SocraticGadfly: #MichaelHastings and conspiracy theories

July 02, 2013

#MichaelHastings and conspiracy theories

First, let me state that in general, I reject conspiracy theories under Occam's Razor and related simple logic.

So, let's look at the death of the Rolling Stone reporter.

First, counterintelligence guru Richard Clarke says Hastings' car computer system could have been hacked. Ahh, one big problemo. Even on a fancy Mercedes, I don't think the power steering is computerized. Ditto for the brakes. Sure, a hack could, in some theoretical way, overaccelerate the engine or kill the ignition. Even then, with extra foot force, the car could be braked, unless the brake lines had a cell-phone activated razor blade system to cut them 50 miles after Hastings started the car.

But, see, now we're in la-la land! More proof of that is this statement by Clarke:
"I'm not a conspiracy guy. In fact, I've spent most of my life knocking down conspiracy theories," said Clarke, who ran afoul of the second Bush administration when he criticized the decision to invade Iraq after 9/11. "But my rule has always been you don't knock down a conspiracy theory until you can prove it [wrong]. And in the case of Michael Hastings, what evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyber attack. And the problem with that is you can't prove it."
Wrong. Definitely wrong under traditional logic, and even, in some way, under things like modal logic.

One cannot prove the nonexistence of anything, a point I regularly make to Gnu Atheists. Plus, there's the old phrase, "Absense of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence." Extend that to "missing information" in the typical conspiracy theory and you get the point.

Second, as for his famous, or infamous, email shortly before the accident? Had Hastings been exhibiting other signs of anxiety or depression before this? Did he have some sort of mental health history?

Third, as for the feds wanting to kill him? James Bamford has written far more about the national security state than Chambers, and he's still living, breathing and writing as of this moment.

Fourth, as for witness claims that Hastings' engine flew 50-60 feet? Puhleeze. We know how inaccurate (and at times, deliberately sexed-up) eyewitness testimony can be. And, the distance the engine was found is sometimes 50-60 feet, other times 100 feet.

Fifth, even if it was that far away? Depending on exact angle of striking the tree, etc., all that does is demonstrate the law of conservation of momentum in action.

Sixth, the more Alex Jones beats the drums about a particular conspiracy theory, the less likely it is to be true. Call that a corollary to Occam's Razor. And, no, I'm not linking to him.
Simplest way to prove Alex Jones is a 116 percent gold plated BSer? If all of these bullshit claims he spouts are true, why hasn't HE been killed? 
That said, Richard Clarke just dropped another peg in my estimation.

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