0258: "Conspiracy Theories"

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Anmorata
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Re: "Conspiracy Theories" Discussion

Postby Anmorata » Mon May 07, 2007 1:37 pm UTC

Aliera wrote:Anyone here read the great book "Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time" by Michael Shermer?


I own it, but it's in that magic pile of "things I'll read when I have time," sadly.

Also, Messiah - love the raptor/duck scale. Good job. :)
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Postby Belial » Mon May 07, 2007 1:54 pm UTC

zombie_monkey wrote:You can't deduce whether Mr. Munroe is or is not religious (which is his personal business), from this comic.


You can if you already know the answer.

Hint: Most people who believe in an all-powerful, all-knowledgeable god aren't keen to admit that he makes mistakes or needs bug-reports from the end-users of his universe.

Messiah wrote:Yes, it's intended that hypothesis comes first, and then observations are made to test it. However, it's a cycle. And in terms of debate, I have no concern with someone starting part way through the cycle, as long as they have the evidence to back their hypothesis. If the evidence is falsified, yes.


The problem is that their evidence only backs their conclusion because they use their conclusion as an assumption in analyzing their evidence.

"Assuming the world was created 6000 years ago, what does this evidence mean?"

It's also....I guess "confirmation bias" is the term here, except the bias isn't just applied to the data, so much as it's applied to science as a whole. Information, laws, and outside factors are ignored to get the desired result.

It's all rubbish-science, and once you prove *that*, you don't have to disprove what they're asserting, because you've just proven that they have no good reason to assert it.
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Postby suso » Mon May 07, 2007 2:03 pm UTC

About the whole young-earth creationist thing. You've been saying 6000 years ago for how long now? I mean, I've heard that all my life, so shouldn't it be 6031 years ago? See, you're already letting inaccuracy creep into your equation.


meant as humor

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Postby scwizard » Mon May 07, 2007 2:07 pm UTC

At first I believed the 9/11 conspiracy theories after watching one of the conspiracy theory movies. That movie said that the fire couldn't have caused the towers to collapse because the fire wasn't hot enough for the steel to melt.

After that I decided I should probably be fair so I went to the public library and took out a movie showed on PBS giving the details of how the tower collapsed. This movie was a counterpoint. The PBS movie said that the fire severely weakened the already very heavily damaged structure which lead to the collapse.

Then I went to the internet and did some research on jet fuel fires and steel and buildings and things, and I discovered that the conspiracy theorists were definitely pulling stuff out of their ass. There's still a good chance that they could be right about a good many things and ultimately they could be correct that there were other explosives in the towers. However they lost a ton of credibility.
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Postby OneLess » Mon May 07, 2007 2:13 pm UTC

suso wrote:About the whole young-earth creationist thing. You've been saying 6000 years ago for how long now? I mean, I've heard that all my life, so shouldn't it be 6031 years ago? See, you're already letting inaccuracy creep into your equation.


meant as humor

But...what about Kepler?! BRAIN...EXPLODING!!!

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Re: "Conspiracy Theories" Discussion

Postby Berge » Mon May 07, 2007 2:14 pm UTC

Anmorata wrote:
Aliera wrote:Anyone here read the great book "Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time" by Michael Shermer?


I own it, but it's in that magic pile of "things I'll read when I have time," sadly.

Also, Messiah - love the raptor/duck scale. Good job. :)


Add to that pile "The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" by Carl Sagan. Its in the same vein, and pretty well done. Plus, its Sagan!
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Postby zombie_monkey » Mon May 07, 2007 2:15 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Hint: Most people who believe in an all-powerful, all-knowledgeable god aren't keen to admit that he makes mistakes or needs bug-reports from the end-users of his universe.

I don't have the experience with religious people required to reach that intuitive conclusion. My assumptions are very often wrong when it comes to Americans, so I am careful to assume.

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Postby Belial » Mon May 07, 2007 2:24 pm UTC

zombie_monkey wrote:
Belial wrote:Hint: Most people who believe in an all-powerful, all-knowledgeable god aren't keen to admit that he makes mistakes or needs bug-reports from the end-users of his universe.

