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The Conspiracy Wiki Experiment

Discuss Conspiracies and Cover Ups - e.g. 9/11 Truth, JFK Assassination, New World Order, Roswell, Moon Hoax, Secret Societies, etc. whatever conspiracy floats your boat.

The Conspiracy Wiki Experiment

Postby really? » 30 Nov 2012, 22:25

Swift
Written by Bob Blaskiewicz
Wednesday, 28 November 2012 09:00


The following is a contribution to the JREF’s ongoing blog series on skepticism and education. If you are an educator and would like to contribute to this series, please contact Bob Blaskiewicz.

During my first year at Georgia Tech, I taught three sections of a conspiracy theory-themed research and writing class. I use conspiracy theories in my composition classes because every single claim made by a conspiracy theorist needs to be fact checked. Any bit of information they offer as evidence can be faked, taken out of context, or misinterpreted, and bad information often cozies up next to good information. Conspiracy theories are factual and logical minefields and are generally difficult to evaluate. I teach students to identify the relevant claims, how to evaluate them, and how to find better, more reliable information. Conspiracy theories are a sort of critical thinking and research bootcamp.

Tech’s First-Year Writing Program is pretty innovative and stresses communication in a variety of media, including online media. As a new postdoc, I felt inspired to experiment with assignments that made use of new media. So, in lieu of a traditional final paper, I designed a final project where students in my three sections would collaborate with one another on a massive wiki about conspiracy theories.

For the Georgia Tech Conspiracy Wiki, I used MediaWiki, the open source software behind Wikipedia. My college’s IT staff installed and configured the software. I designed a logo and outlined the project, including what I think is perhaps the best grading scale I have ever devised. As the backbone of the project, I used the conspiracy classification system that Michael Barkun’s lays out in his A Culture of Conspiracy. The three principle types of conspiracy theory he outlines are event conspiracies, supposed conspiracies with limited goals (like the assassination of a president or bringing down an airplane), systemic conspiracies, which are more extensive and have more ambitious goals (like the Jesuits taking over the world or secret Islamists trying to impose Sharia on America), and superconspiracies, which involve nested hierarchies of conspirators and draw on any number of eclectic “alternative knowledge” traditions (like David Icke’s interdimensional, shape-shifting, mind-controlling, reptilian alien overlords). Each section of the class would be responsible for building up a portion of the website under one of those headings.

Students selected individual topics that they wanted to work on, and I gave them a template for a wiki entry that would help them sort and and evaluate their sources. Students were free to pick and choose which elements to retain in their final write-ups:

History/Event (what conspiracy theorists would call “the mainstream account”)

The Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy Theory Proponents

Analysis (breakdown of the conspiracy theory and relevant debunkery)

Cited References (the footnotes)

External Links

Additional References (relevant sources that did not make it into the wiki)

Related Topics (links to elsewhere in the wiki)

It turns out that a wiki was an especially appropriate medium for writing about the convoluted webs of interconnected plots and agents found in conspiracy theories--the “links” that conspiracy theorists make became literal links to other pages in the wiki. Students were graded weekly on the quality and frequency of their weekly contributions. The only downside to this approach was that it was an utter monster to grade. I still wake up in a cold sweat just thinking about it, but it was a worthwhile experiment, I think.

The final product was not perfect--I wouldn’t expect them to be since these were motivated but novice researchers and writers. Also, because ability varies between new college writers, the projects have some fairly rough bits, including formatting inconsistencies, unfinished entries, orphaned links, and the occasional willingness to give conspiracy theorists more credit than they have perhaps earned. More frequently, however, I found that students put were able to collaborate on interesting and useful summaries and explorations of complex topics raised by conspiracy theorists. I was very pleased on the whole with the quality of the website and the range of topics that 75 students discussed together. You can visit the now closed Georgia Tech Conspiracy Wiki here: ( http://conspiracytheories.lmc.gatech.ed ... /Main_Page ).



