Monday, May 23, 2022

The Latest Conspiracy Theory

Here's a nauseating claim made by someone in a comment to my post about Meron:

Have you researched the possibility that it was the government or police that was responsible for the deaths? There are countless write ups about this. Some say that the reason they were killed was so that people would say “chareidim are irresponsible” and use it as a pretext to take away power from their ideological enemies.
Why were the CCTV cameras disabled before the event?
Why were the bleachers damaged purposely in the days before the tragedy?
Why did people pour water on the slope and make it slippery?
Why did the police block off some of the exits?
Why were the police brutalising chareidim before the tragedy? On video btw.
All these need answering too.
Now, there are different ways of responding to such offensive stupidity. One is to respond, point by point, to each of the claims:
Q. Why were the CCTV cameras disabled before the event? 
A. They weren't. There is plenty of camera coverage.

Q. Why were the bleachers damaged purposely in the days before the tragedy? 
A. They weren't. They may well have been in poor condition, but that's just because of general incompetence in maintenance.
Q. Why did people pour water on the slope and make it slippery? 
A. They didn't. Water was spilled, not deliberately poured.
Q. Why did the police block off some of the exits? 
A. To try (possibly very incompetently) to make some order in the chaos.
Q. Why were the police brutalising chareidim before the tragedy?
A. Fights between police and charedim happen all the time. (It's generally because of extremist charedim that misbehave, as can be seen in plenty of videos from this week alone.)

But this point-by-point rejoinder neglects the larger issue here. This conspiracy theory about a secret government/ police plan to kill large numbers of charedim in order to make them look bad and remove power from them (whatever that means) suffers from the same basic problem as every conspiracy theory, whether regarding the Holocaust, Jewish control, Covid, the vaccine, or the "stolen" US election.

The basic logical flaw in all conspiracy thinking is that it negates both Occam's Razor and Hanlon's Razor. Occam's Razor states that a simple explanation for events is much more likely to be true than a complicated explanation. Hanlon's Razor, which is based on Occam's Razor, states that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Conspiracy theories look for the most complicated, sinister explanation of events instead of the simplest explanations. But the reality is that most events can be very simply explained by ordinary phenomena. In particular, it's always much more reasonable to attribute problems to the prevalent problem of human incompetence than to deliberate, malicious, complicated plans to create them. Conspiracies, on the other hand, require levels of organization and cooperation and secret-keeping which human beings are just not very good at, as anyone responsible for managing large teams of people can attest. 

Note too that the comment about Meron uses a tactic popular among conspiracy theorists, of making a list of (alleged) questions. Asking questions is a good thing when the questions are based on fact and the person asking actually wants the answers. But in these cases, it's a sneaky way of spreading disinformation while maintaining an appearance of intellectual honesty. The conspiracy theorist who presents a list of questions is not looking for the most plausible answers - he is looking to plant a wild accusation in people's minds. Presenting this in the form of questions means that when people ridicule it, the conspiracy theorist can accuse them of just trying to shut down open debate and suppress truth. (See this excellent article about the problem, and this article about how this disingenuous technique is used to great effect by Tucker Carlson.)
There are all kinds of psychological mechanisms which make conspiracy theories appeal to people. It's appealing to think that you have access to "suppressed" or "secret" information. And it can actually be psychologically reassuring to believe that events, including harmful events, are not random or unplanned (or, in the case of Meron, the result of charedi unwillingness to take professionalism seriously), but are the calculated result of a plan - even if it being planned by evil forces. And in the modern world of social media and electronic communication, it's very easy for people thus inclined to hook up with many other such people to reinforce their attitude.
It wasn't that long ago that conspiracy theories were a joke, fodder for a TV show called The X-Files, and nobody took them seriously. It's a pity that this flawed line of thinking is making a resurgence.

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  1. I had not previously encountered the term "Hanlon's Razor", but for a long time, I had a similar formulation of the same principle: Never attribute to malevolence that which can be adequately explained by incompetence. (It rhymes.)

    1. Haman was both incompetent and malevolent. Where does that leave you?

    2. "Haman was both incompetent and malevolent."

      Godwin's Corollary: When Hitler won't do, bring up some other scoundrel.
      But let me explain it to you: Never attribute to malevolence that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.
      a(x)="x can be adequately explained by incompetence"
      b(x)="Attribute x to malevolence"
      ~ not
      "Haman can't be adequately explained by incompetence" would formally be written as ~a(x). Unfortunately, Hanlon's Razor doesn't apply here- it deals with propositions in the form a(x); it doesn't address ~a(x).

      "Where does that leave you?"
      With a five o'clock shadow.

    3. Shimshon, what are you talking about? Haman was quite competent. He managed to maneuver himself into the Prime Ministership! Whether he had years of political experience before that, we do not know, but if he really was Mordechai's slave or barber many years earlier, then I'd say that he was very good at his job, since he managed to become 2nd in command for the Persian Empire! It was only when he let his personal feelings override his political skill that he began to decline.

