Sunday, January 13, 2013

Crazy conspiracy theories: From Malala to Newtown, CT

by Salman Hameed

There are crazy ideas - and then there are CRAZY and offensive ideas. I used to teach a class on critical thinking and one of the topics we used to tackle was the Moon landing hoax (in case you are interested, here is an explanation of the hoax claims). Now that is an idiotic but  relatively innocuous idea. Then after 9/11, there was a whole new cottage industry on 9/11 hoax. In fact, I had a chance to sit through a movie that connected the Kennedy assassination, Moon landing hoax, and 9/11 in one go.

I'm also quite familiar with conspiracy theories in Pakistan (9/11 as an inside job is also quite popular in Pakistan). A prominent Pakistani scientist even suspected conspiracy behind recent floods (see this post: A prominent Pakistani scientist is stoking conspiracy fires).

But then there are offensive conspiracy ideas. For example, Malala was shot by the Taliban. They had threatened her before, and they explained it multiple times why they shot her, and if given a chance, they would do it again. There was a tremendous outpouring of support for Malala. But so were claims that the shooting was fake - or that this was all a ruse to justify an army operation in North Waziristan. After a 14 year old has been shot in the head by bearded "adults", it is offensive to hear outrageous conspiracy theories.

It is not that there are no conspiracies at all (heck - the fake vaccination program run by the CIA was offensive, unethical, and is partly responsible for the recent killings of health workers in Pakistan). However, if one starts believing in every nutty theory out there, then there will be no ground to stand on. And it is just way too easy nowadays to spread crazy conspiracy ideas.

So that brings me to the latest offensive crazy idea, that the Newtown killings of 20 elementary school kids was all fake, staged by the government to promote stricter gun laws!! So there you have it folks. The Malala conspiracy theories seem much tamer compared to this. Though to be fair, in Pakistan, some of these ideas have broader following than the fringe in the US. In any case, here is Anderson Cooper tackling the Newtown conspiracy theory. Absolutely nuts and offensive!!


Akbar said...

Malala's paralyzed left face says it all.

Naveed said...

This is disgusting. Apart from the Atta - HAARP episode, we have other professors that made similar conspiracy theories.

This was an article published last year by a professor at LUMS along with his RA claiming that dengue was introduced in Pakistan by the CIA. The original business recorder article was taken down but here's a copy.

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