Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Among the Truthers: The Review

We have been talking about Jonathan Kay's new book Among the Truthers for some time now, but I have finally had the time to read it all. That doesn't stop the Truthers from reviewing it of course, all of whom have universally denounced it mostly without showing any indication that they actually read it.

Now I will be the first to admit that I am biased, since I was interviewed for the book, as well as quoted in it, and the book cites us as one of the major debunking resources, but then again I can also say that I know quite a bit about the subject.

Now first of all, what is this book about? As Truthers are pointing out, it is not a debunking book. They of course claim that Kay refuses to look at the evidence, while if you read the book Kay makes clear that he did look at the evidence, but found it wanting. Kay explains rather, that 1. he really didn't have much new to add to the debunking argument (he cites several books and Internet sites, including this one, as resources for this), and 2. his editor didn't think that there was a market for such a book, because the Truthers would not believe anything he put and everyone else didn't need to be told. I agree to a certain extent, although we have done a lot of debunking over the last 5 years, I have gotten to the point where about all I discuss is the psychology of this movement, because really, is much really added by our pointing out for the 15th time that the hijackers actually were on the flight manifests?

So Kay gets mainly into the composition of the Truthers and other similar conspiracy theorists and asks why they believe what they do. In this he does a pretty good job. The Truthers of course condemn him for ad hominem attacks, but in reality, he is actually rather kind to them, much kinder than I would be, although he obviously does not agree with their viewpoint. Despite this though he does primarily depict them as earnest and intelligent people, who just, for various reasons come to the wrong conclusions. Kay obviously did his research and quotes from interviews from various prominent characters in the Truther movement, and does provide some insight which a mere blogger cannot. His depictions of Michael Ruppert, Richard Gage and Steven Jones especially are among the most interesting.

The weakest part of the book, however, is the last section where he discusses the role of academics and then how we should address conspiracy theories in the educational system. It just seemed rather tacked on and not tightly connected to the rest. On the whole though, if you are interested in conspiracy theorists as a social phenomenon, and if you are reading this blog I assume you are, then it is a book well worth reading.

Labels: ,


At 01 June, 2011 20:13, Blogger Triterope said...

is much really added by our pointing out for the 15th time that the hijackers actually were on the flight manifests?

Well, the Truthers keep saying they weren't...

At 02 June, 2011 08:49, Blogger ComradeAgopian said...

I'm looking forward to reading Kays book over the summer . Another good book on conspiracy theorists as a social phenomenon , is David Aaronovitch ' book , ' Voodoo Histories '.

At 02 June, 2011 12:46, Blogger ConsDemo said...

I haven't had a chance to read the book yet but from the excerpts I've heard, I think Kay misses on item about twoofers and conspiracy theories in general. Many people who hold those views are extreme ideologues and it is their rigid ideology that allows them to dismiss evidence contrary to their theories. What separates twooferism from many other CTs is that twoofers have attempted to construct a pseudoscience to justify what they want to believe anyway and then pretend it was the "science" the drove them to the conclusion. In that sense, twoofers are different from other CTers in that they take their dishonesty to a further extreme.

At 02 June, 2011 14:59, Blogger Dave Kyte said...

I would agree, unlike other conspiracy theorist truthers hold ideas that are for all intents and purposes impossible. Birthers are clearly mistaken but it is possible Obama was born in Africa, people are born there every day. But to believe this would happen and be concealed so well would be a suckers bet, you would never put money on it.

But to believe that somehow the US pulled off a controlled demolition in broad daylight and did it in such a way that the building failed right at the floors the planes hit and had the biggest fires, that they rigged a working office building for this with no one the wiser, and the countless other things a logical thinker can find wrong with the hypnosis..... Well.. to believe what the truthers want you to believe you would have to be extremely stupid to the point of retardation or a religious fanatic who can ignore logic, reason and facts.

At 02 June, 2011 15:06, Blogger Dave Kyte said...

Truthers are like those people who thought the rapture was real. People with normal mind can fathom how they can be so delusional, No one believed the rapture was going to happen, and no one who matters think 9/11 was an inside job. The people just become WTF people.

At 03 June, 2011 00:56, Blogger paul w said...

That's not a conspiracy, THIS is a conspiracy...

At 08 June, 2011 01:58, Blogger Rodney Compton said...

I am pleased to see this book appear, since although the 9/11 conspiracy is a largely American phenomenon, it has surfaced in the UK among some of the people that I come into contact with in respect of matters of mental health. Listening to the author this morning. I was struck by how he explained the ability of the conspiracy theorists to expand their theory to incorporate the rational arguments of those who would argue against them. It was also significant that he felt there was only approximately one percentage of individuals, among the conspiracy theorists, who were actually suffering delusional states brought about by mental illness.

At this point I might have expected something different from the author, but his preferred explanation, for the remaining ninety nine percent, was to explain the phenomenon as a product of an over active sympathy for a leftist, or alternative sociological and political system to the capitalist democratic U.S system. In short, those who would blame their own shortcomings and all else, would blame it upon, ‘them or ‘they’, in other words, ‘the system'.

He did not enlarge upon this point in the interview, so I am assuming his idea, that 'the ninety nine percent' were 'normal', remains his view. Whereas, I don't think anyone involved with psychopathology, would consider this a particularly rational standpoint in itself. There is obviously something going on that is not rational and in my experience it is far more widespread than those who would be prepared to disclose their viewpoint as a conspiracy. It is, in my experience, merely the tip of the iceberg. I do not think I have spoken to one person, who, when challenged about their conventional assumptions, will stick to their guns, when the matter of 9/11 is raised. Jonathan Kaye at this point conflates this particular conspiracy theory with many others and it is on this assumption that I wish to take issue and offer some alternative views.

In psychopathology we find certain states that are reflected in the population at large. In this particular case, I would suggest a generalised tendency to mild paranoia. In extreme forms, it can distort a persons emotional attitudes and rational standpoint to almost everything they experience. In the general state, it has the effect of colouring the subject’s point of view. There are many aspects to the phenomenon, but predominantly it arises out of a negative orientation to a parental figure - most often to the father. This is by no means a universal phenomenon, their are many conditional nuances in a child's development, but a critical irrational father almost always predispose the child to self doubt, since meeting such a parent’s demands will deliver the child into the same conflicted condition as the father. If this conditioning is introverted it can cause all manner of psychopathological conditions, more frequently though, and especially in men, the negative conditioning, is extroverted on to the objects of individual experience, which become coloured with a mildly negative tarnish.

The subject in these cases, will almost invariably and perfectly unconsciously, look for 'father figures'. The relation to these father substitutes will always be toned in an unnatural way, where expectation is exaggerated and disproportionate. The complexity of these relations and interrelations are the subject of many a psychologist and councillor's rooms, but for the conspiracists, this lack of empowerment and confusion caused by the parental relation, is reflected is a quite different way.

read more

At 09 June, 2011 08:25, Blogger Triterope said...

So the short version is... Truthers have daddy issues?

That would explain a lot.


Post a Comment

<< Home