fell, and he answered that it had too many people like him. . . .

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Yep, there were “reasons” that France allowed Hitler to get so big but I’m afraid that I focus on France what didn’t do about Hitler because of the idiots who think the US joining the League of Nations would have prevented WW2. :frown:

              • Can we just leave the UN? Perhaps going rogue is the sensible option.

                Besides, I’d like to ship the UN to Dubai. I hear they have a mostly empty, really tall, building that would suit the typical UN ego perfectly.

              • To be fair to the French high command, at the time they reasonably considered Hitler only a JV team and no an existential threat.

                • Not to mention that all of the German war plans were based on a start date of 1943. That’s why the Kreigsmarine, for example, only had about 50 U-Boats and Germany was only making 40 tanks a month, a condition that persisted until 1942….

                  If anyone had any spies inside OKW, that was what they were seeing.

          • Well, created in the sense that they didn’t follow John J. Pershing’s advice.
            Which was, in effect, “Don’t stop until Berlin.”

          • WWII was practically willed into being by the Allies. They ended WWI with a general feeling of “not having finished things”, and so it was. It’s hard not to look at Versailles and not think “These people practically want another war… And, they are going to get one…”.

            And, so they did. Had the entire unholy confluence of events, including Wilson’s efforts, not been in alignment, the world would look very different. WWI took place at a near-perfect cusp of many things, military, political, and technological. Had it occurred a few years earlier, the fighting would have petered out due to a lack of munitions (Haber-Bosch process being what enabled the German war machine to last more than a few weeks/months before running out of explosives feedstocks), and had it happened a few years later when portable wireless and trucks were in widespread use, the trench warfare that so typified the conflict, and made it so bloody, would never have been able to take place. It’s like there was this window, where perfect conditions for the abattoir existed, and if we’d have somehow muddled through that, we’d have never seen such destruction. A war in the 1890s would not have been nearly as destructive, nor would one fought in the late 1920s/early 1930s. They’d have been bloody, but not to level of destroying entire generations of manpower.

            WWI and the follow-on WWII were examples of historical “perfect storms”, in a lot of respects. Which sort of make you wonder about a bunch of things, if you’re of a contemplative mind.

            • Witness, as Chesterton observed, that they never spoke of the Peace. Only of the Armistice.

              • That’s a telling turn of phrase, as well. And, quite at odds with the whole “War to end all wars…” propaganda line. They ended the war, only to set the pins up for the next set of bowlers.

                What is really striking, in my mind, is to read the memoirs of the participants, and note that they almost all say the same thing we’re saying here, to a man. They knew, by and large, that they were setting the stage for another go-round, and yet… They still did it. Mind-numbing. It’s like “Well, we just killed off an entire generation or two. Let’s set it up to do it all over again, in a few years…”.

            • “This isn’t a peace, it’s a twenty year truce!” – Foch on the Treaty of Versailles

              His estimate was off by 71 days. That’s pretty damned accurate.

          • I blame it on Wilson who stopped the offensive to enter Germany in spring of 1919 by being open to a separate peace with Germany when the UK and France wouldn’t give up on actually throwing the Germans out of France.

            I suspect the peace would have been less harsh while being seen as less of a sellout at the same time if he’d have let the armies finishing winning the war.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I think it was the existence of the Soviet Union. The Soviet foreign services could not stop themselves from meddling in the affairs of other nations, and their domestic and colonial affairs could not be other than a chamber of horrors.

            Prior to WWII, there were Germans all over Europe. Speakers of other languages also could end up all over the place. (Dracula’s reputation is largely because he’d ticked off local German speakers, who’d gotten German speaking publishers in a different part of Europe to defame him.) German speakers in the Ukraine saw the Soviet Holodomor first hand. As a general rule, a people in an empire that is both ethnically and linguistically a minority both locally and centrally gets mistreated. Unless the central power is using them as a proxy. Those Germans in the Ukraine saw some very bad things happen, and wrote about them to their relatives in other parts of the world.

            In one of the Dakotas there is a public university with a collection of such letters.

            The Germans knew what would happen to them under Soviet rule, knew that the Soviets were trying to rule them, and knew that the Soviets stood a good chance of ruling them. They were in line for the chopping block, and knew it,

            The political environment that brought Hitler to power was partly created by Soviet intervention, and was similar to ones where Russian communist proxies seized power.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard


              After WW1 Germany (like IIRC other countries) was plagued by Communist movements.

              The early Nazi were one of many anti-Communist movements that arose in Germany.

              Once the Nazi started to gain support, the German Powers-That-Be decided that they could control Hitler in order to hold off the Communists.

              And we know how that ended. [Sad Smile]

              Still IMO, without the “We Were Betrayed Attitude”, Hitler wouldn’t have gained the power that he possessed which caused the German Powers-That-Be to think that he’d be useful against the Communists.

              • Not just Germany – look at fascism in Hungary. Same sense of betrayal, especially since they’d been hit with the Versailles penalties much like Germany, but for the “sin” of being attached to Austria, and not being a small minority like the Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, et al. The initial socialist/Communist takeovers of Austria and Hungary didn’t help, either.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                China during the twentieth century interregnum had tons of social or communist movements. The one that won was the one the soviets were funding and organizing.

