Judy Mandelbaum

Judy Mandelbaum
Brooklyn, New York, United States
June 01
Freelance writer, editor, and first citizen of Judy's World.

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Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 30, 2012 7:00AM

About those conspiracy theories...

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The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.

                                                       = William Colby, CIA director (1973-76) 

Let’s get real: Who among us doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? Our lives would sure be dull without them. And we’ve got plenty to choose from: The Kennedy and MLK assassinations, the faked Apollo moon landing, that crashed alien spaceship and autopsy at Area 51, everything to do with 9/11, certain vaccinations that cause autism, and today’s biggie, the great “Caliphate” conspiracy among Muslims the world over (which I like to call “the protocols of the elders of Mecca”). And while we’re at it, what about the Jews – not to mention the Freemasons and the Illuminati? Then there’s that business about Jesus’s and Mary Magdalene’s descendants…

Possessing secret knowledge makes us feel special – even powerful.

Conspiracies are nothing if not convincing – at least at face value – and we all have our favorites. But what happens when individual theories start contradicting one another? I mean, could Kennedy really have been assassinated by the CIA and the Mob, all in one day? How can conspiracy theorists hold two radically opposite ideas in their heads at the same time? A group of British researchers decided to find out. In an article published in Social Psychological & Personality Science last week, Michael J. Wood, Karen M. Douglas, and Robbie M. Sutton determined that “conspiracy theories can form a monological belief system: A self-sustaining worldview comprised of a network of mutually supportive beliefs.” They found “that even mutually incompatible conspiracy theories are positively correlated in endorsement.”

A conspiracy, the researchers write, “is defined as a proposed plot by powerful people or organizations working together in secret to accomplish some (usually sinister) goal.” In their study they examined two widespread conspiracy theories: Ideas concerning the death (or not) of Osama bin Laden in 2011 and the death (or not) of Princess Diana in 1997.

Regarding Diana, they note that “some claim that she was killed by MI6, others allege that she was killed by Mohammed al-Fayed’s business enemies, still others that she faked her own death. How does a conspiracy-believing observer reconcile the presence of these competing, mutually contradictory accounts?“ In order to understand this phenomenon better, the team examined 137 undergraduates (83% female) at a British university.

They also examined the notion that 1) Osama bin Laden died years ago, and 2) his killing last summer was faked and he’s still alive, which some people apparently don’t regard as a contradiction. For this, they surveyed 102 undergraduates (58% female) at a British university.


In the end result, the researchers found that persons believing in one conspiracy theory are not only much likelier than the general population to believe in several such stories at once, but are also liable to accept mutually contradictory versions of the same tale. The only thing they can’t believe is that the official narrative could ever be true. “The coherence of the conspiracist belief system,” they write, “is driven not by direct relationships among individual theories, but by agreement between individual theories and higher-order beliefs about the world. For instance, the idea that authorities are engaged in motivated deception of the public would be a cornerstone of conspiracist thinking due to its centrality in conspiracy theories. Someone who believes in a significant number of conspiracy theories would naturally begin to see authorities as fundamentally deceptive, and new conspiracy theories would seem more plausible in light of that belief.”

Where does the idea arise that certain unpopular groups, such as Jews or Muslims, are responsible for all the evil in the world? The renowned German-Jewish sociologist Theodor Adorno and his colleagues examined anti-Semitism in 1950. They “found strong positive correlations in endorsement between contradictory negative stereotypes of Jews, such that highly prejudiced participants found them to be both too isolated from the rest of society and too eager to participate in it. Adorno proposed that this paradoxical perception has its roots in ‘a relatively blind hostility which is reflected in the stereotypy, self-contradiction, and destructiveness’ of anti-Jewish stereotyping. In spite of their contradictory nature, both stereotypes drew enough credibility from their one common element—a negative perception of Jewish people—to end up with a strong positive association.”

The same goes, I would say, for the idea that “the Jews” are both capitalists and Marxists – meaning that they have ordinary working people in their grip, both coming and going. I imagine this would have been news to Jewish capitalists and Marxists – but I digress.

