Those Conspiracy Theories
A short while ago we had the 20th anniversary of 9/11. In honor of the event HBL was publishing several (partly pretty long) articles, none of them containing even some shadow of a doubt about the official version of the events. Presumably because such would mean to promote one (or even several) of those CONSPIRACY THEORIES, which nowadays are widely taken as something like a symptom of some mental disturbance.
BUT: What would one think about some criminal investigator who, before even beginning to investigate a crime, would simply start from the assumption that it cannot have been committed as a result of a conspiracy (assuming that there simply are no conspiracies in the world)? At least I might be tempted to ask him how he would call organizations like the Mafia, the Camorra or the Ndrangheta and their activities which are covered by the Omertá, or of course similar organizations and their doings in other countries than Italy. Are such conspiracies? Or, if not, what are they? And once one has arrived at a description what conspiracies are, might even be the Secret Services of nations be called conspiracies (because they are not so rarely doing things which are not really covered by the laws of civilized societies, expecting from any participant – or anybody else – that the doings be kept secret)?
Once one is so far that it is agreed that conspiracies and their doings are expected to be secret, how could one ever find out whether some clearly intentional action was done by a conspiracy? Well, one could anyway try to have a close look at the circumstances and the history of the action and whether there is something which could rouse some suspicion. The favorite example from my own life is the fate of the historical railway magazine which was, once upon a time, standing about opposite to Helsinki’s Eduskuntatalo. It was decided to demolish it, the bulldozers were to arrive on one Monday morning, but suddenly it was burning to the ground in the late afternoon of the Friday before that Monday. What a coincidence! And such striking coincidences may in very many cases be the beginning of some conspiracy theory.Take as a more widely known example the shooting of J. F. Kennedy: he is shot dead, the supposed shooter is apprehended, and then he is shot by somebody else before the police can even question him carefully. What a coincidence! And certainly a long string of conspiracy theories resulted from it. And is such justified? At least one can say that it is simply in the nature of human intelligence that dramatic events stimulate the search for a cause or reason for a given event. To demand that people would NOT start any such search would be the same as to demand that they be simply stupid.
The remarkable thing is that since 9/11 (and NOT before) conspiracy theories are publicly labeled as symptoms of mental trouble. And as far as I have understood psychoanalytical methods, the mere fact that conspiracy theories concerning 9/11 are so vehemently and viciously labeled could be taken as a sign that there IS in fact something at least embarrassing in the matter which some (who have means to do it) are rather desperately trying to hide. Again: What a coincidence! But what IS this “something”? Well, in the history of the event there is a whole string of events which one could take as a reason to comment “What a coincidence!”. I do not want now to go into it here, but if there is some wish for it one can comment on this piece and I can reply to the comments, etc..
But anyway still this: anybody familiar with scientific discussions will already be dissatisfied with the use of the term “theory” in this context. A theory is an opinion which tries to EXPLAIN something, and this explanation should be based on EVIDENCE (so that it is possible to connected the details of the evidence in some logical/causal way to the observed events). This in turn gives the possibility to calmly ask anybody who tries to “sell” some conspiracy “theory” for the evidence which s/he might have to present. And if there really is not any convincing evidence, one can advise the “salesperson” to use in the future better the term “suspicion of conspiracy” (which, though, is in fact still more than nothing …).