                I’d argue that the NSDAP was in many ways just another of those communist factions, except that it hit on the idea of billing itself as anti-communist.

                • Pretty much. You have to differentiate yourself from your competitors early, lest you get lost in the scrum…

            • The Spartacists in Germany were not nice people. In the beginning of _Holding the Stirrup_ by Elizabeth von und zu Gutenberg, she describes the Communists going apartment to apartment in Munich in 1919, looking for nobles and high-ranking military officers to kill. The only reason her father survived was that he was so deathly ill the the Communists decided he was going to die and they didn’t need to waste bullets. We kinda miss that in the US textbook version of what happened in 1919.

    • Well, if ordinary schmucks could make sense of it, it would hardly be intellectual, now would it?

    • Go thou to YouTube and look up the lectures by former KGB agent Yuri Bezmenov. Very enlightening. There was a conspiracy, all right — it just wasn’t *ours*.

      “When four men sit down to talk conspiracy, three are government agents and the fourth is a fool.” — Tsarist proverb

      • The old joke about the CPUSA was that the chairman would look out over the meeting and say, “Is there anyone here who *isn’t* an FBI agent?”

      • I’m pretty sure that’s how they’re running most of the US white supremacist organizations nowadays.

  5. Christopher M. Chupik

    “I don’t actually believe in any such thing.”

    Liar! Bad Puppy! I skimmed and saw “conspiracy against libertarian and right-wing authors” and now I’m offended by your lying lies!

  6. “not being a Marxist is the equivalent of being a child-abuser”

    Worse. They don’t find being an open member of NAMBLA an obstacle.

    • Yeah. That.

      I’m sure there are excuses, they are the “correct” type of people with the “correct” viewpoint.

  7. I came across this interesting piece by Nassim Taleb at Climate Etc. ( about “Asymmetry and the power of the 3%.”

    It is a treatise on the power of an intransigent minority. It has implications on entryist, PC, SJWs.

  8. What Eric Raymond would term a “pro” spiracy rather than conspiracy. Like minded people independently working toward similar goals due to shared assumptions and worldview.

    On chaotic systems, etc. , Antifragility is a damned interesting concept that is a useful tool for modeling internet resilience, ecosystems, and a number of other systems that keep working fine when disaster strikes. Centralized control means centralized, wide-scope failure.

    And despite keeping an ear and eye on things, I somehow can’t remember when not being marxist was equivalent to child abuse. I mean, we even got “political ideology IS quality”, and a lot of other truly vile things, but somehow that particular one slipped my radar.

    • c4c

    • Well, Patrick Nielsen Hayden explicitly said that people don’t have to be nice to members of an organization for raping children, and therefore, they don’t have to be nice to Sad Puppies. (Nevermind that he IS nice to at least one member of the former group.)

      • He really is disgusting, isn’t he. Even the most charitable interpretation is that if one identifies non-humans, one may treat them as poorly as one wishes to treat them.

        • There was one person who observed that what you do with Rabid Puppies is shoot them. . . .

          • Normally I’d say that was meant to be funny rather than in earnest. What I think is more significant than “trash talk”, which is a good and highly honored part of human communication, is the calm and “reasoned” explanations and identification of the “other” and who is actually entitled to decent treatment or not.

            Take the Christian who believes sincerely that homosexuality is a sin… but who does NOT in any way believe that it’s okay to treat homosexuals with anything other than decency… an SJW would insist that this person was a horrible evil person.

            Compare to PNH’s statement, assuming you’ve got it about right and I’m sure you do, which is essentially that someone with ideas he doesn’t like is NOT entitled to be treated with decency, that there is no need to be decent to bad people.

            Which is worse? I know which is worse. I know which is worse for society, for community, for EVERYTHING.

            I mean… what’s the bottom line here? Is it all projection? “They” officially and openly believe it’s not necessary to treat all people well and fairly, probably is actually *wrong* to treat them fairly, so anyone they don’t like or disagree with is “fair game” in some sort of retribution dance… because some things simply Require Hate?

            • You’ve basically got it right. It’s something that is inculcated in groups to enable them to treat those dehumanized with contempt and abuse (of all types) while still considering themselves to be decent people. The “others” aren’t like us and therefore aren’t deserving of the consideration due to actual humans.

              • Self selected aristocracies often don’t really believe that the lower orders are truly human.

              • This is a core mechanism of tribalism, which may be the most ancient primate instinct we can clearly identify. It’s odd that more isn’t written about it in the press…no, wait, not odd at all.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  IIRC almost every “Tribe Name” means “The People” in that tribe’s language.

                  • And their name for the neighboring tribes, so I have heard tell is usually something like “Those _____ Others.”

                  • La Raza is The Race. Now, I always have problems with the use of the definite article. It implies that others might be part of a race, but certainly not the proper one. Same with your The People and possibly an other but inferior people. Amazing what you can get away with in today’s world if you fit the proper victim group.

          • And my response to that is that they don’t do that with anyone who can shoot back.

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            The person who made that remark is never castigated by the Usual Suspects, who admonish us for everything we say. Fascinating.

      • I think PNH is either confused about the goals of Sad Puppies, a filthy liar, or is extremely confused about how evil child rape is.