Bob Blaskiewicz is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, where he teaches writing. He is co-editor of the site SkepticalHumanities.com, writes “The Conspiracy Guy” column on the CSI website, and is a panelist on the new skeptical panel show, The Virtual Skeptics, which records a live show every Wednesday night at 8:00PM Eastern.

Other links are contained within the article. http://www.randi.org/site/
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Re: The Conspiracy Wiki Experiment

Postby SydneyPSIder » 01 Dec 2012, 11:25

Interesting.
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Re: The Conspiracy Wiki Experiment

Postby SydneyPSIder » 03 Dec 2012, 20:55

Wonder what the college professor would make of these accounts of Office Terry Yeakey and the Oklahoma bombing?

http://www.tytruth.com/

The family appears to be real and has a story to tell, one which implies the govt pulled the whole thing off.
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Re: The Conspiracy Wiki Experiment

Postby Misha » 03 Dec 2012, 22:00

SydneyPSIder wrote:Wonder what the college professor would make of these accounts of Office Terry Yeakey and the Oklahoma bombing?

http://www.tytruth.com/

The family appears to be real and has a story to tell, one which implies the govt pulled the whole thing off.


Cause and effect. Without the Oklahoma City Bombing which brought us H.R. 1710 & 2202 anti-terrorism legislation the "state" could never sell congress the PATRIOT ACT. I keep saying this and General Ben Partin would agree - Programs.
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Re: The Conspiracy Wiki Experiment

Postby SydneyPSIder » 04 Dec 2012, 00:06

That prof will really mess with some students' heads when they actually go down the rabbit hole and start finding out some stuff. Hope he's ready for it.
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Re: The Conspiracy Wiki Experiment

Postby Arouet » 04 Dec 2012, 01:17

Just going off the article, I would ask whether the description of what he supposed did: (ie: bleeding in the car, then climbing over a fence, then shooting himself) is consistent with a murder designed to look like a suicide? Wouldn't they have finished him off in the car?

I agree though that survivers guilt as the cause for suicide raises red flags: maybe there are studies on this. Then again, no idea how accurate anything in that article is.
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Re: The Conspiracy Wiki Experiment

Postby SydneyPSIder » 04 Dec 2012, 11:57

I think they wanted to finish him off in the car, but he proved very difficult to kill.
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Re: The Conspiracy Wiki Experiment

Postby Arouet » 04 Dec 2012, 23:34

SydneyPSIder wrote:I think they wanted to finish him off in the car, but he proved very difficult to kill.


I thought of that, but then they still went with the excuse of suicide? Why not alter the excuse or bring him back to the car and move the car? There's something missing to the account in the article
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Re: The Conspiracy Wiki Experiment

Postby SydneyPSIder » 05 Dec 2012, 14:20

Arouet wrote:
SydneyPSIder wrote:I think they wanted to finish him off in the car, but he proved very difficult to kill.


I thought of that, but then they still went with the excuse of suicide? Why not alter the excuse or bring him back to the car and move the car? There's something missing to the account in the article

Of course they did. It's a standard lazy MO, regardless of how improbable the event was. Easier than putting the car on train tracks in front of an oncoming train and claiming it was an accident, as there are accident investigations and a lot of asset damage with trains.

He may have come to after they left and staggered off for help, even with the damage that was inflicted. That was my premise. Most or all of the information that you would need to surmise what happened is present in that article.

They ran out of time to come up with another 'convincing' excuse based on his escape attempt, and probably could not return the body to the car in time. Besides, they know they can bury the problems with the press, that they can squelch the press and the local police force and coroner etc one way or another. Call it a suicide and you can only blame the 'suicidee', end of case. No mysterious serial killers on the loose to investigate, etc etc.

This is assuming you accept 'the document' at face value, and all the other internet-based documents reporting much the same news -- a true pseudoscep worth their salt would say the whole story was fabricated for some reason, I suppose, and spend hours arguing that it was a contrivance. Bear in mind the psychopaths in the FBI who pulled this off are still around today, are still working as hitmen today, and may even be aware of the internet discussions such as this one on the event by constant or sporadic monitoring of google keywords. It's much safer to be in denial, or protect your identity somehow, as many CT posters do.
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