Belief in conspiracies largely depends on political identity

By Kathy Frankovic

Sometimes it seems that Americans will believe anything.  And what we know as true or not true these days can depend on our political point of view.  But there are many of us who are willing to give at least some credence to the possibility that a claim might be true.

At least that seems to be the case in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll.  One of the most notorious internet rumors of the 2016 presidential campaign, that there was a pedophile ring in the Clinton campaign, with code words embedded in the hacked emails of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, is seen as “probably” or “definitely” true by more than a third of American adults.  The poll was conducted after an armed North Carolina man tried to “self-investigate” the claim by going to the District of Columbia pizza restaurant that was alleged to be the center of the ring earlier this month and found nothing.  But even afterwards only 29% are sure the allegation is “definitely” not true.


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41 COMMENTS

  1. Similarly, even after the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that Russia was responsible for the leaks of damaging information from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign and that the hacking was done to help Donald Trump win the Presidency, only one in five say that is definitely true, about the same percentage as believe it is definitely not true. A majority is in the middle.
    These beliefs have a political basis, of course. Nearly all Clinton voters (87%) believe Russia hacked Democratic emails. Eight in ten Trump voters disagree.

    Nearly all Clinton voters (87%) believe Russia hacked Democratic emails. The statement is clearly misleading. Hillary Clinton won 65,844,610 votes. Of those who cast votes for her, 13% did not believe Russia hacked Democratic emails or .13 X 65,844,610 = 8,559,800. 13% against the base 100% seems relatively “small” to the casual reader, though in fact statistically significant, especially when calculated on the absolute base of 65,844,610 to yield a huge number of 8,559,800 voters greatly exceeding by a huge margin any credible claim of “nearly all Clinton voters.”

    Kathy Frankovic, clearly a Clinton supporter, should not be reporting with such glaring bias about the investigation of Russian hacking before giving polling numbers that subject readers to her suggestive interpretation.

  2. …a huge number of 8,559,800 voters greatly exceeding by a huge
    margin any credible claim of “nearly all Clinton voters.”

    I’m not sure I understand the point you are trying to make. If 8,559,500 Clinton voters do not believe Russians interfered, then that means 57,584,810 disagree with that position. 87% is “nearly all”, even with the new math.

    It looks like you are trying to do the same thing you are accusing the author of doing, ie, trying to paint the picture so it looks a little kinder.

    Be that as it may, I was disappointed with the article as it gives us stats for conspiracy theorists, but no reason for its prevalence.

  3. Vicki #2: I’m not sure I understand the point you are trying to make.

    Reporting a small percentage of a huge number as yielding “nearly all” after subtracting from the base poses several related problems. 1) In a presidential election 13% of Clinton voters do not represent a small fraction in terms of statistical significance where the margin of winning or losing is 2%; and 2) the absolute number of 8.6 million is so huge that the reporter should not dismiss it, after simple subtraction from the total, as “nearly all.”

    If we say, for mathematical illustration only, that only 10% of China’s population lives in serious poverty and conclude that “nearly all” Chinese are out of poverty, with a base population of one billion we’re looking at the horrendous figure of 100 million people living in serious poverty.

    I was disappointed with the article as it gives us stats for conspiracy theorists, but no reason for its prevalence.

    Good point. Moreover if political identity is the operative factor in accepting or rejecting conspiracy theories, we have to examine how various developments are being assessed with the marker of “conspiracy theory” by partisan pollster Kathy Frankovic; how she is presenting them in the service of politicized purposes.

    At the outset, she starts with the silly trivial conspiracy theory known as pizzagate implicating Hillary Clinton and John Podesta in a pizza-parlor-sited pedophile ring. She segues seamlessly into far more serious accusations before the release of an official CIA report on investigative findings: after the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that Russia was responsible for the leaks of damaging information from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign and that the hacking was done to help Donald Trump win the Presidency, only one in five say that is definitely true She’s injecting her own partisan opinion about “facts” into the simple reporting of poll numbers on an issue where people could entertain reasonable doubts in contradiction to how she “feels” about the matter. The implication planted in the minds of Democratic voters supports a conspiracy theory itself that will enjoy a very long life. Trump stole the election from Clinton because of Russian interference. Vladimir Putin gave Trump the presidency through cunning treachery that hoodwinked the American electorate. This is the story that Democrats will tell with certain conviction about the election of 2016 when they are pontificating in nursing homes 50 years from now.

    To her credit, Ms. Frankovic returns to responsible reporting on just-the-facts polling on autism/vaccination, and 9/11 conspiracy theories. Better to leave slanted political interpretations and voting preferences out of the discussion.

  4. As a non-American, I do not think that Russia hacked any voting machines, but it’s painfully obvious that they interfered in the election to get Trump as president. Those are two different things.

  5. @Melvin #3

    “Vladimir Putin gave Trump the presidency through cunning treachery
    that hoodwinked the American electorate. This is the story that
    Democrats will tell with certain conviction about the election of 2016
    when they are pontificating in nursing homes 50 years from now.”

    I would be more willing to entertain non-partisan interference if there had been equal amounts of Republican ‘dirt’ released.