Not only Nazism, but also Marxism and – nowadays – Republicanism are predicated on conspiracy theories, and devote extensive effort to indoctrinating their constituencies accordingly. Remember Glenn Beck and his 2010 TV presentation about “puppet master” George Soros? Of course, Lewis Carroll figured this mechanism out long ago in his Alice in Wonderland:

Alice laughed: “There's no use trying,” she said; “one can't believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven't had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

In their article the British scholars ask us to

imagine that someone is heavily invested in conspiracism and strongly believes in a wide variety of different conspiracy theories. A view of authority as fundamentally deceptive is coherent with all of these theories, and as such draws activation from them until it becomes a strongly held belief in itself. When a novel conspiracy theory is presented, it immediately seems more credible because it agrees with this now strongly held view and disagrees with the officially endorsed narrative. Such higher-order beliefs may be so strongly held that any conspiracy theory that stands in opposition to the official narrative will gain some degree of endorsement from someone who holds a conspiracist worldview, even if it directly contradicts other conspiracy theories that they also find credible. In other words, a natural consequence of the explanatory coherence approach to social explanation is an instantiation of the principle ‘‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’’


Conspiracy theories, particularly false and downright irrational ones, quickly take on a dynamism of their own - and that's when they can become extremely dangerous. Once they take root, they are almost impossible to suppress.

Just as an orthodox Marxist might interpret major world events as arising inevitably from the forces of history, a conspiracist would see the same events as carefully orchestrated steps in a plot for global domination. Conceptualizing conspiracism as a coherent ideology, rather than as a cluster of beliefs in individual theories, may be a fruitful approach in the future when examining its connection to ideologically relevant variables such as social dominance orientation and right-wing authoritarianism.

Interestingly, the Kent researchers make a distinction between general anti-government conspiracism and the age-old canard of the Jewish threat. “Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are a notable and historically important exception; instead of alleging abuse of power by elites, historical theories of Jewish conspiracy usually detailed supposed attempts by a minority to seize power for themselves.”

The researchers themselves admit that some conspiracy theories are genuine, and who can deny it? Lincoln was murdered by a conspiracy, Nixon certainly conspired with his “plumbers,” the Holocaust was a blatantly obvious conspiracy, Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mosaddegh was toppled by a conspiracy (Operation Ajax) in 1953, and for many of us the “Project for the New American Century” of 1997 looks like more than just your neighbor’s laundry list. And answer me this: Why should we believe anything “the authorities” tell us? Are the official stories our governments placate us with any less fanciful than the wild stories cooked up by our most imaginative conspiracy theorists? The same goes for the reporting in our “lame-stream media,” let alone our “alternative” media, such as NPR and Mother Jones Magazine, which may very well be financed and stage-managed by the CIA.

My own problem with some of our more elaborate conspiracy theories, of course, is that they presuppose a degree of competence and foresight on the part of our masters that they are sorely lacking in their other endeavors. Regarding the most pervasive conspiracy theory of our own times, the “Truther movement” that has formed around the 9/11 incident, let me – for the purposes of this article – concede all their points. I simply don’t know enough about the dynamics of “controlled demolitions” and the melting point of steel to join in the conversation.

Let me instead postulate my own 9/11 conspiracy theory (which applies to the others too, by the way): There are people in Washington who not only delight in the Truthers’ claims, but are eagerly embroidering them further in an endeavor to make anyone who challenges the official report look like a crank. I mean, do you really believe that all those brilliant Truther websites are run by concerned citizens? That, I would claim, is the true conspiracy here: To keep ordinary citizens from asking the utterly basic question of why Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the entire defense establishment were caught with their pants down during what should have been an easily avoidable cataclysm – assuming that the Defense Department has ever given any thought to our “defense,” rather than obsessing about how best to export war beyond our borders.

Now that question smells far worse than cordite in my opinion.


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From a scientific point of view, when dealing with a theory, it is best to keep your information organized and consider multiple theories, at times, at least until there is sufficient evidence to know which ones can be ruled out and which one can be proven true. When it comes to conspiracy theories this practice should be maintained by both the theorists and the skeptics. To pretend to be a rational researcher or skeptic without doing this should be considered unscientific, in my opinion.

This means that it is perfectly legitimate to consider multiple theories as long as you don’t cross the line to belief without evidence.

As far as the claim that Jews are both Capitalists and Communists, which is true, as you must know, they’re not all unified and this clearly isn’t a conspiracy since it isn’t secret. Also as far as the JFK conspiracy theorists you can include the House Select Committee on Assassinations amongst your theorists, since they concluded it was a conspiracy. Also anyone that ahs read the Warren Report should know that it is at best grossly incompetent, at worse a conspiracy of one sort or another.

There are many things that are done in secret which clearly involve a conspiracy, although it may not always be as dramatic as the media makes it seem. I have attempted to indicate this in Proprietary information is, by definition, a conspiracy and Espionage isn't intelligent blogs. Both the government and the corporations are involved in conspiracies and the evidence to prove the conspiracy exists isn’t secret; however the details and the exact conspiracy is; so it is difficult to figure out which theory is closest to the truth. Proprietary information is intended to ensure that the consumers and workers don’t have the information they need to make important decisions, only the corporations and; espionage which they refer to as intelligence is designed to guarantee that voters don’t have the information they need to make important decisions.

