Friday, August 31, 2018

Note To Older Boomers: Stop Trying To Escape Old Age With Euphemisms!

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When a smarmy little twit using the handle "Petulant Guy"  (pretty accurate!) rendered a blog comment (March 10, last year, in a post to do with the imbecile Bruce Cannon Gibney), he used the following, in addressing me:

"Get a grip old man...."

I took the words more as a badge of honor than as an insult, given that not everyone makes it to 71 years of age (at that time). But the underlying tone did show the lack of respect for older citizens in our youth-obsessed culture. As if to emphasize that, a piece in yesterday's WSJ ('Forget Senior- Boomers Search for Better Term', p. A9)  displayed all the pathetic ways too many Boomers are seeking to escape ownership for their age by using euphemisms.  It reminded me of one of the examples Bill Maher presented from a  "bias free" language guide issued by the University of New Hampshire, highlighted in an Aug. 7 2015 Real Time show.  Maher noted the guide's updated reference to  "people of advanced age", instead of senior citizens.  To which I responded in my Aug 10, 2017  post,   "Sorry, but I will opt for senior citizens over that 'advanced age'  crap."

Anyway, some of the euphemisms trotted out in the article and the complaints by some:

"Perennial"-  first used by Gina Pell in a 2016 newsletter to "describe people of all ages" but now retirement age Boomers have adopted it. ("But not every older person likes it."   Well, no shit, it sounds like a freaking plant!)

"Vintage"  - Non judgmental but makes too many "think of an old clothes shop"

"Lucky"  is a succinct term "to describe people over 60",  offered by a woman who's lost many to cancer and heart attacks.   I don't know about 60, but for sure 66, as I've lost two brothers  (since 2013) who never made it to that age. (One of 3 barely made it to 67.)

"Older adults" is also favored  because it's claimed to be "neutral and accurate".   Well, maybe - but only in a relative sense. If a 70 -year old is sitting in a waiting room with a 90-year old, then both claiming to be  "older adults" seems like a stretch.   The term, while "neutral", seems more like obfuscation to me.   We learn also how the words-euphemisms evolved  - from "aged".

"A once acceptahle word or phrase accumulates negative connotations and is replaced by another"

Hmmmm....reminds many of us how that happened to "liberal" which then got replaced by the term "progressive" - mainly because Dems and others ceased to robustly defend the L-word from the rabid right wingers, and just punked out. The same appears to have happened to "aged" which then mutated to "senior citizens", and then to "older adults".  (Oh, some terms, e.g. "geezer" were never acceptable!)

Why all the word games to simply describe an older human?

"Everyone is growing older,  but most people don't want to be called old or be perceived as old, which makes finding an acceptable term difficult."

Well, not if one also has enough sense to accept reality.  Perhaps the best person I've read who provides perspective on aging and its aspects is Sister Joan Chittister, in her book, 'The Gift Of Years'.   Starting out with the (obvious)  proposition that aging is a "gift" -  given the alternative is being in a box six feet under or reduced to ashes in an urn.  Hence, because one has managed to reach the proverbial "golden years" in one (more or less) piece, as opposed to so many who haven't  (like all the young kids left for dead in hot cars this summer, as well as my three younger brothers) there is cause to rejoice or at least not diss it.

Overly optimistic babble? Not when Sister Joan writes (p. 24):

"Researchers have known for many years now that only five percent of those over sixty-five are in special care institutions and eighty percent of the rest of the older population is managing the rigors of daily living."

So why the rank ageism and disrespect of elder citizens as useless relics?  Sr. Joan again:

"The real question: What difference does it make how wise we are, how well we are, how alert we are, how involved we are after sixty-five?  After all once you reach retirement age in this culture, everything is canceled. We're 'old' now and we  know it. And the rest of the world knows it, too.

We're 'old'. Translate - 'useless',  'unwanted', 'out of place'. Translate 'incompetent.'.   We are the over-the -hill gang our birthday cards say. And we laugh, as well as we can, but if the truth were known the laugh comes out as a stab in the psyche."

And then  robustly rejecting this deformed take  (ibid.):

"Those representations are not true, and we know that. too, because we're it, we're the real thing. And we do not bumble, or dodder or mutter. We think very well, thank you, and we work hard and we know precisely what is going on in the world around us."