      If you make our enemies into buffoons, then it takes away from the neis and the salvation. (Eh, he was going to self-destruct on his own anyway... as it were.)

      But anyway, seriously, WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? This sort of rule - Occam's Razor, Hanlon's Razor - are to be applied in a situation where we legitimately do not know what happened. In those situations, the more likely explanation is one of accident or stupidity (or incompetence). In cases where we KNOW, such as Ruach HaKodesh, such rules are not needed. (Not that Haman and Achashverosh necessarily break the rule of Occam's Razor either - it's not a conspiracy, it's one man pushing his personal agenda, which we see all the time.)

    4. Ephraim, nothing you have done has demonstrated the veracity of what is merely a clever witticism.

      Yosef, our mesorah actually says otherwise. In any case, one can be incompetent and still rise to unimaginable heights. The Peter Principle trumps these idiotic corollaries and razors for the simple fact that despite sounding insane it is observably true. The others sound reasonable, but are not axiomatic in practice.

      If anyone in the story comes across as a buffoon, it is Achashveirosh. Which he was. But it is not clear that he was incompetent.

    5. "Ephraim, nothing you have done has demonstrated the veracity of what is merely a clever witticism."

      You've lost the plot here. You offered a counterexample and I showed you it was irrelevant. I did not attempt to demonstrate the veracity of anything. You have not explained why you prefer an explanation of malevolence here where incompetence suffice.
      What aspects of the Meron disaster are not explainable by incompetence or human error? Are those aspects sufficient to assume malevolence without evidence?

    6. Ephraim, your questions are dishonest, as any answers I choose to provide would be disqualified a priori. Just like your absurd application of logic to demonstrate what? That Haman cannot be both incompetent and evil? What are you trying to accomplish? Are you so invested in the idea that stupidity explains the presence of evil that you deny that evil even exists? Or what?

    7. I was not aware that the mesorah makes Haman out to be stupid or incompetent. Yes, we all know that many versions of Achashverosh are buffoonish (though not all, such as Malbim). And yes, Memuchan's suggestion about men being in charge is said to have backfired, but that seems more in a "beginning of the end" way, rather than a general indication of silliness.

      Anyway, the Peter Principle is all about how people are generally very competent at their jobs until they are promoted to a level beyond their abilities. Or, "they rise to the level of their incompetence." But many capable administrators are not Peter principals. (yes, that is a pun and not a misspelling)

  2. For thirty years, the incompetent policeman who created a crowd surge at Hillsborough blamed the victims for rioting and trying to get in without tickets. It played to the public's prejudices about Northern English football hooligans. But It wasn't true. The crowd surge was caused by 1) poor decision making to admit an excessive influx of fans because the game was running late 2).a lack of CCTV to visualise the developing crush and 3) downhill slopes.

    Recently, in the latest in a long line of unprofessional gaffes, the Israeli Police were videoed invading a hospital and striking with batons coffin bearers of a journalist ostensibly killed doing her job by the IDF (see the Bellingcat article). The Israeli Police personally threatened to beat me in the back of one of their vans if they ever saw me again in a place (near Dung Gate) it was lawful for me to be. I am sure many others do have experienced their surly and unpleasant attitude, starting at the Bikoret Gevul at Ben Gurion. They are widely regarded by left and right as violent, politicised, poorly trained, and frequently using extreme brutality in unskilled public order policing.

    Occam's Razor in this case is double edged.

    1. "The crowd surge was caused by 1) poor decision making to admit an excessive influx of fans because the game was running late 2).a lack of CCTV to visualise the developing crush and 3) downhill slopes."

      None of which amounts to the police *deliberately* killing the fans, as is alleged by the conspiracists of Meron. One particularly wacky conspiracy theorist says the police had weird sound wave machines meant to disorient and kill charedim.

      "the Israeli Police were videoed invading a hospital and striking with batons coffin bearers of a journalist ostensibly killed doing her job by the IDF"

      Anti-semitic nonsense. There is no evidence she was killed by the IDF and if she was, she was a battlefield casualty. The "invasion" happened because the coffin was being seized by terrorists and her family asked the police to intervene.

      "The Israeli Police personally threatened to beat me in the back of one of their vans if they ever saw me again in a place (near Dung Gate) it was lawful for me to be. I am sure many others do have experienced their surly and unpleasant attitude, starting at the Bikoret Gevul at Ben Gurion."

      Translation: The Hat engages in anti-Israel agitation; fortunately, Israel is on to him and doesn't let him get away with it. Boo-frickety-hoo.

