Well apparently the Osama “deather” meme has become a full-blown conspiracy theory in record time. The idea is not so much that Osama bin Laden is still alive but that he was killed years ago (some say as early as 2002) and kept in hiding – on ice, I’ve read – for some obscure purpose.

Has that purpose been revealed? Clearly, Obama is using it to put the “birther” business behind him and get re-elected in 2012. But that would also imply that the Obama administration and the Bush administration are in cahoots, working together in the cultivation of the Greatest Conspiracy Ever. This notion was echoed by noted truther Giulietto Chiesa, who called Obama a “neocon” on Italian television last night.

It’s slightly exhilarating to watch the weeds of conpiracy theory sprout up literally overnight. Before I’d even heard the news that Osama was dead, Twitter was brimming with announcements of the new manifestation of “birtherism”, tagged #deather/s. “Show us the birth certificate” was the new “Show me or draw me a Nazi gas chamber” and is now “Show us the photos/corpse of Osama bin Laden.”

Of course no photos would ever be enough (they could be faked), no cadaver would ever be that of the real Osama, and how could we trust the “experts” even if they told us that his DNA matched? So the White House is – very wisely, in my opinion – brushing the whole business aside by refusing to go there.

Because the truth about conspiracy theorists is that they never stop when evidence is shown to them; they never say, “Alright, we were mistaken. Now that you’ve shown us adequate proof of X we’ve accepted your narrative.” That never happens. Conspiracy theorists are not skeptics, though they love to think of themselves as such. Skepticism is after truth through supporting evidence, while conspiracy theorists are after “truth” despite evidence to the contrary. The more you give them, the stronger the conspiracy becomes. Their minds are already made up.

2 thoughts on “#Deathers

  1. I find the creativity of conspiracy theorists endlessly fascinating, because there’s no such thing as a new fact that can’t be co-opted into their “proof.” It either seems to back them up directly, or it’s proof of a cover-up. As others have pointed out, it’s popular with those whose mentality makes them fear a world in which much is random and it seems to reassure them to think that someone has everything under control, even if it’s the bad guys. Proper use of Occam’s Razor can demolish any fake conspiracy theory (of course there have been and are real conspiracies and we know about quite a few because those behind them couldn’t pull them off as seamlessly as conspiracy theorists insist that they can).

    1. Well, yeah, it’s heads-I-win, tails-I-win. The conspiracy theories (not the actual, historical conspiracies) are so elastic that they can absorb pretty much anything while at the same time being mutually exclusive. They share this terrain with other kinds of irrational belief, from religion to CAM.

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