Stupid Conspiracy Theories: Las Vegas Shooting Survivors Keep Dying

On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on the Route 91 music festival on Las Vegas’ Sunset Strip, killing 58 people and left 546 people injured.

There’s a particularly stupid conspiracy theory making the rounds about the  subsequent “mysterious deaths” of those who survived the shootings, typified by this idiotic post by one Daisy Luther,

Does it seem mysterious to anyone else that the Las Vegas shooting survivors just keep dropping dead in one way or another? Being a witness seems almost as deadly as being at that ill-fated concert.

. . .

Kymberley Suchomel

First, Kymberley Suchomel, age 28, suddenly died in her sleep about a week after the attack. Now, Suchomel had a pituitary tumor, so it isn’t completely out of the question that she might die. What was so peculiar was the fact that she died after posting a compelling eyewitness report that digresses wildly from the official story. She also talked about forming a group for survivors to discuss what truly happened. But, then she died. You can read her first-hand report here. (It has since been removed from Facebook.) Suchomel left behind a husband and a 3-year-old little girl.

Dennis and Lorraine Carver

The Carvers also narrowly escaped the shooting with their lives, only to die shortly after the ill-fated concert. Two weeks after the massacre, they had a terrible car accident less than a mile from their home. Their Mercedes crashed into the metal gate and brick pillars

Of course what Luther fails to note is that there were 22,000 people in the crowd at the Route 91 music festival that night. The overall per capita number of deaths annually in the United State is 724 per 100,000.

Statistically we could expect 140 or so deaths annually among that crowd from subsequent causes. (Knowing the age distribution of those in attendance would allow us to be more precise and likely lower that number, but alas that is data that no one is ever going to collect).

So, no, it isn’t mysterious at all that a couple months after the Las Vegas shooting that a small number of survivors have died from other causes. In fact, it is exactly what we would expect.

Wikipedia Has An Entry for Israel-Related Animal Conspiracy Theories

Today I learned that Wikipedia has an entry devoted to nothing but animal-related conspiracy theories centering around Israel.

For example, the entry notes that in 2010 a series of shark attacks off the coast of the South Sinai were alleged to be Israeli acts of aggression,

Following the attacks, in an interview on Tawfik Okasha’s popular but controversial Egypt Today television show, a Captain Mustafa Ismail, introduced as “a famous diver,” alleged that the GPS tracking device found on one of the sharks was in fact a “guiding device” planted by Israeli agents. Prompted in a television interview for comments, the governor of South Sinai, Mohammad Abdul Fadhil Shousha, initially said: “What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark [in the sea] to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question. But it needs time to confirm.” The Israeli foreign ministry, in response, suggested that Shousha had seen “Jaws one time too many.” The governor later dismissed the event as being connected to Israel.

Okay, some crazy guy with a TV show spouts conspiracy theories. In America, we call that Glenn Beck. But in 2008, the official Palestinian news agency accused Israel of employing “supernatural rats” to drive Arab residents from the Old City of Jerusalem,

In July 2008, the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, accused Israel of using “supernatural rats” that “can even chase away Arab cats” to encourage Arab residents of the Old City of Jerusalem to flee in panic. “Over the past two months, dozens of settlers come to the alleyways and streets of the Old City carrying iron cages full of rats,” Wafa claimed. “They release the rats, which find shelter in open sewage systems.” Jerusalem Municipality spokesman Gidi Schmerling rejected the report as “pure fiction.”

Okay, then. In America we would never believe this sort of nonsense. Rather, in this country it is Bill Belichick who uses the supernatural rats to spy on visiting teams.

Conspiracy Theories at Boing! Boing!

What always amazes me about partisans of any political stripe is the sort of cognitive dissonance that allows any given behavior to be justified or condemned based on who is carrying it out rather than what is actually being done. So the Republicans who until a few months ago were defending pretty much unlimited power for Bush are suddenly concerned about the concentration of executive power in the Obama administration.

Mark Frauenfelder at Boing! Boing! provides an excellent example of this in posting about Fox News’ Glenn Beck claiming that FEMA is building camps that are intended to house American dissidents. The headline at BB reads, “Fox’s Glenn Beck says Obama is building concentration camps for Republicans,” even though Beck never says the alleged camps are exclusively for Republicans.

Frauenfelder rightly dismisses this nonsense, writing,

Swiping material from the X-Files, Fox’s Glenn Beck warns that Obama is setting up FEMA concentration camps to warehouse the nation’s neocons, fundies, wingnuts, and dittoheads.

Of course the FEMA story has persisted through a number of presidencies. Back in the mid-1990s, it was Clinton who supposedly was going to round up conservatives for the camps, and then for most of this decade it was Bush who was preparing to incarcerate potentially millions of American dissidents in FEMA camps.

Absurd. No one would believe this, stuff, right? Hmmm…lets rewind to May 19, 2008, when Frauenfelder decided to post to Boing! Boing! a link to an article on that scholarly publication, Radar Online, that alleged the government was compiling a list of millions of American dissidents to track and possibly even detain. Frauenfelder, swiping material from the X-Files, wrote,

A feature in the most recent issue of RADAR is about a possible government program that tracks citizens’ behavior (online and otherwise) to compile a list of people to detain in case of martial law.

Now that’s cognitive dissonance.