The simple solution to this would be to stop shrouding many government and business activities in secrecy.
"The simple solution to this would be to stop shrouding many government and business activities in secrecy."
So true! Actually, since secret activities (i.e. most of what the government and business are up to) essentially amount to conspiracies, you would have to be crazy NOT to believe in them. Not everyone in a position of authority is our friend.
[r] nice job with this. "just because your paranoid, doesn't mean they are not out to get ya!" the media tells people what they should be horrified about and what they should ignore or enable. it is alice and wonderland surreal. the banality of evil. sometimes we attribute genius to evil when it is actually more what Scott Peck explains as laziness to the nth degree. let human life be cheap so those with authority don't have to be also responsible for the sanctity of human life. the power and control and celebrity is enough, thank you, and ensuring the welfare of every US or global citizen? come on! just turn off your heart light, after all the wattage hasn't been all that high for years, and go narcissistic and cronyistic. your cronies will give you a moral pass if you give them one and together you guys can pull a fast one on the idiot American joe or jane. the numbness keeps getting easier and the moral crimes keep getting bigger. profits over people sociopathy. as for the victims of the authority machinations, morality and critical thinking on the part of the vast vast vast majority of the citizenry have nothing to do with collective cultural priorities. eyes wide shut america! lemming march ever onward. libby
Fact is, governments lie. From Jew baiting (now it's liberal baiting) to mythical weapons of mass destruction, the Big Lie always sells. People may get the details wrong but they know on some level they are being conned. I've posted on this before.

And yes, there are some very skilled liars out there. That's how the holocaust happened and that's how we invaded Iraq - and everything in between. Unfortunately, you can discount all the "facts" made up by the conspiracy theorists you want but you cannot discount the story of plots to undermine us.
Oh, they exist all right. That's why I suspect there are those among us generating ever more bizarre red herrings to throw us off track.
Hi Judy. First... please take the time to read this article I wrote from 2007...


Then, feel free to scan through this...


As well as this...


Though it has gotten the most attention... the question of how those buildings came down is not the "foundation," if that's what you want to call it, for this cause. I do hope you take the time to watch and read what I've provided for you.
well lookit that, the editor picked something with "conspiracy" in the title.
santayana said that "those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." & a key sign that one hasnt learned anything at all is the history of real conspiracies. history is rife with real conspiracies. I could write much more but Ill just leave a link to a bland little article documenting a few. which Im sure will blow some [tiny] minds.
real conspiracies in history
I'm not qualified to comment, but I found the article and the comments very engaging. Thank you.
Interesting survey Judy. I agree that folks seem predisposed to latch on to elaborate conspiracies to explain various events. As for me I'm a believer re JFK & MLK. Non-believer re 9/11, Princess Diana, bin Laden & RFK. Agnostic re Area 51.
Republicanism is more prone to conspiracy theories? Well, maybe Beck made a sweeping statement, but I'll bet if you did a poll you'd find it mainly, even overwhelmingly, Democrats and/or leftists who believe that JFK was killed by a conspiracy of some sort and that 9/11 was the work of a conspiracy (and not the conspiracy of 19 Islamo-fascistic hijackers) in government or with the help of Israel.
Zach - two words (actually a name), Vincent Bugliosi. Give him a read on JFK.
Oh Judy, excellent article....but just be prepared. The volatile psycho conspiracists are going to start getting red faced and bleating like goats...
Judy, agreed you would have to be crazy not to believe one of them or something similar is true but as we both indicated the details are still elusive. Also I agree with VZN it is good to see this an editors pick. Well done; after rereading it I realized that I missed some of your points the first time around; assuming you didn’t update it. Did you?

Barbara, I’m not sure whether it is republican’s or Democrats that are more prone to conspiracy theories; nor am I sure that it matters that much, at least not to me. I worry more about the quality of them; in the case of Beck and his followers they’re hardly worth my attention and as someone previously indicated he may be out their to make conspiracy theorist look bad then they can lump the rational and irrational into one group.

The rational won’t fall for it.

As for Vincent Bugliosi, he’s a politician first, I’ve read some of his material and he is competent when he wants to be; when he refereed to the work of the Warren Commission as “admirable” he didn’t encourage me to run out and read his 1,500 page book that is off to a bad start with that statement. If your interested I addressed this in JFK and the Unspeakable James Douglass. after reading his work and the Warren report as well as several other credible sources and some not so credible sources I don’t see how Vincent Bugliosi can put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
For 911, it's all in being able to observe the evidence. When I see every frame from the dozens of cameras that filmed the impact with the Pentagon (only 5 or so frames were ever released), then I will know what truly happened.

