Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

It’s All Happening, and It’s All Connected

By Peter Bowditch

This spring sees the decadal anniversaries of two favourites among conspiracy theorists.

By pure coincidence I started to write this article on September 11 and almost everywhere I looked on the internet there were people regurgitating old and generating new theories about what really went on in Manhattan on that date in 2001.

There was competition for the hearts and minds of the population, though, as the “debate” about water fluoridation was also raging following an announcement that the NSW government might take back the responsibility for fluoridation from local councils and mandate this forced medication and mass poisoning over the wishes of the locals.

Like most chemical scare campaigns there is little science in the anti-fluoride rhetoric and lots of emotional appeal to ignorance and fear. Fluoride is a chemical, and chemicals are ipso facto bad, not to mention it being industrial waste and being invented by the Nazis for mind control. My suggestion that there was no need to fluoridate water in regional areas because it was more effective to use the chemtrails behind airliners to control the minds of a sparse population met with some approval.

Talk of things like fluoridation, aspartame, mobile phone radiation, sugar, chemtrails and the Illuminati’s control of the pharmaceutical industry tend to bubble along constantly, with an occasional surge in popularity when a new book is published or some “scientist” holds a press conference to announce another breakthrough that overthrows scientific knowledge. Conspiracies related to specific historical events peak at anniversaries, and authors try to synchronise the publication of new investigations with the dates in the confidence that they can reach prime time television audiences because the news programs are already running the story.

I’ve written before about the amazing inconsistencies in the various theories about 9/11 and the way that true believers can accept amazing contradictions, believing them to all to be simultaneously true. A beautiful example of this phenomenon appeared on this year’s anniversary. An individual posted two consecutive messages to the Usenet group alt.conspiracy about 2 minutes apart. They were:

President Barack Obama, being a Muslim, engineered discussion in Congress and the media about a possible invasion of Syria at this time to divert media attention away from the anniversary. He did this to prevent discussion of how his Muslim friends in Al Qaeda had been totally responsible for the surprise attack and atrocity, which was committed to damage the US government and draw world attention to the evil of US foreign policy.

The reason for President Bush’s moment of stunned silence when he was told was that it was not scheduled to happen yet and he had to consider the possibility that Dick Cheney (who was the real President) had gone rogue and had implemented a secret government plan designed to build public sympathy for an invasion of Iraq to seize control of that country’s oil reserves.

Two minutes apart. Both believed to be true.

Another coincidence is that this article is being written for the November edition of the magazine, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Not only is this an anniversary or even a decadal anniversary, but this is a Golden Jubilee of one of the most fertile grounds for conspiracy theories ever. I expect to see many books and television documentaries rehashing the old theories and maybe even suggesting new ones. The words “grassy knoll” will be repeated ad nauseum (has the word “knoll” any other context these days?), as will the discussion of how hard it is to shoot someone when you are a trained shooter. Conspiracists will pray thanks to their deities that Oswald had been trained as a rifleman and had travelled to the USSR, and that Jack Ruby had shot him. After all, who ever heard of an ex-soldier travelling to a foreign country or a gangster carrying a handgun in Dallas, Texas? And like the clever way that the Chinese managed to run the Vietnam War without a single Chinese soldier or piece of equipment ever being detected, there were absolutely no Cubans in Dallas on 22 November 1963.

There is an esoteric coincidence involving the Kennedy assassination and 9/11. When I studied psychology the example used to illustrate “flashbulb memory” (total recall of a traumatic event) was “Where were you when you heard that Kennedy had been shot?”. (At my friend Ray’s place, with two other school friends.) Now that you have to explain to youngsters who Kennedy was (after explaining what a flashbulb is), the question becomes: “Where were you when you heard about the World Trade Center?”. (Walking towards the television to switch off the late night news.)

And dangerous chemicals? At the weekend I absent-mindedly reached across the spout of a boiling kettle and suffered a reaction to dihydrogen monoxide vapour. Nasty things, chemicals. They should be banned.

Peter Bowditch is a former President of Australian Skeptics Inc. (