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It’s all a conspiracy

Sian Claire Owen talks conspiracy theories with Manchester professor, Peter Knight. In an article sponsored by MI5. Maybe.

Published on November 28th 2007.


It’s all a conspiracy

Conspiracy theories are all the rage at the moment. Are ID cards part of a wider conspiracy to provide 1984-type Big Brother control over us? Was Princess Diana murdered by M16? Did aliens assassinate JF Kennedy?

The theories about the Kennedy assassination offered a psychological comfort, the idea that big events need big causes behind them. People often believe that random chaotic accidents in history, like assassinations, have to have satisfyingly grand causes.

Manchester has its fair share of conspiracy rumours flying around right now, some referring to dark deeds planned for Christmas markets. All nonsense. We hope.

Of course conspiracy theories aren’t new: they’ve been around as long as tongues have wagged. In nineteenth century Manchester, folk in working class areas were convinced that the government was spreading cholera. They nicknamed the disease 'The Blue Vomit' and claimed the authorities were trying to kill off the troublesome poor people. We now know that this was less to do with a nefarious plot than waterborne pathogens and unhygienic conditions.

We're lucky in our city when it comes to conspiracies, we have our very own boffin. This is Peter Knight and he’s the Senior Lecturer in American Studies at Manchester University, specialising in conspiracy theories in popular culture since the 1960s. He explains: “People have always been fascinated with trying to work out the ‘hidden cause’ of current events. In the French Revolution, for example, there were many conspiracy theories flying around, and even George Washington held conspiracy theories about the British Monarchy plotting against him.”

For most people, conspiracy addicts are odd indoor types, surfing the net and stuffing snacks down their throats: lonely deluded fools, for whom the word ‘Roswell’ has a magical resonance. However, as Knight argues, since the JFK assassination, this would be wrong. It appears that conspiracy theorists have moved from the margins of society to the mainstream.

Knight has some ideas why. “The theories about the Kennedy assassination were motivated by the sense that conspiracy thinking challenged the consensus. For others, they offered a psychological comfort, the idea that big events need big causes behind them. People often believe that random chaotic accidents in history, like assassinations, have to have satisfyingly grand causes.”

Political conspiracy theories may serve some purpose. Take the New World Order conspiracy theory, where a powerful group connected with the Illuminati seek world domination. As Knight puts it: “In the age of globalization we need to think about how things are increasingly interconnected. Some of the early New World Order theories in the 1990s were amongst the first to look at the possibility of this.”

“Unfortunately their explanation was wrong, but conspiracy theories can alert us to other ways of viewing the world. And we’ve always got to remember Watergate. You can’t dismiss that sometimes there may be a conspiracy behind what’s going on.”

Loose Change, is a classic conspiracy documentary questioning the official view of 9/11. It's still one of the most watched videos on the Internet. According to this, the Twin Towers didn’t crash to earth because a pair of jets, flown by murderous Islamicist terrorists, slammed into them. No, it was the result of a series of carefully controlled detonations by the Bush administration who wanted to create an atrocity to justify a reaction in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Of course, I don’t think there was a conspiratorial plan in advance to invade those countries before 9/11,” says Knight, “but I do think we need to ask questions as to how we’ve ended up where we are. Conspiracy theorists are asking the questions, but the answers they’re coming up with aren’t necessarily correct.”

And some of those answers can be deadly. Weak characters with a grievance or twisted political or religious beliefs can use crazy ideas of a prying and interfering government, for example, to visit murder on innocent people - as happened with the Oklahoma bombing.

Delve deeper and deeper into the world of conspiracy theories and things become more surreal. David Icke is a strong advocate of the theory that the Royal Family are descended from a bloodline of shape-shifting lizards from outer space. It gets freakier when he argues that Ted Heath, George Bush and the British Monarchy are not only reptilians, but related.

“What David Icke has done,” comments Knight, ‘is in a fascinating way, tied together all kinds of different smaller conspiracy theories, into one over-arching conspiracy theory.” He continues: “With all of these things, it seems at first sight that there are unexplained details, and the further you get into it the more intriguing it becomes, and the harder it becomes to sort fact from fiction. It’s like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. There’s nothing solid to believe anymore, and you don’t know how to distinguish genuine fact from suspicion and rumour.”

It seems that for some people the accepted reality is just not attractive or convincing enough. There always has to be more. Conspiracy theories enable people who feel powerless to own a 'true' version of events - as with 9/11. This in turn makes them feel a little more in control of their lives, a little less like failures or dupes. At the same time conspiracies provide reasons for large-scale events which otherwise have to be dismissed as mere coincidence or accident. For some people, in an age of multi-national companies and countries with global reach, coincidence and accident are unacceptable. They're not of course. The truth is that things might be just exactly what they seem.

