Sunday, November 07, 2010

Debunked! Conspiracy Theories, Urban Legends and Evil Plots of the 21st Century by Richard Roeper

Richard Roeper is a reporter, and he's used to questioning every aspect of the news that the papers see fit to print. There have always been conspiracy theories about the stories reported in the papers and which we see on Television. But how many of them are really true? As an old Newspaperman used to say, "If your mother says she loves you, check the facts."

Roeper points out that most conspiracies involve things that would never work in real life. Thousands of people working in concert to make something happen or not happen, all without talking, all without one of them chickening out or giving up the game or confessing to someone about knowing what is going on. And despite the messy and complicated world we live in, Conspiracy Theorists aren't satisfied with that. They must always imagine one with more layers of complexity and even more strangeness, where there are never coincidences, only well-planned operations that never have anyone talking about them, and only a special few even know they exist or happen.

This book covers 27 of the most well-known conspiracy Theories in areas as wide ranging as sports, the media, entertainment, evil plots, politics, miracles and culture. Everything from 9/11 was the result of a well-planned conspiracy to "Barack Obama is a Radical Muslim!" and "Virgin Mary in a Grilled Cheese sandwich".

I have to say that some of my favorites are covered in this book. 9/11 is so well know, and so many Theories abound as to "What really Happened" that reading this book made me laugh. Particularly funny are the assertions that melting steel collapsed the World Trade Center, or bombs. The truth is that the fires inside WC7 didn't have to melt the steel for it to collapse. The fires were burning at 1500 degrees. At that temperature, steel loses 75% of its strength. To point to this, during the civil war, the North used to destroy railroad steel by burning the ties and rails in the fire, then twisting the ties around trees when they were hot enough. Hot steel doesn't hold its shape well, and it doesn't hold much, period. Think about that the next time someone claims that the fires weren't hot enough to melt the steel and that bombs were the real reason the buildings at the WTC collapsed.

Next is the "War on Christmas" that conservatives are always claiming. If the War on Christmas people are correct, there is a massive conspiracy to make Christmas disappear. They expressed contempt for the 2005 White House Christmas Card, because it said "Happy Holidays" and the conspiracy people cast aspersions on Bush's supposed Christianity, claiming that no other Holiday Card from the White House ever exchanged "Holiday" for "Christmas". Except that of Dwight Eisenhower, whose 1958 card did just that. In truth the "War on Christmas" is a humbug, drummed up by people trying to sell you something or get higher ratings. Have you ever noticed that the "War on Christmas" stories all come from small towns and not big urban centers? Why is that? Why not go for an attack on Christmas in a big way in an urban area? And they are never stories about getting people to stop celebrating the holiday, just on some small holiday tradition, like having a Santa in a school. Isn't Christmas supposed to be about Christ? Why are Christians up in arms about the pagan symbols like the holiday tree and stuff, like Santa, that came about long after the true meaning of Christmas? It doesn't make much sense.

Neither side is immune to idiocy when it comes to politics, from the Vince Foster Clinton Murder Theory to the Obama as a Radical Muslim one, to the "Strange Bulge in Bush's clothing at the Presidential Debates" story Roeper gives both sides heck and points out why all the conspiracy theories are ridiculous. And here's a further question to ask these conspiracy theorists. Supposedly, people are killing those who know the real truth about these conspiracies. They will kill to protect the knowledge. So why is the theorist still alive when so many others who are or were supposedly in the know, are dead?

I found this a wonderfully interesting book, pouring scorn and derision exactly where it is needed with tales like these. After reading Roeper's book, few if any people would subscribe to these theories or believe the stories without any proof. The questions are asked and answered, and the stupid things that some people believe will surprise you. But like a blast of cold, fresh air, Roeper points out questions and facts that directly refute the hoaxes. It may be a bumpy ride, but this is one you won't regret taking, especially if you have heard way too many conspiracy stories over the years. Highly recommended.

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