In FT261, I noted that the US State Department employed one Todd Leventhal to rebut conspiracy theories. There is now a State Department website devoted to this under the legend: “Conspiracy theories exist in the realm of myth, where imaginations run wild, fears trump facts, and evidence is ignored.”
The treatment of the handful of topics covered varies. The attempt to rebut some of the 9/11 theories is really quite good, though it has nothing to say about the recent demonstration of the presence of thermite, implying demolition, in the ruins. But the treatment of the Kennedy assassination is just insulting. As his evidence against us conspiracy buffs, Levanthal uses Vincent Bugliosi’s 2007 restatement of the ‘lone assassin’ version and he quotes this section:
“Bugliosi notes that [Mark] Lane says that none of the doctors who treated Kennedy in Dallas observed a bullet entry wound in the back of his head. This would seem to indicate that Oswald, who was behind Kennedy, could not have been the assassin. But Bugliosi says the reason the doctors saw no entry wound is that they did not turn over Kennedy’s body to look at the back of his head. Their concern was treating his visible injuries to try to save his life.”
Leventhal also gives a nice plug to David Aaronovitch’s latest book, which lampoons conspiracy theories, Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History. And so Times columnist Aaronovitch’s political odyssey reaches a kind of conclusion: a member of the Communist Party in the 1970s, he ends up being used by the State Department in its futile struggle against the forces of what the CIA termed ‘sick think’. And against the thousands of conspiracy theory sites, this State Department website will have about as much effect as a site appealing for sexual abstinence amidst the Net’s oceans of porn.
In a review in FT260, I wrote about HJ Albarelli’s new book about the American state’s post-war experiments with mind control and psychedelic drugs in particular, A Terrible Mistake (a set of ‘conspiracy theories’ the State Department does not deal with; see also FT262:20–21; 38–42). In a postscript to his long review essay on this in Lobster 59, Anthony Frewin refers to the curious case of the Tory MP Dr Donald Johnson who was ‘spiked’ with LSD at the hotel he owned in 1950 and ‘sectioned’ for a while as a result. This provoked Johnson to take an interest in such drugs and he published a book entitled The Hallucinogenic Drugs in 1953. And there I was thinking the drug culture only began in the 1960s!