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Over the years, I've written a number of columns noting my many problems with conspiracy theories. Those involved protested the word "theory" and, respecting that, I have long been referring to them as "conspiracy hobbyists."

In June and July 2007, I wrote four columns on this topic. My position was attacked and defended in comments posted in response to those columns. It has now been almost three full years since those columns ran. In four months, it will be the ninth anniversary of September 11. In six months, it will be the 47th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.

There have been thousands of books, papers, and online postings by researchers on those topics. It is probably not an exaggeration but an understatement to point out that millions of hours have been invested in these projects. Nothing has come of any of it. I stand by what I wrote below.

(Rejecting the conspiracy hobbyists' take does not mean accepting either the official report on 9/11 or the Warren Commission on Kennedy. One can distrust all of these.)

From the June 22, 2007, column:

"On Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas. In the 44 years since, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of books written about it; thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people have been involved in investigating the assassination. There are new books being published and new revelations offered every year.

"There has not been one concrete, political consequence as a result of all this activity. There is not a generally agreed-upon theory of what happened, but instead dozens of them, often in conflict with one another. It is likely that this case will never be solved because, to a significant extent, theorists have created an environment in which there is no certainty. No matter what evidence is produced, some significant segment of the conspiracy-theory community will dispute and attack it."

From the July 13, 2007, column:

"If there was a conspiracy, it hardly matters. More than 40 years after President Kennedy's assassination, a national and international network of those conspiracy theorists is still hard at it – but in those four-plus decades, there has not been even one real-world consequence. The 9/11 conspiracy theorists will prove just as fruitful. When so many people concentrate so intensely on one event, so many relatively meaningless details are elevated, and so many theories developed that, rather than taking any steps toward clarity, they render the situation hopelessly muddied.

"Conspiracy theorists in general have proven to be more hobbyists than activists. It is important to note that there have been conspiracies that have been uncovered throughout history, usually by journalists, politicians, political activists, and/or ideological critics. By definition, one who exposes a conspiracy is not necessarily a conspiracy theorist."

From the June 22, 2007, column:

Here are most of – but not all – the comments from Chronicle readers on 9/11-conspiracy doubters.

"Know the Truth and Ye Shall Agree With Us!

"'The only thing preventing you from becoming more informed is you.'

"'Just remember the lies and deceptions kid only you.'

"'Americans have been exposed to a massive litany of lies and warped thinking led by a neocon supporting media. You live your 1984 now.'

"'[T]here is plenty of government corruption and mismanagement to address, true, but it all seems trivial in comparison to the criminality and evil evidenced by the home-grown perpetrators of 9/11.'

"'It is difficult to get a man to consider something when his salary depends upon his not considering it. Are the implications scary? Yes, in fact they are so scary by design, few are willing to consider them.'"

Comments posted online about the June and July 2007 columns (admittedly, there's a bit of stacking the deck here, as not included are any of the posts from those who lined up to dispute the conspiracy gang's assertions):

"In addition to suggesting analysis of conspiracies is a fruitless waste of time, you also do not provide heuristics for knowing which stories are ones we should accept blindly. I could go on at length about how poorly thought-out this article is, but I don't think it deserves the time."

"'Rants from an increasingly bitter and pointless old coot' As your columns have become increasingly irritating, I've tried not to read them, but when I saw you were ranting against 'conspiracy theorists' I had to read at least some of it. I know it's a lot of pressure having to do whatever it is you do for a living (something about providing welfare for the Moser family by selling ads for porn and escort services), but chill out and set down the broad brush. Not every person who enjoys the pastime of questioning the spin that is spoon-fed to us is the stereotyped conspiracy theorist that you depicted in your latest screed. I'm no Alex Jones worshiper, but I think he has a lot more to contribute to society than somebody who won't give up the unfounded conspiracy theory that Ralph Nader is to blame for Bush being president."

"If Black gave anymore credence to C.T's the advertizers in the chron would jump ship, there would be a huge brouhaha and he'd probably lose his job over it. Just remember how free we all are and how perfect our system is."

"In reading this thread, whatever one believes, the overwhelming fact is that the 'nuts' are far better writers than their fervent opposers, on many levels, syntactic and otherwise.

"Many many questions have been raised with practically no direct refutation, just standard McCarthyistic 'love it or leave it' rhetoric.

"The funniest is someone saying Bush, Cheney and company aren't evil, just 'stupid and incompetent.' Au contraire!

"Their brilliance and extreme competence is evident every single day we taxpayers foot a bill of about 260 million dollars for the Iraq war, for years now."

"From the Page Two column – 'Still, more than half a decade into the Bush administration, we've seen the gutting of the social safety net, an assault on minority rights, judicial attempts to limit the rights of women, and a consistent, broad-based assault on the Constitution. This is not even to mention the whole Iraq debacle: lies, misinformation, graft, corruption, and theft. Concentrating on 9/11 seems like a dilettantish activity.'

"The war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 'Global War on Terror', the Patriot Acts and Military Commissions Act, the illegal wiretaps and wholesale data mining, the policies of extraordinary rendition and torture, the policy of preemption, the no-fly lists and watch lists and other policies used to target political dissent, etc., ARE ALL USING THE 9/11 ATTACKS AS JUSTIFICATION! To expose the 9/11 attacks as a false flag operation is to remove this justification.

"Mr. Black fails to address any of the specific evidence that not only undermines the official narrative but implicates a network within our government and military."

"Yes, yes ... I understand that it's very insulting to you to be lectured by impertinent posters on this forum and by others elsewhere, and that the implications of our 'lectures' is that you have been deceived by 'authoritative voices' into believing an incredible lie – a 'meta-lie' on which many subsequent lies are founded. This is phenomenally abusive to your ego.

"Forgive me."

"Open your mind and get out your history book, sheeple. I have one word for you to consider:


"My grandparents are Germans who came here in 1939. When I asked them why they left their beautiful country to come here, to live dirt poor for years, they told me they saw what was happening and knew the outcome would be horrific. They were right. It's a shame we cannot open our eyes to what is before us, just because it sounds implausible or it's now 'unpatriotic' to think our beloved Fuhrer would do anything to destroy our country and our lives. "Sound crazy? Yeah, it may be but that's what is so great about Amerka – for now, we can still speak and think without prosecution/persecution. Some of you may do well to exercise that right ... before it's too late.

"Remember the basic premise in this consideration: Who benefits from the 9/11 attacks?"

Dear readers, hobbyists, and fellow sheeple,

I have one word for you: "Plastics." Other than that, let's all meet back here, say at the beginning of the summer of 2013.

Sadly perhaps, it does seem likely that the hobbyists will still be laboring in the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored. The Kennedy assassination folks have been at it for decades now, so I expect the 9/11 gang won't be much different.

There is no need to write in to note my ignorance, blindness, obvious corruption, and inability to handle the truth. Just prove me wrong. Accomplish something.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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conspiracy, conspiracy hobbyists, conspiracy theorists, conspiracy theories, Kennedy assassination, 9 / 11, Austin Chronicle comments

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