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Posted by on Jan 19, 2013 in Health, Politics | 18 comments

Conspiracy Theorists (Guest Voice)

Conspiracy Theorists (via

And now a word from a mental health expert (me!) about conspiracy theorists. If you’ve ever met a paranoid schizophrenic, what stands out most about them is how sickly rational they are. They can tell you exactly why they believe someone is poisoning their food, listening to their phone calls, following…

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  • SteveK

    Did you hear the one about the Japanese General that said Japan didn’t attack the US Mainland because there was an American with an M16 behind every blade of grass?

    It’s true… I swear… Just Google “Japanese General” and “grass” or is that Google “Japanese General” and smoke some grass. I keep getting those two techniques mixed up. 🙂

  • You are misinterpreting Wayne LaPierre’s statements. His are not lunatic ramblings.

    There are two key types of dishonesty at play. One is the pathology you describe. The other is dishonesty based on the ulterior motive. The person has a real goal that does not match with the stated goal and thus statements make no sense.

    Sane statements on gun violence will not come from the NRA because they are not interested in it. Because they are primarily funded by gun manufacturers, gun retailers, and other commercial facets of the greater gun culture, they will wrap all discussions under the umbrella “we need more guns.”

    It’s not pathology. It’s conflicting goals.

  • Dr. J

    “They want to take my guns?” Not only is that not a delusion, I don’t even think it’s controversial. “They want to raise my taxes” has been pretty well documented too.

  • dduck

    This all sounds nice and sort of logical and the same behavior on a smaller scale could apply to politicians and Red Sox fans. There are “enthusiasts” for practically any cause and they will give details and facts to bolster their position until the cows come home. So, I don’t but the “they are coming to take my guns” as a psychological problem/symptom, but a simple desire to keep my nice shiny toy (especially if you of the male gender).
    At boot camp they told us “this is my rifle (M1) and this is my gun, one is for fighting and one is for fun”. Although I guess some people get that mixed up, they are not all nuts (non medical term).

  • ordinarysparrow

    Video that supports this post….

    Alex Jones

  • petew

    Dr. J,

    I think the statement, “they want to take my guns away,” becomes delusional when
    Congressional action to prevent needless gun deaths, is confused with a deliberate and sinister plot to thwart an individuals desires—not just a topic being circulated for debate about how we can best protect our children and other victims of gun violence.

    As for, “they want to raise my taxes,” this statement is bound to be true with some section of the populace no matter what the time, and what the present administration in power may be. The question for sane voters is really, are the taxes that are planed reasonable and aimed at those best able to pay them, or, those who can bear them the least. One’s fair share is open to debate also, depending on one’s particular ideology and prejudices which unfortunately may often lend to individual or group conspiracy theories, but even when containing a grain of truth, these theories almost always become objectively determined as being grandiose.

    By the way, I noticed your response to one of my posts concerning debt ceiling politics but was unable to respond. I wish had been able to reply by asserting that you did indeed, refer to the idea that raising the debt ceiling once may be necessary but that, continuing to insist on the need to deny this routine government function, is an attempt to endlessly avoid effectively lowering the deficit.

    I also find it hard to believe that you actually believed my reference to bank accounts was made to bring up my personal situation, rather than an obvious analogy made in order to express a point! To claim otherwise is either a lack of perception or, an attempt to raise my political ire in order to polarize. Anyway, those are the only rational ways I can interpret it.

    The idea that Sandy hook was some kind of plot made in order to foster support for anti-gun legislation is absolutely sick and delusional—or else another ridiculous spin produced by Fox Cable comenters who believe that they are only crazy like a fox! Is there often a fine line between the person confined to a rubber room and the person who makes outrageous political statements? You bet, but paranoia is a sad excuse for rationality in any form.

  • SteveK

    Thank you petew.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Once again,my kudos to you, Petew

  • Dr. J

    I think the statement, “they want to take my guns away,” becomes delusional when Congressional action to prevent needless gun deaths, is confused with a deliberate and sinister plot to thwart an individuals desires—not just a topic being circulated for debate about how we can best protect our children and other victims of gun violence.

    Pete, the facts are what they are. A great many citizens would indeed like to take most or all guns out of the hands of other citizens. They do it deliberately, in an attempt to protect children and other victims of gun violence, despite that it would thwart other individuals’ desires.