Adding:

"Negative stereotypes exaggerate isolated characteristics and ignore positive characteristics entirely."

All of which well explains why elder Boomers especially are desperate to change the perception by adopting quirky euphemisms. But as Sr. Joan goes on to emphasize in her subsequent chapters, the way to alter societal stereotypes is by way of action, not trying to play word games by use of neologisms or "neutral"- sounding terms for aging.

As she writes in her penultimate chapter, there is a cogent reason for emphasis on action, and well, living (p. 202):

"One of the better gifts of growing older is that time becomes more meaningful. Time now becomes a companion along the way. We are aware of it, always hovering over us like a chilling mist, or a warming Sun, waking us to the power of the immediate...Moments are not lived casually once we approach old age. Now they are savored. Every layer of them is milked, wrung out and relished."

Would that more of the Boomer generation read Sister Joan's book, there is no doubt they'd be less likely to  waste their precious time chasing foolish euphemisms -   to escape aging reality.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

"Restaurant King" Meyer Is Right About War On Tips

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Danny Meyer, New York's "Restaurant King" - was right to abolish tipping at his restaurants.

What is it about the American yen to give tips? Tips for haircuts, cab rides, for wait staff at restaurants?  Hell, even Starbucks has a "tip jar"! What? People can't just work for a straight wage now, everyone is expected to subsidize as more and more have their hands out?  We have hard working people, who may put in numerous long hours each week at everything from construction, to teaching, to landscaping and even sanitation service jobs - who then want to just eat out once - but are expected to subsidize the meager wages of the wait staff. Oh,  and do it to an expected level of 20 percent now regarded as standard in most restaurant transactions.

By way of example, I stopped at Village Inn yesterday at lunchtime after going to see the 50th anniversary re-release of '2001- A Space Odyssey' at the nearby IMAX Theater. (Janice declined having seen the film 4 times, this was my 13th time - first in IMAX.).  I ordered a 6 oz. sirloin steak plus a garden salad side.  Normally, in any such transaction the waitress starts off with a 20 percent potential tip but this is subject to incremental deductions, i.e. after each miscue.  

If the gratuity was already built into the tab this sort of discretionary "deductionism" wouldn't be necessary, but here in the US of A it is, on account of the weasel wage system.  Anyway, a number of errors were made with my order including: the waitress forgetting to bring out the garden salad to start, a fruit salad served with the steak instead of mashed potatoes,  no gravy on the latter when they did appear, diet coke served in a too small glass - with too much ice.  The total bill came to $15.67, and I used a 20 % off coupon to reduce the total to $12.53.   I then entered my card to pay and selected the option of "18%"  on that amount - translating to a $2.25 tip.    Of  course, the "good" tipper is supposed to leave his or her tip based on the original total not the lesser amount - after the coupon deduction. But given the waitress' errors I reckoned she earned no more than $2.25 or  14.4 % on the original bill total.

Again, in Europe this game wouldn't have to be played and the customer  wouldn't be put in position of a would-be "Scrooge"   for dinging the poor, underpaid server for not performing at 100%.

Industry experts estimate that about $45 billion in tips are given each year. In May 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the median hourly wage for restaurant servers was $8.92, including tips. And a 2012 PayScale survey found that waiters made 58 percent of their income from tips.  To be frank, this is absurd.


Tipping may be an outmoded and unfair way of paying someone — and there is a small amount of industry buzz about whether restaurant workers should be salaried, or tips built into the check   Now, we learned (WSJ Exchange, Aug. 25-26, p. B1) NY restaurant king  Danny Meyer may have solved the issue by abolishing the outmoded practice which most Europeans have long since retired.

After all, when we dined for lunch at the Panorama Restaurant in Salzburg in May, 2013, e.g.
Panorama Terrasse



Signs on the premises abounded with words 'No tipping!'




Signs abounded saying 'No Tipping". The gratuity was built into the tab so one didn't have to think twice about it.  End result? Patrons weren't wrestling with how much the service was worth (it was docked at a steady 18%) and wait staff didn't have to wonder if they'd be "stiffed".

Flash forward now to Danny Meyer whose restaurants (according to the WSJ piece) "rolled out its 'hospitality included' strategy in the fall of 2015" - informing his assorted wait staffs that while a handful of NYC restaurants had phased out tipping no major operator had adopted a blanket policy. So he would be the first.

