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Friday, June 28, 2024

Conspiracy Theories - The Joe Biden Whopper Along With The Twin Towers And Fluoridation

There are too many conspiracy theories to name - 9/11 was a US government plot to shore up our flagging defenses and give us a cover for a war against Islam; FDR knew the Japanese were about to attack Pearl Harbor but did so to give us a casus belli for entering the war against the Nazis; JFK was killed by the Mafia, Cuban dissidents, and rogue elements of the Democratic Party - and many, many more.  These are only the ones that caught the public eye. 

Other popular conspiracy theories have proposed that the United States moon landings were all staged in Hollywood;  that both 9/11 and Pearl Harbor were engineered by Bush and Roosevelt for political reasons; that AIDS is a man-made disease; that a UFO landed in Roswell, NM; and that humanoid reptilians are taking control of the world.

 There are posts about unholy and impossible political alliances, ‘new’ data linking disease to unthinkable causes; improbable cures for intractable disease; and the wildest, most implausible statements by world leaders; doomsday scenarios about rogue asteroids headed for Earth and viruses worse than Ebola mutating in Africa.

There are theories which, despite decades of scientific evidence continue to link autism with vaccines,  and recount the addling effect of small motors (hair dryers, electric toothbrushes) on cognition.

There are others, however, which are far less obvious and more intriguing. A favorite goes like this: the Nazis weaponized fluoride - a substance which could affect cognition and logical functioning, among other damaging effects on the brain - but did not have the ability nor the delivery mechanisms to introduce it into US water supply systems. 

When the war was over, the Soviets found the secret research, brought it to their labs and did indeed weaponize it, and with their sophisticated spy network and undercover KGB operatives, able to deliver it. It was considered the ideal weapon, universally and insidious destructive and without the big bang of a nuclear devise.  Fluoride in the drinking water would act like a tranquillizer - calming and numbing the brain to concentrated, deliberate thought, and - here is the point - render the average American citizen receptive to Communist propaganda. 


Now, the writer of the article where this theory first appeared was to all intents and purposes sane.  He ate normally, talked normally, and dressed well.  In fact if one stayed off the topic of fluoride, he was a reasonably rational person.  As an 'alternative lifestyle' journalist for a self-published journal, he could hold his own on labor law, the debt, and even interest rates; but when started on fluoride, he was a changed man.  He became agitated, bemused, frantic, demonic all within the space of a few minutes.  He was a man possessed. 'They're here', he said, waving his arms wildly around, whirling like a dervish pointing to the ceiling, the cotton fields, and the Yazoo River. 'They're everywhere'.

Some of the earliest work on the subject of conspiracy theories was written by Hofstadter et. al. who suggested psychopathology:

The paranoid style, they argued, was a result of ‘uncommonly angry minds’, whose judgment was somehow ‘distorted’. Following this vein, some scholars came to view conspiracy theories as a product of psychopathology, such as extreme paranoia, delusional ideation or narcissism… In this view, the delusional aspect of conspiratorial beliefs was thought to result in an incapacity for social or political action.

Later researchers turned to what they felt were more compelling social factors.  How, they argued, could psychopathology be the principal cause of conspiracy theories when there were so many of them?

A belief in conspiracy theories is more likely to emerge among those who feel powerless, disadvantaged or voiceless, especially in the face of catastrophe. To use a contemporary example, believing that terrorist acts such as the IRA London bombings during the prolonged 'troubles' were perpetrated by the British or Israeli governments may be a means of making sense of turbulent social or political phenomena.

However, simply being powerless – most people are unable to influence events or decisions on anything but an individual or family basis – is not enough  Hofstadter goes on:

To the extent that conspiracy theories fill a need for certainty, it is thought they may gain more widespread acceptance when establishment or mainstream explanations contain erroneous information, discrepancies, or ambiguities. A conspiracy theory helps explain those ambiguities and provides a convenient alternative to living with uncertainty. Or that the human desire for explanations of all natural phenomena aids the conspiracist in the quest for public acceptance.

Of course these theories do not explain the totally unhinged, feral suspension of disbelief of the Mississippi journalist.  Somehow and somewhere his brain latched on to this idea among many, wrestled with it, believed it, and then took on a prophetic mission to spread the word.  In other words, he became an evangelist of cockamamie, impossibly fantastical ideas, and was willing to be martyred for his beliefs. 

Of course he was simply as crazy as a loon, addled by some weird notion that came to his attention and flipped a switch in his brain and turned him into a foaming, raging Old Testament zealot. 