      • What confuses me is that raping children isn’t really an issue for them as long as it is the *right* people doing the raping… Roman Polanski, Bill Clinton, Charles Manson.

        • Whoopi Goldberg, at least, believes that what Polanski did wasn’t really “rape rape”. Presumably, this means that she thinks that Polanski’s partner was willing, albeit underage.

          I suspect that she’s not alone in that belief.

          As it turns out, though, she’s wrong about the “willing” part.

    • Oh, no. They just said (and someone has it archived, just not me) that the puppies were the equivalent of child abusers. While not all of us are non-Marxists, a majority are, and other than not being insiders that’s our most consistent characteristic.

  9. My take on “conspiracy theorist” has long been that our brains are wired for it because it, like lying, and like creating fiction, is a necessary process related to pattern recognition within systems and the ability to imagine and conceptualize as real those things that haven’t happened yet. Because we can envision the abstract as if it were real, we are able to be sentient at all, and with that comes the fact that we’re prone to the rest of it. (The ability to conceptualize religion would be a result of the same ability to be sentient, which lends an interesting light, not on atheists since having the ability doesn’t mean you’ve got to do it, but on those who are very invested in their atheism as proof of their greater personal intellectual advancement over other people.) The actual conspiracy theorist gets pleasure from the discovery of a conspiracy the same way that all other evolutionarily necessary activities (sex, food, hunting, building, hoarding, socializing, etc.,) give us pleasure.

    I don’t think that we secretly long for someone to be in charge but we’re highly invested in identifying and codifying “rules” so that we can understand and predict the world around us. Which, yes, peaks about about age 5.

    That diversion aside (ahem!) a “system” isn’t a “conspiracy” and recognizing that “things just work this way” isn’t a “conspiracy” and quite a lot of study has gone into understanding systems where there is distributed decision making… be it birds in a flock or sand in a landslide or humans in society. The idea that there must be a cabal of conspirators who have an actual goal in mind is simplistic. The notion that someone who points to a system must be pointing to a conspiracy is just ignorant.

    People who believe themselves “good” because their motives are “good” have a hard time accepting that they are a cog with good motives in a system that has negative consequences to society. A cabal in a conspiracy has a motive… but a system does not have a motive. It just is.

    Oppose the system because it’s a toxic, damaging, disaster… and no matter what you say or how you explain it, you must *really* be in opposition because your motives are opposite all of those very good “cogs”.

    • People believe that there MUST be a system. They feel safer as part of a system. Therefore, someone MUST be in charge. If nobody is visibly in charge then their Must be a secret order/puppetmaster pulling the strings. The reality of emergent order in chaotic systems is anathema to their vision of the universe.

      • Some of it is probably due to plain old primate pecking order programming. Most people seem to be uncomfortable unless it’s clear who’s above them in the pecking order, even when they’re not really in any order to be pecked at.

        • I’ve mentioned in the past that’s one big difference between Americans and most of the rest of the world. No one else means equality the same way we do. In the U.S., the chauffeur who drives a Rockefeller around does not consider himself below his boss. The boss gets his “Yes, Sir’s” and his “No, Sir’s” because he’s paying for them. Most people don’t consider the waitstaff to be below them- they’re people doing a job. One that many started in. In a good part of the world, especially anything that is or recently was Communist, upon meeting someone there is an immediate struggle to determine who’s over whom, because there is no equality in relationships.

          When I say “most people”, I mean “most people”, not all. Stories abound about how Monica Lewinsky’s ex-boyfriend’s wife treats Secret Service and hotel staff. And stories are starting to circulate about the current White House occupant’s wife and the way she treats staff…

          • It is a common recommendation for those who are dating to pay attention to how your companion treats the wait staff, as this is an indicator of true character. (Or awareness of the dangers attendant upon angering people with access to your food when it’s out of your sight, which might equally be an indication of character.)

            Just because something is a menial job does not make the person performing it menial. Used to be a big thing in the Christian faith until the “name it and claim it” crowd gained traction.

            • Never mess with the cook. The cook has a number of knives, sharp ones, and knows how to use them. The cook also knows how to mess up your food. I recall a story I read many years ago about a guy who walked up to a short-order cook, stuck a gun over the counter into his face and demanded money. Cook picked up a knife and slashed the guy’s wrist. Kept the gun for the cops.

              • Or janitors in a university town. Sure, they clean up the mess you’ve been making in the halls, but they’re probably also working on their PhD’s and by the time you graduate, your stupid freshman, they will be in a position to deny you that internship you so desperately need…

                • One of the guiding principles by which I live my life is: “Never antagonize someone who can spit in your food.”

                  It works in restaurants, and is also very easily ported to other situations, such as airport ticket counters, police traffic stops, the DMV, and countless others.

            • I had a co-worker that had a bad attitude towards waiters. One day when he was being especially bad, I just turned to our waitress and said “Just spit in his salad before you bring it out. You will thank yourself later”.

              • Bibliotheca Servare

                What was her response? How did your coworker react? Sorry, I’m just trying to play out this scenario in my head and drawing a complete blank. Sounds exciting/amusing though!

              • I’ve never understood the impulse to abuse people or animals just because you can.