Things were shaky at first, how could they not be in a tip-programmed society?  But Meyer thought "customers were sophisticated enough to look beyond the higher prices he'd have to charge", i.e. to incorporate the gratuities - the same way we found at Salzberg's Panorama Restaurant.  To that end, Meyer's team would have to figure out how to keep tipped employees from losing income, while bidding his investors to "sit tight".   As he later admitted "I think the real answer is we knew we were flying by the seat of our pants and had absolutely not idea."

Ultimately, when the strategy emerged three years ago several things were noted:

-  A revenue -sharing plan for dining room workers didn't always make up for lost tips

- Many legacy staffers quit

- Turnover rates spiked

At the same time:

"Many diners seemed thrilled to stop calculating tips but others couldn't compute the math behind the rising prices."

Well, how about a remedial course in arithmetic?     After all,  the Austrians we met in Salzburg didn't seem to need such math.    Incredibly, and even more an indictment of the American provincials, "a few confused patrons continued leaving cash on the table".

Meanwhile, "losing a federal tax break for restaurants based on the tip income its employees report cost his company $1 million a year."


Ouch! But this is what one gets when the whole system is geared to tips. There is no place for the bold innovator, the changeling.

What to do? Well, Danny Meyer "launched a public campaign to urge other restaurants to join him." (His restaurants included Shake Shack and Gramercy Tavern)

But:

"While some owners thanked him for jumping on the grenade on tips, few followed suit. A citywide downturn in lunch business and competition from online delivery made them skittish about raising prices."

Thus Meyer arrived at the reluctant conclusion he had to go it alone.  It paid off. Two years after Meyer's no tipping plan was to be fully implemented, "13 restaurants adopted it with two left to go.  Meyer's cooks "received fat raises and overall retention and service metrics have improved."

Also, restaurants that adopted the program early have stabilized financially.  More reinforcement for the decision arrived after mandated minimum wage increases force tip-taking competitors to raise prices.

Why be against tips in the first place? Meyer points out in the WSJ Exchange piece that the problem with tips is the implication  "that someone would only be nice to you if they expect a generous tip".  Which sounds more like extortion. My view is you only get a generous, e.g. 20 percent tip, IF you deliver.   In an ideal world restaurant staff are compensated by merit. Success then is a satisfied customer who not only returns but spreads his satisfaction by word of mouth.

Of course, there are other problems with tipping apart from implied extortion.. Five years ago on a Freakonomics podcast host Stephen Dubner asked Cornell University professor Michael Lynn, who has written dozens of academic papers on tipping, what he would change about the practice.

'You know,' Lynn replied. 'I think I would outlaw it.'

According to Lynn, there was enough race and gender disparity in how much servers get tipped (blond women more, blacks less) so that "it's an ethically dubious way of rewarding workers."

Maybe the best way to get the system to initiate change - given too few Danny Meyers-  would be for Joe Q. Public to cease all tipping forthwith. Nothing, Not one red cent. Not one thin dime. Then what? There will be only two choices when the staff rise up in rebellion (unless they are zombies) : the restaurants will all have to close down - they will claim they "can't pay actual wages" etc. (which is horse pockey) OR, they will start paying salaries to staff as is done in Europe - where wait staff are professionals and are treated as such.

In the meantime, yeah, I will live with the U.S. tip culture, but still only award tips in relation to performance. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Any Violence After Mid-Terms Will Be ALL On Repukes' Side!


"If those Dems win in November they will beat all of yuh senseless! Believe me! I never lie, or gaslight!"

Once more, the Swine-in-Chief and  No. 1 Traitor is fulminating as he grasps the magnitude of what will befall his corrupt gangster administration if the Dems take the House in November. (Which Nate Silver currently estimates at a 70 percent probability of happening.)  Hell, he's probably even seen the spreadsheet being circulated by his GOP quislings referred to as the "hell list," .  This  consists of investigations the GOP (rightly!)  fears Democrats will launch if they are successful in the upcoming midterms.

According to Axios, which obtained a copy of the spreadsheet, the document "catalogs more than 100 formal requests from House Democrats this Congress, spanning nearly every committee."



Axios reported on Sunday:


"The spreadsheet includes requests for administration officials to be grilled by committee staff, requests for hearings to obtain sworn testimony, efforts to seize communications about controversial policies and personnel decisions, and subpoena threats.  These demands would turn the Trump White House into a 24/7 legal defense operation."

