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Show HN: a conspiracy theory generator (verifiedfacts.org)
181 points by typpo on Feb 5, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 70 comments

I put "Hacker News" (which I thereafter identified as a organization or group by the drop-down selector) into the search,


and generated this new conspiracy theory,

"During the Bush wars, Hacker News began plotting their eventual rise to power.

"Local historians living near Area 51 have noticed strange connections between it and the Feds, stretching back to the Bush wars.

"Mentalists and psychics report that strange aura disturbances can be seen wherever fluorine is found in Area 51.

"Outspoken academics who research this topic have had their research silenced by those in power.

"The increased militarization of US police forces can only mean one thing-- when the government's failure to properly address fluorine sparks a rebellion, the Feds will be leading death squads across the nation.

. . . . "

Several parts of that read very much like Hacker News comments I have seen recently under various threads.

About Paul Graham, identified as a person, I get

"Paul Graham isn't just an individual-- they're an organization, and they have doubles everywhere.

"Do you know that if you post a tweet about #mercury and Paul Graham, it will 'mysteriously' disappear from your page within minutes?

"You may think free speech ensures your right to talk openly about Paul Graham's negative influence on our society, but their powerful friends in Libertarians have, in the past, used crippling libel lawsuits to silence brave citizens who did exactly that.

. . . . "

Selecting "dangerous thing" was pretty amusing too:

The Truth About The NSA and Hacker News


The NSA is trying to control the minds of the American people-- probably with Hacker News, which they invented and created.

I would love to see some of the emails you get from http://www.verifiedfacts.org/report

Ah! But verifiedfacts.org is itself disinformation: http://www.verifiedfacts.org/i/verifiedfacts.org/MjA0MTU

According to my version, Hacker News also invented currency inflation to increase the value of investments in flourine (which is undoubtedly a stealth startup in the latest YC batch)

pg org, we demand answers! ;)

This makes sense, given that water fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we face.

To add some more sense to the discussion, I can assert what we learned in medical school: fluoride reduces cavity formation, however has a downside of making your teeth a bit yellowish.

I rather enjoyed "The Truth About Hacker news and Communists."

Apparently, "All persons claiming to suffer from hacker news are in fact shape-changing aliens."


Congratulations! You are a genius. You have created a MVP comedy generator!

You're about 15 iterations away from making a billion dollar service that creates and sells movies to hollywood and television stations.

On a serious note: I've lived with a conspiracy theorist and the pattern I've noticed is this. Theorists take things that were mistakes or unintended and say that they were done on purpose to benefit someone. 9/11, Iraq, etc.. So you're actually really close.

I love this. Someone should get a really serious looking gentleman and make videos of his reading this as if it were real conspiracy news.

Does anyone have any reflections on the psychology of conspiracy nutters?

I have two friends who will believe pretty much anything that involves the government/corporations and nefarious activities. Evidence is strictly optional. Indeed, evidence to the contrary is not sufficient to disprove these theories. Or its just part of the conspiracy.

The funny thing is these people are otherwise quite intelligent and capable of rational thought. They have decent careers and neither are social outcasts.

If they had failed careers/relationships etc I might understand it as a coping mechanism to internally justify failure. But that is not the case here.

I dont understand why they believe these things. But then I dont understand how faith works for religious people either.

Anyone have any insight to this?

People who label them as "conspiracy nutters" more likely to be conformist and closed minded. They will be more like to believe "the big lie", because everybody else believes the big lie, so you become crazy if you don't also believe the big lie.

The collective mind of society doesn't always get it right. Being "Cassandra" would be a miserable existence.

Intelligence and rational thought are orthogonal. I would say that cats are generally more rational than most humans I have met.

Intelligence is not a prerequisite for having a decent career or not being a social outcast. Society prefers people with high IQ's, as opposed to true geniuses, who are more likely to struggle to fit into society.

Being crazy means that you are completely different from the rest of society. It doesn't mean that you are wrong.

All of recorded history is pretty much a "conspiracy theory". Who really knows if it is true or not? But the majority of society simply accept it as fact, so it's no longer a conspiracy theory as defined by society.

Hello. So-called 'conspiracy nutter' here.

The fact that someone believes something which you do not believe does not mean that they have a mental health problem. If that were the case, we (atheists) could say that there were a billion or more insane Christians out there. But everyone knows someone who has religious beliefs.

Everyone, no matter how mainstream their opinions, has a worldview which is comprised of a set of beliefs. Everyone. Now, it is just the nature of beliefs that rational arguments and evidence do not readily alter them. No matter how widespread, or how fringe the belief is, or whether you judge it to be 'crazy', or whether the belief has a scientific basis. Those are the default nodes in your cognitive framework. You just don't change them very easily. Any more easily than I change my beliefs.

