Today I commented on “The Sovereign Independent”‘s rant about the Irish Independents’ piece on conspiracy theories. As I was quoted by Ed in the article on behalf of Skeptic Ireland, the Sovereign really let rip and told me I was a New World Order shill. Despite the furious tone of the Sovereign article and ominous threats that I would be “held accountable” for my “inaction”, I wanted to respond to the author Neil and engage in debate. Sadly, the entire comment thread was deleted, so I’m going to post my comments here instead.
Hi Neil. I thought I’d take a moment to respond to some of you statements here, as you are accusing me – amongst other things – of being a “disinfo agent” and / or “incomprehensively naive fool”. This is the same logic used by proponents of alternative therapies; if you are critical of their therapies then you must – by default – be be a paid advocate of “Big Pharma” or have been brainwashed by them.
Well, I’m no fan of the sometimes shady tactics of Big Pharma (see the book “Bad Science”), the ham-fisted propaganda efforts of governments or the ad-hoc reality fabricated in the News Factory (see the book Flat Earth News). But neither am I swayed by the evidence put forward of the New World Order conspiracy, even if you type the word evidence in block capitals and in bold.
Although there are some interesting nuggets on sites such as yours that are worthy of more inquiry, I see it the bulk of the evidence put forward for the nefarious master plan as either circumstantial, reliant on cherry-picked quotes, or confirmation bias. Just because there are inconsistencies in official narrative(s) does not make the alternative interpretations automatically correct. Are there shady goings on and plots out there? Surely. Hidden motives? I don’t doubt it. Is there corruption? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean all conspiracy theories are true, and it certainly doesn’t mean I’ll accept what you purport to be evidence without critical analysis. And that is where this whole movement fails, and starts to resemble religious thinking.
Buying into the New World Order thesis wholesale is not – not – critical thinking, because when you do put it to critical analysis or point out logical inconsistencies, you get called a Shill and / or Sheep. You may as well call me a Heretic. I once heard Alex Jones call Noam Chomsky a “NWO Shill” because of his views on gun control. Then he repeatedly called Julian Assange an “MK Ultra Zombie” because none of his wikileaks corroborated the New World Order narrative. It is the same way Creationists try to dismiss vast swathes of evidence for evolution, by invoking a conspiracy or cover-up.
Certainly, if you’re advocating that AIDS is manmade, or that Climate Change is a sinister plot despite the bulk of scientists saying that it is happening*, it tells me the movement at the very least has a faulty bullshit detector. Which is a shame, because what the world desperately needs is more motivated, clear thinking people who really do question everything.
*If 99 doctors said you had cancer, and one said you had a harmless fatty lump and not to worry, would you trust the one over the rest of them? That is not to say that climate change has not been politicised, or that scientists have not at times overstated findings to get funding, but that would show a far more nuanced, complicated, and far more human situation.
Sadly the only thing Neil responded to here was the comments on climate change, was once again called a Shill, and was warned that if I tried to post any other comments they would be deleted. Regardless, I genuinely wanted to talk about this. Another commentor posted links to this book – Ecoscience – and this report by the Club of Rome, alongside some cherry picked quotes. My reply was thus;
Paddy, I’m going to go out on a limb and say you’ve not read either of these books. Your quote its missing a sentence in the middle that adds some important extra context. Adding it backs in makes it clear that it is not, as the above quote implies, evidence of them concocting an imaginary enemy.
“In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill. In their totality and their interactions these phenomena do constitute a common threat which must be confronted by everyone together. But in designating these dangers as the enemy, we fall into the trap, which we have already warned readers about, namely mistaking symptoms for causes. All these dangers are caused by human intervention in natural processes, and it is only through changed attitudes and behaviour that they can be overcome. The real enemy then is humanity itself.”
There’s also another quote, from pages 71-72, about both the shortcomings of democracy and also the dangers of rejecting it. So, not exactly a blueprint for global totalitarianism.
“Democracy is not a panacea. It cannot organize everything and it is unaware of its own limits. These facts must be faced squarely, sacrilegious though this may sound. In its present form, democracy is no longer well suited for the tasks ahead. The complexity and the technical nature of many of today’s problems do not always allow elected representatives to make competent decisions at the right time. Few politicians in office are sufficiently aware of the global nature of the problems facing them and little, if any, awareness of the interactions between the problems. Generally speaking, informed discussion on the main political, economic and social issues take place on radio and television rather than in Parliament, to the detriment of the latter. The activities of political parties are so intensely focused on election deadlines and party rivalries that they end up weakening the democracy they are supposed to serve This confrontational approach gives an impression that party needs come before national interest. Strategies and tactics seem more important than objectives and often a constituency is neglected as soon as it is gained. With the current mode of operation. Western democracies are seeing their formal role decline and public opinion drifting away from elected representatives. However, the crisis in the contemporary democratic system must not be allowed to serve as an excuse for rejecting democracy.” page 71-7
“Ecoscience” is another regularly quote-mined book, especially on right wing blogs. In particularly, the quotes by John Holdren that he made as part of a discussion on abortion, that are taken out of context of the discussion and stated like they are his personal opinions.
Sadly, after this reply, Neil deleted all the comments but cheerily informs us that:
Shill article coming shortly!
We don’t have time to waste on shills, trolls or any other hobgoblins. Your masters don’t give a damn about you either.
So I’m assuming this wil be a feature-length ad homenim attack on me, avoiding all of the points raised above. Sadly, the above activity really just confirms what I originally wrote, that you cannot criticise the evidence put forward in conspiracy circles without being branded either a Sheep or a Shill, or if that doesn’t work, simply silencing you. From a movement who ostensibly advocates free speech, this is a pretty sad state of affairs.