    I agree there are levels of conspiracy theories ranging from ridiculous (Pizzagate) to dangerous (vaccination). But I think at its core, this willingness to embrace ulterior motives is the real problem. I’ve always liked Sagan’s Baloney Detection kit, and I would recommend it to anyone.

    https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/03/baloney-detection-kit-carl-sagan/

  6. With conspiracy attack-dog Alex Jones supporting Trump, it seems conspiracy thinking is the new mainstream.

    It’s been coming on slowly, though. Over the last 15 years, the very notion of seeking the truth has been undermined and ridiculed, with the “fourth estate” abandoning its post, investigating nothing seriously, and utterly failing to speak truth to power. Troofers, now, those fools who dare to question obviously threadbare lies. 9/11? WMD in 45 minutes? Katrina, a helluva job?

    And finally truth itself has become a ridiculous concept. It all depends on your politics, which conspircy theerys you choose to believe? That there are conspiracies all over the place now seems to be the only obvious baseline of “truth”, tiptoe through the minefield of competing “trooths”, pick the ones that please your own bias. Trump got elected on a platform of flagrant lies, and can’t be “caught out” because he’s immune to scandal. Politicians used to be a bit more subtle, and therefore sometimes had to quit when exposed.

    While usually I’d favor cockup over conspiracy, by way of Occam’s Razor, unfortunately one can’t discount Malice as a contributing factor, to the conspiracy theories themselves, to those who promote them, and those who slide around them with innuendo, nods and winks. Truth is indeed the first casualty. Is this the Forever War?

    This last year hasn’t been a bolt from the blue, it’s more like the natural consequence of the direction deliberately taken since the beginning of this century, ushered in as it was by an election decided by the politically-appointed supreme court rather than by the electorate.

  7. Belief in conspiracies largely depends on political identity: And what we know as true or not true these days can depend on our political point of view.Blockquote

    I find the results of this Economist/YouGov poll somewhat frightening from the perspective of the RD Foundation’s objectives. The results suggest that, in the US, one’s political alliance, rather than science and reason, influences one’s judgement on a given issue or event. As if USAers are firstly cheerleaders for their given alliance, be it political or religious or whatever. But, as far as I can determine, the poll is based upon “1376 US Adults”, which is awfully statically low (hard to believe a socio-geo-eco selection); indeed how the sample was selected isn’t revealed. If accurate, though, getting USAers over to science and reason is a great big mountain to climb indeed.

  8. Vicki #5: I would be more willing to entertain non-partisan interference if there had been equal amounts of Republican ‘dirt’ released.

    Elections are dirty on all sides. The Donald Trump – Billy Bush sexual predator tape leaked to TV News in October was believed to spell doom for Trump’s candidacy. The wave of negative blowback, especially from women, measured by contemporaneous polls apparently consigned Trump to life support status in public opinion. In my view, Hillary’s email server scandal, FBI director Comey’s hedging about possible “new” investigations, and, of course, the [Russian] hacking of DNC emails published by Wikileaks played a slight but negligent role in the way people voted. Democrats grasping at straws have talked themselves into the conspiracy theory that the Russians are to blame ! ! ! Pure scapegoating. Clinton won 2.9 million more popular votes than Trump. Her bizarre defeat (Trump’s victory) in the electoral college clearly shows the outcome was determined by regional factors and not by emails undermining Bernie or open mike vulgar talk about grabbing p***y.

  9. @Melvin #8

    Elections are dirty on all sides.

    No doubt. I hate election seasons, both local and national. I expect the mud to be flung. I expect the seemingly endless ads and robo-calls. But I did not expect Russian intrusion or Comey’s unprecedented intentional disruption. I do not think it is over the top to say those two acts, combined with gerrymandering, tipped the balance in Trump’s favor.

  10. Elections are dirty on all sides.

    No!!

    That is the kind of pernicious crap that we need to guard ourselves against. They are not equally dirty, and that is a false equivalent, an improper argument put forth by Trump’s biased apologists (and the Hillary haters), the right-wing pundits and Trump’s spokespeople, hired guns, propagandists; it is designed to obfuscate, to confuse.

    The State Dept. is 100% sure that Russia hacked the DNC and the emails, period. I believe them! Any denial of that is designed to cast doubt on the CIA. A a prelude to dismantling it, perhaps. The CIA is imperfect, but this is sick; it’s unpatriotic.

    MegaS,

    No one has accused Russia of tampering with the voting machines.

  11. @dan #10

    dirty on all sides

    Agreeing with Dan here. The False Equivalence Fallacy. Giving equal time to both sides of the story, as if Impartial, the news media (when they’re not being flagrantly biased) once more do us a disservice by pretended “unbiased” reporting. Climate Deniers get equal time with the entire scientific community. Antivaxxers get similar. Evolution-Deniers aka Creationists. Everything has to be a balanced presentation, even when there’s no balance at all, an elephant on one side of the scales and a flea on the other. The Dissenting Voice starts to sound like the Underdog, the one who dares to reveal the Truth, who hasn’t Sold Out, not the paid shill of the coal or tobacco industry, for instance.