My big thrill is the contrails and the strange noises heard all over the world. Now there's a great couple of boogeymen tales!

You are so right about our love of conspiracies. Congrats on a well deserved EP.
"For 911, it's all in being able to observe the evidence. When I see every frame from the dozens of cameras that filmed the impact with the Pentagon (only 5 or so frames were ever released), then I will know what truly happened."
the obvious question is, why are those videos being suppressed from public viewing?
did anyone hear that the NY state govt is refusing FOIA requests into govt records on WTC? probably not..... they also reported that some key records [such as about construction projects known to be active at the time of "the event"] are MISSING.....
what do they have to hide, anyway?
"When they carried their plan out, without the operatives assigned to them "realizing that the plan was afoot," and the fact that they dodged and outsmarted the agents assigned to them, there was major hell to pay in the FBI. "
rw005g you're a very smart cookie, and that whole concept of govt keystone-copy bumbling is just not credible after a certain threshhold is reached.
there is strong evidence that the CIA misled the FBI about the role of various hijackers.. in short the CIA had close tabs on them but deflected FBI from the trail via bureacratic machinations. but the highranking coverup has mostly held in place due to the supine public.....
those who understand real conspiracies say--
do not attribute to stupidity what can only be described by malice.
The government and the media go to the other extreme by expecting us to swallow coincidence theory. This is the theory that rich people never sit in dark smoke filled rooms and scheme how they are going to influence government. Yeah right.
Which has fuck all to do with the emotionally unhinged babies who cling to truly crackpot shit for the reasons elucidated by Judy, Dr. Bramhall.
Hey, who you gonna believe? Me, or your lying eye's? Conspiracies are based in lies. Fool me once, shame on.............? uh, Fools we won't get fooled again. Or something like that. "They have weapons of mass destruction, we seen um". "Saadam is building nuculer[sic] weapons" We seen um. The first thing I will do as a presidential impostor will be to close Gitmo. "I will bring the troops home", Gulf of Tonkin? "I saw the first plane hit the building". So many lies, so much disinformation, so many cover-ups, so much deceit, secrecy, "matters of national security". We have a Muslim in the white house, that nobody knows for sure who he really is. He hides all his past documents, and the ones he does produce are forged. For a normal person that wouldn't be tolerated, but it's okay for a pathological liar who happens to be the -resident. All of the conspiracies come from the government. Trying to sort out the lies doesn't make one a conspiracy theorist. Telling them does.
The only thing one can do is examine the merits of each particular conspiracy theory. To ridicule someone who believes in a particular conspiracy -- without having done the research -- is sloppy and lazy IMO.
Conspiracy Phobia on the Left by Michael Parenti
People have PMed me asking me to rebut this latest piece of inane dribble on the front page of OS. I wasn’t going to do it. I quoted a line from the great poet Jimmy Carroll to them: “Just like Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane I understand the fate of all my enemy's.” The problem with the OS staff is they fail to realize that there are 400 million guns floating about the good old US of A right now, many of them state of the art assault weapons. And there in lies your fate. the people who possess the weapons are sick and tired of your lies. We figure we will let you do the talking. We will do the shooting, as Nietzsche said history is written in blood! Do you think the army is going to protect you? That’s a joke! Those cowardly mercenary's have been fought to a standstill by primitives using homemade AK47’s, pre WWI British Enfield's, and improvised IED’s. Right now the government is trying to get enough pampers from Pakistan so “our” brave “warriors” don’t stink up the armored vehicles that they are even afraid to get out of to relieve themselves.

Nice front page, yea lets piss on the grave of a martyred dead president. My people don’t like Kennedy they say he wanted to “give everything to the niggers.” I do! I figure blacks were far more deserving of 40 acres and a mule than the Jewish criminals on Wall Street are of a license to loot this once great nation. Of course I realize that their license has been given to them by the Bush’s and company and as soon as you have all outlived your usefulness you will be marched right back into those gas chambers. The Bush’s are above all else Nazi’s. Do you think they sympathize with Fred Newman and Carl Marx? Why don’t you read the history of Brown Brothers Harriman. They owned IG Farber. I am sure they have a surplus of Zyklon-B stashed somewhere just waiting for the day when its stock market price go’s up again.

Oh and by the way before you start calling me an “Anti Semite” how many of you read and write Hebrew? As a matter of fact I am willing to bet that many of you are munching on a nice juicy pork chop while you read this. The law is quite specific. Not one letter is to be written on the Sabbath yet I see many of you merrily typing away your pseudo leftist bullshit every Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.