That, however, is still in the realm of politics were dirty trick happen all the time, but this one is truly inventive.  Frank Tibbets was the headmaster of a prestigious New England boys boarding school.  He had a superior academic record - Harvard undergraduate, Yale PhD in quantum mechanics, Boston Brahmin family the works.  To top it off he was commissioned by the US army and fought honorably and courageously in France during the Great War.  

Tibbets, the theory went, was severely wounded at  Ypres - his entire lower jaw had been shot off by a German bullet - but the field medics were quick to act.  A German shepherd attack dog had been a loyal member of the platoon since the beginning of the war, carrying messages along the trench line between officers, and even pulling wounded men back behind the lines; and as much as he was valued, he had to be sacrificed for Colonel Tibbets, and the quick-thinking medical corps replaced his jaw with that of the dog, saved his life, and in an era well before sophisticated prosthetics, gave him the possibility of a normal life. 

Now, the headmaster of course had suffered no such horrendous injury, but he had a small, pointed definitely canine-looking jaw, and when two and two were put together, the story of his heroism and battlefield resurrection was born.  Everyone in the school knew the story, and even those headed for the old man's alma mater were convinced that it was true.  The headmaster knew of these stories and became hopelessly self-conscious about his jaw, wearing high starched collars and later a foulard.  His resignation was not unexpected. 

This like all such theories was based on some kernel of truth - the headmaster had been in the war and his resume included a Purple Heart, and his jaw indeed did look like that of the school mascot, Hercules who was on the sideline of every game against Choate and Andover.

There was speculation - a low-level conspiracy theory - that Jimmy Carter was the illegitimate offspring of old Joe Kennedy and a prostitute with whom he had a brief encounter when playing gold at Augusta National.  The prostitute had wanted to keep the baby - some odd, ironic mix of conservative Catholicism and sexual license - but gave it up for adoption.  The baby was adopted by the Carter family and the young boy grew up to be President of the United States. 

There was no proof of this story, but Joe Kennedy was a known philanderer, and most importantly Jimmy Carter did have something of the unique Kennedy look - the lips perhaps more plump than the thin shanty-bog Irish look of Joe's family but still a resemblance. 


Just as in the case of Headmaster Tibbetts, the theory was based on a casual resemblance, some truth about forbears and historical facts, but mostly on idle, crazy speculation, 

Now President Biden is subject of the most improbable conspiracy theory.  Baby Joe had been one of the babies taken from single pregnant women in the infamous 'Irish laundries', institutions of the Catholic Church were unwed mothers were taken in by the Sisters of Charity, and put to work in the basement laundries as chattel labor.  Their babies were taken from them and given to needy childless families throughout Ireland. 

Joe was one of these Irish babies. His family, delighted with their new child moved to Australia where they hoped to be free from the bog and peat, damp, dark, and wet life in Ireland.  Again, unfortunate circumstances prevailed, and when the family had sailed once again this time to the United States where they hoped for an even better life, the ship foundered off Newfoundland and sank. All passengers except baby Joe who was found floating unharmed in his wicker bassinette died from exposure.  Baby Joe found his way through the diligence of American Catholic relief agencies to the home of the Bidens.  

How this accounted for his rise to political prominence, his peculiarly conformist nature, and his early dementia no one could really say, but once the theory went viral, every amateur critic was blaming the Catholic Church (the President's pro-abortion policies were to spite the Vatican), the cold waters of the North Atlantic (there were no pictures of Biden swimming off Rehoboth) or the parasitical neural infections that eventually drove his Irish family from Brisbane towards New York, but put together, it all made sense. 

Information which confirms, consolidates, or reaffirms political or social notions – regardless of the obvious outlandishness of its claims – is believed without question and incorporated into a pre-established point of view.

Lapsed Catholics who have always harbored guilt for having left the Church, are encouraged by Pope Francis’ statements on inclusivity and the value of all religions.   Progressives who believe that the nation’s ills are caused by the depredations of Wall Street and the One Percent are likely to quickly accept allegations of misdoing by corporate executives because of their a priori conclusion that capitalism is corrupt.  

Environmentalists are likely to take with little or no skepticism intimations of climate change Armageddon – the sudden disappearance of bees, the disrupted patterns of sea otters and the Namibian desert spider.  Believers in alternative medicine will be quick to accept stories which suggest that disease is not only not cured by modern medicine but exacerbated or even caused by it.

In our era of AI where fake news has found a new and congenial home, conspiracy theories and cockamamie ideas are multiplying a thousandfold.  They are popping up everywhere, and in the absence of any brakes on fantasy, and given the natural credulousness and gullibility of the American population, they will only continue to grow.  Before long it won't matter any more, reality will disappear (thank God, who needs bricks and mortar?) and the world of fantasy will be the new paradigm of life.  

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