The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
Instagram

The fallacy of conspiracy theories

No. 3: Not too long ago, an acquaintance of mine said something to the extent that “they” have been flying planes over Dallas, spreading this chemical so that people wouldn’t riot in this city. I was in awe at the level of paranoia because that sort of conspiracy theory is something you hear about only from the crazy guy down the street, not an educated individual who attends a university. I didn’t think that people still believed in conspiracy theories, but after seeing the “9/11 truth” banners at the New Hampshire primaries, there must be a bit of paranoia in this country. Conspiracy theories are B.S.

I think one of the most infamous conspiracy theories is the idea that we never landed on the moon. According to those who believe we never landed on the moon, the videos and pictures were all a hoax and were created in a studio to mislead the American public into believing that we landed on the moon. I can agree that it wouldn’t be difficult to create some video footage and pictures in a sound studio. You really don’t need much; lights, cameras, some dirt and basically everything else for a movie production. The hard part is shutting people up, and one would think that after 39 years there would be a leak from someone (such as the lighting crew, sound crew, technicians, prop people, the director, the producer, everyone at NASA or people in the White House). The government couldn’t even cover up Watergate.

Here is another popular conspiracy theory, which should be no surprise to any Dallasite: the grassy knoll theory of the JFK assassination. According to people like Jim Marrs, author of “Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy,” the fact that John F. Kennedy fell backward instead of forward proves that there was a second gunman on the grassy knoll. Nobel-prize winning physicist Luis Alvarez proposed the jet-recoil theory in order to explain why this happened. It’s like this: When the bullet goes through the skull, the skull doesn’t provide much resistance, so it penetrates the skull cleanly, leaving only a small hole. But when it exists the other side of the head, the bullet creates a massive exit wound and pulls out a lot of matter (brains) to create a sort of jet propulsion in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, the simple answer that Oswald just wanted to kill the president isn’t a sexy explanation.

But I think the most popular conspiracy theory these days is that Sept. 11 was actually a controlled explosion set up by the government. Now I’m no supporter of the Bush Administration, but it’s one thing to say that it responded poorly to the attack and it’s another thing all together to say that the administration actually planned the attack. Thanks to those no talent “Loose Change” idiots, there is a group of people who actually think that the government, in an unprecedented form of efficiency, actually conspired to bring down the World Trade Center when our president couldn’t cover up Abu Ghraib, Walter Reed, outing Valerie Plame, firing the prosecutors, selling the ports, Jack Abramoff, Harriet Miers, wiretapping, misuse of the Patriot Act, GTMO, not to mention that whole Iraq thing.

With conspiracy theorists, you can’t prove them wrong because if you try to say otherwise, they can say that you’ve been brainwashed or you’re working for “them.” To conspiracy theorists, the lack of evidence counts as evidence, which brings me to the fallacy of the day: argumentum ad ignorantium. This fallacy is committed when something is taken to be true because it has not been proven false, or something must be false because it hasn’t been proven true. For instance, “God must exist because nobody has been able to prove that he doesn’t exist.”

For people like Jimmy Walter who said, “I firmly believe that many of the alleged passengers on the alleged [Sept. 11] aircraft are still alive…and they were probably all working for the government,” conspiracy theories are just heart-pounding entertainment, and I find it disgusting that someone could be so insensitive in pursuing their Hollywood fetishes.

Ken Ueda is a senior math, physics and philosophy major. He can be reached for contact at [email protected].

More to Discover