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Conspiracies And Probability 506

guttentag writes "Sunday's New York Times Magazine is running a feature that looks at the rumored conspiracy that allegedly killed nearly a dozen bioterror and germ warfare researchers during a four month period following the U.S. anthrax scare. "What are the odds," people ask, despite the fact that a "one-in-a-million miracle" will statistically occur 280 times a day in the U.S. These strange things happen all the time, but we hype them because they provide the spice in literature and the comfort of comprehension."
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Conspiracies And Probability

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  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @09:53PM (#4048554) Journal
    No. It's the same topic, but not the same story. The May story referenced, which was perpetuating the rumor. The NYTimes Magazine story debunks the rumor by pointing out the facts and explaining why everyone gets irrationally excited about these things.
  • by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <> on Saturday August 10, 2002 @10:31PM (#4048702) Homepage
    As I recently wrote [] over at kuo5hin, I've discovered that about a third of the conspiracies out there are true. But finding out which ones takes research -- which I enjoy doing. And recently I set up a PostNuke blog, [] to post what I find. I look for stories that can be backed up by the mainstream press and/or primary sources, such as government web sites.

    As for this particular issue of the dead scientists, there's been no good evidence either way, and so it hasn't appeared at all in my blog.

  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @11:10PM (#4048834) Journal
    1) Because one bullet was supposed to have gone thru three people, all at different angles.

    2) Because the gov't has a bad habit of covering up anything that might potentially embarrass them. Then, they cover up (lie) about the rest just for good measure.

    3) Because evidence "disappeared" -- like frames from Zapruder's film. Odds are some buffoon bureaucrats simply lost stuff, but it doesn't look good.
  • by theguru ( 70699 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @11:55PM (#4048986)
    >and did you see any wreckage of a plane at the >pentagon in any of the photos taken ? cockpit ? >wing ? fuselage ?

    Yep, I have. Pictures of plane wreckage at the pentagon []
  • Re:Conspiracy (Score:2, Informative)

    by qubit64 ( 233602 ) <> on Sunday August 11, 2002 @12:27AM (#4049065)
    Nope, but Gore did have lots of big names with lots of money on his side too. Also, Gore did lose the election, based on your electoral system. If you want to change the system so that it's a "majority rules" system then go for it, but that's not how it works now. Finally, even with the recount done by the newspapers in florida (which was far from "official"), Bush would have won anyway, albeit by the slimmest of margins.
  • Happened before (Score:2, Informative)

    by marx ( 113442 ) on Sunday August 11, 2002 @12:49AM (#4049139)
    It's happened before, so I don't see why people are making a joke out of this. Today, the largest morning newspaper in Sweden is running a story [] about a Sweden-related biology scientist working for the CIA in the 50s. He was assassinated by the CIA in 1953, supposedly for having figured out that the US used biological weapons in the Korea war.

    When his family made inquiries in 1975, Congress paid $750,000 in damages to the family. What was really weird was that during this time, a letter was sent between Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who were working for Gerald Ford at the time, saying that if there was a trial, it could be "necessary to disclose top secret information concerning national security".

    These guys are at the top today, and since assassination and cover-ups (even specifically regarding biological warfare) clearly are not foreign to them, I don't see why the default theory should be an extremely improbable coincidence.

  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Sunday August 11, 2002 @01:02AM (#4049171) Journal
    From the K5 post you referenced:
    I'm addicted to reading and researching conspiracy theories, and discovering that about a third of them are true. It takes a lot of time to figure out which ones are true. Often conspiracy stories are half true, where "half" can apply in a number of different ways -- half the facts are correct, half the statements are substantiated, or the sources are halfway reliable.
    A story that is "half true" is still half false. Is this your basis for claiming that you've "discovered that about a third of the conspiracies out there are true?" Because you don't seem to be backing up this serious claim with any other information. You would be performing a greater service if you filtered out the things that aren't true and posted purely factual accounts to set the record straight. But I don't think you want to do that.

    From looking at your blog, I don't see evidence of conspiracies. All I see in your blog are the angry ramblings of a self-righteous individual who thinks the news media is playing up the wrong stories.

    For real evidence of real conspiracies, read through the documents at The George Washington University's National Security Archive [] of declassified documents, like the proposal [] to incite world opinion against Cuba through propaganda, staged riots, staged attacks on the U.S., mock funerals and more.

  • by macpeep ( 36699 ) on Sunday August 11, 2002 @04:26AM (#4049642)
    "1) Because one bullet was supposed to have gone thru three people, all at different angles."

    Three? See, this is exactly what the parent was talking about. There was *TWO* people that the bullet passed through. Connally and JFK. And if you look at pictures shown by the "look, the single bullet theory is ridiculous"-people, sure enough, it will look like it had to make funny u-turns in the air. However, if you look at the actual pictures of how JFK and Connally sat, you'll notice that they weren't at all directly behind eachother but that JFK was much further to the outside of the car than Connally was. Thus, a bullet passing through his head would have hit Connally in the right shoulder, just as it did.

    Of course there's a million other evidence, for and against but I'm not really interested in the whole JFK conspiracy. I just don't like it when people bend the facts; say it was three people instead of two, show diagrams full of errors and clearly exaggerated with bullets making u-turns in the air and so on.

    If your case is so convincing, just stick to the facts. Ok?

    Here's just one site that reveals some of the bullshit:

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?