                OTOH, it goes both ways. You’d be positively amazed how many stewardesses don’t seem to realize that noise canceling headphones strip away that jet noise they’ve been using to hide insulting their passengers….

                • I used to have several psychiatric/social theories about that, but my current thought is that some people as just asses.

            • I’ve also heard many stories about applicants to an executive-type job being taken to a restaurant after the interview — which, unbeknownst to them, isn’t over yet. The interviewer is carefully watching how the applicant treats the wait staff. If he treats them as being “beneath” him, well, he won’t be getting a job offer, and may never find out why.

  10. Bjorn Hasseler


  11. We’re a species of primates. Primates know instinctively there’s a higher primate above them, unless they’ve just killed or run it off. Ironically, the people who fancy themselves most self-aware and evolved usually have no idea they’re acting like a pack of chimpanzees finding a howler monkey in their territory.

  12. There is a secret society of seven men that controls the
    finances of the world. This is known to everyone but the
    details are not known. There are some who believe that it
    would be better if one of those seven men were a financier.

    Lafferty. About a Secret Crocodile.

    • But, in truth, it had not exactly been gold, or even the promise of gold, but more like the fantasy of gold, the fairy dream that the gold is there, at the end of the rainbow, and will continue to be there forever – provided, naturally, that you don’t go and look. This is known as finance. Terry Pratchett

      The fun thing is that THAT group save the day in Going Postal.

    • There is a secret society of seven men that controls the
      finances of the world.

      The Gnomes of Zurich use Madison Avenue to attack to control the Democrats…

      (I miss that game… it was fun making it appear that I was spending more money than I really was as the Gnomes)

      • Well, when Bjorne the viking dinosaur became the dictator of California and nationalized all the industries ( sometimes truth is stranger than fiction) and turned the orbital mind control lasers on the gnomes….. it’s a good day.

        • No can do. The Gnomes are one of the Illuminati, and thus can’t be affected by the Orbital Mind Control Lasers.

      • That game was fabulous. I preferred playing as the UFOs or the Discordian Society, however.

        • I loved the variant rules in The Space Gamer for making Wargamers an Illuminati with the special victory condition of extending the game to a certain number of turns (based on the number of players).

          After all to them it was just one big game 🙂

          • That seems like a fabulous victory condition. One of my problems with the Steve Jackson games was that it seemed like they always reached stalemate–everyone is close to victory, but the other players all have ways of stopping anyone from actually winning. Having someone whose victory condition was turn-based would stop the “hunker down and hope everyone wastes their ‘stop that guy’ cards on someone else” behavior and force people to do something.

            • Well – except for Ogre. Or Car Wars. Or – admittedly originally TSR – Awful Green Things From Outer Space.

              But Yeah. That. I’m looking at you Munchkin.

          • The collectible card game version had a Collectible Card Games card. The text on the card opened with, “You control all collectible card games, including this one.”


        • I preferred playing as the UFOs or the Discordian Society, however.

          A few of us usually took random Illuminati. We also had some special house rules… generally along the lines of “okay, we won’t stop you from destroying that group you really hate, but it doesn’t count as a kill if you’re the Servants”. Or two kills, if the person hated the group so much he bring it back so he could destroy it a second time.

          We used to also do things like use the OMCLs to turn California into a Conservative state if they weren’t being used for everything else.

          Never let the fact that the game you’re playing isn’t a roleplaying game stop you from roleplaying. Which got me some strange looks at some gaming convention tournaments.

          • he bring it back

            And yet another reason I’m not a writer. I really need to remember that when I go back and edit a statement to change the tense, it’s important to remember the verb.

            • The Other Sean

              I totally hear that, man. I keep running into that with both emails and online forums. Make an edit, then forget to fix tense and/or plurality issues, remove a superfluous connecting word, or insert one that is required.

        • Bibliotheca Servare

          This game sounds amazing! Umm what’s it called?

  13. “IN OUR opening catalog we forgot one group. There is
    another secret society in the world composed of the good guys
    and good gals. It has no name that we have ever heard except
    just the Good Guys and Good Gals. At the moment this
    society controls nothing at all in the world. It stirs a little,
    though. It may move. It may collide, someday, even with the
    Secret Crocodile itself. “

  14. I need to put this in a file I can paste into documents…

    From Gordon R. Dickson’s “The Last Master”, circa 1984.


    “You realize,” said Maea crisply, “that you’re talking about the sort of conspiracy that would be too large to keep under wraps.”

    “Not necessarily,” broke in Rico. “Bureaucrats in a working system don’t need to conspire. They’re like spiders sitting at points on a community web. If one of them starts doing something for the good of the web, it’s because conditions seem to call for it—and those same conditions will also move other bureaucrats, whether they know the whole story or not. It’s as if the vibrations travel along the strands of the web, and the rest of them, following their nature, start doing what must be done-all without any direct spider-to-spider communication whatsoever.”

    • The process is similar to phototropism whereby all elements of an organism share a similar stimulus/response behaviour. Niven’s sunflowers are not aware (unless he changed something in later books which I’ve not yet read) to act effectively in concert.

  15. If there is a secret cabal running the world they d-well need to up their game. They’ve been allowing the place to get quite run down and out of balance. I realize they are probably using Union Labor in most parts of the world but that is no justification of such shoddy performance.

