It isn't a conspiracy theory, it's the finding of 17 intelligence agencies

Trump Russia isn’t a conspiracy theory, it’s the finding of 17 intelligence agencies.

There are public documents explaining the current findings. There are independently verifiable claims. The investigations will make reports public. The investigation is being carried out by agencies and committees that have carried out similar investigations before. It isn’t being done any differently than other investigations by these groups.

It isn’t a conspiracy. It’s not happening in secret. It’s a legal investigation into possible criminal acts and possible obstruction of justice. It’s a perfectly normal function of these groups for basic government accountability to the public they serve.

The idea the media, the deep state and the prior administration are conspiring to fabricate evidence of colusion for some unknown nefarious purpose; that’s a conspiracy theory.

The ironclad logic of conspiracy theories and how to break it

The ironclad logic of conspiracy theories and how to break it:

to deny the science of climate change is to believe in a conspiracy. It may be thought of as a conspiracy between scientists and “the left”, the UN, or all of them, but it is a necessary part of any such position.

Those in public life who deny climate science have long had a free reign in the media, appealing to the right for alternative views to be heard, claiming that this or that study is flawed, or explicitly claiming that a conspiracy exists.

Worth a read.

How ideologues are like Google’s Deep Dream neural networks

like Google’s neural network, we human beings are designed by evolution to find patterns in everything we see and hear; this ability enables us to quickly and efficiently make sense of the world around us. But it can also lead us to find patterns that aren’t there — the proverbial faces we see in the clouds, for example.

Deep Dream shows us what can happen when pattern recognition gets the best of us — like the software, we can conjure elaborate visions out of pretty much nothing at all. That’s how conspiracy theorists look at the world, finding “evidence” of elaborate conspiracies pretty much everywhere they look.

(via Face in a Cloud: How ideologues are like Google’s Deep Dream neural networks | we hunted the mammoth)

Worth a read.

Conspiracy theories explain the right

Conspiracy theories explain the right:

The conservative mindset is in decline. Stories of cabals and secret plots provide comfort as its power wanes

If I were to tell you that a cabal of Congressional Republicans had been quietly working with a roster of little-known political organizations since the last election, many of them funded by a pair of shadowy billionaire brothers, to bring the country to the brink of financial ruin, I’d understand it if you thought I was talking about a conspiracy theory. But really I’d be describing the sausage making that goes on in politics today and the blurry lines between lobbying and influence peddling

Right wing politics is a racket, not a political philosophy. 

Conspiracy theory: Could the president take over the Internet?

Could President Obama, in the event of a massive cyber attack against government computers, be given the power to bring Internet traffic to a stop?
From: Scientific American: Could the president take over the Internet?

More here: Actually, Obama Doesn’t Want to Take Over the Internet

Can we now resign this to the meme dust heap with Cell Phones kill bees and Vaccines cause X?

Ben Stein's Expelled

In the new science-bashing movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Ben Stein and the rest of the filmmakers sincerely and seriously argue that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution paved the way for the Holocaust. By “seriously,” I mean that Ben Stein acts grief-stricken and the director juxtaposes quotes from evolutionary biologists with archival newsreel clips from Hitler’s Reich
Expelled frequently repeats that design-based explanations (not to mention religious ones) are “forbidden” by “big science.” It never explains why, however. Evolution and the rest of “big science” are just described as having an atheistic preference.
Actually, science avoids design explanations for natural phenomena out of logical necessity. The scientific method involves rigorously observing and experimenting on the material world. It accepts as evidence only what can be measured or otherwise empirically validated (a requirement called methodological naturalism). That requirement prevents scientific theories from becoming untestable and overcomplicated.
From Six Things in Expelled that Ben Stein Doesn’t Want You to Know…: Scientific American
And Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Integrity Displayed: Scientific American

Haven’t these people heard of Godwin’s Law? While debate by Hitler comparison seems to be par for the course in conservative politics, its just annoying for those of us that view these tactics as an admission of the lack of an argument rather than proof of of the strength of an argument. If your argument is based on things that would get you laughed out of a high school debate club, then you shouldn’t be taken seriously.

It's only illegal when the president agrees it's illegal

We now know that in 2004 Gonzales and Andy Card raced to the hospital to try to get a very sick John Ashcroft to certify the legality of the president’s secret NSA surveillance program going over the head of Comey, the acting attorney general while Ashcroft was ill. When Ashcroft refused to override Comey, the White House reauthorized the program without DoJ certification. The question now is whether in so doing, the White House did something illegal, improper, neither, or both.
From Slate Magazine

AG Ashcroft and Acting AG Comey deserve a lot of respect for refusing to go along with the Whitehouse. Doubly so when you put it in the context of Ashcroft in a hospital bed and Comey rushing to his side to prevent a gross miscarriage of justice.

The Masons make a bid for NASCAR

By appearing on the hood of Conz’s car, the Rite will reach millions of viewers during ESPN’s race coverage. (Up to 30 million “impressions” per race-a figure that calculates the number of people watching, and the number of times a portion of the car appears on screen.) “The NASCAR demographics fit our demographics,” says Dodd. When I ask him to be more specific, he just says, “Men.”
From The Masons make a bid for NASCAR. - By Seth Stevenson - Slate Magazine

Besides wondering it the Illuminati will sponsor Formula 1, this article made me think that that maybe some rouge Onion editor managed to sneak into the Slate office and get access to the server.