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By pure coincidence I started to write this article on September 11 and almost everywhere I looked on the Internet there were people regurgitating old and generating new theories about what really went on in Manhattan on that date in 2001. There was competition for the hearts and minds of the population though, as the "debate" about water fluoridation was also raging following an announcement by my state government that they might take back the responsibility for fluoridation from local councils and mandate this forced medication and mass poisoning over the wishes of the locals. Like most chemical scare campaigns there is little science in the anti-fluoride rhetoric and lots of emotional appeal to ignorance and fear. Fluoride is a chemical and chemicals are ipso facto bad, not to mention it being industrial waste and being invented by the Nazis for mind control. My suggestion that there was no need to fluoridate water in regional areas because it was more effective to use the chemtrails behind airliners to control the minds of a sparse population met with some approval.
Talk of things like fluoridation, aspartame, mobile phone radiation, sugar, chemtrails and the Illuminati control of the pharmaceutical industry tend to bubble along constantly with the occasional surge in popularity when a new book is published or some "scientist" holds a press conference to announce another breakthrough which overthrows scientific knowledge. Conspiracies related to specific historical events peak at anniversaries, and authors try to synchronise the publication of new investigations with the dates in the confidence that they can reach prime time television audiences because the news programs are already running the story.
Iíve written before about the amazing inconsistencies in the various theories about 9/11 and the way that true believers can accept amazing contradictions, believing them to all to be simultaneously true. A beautiful example of this phenomenon appeared on this anniversary. An individual posted two consecutive messages to the Usenet group alt.conspiracy about two minutes apart. They were:
Two minutes apart. Both believed to be true.
Another coincidence is that this article is being written for the November edition of the magazine, and that month sees the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F Kennedy. Not only is this an anniversary or even a decadal anniversary, but this is a Golden Jubilee of one of the most fertile grounds for conspiracy theories ever. I expect to see many books and television documentaries rehashing the old theories and maybe even suggesting new ones. The words "grassy knoll" will be repeated ad nauseum (has the word "knoll" any other context these days?) as will the discussion of how hard it is to shoot someone when you are a trained shooter. Conspiracists will pray thanks to their deities that Oswald had been trained as a rifleman and had travelled to the USSR and that Jack Ruby had shot him. After all, who ever heard of an ex-soldier travelling to a foreign country or a gangster carrying a handgun in Dallas, Texas? And like the clever way that the Chinese managed to run the Vietnam War without a single Chinese soldier or piece of equipment ever being detected, there were absolutely no Cubans in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
There is an esoteric coincidence involving the Kennedy assassination and 9/11. When I studied psychology the example used to illustrate "flashbulb memory" (total recall of a traumatic event) was "Where were you when you heard that Kennedy had been shot?". (At my friend Rayís place, with two other school friends.) Now that you have to explain to youngsters who Kennedy was (after explaining what a flashbulb is) the question is "Where were you when you heard about the World Trade Center?". (Walking towards the television to switch off the late night news.)
And dangerous chemicals? At the weekend I absent-mindedly reached across the spout of a boiling kettle and suffered a reaction to dihydrogen monoxide vapour. Nasty things, chemicals. They should be banned.
This article was published as the Naked Skeptic column in the November 2013 edition of Australasian Science
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