Saturday, 11 February 2012

New Medical Hoax Could Find Fertile Ground in the Conspiracy Camp

I've recently been given the chance to talk about something I've wished to for awhile now but held off due to lack of appropriate qualification, scientific fraud. As you probably can tell I like science, I like it a lot, however I have little talent for the hard sciences like chemistry, biology and physics but well grounded in the humanities, Sociology, Politics, Culture, history, war and international affairs. Still I maintain an interest and what really depresses me is the use of deliberately fraudulent studies and reports to give credence to an fringe and absurd position or theory. And I've recently come across one such research paper that despite its obvious errors will due to its subject find a lot of support in the tinfoil hat brigade.


This "study" into the mental illness that is fear of the government contains a number of glaring errors that a student on his first day wouldn't make. For starters the misuse of the term Phobia, Anti-government Phobia would mean a phobia of anti-government sentiment the exact opposite of the "symptoms" the "study" researches. Also the term phobia is only applied to an irrational object of fear i.e. something that can't really hurt you, you are suffering from arachnophobia if your afraid of tiny money spiders, but you aren't if you're afraid of black widows or any other venomous spider. But a government even if its benign can if it chooses hurt you easily, whether its prison, restrictions on your freedom or martial law and the death penalty.

Then in the second paragraph we get this gem:

"Anti-Government Phobia has a worldwide distribution, but has a particularly high incidence in the United States. Infection rates are estimated by mental health officials to be about 5% of the general population, and this rate is growing at an alarming rate."

Note my emphasis, mental illness is not an infection, if you were attacked by a schizophrenic and his blood dribbled on an open wound you wouldn't suffer bipolar disorder, and even if you did the trauma of the ordeal would be to blame not the close proximity.

And we have the source, the study claims to have been published in the "Journal of Clinical Psychiatry Volume 11, series 3, pages 4-5" but after looking on the Clinical Psychiatry website I have yet to find it. The first place I found it in full after hearing snippets of this supposed "weapon against dissenters" the government was going to unveil was the one I linked to at the top, the tetrahedron foundation, the group run by Dr Leonard Horowitz a believer in the "AID's conspiracy" and campaigner against vaccinations. Not exactly the a heavyweight of respected Academia. And even he isn't fully convinced that this is genuine just before posting the report he has a brief paragraph where he says this "I keep telling myself this must be a spoof, as it is the most inane piece of supposed research I've seen of late...".

And my final proof that this study is bunkum, the author is one Ivor E. Towers, Ivory Towers as in Ivory Tower intellectual.

You might be wondering if it matters if such an obvious piece of fluff gets widely circulated due to it being on a touchy subject. To that I say it matters a great deal. Not all conspiracy theories are crazy and wrong, the official version of the Gulf of Tonkin incident that opened up the Vietnam war wasn't questioned until people started to scrutinise the government from the position that maybe just maybe the government was being economical with the truth to get its way. Governments corporations and organisation all engage in cover ups spin and blanket denials to advance there interests and it is often the work of a few brave and probably paranoid journalists, investigators or concerned citizens that expose these plots. But there work and its importance is damaged when most people view conspiracies to be about paranoid loners looking for evidence of reptilian infiltration, or as in this case believing every obviously false paper or file they can find.

Remember always look for inconsistencies and keep watching the skies!


  1. Saw the "study" on Facebook, in a "Maoist rebel" or something blog. Didn't take too much effort to find your cogent remarks. Thanks for a breath of sanity here.

  2. Thanks mate, I'm not surprised this hoax is popular I was a bit dismayed to see how many comments didn't seem to catch onto it. Though to be fair I did miss the authors name on my first reading, sort of missing the forest by staring at the trees.


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