    Fair enough, when it used to be political views, and the main opposition party always got its spokesperson to present the politically opposing viewpoint to whatever government said, but always clearly identified as a party representative, not some supposedly independent expert from a lobbyist think tank. That’s BBC in UK, Labour and Conservatives, both large mainstream parties. But they’d not give equal time to the Monster Raving Looney Party, never. In USA they might have, if it had been noticed to boost ratings (they were a lot more watchable than any other party). In fact that is more or less what’s happened, all that free airtime for the Reality TV Star, as entertainment, for ratings.

    The “on all sides” thing is used far too often to deflect criticism. Cops shouldn’t be singled out for killing blacks, because, er, lots of blacks do crimes too. Some of them. And so on.

    Down with False Equivalence. But, how to remedy this? Suggestions?

  12. Trump is starting to look more and more like a typical strongman, a leader who rules by the exercise of threats, coercion, manipulation (propaganda), or force.

    He is attempting to delegitimize independent intelligence and security services – and the press – because they are a check on him. This is extremely dangerous.

    What if the CIA were to say that, say, North Korea now poses an imminent threat? Will he believe them then? Not without losing face. How would he expect the troops to go out and risk their lives? This will affect morale.

    On Jan. 20 we will be less safe.

    This “fake news” business is sickening. Trump is feeding into the blurring of legitimate and fake news and everything in-between.

    The solution: get him to be a lame duck administration, with a majority of progressives in the house and senate in two years. In the mean time journalists have to be more aggressive and we all need to get involved and to stay as informed as possible.

  13. Dan #10: Elections are dirty on all sides.
    No!!
    That is the kind of pernicious crap that we need to guard ourselves against. They are not equally dirty, and that is a false equivalent, an improper argument put forth by Trump’s biased apologists (and the Hillary haters), the right-wing pundits and Trump’s spokespeople, hired guns, propagandists; it is designed to obfuscate, to confuse.

    I believe you misunderstand the context for the application of the rule: Elections are dirty on all sides You apparently believe that I’m comparing Hillary Clinton’s campaign tactics to those of Donald Trump thereby making a “false equivalence.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m thinking more about how Hillary responded to Bernie Sanders when this decent old man magically emerged out of nowhere as a serious threat to her candidacy. Certainly the DNC found the right dose of poison in their bag of dirty tricks to dispatch him but they should have been pondering how their super-candidate could be so easily routed by a relative nobody running on the budget of a mendicant monk.

    For the record, I voted for Hillary because she is a Democrat and by any measure infinitely preferable to Trump. For me the fact that I don’t like her is secondary to my resentment of how she and the Democratic establishment teamed up to put an unethical self-serving careerist on the throne instead of offering an acceptable candidate for president to the American people.

    Sure, Hillary talked the talk about Women’s rights in speeches and served on the board of the Children’s Defense Fund. She also methodically slandered the women her husband sexually assaulted counting on their vulnerability to be silenced when the little bitches had the audacity to threaten “their” career. Yes, she made speeches and served on boards – 200,000-dollar speeches to Goldman Sachs and serving on the board of Walmart.

    Here’s my opinion about the decisive factor in the election. To be sure many people sincerely held Hillary in the highest esteem but too many people got into the voting booth and merely smelled a rat groomed for the presidency by cynical Democratic upper management. One way or another not enough of these folks voted for her. Every time Hillary Clinton looks in the mirror she sees the person who really defeated Hillary Clinton.

  14. Dan #10
    Jan 4, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    The State Dept. is 100% sure that Russia hacked the DNC and the emails, period.

    They seem very confident about that!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38521503
    The US intelligence chief has promised to explain why Russia allegedly meddled in the US presidential election.

    A report on foreign meddling in US elections was given to President Barack Obama on Thursday.

    President-elect Donald Trump is to be briefed on the report on Friday and the unclassified version will be made public next week.

    Top US intelligence officials were giving testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee investigating the alleged interference.

    In their assessment, Moscow interfered to help Mr Trump, the Republican candidate, beat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    Asked by a congressman if they “will ascribe a motivation to Putin”, Mr Clapper replied “yes, we will ascribe motivation”.

    Mr Clapper described the Russian efforts as a “multifaceted campaign”, which featured “classical propaganda, disinformation, [and] fake news”.

    Asked by a congressman if they “will ascribe a motivation to Putin”, Mr Clapper replied “yes, we will ascribe motivation”.

    Mr Clapper described the Russian efforts as a “multifaceted campaign”, which featured “classical propaganda, disinformation, [and] fake news”.

  15. The preponderance of evidence from reliable sources virtually confirms that Russian government actors were
    responsible for hacking DNC proprietary emails and the private emails of Hillary Clinton, very likely to help the Trump candidacy. There is no evidence that individual voting machines were hacked anywhere or that the information, including “fake news and propaganda,” released to Wikileaks affected the vote count in any significant way. To the contrary, compelling evidence shows that regional voting patterns coupled with an aversion to Ms. Clinton caused her defeat in the electoral college despite a 2.9 million lead in the popular vote.