    If you believe that the benefits of tighter gun control outweigh the costs, you’ll probably view their agenda in a positive light and emphasize their good intentions. And if you believe the opposite, you’ll emphasize their infringement of other people’s liberties. Neither view is delusional, and that sort of name-calling is unhelpful.

    Now, the idea that the Sandy Hook shooting was a plot is obviously a completely different proposition, one unsupported by any facts I’ve seen. If you want to call *that* delusional, I can agree with you.

    By the way, I noticed your response to one of my posts concerning debt ceiling politics but was unable to respond. I wish had been able to reply by asserting that you did indeed, refer to the idea that raising the debt ceiling once may be necessary but that, continuing to insist on the need to deny this routine government function, is an attempt to endlessly avoid effectively lowering the deficit.

    I appreciate your effort to follow up on the topic. I’m afraid I don’t understand your second sentence. It seems to be saying that raising the debt ceiling somehow lowers the deficit, and therefore refusing to raise the debt ceiling avoids lowering the deficit? I didn’t write anything like that and don’t see how it could be true.

    I also find it hard to believe that you actually believed my reference to bank accounts was made to bring up my personal situation, rather than an obvious analogy made in order to express a point! To claim otherwise is either a lack of perception or, an attempt to raise my political ire in order to polarize. Anyway, those are the only rational ways I can interpret it.

    I think you’re giving me more credit than I deserve for understanding what you mean. You said “if you insist on managing my savings account by forcing future deposits cuts…,” which is perhaps an obvious analogy to you, but it isn’t to me. I don’t understand what deposits you’re referring to, nor what cuts, nor what might force them in the future. So I disclaimed the premise: I didn’t insist on any such thing.

  • petew

    Dr. J,

    Thanks for responding to my comment on another forum. Like most who make posts on TMV I am frustrated when I can’t directly respond to another poster.

    You are right that if given a final choice between only two alternatives, one being that all assault rifles and High capacity clips be eliminated, or allowed to remain unregulated and easily available, I would side with the former. But my specific opinions allow for the possession of less lethal weapons, with smaller ammo clips. I also think it is possible that plain clothes police might patrol school grounds and present an effective resistance against an armed invader. However, my beliefs about armed resistance stop at teachers being required to defend their classes. Some of them might comply, but primarily teachers go into their professions in order to teach, not to double as security guards that defend against hostile and potentially lethal situations. It is both unfair and unwise to expect them to fulfill such a role, and furthermore, they are NOT the best equipped to do so. I understand that you have not made specific comments about this last opinion of mine, but I offer it, to illustrate that I am not totally opposed to all the ideas of gun advocates, even though I disagree with many of them.

    My point about delusional thinking among the most radical gun advocates is that when one begins to believe that the government is undertaking an agenda, specifically designed to remove ALL guns from their possession, that this type of paranoid thinking is not based on reality. Obama, for instance has never wanted to remove all handguns from private ownership, although he is now indicating being agreeable to reducing clip sizes and preventing assault weapons from being continually available in the culture—by the fact that if they exist in private arsenals they can still quite possibly fall into the wrong hands. I am not accusing you of being such a fanatic as to believe in a bona-fide malicious conspiracy, but I have read the comments of some who do believe so. And,If you ask me, Charlton Heston’s comment about not giving up his weapons until “they are pried from his cold dead hands,”is a bit extreme, and indicative of irrational paranoia.

    Perhaps my statement,about delusional thinking on the part of many gun advocates, was not fully explained. The fact is that NRA people also have children who they love, but differ in their ideas about the best ways to protect them. But when the idea of discussing the issue at all, with the possibility of deciding on some legal changes is merely discussed and debated, this is only a political process of our government. As you know there are many 2nd amendment believers who also favor some effective restrictions. It is only when any alternative ideas at all, become perceived as a personal threat, that they begin to morph into the delusional range of total unreality! This kind of thinking (which is sometimes evidenced by the comments of NRA supporters) is a totally different thing and not productive at all!

    If you think my statements about Republican plans to use the debt ceiling issue as a political football, comes from believing that raising the debt ceiling somehow will automatically lower the deficit, or that preventing it from being raised will never lower the deficit, then I once again, must not have expressed my point adequately. The fact is that, whatever course we choose to significantly lower the debt, will have to take place over many years. Even Paul Ryan’s health care plans will not succeed in fully balancing the budget until several decades from now. And, although he made elaborate calculations while explaining his program, during the elections both he and Romney refused to provide specific information about where cuts would be made—incidentally one of the same criticisms they leveled at the President. In addition most non-partisan groups thought the math was virtually impossible. So regardless of whether we raise the debt ceiling in a timely way or not, we are still facing a long road to fiscal security! I only think that the government function of periodically raising the debt ceiling is a safe and necessary step towards beginning, BEGINNING THE PROCESS!