The  following are just some of the items on the GOP's spreadsheet, as reported by Axios:
  • - President Trump's tax returns
  • - Trump family businesses — and whether they comply with the Constitution's emoluments clause, including the Chinese trademark grant to the Trump Organization
  • - Trump's dealings with Russia, including the president's preparation for his meeting with Vladimir Putin
  • - The payment to Stephanie Clifford — a.k.a. Stormy Daniels
  • - James Comey's firing
  • - Trump's firing of U.S. attorneys
  • - Trump's proposed transgender ban for the military
  • - Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's business dealings
  • - White House staff's personal email use
  • - Cabinet secretary travel, office expenses, and other misused perks
  • - Discussion of classified information at Mar-a-Lago
  • - Jared Kushner's ethics law compliance
  • - Dismissal of members of the EPA board of scientific counselors
  • - The travel ban
  • - Family separation policy
  • - Hurricane response in Puerto Rico
  • - Election security and hacking attempts
  • -  White House security clearances
Given that lengthy list and  his White House surely under 24/7 siege there's little doubt the man-baby brat would be unable to take off the thousands of hours he has already in his occupation - lollygagging at his Mar-a-Lago hacienda or his Bedminster golf course. See e.g.

http://theconcourse.deadspin.com/donald-trump-stunned-to-learn-presidency-is-an-actual-j-1792215349

Excerpt:

Being president is harder than Donald Trump thought,” begins the article, neatly capturing the blithe, criminal ignorance that characterizes both Trump himself and the many dozens of millions of morons who thought he should be the leader of the free world.


 From most accounts, apart from scribbling a few executive orders that have been rightly challenged in the courts, the Dotard has done precious little work. But then we know he hates the job and is more willing to goof off watching FOX News, or tweeting - or going to endless rallies - than doing the People's business.

Never mind, the swine loves his current power trip (thanks to Reepo quislings) and is still deluded that he can summon the same power he did as the star of a reality TV show or one of his grifter operations.   To that end, and especially not wanting to be humbled by Dem investigations, the orange maggot is warning there "will be violence" if the Democrats win in November.  Elaborating on his inflammatory rhetoric as reported to the NY Times:

"They will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently. And violently. There’s violence. When you look at Antifa, and you look at some of these groups, these are violent people.”

Don't believe it for a second! It is the signal of a rat that's been cornered and has no other rhetoric to exploit to fire up his deplorable base for the mid-terms.  If there is any violence after the mid -terms you can make book it will be all on the Right, acting out in the sore loser syndrome. Similar to how they performed just over a year ago, running down protesters in Charlottesville, e.g. and killing Heather Heyer.
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of people in Charlottesville.
The  Right's Nazis also started many fights with Antifa members trying to protect elderly and female protesters, e.g.
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And when Antifa fought back the sticks or the Right's goons were brought down on them,
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So no, Trump is chirping out of his ass.  Democrats, any with sense, are dreading that their House win - likely by 50 -55 seats - will bring the wrath of the Right's goons and Trump's  Cult base down on many voters. Just as after the Obama victory in November, 2008, brought out the crazies to beat Dem voters, black voters, from coast to coast.

If there is a Second Civil War, you can be sure the foul piece of excrement masquerading as a legitimate president is the one who has gas lit the flame.

See Also:
And:

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

"Conspiracism Is Like Creationism" : Poor Research Predicated On A Bogus Definition

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The carelessness of so-called "conspiracism" researchers whereby they often conflate actual nuts (like Alex Jones- left) with serious analysts like Mark Lane, is self-defeating and counter productive.

"Fundamentally, the difference between a genuine and a specious conspiracy comes down to power. The genuine conspiracy,  however brief or limited, is able to project it and alter events for good or ill in clearly manifest ways." - Anonymous author, July 2016