Oh I almost forgot now lets deal with the coup d'état that your OS Pavlovian dogs like to refer to as a “conspiracy theory.” A little word from the wise. I doubt that even one of you could survive a week in the places I have been. In places like that we call those that do not believe in conspiracy theory's Marks. A Mark is somebody you kill “when you find out where they keep they keep their money.” This was taught to me by Joey Masseria also known as “Joey bang bang”. He killed more people than the plague and currently resides in a Federal facility in Kansas. Just some credentials for you denizens of office cubicles. A few more credentials too. I have probably fired over a million rounds from just about every gun known to man, we reload and I have someone close to me who used to have a class 2 federal fire arms permit. Another thing I can tell you is that it gets even harder when the target can shoot back. Many of those guys you see on TV in those competition shoots on the History Channel would be dead meat in the first seconds of an actual firefight. if you want to know what a real gunfight is about watch Clint Eastwoods ‘Unforgiven.’ It contains the greatest line ever spoken by an actor playing a warrior: “I've always been lucky when it comes to killing things.” But I digress out of every one of those approximate million rounds I have fired I have never once fired a “magic Bullet” When a bullet hits flesh and bone it smash's and flattens, if it is a fragmentation round it shatters on impact. The Magic bullet was found on a gurney in the corridor at the Parkland Memorial Hospital, in Dallas, after the assassination. had Its copper jacket was completely intact. First of all if we don’t even count the physical impossibility of all those “skilled” agents missing that bullet till it was found on a gurney after the fact we must still take into account the bullets ability to temporarily suspend Newtonian law, maybe it was a Quantum bullet. Another thing when you are shooting at a target without body armor, you use a soft tip not a full metal jacket. The soft tip does far more damage.

Here are some simple historical facts: Eisenhower wrote this to his brother Edgar in 1954: "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid." That was in 1954 at the height of the great mans power and the fact that he was writing his brother illustrates that he had become aware of their existence and their designs on this government and was troubled by it. When he calls them negligible and stupid he is expressing his confidence that he could deal with them. If they had tried to play him like they played Kennedy he would have simply declared martial law and had them all shot in their own houses with their dogs and family too, he knew how to deal with Nazi's. But by 1961, perhaps the sorriest day of this country's existence, when he knew he would have to relinquish his power he had become alarmed by an alliance between the military industrial complex and the unabashed "stupid" capitalists and he left this country with this warning that is nothing less than a prophecy of Americas future: Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961. Kennedy gets gunned down in Texas a couple of years later supposedly by a man who is in turn slain by another man on TV in front of over a hundred cops. A man who incidentally is a made man in the Mafia. Nobody owned a topless bar before 1987 (if you want to know what changed in 1987 you will have to read my book) that was not a made man. Incidentally this Mafia hit man (and don’t believe Jews were not made men, ever hear of a little group called Murder incorporated) had copies of H. L. Hunt's radio broadcasts threatening Kennedy from a few weeks before in his possession (of course you were never told of this).

If you ask me JFK was shot by his chauffer. That was what was really on the Zapruda film before HL Hunt bought and cleaned it up.William Cooper was circulating the real film. He was gunned down in his driveway by the FBI for his troubles. Take a look at Kennedys whore of a wife trying to crawl out the back of the Limo (personally I figure it was Charles Voyde Harrelson driving that limo). Was she fleeing towards the shooter? This was not a TV show! When you take down a king you have to be sure to kill him its not a shot you make with a rifle. You get up close and you blow his brains all over the place. Oswald was a patsy who had CIA written all over his resume. He was killed in front of a hundred cops on National TV by a made man from the Chicago syndicate who had copies of HL Hunts radio speech's made a few weeks before, telling Kennedy he was a dead man. Ruby just happened to be dying of an incurable cancer. He didn’t want that whore Onassis to go through the grief of a trial? He was a pimp for Christ's sake! That’s almost as good as Bush’s best friends son shot Reagan because he had a crush on a movie actress. Speaking of our first emperor you can Google pictures of him standing in front of the book depository on the day Kennedy was shot. Like your TV shows say vz the truth is out there, most people are just scared to death of it, after Neo took the red pill nothing was ever the same again.

It is from there that we have proceeded down the primrose path of sorrow. Americans were once a people who were marked by their willingness to fight before the gauntlet even hit the ground. Almost half a century has past and we are still talking, perhaps we have become cowards, then that's just to bad because wherever there is freedom there is somebody who needs slaves.
As to conspiracy theories, why hasn't anyone called a spade a spade -- the conspiracy of the banksters to set up the regulatory framework that led to the Crash of 2008? This is one of the best essays on conspiracy theory, ever!
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