Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Shermer Attacks Conspiracy Theories

Professional skeptic Michael Shermer writes in Quillette:
That theory, in turn, could be traced in part to the notorious hoax document known as The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, which purported to present the proceedings of a secret meeting of Jews plotting global domination. Many believed it was genuine, including American industrialist Henry Ford, who published his own derivative conspiratorial tract entitled, The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem. (He subsequently withdrew it from circulation when he found out The Protocols was a fake.)

Wikipedia explains that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was fake in the sense that some of the passages were plagiarize from other works describing plots for world domination. In one case, an interest rate calculation was copied from an 1864 political satire. Here is the Ford book.

While The Protocols no longer has mainstream proponents, belief in conspiracy theories remains a stubborn—and sometimes deadly—problem. In 2021, the California-based Skeptic Research Center, which I direct along with colleagues Anondah Saide and Kevin McCaffree, conducted a survey of 3,139 randomly selected Americans in regard to 29 conspiracy theories, with respondents being asked to signal their attitudes on a seven-point scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” The results were alarming. Nearly one in five Americans (19 percent) told us they believe, to some degree, the QAnon-style theory that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the United States are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.” Over a quarter of Americans (26 percent) said they agree, to some degree, that “the actions of the US government are not determined by elected officials, but by an unelected secret group of business and cultural elites known as the Deep State.”

So you tell me. Why are all the authorities suddenly in favor of sex-grooming and mutilating schoolchildren? Why are htey all in favor of the Ukraine war? Jamie Raskin co-signed a statement expressing some concerns about the war, and then retracted it saying essentially that the war is needed for the Deep State to advance the cause of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

Donald Trump would be pleased to learn that over a quarter of respondents (28 percent) expressed some measure of agreement with the proposition that “the 2020 presidential election of Joe Biden was fraudulent, because it was tampered with by high-ranking politicians, voting machine programmers, and poll workers.”

Those officials did change the voting rules. Trump won a clear majority of votes cast and counted on election day. Everything else was unverifiable, inexcusable, and possibly illegal.

Axios reports:

The Biden administration is concerned that if opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu wins Tuesday's elections, he will form a government with extreme right-wing parties and Jewish supremacists, including Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smortich, will be made senior ministers and be part of the security cabinet.
That is bizarre. I thought that Jewish supremacy was an anti-semitic conspiracy theory. Why would anyone care about Jewish supremacists in Israel? The Biden administration is full of them. Those are the ones to be concerned about.

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