Sunday, November 19, 2006

Foiled

Given the recent exchanges with C and Candorville "fan" Richard, I thought it worthwhile to state some critera for the awarding of the not-so-coveted minor premise tinfoil hat award. This will ensure that any aspirants to the award can tailor their activities, statements, and writings to compete for the distinguished honor.

The tin-foil hat aspirant should display demonstrable levels of suspicion and cynicism, focused against an intangible group (i.e. "the man," "them") or against a public individual who could not, of his own accord, be individually guilty of that which he is accused (i.e. the President). Most often, the award will go to the aspirant who cannot name the true object of his ire.

The aspirant should make his or her feelings known in a public forum that is accessible to minor premise authors. This includes (but is not limited to) speeches, press releases, articles, blog posts, artwork, pamphlets, books and broadcast programming. The subject matter should be of such import that the distortion has the potential to cause unforseen damage if taken
seriously by more than the aspirant and his or her circle.

At the heart of the aspirant's assertion should be a few facts (one or two will do), and a willingness to follow one's bias wherever it takes them. Factors such as rational implausibility, contradiction of previous positions (without explanation), and general lack of any but circumstantial "proof" help the case of the aspirant. The judges will award bonus points for blatant errors in logic (at least the ones we can find. Professional logicians are welcome to add
their input.)

Some examples are in order:

Prior to 1989, belief in a Communist conspiracy would generally not win you a tinfoil hat, because it could be proven that there was/is a self-avowed international Communist movement. What would have won you a tinfoil hat in those days was to connect non-Communist socialists to that movement (c.f. the followers of Joe McCarthy).

Someone who believed that the KKK was behind putting menthol in cigarettes would certainly qualify. While the KKK does exist, its capability to influence the marketing decisions of competing business concerns is dubious at best.

Most of the unfortunate host who still espouse a "Worldwide Jewish Conspiracy" would qualify for a tinfoil hat. While television network al-Manar would not earn the award by intenionally publishing the falsehood that 4000 Jewish workers did not show up for work on 9/11, those who unwittingly use the story to bolster their anti-Jewish conspiracy theories would definitely warrant consideration. As for the falsehood, someone else will have to institute a "flaming trousers with Pinocchio nose device" award.

Those who believed that the Clintons (one or both) killed Vince Foster, with no leaks, would be eligible. They couldn't keep the missing FBI files a secret, or a dalliance with an intern, but they could commit murder with impunity, the invesigation concludes a suicide and no one leaks the plot? No "triggerman" is found?

Unfortunately, the award is only a trophy of sorts. We make no guarantees of its practicality .

The minor premise will entertain nominations; however the bestowing of the award remains the prerogative of the minor premise.

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