Sunday, February 23, 2014

When conspiracy theories go from sad to evil.

(Trigger warning*: This post involves violence against a small child and an infuriating lack of humility. You should not continue if you don't want to read about violence against children.)
*(Edit: Sigh. I know. See my post on "trigger warning.")

I try very hard to have a sympathetic view of conspiracy theorists. I understand that the people who look for patterns, for "the real story," for "what they're not telling us," etc. are trying to deal with feelings of helplessness and self-doubt. I understand just wanting to have someone agree with you, the rose-coloured glasses that can follow when it finally happens, and a tendency to accept what you might normally turn away from. I understand how skepticism can run amok. Normally conspiracy theories, while sad for those who believe them, are harmless to others - a feeling of "knowing" that the Olympics, or a political scandal on the front page is really a cover-up, for instance, doesn't do much more than support the idea of a pattern where there isn't one.

But sometimes conspiracy theorists go beyond simple narcissism, turning tragedies away from victims and recovery toward self-serving stories about the world. Examples are the crying of "false flag" at the Boston Marathon bombings and Sandy Hook shooting.

Founded on personal tragedy, a misunderstanding of medical science, and a story that sounds an awful lot like the cover-ups conspiracy theorists pride themselves on busting, the anti-vaccination movement is probably the conspiracy theory that's done the most widespread harm. Its proponents actively work to convince parents to boycott childhood vaccines with devastating results. Frightened people looking for patterns inflict the cost of their beliefs on their kids and other medically vulnerable people. Pairing this malignant movement with new tragedy is a recipe for disaster.

In their intervention in the case of the murder of 12-week old Ja'Nayjah Sanders by her non-custodial father, the anti-vaccination movement has crossed a new line.

Ja'Nayjah was beaten to death by her father, who was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder. Ja'Navjah's mother, Shamarrie Kittle, in her grief, was vulnerable to activists the anti-vaccination site VacTruth, who claim that Ja'Navjah's skull fractures were the result of routine two-month vaccinations. Kittle became convinced of VacTruth's claims and is now lobbying to have the murderer of her daughter acquitted and freed.

You can read the details of the case, compiled here. They're horrifying. Her surgeons have no doubt that John Sanders beat his daughter with or against something to inflict the brain injuries she sustained. That anyone would try to pardon someone who would act like this goes beyond the boundaries of what's acceptable. To convince her mother to pardon him is horrifying. To do it in order to prop up, knowingly or not, a self-serving belief system is simply evil.

9 comments:

John Harrington said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Harrington said...

"the anti-vaccination movement is probably the conspiracy theory that's done the most widespread harm"

I appreciate the points you're making. I think anti-vax is a horrible movement that has obviously cost many lives. That said, it is not even CLOSE to the worst conspiracy theory. That distinction goes to the denial of anthropogenic global warming, especially among denialists in power in the US, who are practically single-handedly responsible for the world's delay in dealing with and mitigating the causes and effects of climate change.

badfish said...

Just yesterday I found myself dealing with a Sandy Hook "truther", who demanded "video proof" that the slaughter actually happened. How are you supposed to conduct yourself around people like that? It's sick.

tao_taier said...

As someone who has debunked several major propaganda conspiracy theories like "The zeitgeist Movement" and even much of the latter half of "the fuel project", I can provide a clearer picture than most.

as an aside: Iraq had WMDs.(Iran-Iraq War)
Was a good plan until Saddam started using them on the Kurds.

@John Harrington

I'd be more than happy to destroy the Marxist "Fiberal" world view that threat of anthropogenic global warming is real. It's amazing anyone in 2014 can still fall for that blatant lunacy.
In fact our Moon has more of an impact on our climate than we do.
Climate Change in itself is a natural occurrence as is photosynthesis. In other words, co2 is GOOD. And a warmer planet from "too much" co2 would benefit crops and world food supply, and forestry.
And wouldn't make our planet arid, but to the contrary, would make it lusher.

But believe whatever you want, just don't make other people pay for it, or equate those with genuine opposing arguments as "deniers", which btw is incredibly inflammatory.
Al Gore was comparing AGW "deniers" to holocaust deniers.
Al Gore who has deep family ties to the KKK. Look up Democrat Robert Byrd while your at it.

But isn't it amazing that people who provide counter arguments to AGW alarmism get treated worse than Japanese Imperial Nationalists who deny the rape of Nan-Jing, China, in the lead up to WWII.

John Harrington said...

"I'd be more than happy to destroy the Marxist 'Fiberal' world view that threat of anthropogenic global warming is real."

What is it with ideologues and cute terms? "Fiberal"?

Tao, every science academy in the world, and every independent union, professional association, society, institute, federation, and other organizations of international standing (and almost all American ones) of scientists and engineers accept that the world is warming and that the cause is anthropogenic.

The fact that you consider the startling revelation that climate changes naturally to be any threat to the science shows that, in fact, you don't know the first things about the science.

Making positive pronunciations about things you don't know anything about is just textbook ideologue-think.

Your religion of "I CAN'T ACCEPT REALITY OR I'LL BE TAXED" is a poor replacement for reality. Accept reality. If you don't want to be taxed, argue against that. If you dispute the science accepted by the world scientific community, get a PhD in it and join the discussion.

tao_taier said...

"What is it with ideologues and cute terms? "Fiberal"?

Well if you understood the wide gaping difference, between classical liberalism and the modern day nonsense we have now, you would have an idea where to start.