    In my opinion Democratic folk wisdom will come to incorporate the conspiracy theory that Putin stole the election from Hillary Clinton much like the Democratic folk wisdom that the “Republican” supreme court stole the election from Al Gore and awarded the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000.

  16. Belief in conspiracies largely depends on political identity

    Especially (or is it exclusively?) when the conspiracies are political!
    Gee, what a shocker.

  17. Alan

    They seem very confident about that!

    And they have evidence!

    “Democratic folk wisdom will come to incorporate the conspiracy theory that Putin stole the election from Hillary Clinton.” —Melvin

    As you can see, it’s already working. Facts, conspiracies, truths, half-truths, lies, fake news…It is on its way to becoming one big blur in too many people’s minds. Trump with the help of the Russians, Fox News, Breitbart, Drudge, and other media outlets that support Trump’s mad agenda (like the National Enquirer and the NY Post), are achieving their goal.

    I think the hacking did cost Hillary votes.

    And meanwhile those monsters are compiling lists of climate scientists in the energy dept. and a list of advocates of women’s rights in the State Dept. as well. Congress now has the ability, I think, to control and reduce the wages of federal employees. McCarthyism.

    https://thinkprogress.org/congress-can-now-target-individual-employees-263b330eeabb#.37ntsplfa

    The Holman rule, named after the congressman who first proposed it in 1876, was nixed by Congress in 1983. The rule, now reinstated for 2017, gives any lawmaker the power to offer amendments to appropriations bills that could, legislatively, fire any federal employee or cut their pay down to $1 dollar, if the lawmaker so chooses.

    Medicare and medicaid, SS and public education, healthcare, financial oversight (Dodd-Frank) all facing privatization and destruction, respectively. We are a nation under siege. Horrible.

    Trump peddles fake news, and wants us to hate the press. This situation is getting more and more frightening by the day.

  18. Dan # 17: Medicare and medicaid, SS and public education, healthcare, financial oversight (Dodd-Frank) all facing privatization and destruction, respectively. We are a nation under siege. Horrible.
    Trump peddles fake news, and wants us to hate the press. This situation is getting more and more frightening by the day.

    Do you know how much this sounds like a conspiracy theory? We’re all concerned about ominous appointments and policy positions looming in the Trump administration but thoughtful opposition not man-on-fire hysteria is going to win the day.

    I watched an interview with Joe Biden tonight on the PBS News Hour. He wisely refused to launch a belated, unfunded and largely unsupported campaign when Democratic elites got a mild case of jitters watching old Bernie deck Hillary round after round. In hindsight, Biden would have stood toe to toe with Trump in the general election and beat him bloody. Biden has always been a man who can look anyone in the eye, even if he has to crouch down, and credibly say, “I care about you; I understand your problems, and I’ve worked 28 years in the senate and 8 years in the vice presidency for your benefit.” Most voters would be drawn to this warm, empathetic, progressive by virtue of his character -not faultless to be sure. Yet still, no one would be expected to support him on a recitation of good intentions alone. If you will, look first upon his achievements.

  19. Melvin

    If it sounds like a made-up conspiracy theory to you then so be it. Everything I have said about medicare and deregulation, etc. is factual. I am not omniscient, don’t know what will happen; but my fears are based on what I see happening and I think these fears are shared by many.

    My attitude is another matter. You are not the first person to say that I have succumbed to hysteria. I agree that that won’t solve anything.

    You know, Melvin, I could actually be underestimating the horror that lies in store for us. And just because one thinks there is a “conspiracy” doesn’t mean there isn’t one. You have to admit it doesn’t look to good right now. But we’ll see what happens.

    Have a good week-end. Be well. (It’ll be interesting to see how all this unfolds.)

    Biden’s a pretty good guy. I’ve always liked him – although I have to confess that I have no idea what he did as VP.

  20. I think the word “conspiracy” or conspiracy theory is not appropriate here. All we are talking about is the inability of so many human beings to evaluate data rationally without undue bias from their preconceptions. What factors into this is raw intelligence (IQ), education, partisanship and critical thinking ability.

    In the USA the population is the most partisan of any western democracy with many people unable to tolerate any view from the opposite side and similarly the ability to believe any story about the other side no matter how bizarre. My own belief is that religion is a large factor in this.

    Education is poor in the USA with students performing worse than any other western democracy in science, maths, geography etc.

    Religion is still rife in the USA compared to any other western democracy and when one is preconditioned from childhood to believe in nonsense without factual basis then I have no doubt it makes it harder to tell fact from fiction in other aspects of life.

    Education could be fixed if the USA didn’t squander so much money on an appalling wasteful healthcare system and a rampant military industrial complex. Religion is dying slowly but could do with dying a lot faster. Until both these issues are improved then the USA will continue to be a nation of gullible, low information, low critical thinking people who are capable of voting for psychopaths and against their own best interests.

    However low information, low critical thinking, religious people are at the core of Republican support so we can expect the new administration to do everything in their power to make sure such people thrive and a new generation of them is born, regardless of how much this hurts the best long term interests of the country. In fact I would say that the Republican ethos is designed and built in to make it impossible for them to do the best thing for their electorate without in the process making themselves redundant which is of course unsupportable.