    2. That well known anti-Semite and accomplished OSINT geolocator Moshe Schwartz, a.k.a. @YWNreporter, came to the same conclusion as that well known anti-Semite Elliot Higgins @Bellingcat, after spending hours working through the footage provided by @JTruzman, but Nahum knows best.

      Has he any ideas of where the cemetery is, or the football pitch, or any of the other salient features of the local topography? Has he analysed the audio of the shooting? I can only speculate.

      But an Arab is dead, so naturally Israel didn't do it, the soldiers should all get medals for what they didn't do, a thorough investigation should be carried out to report at some time in the next 40 years, and the fact that eyewitness stood within 2 metres of the woman shot in the face saw the Israelis doing it means nothing because she was an Arab as well and therefore more biased than a Jew. Unless both those Jews come to the wrong conclusions in which case they are just noted anti-Semites.

      Job done, and as a result you get the Israeli security forces the Kahanists say they want (until they find themselves in the receiving end): violent, scornful of the rule of law , and accountable to nobody.

      Enduring badly trained incompetent police to own the libs is... an unusual way of showcasing your Zionist patriotism.

    3. It's completely irrelevant as an accidental battlefield casualty. If you don't want to get killed, stay away from people shooting at each other. Hamas bears the blame either way for initiating the entire situation. (But I don't expect Hat to understand that.)

    4. Oh, I forgot that you're a troll. Silly me.

      Fair's fair: If Israel is so evil, please stay far away from it, and in your little Brit-centric world.

    5. " The Israeli Police personally threatened to beat me in the back of one of their vans if they ever saw me again in a place (near Dung Gate) it was lawful for me to be. "

      This is pure bull. Thousands of people go through the Dung Gate without drawing attention to themselves. You're leaving out some details.

      "surly and unpleasant"
      First, nobody but saints and J'lem Syndrome patients are cheerful and gregarious at Ben Gurion. Second, "surly & unpleasant" do not make for malevolence.
      Summary: Nothing you wrote proves (or even causes suspicion of) a conspiracy.

    6. The "Palestinians" have been known to lie and lie and lie and lie about virtually every interaction between themselves and Israel. They claimed the IDF shot the reporter within minutes of the event. Is it any wonder that they should not be trusted? Really, now?!

    7. It's really ironic that Hat finally reappeared for post called "The Latest Conspiracy Theory". It's like he couldn't resist.

    8. Ephraim: I once did the monthly nighttime walk around the Har HaBayit thing. There's a heavy police presence, the big crowd is mostly chardali kids. When you exit the Old City via Lions Gate, there's a long road that leads into a busy street that runs alongside the Muslim cemetery. So when we got to the bottom of the first road, the cops made us wait a few minutes so they could stop traffic and we could get through.

      Nu, the cops are doing their job, trying to keep everyone safe and happy, and we only had a brief wait. But suddenly this charedi guy who'd joined us, standing up front, began chanting, "Nazi police! Nazi police!"

      The dati leumi people standing next to him shut him up and hustled him off. But that's what I thought of when I saw The Hat's latest belch- a charedi guy (I judge from his name) who's gone full anti-Zionist, now with double the chance to bleat about how the police are evil.

    9. "Nazi police! Nazi police!...police are evil"

      It's only the free who can cry evil, the enslaved insist they are free. These protesters who scream "Nazi" wouldn't get away with such shtick under a real oppressive regime. The same goes for:
      * The protesting charedi kid who posed with his hand up imitating the child in that infamous Warsaw ghetto photo
      * Protesters donning yellow stars
      * The pashkevil announcing that the draft is "Auschwitz for S'fardim"
      Yup. As soon as I see such shenanigans, I know that the Charedim are living in the freest place this side of New Square. On the other hand, if you want to see micro-pogroms (may I borrow terminology from the left?) & shul arson, don't call the cops. Just form a break-away chassidus.

    10. Moshe Schwartz at YWN Reporter ( shows that the IDF were positioned in between the journalists and the PIJ gunmen.
      Instead of firing at the gunmen, the IDF purposely shot at the journalists--in the opposite direction from the gunmen? Not likely.
      Israel is not withholding any information, and has agreed to a joint investigation. The Palestinians refused a joint investigation. If the IDF troops intentionally shot Abu Akleh, wouldn't they be the ones to refuse an investigation?

    11. Moshe Schwartz does indeed show that the Palestinian gunmen were roughly 100-50m S of the IDF, who were 150m - 200m S of the dead journalist. Bellingcat's audio analysis looking at the interval between the supersonic crack of the bullet and the sonic sound of the firing gave a distance of circa 177 - 184 metres from the shooter to the recorder, who was around 10-20m from the shot journalist - so consistent with the IDF's known position and inconsistent with that of the Palestinian gun men.


      Do I believe an IDF soldier maliciously shot a journalist? Without any other prior information, I would think that was more unlikely than likely.