I don't have the experience with religious people required to reach that intuitive conclusion. My assumptions are very often wrong when it comes to Americans, so I am careful to assume.


Hahah. Like I said, it's only obvious if you already know the answer. I wasn't saying you *should* have drawn that conclusion by any means. Or even could have. You're absolutely right, there's a wide range of weird and inconsistent religious beliefs over here (and, to be fair, in lots of other places besides).
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Postby Tractor » Mon May 07, 2007 2:38 pm UTC

Twasbrillig wrote:You don't SERIOUSLY believe we landed on the moon, do you?


The moon is Serious Business :|
Or soundstage 51. Whatever floats your boat.

Silverbolt wrote:Instead, I would like to state a little saying of mine: You have to be pretty naive to think conspiracies don't exist, but only a complete idiot believes each and every one of them.


Well put.
Unfortunatley, there are a lot of complete idiots.
Last edited by Tractor on Mon May 07, 2007 2:39 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby bigglesworth » Mon May 07, 2007 2:39 pm UTC

Belial wrote:It's all rubbish-science, and once you prove *that*, you don't have to disprove what they're asserting, because you've just proven that they have no good reason to assert it.


I must say that I did have real fun at a Young Earth "information" centre when I got their "Egg timer that produces layers" to produce something that wasn't layers. :D I went with my friend who's a Christian palaeontologist, and he told me about how a lot of the fossils in the gift shop must have been illegally exported from china.

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Postby Armentia » Mon May 07, 2007 2:45 pm UTC

Phy wrote:Although it could be that in XKCDverse, God actually responds when queried.


There's another comic that I read, Sinfest (http://www.sinfest.net/), which has frequent comics that show the characters talking to God. Those are probably my favourite of the comics that they have, because of how God acts. However, he only represents himself with his hands and voice. Often using sock puppets.

---------------------------------------

This comic made me el oh el when I got to the final frames. I so absolutely can't stand people who believe in everything they've been told, or saw on TV, or on a website. The utter lack of intelligence makes me think that the world has been doomed.

Then I remember, religion has been around for how many years? Oh my, the world has been doomed since the beginning of time!

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Postby kaellinn18 » Mon May 07, 2007 2:55 pm UTC

OmenPigeon wrote:...For some reason, Christianity seems predisposed to creating very specific sects.


This is because many Christians (I am one) get hung up on silly disputes that are completely irrelevant to the core message of the religion, whether it be how to properly conduct a service or how old the earth is. I think many Christians (or people of other religions for that matter) are afraid that science will somehow be able to disprove God (it can't, but it can't prove it either), and therefore have to try and make the universe fit around their religion instead of seeing how their religion fits in the universe. The fact that the earth has been around for millions of years and that dinosaurs once roamed the earth does not automatically falsify the entire religion. It's called faith for a reason.

[EDIT] This position, of course, denies the current theory that raptors are secretly running the world. Take with as many grains of salt as necessary.

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Postby mnemophobe » Mon May 07, 2007 3:48 pm UTC

Messiah wrote:
German Sausage wrote:sorry, the 'flat earth is a theory that was only debunked with semi-modern science' people are one of my pet hates...

Never said modern times. But it was outlandish in it's day.


And what day was that? The ancient Greeks believed the earth was round (and even some others before them), and Eratosthenes even made a pretty good calculation of its circumference. Educated people from the Greeks onward knew the earth was round, so I'm curious what evidence you have illustrating that people at some point thought the idea of a round earth was wacky.

Sorry, the "people believed the earth was flat!" argument is one of my big pet peeves, too.

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Postby Pedanthood » Mon May 07, 2007 4:02 pm UTC

mnemophobe wrote:
Messiah wrote:
German Sausage wrote:sorry, the 'flat earth is a theory that was only debunked with semi-modern science' people are one of my pet hates...

Never said modern times. But it was outlandish in it's day.


And what day was that? The ancient Greeks believed the earth was round (and even some others before them), and Eratosthenes even made a pretty good calculation of its circumference. Educated people from the Greeks onward knew the earth was round, so I'm curious what evidence you have illustrating that people at some point thought the idea of a round earth was wacky.