    150 years ago the Republican ethos of gung ho, pioneering spirit, rely on yourself not the government or handouts might have been helpful in motivating people to face the long wagon trek to open up the west but nowadays it’s just an anachronism keeping the country in the dark ages compared to the UK and Europe.

  21. Melvin #18
    Jan 6, 2017 at 2:22 am

    In hindsight, Biden would have stood toe to toe with Trump in the general election and beat him bloody.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38528329

    The US has identified the Russian agents behind alleged hacking ahead of the presidential election won by Donald Trump in November, reports say.

    The agents, whose names have not been released, are alleged to have sent stolen Democratic emails to WikiLeaks to try to swing the vote for Mr Trump.

    Russia denies any involvement and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says Moscow was not the source.

    Intelligence officials are due to brief Mr Trump, who doubts the claims, later.

    Vice-President Joe Biden lambasted the president-elect on Thursday for attacking the intelligence community over the claims, saying it was “absolutely mindless” not to have faith in the agencies.

    Vice-President Joe Biden told the PBS network that the report clearly confirmed Russia had tried to “discredit the US electoral process” as part of a systematic campaign to undermine Mrs Clinton.

    Her campaign manager, John Podesta, was among those whose emails were hacked, as well as the DNC.

    Mr Biden also criticised Mr Trump for ignoring intelligence on the hack.

    What are the hacking allegations?

    Mr Biden said he had read a US intelligence report outlining Russian involvement, the details of which are emerging in US media.

    According to CNN, the Washington Post and NBC News citing intelligence sources, agencies had intercepted communications in the aftermath of the election showing senior Russian government officials celebrating Donald Trump’s win over rival Hillary Clinton.

    They had also identified go-betweens who delivered stolen Democratic emails to the Wikileaks website, sources said, without providing further details.

    NBC News says the alleged Russian hacking targeted not just the DNC but also the White House, joint chiefs of staff, the department of state and large US corporations.

    National Intelligence Director Gen James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey are due to brief President-elect Trump on the report in New York on Friday.

  22. The thing that gets sometimes lost in the mix is the individual’s experiences over their lifetime. You are multiple times more likely to fall for a conspiracy theory if your “childhood house” primes you to believe. Also, if it trips your “need for reinforcement” loop.

    If you were surrounded by UFO literature and your father/mother were avid UFO hunters and discussion around your dinner table revolved around UFO’s, you are more predisposed to accept the gov’t covering up some event (s).

    If your dad constantly chirped about the gov’t trying to kill him (perhaps he’s a paranoid schizophrenic) and he steps off a bridge one night and is not found, it is cognitively easier to allow yourself the fantasy of spies and espionage than to look at the man as mentally troubled and suicidal.

    Some of these conspiracies are conveniences to those who do not want to see what’s actually in the mirror.

    Education is not the culprit here. The paradigm has changed and those of us who were educated decades ago do not understand what has changed (I am an exception to this because i am a teacher). Here’s an analogy that should help:

    Our education was a pre-ordered sit down meal at a restaurant that we didn’t choose. We sat through it and ate what they served.
    Education today is a buffet. It is all you can eat. You put on your tray what you want. This means some people leave school with ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on their tray. Some, however get a wonderful dinner. It is their respective HOMES that dictate this.

    Yesterday’s poor students didn’t know enough to pass; today’s poor students don’t know a goddamn thing.

    But, all our votes count the same!!!!!

    Akrid,

    Education is poor in the USA with students performing worse than any
    other western democracy in science, maths, geography etc.

    We are not sitting for the same exams. Also, if education is so so broken in the US, why are our universities the most applied to , sought after, and attended on the planet? It is too easy to “believe the conspiracy theory” of broken US education. But when you actually peel back the layers, you will see it is exactly that.

    For example, we do poorly in Math compared to the rest of the world, right? Last year there were 12 perfect AP Calculus exams. 12 perfect 100% scores on the planet. More than a quarter million kids took the test globally. Of the 12 perfect scores, 6 were from the US. (1 was from my high school). So, if you use a different metric, you get a different result. I’d put our best against anyone’s. And, yes, my high school generated a student who placed in the top .0048% in the WORLD. So why isn’t my school being hailed as one of the most successful in the world?

    Oh, that’s right, because the STUDENT earned the grade. So you praise the students for successes and condemn the SCHOOL for the failures.

    And, here’s what is crucial to the discussion: if ONE KID gets a wonderful education at a school, then ALL could if they tried. It is NOT on the school or the system to do anything past offering the instruction. Enrollment, participation, effort, and achievement are ALL the responsibilities of the parents and students, themselves.

  23. BTW,
    The continued narrative of the broken school system has been systematically used by politicians to divert money from education and into
    1. Their own pockets (google how many politicians own stakes in charter schools and private schools).
    2. Military spending
    3. Healthcare

    It’s like piss in a pool. It diffuses POOF— money pulled from one spot and…..disappears into the ether. Our schools are fine. Our homes and parents are NOT.