    If they are not up to the task they need to step back and let the world run itself. At least then we would have nobody but the world to blame for sll of this incompetence.

    • I once mentioned that if there are some Secret Masters running the world, they’re doing a poor job of it.

      Someone replied, “That assumes peace and prosperity are part of their plans.”


  16. There’s no secret conspiracy. My wife runs the world…

  17. Here’s the problem with denying conspiracy theories: Sometimes, the conspiracy theorists are right. If you deny them automatically, without examining what is really going on, you stand the danger of actually missing the real ones, when they come along.

    Additionally, sometimes what is going on does amount to a conspiracy, in terms of effect, but without the actual conspiracy existing as some nefarious cabal of backroom operatives and webmasters. It’s enough for the general run of people in a given field to have the same set of interests and intersectional goals/beliefs.

    Who can look at the pernicious products of our current “media”, and miss the general thrust of what’s been going on since the 1930s? Leftism, and the general run of progressive social policy have gone unquestioned and undocumented, with any dissenting views being ignored or outright crushed? Has there been a “conspiracy”, or is this just a bunch of people acting in concert to attain self-actuated goals?

    Does it really make a difference? From where I’m sitting, I really don’t see a difference. So, there isn’t an active, organized conspiracy run from some subterranean fortress beneath the New York Times building? Big deal–The effects are about the same as if there were such a thing. If anything, the actuality of the situation is far worse–Were there a conspiracy, we could root out the conspirators, put them on trial, and deal with it. Instead, we’re forced to do battle with this inchoate mass of believers whose programs are inimical to the civilization we’ve been handed. It’s like there are a mass of termites and rats lurking in the foundations, gnawing away at the supports, and the truly horrible thing is, they’re only vaguely aware of what they’re destroying. They’re not even doing it because they want the whole thing to come crashing down, but because that particular beam they’re currently gnawing away at has a nice flavor, and they like chewing on it.

    Hell, I wish the conspiracy theorists were right. Then, we’d have a decent chance of targeting the responsible parties. As it is, there are ten thousand different influences creating the disaster we have bearing down on us, from overly-indulgent mothers to pandering politicians, who are all acting from their own internal motivations. Looking around at today’s society, I have a certain rueful feeling of kinship with the band playing on the deck of the Titanic. There’s not a damn thing I can do to stop the ship sinking, by myself, and the rest of the crew and passengers are hell-bent on ignoring the fact that the ship is going down, while the inadequate lifeboats are leaving half-full…

    About all you can do is keep playing, and hope that, somehow, something will appear to alleviate the situation. Even if it is only James Cameron finding your tuba at the sea bottom, in a hundred years or so…

    • tl/dr. Kirk, I SAID the effect was from all of them having the same beliefs, not from a conspiracy. Geesh, keep up.

      • The point I’m trying to make is that the actual effect of what’s been going on is immaterially different from what it would be if there were an actual conspiracy. For all intents and purposes, there might as well be a cabal of mind-controlling leftoid reptiles lurking beneath the New York Times corporate headquarters building. Which is something I’d really rather believe, to tell the truth–The idea that this many people are actually this stupid and delusional about things is something I find incredibly depressing. I mean, I could fight leftoid reptiles, ya know? Human folly, on the other hand? It’s nearly a nearly infinite force, right up there with gravity… What the hell are you going to do about your fellow Disney-lemmings, as they move towards the cliff’s edge?

        And, given that is the case, conspiracy theorists are almost all guilty of having a wish-fulfillment problem–They want the conspiracy to be real, because that’s something they can understand and fight against, rather than the effect of things stemming from some inchoate factor in the zeitgeist of the times. You can see this going on, on both sides, as the partisans go about erecting their straw men to burn in effigy. The left is as guilty as the right, and to be honest, I’m not sure that either side has the right of it. Running your horse up against the windmill may not have any effect, but at least you feel like you’re doing something…

        And, while I think we’re saying a lot of the same things, the actual point of what I’m getting at is that the conspiracy theorists and “true believers” have their effect; say that Harry Reid is delusional about the Koch brothers, which I think he is: Do his delusions make a difference in the actual impact on the rest of us, whether or not this Koch Konspiracy factually exists?

        If he convinces enough people it does, and then someone takes action against it, doesn’t that in effect call it into being? When some nutbar blows up the Koch corporate headquarters, thinking he’s doing God’s work, will the fact that the Koch brothers are actually libertarians whose politics and activities aren’t anywhere near the projections that Harry Reid has thrown up really make a difference to the dead?

        It’s like Hitler’s irrational belief in the World Jewish Conspiracy–If you were Anne Frank, caught up in the machinery of it all, did it make one whit of difference that the “conspiracy” didn’t actually exist? In practical terms, for her, it did–Because, she died for it.

        I guess what I’m trying to get at is that it is dangerous to casually dismiss conspiracy theorists, because of the fact that they very, very occasionally get the right of things, and that their fantasies have an unfortunate way of coming out of the shadows into the real world. It would be nice to dismiss them all, wholesale, but the likely results of doing that would be disastrous. And, in so many ways…

        • No. It is QUITE different. It means we have to fight the culture/subculture and not the individuals.