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45 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

Why would you accociate crazy conspiracies with the 9/11 conspiracy? The truth is western governments have admitted to and have been caught carrying out multiple terror attacks/ inside jobs / false flag operations. You just dismiss all conspiracies in one huge go as crazy whacko rubbish. It's just as stupid as racism. You group everything together and call it ALL nonsence. Is that why you can not learn or do proper research into conspiracies? Are you incapable of finding and properly using information readily available to you? If you think all the information relating to 9/11 is just "on the internet" and "off the web" then your totally wrong. You obviously haven't looked into the 9/11 research out there. Do you think stupid websites that just make claims without backing anything up would get top CIA analysts, the German minister of defence, military jet pilot trainers, professors and scientists, etc, to come out and go public on 9/11 being an inside job? Why would it be so rediculous to beleive the US government carried out ANOTHER attack if they release documents like Operation Northwoods? WATCH TERRORSTORM for gods sake where it PROVES without any shadow of a doubt that governemnts DO this kind of thing all the time. Wake up and see the light of day for christs sake!!

Neil ArmstrongNovember 28th 2007.

Alright, it's time to come clean, I never did walk on the moon

CatNovember 28th 2007.

On it's current form gjh, that shouldn't be a problem.

Barney BreetNovember 28th 2007.

Where there is smoke there is fire. I agree with comment "A Pearl Harbour" type of attack was needed to get the people to support the war. The same applies to 9/11 and the Iraq war. Governments and their secret services up to dirty tactics. Yes the would sacrifice thousands of their own people. how many people have been sent to wars as cannon fodder.The war had nothing to do with Human Right, only Big Oil and the contracts handed to those corporations. We are Sleepwalking into Prison, civil liberties being taken away by those who are supposed to protect them! Governments being dictated to by International Corporations.

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

Would you like to directly insult the 911 widows too? The head of the biggest 911 widow group says the majority of widows in his group think 911 was an inside job. It's not like there's no evidence to support this. Go actually do some research into this. What caused the pools of molten steel that was found at the basements of the WTC towers?http://youtube.com/watch?v=kDcfSt2Ot9EI guess the 500C FIRES must have caused it huh? Better not turn your gas oven on anytime soon then, it might MELT!

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

NIST reported that the maximum temperature of the fires were around 500C. You might well know that a blue flame reaches well above oven temperatures so when you put a a steel pan on your gas stove does it melt?If steel melts at well over 1000C, what melted the steel in the basements? Go look at the thermal imaging over the site done by nasa weeks after the collapse. www.arsenalofhypocrisy.com/911/9-11_Truth.htm… < Scroll down to the image with the temp chart on this page. - It shows temps around 1000C (2?) weeks after the collapse of the towers.

AnonymousNovember 28th 2007.

Ryan, let me hit you with some Knowledge. Here is a direct quote from you 'I never claimed that what the government is hiding is important..' Now, if the government did cover-up the fact that there was no terrorist attack and it's all a conspiracy, surely this is 'important'. You have therefore completely destroyed your own arguement... Unless you consider the truth ' not important'.....

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSPqto796Lc(Info on PNAC and their will for "US Dominance" / "Full Spectrum Dominance")

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

Top science boffin, are you the young "EXPERT on knowledge" that the BBC brings on whenever they want their ridicule to sound factual.Still awaiting intelligent response ... :)I guess nobody dared to do any research. Maybe Al the clever counting wizard can count how many peices of evidence there is in Martial Law 911 that contradicts the official conspiracy theory of 19 (oops, the BBC reported 7 of them found alive!) hijackers carrying out 9/11.

Top science boffinNovember 28th 2007.

By the way, when i said in almost every way, I meant in every way

DaveNovember 28th 2007.

Those car bombs, London and Glasgow. Story died - not Al-Qaeda, one man burned to death, phonecam footage on Sky got better and new angle next day. The CB database, 1 in 2 of us, you don't post CDs, files stay on the network. Now Leeds Perm BS lose a disc. Why mention it? Not govt.Made-up events. Each one followed by more data secrecy laws. Watch!

jadsNovember 28th 2007.

“Of course, I don’t think there was a conspiratorial plan in advance to invade those countries before 9/11,” says Knightyou'd better do your homework then mate and stop pretending you're an authority.

stephenNovember 28th 2007.

er the market?