  24. Politician do have stakes in these private and charter schools. That’s absolutely right, crookedshoes. School “choice” is a complete swindle as is telling people they should be able to “choose” what doctor they go to. (All that means is: fee market; i.e. greed!) Religious “choice” we all know about. When I hear the word choice uttered by a Republican, I smell a rat.

    The problem with conspiracy theories is this: sometimes there are real conspiracies and cover-ups. Sometimes there aren’t. But there are facts as opposed to made up stories. We are entering a climate where those in power (Trump and his fellow fascists) want to confuse everyone so no one will have an easy time saying anything or convincing others of the truth. “Fake news” is dangerous on three levels: the truth is doubted, the false is believed or thought of as possibly true, and worst of all, people become conditioned to be skeptical and therefore indifferent about both. So as a result of this, the all-important truth, when it is exposed, suffers, is ignored. The accusation “fake news” is already being heard all over the place – especially when one is telling the truth.

    This is willful obfuscation. Classical propaganda. Putin is an old hand. Russians are adept at this, may be behind a lot of this. It has their fingerprint.

    Believing in UFOs and all that crap is irrelevant now. What is happening to us politically – and the blurring of reality with unreality is part of it – is not irrelevant. But speaking of UFOs, I saw a news report (a real one): apparently The National Enquirer, the most ridiculous supermarket tabloid in the country, has morphed into a pro Trump newspaper. They still talk about people dying with fake photos and show photos of UFOs, and at the same time are now saying the most outlandish crazy things about H. Clinton, while praising Trump. So apparently there is an audience that cannot distinguish even bizarre nonsense from reality.

    General Flynn likes fake news. Trump likes the Enquirer, but doesn’t want to hear the intelligence reports

    Trump has denied intelligence allegations as fake and climate change data as a hoax and a conspiracy.

    We are being manipulated – now more than ever.

    It’s all quite horrifying.

    And belief of fake theories and respect for real evidence does not “depend” on political identity; “political identity” is a reflection of education and intelligence. Yes, Hillary’s supporters are mostly bright, educated people and Trump’s supporters are comprised of many disenfranchised (unsophisticated, malleable) people. The stats prove that. Or is that a conspiracy too?

  25. Is anyone else having a job getting onto this site? For the last two days it’s been crashing when loading and a blank page with a box saying “Continue to site->” appears.

  26. crookedshoes #22
    Jan 6, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Also, if education is so so broken in the US, why are our universities the most applied to , sought after, and attended on the planet? It is too easy to “believe the conspiracy theory” of broken US education. But when you actually peel back the layers, you will see it is exactly that.

    The US public education system is (allegedly) “broken”, because it does not turn out enough YEC evanginuts and easily media-led sheeples!

    Hence the proposed voucher systems to “remedy the problem”! –
    The ability to sing, chant and parrot, “god-did-it” and “broken”, is sufficient education for the masses, in the minds of such people!

    (The climate “hockey stick graph”, is similarly “broken”, because it uses real science data which conflicts with commercial interests of the Republican carbon polluting rich.)

  27. The problem I have found is the conspiracy theories displayed on YouTube are just not put together properly and exaggerate to make, usually, a valid point. They can be picked apart because of that. The rest of the time, it really is used as a way to stop the conversation. The one that keeps coming back is the falling of the twin towers. The one real reason, which is the design and structure of the buildings, was mentioned once, here in the U.K., and I have not seen it since in any discussions.

    How many tend to cringe when hearing some of the points below but at the same time can see the truths?

    https://youtu.be/qX-P4mx1FLU

  28. Thanks to Olgun for the lively ideas emphasized by Mr. Benn in his video lecture. Labor unions played an indispensable role in history for redistributing wealth to the industrial working class sufficient to bring the majority of members into the middle class. The bedrock wage-and-working-conditions unions of the past have been rendered largely ineffective and obsolete in the macro-economic arena by rising wages driven by market competition for workers, government laws, regulations and subsidies to low and middle income citizens under the rubric of social democratic welfare states, and, most importantly today, – globalization.

  29. I think the word “conspiracy” or conspiracy theory is **not appropriate here**. All we are talking about is the inability of so many human beings to evaluate data rationally without undue bias from their preconceptions. What factors into this is raw intelligence (IQ), education, partisanship and critical thinking ability.

    Absent the befuddling polemic on “Americans,” Arkrid #20 raises serious questions about how we define “conspiracy theory.” Obviously there are clear-cut cases of absurd “conspiracy theories” touching on political events: the collapse of the twin towers; the assassination of JFK; the pizza parlor Democratic pedophile ring.

    Political affiliation is so penetrated by bias and self-interest, and inflamed by self-identity bordering on violent hostility that “conspiracy” interpretations take on a wider range of definition and practice. Overwhelming evidence that the Russians hacked emails and disseminated information harmful to the Democratic candidate, has been framed as a partisan impression that the harm was great enough to change some votes, that in turn these votes may have decided the election in favor of Donald Trump. Over time, I believe that Democrats, susceptible to insidious suggestion, will come to believe “as a matter of historical fact,” that Russian influence stole the election from Hillary Clinton. There is no evidence that a Russian conspiracy accomplished anything approaching the reversal of the expected trajectory of the vote count including those Russian government officials who believed like everyone else that Clinton would certainly win. Quantitative (statistical) and qualitative evidence shows that Russian influence on the outcome was effectively zero.