          • I think we’re really talking past each other; I’m in agreement with you that most conspiracy ideas/theories are will-o’-the-wisp figments of the imagination, existing only in the minds of the theorists. What I think needs to be emphasized is that this objective fact doesn’t mean a damn thing, in terms of the effect these things can have out in the real world.

            Most Jews in Wilhelmine Germany would have dismissed the idea that they were running things, or that they and their co-religionists were participants in some world-wide conspiracy. Get to the Weimar Republic, and they were mostly still dismissive of the fantasies they heard being told about their people; by the time we get to the 1930s, and the Nazi regime, however? Those theories were out in the open, and had gained a reality that couldn’t be gainsaid, despite their actual non-existence.

            An acquaintance of mine was a child in inter-war Germany; listening to her discuss the zeitgeist of the time, and how thoroughly convinced she was that such a thing as a worldwide Jewish conspiracy existed during that period was… Interesting, to say the least. Nazi Germany was an exercise in conspiracy theory gone mad, and taking over a country’s imagination and politics.

            Which goes a long way towards explaining why so many Jews did what was rational, and ignored the whole thing. After all, they knew they weren’t involved in any such thing, and because of that, they didn’t take the threat at all seriously. I talked with a guy who’d done a bunch of interviews and documentation with his family members that had lived through that period as Jewish Germans, and asked him why on earth more of his family hadn’t done what his grandparents and parents did, which was get the hell out. His research had largely been driven by that same question, because he simply couldn’t understand it, either. The answer he reluctantly arrived at was that most of the ones who wound up staying did so because they simply couldn’t take the whole thing seriously. The Nazis were so over-the-top with their accusations and intimations that they mostly thought it was all for show, and would stop once they got into power, and by that time, it was too late. Or, at least that was the conclusion he reached after interviewing all his surviving family members. He had some who flatly still refused to believe that the Germans would do what they did as late as the mid-1940s–There was an aunt of his who never forgave her husband for fleeing Germany and leaving all their “good things” behind, and coming to America to live in relative poverty. She still held that against him as late as the 1960s, when he’d first talked to her about her life.

            All I’m trying to get at is that whether or not the conspiracy ideas that are out there are correct, or even sane… Well, that’s immaterial, so long as there are people who are willing and able to act on them. So what if the Rothschilds weren’t really behind Germany’s defeat in WWI? Their fellow Jews still paid the price, because some nutjobs were able to convince enough other people that they had been. In terms of real-world effects, the conspiracy was made real…

            That’s the danger. And, in fighting these things, we have to be aware that not only are there impersonal cultural forces at play, there are also individuals acting as key influencers and enablers, for whatever personal reasons they might have. Some of these people like to put their ideas into action, like the SWATters involved in GamerGate–Coincidentally, something the membership of Sad/Rabid Puppies ought to take notice of, and precautions against. The rabid SJW likes to take concrete action, from time to time.

            In marketing theory, there is the idea that there is such a thing as “influencer marketing”, which implies that it is more effective to market to those members of the marketplace who serve as “key influencers” on the rest of the market. In other words, convince the “cool kids” that something is worthy, and it will sell. Reach critical mass with the key influencers, and you have a successful product or fad.

            I would suggest that conspiracy theorists can serve a similar purpose, in the marketplace of political ideas. If they catch the wave, and manage to convince enough other people that what they are saying is valid, then they can take a third-rate mob of politically opportunistic hacks from being a fringe party to a national movement in fairly short order. Rise of Nazism, anyone? Parallels exist in US history, as well–Huey Long, Donald Trump, and a host of others whose political orations and beliefs were laughable, but convincing enough to the rest of “idea market” that they got a hell of a long way towards gaining power.

            As such, we can laugh our asses off at conspiracy theories, but we’d best pay attention to them, if only because of how influential they can be with their followers.

            • Agree with Kirk – I was raised in a Lutheran church in which there were a great many emigre Germans, and sometimes the older people talked about … well, why they booked it from Germany. A lot of German and Austrian Jews did, actually. An elderly couple who were good friends of my parents — who were both stout Lutherans but had a Jewish grandparent or two — relayed us some horrific insights into that period. Quite of few of German and Austrian Jews thought — additionally – that it was a temporary thing, would all blow over, and didn’t go any farther than Holland or France … and then the Nazis caught up to them.

      • Had there BEEN an actual conspiracy, the conspirators’ own inborn greed, arrogance and incompetence would long since have set them at each other throats long before now. Hillary and Bernie, anyone?

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Hillary and Bernie are part of the conspiracy????

          Nonsense, they are just puppets of the Real Conspirators!

          The Great Ones are not members of this species of hairless apes and thus don’t have the failings of hairless apes.

          The Great Ones allow the appearance of inborn greed, arrogance and incompetence of their puppets in order to fool the mass of hairless apes that the conspiracy doesn’t exist. 😈 😈 😈 😈

        • If this had been an actual conspiracy, you would not have been notified.

          — old BBS tagline

  18. There was a quote I read about 10 years ago that I’ve long since forgotten the source for, but it’s always summed up conspiracy theories for me…

    “Those people who believe in vast conspiracies that run the world have clearly never tried to organize a conspiracy on the order of, say, a surprise birthday party. If they had, they’d know that the first rule of conspiracies is that they never stay secret. Someone always tells.”

