A final post from Mr Cake, just in time for the 500 limit... Thanks, Don.
On September 12th 2001, the day after the hideous crimes in the U.S., I was struck by the thought that, in the internet age, the inevitable conspiracy theories would literally be half-way round the world while truth was still getting its boots on. Sure enough, in the following days and weeks the first mushrooms of controlled demolitions, phantom planes and new pearl harbors all started to sprout up within the generous and fertile bullshit of the internet.
Except, it's unfair to blame the internet. The internet is just a tool of communication, and like bad work-men everywhere we do insist on blaming our tools. It would be a great help if we actually understood what we are trying to achieve by communication, in the same way that a builder knows how to lay foundations and a farmer knows how to rotate his crops. In short, communication always works as:
And so, clearly, better information = better idea. Doesn't it?
There now follows a rough practical guide to the world of conspiracy theory discussion. With a Scotsman.
Imagine, if you will entertaining a gentleman from the Isle of Arran who has decided to inform you that the Apollo missions didn't, in fact, occur. The important thing is to TAKE HIS IDEA SERIOUSLY and ask some questions to get more information. Try to accept the possibility that his idea is true and try to ask and check to ensure you understand his idea.
You might want to ask the following (answers below.):
1. How many men does Nasa claim have walked on the moon?
2. Which Apollo mission was the first to orbit the moon?
3. How many space-craft landed on the moon on the same day that Neil Armstrong made his famous landing?
4. How did Mr Van Allen describe the Fox TV special that repeated the notion that radiation in the Van Allen belts would be deadly to astronauts on their way to the moon?
5. How long is a lunar day?
6. Where on the moon did Apollo 11 land?
The Scotsman may well admit that he knows not the answers to any of the questions. In which case you are clearly entitled to ask:" So, let me get this straight. You're saying that the Apollo missions, WHICH YOU CLEARLY KNOW FUCK-ALL ABOUT, never happened?
At this point, the Scotsman may well make the following beautifully- illuminating statement:" Well, I'm not really interested in it anyway."
Overall, a very simple and basic problem is that we live in a culture that encourages people to have no interest in their OWN ideas, let alone those of others. Thus the internet becomes a huge duck-pond where you can easily find a group of like-minded Mandarins and quack at each other to your heart's content.
This wouldn't necessarily be such a problem, but the pond is shrinking and becoming more poisonous, the Mallards want to kill anyone who isn't green, and very soon everybody's going to be fighting over water.
2. Apollo 8.
3. 2: The U.S. "Eagle" Lunar Module, and, in a forgotten foot-note of history, The Soviet Union's un-manned Luna 15.
5. About 28 days. (Depending on your definition of a lunar day.)
6. The Sea of Tranquility. Or, if you prefer, that secret sound-stage they used in Burbank California. BUT WHY WOULD YOU?