I use Fiberal to distinguish this and to stop the cycle of people associating classical (original definition before it morphed into the unrecognizable mess it is now). Now simply a reference to any particular scandal plagued party or faction, but the ideological shift that has left it diametrically opposed to itself. Something lost on some who mere accept the face value interpretation of political party names.

It differs from country to country and that is where people get the most confused.
Western conservatism for example, is to preserve the classically liberal principles that nations like the America were founded on.
And that other western nations eventually adopted like Britain(like in the mid 1800s, when they finally embraced free trade).

Classical liberalism was about the expansion of liberty, not libertines. Most particularly economic freedom from which all other freedoms are derived.
With the least emphasis on "social freedoms" which are granted anyway with ones means to be independent.

Speaking of which, I'm greatly surprised that a blog about individual liberty would be pro-involuntary vaccination.
They have had outbreaks of the same illnesses the vaccines were supposedly meant to prevent, but rather caused, even at 100% vaccination rate.

Vaccines are never tested in double blind experiments.
So are still subject to bias and other interferences.

You want to talk about science, chief? You should of started there. Since more people have died from vaccinations then governments have saved from "AGW".

To compare the whole anti-vax groups,who vary wildly in opinion and creeds, to Sandy Hook "truthers" is over the top.
You can make the case in this instance as any group isn't without its fringe loons. I wouldn't dismiss whole other valid arguments & evidence because of a few loud crazies.
I am not going to forfeit my own discernment & reasoning.
Maybe you guys would.

For example, I don't merely dismiss "Anthropogenic Global Warming" based off the racist fearmonging of its original cheerleader: Al Gore.

http://humanevents.com/2014/01/30/gore-reduce-african-womens-fertility-to-limit-global-warming/

tao_taier said...

"Tao, every science academy in the world, and every independent union, professional association, society, institute, federation, and other organizations of international standing (and almost all American ones) of scientists and engineers accept that the world is warming and that the cause is anthropogenic."

"Consensus" and "conformity" isn't scientific, but rather politically expedient than anything else.
Science isn't based on an agreed set of opinions by organized academics.
I never look at someones credentials as the main source to vindicate their opinions.
The onus is on them prove "AGW" as a threat, not for me to roll over and accept it.

Especially "[...]how government research grants are promoting the false notion of an alarmist consensus. Large government research grants are handed out almost uniformly to scientists who will promote the idea of global warming crisis, which ensures more budgetary dollars for government agencies addressing the topic and subsequently more research grants for the participating scientists, [...]" ~Patrick Michaels, a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and former program chair for the Committee on Applied Climatology of the American Meteorological Society.

^http://humanevents.com/2014/07/21/myths-busted-at-climate-change-conference/

A link that fell on my lap without even looking the day I finally get back to making a retort.

ALSO, something to point out from substantiated reality:

http://www.elnino.noaa.gov/

"El Niño is characterized by unusually warm temperatures and La Niña by unusually cool temperatures in the equatorial Pacific."

"Typical El Niño impacts in the U.S. include above-average rainfall in the West and suppressed hurricane activity in the East, although neither is guaranteed and largely dependent on El Niño's strength"


Notice the real world correlation over your conjecture from academics & other theoretic drivel.


You say "Tax everyone" for it, as you suggest, as if taxes ever go to their intended problem. Especially since the best answers have come from the free market, yet you want to remove more cash from the economy on other boondoggles?

I'm not against consumption taxes per se, but it doesn't make a difference until they get their financial priorities in order.

Besides, the BP oil spill wasn't cleaned up by governments, in fact they got in the way of many great free market solutions... so it came down to a micro bacterial deep sea organisms to ate it up.

Well, not exactly but pretty much.
It was natural oil from the ocean. It's not entirely impossible for a terrible earth quake to do the same. So its less than an "environmental catastrophe" then say a volcano eruption. Other natural occurrences like trees recycling our co2 into air is the furthest thing from a endemic threat.

Ever heard of commercial tree farming? Free Market at work, as opposed to government induced clear cutting to their favorite businesses.

John Harrington said...

Oh Jesus fucking Christ. You are such a ideology-brainwashed, illiterate tool it's not even worth my time to respond to this bullshit, or even read it fully.

If you feel you've blown the lid off the science, get a fucking science degree and participate. In the meantime, take your moronic ideological meanderings about "Al Gore" and the rest and shove them up your ass.

tao_taier said...


"You are such a ideology-brainwashed, illiterate tool it's not even worth my time to respond to this bullshit, or even read it fully."

Your the one admittedly having reading problems.

I forgot to revisit this. I will for a laugh to point something out.

"Vaccines are never tested in double blind experiments.
So are still subject to bias and other interferences."


^?
That has nothing to do with ideology...

You mentioned 'the world scientific "community"', but not any specific information to counter a single "claim" I made.

I must of forgot that science starts and ends with "consensus".
And is driven by "popular thought", according to you, the gate keeper of who is "moronic" while acting out like a complete imbecile.
You managed to degrade your side of the discussion into a bile spitting contest. Congratulations on your ill-perceived "superiority" in throwing random insults at strangers you disagree with on mere policy.

How about this, it sounds like your level of communication:
"Jack you own ass".

On the a similar topic of jackasses:

Everything stated about AL Gore's racist background and KKK connections can be backed up with much historical evidence and many many multi-sourced links, its no secret. Same could be said about the democratic party.