According to a piece recently appearing in the magazine ZME Science,
"if you ask people why some phenomenon happens, two dominant and diametrically opposite schools of thought emerge: one is scientific reasoning, which uses a series of deductions and reasoning to reach a logical conclusion. The other is teleological thinking. A teleological thinker, for instance, makes propositions such as “the sun rises in order to give us light” or “the Earth was created for humans” — whereas a scientific thinker will go crazy at the mere thought."
This is true, of course, including the Aristotelian version of dynamics which insists heavier bodies must fall faster because well, they "want to".  I.e. they have a teleological or purposeful basis for moving more rapidly to Earth than lighter objects given they have a greater "affinity" for Earth.
The piece goes on, quoting  Sebastian Dieguez of the University of Fribourg:
This type of thinking is anathema to scientific reasoning, and especially to evolutionary theory, and was famously mocked by Voltaire, whose character Pangloss believed that ‘noses were made to wear spectacles.’ Yet it is very resilient in human cognition, and we show that it is linked not only to creationism, but also to conspiracism,”


Whereby we are informed Dieguez and his colleagues have studied conspiracism,   which neologism (actually evidently been around since the 1980s)  is defined by the Oxford online English dictionary:

"The belief that major historical and political events are brought about as the result of a conspiracy between interested parties,"


Which boggles the mind because, truth be told, that is actually how many major global or national events actually transpire!  With every passing day and the new revelations to do with charges for corruption and financial crimes on Cohen, Manafort et al we are learning the extent to which Trump was catapulted into office by yes - a conspiracy!  As blogger- writer Joe Conason has noted: "In pleading guilty to felony violations of federal campaign finance statutes, Cohen has said that he paid off Stormy Daniels and another woman in a criminal conspiracy with Trump."  This conspiracy with the explicit purpose to influence the outcome of the 2016 by concealing the hush money payouts, including using the Trump Foundation as a conspiracy conduit. As we learned via a lawsuit brought by NY DA Barbara Underwood: 


"In 2016, the Board knowingly permitted the Foundation to be co-opted by Mr. Trump's presidential campaign. Mr. Trump's political committee extensively directed and coordinated the Foundation's activities. The Foundation ceded control over the grants to the campaign, making an improper, in-kind contribution of no less than $2.823 million. The contributions made the Foundation look charitable and increased the candidate's profile to primary voters. Mr. Trump's wrongful use of the Foundation to benefit his campaign was willful and knowing".

The preceding conspiracy - not "conspiracism" bunkum - can't get more in your face than that.  Not convinced? Then read Neal Kaytal's NY Times piece:

Opinion | This Conspiracy Theory Should Worry Trump - 

So why do so many - like WSJ columnist Kimberley Strassel -  skate over it?  A conspiracy not only between and among his homegrown gangster thugs and Russian cronies, but between them and GRU agents as well. Look at Mueller's indictments for cripes' sake!  



The incredible ignorance of the preceding definition also appears oblivious to how effective the conspirators were in Iran-Contra. They succeeded in transferring an immense cache of weapons to the Iranians as well as eliciting illegal support for the Nicaraguan Contras. As summarized  (p. 338) in Lawrence E. Walsh's Iran-Contra Report:  "The Iran and Contra operations were merged when funds generated from the sale of weapons to Iran were diverted to support the Contra mission in Nicaragua. "

Adding:

"Using government resources, the conspirators conducted an unauthorized covert program in support of the contras.  North and Poindexter used their Government positions to create a hidden slush fund under the exclusive control of the conspirators


The key point? To the extent it lasted, the Iran-Contra conspiracy succeeded. To the extent it lasted the BCCI banking conspiracy - based on a nest of dummy accounts in 73 countries - also succeeded. (Sadly, many ordinary citizens in Barbados paid the price, see e.g.
Meanwhile, 73 Cubans paid the price when a conspiracy to blow up Cubana Airlines Flt. 455 and hatched by a Venezuelan terrorist Luis Posada Carriles 
succeeded, e.g.
These facts are germane and important because they disclose the extent of the conspiracy as well as the people involved and - in some cases- the dire effects. .  But this is the essential nature of all real conspiracies in the political realm - to somehow leverage power to the advantage of those seeking to impose their own agenda. It was applicable in the Iran-Contra conspiracy as it was in the Kennedy assassination conspiracy - the objective in the latter to implement a much larger national security state and permanent war state.