  19. Marxist aesthetics aren’t hard to fake …

    But they are unfortunately even more dreary, boring and unbelievable as gratuitous sex scenes. Except, unlike sex scenes they tend to be distributed in dribs and drabs throughout the story, leaving icky little puddles that are difficult to avoid. The suspension required to not disbelieve such elements is more than most stories have sufficient structure to bear; a badly written sex scene merely leaves on wondering “How do they do that without slipping a disc or dislocating a hip” while the Marxturbatory stuff requires setting aside everything one knows about human society.

    • Anonymous Coward

      The phrase “Marxist aesthetics” cracks me up. I have an image of a grey concrete building labeled “Museum”, inside of which are grey concrete walls, covered with various Modern canvases painted in various shades of grey.

      • And the architectural style is either Stalin Baroque (a real thing) or Khruschev Eclectic (not so real).

        • Anonymous Coward

          The glorious People’s 5 Year Plan for Architecture and Interior Design has been sabotaged by kulaks and wreckers … well, either them or Bauhaus.

      • The Soviet art remains popular to this day …

        … although it mostly tends to turn up in Democrat campaign posters.

        • It’s intended to have an emotional appeal, and on a certain level, it works. But the same applies to any wartime propaganda poster, which says a lot about how the Communists saw the world.

      • Or the literary equivalent. ’bout right.

      • Immediately after the Revolution, all the artists who imagined that the change of society meant their art would now be appreciated at its true value ran wild. It didn’t take long for that to be curbed. It was too obviously alienating and not useful as propaganda. A much more realistic effect was forced on art. (Lenin even said that failure to draw on the rich traditions of the past was a failure to understand Marxism.)

        I regret to say that some artists immediately grabbed this to claim that that Modern art was therefore anti-Communist instead of just rubbish.

    • Talk about conspiracists. Do some reading about the Stalinist period. Whenever anything went wrong in the enlightened quest to create the New Soviet Man (to be followed by the New Communist Man), the entire shopworn list of conspiracies was hauled out. The Reactionaries, Internationalists, Monarchists, Saboteurs, Foreigners, Bourgeoisie, Class Enemies were to blame for any and every defect in the glorious road to the withering away of the state and the achievement of the Communist society.

      Any of that seem familiar?

      There is a tale, the details of which I don’t recall. In some part of the Soviet Union, the trains were not running on time. Clearly, counter-revolutionary forces had to be the cause. A special train, loaded with NKVD, Party investigators and functionaries, and politburo members was assembled and raced to the locale. Things happened, many saboteurs were discovered, executions by the truckload, others sent to various camps, and the rot was removed from the railroad structure in that locale. The State train returned to Moscow, red star gleaming on the engine, in triumph — having taken one more step toward achieving the workers paradise.

      Where the trains had formerly been late, there was a significant change. So many railroad workers, operators, planners, and administrators had been purged that, after the cleansing, the trains did not run at all.

  20. Hmm. Well I do believe the devil and his minions are out to get me. On the other hand, they’re out to get *everyone*.

  21. Popular shows that involve conspiracy theories, often as a major part of the plot, if not the plot:
    The Mentalist
    Arrow and the related Flash
    Anything related to the Marvel Universe

    And conspiracy theories are a major part of a huge percentage of successful movies. Like:
    <Independence Day (Area 51 cover up)
    Anything related to the Marvel Universe

    That’s off the top of my head. If a large number of shows and movies people watch revolve around conspiracy theories, especially law and order type shows, it becomes easier for those people to believe in conspiracy theories in real life.

    • I’ve often thought that a major plot thread in X-Files really did society no favors, in plugging the alien-government conspiracy thread –
      I have thought for years that they encouraged a particularly unbalanced demographic, by validating it in a prime time TV show.

      • Anonymous Coward

        I see you have been taken in by the cover story, not realizing X Files was actually a documentary. I have some grainy Super 8 films that prove it.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Considering that there is an all-powerful, ruthless conspiracy in the X-Files universe, the question arises: why the hell are Scully and Mulder STILL alive, or at least not totally discredited and/or in prison?

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          That’s the Big Problem with most fiction that involve somebody searching out a Great Conspiracy.

          Any Great Conspiracy worthy of the name would have very little problem quietly stopping somebody trying to reveal them.

        • Yeah – logic to conspiracy-theorists is like holy water to vampires.
          Really doesn’t talk them out of it, but it is fun to watch them shrivel up to a little pile of grey ash.

          I had a wonderful spiel to all those conspiracy theorists in the 1990s who were all about those black helicopters across the far west: OK, where are all these helicopters based? Since they have a relatively short range, they have to come down sometime, of course. And they are maintained … where? and refueled where? And these required maintenance facilities are … where? And that there aren’t residents in the vicinity — no matter how far spread — who miraculously don’t see all the traffic?

          Good times, good times. I used to have lot of fun with that.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Jack L Chalker’s _A War Of Shadows_ was an interesting Conspiracy Novel.

            Basically, a near future US is faced by evidence that somebody is testing biological warfare methods in various small towns in the US.