    When I express the opinion that raising the debt is a procedural necessity made in order to cover expenses that have already been incurred, I do believe exactly that, but when I say the best way to negotiate spending cuts, is to do so NOW and with being mindful of proposals that invite genuine compromise from both parties, I still believe that this is the ONLY sane way to prevent VERY possible damage to a faltering economy. I also believe that Tea Party greenhorn radicals have no conception about how to realistically approach this issue, and are instigating a viscous power play that can do NO ONE any good! Sorry if you believe that you were NOT giving the impression that refusing to raise the deficit would be an effective way to begin making serious fixes to the budget. Myself, and several other comenters definitely thought you did! Even if you failed to jump on a soap box and proclaim that it MUSTN’T be raised, you definitely gave the impression that such a strategy could be more useful than commonly thought. I absolutely disagree! Do you really think a good way to convince Democrats to agree to any cuts that REPUBLICANS desire, through the use of blatant political force, is a good way to win Democrat’s co-operation? I think not!

    As far as your professed ignorance about my use of an analogy to explain a point about the debt ceiling issue—if you really didn’t get it, then you must not have read my full response. I actually did mention in the very same sentence that “forcing deposit cuts,” was “analogous to reducing tax revenues which are required to pay my expenses.” How did you miss that direct reference to my analogy? In this case I don’t think it was my failure to make a point clearly, but rather, your failure to read and comprehend it.

    Admittedly, opinions like yours often raise my political ire, but you too, are giving yourself way too much credit to think that I am responding uniquely in this way because of you. The fact is that, I have held my opinions about both gun control and the debt ceiling for a very long time—long before posting even a single comment to you!

    My discussion about initiating discussions based on compromise NOW, were intended to convey the reasonable idea that the cuts and revenues decided on would over time, begin to lower the national debt. Not that I disagreed with failure to raise the debt, because I wanted to avoid the issue. I’m sorry that when you insisted that such a failure may represent a valid way to kick-start debt reduction, you missed the real reasons why I disagreed.

  • dduck

    Thanks, Dr. J.

  • dduck

    Well said, Dr. J.

  • petew


    In general, I like to consider the value of certain positions taken by the right, because, since many of them also have the capability to think intelligently, it follows that sometimes they will touch on something entirely valid. In strictest terms, the fear that the government will confiscate guns, light bulbs, my cigarettes etc. Do not fit the criteria for Delusional paranoia (At least I think not) but an important thing to remember, is that, in contrast to these other things, powerful weapons may actually be used by mass murderers,while light bulbs and cigarettes, are on a completely different level.

    Logically speaking one of the obvious needs for firearms is for self-defense. Therefore one may be disappointed with the government for restricting any particular guns that you or I might want to own, and not be particularly paranoid—just angered or upset. However, When Obama was first elected, the sale of firearms rocketed mostly because of the notion that Obama was intent on taking away ALL guns from private ownership. So, because Obama has never really endorsed such a thing, these people acted on irrational fears totally based on a preconceived assumptions. If that weren’t enough, after Obama’s first term had little to do with pushing for gun restrictions, many gun owners took his natural response to Sandy Hook as proof positive that the confiscation of firearms was immanent—even though the Administration has still failed to endorse anything like that. The mention I made of Charlton Heston’s “from my cold bloody hands,” comment, as not only antagonistic, but also indicative of paranoia, is becasuse Heston again is assuming something that has not, and most likely, will never really occur. So, I think that, on the issue of gun control, members of the NRA do often react with irrational fear, and paranoia—after all the entire issue is involved with the basic concept of self preservation, and so, must involve some amount of fear. I am also sure that Democrats sometimes act on paranoia, but that is another topic for discussion.