Sorry, the "people believed the earth was flat!" argument is one of my big pet peeves, too.


It certainly keeps me occupied.
You can probably ignore me, I exist only to annoy.

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Re: i couldn't resist

Postby afireinside13t » Mon May 07, 2007 4:21 pm UTC

elisfanclub wrote:
2. The flight path of the aircraft that hit the pentagon brought it past many different cameras from many different angles. The footage from anyone of those cameras could easily clear up the question of "what hit the pentagon?", but for some reason the FBI showed up at all the locations (a gas station and hotel near by) and confiscated it. When pressured about this, the pentagon released 5 frames of video from ONE of it's security cameras, and the frames didn't really clear up anything at all. Why would they do this? Why not just release the footage and clear the whole thing up once and for all?


Actually that footage has been released: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12818225/

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Postby smocc » Mon May 07, 2007 4:27 pm UTC

Interestingly and annecdotally, Christopher Columbus wasn't a brave visionary who thought the earth was a sphere, he just did his math wrong. His calculations led him to believe that the distance between the west coast of Europe and the East coast of Asia was much shorter than it actually is. The reason he had trouble getting funding for his trip was that everyone else was using the correct distance. Had the Americas not been in the way his ships would have run out of food and water long before reaching Asia.

(It's true, it's on wikipedia!)
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Postby bigglesworth » Mon May 07, 2007 4:40 pm UTC

That's what the wikipedia cabal want you to think!

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Postby tialaramex » Mon May 07, 2007 5:27 pm UTC

To clear it up for anyone who is still wondering how the claim that the US government conspired to kill hundreds of people and destroy a major landmark and blame it on foreign terrorists is different from a trial of people conspiring to rob a bank...

The distinction that's usually drawn is the Grand Conspiracy Theory. What makes these theories less plausible than an ordinary conspiracy is scale. For example, if you thought that Booth was paid by Johnson to kill Lincoln, that would just be a conspiracy. But if you think that Booth was used by a cabal of International Bankers, who met in secret in Switzerland and set up a Confederate front to find someone like Booth for an assassination attempt, that would be a Grand Conspiracy.

Where a bank robbery might need four or five people to stay quiet, and a coup might need a few dozen key people, a Grand Conspiracy Theory often falls apart unless you're willing to believe that hundreds, thousands or even millions of people were knowingly part of the conspiracy.

Where an assassination plot might require secrecy for days or weeks before the event, a Grand Conspiracy Theory often requires that those involved stay silent for months, or even years afterwards. Sometimes it requires that whole generations of people hide something from their friends, or that they somehow initiate all those friends into the conspiracy too.

While proof of a love affair, or of despairing parents infanticide might be hard to find and easy to destroy, the evidence for most Grand Conspiracies ought to be readily available because the event takes place mostly in public and there are often many witnesses. Belief in the conspiracy usually requires a subsidiary belief that the evidence was destroyed or tainted and further that witnesses are either involved in the conspiracy or have been manipulated (maybe blackmailed, or even brain washed).

This is the basis on which YEC is considered a Grand Conspiracy Theory. Scientists around the world are supposed to have covered up evidence for a universal flood, dismissed research that shows the planet is only a few thousand years, and invented whole fields of endeavour all purely to discredit a God in whom these same scientists often believe.

To give some scope for those wondering where the boundaries lie: We know that dozens of people were able to keep the breaking of Enigma secret for the duration of the War, and keep it out of the public domain for perhaps a generation or so more before books were written about it. So a conspiracy theory on this sort of scale is plausible because we have an existence proof. If your personal JFK theory only requires a few dozen people to keep a secret for a decade or so, it could be true. But still, just because it could be true doesn't mean it is.

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Postby elminster » Mon May 07, 2007 5:40 pm UTC

Conspiracy theorist use the word "Proof" incorrectly quite alot. A number of people make up stuff as well, to fill in gaps in a theory. Also there's the collective belief thing, which some people say "Well loads of others think its a conspiracy, so it might be true"... even if 1/2 the world believes in something, it doesn't constitute as proof.

I wonder if there's a correlation between religious people and likelyhood to believe in conspiracies. Just out of interest.