            The head of the FBI task-force charged with identifying the conspiracy and stopping it discovers that somebody working for the conspiracy has managed to kidnap two top scientists from a highly secure building using his id.

            It is thus obvious to him that who is planning these bio-warfare attacks has high-level resources in the US government.

            The fun of the story is how he plans a counter-conspiracy against the first conspiracy. [Very Big Grin]

            One note, the advantage that he has is that this future US has methods that allow him to clear (basically mind probes) anybody he brings into his counter-conspiracy. [Smile]

          • I certainly don’t think the black helicopters get up to anywhere near everything they’re accused of. But I have seen the one they have at the Air Force museum.

    • For episodic story-telling there is a great convenience to having a conspiracy. It provides a nigh endless supply of villains who require neither back-story nor motivation. They provide a veneer of depth to the stories which gratifies consumers without meeting any intellectual nutritional needs.

      They also are reflective of the office politics at the production company.

      One of the unique qualities of the early Spider-man comics was that the characters grew and developed at a somewhat normal rate — with the result that Steve Ditko left the book and time pretty much stopped.

    • The Other Sean

      Person of Interest involves multiple ongoing big conspiracies.

    • Flash?

      Arrow has at least one new conspiracy every season. But they’ve been kept out of The Flash thus far.

  22. Christopher M. Chupik

    Once on public transit, I overheard a pair of women talking about “the secret underground shelters of the Elite mentioned in the Bible”.

    I seem to have missed that part.

    • That one is actually less insane than a lot of the other nonsense people say they’ve found in the Bible.

      “Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains,”

      Revelation 6:15

    • I’ve read it in three languages and about 8 times and never heard of those, either.

      • Silly Sarah – You have to read between the lines. There is a reason Hebrew is written from Right to Left, after all.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          If you’re trying to find something in the Bible, you probably will, whether it’s there or not.

  23. BTW – on the topic of conspiracies: FoolBook, not content with me ignoring it, has taken to inflicting random pop-up windows notifying me of things that, were I interested in knowing, I would be using Fool Book to read about. Does anybody know how to disable this pestilent noodge?

  24. I wonder what will happen to this orderly gerontocratic cycle when people first stop dying of old age.
    Talk about disruptive technologies!

    • er… if that ever happens. It’s been coming for longer than I’ve been alive.

      • Weber explored some of this with prolong. One, people who don’t have it seem to forget that just because you don’t look old, doesn’t mean you are old and on the flip side, you have to get used to the fact that you’re going to outlive everyone who doesn’t have it. And those people may resent the hell out of that. This resulted in at least one planetary guerrilla movement (Steve Westman, Shadows of Saganami.

    • I recommend John C. Wright’s Golden Oecumene trilogy.

  25. hey Sarah, I have a request. when you do your gif on the Marxist, could you use clips from the Marx Brothers. it just seems approitate.

  26. BobtheRegisterredFool

    There’s a flavor of conspiracy theorist that seems to be a mental sickness. Note how rarely they do anything really creative with the material, instead always twisting it the same old boring ways.


  27. YellowShapedBox

    The variant that really frustrates me no end is the “New World Order.” I mean, your EU diehards are pretty patent one-worldists, but of all world powers, they’re dying the hardest, and they were always pretty impotent to begin with. The UN, even moreso.

    I mean, the cure for this delusion ought to be simple. Just identify your major world powers – the Americans, the Russians, the Chinese, the Indians, your various Islamists – and try to envision them all sitting round a Bilderberg meeting table agreeing with one another.

    • Anonymous Coward

      To be fair to the conspiracy buffs, look at the self-styled ‘elite’ who fly into Davos each year. A collection of highly-educated, well-connected, bien pensants and intellectuals who (without an ounce of shame or humility) profess to have not only the knowledge but the right to determine the future of the planet. One only need to look at the state of the world’s politics and economics to see that this bunch could not organize an orgy in a wh***house. However it does provide fodder for the tin foil hat folks.

    • They would require some kind of common agenda, otherwise there would be no benefit to the meeting. Other than such a meeting reminding me of the ending scene of Animal Farm, I’ve got nothing.

  28. Off track a bit. I’ve been thinking about the politics of the Mahendo’sat in Cherryh’s Chanur universe. Both Trump and Bernie are riding the momentum. People are following them because they are leading us out of the wilderness. Of course, they may be leading us over a cliff but they are trying to escape the status quo blindness. Hopefully their momentum will get snagged by reality before we crash.

    I get so frustrated when I tell people that Cruz has found a map back to sanity and the reply is that Cruz is not a nice man.

    • It feels a bit like being in a surrealist painting, or a “Monty Python” skit.
      You: “Cruz as a reasonable economic policy.”
      Them: “Cruz hates bunnies and broccoli! Feel the Bern!!!!”
      You: “Please explain Mr. Sanders’ foreign policy.”
      Them: “Cruz is mean. He once tripped over a dog!”
      You: ” . . ?”

    • I’ll be honest I don’t care if Cruz is as nasty as the Wicked Witch of the West and makes Emperor Palpatine look like a milque toast.. If he’s rational, competent and wants to shrink (or even just stop the growth) of government he’s my man..