      But consider the alternative. Palestinian gunmen videoed magdumping blindly around corners suddenly acquired the marksmanship to put a fairly tight spread, - 1 into another wounded journalist, 1 into the dead journalist and many into the cluster of shrubby trees next to her (apparently to ward off the producer stood next to her from rendering aid) - from 300 metres - while under IDF fire, shooting over the heads of the IDF, missing their vehicles, and hitting the journalist at the top of the hill in the face? ( Perhaps the men doing the magdumping wasn't the same man who did the shooting. But then we must ask why our hypothetical skilled Palestinian sharpshooter missed a convoy of 5 large vehicles at a completely different elevation below the journalist, did not take the numerous opportunities Palestinians with mobile phones took to get a line of sight on the soldiers from less than 100 metres, but instead precisely hit 2 journalists at the top of the hill from 300+ metres?


      Perhaps the soldier - a soldier who had turned up in Wolf lightly armoured vehicles, appears to be underequipped for a real gunfight, had been under mortal danger, shot at, and outnumbered, for around an hour by the time of the death, and was now looking to exfiltrate, saw someone 150 metres away approaching in dark clothing wearing a helmet from the Northerly direction which represented his only viable escape route. Perhaps he shot at her in error, then doubled down due to the cognitive dissonance of what he had done. I speculate. These are not objective facts.


      The objective facts from the audio points on the balance of probabilities towards the Israelis, and the eyewitness testimony ( render it beyond any reasonable doubt.


      Jeremy Corbyn was roundly castigated for suggesting the Russians should be invited to investigate the poisoning the FSB perpetrated against Sergei Skripal in the town of Salisbury. Of course Palestinians would refuse to cooperate with the IDF investigation into the woman killed by the IDF, and of course the IDF knew this when they asked them to.

    12. The circumstances of Abu Akleh's death are not proof of the Israeli Police's unprofessionalism. I have no indications that the Israeli Police were involved in the shooting, and I would not ascribe to malice that which can be explained by poor planning and performance. That unfortunate killing merely forms the context to the shameful scenes that followed at the funeral.

      Nobody on this blog has challenged the use of the epithet "terrorist" to describe people armed with - get this - only their recently slain relative's coffin. I have to say, your collective silence on a matter of very basic human decency should be an opportunity for serious self reflection: Speak up.

    13. "This is pure bull. Thousands of people go through the Dung Gate without drawing attention to themselves. You're leaving out some details."


      What details would have made threatening to beat someone up in the back of a police van acceptable?


      The irrelevant details is that I fancied a lone walk around the old city at around 10pm (so after dark), saw a group of people 30 metres away having a barbeque in a rather isolated spot, thought better of walking past them in case they were nationalistic Arabs who would be happy to attack me, and turned back West, was briefly pursued and detained at gunpoint by 2 Magavnikim unhappy with an unknown silhouette disturbing their (presumably on duty) repose - fair enough in the circumstances - and after reviewing and verifying my Teudat Zahut, was threatened by their sergeant with unlawful violence 10 minutes later for the crime of ....? He may possibly have thought I was a da'ati le'umi nationalist looking for trouble, in which case how wrong he was.


      Upshot: an IDF investigation showed a sniper had shot North up toward the journalist. The soldier concerned couldn't remember seeing the shot journalist, and stated he was targeting a terrorist who jumped over a wall. The soldier was from Duvdevan.

      Commentary: Al -Jazeera footage shows an unarmed local civilian jump over a wall to help Shereen after she was shot before being beaten back by gunfire.

      CNN make the same points that I do about the tight spread of the bullets showing Shereen was targeted. The M16/M4 are 2+ MoA accuracy rifles, so if anyone shot that group at 300 metres the rifle itself even if held perfectly steady would put on a mean 6+ inches of dispersal between bullets. It's not impossible but it would be truly extraordinarily skillful shooting from 300 metres to group 3 bullets into the tree within 4 inches like that.

    15. I see many pro-Palestinians/Israel-haters on Quora say how us "Zionists" are willing to defend the IDF, despite all of the evidence. And the "evidence" points to having shot the journalists without any provocation.

      I would simply like to know a way of arriving at the truth. I'm assuming that the soldiers sent to a dangerous location such as Jenin must be the most highly-trained, elite soldiers.

      To assume that disciplined soldiers would suddenly "freak out" and purposely target journalists doesn't seem congruent with the amount of training that they have received.

      Never having served in the IDF myself, I'm only going on what I've heard and my impressions.

  3. "Hanlon's Razor, which is based on Occam's Razor, states that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

    Such is the idiocy of the ivory tower academic. For one thing, one can be both stupid and evil.

    Is pedophilia merely due to stupidity?

    Further, as is typical of those full of self-importance, Occam's Razor is misquoted and loses its meaning.

    Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.