Also, i don't think it really matters if they landed on the moon or not at this stage... there's not enough evidence to prove it either way, we know they have been there since, and even if they didn't it makes little difference. All in all, wasted effort.
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Re: i couldn't resist

Postby Scheod » Mon May 07, 2007 5:44 pm UTC

afireinside13t wrote:
elisfanclub wrote:
2. The flight path of the aircraft that hit the pentagon brought it past many different cameras from many different angles. The footage from anyone of those cameras could easily clear up the question of "what hit the pentagon?", but for some reason the FBI showed up at all the locations (a gas station and hotel near by) and confiscated it. When pressured about this, the pentagon released 5 frames of video from ONE of it's security cameras, and the frames didn't really clear up anything at all. Why would they do this? Why not just release the footage and clear the whole thing up once and for all?


Actually that footage has been released: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12818225/


to be fair...this footage looks an awful lot like the 5 frames elisfanclub mentioned pretending to be a video (you can even see the 5 frames sectioned off in the "movie time" bar). Also, you cannot actually see what hit the building.

I know someone who was in the pentagon when it got hit, and sure he could not know about a conspiracy (or be lying about it if he did!), but it wouldn't make sense for the government to blow up some of their own top people O.o would it?

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Postby Princess_Shauna » Mon May 07, 2007 5:52 pm UTC

the sad thing is, I could see a few of my friends actually doing this (last panel) it kinda make me laugh :roll:

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Postby djn » Mon May 07, 2007 6:22 pm UTC

tialaramex wrote:Where a bank robbery might need four or five people to stay quiet, and a coup might need a few dozen key people, a Grand Conspiracy Theory often falls apart unless you're willing to believe that hundreds, thousands or even millions of people were knowingly part of the conspiracy.


Not quite, though. The more well-developed (and/or fictional) conspiracies on that scale has a sort of need-to-know - system where only the top people knows what's going on, while most of the people involved would at worst think they're part of a small-scale (plausible) consipracy. Ideally, a system like that would survive people talking or being exposed, because it's not tracable to the higher levels or others on the same level.

Practically speaking, I don't see it surviving for very long[1], but anyway.

[1] While the chance of any given puppet being found out unravelling the entire system is low, the sheer number of them makes the odds worse.

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Postby voodooKobra » Mon May 07, 2007 6:37 pm UTC

This was full of win.
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Postby Iluvatar » Mon May 07, 2007 6:41 pm UTC

What we need is some sort of theory to connect the various disparate conspiracy - some sort of super conspiracy, if you will.

How can we tie together the Moon Landing, JFK, 911, Flat Earth, and Raptors?
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Postby Swordfish » Mon May 07, 2007 6:50 pm UTC

kaellinn18 wrote:... The fact that the earth has been around for millions of years and that dinosaurs once roamed the earth does not automatically falsify the entire religion...


Bold mine.

This doesn't really effect your point one way or another, but that's billions. :)

Anyway, as far as conspiricy theorys go, the moon hoax people are, by far, my least favorite ones. It seems to me that their arguments are steeped in a misunderstanding of, most specifically, radiation and, like everything else, there are the brash untrue statements. I heard one person make the argument "how could they go to the moon if color tv's weren't even invented." Someone needs to brush up on their history of television.

Another problem with the moon hoax belief is that, either thousands upon thousands of people who worked for various contractors and other organizations who helped build the equipment to land on the moon had to, and still have to keep quite that they really weren't doing anything, or these people weren't in on the hoax, and NASA got a bunch of equipment capable of going to the moon and still didn't use it.

Even beyond that, there are thousands upon thousands of more people that would have to be kept quiet, including the Soviets, who tracked our landers all the way to the moon and back. If there was someone who was going to call our bluff on that, it would have been Russia, there's nothing the U.S. could have possibly done to keep them quiet.

Anyway, good comic today, no?
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Postby Radd McCool » Mon May 07, 2007 7:03 pm UTC

Patashu wrote:
Radd McCool wrote:I believe in the bible because it was written by God. I know this to be true. It says so in this book I have.


Really? And what might this book of yours be called?

This book is also the bible .was written by god. I know this to be true. It says so in this book I have.