    I understand the idea of arguing from the middle and seeing if respondents will agree or be offended, but you have been particularly vague in this way, and, as far as thinking that refusing to raise the debt limit, might be a useful tool when used to force a balanced budget, I think excerpts from your comments can objectively confirm that this idea was indeed, part of your talking points. And because approval of these points is typical of right wing thought, how can you merely be Pretending to be hard right—since on this particular issue you really are in agreement with the hard right. The question of whether allowing a default on the debt ceiling should be permitted only once, or should be used frequently—whenever attempting to push a particular parties ideology, is another question. But I reacted to your sort of “baiting” tactic because this is exactly what you said—essentially that this maneuver by Republican has some merits, and that allowing defaults to occur doesn’t really have a definite harmful effect on our economy. Additionally, since many of the positions you took are widely used by Republican that is why I responded to you as if you were actually a confirmed Republican. As I said, although markets may sometimes not respond even in ways that the experts expect, I think that playing Russian Roulette with the debt is unwise and will sooner or later lead to great harm— probably much sooner.

    I also don’t believe that deliberately using ideas which support, or are in agreement with the political opinions of major parties—just to see what reaction you may get—is not really very cool and, is actually unfair to other comenters. It is very difficult to make a pertinent critique of another when that person insists he is being non-committal when many of the ideas he actually expresses are definitely embraced by a particular party.

    It is probably a character fault that I sometimes become angered by those expressing other points of view, but I do so because I care about this country and don’t like to see its political machinery used to extort cooperation from other Congressmen or even common voters. Although it is quite common for many differing points of view to contain some bit of truth, I think this debt ceiling travesty is not one of them! You can call it bias if you want, but to me the issue should not be constrained by using relativistic arguments. It is truly a situation that can cause great harm to our country, and I am offended by Republican who claim they have the interests of all American at heart, and so, vigorously oppose raising OUR taxes. Three guesses on who OUR really refers to.

    It is an interesting exercise when, like Socrates, one challenges pre-conceived notions as not conducive to truthful conclusion—a logical trap that probably none of us is perfectly able to avoid, but, when someone initiates or takes part in a serious discussion, primarily to goad adversaries into revealing their ideological passions, and then claims that their response is not about anything that was actually said or approved of by them personally, one can’t help but feel a little upset at “being had.”

    I also have a list of talking points that I am strongly committed to, and I feel passionate about most of them. But, when I become passionate on this website I usually do so because I really believe in my own ideas, and think that I understand the positions of my opponent. It is a bit unfair to be so cryptic in your responses that what you seem to be saying, is not actually what you claim as your intention. It would have been far easier to clearly define your own opinions in the beginning and then earnestly express them. Leading others on an intellectual goose chance may be fun, but it really wastes the time of anyone who participates in it.

  • petew

    Dr. J,

    After re-reading both of our previous comments, it becomes apparent that, if you seriously think that raising the debt ceiling is demonstrably NOT a beginning towards solving our debt problem, then you must misunderstand my point about the importance and the necessity of raising the ceiling to avoid the probable consequences of NOT doing so. When I say that raising the ceiling would be a beginning, I mean that, to have Republicans give up their obstructionist political strategy, especially on this issue, would be a call for sanity. And,at least, we would safely get this important but routine issue behind us. Then, being free from thug tactics, both parties could begin to engage in honest dialogue and genuine compromises.

    I don’t know why anyone should believe that simply avoiding serious trouble by carrying through a necessary government procedure, is equivalent to dooming any future solutions to our economic woes? As the President said, compromise does not end with each party getting everything they want, but rather with settling for a little less than each might prefer. In concurrence with this spirit Obama has recently conceded to settle for raising taxes only on those families earning more than $450,000 a year—not the $250,000 previously desired. He has already agreed to several tax cuts that significantly indicate his honest intentions to try and meet Republicans half way. And, it seems that their stubborn resistance comes mainly from anger about having to make any concessions at all rather than any righteous knowledge.

    You specifically question the logic about raising the debt ceiling based on the observation that last year such a concession did not result in reducing the debt—as it could not possibly have done anyway. Changes in the debt will come as the result of mutual concessions and cuts made over several decades rather than one four years period of any administration. There really is no magic bullet, and obviously, black mailing the political process in intended only to bolster the dogmatic wishes of just one side—the GOP’s and, in particular the Tea Parties dogma, I also don’t understand why you claim that we have only raised the debt ceiling 10 times in the last century. Simple research can verify that in the last few decades alone many presidents have raised it more times than that even in a single term,and, as frequently mentioned, even Reagan had to do so eighteen times. I hope that, your are being so devious as to insist your reference to this century consists only of our economy since the year 2000. If it is, this a ridiculously misleading thing to say and deliberately minimizes the truth about how frequently this procedure happens.