Leave out the flatus inherent in "conspiracism", it is far more useful to treat conspiracy as a real concept, say as defined by Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary: 

treacherous, surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons

This definition is simple, as well as operational and also - to its credit- doesn't prejudge a conspiracy as non-existent or "teleologically based" (or flawed)  if its effects or plans are not manifested. All that is necessary is that a "plan is formulated" and it's done by "two or more people".   By contrast,  conspiracism is a bogus concept - as so defined- if it excludes real conspiracies and real conspiracy effects.  My point is that one must be crystal clear on the definitions of objects of inquiry else one ends up investigating or examining pure rubbish

Author Michael Parenti ('Dirty Truths')  offers an insight (p. 174) into the sort of phobic mind that engenders this type of useless rubbish:

" Those who suffer from conspiracy phobia are fond of saying: 'Do you actually think there's a group of people sitting around in a room, plotting things?' For some reason that image is assumed to be so patently absurd as to invite only disclaimers.  But where else would people of power get together - on park benches or carousels?"

Parenti averred that conspiracy "is clearly a way to get things done", mainly at the political level for which the media was often an accomplice in impeding disclosure of full information, or invoking the usual "tin foil hat" mockery. Parenti's further salient point was that even if conspiracies failed, as in the case of the Watergate conspiracy, BCCI, and Iran-Contra, that doesn't mean a conspiracy never existed. Even Operation Northwoods which never even came to partial manifestation (thank goodness!) was still a conspiracy. Plus, we have the documents to verify the fell plan existed and the carnage and chaos it sought to inflict on Cubans, e.g.








The question arising from examples like these is how to square them with the authors' perspective, i.e. of a similarity of conspiracy to creationism. So that one has:  "a related but not identical belief: the idea that some events in the world are actively and purposely fabricated — that some things are meant to be, driven by an external force. Sounds familiar? That’s also the core of religious thinking."
Here the authors wade a tad too far when they conflate the "purposely fabricated" with "some things are meant to be."  If we exclude the latter as typical of religious ideation, i.e. "souls are meant to be saved or damned" then we can get on firmer cognitive ground.   We then can grasp that because an event can be purposely and actively fabricated toward an objective, that doesn't ALSO mean "some things are meant to be".  The point? The conflation is what leads to mixing up creationism and conspiracism.


A related serious mistake I've referenced in previous posts  is critics' invocation of "Ockham' Razor" (the simplest hypothesis is usually the correct one). The mistake too many make is assuming simplicity along the same theoretic lines as for physical theories. Thus, the widespread presumption that any viable conspiracy theory - like a physical theory -  needs to be a hallmark of simplicity,  not complexity. 

But let's be realistic here: human beings are not inanimate, unconscious objects like planets and moons in defined orbits.  Nor are they like billiard balls - say that collide according to Newton's 2nd and 3rd laws of motion- making their future paths predictable. Humans by their nature possess the capacity for duplicity, formulation of self-determined agendas and concealed motives as well as the ability to misdirect others toward their (hidden) agendas. In any conspiracy of any magnitude (say like assassinating a President), therefore, one fully expects such devious capacities to overwhelm straight line logic - given the conspirators already know any would-be investigators would start off with that form of approach.
For clarity and to fix ideas, recall it was Barbadian psychologist Dr. Pat Bannister who invoked the idea of  a "conspiracy research community"  to distinguish it from base conspiracy ideation or what Dieguez and co-authors call "conspiracism" .    The latter encompasses the whole gamut of mnot only whackdoodle drivel (such as Jones' Sandy Hook false flag idiocy) but also quasi- paranoid  conjectures  which didn't  advance adequate evidence or documents to  support them. Or, if such were advanced, they didn't meet elementary scientific standards for acceptance, including consistent data selection. For example, the nincompoops who claimed no men actually landed on the Moon and it was all filmed on a Hollywood lot. 

By contrast the conspiracy research community was comprised of educated, rational adults who brought their scientific, quantitative and other aptitudes to bear on real, fact-based conspiracies.  These people put in real man hours as well as intellectual "sweat equity" - whether applied to the BCCI banking conspiracy or the JFK assassination conspiracy,  The discrimination was crucial and led Prof. Bannister to the following classification system:

1- Conspiracy analysts

2- Conspiracy theorists

3- Conspiracy crackpots or cultists


At the top of the hierarchy were conspiracy analysts, such as Mark Lane, Peter Dale Scott, Harold Weisberg, Richard Charnin and others (like yours truly).  These were serious people possessing some measure of intellect who brought their scientific, mathematical and other aptitudes to the investigation of multiple aspects of a putative real conspiracies like Iran-Contra and the JFK assassination.  These people put in real man hours and actually published their work in authoritative media (e.g. BOOKS - real books!) and respected forums as opposed to spreading bunkum through half-assed posts in the lowest dreg regions of the net, like 4chan and 8chan.