    I don't see anything about "simplest" in there, do you?

    There are many assumptions in your pat answers to some naive but well-meaning questions. I can ask better questions that are harder to answer so cavalierly, but what would be the point? You won't do the proper level of due diligence to answer them anyway.

    1. Speaking of self-important rants, here comes shimshi.

      Most wouldn't think that stupidity adequately explains pedophilia, so no.

      Fewest assumptions are indeed simplest - look at any Gaon/Rishon who proves God's oneness, and you'll see that most/all make the argument that positing less is simpler.

      Now on to your personal assumptions - I had a dream that you were saying my daf yomi shiur and declared yourself the Messiah. Impressive right? Somehow you find that convincing but I'm curious as to how that conforms with the fewest assumptions.

    2. "For one thing, one can be both stupid and evil."
      You're implying another logical fallacy.
      Formally (it's been decades since I've done this. Pardon my notation):
      s(x)=x is stupid
      e(x)=x is evil
      It does not follow that: ∀x:s(x)⇒e(x)

    3. Go back to your antisemitic conspiracist grifter, Vox Day, Shimshon, and leave us gammas alone.

    4. Scoff away. Dave, are you retarded? I wasn't making a logical argument. All I said was that being stupid doesn't preclude being evil, and vice versa. I didn't say one followed the other. This is your argument, not mine. Improper application of logic may be clever in your eyes. To the rest of us, you look like an idiot.

    5. Shimshi, nice response:
      A. "I wasn't making a logical argument!"
      B. "You're retarded."

      You sound like an absolutely delightful person.

      By the way, considering my alleged mental state it makes perfect sense that I had a prophetic dream about you in my daf yomi, since, per BB12b, after the churban bayis, prophecy was taken from the prophets and granted to deranged people!

    6. Dave, you are the one who initiated the snark and mocking and sarcasm. I start nothing. But scoffers are responded to appropriately.

      I never claimed prophecy. All I described was an interaction that could be described as miraculous. You could have, reasonably, said it was still meaningless even if it happened. You didn't. You project your own toxic outlook onto me and others.

    7. Ah, so in your response to "the idiocy of the ivory tower academic" and "self important to rants" you didn't initiate "snark and mocking and sarcasm?"

      Why do you make such easily disproved claims?

      You described an interaction that "could" have been miraculous? Well that's not very meaningful. That could apply to just about anything.

    8. "Dave, you are the one who initiated the snark and mocking and sarcasm. I start nothing."

      You did use the terms "idiocy", "self-importance", "your pat answers" & "naive". I smell a coverup.

    9. And yet, your default reaction is name-calling and sarcasm and other types of passive-aggressive behavior. Then you act surprised at my response to your childish antics, in very typical passive-aggressive (aka gamma) fashion. You dredge up past and entirely irrelevant comments to the current topic, repeatedly. You are a dishonest interlocutor who has no interest in anything but scoffing.

    10. Gamma! I was waiting for you to call me that! Shimshi - don't ever change.

      (By the way, how did you explain why *you* started with mockery before I said anything? You just glided right over that one - eh?)

  4. It wasn't that long ago that conspiracy theories were a joke, fodder for a TV show called The X-Files, and nobody took them seriously.

    I would disagree with this. The reason The X-Files was so popular was because the 90s were a heyday for alien-related conspiracy theories, and it was created in order to ride that wave. The fad waned in the early 2000s, then resurged starting in 2015.

  5. This can of course be taken too far, though. We've all seen the example, in the past week, of an obvious political phenomenon being labelled a "conspiracy theory" in order to discredit it. Not everything is an allegation of "conspiracy"; sometimes it's just accusing powerful people of stupidity, malice, or both.

    1. "For every problem there is a theory to solve it. Neat, elegant, and wrong." - H. L. Mencken

      That's basically Slifkin's whole problem in this respect (he has others) in a nutshell. Life is complicated. The moment you hear the word "conspiracy theory" from someone, you should immediately stop reading. It is invariably an attempt to discredit troubling problems by mockery, when you cant actually address them. That's why its only the leftists you use this term; you'll never see someone on the right speaking that way.

      In any event, its particularly rich to hear this from a guy who's spent the past 15 years pushing sinister conspiracy theories of his own against Charedim, up to and including the delusion that they're out to get him. Lol, its too funny.


    2. I would add further - it is even more doubly rich from a guy who was spectacularly wrong about Covid, and furiously cried "conspiracy theory, conspiracy theory" about anyone with healthy skepticism. And now the Pfizer CEO was caught on camera at the World Economic Forum talking about pills with microchips in them that send signals to authorities to tell you swallowed your pill like a good little boy. "Imagine the Compliance!" he gleefully says on the video. Those who saw it coming - they were also conspiracy theorists, right, professor?

