Saturday, December 1, 2007

StZA: Conspiracy Theories

Part of the appeal of conspiracy theories is simply that it's more psychologically comforting to think that your ideas are not wrong or unpopular, but that the rightness of your ideas is inappropriately suppressed by illegitimate authority.

People will go to great lengths to avoid being wrong or unpopular, it seems.

Tax Protester Myths is my favorite site debunking tax protester myths. See also the IRS's Truth about Frivolous Tax Arguments.

List of myths about the Federal Reserve: Myth 7:
The Treasury Department prints Federal Reserve Notes and then sells it to the Federal Reserve system for an average cost of about 4 cents per bill (see FedPoint #1). However, the Fed must present as collateral for the currency an amount of Treasury securities that is equivalent in value to the currency purchased. The Federal Reserve collects interest on all the Treasury securities it owns, including the ones held as collateral. This is as far into the realm of fact as Schauf's statement can take his reader.

What Schauf does not tell his reader is that nearly all the Federal Reserve's net earnings are repaid to the Treasury. This is done per an agreement between the Board of Governors and the Treasury.

...However, there is no functional difference between U.S. Notes and the Federal Reserve notes we now use. Neither impose a net interest burden on the Treasury. The key difference between the two currencies is who controls the issuance. The publicly-appointed Board of Governors now controls the emissions of Federal ReserveNotes and can make monetary policy decisions largely independent of political pressure. The issuance of U.S. Notes, on the other hand, would be controlled by the Treasury Department, an arm of the executive branch and a purely political entity. Monetary policy, in this economist's view, ought to be based on the needs of the economy, not on the needs of current incumbent political party.

Like many others, this Federal Reserve myth is also incorrect. Schauf and the Coalition err in the argument by ignoring entirely the funds rebated from the Fed to the Treasury each year. This key detail essentially means that the bonds held by the Federal Reserve are interest-free loans to the federal government -- the equivalent of printing money. Federal Reserve Notes do not cost the Treasury any net interest.
Even a plausible Geocities link is more credible than some of these conspiracy theory Web sites.

Some early news reports seem to report that some of the hijackers turned up alive later. But that story has an addendum at the bottom that notes that the early report, two weeks after 9/11, was erroneous and superceded by later reporting. "All of the reports have since been acknowledged as cases of mistaken identity by the publications in," sez Wikipedia (check the citations). CTs rely on selective use of the MSM: cite it when it supports your theories, and ignore it otherwise.

Debunking the 9/11 Myths (Popular Mechanics)
Why the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Won't Go Away (TIME)
The Top September 11 Conspiracy Theories (
Journal of Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theories (
9/11 Commission Report (

The charge that planes weren't used in the attacks is so easy to disprove that plenty of 9/11 Truthers argue that even making it discredits the 9/11 Truth movement.

The Pentagon Attack: What the Physical Evidence Shows
Evidence That A Boeing 757 Really Did Impact the Pentagon on 9/11
A Critical Review of WTC 'No Plane' Theories (PDF)
Why the Big Picture Matters (LiveLeak)
Or try Penn & Teller's Bullshit! on 9/11 conspiracy theories ; )