One thing that you may not realize, or perhaps may not accept as fact due to your own worldview, is that the 'conpiracy theorist' label has been historically, and still is, a tool used to suppress dissent by ridiculing opponents who accuse an establishment of wrongdoing. Here is a Wikipedia article about it.


> As scholars have long argued, governmental and medical institutions code menaces to authority as mental diseases during political disturbances.

>...In the 1970s, Martha Beall Mitchell, wife of U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell, was diagnosed with a paranoid mental disorder for claiming that the administration of President Richard M. Nixon was engaged in illegal activities. Many of her claims were later proved correct, and the term "Martha Mitchell effect" was coined to describe mental health misdiagnoses when accurate claims are dismissed as delusional.

I anticipate that most people with mainstream beliefs in the US would assume, based on their worldview, that political abuse of psychiatry only applies to other countries, or to other times. I think this is wrong, and part of the general myth perpetuated by the establishment that it rarely (or at least, not in contemporary times) does anything that can't be morally justified.


While many people like to make fun of and dismiss conspiracy theorists, they don't realize that some conspiracy theorists have been following particular events closely for many years and are making connections between events that are decades apart. Whereas the opinion of someone who is less informed on certain things would be that a current event was a standalone anomaly.

When you mention making connections between events rather than thinking of them as standalone, the first thing that comes to mind is the way that government and media sources always portray the wars in the middle east as being isolated instances rather than as being part of a larger strategy and ongoing campaign. Its not just less information. Its misinformation oftentimes too. Such as war propaganda. Every one of these wars has a supposed explanation, which is never given as being strategic or connected to a larger campaign, always some bullshit about 'weapons of mass destruction', 'humanitarian crisis', 'freedom fighters' etc. which is always later revealed to be lies.

I mean, to me its pretty obvious that the US has a long term campaign going on. Just look at a map. We invade and occupy a country on one side of Iran, then the other. Then the Egyptian president, who just happens to have been blocking US plans to invade Libya (one of the strongest remaining Iranian allies in the area) since the 80s, is removed by way of an amazing 'spontaneous' democratic online uprising (which to me looks like propaganda, information/cyberwarfare). Then Libya is taken over by US-backed 'rebels'. And now Syria, the other Iranian ally, is being taken apart from within by more 'rebels'. All countries in the same geographic area, with the same types of prized resources, one after another, all opponents of the US.

The problem is that the mainstream media lies about the motivations for military action are always accepted by the majority. In the context of the previous lies getting us into war, they are obvious deceptions. Yet they blast the propaganda from all angles with the same bullshit over and over and it becomes the closest thing to reality that many people have.

> Does anyone have any reflections on the psychology of conspiracy nutters?

I'm sure we could collect as many theories about conspiracy freaks as there are conspiracy freaks, on the ground that most of psychology is speculation.

> Indeed, evidence to the contrary is not sufficient to disprove these theories.

That's one of the attractions of conspiracy theories -- most of them can't be conclusively disproven, because most require proof of a negative, which is an impossible evidentiary burden, for reasons given here:


Conspiracy theorists and crackpots have a lot in common. One thing they share is the idea that, unless their critics can disprove their beliefs, the beliefs must have merit. In other words, they hold the opposite of the null hypothesis (the idea that an idea with no evidence is probably false) -- they also unfairly shift onto others their own burden of evidence.

> The funny thing is these people are otherwise quite intelligent and capable of rational thought.

Intelligence is no assurance of reasonable thought processes. For that, one must understand logic and certain scientific principles, like accepting the burden of evidence for one's own ideas, and being willing to sincerely doubt one's own conclusions. I have always suspected that conspiracy theorists (and crackpots) never learned the basics of evidence and research.

When I was about 9 years old someone gave me a copy of an Erich von Daniken book, which I inevitably thought was the wonderful thing I had ever read. However, doubts started to creep in after a while and eventually I worked out that it was complete nonsense - but for a while I really wanted that stuff to be true and got quite angry that people weren't interested in this wonderful truth.

That experience left quite a mark on me - I still have a tiny bit of guilt at believing that stuff for a short while, even though I suspect it probably made me much more level headed and skeptical when I got older.

I had a similar experience with Ayn Rand at age 12. So glad we both grew up!

One key factor seems that if you "know" something that everyone has been duped into ignoring and which "they" spend great effor to suppress, it makes you special, more enlightened and important than the average guy. I guess it's one way of dealing with feelings of inadequacy in your life.