I like to keep this flow chart in mind.
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skeptical scientist wrote:What exactly do you mean by this?

The 'fuh fuh' sorts that slap 'Skeptic' on their chest as an appeal to authority garner more in the way of attentions than legitimate skeptics. Loose Change has greater associations with 'skeptic' than some clever fellow who broke some crap theory about something stupid.

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Postby Westacular » Mon May 07, 2007 7:09 pm UTC

scwizard wrote:Then I went to the internet and did some research on jet fuel fires and steel and buildings and things, and I discovered that the conspiracy theorists were definitely pulling stuff out of their ass. There's still a good chance that they could be right about a good many things and ultimately they could be correct that there were other explosives in the towers. However they lost a ton of credibility.


Isn't that almost always the case with conspiracy theories? One or two maybe decent criticisms drowned out in a sea of specious claims.

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Postby Bear » Mon May 07, 2007 7:16 pm UTC

OneLess wrote:
Bear wrote:Just one look at that board made my head hurt. It takes a special type of person to be able to be that crazy.

Heh, check out "Jabulon"'s posts. Just to give a taste, he once said that jet fuel does not explode if an aircraft crashes :)


It makes me sad that one of the more crazy persons on that board goes by the name "The Bear."

For those who may be confused, I am nowhere near that level of insanity.

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Postby Tractor » Mon May 07, 2007 7:28 pm UTC

Swordfish wrote:Even beyond that, there are thousands upon thousands of more people that would have to be kept quiet, including the Soviets, who tracked our landers all the way to the moon and back. If there was someone who was going to call our bluff on that, it would have been Russia, there's nothing the U.S. could have possibly done to keep them quiet.


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Re: i couldn't resist

Postby gmalivuk » Mon May 07, 2007 7:30 pm UTC

Scheod wrote:to be fair...this footage looks an awful lot like the 5 frames elisfanclub mentioned pretending to be a video (you can even see the 5 frames sectioned off in the "movie time" bar). Also, you cannot actually see what hit the building.


To be fair, did you bother clicking on the link that actually launches a video instead of just watching something clearly labled as a "Photo Slide-Show"?

In one of the actual videos, you can see what looks very much like a plane heading towards the building. Of course, it's going 500mph, so a security camera (which is usually far below movie-grade 24fps) can't be expected to pick up much more than one frame.
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Postby SecondTalon » Mon May 07, 2007 7:30 pm UTC

I've always wanted to talk to someone who doesn't believe we landed on the moon. Just to ask "So.. why didn't the US's political, economic, and scientific rivals of the time.. the Soviet Union... with whom the US was engaged in a Space Race call the US on it? I mean, shouldn't it have gone -

USA : Im on ur moon, plantin' mah flag!
Soviet Russia : In Soviet Russia, Flag plant YOU! Also, you're lying scumbags."
USA : D'oh!
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Postby Swordfish » Mon May 07, 2007 8:02 pm UTC

Hey, I'm glad to be the inspiration for so many Yakov Smirnoff jokes.
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Postby OneLess » Mon May 07, 2007 8:02 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:I've always wanted to talk to someone who doesn't believe we landed on the moon. Just to ask "So.. why didn't the US's political, economic, and scientific rivals of the time.. the Soviet Union... with whom the US was engaged in a Space Race call the US on it? I mean, shouldn't it have gone -

USA : Im on ur moon, plantin' mah flag!
Soviet Russia : In Soviet Russia, Flag plant YOU! Also, you're lying scumbags."
USA : D'oh!
Phil Plait also makes the point that moon rocks were sent to the Soviet Union for scientific verification, and all tests came back a-okay. If we didn't actually go to the moon, wouldn't the Soviets jump on the chance to cry "BS!"? That is, unless you want to go really wack-job insano and claim that the Soviets were actually our allies throughout the Cold War.

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Postby Jach » Mon May 07, 2007 8:06 pm UTC

Hmm, on the "earth was created 6000 years ago" and stuff.. Why can't we all just believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster and have noodly peace?