    3. "And now the Pfizer CEO was caught on camera "
      Untrue. He was not "caught". He spoke freely and was aware he was being recorded. This was not some undercover sting to catch him say something he would never admit in public. The clip I saw was less than thirty seconds. That means it was presented without context. Editing & cropping if done to manipulate rather than to highlight is a form of censorship.

      And this technology is not new, nor secret. So called "digital" pills were approved by the FDA way back in 2017. There are some very benign applications of such technology. Indeed the technology can be life saving. Of course there are ethical questions. But that's typical of all technologies- they are often adopted quickly with insufficient regard to negative consequences.

    4. USA mainstream media labels people who disagree or question certain USA government policies Racist/ Homophobic/Putin spies/Conspiracy nuts/White supremacists. The bias in MSM is complete, pervasive and unrelenting. If people no longer trust MSM it is because MSM is not a reliable source of information. ACJA

    5. Dont duck the issue. The point is that he is trying to turn the so-called "perfectly safe" vaccines into a tracking device in the body, exactly as the "conspiracy theorists" warned about. And dont duck the larger issue either. The very words "conspiracy theorist" is a dog-whistle for other leftists. They can never argue the facts, so they resort to censorship or intimidation. Anyone who uses those words is basically admitting he can't really defend his own claims.

      Gn. Pckls.

    6. "The point is that he is trying to turn the so-called "perfectly safe" vaccines into a tracking device in the body, exactly as the "conspiracy theorists" warned about. "

      1) You wrote "pill", not "vaccine"
      2) He said (in the <30 clip without context) "compliance", not "tracking"
      3) There are far better ways of tracking someone:
      * cellphone
      * bus card
      * license plate on your card
      * credit card transactions
      * And even your face

      "exactly as the "conspiracy theorists" warned about"
      Exactly? You find one partial confirmation of something which has been known for years and has been a concern for many non-conspiracy theorists & you claim that it's EXACTLY what the conspiracy theorist claim?
      Still no evidence for tracking chips in vaccines. Zero.

    7. Ephraim - your sycophantic defenses are getting weaker and weaker.

    8. Here I was thinking that Ephraim is on point.

      Even without his laundry list of things that are Unkown's unknowns, I also noticed how he (Unknown) is trying to conflate "pill" with "vaccine." The technology may exist to put a microchip in a pill. I'd find it unbelievable (not theoretically impossible, just unlikely using today's technology) that a microchip could be put into a liquid that is injected. Are you aware of how thin those needles get? Or maybe not, since you refuse to get a vaccine.

  6. I can't understand why you don't seriously consider the possibility that Martians have come to our planet, pretending to be liberal Democrats in order to purposely weaken the United States and sow discord and pave the way for the Martian settlement of Earth. Scientists who have figured out the truth on this one have been intentionally quieted by the Martians, who don't want interference in their plan. Just like the scientists who realized that there was no moon-landing. We ignore the truth at our own risk!!! Beware the Martians!!!

    1. What? And now you're going to tell me there is no Santa Claus, either? What's happening to this world?!

    2. C'mon. Everyone knows that Santa Claus is a propaganda tool of the lizard overlords.

  7. " it's always much more reasonable to attribute problems to the prevalent problem of human incompetence than to deliberate, malicious, complicated plans to create them. "

    I have been saying this for years.

  8. There are all kinds of psychological mechanisms which make state-approved narratives appealing to people. It’s appealing to have “but the experts say it” and “you’re a conspiracy theorist” as lazy fallback arguments, and allows for easy moral posturing when saying those who disagree with it are a danger to society. And it can actually be psychologically reassuring to assume that the people in power have your best interest at heart, without any ulterior motives.

    1. " And it can actually be psychologically reassuring to assume that the people in power have your best interest at heart, without any ulterior motives."

      אבות ב:ג הוו זהירין ברשות, שאין מקרבין לו לאדם אלא לצורך עצמן....
      There were ulterior motives here. Police wanting to keep their jobs, so they didn't resign in protest when they were tasked to manage a event under impossible conditions. Politicians who wanted to keep their jobs so didn't tell the rebbes that painful changes needed to be made. Rebbes not wanting to cede any power to the ממלכת זדון. The המון עם who wouldn't tolerate limitations on their spring break festivities.
      But none of these, or other, ulterior motives make for a conspiracy.

    2. Ephraim: I dunno, I think the politicians keeping things as they were were a direct attempt to keep popular. The charedi politicians don't really have to worry about the rebbes.

  9. I am not a conspiracy theory believer, but I am also not an Occam's razor believer.

    I always find the 'rationality' of the rationalists funny. Occam's razor isn't proof to anything, it's just a thing to say. Nothing is proven with it, and it is just a way to shut people up.

    1. Sure, Occam's Razor is not a proof in the slightest, just a "rule" of behavior and thought that makes a lot of sense. With enough proof, of course, you overturn it.