    Another notorious case involving conspiracy propaganda integrated into popular narrative was the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri that gave rise to the outraged Black Lives Matter mantra, “Hands Up Don’t Shoot.” News media, some with good intentions, whipped up the BLM narrative that all police shootings of black men by “white” officers were motivated by racism that casually declared “open season” on the worthless lives of black people. The crazed conspiracy theory took hold wildly out of proportion to inevitable cases where police were found guilty of unjustified use of deadly force.

    The media provocatively tagged Brown as an unarmed teenager shot multiple times by a [lone] police officer in an unrecorded confrontation. An eye-witness later judged to be “untruthful;” that is, lying, reported that Brown had assumed a “frozen” posture in response to the policeman’s presence raised his hands and yelled “hands up, don’t shoot” before he was executed. Media released a video of Brown robbing a convenience store some minutes before he was killed and physically assaulting the slightly built older owner who tried to stop him from exiting the store. This video, apparently recording a violent crime committed by the “victim,” slipped into obscurity in favor of the “hands up don’t shoot” propaganda legibly propogated on BLM T-shirt campaigns, mimicked by chanting outraged protesters, even by professional football players before stadium crowds. A thorough investigation provided a preponderance of evidence that Brown had assaulted the officer through the open window of his patrol car; tried to flee a short distance; and, after repeated lawful orders, charged the officer who killed him with a shot that entered the skull of a presumably crouched assailant assuming a tackling posture presumably intended for a take-down frontal assault. A fake news propaganda story assuming the mantel of fact is still used to this day in the virulent police scapegoating project of the Black Lives Matter movement.

  30. Dan #31
    Jan 8, 2017 at 12:33 am

    Here’s a terrifying article about Mr. Trump by someone that many would call a conspiracy theorist. Up to you to decide! But let me remind you that the truth hurts.

    http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/01/04/15-warnings-signs-impending-tyranny

    Hmmm. He’s just listed lots of things Trump has done and claimed they imply tyranny but without analysis that means little. I’m not saying I disagree, I think Trump is indeed going to become a tyrant, just that such a bare article is not very convincing.

  31. I want to draw attention to my own paranoid-ish conspiracy theory. In my case, it is one of omission rather than an actual event.

    This past week, an ex-military man checked a legal gun onto an airplane in Alaska. he had the gun legally and he checked it legally. It is a daily occurrence and I have ZERO problem with it. He had recently had a spate of “hearing voices” and was treated at a VA hospital while claiming that the gov’t was forcing him to watch ISIS propaganda videos. He was CLEARLY in a mental break. He shot 10 plus people, killing 5.

    Here’s the conspiracy: Every media outlet that covered the events, every comment I read everywhere on the internet, every single person wanted to blame. Blame the TSA, blame security, blame the army, hey (one I agree with) blame the man for hurting people.

    At NO POINT have I heard anyone, anyone at all, state that he should have had his weapons pulled the minute he displayed the mental changes that he clearly was displaying. This is NOT anti-gun. I am not ranting about “the gun problem”. i am pissed because all i hear about in the discussion is “responsible gun ownership” (and I personally am a responsible gun owner). At what point is it clear that the person cannot be a responsible gun owner and at what point are the guns pulled from certain people?

    Also in Florida, a while back, a woman, who is a huge vocal gun rights proponent, gave her 4 year old son a loaded 44 magnum WHILE HE SAT IN HIS CARSEAT IN TRAFFIC. To keep him quiet. He shot through her driver’s seat, through her body, through the windshield etc…

    Is this the behavior of a responsible gun owner? has she not just demonstrated that she cannot be trusted with guns? Were her guns pulled?

    A two year old child shot himself in the face two days before Christmas, in Cleveland. His father, a POLICE officer, left his service weapon LOADED on his dresser and left the room. This man should sit behind a desk for the rest of his career because he clearly has demonstrated that he is irresponsible with a weapon.

    I could literally do this for the entirety of 2017 and not scratch the surface of the number of cases. PULL THEIR GUN LICENSES.

  32. Arkrid #32,

    I thought of that too. Good point. How did he come up with that list? Maybe he did a study of past tyrants. Maybe not. But this is the worst team ever; that’s for sure.

    Did you read about Ms. Crowley, a pick for National Security? She’s a bloody plagiarist! There is proof. (Here. Look.) And the Trump team says it’s a “distraction.” Now that is how tyrants operate. They deny everything, refuse to be held accountable.

    http://money.cnn.com/interactive/news/kfile-trump-monica-crowley-plagiarized-multiple-sources-2012-book/

  33. This past week, an ex-military man checked a legal gun onto an airplane in Alaska. he had the gun legally and he checked it legally. It is a daily occurrence and I have ZERO problem with it.