And if you actively work on "uncovering" the conspiracy, why, that makes you a hero, bravely thwarting evil powers!

These two books aren't bad:



Although neither one is perfect. The latter doesn't miss the opportunity to promote the author's own libertarian point of view. Which is fine, but it distracts from the point of the book. The former also takes a few shots at things that are not conspiracy theories, but pet dislikes of the author. Neither are nearly so bad as the one-star reviews though - clearly both touched some nerves.

Central to both is the idea that people feel a need to think that things happen for a reason, and aren't just strictly random. And a bad reason is better than no reason at all.

My grandfather was into a lot of that stuff, and your description is quite apt: he was a really smart engineer, and a good guy, in general. But he loved all kinds of these theories.

The 1-star reviews are gold. I've been missing trolling truthers.

> More ominously, the guy who signs Kay's National Post paycheck is Conrad Black, a 20-year vet of Bilderberg.

If that's not irrefutable proof, I don't know what it.

The human brain is a remarkable pattern-recognition engine with an adaptive bias to favour false positives over false negatives. Michael Shermer gave a fun TED talk on why people are so inclined to believe weird things:


Conspiracy theorists tend to mistake opportunism for 'must have caused it to happen'

The thing that most people don't realize is that the government will label real information as a conspiracy theory as an easy way to discredit it. So that word is actually an important propaganda tool. Once you realize.that, jokes.about.conspiracy theories arent so funny.

Yes, the government, with their ability to, you know, just label stuff. Just any old thing, slap a government label on it and Bob's your uncle.

Sure. The Man is remarkably well organised and has an endless fountain of resources—after all, he does print the money.

Lost direction in your life? Try the startling clarity of paranoid delusions. Soon you’ll be saying “It all makes sense!”

Yeah, wow - like how they can just label anyone a "terrorist" or "al queda sympathizer" - and simply with that label they are justifying the murder and imprisonment of these people.

Gee - they'd never do that would they?

That's just a conspiracy theory.

That's what they want you to say! See?

I got the following about Microsoft and Fox News - funny!

The Truth About Microsoft and Fox News

Many astute citizens have already noticed the recent censorship of media pieces critical toward Microsoft. Don't fool yourself: this is definitely part of a master plan, and Fox News are probably the ones behind it.

The value of Fox News's hedge fund investments have doubled over the past 70 years-- while ordinary Americans have seen their investments vanish in waves of depression and recession. Coincidence? Definitely not!

Many members of the Federal Reserve are secretly working for Fox News on the side. Their air travel habits are proof enough for this, but there's a wealth of additional evidence that the Federal Reserve doesn't want you to see.

Employees of Microsoft were seen at both the US Election of 2000 and WW1-- despite the fact that they had no good reason to be there.

We've taken a big risk to post this information on the internet-- many others have seen their careers destroyed for doing much less.

The only way for upstanding citizens to protect themselves from this madness is to retreat from modern society entirely.

This is not what it seems. See here: http://goo.gl/b8uWE

Haha, some of them are hilarious. Some more obviously generated than others, but still... good job.

How are they generated?

I managed to get some gems like this:

> The earliest Nordic settlers in the Old Northwest were shocked when they discovered their lands had been inhabited by a sentient race, which has been confirmed by scientists to have used Google products over 300 years before today.

I'm guessing Markov Chains[1]. Effectively, each phrase is determined randomly from a pool, the options are dictated by the preceding sentence. They're a surprisingly effective way to produce a few sentences that seem logically connected, despite being more or less random. After a few hops, of course it can go off the rails.

And they have a simple grammar that allows them to pull famous names, places and drop them into predefined slots. Someone else already pointed out, it's basically Mad Libs.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markov_chain

It looks like the theories were pre-generated, then on refresh, the front page just shows a random theory..... or at least that's what the author wants you to think... until it's too late. Numerous pop-songs from the 90s make reference to this.

In all seriousness, I'd love to see the source code.

The Truth About Monsanto and Dead Parrot

All products made by Monsanto are produced using Dead Parrot and its derivatives. It's intentional: they want that stuff in your bloodstream.

In 1851, Civil War general Robert E. Lee reported a strange disturbance in the sky over the Potomac. A squadron of six men who had been sent to investigate disappeared for 12 days, and when they came back they had no memory events that had transpired. Lee wrote in his diary, “Our inspection of the men turned up nothing, but their forearms were branded with a curious unknown symbol: 'Monsanto'.”

Talking about this kind of thing openly is likely to get you put on a no-fly list.

