Monday, February 26, 2007

JFK up next

We are going to go straight to the Kennedy assassination next and defer UFOs until a little later. That means you should skip to the readings in the section 6 box of the reading schedule.

If you missed class last Thursday . . .

The questions for the take-home midterm have been posted here on the site. I also just realized that I neglected to properly link to the supplementary web readings and web links pages for the early lectures. The pages for the introductory "Conspiracy Industry" lectures and for the recent section on race and religion have now been properly separated and linked to the readings page. Some of these web readings may help you with the midterm, but I would not call them vital if you have read most everything else.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Small Administrative details

Hello, this is Will Burghart, the grader.

Since the first exam is coming up, I just wanted to let the students know that my office hours are 10-11 MTWR, and that my office (desk) is located in Read Basement room 1. Just go to the bottom of the stairs, through the door, take a right into the large common room, take another right into the small alcove partially blocked by screens, and my desk is the barest one of the five. The best way to contact me outside office hours is through email (, though I am normally in Read basement between 12 and 1 weekdays.

For something a little more fun, those who have looked at the Culture of Fear book (or watched Bowling for Columbine) know that the media tends to exagerate the dangers of certain events/substances/trends. Here is an amusing example, dealing with the Nintendo DS.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The politics of torture on Fox TV's "24"

I believe I made a crack in lecture the other day about the way that that Fox's 24 , one of the currently most popular conspiracy-based entertainments, promotes the use of torture in the real world through conspiracy theory logic. Specifically, I was talking about the logic that paints a real or suspected enemy as a conspirator so sneaky, powerful, and monstrously evil that any means were justified in stopping them, immediately. It turns out I was more on target than I knew. Take a look at this article in the current New Yorker, where we discover that the creater of 24 is a Rush Limbaugh-type conservative ideologue who thinks that torture is a great idea and an effective technique even though technical advisors from the U.S. military have told him it isn't. And where do you think that most Americans, including people in politics and young military recruits, get their ideas about torture and the most effective means of fighting terrrorism? My money is on 24 rather than some dry Pentagon study.