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“The Bad Man Punted Baxter”

Posted in conspiracy thinking, health, pseudoscience, skepticism with tags , , , on February 19, 2010 by cpolsonb

A couple of weeks back I received a private message on a forum I frequent that is completely unrelated to skepticism. The forum is westgamer, a discussion site for fellow West Australians who are fans of the nerdier side of life (table-top gaming especially). A friend of mine had recently started an off-topic thread on “conspiracy theories” and I’d challenged a few of the things he had to say. A couple of private messages were sent back and forth culminating in him sending a few consecutive challenges for me to investigate. First up was a real softball for debunkers:

“So been checking out more conspiracy type stuff, and came across a book called the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Was wondering if you have done any research into this subject and what your thoughts are on it.”

To which I replied.

“I hadn’t heard out this book in particular before you brought it to my attention but I’m very familiar with the family of conspiracies it falls into (that being anti-jewish conspiracies).

Even a rudimentary search on non-conspiracy peddling websites quickly reveals the book to be a hoax for a whole host of reasons. It’s actually quite interesting that this book is viewed widely as the beginning of contemporary conspiracy literature. I admit that most of what I read about it is from the wiki article (and the references that lead from it). There just doesn’t seem to be enough in this one to deserve a closer look, it’s been thoroughly debunked since the 1920’s. It is summed up nicely as follows “It is also one of the best-known and most-discussed examples of literary forgery, with analysis and proof of its fraudulent origin going as far back as 1921.” It’s really just a hate-filled anti-jewish hoax for which the only arguments as to it’s validity are necessarily improbable, improvable and immature.

Awesome find though, it’s great to read about this sort of stuff. If you find anything else of stand-out interest throw them my way as well. I hope you don’t take personal offence at any criticisms I have though. I very little patience for conspiracies like the above though, ones that are bred purely from prejudice and bigotry against a people who have suffered horrific injustices.”

He followed that one up though with a much meatier, much more complex and challenging to debunk conspiracy theory. I’ll post his message followed by my reply in full. One massive regret is that I didn’t reference my reply to him (something which I endeavour to do in all similar instances). So in the meantime before I find time to go back and fully reference my reply if there are any particular points you’d like to challenge or see a reference for just leave a comment in the post notes. Bare with me there was a lot of mis-information to wade through :P

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