27 May, 2011

Sovereign Independent - much huff and puff but no substance

I became a member on Skeptic Ireland yesterday and upon reading a recent post there, my attention was drawn to the Sovereign Independent website - a real goldmine for conspiracy theories and New World Order nonsense. The co-editor is called Neil Foster and in this post he attacks an article in the Irish Independent (a real newspaper) by Ed Power which pokes fun at conspiracy theories. Here is an excerpt from Power's piece:

Spend just a few minutes on the internet and it becomes obvious we live in the golden age of conspiracy theories. From climate change (concocted by Al Gore and grant-hungry scientists) to September 11 (a CIA plot to stir up resentment against the Arab world) there is, it seems, a crank hypothesis for everything.

He provides a list of popular conspiracy theories including the JFK assassination, the origin of AIDS and even that Stephen King shot John Lennon! At the end of the article, Power mentions a few theories that actually did turn out to be true. These include the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study on black men conducted by the American government, CIA-funded propaganda during the Cold War, and finally the assertion that Ireland's economic problems were caused by a greedy cabal of bankers (this last one is obviously being referred to as a conspiracy theory tongue-in-cheekily, as it is widely known to be patently true)

And so, how did Neil Foster of the Sovereign Independent respond?

Well, he was angry. Very angry. In fact, such was his outrage at 'this piece of gutter journalism', I fully expected him to show us all how to critically analyse an article in a proper journalistic manner....

But no. As it turns out, Foster is the real 'gutter journalist' here. First of all, his article is littered with nasty rants using terms such as 'moron', 'comic book garbage' and 'junk fuelled buffoonery'. Hardly journalistic prose worthy of a Pulitzer, now is it?

Furthermore, Foster is livid at Power for not considering the mounds of 'EVIDENCE!' that support his Orwellian worldview of secret societies and Big Pharma cabals that are moments away from taking over the world. Oh, and the word EVIDENCE! is always capitalised - don't you know that's a sign of a reputable journalist.

And what EVIDENCE! does Foster present?

Firstly, on the subject of Osama Bin Laden he begins with John Hill, who produced the 'Ripple Effect' DVD supposedly showing that the London 7/7 bombers were tricked into getting the tube by the UK government so that their movements could be caught on CCTV and the bombings later pinned on them. Indeed, according to Hill, the innocent young men were supposedly murdered in Canary Wharf and never made it to the site of the bombings. Foster claims that Hill and his crank theories were vindicated in a court of law:

I wonder if [Ed Power is] any relation to Peter Power, the lackey, or accomplice in the 7/7 London Bombings which interestingly are not mentioned in this hitpiece. I wonder if that’s got anything to do with the FACT that a jury found 10 to 2 in favour of John Anthony Hill recently in his ‘Ripple Effect’ trial?

'In favour of' Hill. Hmmm... This ambiguous sentence seems to be implying that a jury vindicated Hill's beliefs that the London 7/7 bombings were orchestrated by the UK government. I guess Foster has proved his point.

Oh no, wait. On closer inspection, Foster is simply manipulating the truth here. What a surprise!

All of Hill's nonsense was, of course, thoroughly debunked and indeed Hill was shown to simply be a bit of a loony - it has even been alleged that he claimed on his website to be the Messiah, and he also claimed that George Lucas was told the script of Star Wars telepathically by The Force. Following completion of his DVD, Hill sent it out to the judge and jury foreman in a trial linked to the attacks. For sending the DVD to people directly involved in the trial, Hill was arrested for perverting the course of justice. Indeed, it was this charge for which the jury found in his favour - that he didn't pervert the course of justice - but they most definitely did not endorse any of the claims in his conspiracy theory DVD, which is what Neil Foster is clearly trying to imply as EVIDENCE! to support his article. He truly is a beacon of journalistic honesty, this Foster chap!

The next piece of EVIDENCE! put forward by Foster is to support his claim that Osama Bin Laden was already dead prior to the recent announcement that US troops had killed him. The extent of his EVIDENCE! actually just turns out to be a 2007 interview by Benazir Bhutto in which she claims he is dead. Never mind the fact that she clearly implies in an interview a week later that he is, in fact, alive (she goes as far as saying that 'Osama Bin Laden is rubbing his hands in glee as he as he looks at what's happening in Pakistan'). Foster's EVIDENCE! amounts to cherry-picking whatever he likes from the internet to support his preconceived ideas. His mind is clearly muddled by confirmation bias.

This is the extent of the EVIDENCE! offered by Foster to support his claims, an irrelevant court decision and a cherry-picked comment, none of which he actually links to or presents references for.

But the final piece of 'gutter journalism' displayed by Foster is simply amazing. It turns out that he apparently can't even read. Here is what he has to say about the segment of Power's article on 'Conspiracy theories that turned out to be true' (Power's original words in bold, followed by Foster's response):

The American government conducted medical experiments on poor black men’… This is ADMITTED by the American government!

As is this… ‘The CIA Paid Journalists to Write Propaganda’ although the past tense shouldn’t be used because they still do it today! Try reading ‘Who Paid the Piper: CIA and the Cultural Cold War’ – By Francis Stoner Saunders.

But of course the whole hitpiece is designed to divert attention from the last ‘theory’ in your comic strip suggesting that it’s farcical to suggest that:
The Irish Economy Was Destroyed by a Cabal of Bungling Bankers, Incompetent Politicians and Sycophantic Regulators

I’ll add the words you deliberately left out in this line:
‘The Irish economy was DELIBERATELY destroyed by a cabal of CRIMINAL bankers, CORRUPT, TREASONOUS politicians and BOUGHT & PAID FOR ‘REGULATORS’

Look around the country Power and see the effects of this ‘conspiracy theory’ in every town and city in the country where people are losing their homes and businesses, bankers are raping the country, the IMF is taking the country and unemployment is now reaching pandemic proportions; a PANDEMIC deliberately released upon the western world by a criminal elite who are openly pushing for a world government to save us all from ourselves.

The day is coming very soon when those responsible for this corruption will be taken to task and those in the mainstream media, and the lackeys they use to try to attempt unsuccessfully, to discredit the truth, (are you listening Jamie?) will also be held accountable for their inaction in warning the Irish people on matters of great importance, destroying their lives and those of future generations.

That's right folks! In his rage, Foster ploughed straight into his vitriolic rantings without even realising that Power was clearly pointing out that these particular examples are, in fact, true.

Not only that, but he deleted my comment pointing out the above, along with two comments from a person called Jamie, from Skeptic Ireland, who also happens to disagree with him (Foster attacks Jamie in the article too). Freedom of speech obviously isn't a priority for the Sovereign Independent.

Two things Mr Foster:

1) Understand when something is being said in jest.

2) If you are going to accuse others of 'gutter journalism', in your response try not to use ad hominen insults, completely debunked EVIDENCE! and cherry-picked facts. Oh, and try to read the article properly and not delete dissenting comments.

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