    Was it a pressurized plane? I’m not allowed to turn a mobile phone on on takeoff due to the unlikely but possible event that it could interfere with electronics on the aircraft. Likewise I cannot carry a knife on a plane, scissors, a razor, shampoo, and yet people are allowed to carry loaded weapons? There are enough incidences where some moron (with a gun permit) shots themselves or someone else – like the examples you’ve mentioned above. in a pressurized aircraft this could tear out a huge hole and take down a whole aircraft how can the risk be weighed against the possible consequence. Surely gun owners can accept that perhaps they should check their gun into luggage and have it safely stowed? How difficult is it to get a gun license?

    This all seems bizarre to me. Yes, I too have no problems with people owning and using guns, hunting etc. but I cannot fathom why they need to carry one on a plane. If people are so worried about personal security they need to put armed guards or undercover armed guards on planes, I fail to see how any person should be allowed to carry a loaded weapon on a plane particularly when we know what they can do with box cutters.

  34. @olgun #28

    The one that keeps coming back is the falling of the twin towers. The one real reason, which is the design and structure of the buildings, was mentioned once, here in the U.K., and I have not seen it since in any discussions.

    Nice to see this one revived from time to time. As far as I’ve read, there has never been a satisfactory explanation of the twin towers complete destruction all the way to the ground. NIST stopped at the point where they said “collapse was inevitable”, and didn’t even begin to describe (never mind explain) the detail of what ensued after the moment of “structural failure” in each building. But in these days of fake news and politically selected “truth”, nobody cares, do they? More and more I see the lack of “closure” on this event as a major contributor to the current dismal attitude to factual evidence, and the ignoring or slandering of all politically unwelcome testimony.

    Or maybe it goes further back, to the unfortunate association (by the well-meaning Al Gore) of climate change with Democrats, so that Republicans could deny it on principle.

  35. @Reckless #36

    The gun was in checked-in baggage, not hand baggage, and it was not loaded. Hence it complied with the rules around transporting firearms. The shooter collected his baggage, and went into a toilet where he loaded the gun with ammunition presumably also from his checked-in baggage.

    The question of “why was he still allowed a gun” was sort-of addressed in address by FBI, where the speaker mentioned that the bar for declaring someone mentally unfit to retain a firearms license was extremely high, and this shooter hadn’t reached it, despite turning himself in to FBI and revealing his mental state. That is really the Big Question, how insane must you be to get your gun taken away? Seems the NRA has this one settled to its own satisfaction: more insane than the craziest of our members.

    No, I’m not anti-gun in particular. Just – as everyone says they agree to – no guns for crazies. Trouble is, it seems in the US the lunatics are already running the asylum.

  36. @OP- Sometimes it seems that Americans will believe anything. And what we know as true or not true these days can depend on our political point of view.

    It seems among Trump followers, this even applies to counting numbers in crowds by comparing photographs! 🙂

    The world’s media are ALL conspiring to delegitimize the “brilliant” Trump and his team! (allegedly).

  37. @OP – Belief in conspiracies largely depends on political identity

    The world’s media are ALL conspiring to delegitimize the “brilliant” Trump and his team! (allegedly).

    . . . . and a lot of Trump sheeples are still lapping up his paranoid delusions about the world-wide conspiracies of the media, scientists, Democrats, foreign governments, judges, and other users of facts, reason, and evidence, who keep embarrassing him by asking awkward questions and challenging his whimsical notions, reckless behaviour, and habitual lying!

  38. Meanwhile the levels of comical denial and self delusion continue in the spotlight of the world’s press!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38998362

    US President Donald Trump has launched a ferocious attack on the media while defending his record during his first weeks in office.

    Mr Trump appeared in a 76-minute press conference where he told reporters their level of dishonesty was out of control.

    He cited coverage of his campaign’s alleged contacts with Moscow.

    Critics say his stymied travel ban and the firing of a top adviser point to a White House in chaos.

    But the president used his speech to tout his fulfilment of campaign promises, and said his administration was a “fine-tuned machine”.

    An event that began with Mr Trump announcing his new choice for labour secretary escalated into a blistering attack on the media.

    He charged them with downplaying his achievements after he “inherited a mess at home and abroad”.

    When pressed about claims made in the US media that his campaign staff had been in contact with Russian officials during the campaign, Mr Trump replied “nobody that I know of” had done so.

    “Russia is fake news. This is fake news put out by the media,” he added.

    There are cross-party calls for a congressional investigation already looking into Russia’s alleged interference in the election to be expanded to include the Michael Flynn affair.

    Mr Trump returned to criticism of the media throughout Thursday’s exchange with reporters, but contended he was “having a good time”.

    “Tomorrow, they will say, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.’ I’m not ranting and raving,” he declared.

    “I’m just telling you. You know, you’re dishonest people. But I’m not ranting and raving. I love this.”

    Does this egotistical dim-wit not realise, that the seekers of facts and accurate records, have his ranting and raving on video, and rational people are not impressed by his pseudo-authoritative assertions and denials of the evidence before their eyes, – or do his delusion-blinkers just edit such aspects of reality out of his mind!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39000118 – In a heated exchange between Newsnight’s Evan Davis an aide to President Trump, both the presenter and the BBC were accused of “fake news”.

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