Conspiracy Round-up – 3/5/2015

Hello Sunday morning readers (and a good night to those of you in other timezones)! Here’s a selection of conspiracy theory readings to tide you over brunch. We are doing brunch this week, aren’t we?

1. What should we make of all those fancy Toyota pick-ups ISIS are “sporting”? As this article points out, the sheer uniformity of their fleets (yes, plural) of Toyota pick-ups and SUVs is a bit weird. It’s almost as if someone gave ISIS a whole bunch of pristine cars…

Now, you don’t necessarily have to posit a conspiracy by the CIA to provide ISIS with a fleet of cars in this case; some of the cars were stolen from other terrorist groups the U.S. has been funding, and in many cases see cars were probably sold cheaply in the Middle East because it’s a great place to dump stock you need to get rid of quickly. Still, is Toyota happy with their seeming endorsement of brand ISIS? It’s all a bit suspicious (but not necessarily sinister).

2. This article asks the hard question of whether Leonard Nimoy faked his own death to aid the Illuminati?

The Hard Dawn website is an almost perfect parody of a certain class of conservative conspiracy theorist. I say “almost perfect” because some of the articles are a little too much on the nose, but it’s worth trawling through to find out about the atheist agenda to eat canine meat and the role of chemtrails in killing angels.

3. It’s hard to be a Pope, what with everyone telling you what to think, especially since you’re meant to be guided by god and all. Still, we should all feel just a little pity for Pope Francis; he’s have to deal with the Heartland Institute – America’s greatest think-tank for comparing people who believe that the climate is changing to the Unabomber – going to Rome to try and persuade him not to lend his “moral authority” to the fight against the changing climate. They’ve even taken along Lord Christopher Monckton, the man who likes to dish out the odd ad hominem but threatens people with legal action if they dare rebut him with actual evidence.

4. Mentioned on the podcast this week: is the proposed head transplant surgery really just viral marketing for Metal Gear Sold 5: The Phantom Pain?

5. Also mentioned on the podcast: Pepsi is ditching Aspartame as a sweetener, and this is definitely not a good thing. Aside from the fact there is no evidence Aspartame is a danger (despite lots of meta studies looking into its health effects), the replacement sweeteners have not been tested to the same level, so Pepsi may well be replacing a safe product with something with long term health detriments. This is a case where a vapid conspiracy theory has had a real and demonstrable effect, and thus is the kind of thing that will get used against me when I once again defend conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorising. Damn you Pepsi! Damn you to hell!

6. Not so much a conspiracy theory as the kind of thing dreamt of in conspiracy theories: the FBI’s hair analysis programme (the system that was widely used before the advent of DNA testing) was not really all that reliable. This is one of those things where people will go “But we’ve know that for a while” but the important thing to note is that whilst we might have known that for a while, it’s taken a long time for the FBI to admit that a) yes it’s true and b) swallow the fact that a lot of cases are going to be reopened because verdicts were rendered because experts asserted in courts x was guilty because of hair analysis. This is a great example of what my colleague and good friend Lee Basham calls a “toxic truth”: a fact about the world so chilling that no one really wants to report or acknowledge it because doing so would have disastrous consequences.

7. More evidence that there is no link between vaccines and the increase incidence of autism in the general population.

8. Friend and colleague Martin Orr gives a summary of his presentation at the Miami conference. You might note a shoutout to yours truly in the sidebar.

9. Andrew McKenzie-McHarg reviews said conference, and I get a mention.

10. A guide to lizard people.

11. Finally, Carrie Stoddart blogs on the story of Ben Rachinger, who claims inside knowledge of the Dirty Politics scandal that should have rocked last years General Election here in Aotearoa. It makes for some interesting reading…


About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.