TristanNovember 28th 2007.

You should all watch Zeitgeist, proper stuff well put togetherhttp://zeitgeistmovie.com/

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

ktfairy - I don't think you know how serious it is when the US government openly states (in the PNAC document) that they want war in 50 countries (then when it's brought up in a conference Cheney tops the figure up to 100.) If it wasn't for terrorism, they would not have the support for any of these wars. Besides, if their dirty little fake terrorism tricks don't work because the researched public do not trust them, then that's a start, right? If you look at the polls now that ask questions like 'Did the US government lie about 9/11?' and 'Should there be a new investigation into 9/11' the numbers are getting higher and higher around 60 - 85% now, mainly due to people like Alex Jones, Loose Change (LE 2 is out btw) and the 9/11 truth movement.Loose Change 2: video.google.co.uk/videoplay…;

AlNovember 28th 2007.

Whoa whoa whoa! I didn't ridicule anything! I'm with you brother, they're all out to get us. I wouldn't trust the government especially now Brown's in charge, he does that funny thing with his mouth and it creeps me out. Oh and one more thing, that presidential candidate up against Hilary Clinton? When Americans say his name it sounds like they're saying "A Bomber" the clues are there people! Wake up and smell the fatwa!

GeorgeNovember 28th 2007.

Anti-Americanism is pathetic. They are still a democracy. They are still a free country. In fact all of this is just self-hate. Our perfidious, traitorous, murdering governments in the West have delivered the greatest amount of wealth across the greatest number of people, the largest amount of self-expression without fear of persecution. Despite all the CCTV cameras I still decide the life I lead. It's my choice and no policeman or priest tells me differently.

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

See how he just concluded out of thin air that I'm trying to get a name known for myself? I couldn't care less about being known or being famous, otherwise I'd use my full name wouldn't I. (Isn't that obvious to any thinking person?)

Mark R Garner The PublisherNovember 28th 2007.

Ryan, If I knew what I was starting three or four years ago I would have shot myself.

AnonymousNovember 28th 2007.

Since when do domestic gas ovens go to 500C? There is a bit of a difference between 500F and 500C. Below is an extract from a Educational Q&A website"Most steel has other metals added to tune its properties, like strength, corrosion resistance, or ease of fabrication. Steel is just the element iron that has been processed to control the amount of carbon. Iron, out of the ground, melts at around 1510 degrees C (2750°F). Steel often melts at around 1370 degrees C (2500°F)" So it isn't 500C anyway. Presumably the 500C issue comes from Wikipedia where it states that the open air burning temperature of kerosene is 500C but goes on to state that the maximum is around 980C (ie., under pressure). But it wasn't burning kerosene that caused the collapse , it started the fire but would have been burnt off quick, it would be the combustible materials in the building.

gjhNovember 28th 2007.

Cat - just stay away from the Express - for ever!

Top science boffinNovember 28th 2007.

Ryan, I'm the most intelligent science person on the planet and I'm here to tell you that you're wrong, in almost every way. We didn't find any evidence of skullduggery at the World Trade Centre, the towers fell over because someone flew a plane into them.

AlNovember 28th 2007.

Goodness! A quick word count reveals that Ryan has contributed no less than 1268 words to this rant! I put essays towards my degree with less material! The truth is Ryan, it was Elvis that put the molten steel in the towers, they were the molten remains of alien space ships and the melted down white fiat uno that Prince Philip sold him for cash no questions asked in a pub car park. George Bush smiled whilst reading to the kids that day because he was chuffed that everything had gone to plan and not because he's a simpleton and there was a funny picture of a dog in the book. Oh and the da Vinci code actually could happen in real life and Dan Brown's now in hiding cos he's revealed the real secrets. I read it all on the internet and there's videos on youtube and EVERYTHING!

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

My point is, it's outragous to lump everyone that questions 9/11 into one big group and label them "conspiracy theorists", then place some imagined psycological profile over the whole group that states they're a mass of weak, scared, little people that can't deal with 'the truth'. If Peter Knight, "Bearer Of The Truth" knows all the answers to all the 9/11 questions, why doesn't he tackle them in a real debate? Why isn't this media hitpiece answering any valid questions? The answer is because they can't. No sane person can research the official story on 9/11 and come out and say that it is flawless and represents the truth. You have to have some pretty outstanding mind-acrobatics skills to 'accomplish' that, and I've seen people with those skills. They are in complete denial and show all the symptoms of denial and simply daren't research any evidence put to them. Look up "Operation Northwoods" or watch the google video "Terrorstorm" if you believe governments would never conceive such a thing as an inside job. (Oh gosh, governemnts doing bad things? never!)