Did you know that toxins created during the Dead Parrot manufacturing process also turn up in children's toys?

Invested parties have done a lot to make sure this stays under wraps.

Rich and powerful bankers have aggressively invested in and exploited Dead Parrot, despite the danger it poses to ordinary citizens. Chances are they took a hint from Communists.

After setting up this website with these startling facts, I have been contacted by FBI agents three times.

Apathy toward this issue will be the death of our civilization. Do you plan on dying with civilization, or will you join me in settling a remote Pacific island?

With a little brush-up, this has the potential of being the next The Onion News Network. Great job, and I like where this is going.

I randomly got "The Truth About North Korea: North Korea has been planning a silent invasion of North Korea for quite some time." I'm not sure if this is a bug that should be fixed, or if that's just what North Korea wants you to think.


"The Black Plague was a time of great confusion and hardship for ordinary citizens-- but through it all, Fox News enjoyed suspicious prosperity."

Looks like it's a mix of markov chain generator and mad-libs style random fact generation, am I close?

(sorry for curling the site way too many times)


pick one, and it seems to have several articles on the same topic. like other have noted, the source for this would be an interesting read.

So the website is more of a directory of generated conspiracy theories, rather than a conspiracy theory 'generator'. Go to a specific article and note that the article is always the same.

Sorry it's not clear - you can generate your own at http://verifiedfacts.org/search

Not necessarily. Refresh the directory, and open the 'same' article.

First thing I thought of when I saw this web app as well.

I love this. How does it work?

> Salmonella helped beyoncé achieve a meteoric rise to fame and influence.

In 1750, Benjamin Franklin was observed by over fifteen residents of Philadelphia as he branded an unidentified man with an Illuminati insignia. He was overheard telling one of his associates, “my work will be done once beyoncé arrives to complete it.”

I opened lots of HN links in new tabs with their comments. I looked at this one and thought "why are stupid antisemitic conspiracy theories being posted on HN?".

Then I clicked the comments tab.

Now all we need is a really natural text-to-speech and some stuff like FCC licenses and we can start building fully automated Alex Joneses.

Search for Oracle is truly hilarious!!

'The Truth About Brad Pitt and Oracle

Did you know that Brad Pitt gets checks from Oracle once a month, for services rendered-- but unexplained? That's not all that Brad Pitt gets up to when the public's watchful eye is turned.

Oracle clearly has a secret deal with Youtube-- all videos highlighting the abuses it committed while in North Korea are taken down without explanation.'

Awesome work!!

Hold on guys! Before you believe anything you read on there I've uncovered an interesting article on the dark truth behind verifiedfacts.org! http://www.verifiedfacts.org/i/verifiedfacts-org/MTg5OTQ

It's awesome. May I suggest a 'read more' button, which would elaborate more and more on the conspiracy. Sources should probably be click-able and also function as a 'read more' button. Would be great if I could sign up for conspiracy-of-the-day to have it emailed to me.

Good stuff. Reminded me that the Postmodernism Generator is still out there as well, and as equally, gloriously incomprehensible : http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/

Records indicate that Barack Obama's ancestors were present at Fukushima.


In the spirit of conspiracy theorism, I deduce that the United States government has access to time machines.

Reminds me of this gag:


Looking at some of those really makes me feel...not quite old, but dated.

So well done. We have to get this on Rachel Maddow's show.

I predict you will be slashdotted.

Edit: I just saw the "Report Inaccuracy" link. Ho boy, you guys nailed this. I hope you monetize it big time.

Did you know East Germany is practically owned by Slashdot? [1]

1. http://www.verifiedfacts.org/i/Slashdot/NzAzMA

This is not quite timecube level of crazy, but nevertheless good job with semi-plausable text generation!

I found a bug: Try entering the name of an organisation that has a # symbol in it, or a /

"The Truth About Morgan Freeman and Meth" seems like libel.

Can algorithms be charged with libel? I did some googling, but couldn't find anything solid on the subject.

If you write code that you know because of the data that it uses has the ability to generate libel about a famous figure on a public site, then you could be charged. The likelihood of being charged is much less than having written it yourself clearly and perhaps linking to the page and promoting it as valid news, but the possibility of being charged is there.

"Fukushima was an inside job."


Fun :)

Would be awesome to bait conspiracy theorists with these.

Best freakn' site ever! Thanks for the share!

This is so awesome. It just made my day.

Love The Wall reference I came across :)

I just read an amazing one:

"Oswald acted alone and Ruby got no help from anyone"

And I've got a bridge to sell you too ; )

Must be nice to live in a land made of pink-ponnies and honest people who'd never abuse the system.

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