By contrast, the "conspiracy theorist" puts forward conspiracy conjectures - some highly elaborate -  but doesn't  advance adequate evidence, quantitative reasoning or documents to  support them. Or, if such were advanced, they didn't meet elementary scientific standards for acceptance, including consistent data selection.  The 9/11 truthers are an example of this lot.  They have generated compendiums of work but none of it fully taking into consideration the physics of force balance and progressive collapse. See e.g. this excellent physics explanation which the "truther theorists" need to address:


https://www.counterpunch.org/2006/11/28/the-physics-of-9-11/

Pay attention to the force balance and progressive collapse computations!  The 9/11 truther would do well to show similar computations that instead supports their case. (If any truther has such, I will happily publish his or her work as a guest post on this blog.)


Sadly,w
hat Dieguez and his co-authors have done by their sloppy work is to paint so wide a brush in their criticism of anything smacking of "conspiracism"  that actual conspiracies (e.g. BCCI, Iran-Contra etc.) become conflated with Bannister's bottom rung (category 3) conspiracy crackpots - say like the QAnon rubbish.  

In order to test their hypothesis, they recruited 150 college students in Switzerland, and then an additional 700 people online. The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire which included teleological claims and "conspiracist" statements, as well as measures of analytical thinking, esoteric and magical beliefs, and a randomness perception task.

They found a strong correlation between creationism and conspiracism. They also found that the relationship was mostly independent of other variables such as gender, age, analytical thinking, political orientation, education, and agency detection. 
According to Dieguez, quoted in the ZML Science piece:
"By drawing attention to the analogy between creationism and conspiracism, we hope to highlight one of the major flaws of conspiracy theories and therefore help people detect it, namely that they rely on teleological reasoning by ascribing a final cause and overriding purpose to world events.  We think the message that conspiracism is a type of creationism that deals with the social world can help clarify some of the most baffling features of our so-called ‘post-truth era.'” 
That's fine and dandy except the authors have proven no such link, not at all.  We read, for example, a summary of the work in Science Daily:
"It's not uncommon to hear someone espouse the idea that "everything happens for a reason" or that something that happened was "meant to be." Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on August 20 have found that this kind of teleological thinking is linked to two seemingly unrelated beliefs: creationism, the belief that life on Earth was purposely created by a supernatural agent, and conspiracism, the tendency to explain historical or current events in terms of secret conspiracies or conspiracy theories."
But Dieguez et al seem not to grasp the enormous chasm separating the two.  Belief in a supernatural agent to originate the cosmos is not at all similar to explaining historical events in terms of "secret" conspiracies - IF said conspiracies are verified by documents or actual events. I already went through a number of verified conspiracies earlier.  Note again, no one is insisting or claiming a la the ubiquity of teleology peculiar to creationism that ALL historical events are driven by conspiracies.  BUT - a fraction of them are-   such as those specific examples I already described.  
Is Dieguez then going to argue that Operation Northwoods wasn't real, despite the fact the planning documents, files exist? (Such as I showed)?  Is he going to claim it wasn't real because it didn't manifest? This commits the logical error Parenti referred to.  What about Iran- Contra? Is he prepared to argue that conspiracy wasn't real because it was eventually found out? (Despite the fact over 1,000 TOW missiles were delivered to Iran and arms dispatched to the Contras in violation of the Boland Amendment)  
What about the conspiracy by Luis Posadet al to detonate a bomb and blow up Cubana Airlines Flight 455 off the southwest coast of Barbados?   Is he going to claim that conspiracy wasn't real - a mere case of "conspiracism"  - despite 73 people losing their lives in the biggest airline terror of the 20th century?
You get my point.  The problem inheres in the too broad definition. i.e. of "conspiracism",  which essentially tosses out "baby with bathwater" and ends up getting us nowhere in terms of discriminating the different expressions which are often carelessly referred to as "conspiracy theories" by the media.  The use of this too general definition also by its nature undermines the research done, and discourages others doing further work, including efforts at confirmation. Who, after all, wishes to be hamstrung by a vacuous definition in the pursuit of differentiating the objectively real from the unreal?

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