AnonymousNovember 28th 2007.

Ryan, the FACT you quote a poll to prove a fact is hilarious! And the FACT that calling yourself the '9/11 truth movement' causes you to be taken seriously now means that if I call myself the 'Flash Gordon is really a documentary movement' then that point should be taken seriously!!! Yes, I'll agree that some information regarding 9/11 has probably not been released, but this information will be highly sensitive and probably shows that there was some inkling of such an attack but that the Yanks dropped the ball... Just because there is something not been released doesn't mean that they planned it themselves just to start a war. The Republicans were in the majority and hated Saddam and the Taliban before this so there was no need to blow up their own citizens to garner support... Get back to the dark room of your parents house Ryan....

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

As you couldn't figure it out, I'll explain, if you can be bothered to read properly. My point was that if the public knew the government had carried out all the fake terror alerts and false flag ops, there wouldn't be this jerk-reaction we see nowadays to just throw away all our civil rights that we've managed to keep for hundreds of years for 'security'. Don't you see how people are reacting without thinking or doing any fact checking? It's like seeing everyone just get brainwashed! Show them conflicting evidence and they call you names like a child. Try to get them to go look at documentaries that list hundreds of key pieces of evidence that all contradicts the official line, and they poo-poo what I say as if I'M being unreasonable and not checking MY facts! There's now 100's professors and scientists out there that have found THERMATE explosive residue on the steel core columns from the WTC buildings that fell. Are ALL OF THESE PEOPLE just a bunch of loonatics that can not think for themselves?

Michael MooreNovember 28th 2007.

Ryan will you marry me?

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

The media ONLY ridicules when it comes to conspiracies. I haven't seen any mainstread media try to tackle any of the REAL questions millions of people are asking about the official conspiracy theory. (Yes, that's what the official story is, look up the words in the dictionary.) There's plenty of articles and stories in the media where they bring up conspiracies but don't tackle any of real questions. They take the minority beliefs from idiots like David Icke and his followers that most people disregard and ignore, and question the the most rediculous things they can find. Not once has anyone discussed the fall of WTC7 and how it fell exactly like a building that was brought down with explosives. Not once has the TV played the endless number of witnesses that heard explosions before and after the planes struck. Not once has mainstream media brought up the COUNTDOWN TO THE COLLAPSE OF WTC7. If you think you can have a COUNTDOWN to the fall of a building that supposedly came down to fire and structural damage, you're the most whacko type of person out there! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgAJ4sKUp8gKevin Mcpadden, Air Force Reserve medic and 9/11 first responder, dicussing the countdown to demolish WTC7 on September 11th

CatNovember 28th 2007.

The whole World has gone conspiracy theory mad and it's driving me crackers. I've had to stop reading the Daily Express, because when they aren't banging on about abolishing inheritance tax, all they seem to do is write about Madeleine Mc Cann and Princess Diana, relentlessly publishing the latest, sensational theories/findings on their respective lives. In fact the Express just seems to rotate these 3 stories on its front page. It's lazy journalism in the extreme. Richard Desmond and Peter Hill; sort it out! My thoughts are that people love a good drama and the media feeds the hunger for it, by incessantly documenting the latest twists and turns. I’m not sure what this indicates about us as a nation? It’s widely accepted that these stories push up circulation/viewing figures and it seems that people are utterly desperate for the next thrilling instalment. I find this a bit voyeuristic and odd in the extreme.

GeorgeNovember 28th 2007.

a) What did the Americans gain by killing their own people? b) They (or the West) could have manufactured a far easier and less deadly excuse for attacking Afghanistan and then Iraq - perhaps sinking one of their own ships and then getting people off in time. c) In otherwords there was no reason to murder 2000 plus Americans and foreigners whilst also gravely disrupting their major financial centre.

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

OK, what I should have said, was that the US Government doesn't NEED to release or uncover any evidence to be able to prove their theory incorrect. Therefore it is not important for them to disclose anything, because we can already prove they did it. Again, it all boils down to actually going and LOOKING at the evidence out there before you come to a conclusion.

ktfairyNovember 28th 2007.

What worries me is that Ryan is putting so much effort into this - Ryan I guess you are a reasonable bright guy, why not channel your energy into something more useful. Something where you can make a difference (sorry but you sn't bring down the USA govt) try finding a charity and donating some time to helping kids learn to read or something.

A scallyNovember 28th 2007.

