Saturday, April 14, 2007

Conspiracy theories

Matt Yglesias notes that Jonah Goldberg is complaining of "Goldberg Derangement Syndrome." This is a similar complaint to that of his fellow NROer Cliff May, who recently wrote:

I enjoy a good debate as much as the next guy but, increasingly, the next guy doesn’t want to argue — he wants to demonize me. He doesn’t want to win the debate; he wants to shut it down.

Whether the topic is global warming or Saddam Hussein’s links to terrorists, daring to contradict the “consensus” brings hoots and
hollers and worse.

If the question is, "how come the left blogosphere is so reflexively derisive whenever they encounter an argument from people like Goldberg and May," I think that May actually puts his finger on exactly why this is so:

It's because so many conservatives want to argue things like global warming is fake and that there were significant ties between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

These aren't arguments: they're conspiracy theories (as is another foundational conservative myth, that the media has a partisan liberal bias). They have the same basis in fact as the notion that "9/11 was an inside job." And so, consequently, such "arguments" are treated as conspiracy theories deserve to be treated: with derision and scorn. Taking them seriously only gives them and those who make them an undeserved and in fact dangerous legitimacy.