      But you need Enough Proof to really get complex theories off the ground. Maybe in some cases Occam is simply a way to step back and say, "Really?"

    2. So 'rules' govern facts. Reminds me of something, can you guess what? Hint - it's initials are DT.

      You cannot disprove someone's theory by saying 'Occam's Razor'. All it does is identify you with the self-important no-proof-required world of pseudo-academia.

    3. If you don't believe in Occam's razor how can you prove anything? 600,000 people say they saw something. Without Occam's Razor why not say they're all lying? L'ehavdil thousands of studies proving that smoking is dangerous - without Occam's Razor, maybe it's all a coincidence that they developed lung cancer?

    4. "If you dont believe in Occam's Razor how can you prove anything - maybe its a coincidence they all developed lung cancer?" ----------------- Not all smokers do develop lung cancer, actually, not even close. That little troublesome fact aside, Occam's Razor - the bumper sticker philosophy of the Wikipedia generation - only comes into play when there are two different competing perspectives. No one since at least WWII has argued that smoking doesn't affect the smoker's lungs. There are a whole host of other questions surrounding it, but nothing in which OR is relevant.


    5. If all the studies had was 'smokers had cancer', it would not be a great proof.
      The problem is, they had the theory before researching the information. Smoking should be dangerous, how could it not be? Smoke is just the kind of contradiction to life we would expect from a foreign substance. The connection between the two is simple.

      Btw, coincidence is also a theory, why choose that over any other?

    6. I never said all smokers developed cancer. What I meant, and I thought was abundantly clear from context was that all those who developed cancer - of much greater proportion among smokers - perhaps did so coincidentally. Of course coincidence is a theory - that's precisely my point. It's against Occam's Razor.

      I don't know what on the world you're taking about regarding different perspectives. There are certainly many (cranks to be sure) who argue against the prevalent view regarding the connection between smoking and lung cancer.

    7. "Many argue re the connection between smoking and lung cancer" - - Really? Show us "many". I've seen many who have challenged the notion of "second half smoke". And many have spoken about the mental benefits of smoking. And many have stated frankly that it's no one else's business. But I've no seen many who argue there is no link between a smoker and lung cancer. But if I did, I wouldn't try to dismiss them as "conspiracy theorists" or "cranks", like you did; I would see what they have to say.

    8. Since WW2 (per the claim of GP above)? That's easy to find. Perhaps things have changed since around the turn of the century, I'm not sure. And how about the germ theory of disease, which is certainly contested (terrain theory was debated not long ago on this blog!). You can pretend to be endlessly credulous of every position out there "until you've done you own research," but you're fooling no one but yourself (and I'm skeptical even of that).

    9. I dont know what you're saying, and this has grown far from the central point. The bottom line is, as many have pointed out, one has every reason to have a healthy skepticism of government. Anyone who resorts to the term "conspiracy theory" as an attempt to discredit such skepticism reveals far more about himself, to his detriment, than the other guy.

      (And the Unknown listed as 5/24 8:13 pm was me too.)

    10. I'm responding to something upthread - apologies.
      Rules do not govern facts. If we have the facts, then we don't need the rules. Rules govern our response to NOT having enough facts.

  10. Your posts about conspiracy theories are well thought. However, you have an epistemological blindspot.

    There is a world of difference between what may be called a "soft" conspiracy and a "hard" conspiracy. For example, one may call the claim that the COVID-19 vaccines are unnecessarily dangerous (the effects of that vaccine have been obfuscated by drug companies for profit and by government to hide their incompetence) and mostly useless (they merely reduce the rate of hospitalization among particularly vulnerable groups) a "conspiracy theory". One may additionally attribute these two conjectures to an attempt by Bill Gates to reduce the world population, and call this a "conspiracy theory".

    But these two incarnations of the "conspiracy theory" couldn't be more different. In the former case, the theory would accurately explain quite a bit of suppressed information. Yet even the soft version is still a "conspiracy theory", taboo in polite circles. The hard version on the other hand takes intentional obfuscation by powerful entities as proof of a conspiracy and then jumps the conclusion that it is being managed by a madman or a cabal.

    Let's apply this distinction to Meron disaster. If police incompetency did play a role, it would be in their best interest to cover it up and blame it on the victims. This is the "soft" conspiracy. Is the Israeli government attempting to genocide Haredim and take away their political power (the "hard" conspiracy)? Probably not.

    It is valid to remember that people conspire. The closer you get to power (government), the more this becomes evident. To apply a Darwinian lens to this problem, politics selects for people and groups who can most effectively conspire together. I doubt there is very much conspiring going on in today's Israeli government due to the feebleness of the regime. But in the US? You bet there is. And world information, kal v'chomer Israeli information, relies heavily on the US.

