Posts Tagged ‘Absence of evidence’
Lord West: Be afraid
Amid the UK government’s heavy defeat in the House of Lords over its demand for “sweeping new powers” to lock people up without charge, the terrorism minister Lord West has claimed – without offering any evidence – that “another great plot is building up again, which we are monitoring“.
According to West, who was in charge of the government’s attempt to get the 42-day detention proposals through the House of Lords, “The [terrorist] threat is huge. It dipped slightly and is now rising again … There are large complex plots. We unravelled one, which caused damage to al-Qaida and the plots faded slightly”. But West claims that another malicious conspiracy has now been discovered.
In “Don’t Get Fooled Again” I argue that conspiracy theories are not the exclusive preserve of dodgy balding men in smoky pubs – dodgy balding men in government sometimes fall for them too.
Strictly speaking, anyone who postulates a secretive, evil plot on the basis of weak or non-existent evidence, is putting forward a conspiracy theory. Recent examples of state-sponsored conspiracy theories include the UK and US governments’ bogus claim that Iraq was harbouring “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, and the suggestion, which we now know was made on the basis of a torture-tainted confession, that the Iraqi regime had offered chemical weapons training to senior members of Al Qaeda.
Given this track record, it seems prudent to treat Lord West’s new – yet decidedly vague – assertions with a heavy dose of scepticism.
Terror Alert Level: Comfortably numb