Gatwick Airport conspiracy theories

One of the world’s busiest airports, Gatwick, has been closed down by a few drones. Of course this means conspiracy theories galore as people wonder how one of the UK’s main transport and infrastructure hubs can’t deal with drones, so we have theories from aliens.to terrorism to kids twatting about to Theresa May lurking in the bushes with a remote control trying to distract the public from Brexit.

Here’s a good idea of the online chat.

All this japery hides the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are having their Christmas breaks ruined while government barely move in order to try to stop the problem. And there is a point to be made that this disruption comes three months ahead of Brexit and were it not a time of the year when many people aren’t working, the disruption would be vastly worse.

No be it aliens, ‘false flag’ or simple incompetency the fact it with Brexit coming, Gatwick shows how desperately unprepared we are and how our government fails to do the most basic jobs of government. We are basically, fucked.

Unless it is aliens in which case we might have a chance of being saved…

Back, and to the Left-50 Years of JFK

50 years ago today John F Kennedy, president of the United States was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, in Texas and that was that.

Actually it wasn’t. It was the start of 50 years of conspiracies large and small, and it probably kick started modern culture’s fixation with the Conspiracy Theory. It did help that the actual murder of JFK was captured in a shaky bit of film shot by Abraham Zapruder, which even though it’s 50 years old, is still an astonishing powerful, not to mention shocking bit of footage. However it would take 12 years for the people of America and the world to see this bit of film as you can see from this remarkable bit of footage from 1975.

The Zapruder Film is a genuine snuff film. We watch someone die in it, and die quite horribly as they’re shot by one (two?) assassins. Frankly, I don’t believe the official line which give my past blog on Conspiracy Theories on 911, is probably a horrible bit of hypocrisy. Let me explain.

I’ve always been fascinated by JFK’s murder. That’s partly due to my parents being huge Americophiles, so when I was born one of the stories I was constantly told when growing up was about how distraught my mother especially was about JFK’s murder, and how she couldn’t believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the only person involved. She thought it was insane to think that. So when I was growing up I was steeped in JFK lore, and was probably a serious Conspiracy Nut in regards to this subject by the time I was 16.

As I grew older and read more and more on the subject I became (and remain) convinced JFK was killed by more than one person, however I became more interested with how this was affecting culture. Oliver Stone’s splendid, if somewhat mental, JFK, is a film I’ve seen dozens of times not only because it’s possibly one of the best edited films you’ll see but because it manages to capture that conspiracy insanity when it takes over from the real world.

Around the same time, DC Comics had published Pete Milligan’s excellent comic, Shade: The Changing Man, which started it’s run diving headfirst into JFK conspiracy theories, while indulging in wonderful flights of surrealism.

After Stone’s film, JFK was a important part of culture worldwide as a cultural myth, or at least, his murder was a folk tale where we could impose what we wanted to upon it, but there’s a human story in all this which is of a man being murdered not only in front of the world, but his wife. Those images of Jackie Kennedy scrambling on the back of her presidential car trying to scoop up her husbands skull are horrible, tragic and at the same time incredibly powerful as you don’t do that to someone who you don’t love.

So this 50th anniversary by all means continue as I will to insist JFK was killed by more than one person, but remember that there’s a human story at the heart of this. Remember that.

9/11 and conspiracies

Today is September the 11th, which means for an awful lot of people there’s an awful lot of mourning to do, or there’s people hiding behind the attacks to use ‘patriotism’ to further their cause and of course, it’s the day when conspiracy theorists come crawling out the woodwork to reveal how watching some 15 year old’s vlog on Youtube shows how it was an inside job, and that Bush and Blair were reptilian morphing aliens intent on creating a New World Order.

The problem is that most conspiracy theories focus on one incident, or something that can be endlessly dissected til in effect, it’s proof of a larger conspiracy by virtue of the smaller incident being ‘proved’ .

So for example, take this picture.

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It’s an Oasis bottle in a lump of grass. Looking at this picture you’re going to think it’s on the side of a motorway, or that it’s somewhere in an inner city or anything to ‘prove’ what you think when you see the picture for the first time. You might not be an expert in discarded drinks bottles, or grass but you’ve looked at it and it backs your opinion.

 

 

 

You don’t especially notice the bigger picture until you pan back.

 

 

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The bigger picture is irrelevant though because before you’ve informed yourself of it you’ve made your mind up based upon whatever limited information you have, not to mention what limited experience in fields which often taken the sort of scientific understanding that laymen can’t pick up quickly.

So you get a mix of confirmation bias, ignorance, misinformation or just enough science to make it seem sensible, but ask yourself how many of these theories have been peer reviewed by actual experts with years, if not decades in a field? How many stand up to more than two minutes of actual scrutiny?

As pointed out in this excellent Scientific American article, the word ‘theory’ in  this context does not mean the same thing as a scientific theory.

a conspiracy theory is not, of course, a theory in the scientific sense of the word. In science, a theory is an explanation of a phenomenon that has been substantiated through experiments and testing and has become accepted by most experts in the relevant field—the theory of relativity, say, or the theory of evolution. Conspiracy theorists propose, without having collected rigorous data to support their case, that powerful people or groups are secretly plotting to accomplish some sinister goal.

 

Of course these stories help ties up world events in a nice, cost knot and simplifies real world events in a way that creates an easy to grasp, even an exciting narrative. It’s always about finding the smoking gun, or some new bit of information as to who was on the Grassy Knoll that day nearly 50 years ago, or what type of knife Jack the Ripper used to carve up Mary Kelly and on and on.

This isn’t to say secret things happen that bleed into the open. They do, but things like the various conspiracies around 9/11 trivialise the loss of life, and some genuinely insult any decent person to the point of anger, but the fact is that 19 people flew planes into buildings which caused over 3000 people to die. No aliens. No government plots to fly holographic photon torpedoes into buildings. No hiding of victims in an island paradise. Just 19 people who had this one astonishing plan which worked for a variety of reasons, including the incompetence of an American government but not their complicity.

Thing is what’s a greater horror? That of a massive international conspiracy involving tens of thousands or 19 people with box cutters flying planes full of terrified innocent people into buildings? The former involves this building of a mythology to make sense of it, while the latter, the truth, is simply so fucking scary it beggars belief but thinking the former is true comforts some people while giving them an escape route from reality which is depressingly scary in it’s own right.

The world is often an amazingly complicated place, so that when we don’t understand it we often endeavour to simplify it in order to avoid asking questions which often don’t have an answer, or avoid the grim reality of what actually happened because fantasy is easier to explain than reality.