    It is important to remember that your information sources (media) tend to be distorted by interests. Social media actively censors content they don't like, traditional media omits it from publication.

    You have a very optimistic view of government typical of the people that tend to compose it, who if I were to guess, are your friends. Let's play a thought experiment. Suppose that you knew of an actual conspiracy, say that US government officials of the highest rank were sacrificing their children to moloch. How would you tell others?

    You could call the police. They will either laugh you out of the building, or put you in an institution. If you literally call them, remember that the US's 14(!) intelligence agencies are constantly monitoring communications in the name of "national security". There's lots of ways to shut people up. Post on Facebook. It will be removed, or throttled by the algorithm, and how many people will believe you anyway?

    Everything comes down to that pesky epistemological problem: who can you trust?

    Obviously, this is just a thought experiment. Moloch is so 8th century BCE. But I suppose my point is that you should not put it past government and corporations to conspire.

    Stay skeptical.

    1. In your mind, what is the difference between a "soft conspiracy theory" and what we used to call a "coverup."

    2. "My point is that you should not put it past government and corporations to conspire." - - Far from not putting it past them, this is what such organizations actively do, all the time. The Governments who do this, always on the left, believe they are acting in the best interests of the stupid people who need to be told what to think. And corporations, I have learned (to my sorrow, since I am by nature pro-business) have top down cultures, and a single powerful activist shareholder can force the corporation to do whatever he wants. Blackrock's Larry Fink is single-handedly responsible for much of the corporate woke nonsense that the rank and file employees think privately is nuts.


    3. Interesting analysis, Anonymous.
      The problem with conspiracy theories is the same thing that happens with coverups: somebody eventually leaks. So to believe in a conspiracy that must be huge and long-lasting without a single leak to a reporter is difficult.

  11. One of my favorite conspiracy theories is called the Phantom time hypothesis. It asserts that the 297 years between 614 CE and 911 CE didn't happen. So it's not really 2022, it's really the year 1725. It was asserted by Heribert Illig. He claims:
    1) That there is a scarcity of archaeological evidence that can be reliably dated to the period 614–911 CE.
    2) That the dating methods used for such recent periods, radiometry and dendrochronology, are inaccurate.
    3) That medieval historians rely too much on written sources.
    4) That the presence of Romanesque architecture in tenth-century Western Europe suggests that the Roman era was not as long ago as conventionally thought.
    5) That at the time of the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582 CE, there should have been a discrepancy of thirteen days between the Julian calendar and the real (or tropical) calendar, when the astronomers and mathematicians working for Pope Gregory XIII had found that the civil calendar needed to be adjusted by only ten days. From this, Illig concludes that the CE era had counted roughly three centuries which never existed.
    You can see in the Wikipedia article some easy refutations to this conspiracy theory. The reason I like it is that if you describe it to someone, they will usually think it's crazy while not having any idea how to refute it.

    1. The only reason someone would have no idea how to refute it is if they were completely ignorant of history.

      But hey, R' Shimon Schwab posited something very similar- that Chazal deliberately *removed* 166-odd years from the calendar. Chazal indeed did remove them, but not deliberately as he claimed.

    2. Where does Rav Shimon Schwab say that?

  12. thank you, to the point, very well said

  13. if Paul McCartney was alive he would disagree with you

  14. I was a huge fan of The X-Files. My favorite line comes from a flashback episode, when The Lone Gunmen, who would eventually become huge conspiracy freaks, first hear of the idea of a vast government conspiracy from Agent Mulder. They respond:

    "The government? The people behind Amtrak?" "And the Susan B. Anthony Dollar?"

  15. There is a huge problem in USA main stream media. Investigative journalism is basically gone. MSM is very closely aligned with Pentagon and USA government and frankly is not a reliable source. MSM very often lies directly and by omission. NATO is considered a military threat by Russia. Russia has warned USA for decades to stop NATO expansion into Ukraine and KISSINGER agreed. I am addressing the misleading links. ACJA

  16. The second link makes unsubstantiated claims. Ex: Is [putin] he absolutely unconcerned with how many innocent lives, both Russian and Ukrainian, are lost in the struggle?” Article claims Putin does not care. How does the author know this ? The fact is Putin went in with kid gloves and all military experts agree on this. Putin could have carpet bombed like NATO-USA does, but he did not, BECAUSE HE DID CARE. ACJA

  17. With all due respect to you, you wouldn’t have believed Zev Jabotinsky in the 1930s as you would’ve dismissed him and his conspiracy theories about Hitler. It’s your personality type that went on to the trains first. Which is actually the personality type of most people, as Covid has shown us.

    1. Had the exact same thought, about Jabotinsky.

      And you can also add in all the warnings people gave during the 90s, when the left was giddily handing out guns to Palestinian Arabs.

  18. Tucker Carlson? He tells the truth.


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