The first time I saw the loose change thing, I went "Whoa." But then I kinda dismissed it, since the points it made were kinda stupid to me... And after Maddox's thing about it, following the links and stuff, I'm 99.9% sure that Loose Change is BS. Sadly I can't get my equally intelligent friend to agree with me. :/

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Postby The LuigiManiac » Mon May 07, 2007 8:07 pm UTC

Iluvatar wrote:What we need is some sort of theory to connect the various disparate conspiracy - some sort of super conspiracy, if you will.

How can we tie together the Moon Landing, JFK, 911, Flat Earth, and Raptors?


Aliens.
Spoiler:
THE CAKE IS A 3.141592653589...!

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Postby SecondTalon » Mon May 07, 2007 8:14 pm UTC

Alien-Hybrids. Half Alien, Half Raptor, Half Manbearpig. Very large.
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Postby Ronfar » Mon May 07, 2007 8:41 pm UTC

Iluvatar wrote:What we need is some sort of theory to connect the various disparate conspiracy - some sort of super conspiracy, if you will.

How can we tie together the Moon Landing, JFK, 911, Flat Earth, and Raptors?


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Postby Herman » Mon May 07, 2007 8:44 pm UTC

What we need is some sort of theory to connect the various disparate conspiracy - some sort of super conspiracy, if you will.


At the Potsdam Conference in 1945, FDR (who was a raptor, which explains the wheelchair -- he was an unusually large raptor who needed a concealed space to fold up his tail) made a deal with Stalin (only working on behalf of raptors) that orchestrated the course of the future space race. The Soviets would pretend to win the early stages -- first satellite, first man in space, etc, when of course they could hardly build a working clock radio. In return, the Soviets would allow the Americans to claim to land on the moon. In reality, of course, space travel is impossible because orbits are impossible, because the Earth is flat.

Meanwhile, the Russians would use the money they claimed to be using on space research to fake evidence of the Holocaust in order to encourage the UN to found Israel, which they knew would lead to instability in the Middle East. This would discourage archaeologists from finding evidence hidden in the Holy Land of Jesus's faked execution and subsequent career selling discount wine, loaves, and fishes in modern-day Luxembourg. As an added benefit, those archaeology students would now be driven toward paleontology departments, where they would begin planting evidence for a very old Earth in order to secure grant money. For the Russians, this was great because it encouraged materialism in Russia, and religious strife in America. The US used the money budgeted for the space program on the development and distribution of crack.

In the early 60's, the Russians were convinced by dastardly Jews (who are behind all major armed conflicts) that they had gotten the short end of the stick, so they used their mob connections to kill JFK, a champion of the space race. This lead to the Johnson administration, and the Vietnam War. US involvement in Vietnam forced the Russians to flex their muscles in Afghanistan, only to find that there's nothing worth having there. In another secret deal, brokered by Free Mason raptors, they agreed to pretend to "fall" in 1989, if the US would agree to take over in Afghanistan by the end of the century. The US President, George H.W. Bush, readily agreed, realizing that in Afghanistan there was a plentiful and ill-guarded supply of opium, to which his son, the current President, was secretly and massively addicted. And so, on 9/11/2001, the government used a single, indestructible, automated plane based on alien technology from Area 51 to carry out the attacks as an excuse to attack Afghanistan.

Open your eyes, people! The truth is out there!

EvanED
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Postby EvanED » Mon May 07, 2007 8:59 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:I've always wanted to talk to someone who doesn't believe we landed on the moon. Just to ask "So.. why didn't the US's political, economic, and scientific rivals of the time.. the Soviet Union... with whom the US was engaged in a Space Race call the US on it? I mean, shouldn't it have gone -

USA : Im on ur moon, plantin' mah flag!
Soviet Russia : In Soviet Russia, Flag plant YOU! Also, you're lying scumbags."
USA : D'oh!


I think you stole my argument. Why are you in my brain?

mbelrose
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Postby mbelrose » Mon May 07, 2007 9:05 pm UTC

Jach wrote:Hmm, on the "earth was created 6000 years ago" and stuff.. Why can't we all just believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster and have noodly peace?


Heretic! The Celestial Ramen Entity seeks not peace, but the domination of all freedom-loving ninjas by his unholy zombie pirate army.


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