I love the Printworks

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

If I can ask Peter Knight a question, what kind of psychological comfort would believing that the most powerful governemnt in the world carried out 9/11 or let it happen on purpose in order to carry out multiple wars across the Middle East? (- Which would most likley imply a military draught, and hundreds of thousands if not millions of deaths on both sides.) It's easy to disprove the official story, as you should well know if you've done any real research into what's being said, so why say it's some kind of crazy psycological condition to believe what you can disprove? Think critically! Wouldn't that be where the psycological disorders lie?

AlNovember 28th 2007.

Only 100 more words and ryan will hit the 2000 mark so i need to say something inflammatory........ I know!

stephenNovember 28th 2007.

erm...what have people been saying about the christmas markets?

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

"Anonymous", what on earth are you talking about? I didn't claim any poll proved any fact, I never called MYSELF the entire movement, I never claimed that what the government is hiding is important, and what does republican support have to do with public backing?Almost every sentance that is spewing from your warped nieve little mind there is riddled with error.(Also, why is Manchester Confidential reporting on some stupid rumour that nobody has heard of?)

JamesNovember 28th 2007.

Many dogs on LS Lowry pictures have five legs

Steve GrangeNovember 28th 2007.

The media ridicule all ' conspiracy theorists' in order to disguise the fact that 911 was an Inside Job.

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

And yes you're right, it's generally agreed that the kerosene burned up quickly. So it would not have heated the steel much, never mind melted it. When i'm talking about molten steel, I'm not talking about what initiated the collapse BTW.

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

So when NIST now admist they can not explain how the towers fell and are now looking into the demolitions theory, do you call them a bunch of insulting names too?

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

Exactly, we are sleepwalking into a hellhole where the government takes full control and the people end up with nothing. This has been happening for years but since 9/11 they've had an excuse to go power mad and suck up all the rights we're left with. Those that know history know that when the government takes away liberties and rights, there's no turning back on them. You don't get them back. People have a chance NOW to research the core reason why our rights are being taken away and say no. If we leave it too long we won't have a chance in hell at getting them back.

AnonymousNovember 28th 2007.

You see what I did there.. Same thing as people like yourself do when concocting these myths to try and get your name known... Pick one line from something and analyse that on it's own rather than take it in the context it was placed...On a seperate point, maybe we could all put our heads together and come up with our own Manchester-based conspiracy theory. I propose that the only reason The Printworks was built and continues to have a license is so that, when a cure for being a scally is found, it can easily be spread amongst those which need it...

AlNovember 28th 2007.

I am a clever counting wizard, took me ages, i had to take my shoes and socks off and use my toes and I still didn't have enough!

RyanNovember 28th 2007.

Show me the Anti-Americanism. Researching what the government tells you is NOT anti-American in any way whatsoever. It would be more anti-American to not care about them and their country. Besides, look how 9/11 affected our country. 9/11 was a massive event that as the government tells us every other day, 'changed everything'. I just happen to believe the changes in politics and forign policy and our civil liberties are important enough to actually fact-check the founding basis of why they are changing. George, if you call America a free country, try staying in New York for a weekend, you'll see just how free you are. Even here we're now accpeting 'no free speech zones' and 'no protest zones'. What kind of freedom is that? Then if you think that's bad, go read what's in the two "Patriot Acts" where the American government can now secretly arrest and detain people and hold them to a military tribunral without any evidence shown to the detainee or access to lawers, then if found guilty they can execute them under these new acts. What kind of free society has laws that can finger anyone out as a 'terrorist' and do that to them? Look up the patriot acts new definition of a terrorist: "Anyone that commits a federal crime and endangers human life." The fact is, laws have gone ultratotallitarian since 9/11 and they even said in a document written by Cheney, Wolfowitz and friends that they specifically NEEDED a "Pearl Harbor type attack" to get the people behind their forign policy of 100's of wars across the middle east. They STATE THEY NEED A TERRORIST ATTACK, then one comes along as soon as Bush and Cheney take control. Can any sane person not be suspisious enough to just investigate?If you are sceptical at all you should not just ignore your scepticism, go do some research and look at the research already done by the '911 truthers'.If they turn out to be wrong after doing some proper research, then fine. But if you do your research and find out what we're saying is true, then we really do have a problem. I for one, am not scared to look for the truth like that Peter Knight claims I must be. Are you?Terrorstorm: video.google.co.uk/videoplay… Law 911: video.google.co.uk/videoplay… source site to back up ALL claims and media reports shown in the film: http://www.martiallaw911.info/

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