Saturday, June 17, 2006

Who Goes There?

Everyone has bad habits. One of mine is trolling through conspiracy theory sites online. I love how some people put together the wackiest notions, and sometimes it’s laugh-out-loud funny, although it’s a bit unnerving how much the Democrats seem to be getting serious ideas from these places. Anyway, the basic requirement for any conspiracy theory site seems to be that you start with a JFK Assassination conspiracy theory. I have to admit that I myself have played a bit with the Dealey Plaza scenario, but it’s tricky because if you talk or write about the thing, you quickly find that you are expected to either believe that Oswald did it all by himself, no matter what common sense or the evidence tells you, or else it has to be some deep conspiracy covering decades and several varieties of secret government coups, again never mind what the evidence or common sense says. I can say, after years of looking at the available evidence and thinking things through, that I don’t know. Yes, people are allowed to say they don’t know.

But the thing that I found interesting today, is that it can be really difficult for a website to hold a civil discussion on this sort of thing. One place I found was making an effort to be scholarly about it, asking folks to register before making comments, to cite their sources, and so on. But they also wanted everyone to submit a biography and photograph when they registered, so the site owner could verify their identity to his satisfaction. And that just made me laugh out loud.

First off, how many people do you know, in this age of identity theft, who are keen to give out a lot of personal information, just so they can post on a public site? I know I would not be comfortable giving out that kind of information to a stranger. But also, let’s say just for a minute that you really are onto something, and so the occasional CIA officer or FBI agent wants to post something important? Again, if they want to keep their job they are not about to blab out their identity to someone who would be more than likely to bring them grief – if “Fox Mulder” had really existed, he would have been busted in the first season for ignoring the Bureau’s regulations. But it works the other way as well; if I were working as a domestic intelligence officer – and we do have those – and wanted to infiltrate this site in order to see what they were up to – it would not be a big deal for DHS or any of a dozen agencies to put together a believable cover, complete with photos and references. Frankly, with Photoshop and a few hours with Lexis Nexis, I could create a fake cover myself. The guy running the site was a true neuf to think that demanding a bio and pic would serve as any kind of security. So it serves as the opposite of what he wanted; it would annoy anyone concerned about their personal privacy, while doing nothing to slow down any real spies. So the lesson for today is to trust your gut, watch out for paranoia more than the Boogieman, and don’t believe everything you read.


JAINPHX said...

You know your right about the Kennedy assasination.I dont know either but the simple fact that Arlen Specter(then council for the select commitee) was the author of the single bullet Balogny,sort of makes me think of conspiracy.

Cynical Observer said...

"Yes, people are allowed to say they don’t know."

Ah, if only more people could say that! And then if they could go the next step and say that they really cannot form a strong opinion without all the facts - why, we'd have a much better world.