    When I reject the attempts to deny raising our debt ceiling, I am not doing so merely because I want to kick the can down the road by perpetually avoiding the issue. I do so because it is dangerous and foolish, and, because government should not rule by ruthless coercion. If we immediately adopted the risky plan of always matching taxes with equivalent spending cuts, we would certainly not quickly put this issue behind us, and, even with my limited understanding of economics, I can see that such an effort will fail due to the fact that doing it and simultaneously running a compassionate government is impossible.

    Although you seem to recognize some beneficial results from holding the government hostage, I fail to see that any such scheme will have positive results let alone even be able to even be sufficiently executed. And, when faced with such preposterous folly, it is sometimes impossible to avoid extreme emotions.

    I hope that what you actually said about the debt ceiling is basically true and that I am not just writing all of this response without any hope of expecting my ideas to be seriously considered. Excuse me if you are not really saying what you appear to be, but how does holding a gun to the head of the Democratic party, lead to genuine compromises of any kind? And how does stubbornly resisting ANY INCREASES in revenues, result in any kind of economic fairness from Republicans. But please, don’t expect Democrats not to live up to their words about actually making real concessions on rationally proposed cuts. Republicans may not win all of their desires, but neither will Democrats. Additionally, if you want to publicly hold their feet to the fire by making sure of their genuine compliance, make all of that, part of the agreement too.

    Speaking of paranoia and conspiracy theories, Republicans seem totally unaware that Obama’s first term had a great deal to do with playing softball in order to secure any modest bi-partisan agreements at all. Despite his sincere efforts to satisfy some essential Republican desires, he was met with hostility and bull headed resistance. After all, Republicans publicly stated that their primary intentions were to do everything possible to defeat Obama, and,part of this included an ultimatum about not raising taxes without the same amount in cuts—no future discussions or concessions included! If it looks like a Tea Party ploy and walks like a Tea Party ploy, then it IS a Tea Party ploy. Although I am openly sharing my honest feelings about this ignorant group, I cannot do anything else when witnessing such monumental stupidity. Sorry, but sometimes bias is necessary—even though I may be displaying it in an extreme way!

    I hope you believe your own points of view and that you understand where mine are coming from. If not, then there is nothing more I need or want to say!

  • petew

    Dr. J,

    I didn’t expect such a rapid response to my last post and have to say a few things about your last and most recent statements.

    Yes life is unfair. I have lived more than 60 years and have often personally experienced its unfairness. But consider the proposition that using this axiom to cop out of really trying to change some of that unfairness, is, in itself, very unfair.

    I appreciate the fact that all sides usually have some important points to make which may be considered practical and real. But I cannot subscribe to some relativist belief that neither side has a clear majority of honest and useful ideas that can be compassionately employed. Hell, even Hitler made the trains run on time, but, that doesn’t mean I must grant him any kudos for the rest of his ruthless political philosophies, and, if you desire to play philosophical ring around the Rosie by insisting that you have no real, clear and cherished beliefs, then I hope you are willing to acknowledge that that sort of dedication to honesty and unbiased inquiry can easily pass for a closely held philosophical opinion in itself.

    I appreciate your success in remaining fairly dispassionate about most of your points—real or concocted. I am glad you are not an insulting type of person. However, I don’t think that all passionate responses, involved in determining the rightness or wrongness of a political position—are right or wrong in themselves. If I begin to see a monster I insist on calling it what it is, not engaging in endless relativism.

    Thanks for the dialogue, honest or not. Enjoy watching the inauguration, if you’re into such things!

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    “Dr J.” Jason, read the commenter’s rules before you comment again. There will be no attacking or baiting other commenters here. We keep the TMV comments area for *focused* comments on the topic only. Your claim about driving others ‘crazy’ at TMV and your personal assessment of other commenters at TMV is also off topic. If you want to have lengthy conversations with another commenter, please take it to your private email instead- if the other commenter is willing. Abide by the commenters rules and all is well and will be well.

    archangel/ dr.e

  • dduck

    Whatever Dr.J would have said.

  • petew

    I don’t think it is wrong for anyone to play a third party and throw out extreme and polarizing statements, in order to see what results. But If this is never revealed for purposes of virtue, then all it becomes is baiting and a huge waste of everyone’s time.

    I don’t think you should have removed his last post, Dr. E, but I think you are right to bring his folly to his and our attention.

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