Semi-Sane Rantings About Society Today


Folk Memory
April 20, 2008, 10:36 am
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Perhaps it is to be expected, that something like 911, a catastrophic event will one day fade in our collective memories. Scientists have done a lot of work at how memory fades in accuracy in greater and greater amounts, particularly after 5 years or more – as it has with 911. This fading of folk memory is what i contend is the breeding ground for the conspiracy theories surrounding 911.

911 conspiracy theories are in the first instance a product of bigotry. In the middle east there has been the consistent theory that Mossad ordered the attacks and that Jews were warned not to go to the WTC on the day of the attacks. Simmilarly in the US for a time before the Iraq war a significant percentage of the population thought Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks – which was definitely not the case. The conspiracies also come from the “disturbing questions” angle. This is made up of the dregs of the Seattle generation, a small number of 911 families and the anti-government right of the Timothy McVeigh variety. I’m not here to discuss the details of the 911 attacks or the new conspiracy theories springing up like (either poisonous or halucinatory) mushrooms, just their breeding ground.

This issue came up for me when I was travelling on the train the other night. Some passengers have the habit of having conversations that are at a volume that you can’t ignore. After many boring topics they came to the 911 attacks. Here is what they said.

Person One: The attackers were Iraqi weren’t they?

Person Two: No no, they were from Spain.

Person One: That’s right Spain.

For the record most of the hijackers were Saudi with one from the United Arab Emirates. The terror cell that committed the attacks were students in Hamburg, Germany. That people could get it wrong according to scientists is to be expected. But it does raise a danger for Skeptics and people in general who are after the truth.

It is easy to dismiss the 911 conspiracy people as nutbags (even though they are). But the reason for their popularity can be put down to time passing. A lot more people may be willing to read or confront 911 now and there is of course a lot of 911 conspiracy material out there. When putting 911 into the search engine in youtube, the first results will include as much bullshit as factual content.

 

For skeptics the importance is not to understand where these theories come from, it is what environment these theories can grow in.



Chemists
April 18, 2008, 5:27 am
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One of the proudest claims of the medical profession is the Hippocratic oath – a patient has the ultimate privacy. When it comes to pharmacies and dispensaries, its another matter – their oath is “anything goes provided we make lots of money”.

There are many things that are wrong with pharmacies. Any medical complaint you have, no matter how secret you want it kept will be revealed to someone in some way. When you take in a prescription the person in the line behind you sees it, particularly embarrassing if this person is a nosy neighbour. Often they ask inane questions about how many you are taking. Imagine having to buy contraceptives, condoms or rectinol!

Aside from that Chemists also sell things that don’t work!. Yes homeopathic, herbal and other alternative suplements are sold along side things that actually work. They also sell things that are not particularly healthy, how many chocolate bars (some disguised as diet bars) can a chemist possibly sell? May as well have cigarettes as well.!

If there was any way of avoiding going to the chemist I would like to know!



Palestine Israel and territorial disputes
April 12, 2008, 4:40 am
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Quite a number of people and groups on the left call for territorial returns from Israel as part of any solution to the crisis in the middle east. The territories in question being the Golan Heights (to Syria), with the West Bank and Gaza as part of a new Palestinian state. Of course I once favoured this as a young student lefitst – but I’m in favour of a federal state of Palestine-Israel along the lines of any of the federal republics that have existed in history. But as both the Israeli and Palestinian sides want separate states, territory may of course be part of the negotiations.

What I’m perplexed by is the leftist (and rightist) tendencies in the Palestinian rights movement calling for territorial returns as a precondition of peace. Quite amazing in that there are many nations with territories nicked in previous wars who have good relations to each other. Now imagine a few scenarios from history…

Greece v. Bulgaria

West thrace

After WW1 Bulgaria gave  Greece the province of “West Thrace”. Since the end of WW2, Greece and Bulgaria have had reasonably good relations and West Thrace is hardly mentioned.

Germany v. Russia + Poland + Belgium + France

In WW1 Germany Lost Eupen and Malmedy to Belgium, Alscace lorraine to France and West Prussia to Poland. These areas have not since been an issue. In WW2 Germany lost Pommerania to Poland and East Prussia to Russia. All of these nations have been at peace, although admittedly Germany has not been in a position to ask for those territories back.

The Big problem the Palestinian solidarity movement have is that territory is a precondition rather than a subject of negotiation. It’s no wonder that there has not been a solution for the best part of 60 years to the crisis at hand.