As one who nurses a few conspiracy theories of his own -- but only ones that fit the Seven Secret Rules of Plausibility ;-) -- I actually find most of the run-of-the-mill-kneejerk stories, concocted by modern loonies (not only on the far right, but also plenty on the far-left and even far-out) to be just plain dumb. They are nearly always based on several self-flattering premises:
1) that the powers who are supposedly performing the conniving-nefarious activity are nearly all-powerful, nearly all-knowing and have unlimited supplies of eager, willing, compliant, conscience-free, yet staggeringly competent henchmen, who somehow commit their acts with perfect timing, without a glitch, hiccup or anyone deciding to blab... and
2) that somehow, in a world filled with skilled scientists, cops, investigators, journalists. intelligence agents and dedicated enemies of the (purported) conspirators, somehow it is the believer and his or her close-aligned pals who are the only ones smart enough to see through the smoke and mirrors to the truth... and
3) that lots of people on this planet can be delusional crazy while vigorously denying it, yet nevertheless the True Believer proclaims, in serene confidence -- "I'm not one of those nuts!"
Days after Osama bin Laden's death, a wealth of conspiracy theories have been spun, claiming that Osama was actually a U.S. agent, that he had actually been dead for a decade, frozen in some super-secret location. Or that Osama is actually alive and well, being interrogated by U.S. officials. Or possibly that President Obama invented Osama's death to boost his re-election campaign, or as a distraction from Trump pushing the "birther" conspiracy (one conspiracy to kill another)...
There are powerful psychological drivers behind conspiracies: A need to explain one’s own poverty and failure. The allure of enticing pattern recognition. Above all, the warm feeling we get from being in the know…from being part of the “elect group” that can see what’s going on! There are no richer mental drug-highs than self-righteous indignation, resentment, and contempt for fools. See my article on Conspiracies and Wishful Thinking and my videos: Ten Super-Secret Rules of Conspiracy Theories.)
Self-delusion is the greatest of all human talents.
=== IS IT ALL A MATTER OF PERSONALITY? ===
This seems especially pertinent, given America’s recent swerve down Kookoo Lane. Aha! Belief in Conspiracies linked to Machiavellian Mindset -- a firm belief that "they did it" is linked to the concept that "I would do it". It's exactly what I would have written, if they hadn't systematically stolen my ideas. Wait, am I confusing conspiracy theorizing with paranoia? Easy to do... except when the conspiracies are real, but only a few can see them!
Or might it all be chemical? In work that gives cranky teenagers another reason to blame their parents for all life's woes, researchers have uncovered a genetic link to happiness. The study of more than 2,500 Americans revealed two variants of a gene that influenced how satisfied – or dissatisfied – people were with their lot. Those born with two long versions of the gene (one is passed down from each parent) were more likely to declare themselves "very satisfied" with life than those who inherited two short versions.
=== TECHNO PARANOIA? ===
Your GPS-enabled cell phone allows your location to be tracked at all times. Even the photos you take on such a device have a location-coding attached when you upload them to the internet, pinpointing the precise coordinates of your home or where you had that weekend tryst.
Can arresting officers search the arrested person's cellphone, downloading everything from address books, photos and websites to thousands of texts... plus everything the phone touched in the Cloud... all without a warrant, because the phone was on your immediate person, and thus "like" a pocket or a purse or a set of keys? Or is the phone something much more? A "portal" into your whole life, meriting a warrant to rummage through?
And now -- they lied to us! Was The Last Typewriter Factory Closed? Not Really.
==== UPLIFT-RELATED? ===
Elaine Walker (lovely voice!) wrote and performed two songs based on my novels, Sundiver and Earth. This was 1992.. but they still sound amazing. Elaine’s songs are linked from here.
I’ve been honored with musical interpretations (http://www.davidbrin.com/games.htm) of my work by composers Brian Carroll, Richard Stoops and Katherine Gilliam, by the groups Matucana and Treebeard, by Tom Smith and at least two others whose CDs I seem to have missplaced ;-( Then there are the works by amatueur and semi-pro artists ... and tributes and riffs by fan writers. Terrific stuff!
Uplift has already begun... Birds that prosper on the city streets have larger brains than their pastoral relations. So it seems that novel environments, including urban landscapes, may select for street smarts—at least for birds that flock toward the city lights. Heck we already knew that about rats...
A new page all about the Uplift Universe..
=== GENERAL COOL STUFF -- (with a hint of paranoia) ===
Former planet Pluto may have grown a comet-like tail -- a wispy trail of Carbon monoxide stretching fourth of the way to its moon Charon
Robotic probe measures methane trapped on seafloor -- the first time measurements made in situ. Observations support larger estimates of methane stored in world's oceans: 10,000 gigatonnes of carbon, twice as much as in conventional fossil fuels.
Folks referred me to an article on "io9" entitled "Are we surrounded by Dyson Spheres?" - -the notion that much of the missing Dark Matter that may bind the galaxies invisibly might be made of great big macho habitats completely surrounding stars. Tho I show this in Heaven's Reach, I'm very skeptical. I was mentally gathering half a dozen big refutations - then read the article. Dave Goldberg did a great job analyzing the idea himself. Great science reporting!
Can we blame our crazy ancestors? New research suggests that says Homo heidelbergensis is the common forebear of both humans and Neanderthals.
Even not knowing a word of Serbian, you should enjoy this animated science fiction film! Seriously. Serbia? There have been great amateur animators there for years. But this is CRAZY! These guys deserve major studio. support. Who's been keeping talent like this squashed? Do I need to ask?
===Miscellaneous But Important! ===
Ethanol blamed for record food prices worldwide
One leaf could power a house?
Nautilus X is getting renewed aerospace news media attention. NASA suggests using Bigelow Aerospace inflatable modules to assemble Nautilus X, and the spacecraft can incorporate propulsion systems to enable high delta-V missions.
Going back to paranoia on a larger scale! From the Washington Times: How the U.S. Treasury Department froze Libyan assets. They expected $100 million, but found over $30 billion -- mostly all in one bank. To put it in perspective: In 2009, Libya had a gross domestic product of $62 billion. Anybody remember the “Helvetian War” from my novel EARTH?
=== AND FINALLY, BACK TO UNDERLYING REASONS FOR PARANOIA ===
"Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things." -- Douglas Adams
Calm down. Remember, the thing that you are trying to defend... against those who are conspiring to bring it down... is a calm, enlightened, pragmatic civilization filled with smart problem-solvers, who appreciate knowledge, wisdom and skill... and who negotiate with one another.
See also: Conspiracies and Wishful Thinking