Observe government’s actions. When you see government commit a crime, ask yourself: if government commits this act in public, what does it do in secret?
Skeptics suggest that Adam Lanza may not have shot twenty-six people inside Sandy Hook elementary school. Consider this dialog on the subject:
Skeptic: A fair amount of evidence suggests the official account of the Newtown massacre is inaccurate.
Believer: Are you another conspiracy theorist? If the official account isn’t correct, what did happen?
Skeptic: The evidence isn’t clear about that. We just know the massacre didn’t happen the way authorities say it did.
Believer: You have to have an alternate theory. You can’t just tear apart the official story.
Skeptic: Alright, the evidence that Adam Lanza murdered twenty children and six adults inside the school is weak. The story government tells about Adam Lanza’s actions that day doesn’t account for all the evidence.
Believer: Ah hah! So you’re saying Adam Lanza wasn’t the shooter! If he didn’t do it, who did?
Skeptic: That’s the point. If we don’t have access to all the evidence, we’re just guessing.
Believer: You think the government did it, don’t you?
Skeptic: Suppose the government did do it. What would that mean?
Believer: It would mean you’re nuts! That is so far fetched – anyone who believes that would have to be insane.
Skeptic: That’s the problem. Skeptics think people who accept the official account can’t be thinking straight.
Skeptic: Because the official version of what happened doesn’t account for the evidence. Moreover, the official version keeps a huge amount of relevant evidence secret. It’s hidden from view.
Believer: What evidence don’t we have?
Skeptic: Autopsy results, for one. Ballistics reports to go with each autopsy, for another. Twenty-six dead from 154 bullets is a lot of evidence. Why wouldn’t the coroner make it all available?
Believer: To protect the families’ privacy.
Skeptic: Why wasn’t anyone wounded?
Believer: Who knows? Lanza knew how to use an assault rifle.
Skeptic: Why did police remove all the bodies at three in the morning, and never let family members see them?
Believer: They said they did it for the sake of the families.
Skeptic: Do you believe that?
Believer: Yes, I believe that.
Skeptic: Look, you can’t just take things on faith. You have to try to figure out what happened, independent of what government officials tell you.
Believer: But government official know a lot more than I do. Why shouldn’t I believe them?
Skeptic: Because they practically never tell the truth. You can’t trust people who lie every time they turn around.
Believer: Who do you believe, then, if not the officials?
Skeptic: Listen to people who do the best they can with evidence that’s available. Listen to people who take into account what didn’t happen as well as what did. You have to take into account all the evidence we have, even if it’s incomplete.
Believer: I tell you, the idea that officials would put Adam Lanza down as a patsy for some other kind of operation, it’s just not believable. It couldn’t have happened.
Skeptic: Do you remember what happened on April 19, twenty years ago?
Skeptic: Waco. April 19, 1993.
Believer: Why do you bring that up?
Skeptic: On that day, our government attacked a compound with people in it, including children, and burned it to the ground. They put flammable gas inside the building, set the wood structure aflame, and prevented fire fighters from putting out the blaze. Children died with their parents.
Believer: I still don’t see how that’s relevant to the Newtown massacre.
Skeptic: The specific events in Waco aren’t relevant. Waco’s significance is relevant to the argument you made earlier.
Believer: How so?
Skeptic: You said it’s too far fetched to suggest that government could be responsible for killing children inside that school. Anyone who would think that has to be insane.
Skeptic: Government has already shown its willingness to kill children right in front of us, right in front of the television cameras! The attorney general said she ordered the attack on Mount Carmel because she had reports that children were being abused inside the compound. So her agents burnt the place to the ground, with the children inside!
Believer: I still don’t see.
Skeptic: If they would do that in public, what won’t they do? Waco doesn’t tell us what happened in Newtown, my friend. Waco does rule out the far fetched argument. You can’t argue government would never do something like that. It already has. We live in a place where government does what it likes, lies about it, and isn’t accountable to anyone for it. Nothing is too far fetched.
Believer: The government hasn’t nuked one of our cities yet.
Skeptic: That’s right. It just nuked Japan’s cities. You do what you need to do.
Believer: You said nothing is too far fetched.
Skeptic: Look, I’m not sure a discussion of nuclear warfare will help us figure out what happened in Newtown. You sound like you accept the official version of the Newtown massacre, mainly because officials have more information than we do. I discount what officials say, because they almost never tell the truth. I want to look at evidence that comes from other sources.
Believer: How do you know the other sources are any more credible than the government?
Skeptic: You have to evaluate the evidence and the sources case by case. The only thing we know at first is government’s record of dishonesty. Another thing you know from the record is that most media outlets don’t question the government’s version of anything. They just relay what officials have to say.
Believer: If you’re that skeptical, I don’t see how you can believe anything we’re told.
Skeptic: What’s bad about that?
Believer: You have to believe something.
Skeptic: Why? Do you want to believe something that’s not true?
Believer: You can’t go around being uncertain about everything.
Skeptic: Government’s official versions aren’t everything. We still have lots of evidence from sources we can evaluate independently – from sources that don’t have a record of dishonesty.
Believer: Like what? What sources are more believable than the official ones?
Skeptic: As I said, you evaluate each one. Let’s say you read a source that says the Jews are behind Newtown. You throw that in with the government’s version. Let’s say you read a source that says we have to see video and audio evidence from the school’s brand new security system. We also want to see photographic evidence from the killer’s point of entry. These requests you treat seriously. This source has credibility, because it concentrates on evidence that exists. It says we can’t conclude what happened in Newtown while officials keep so much relevant evidence secret.
Believer: I don’t think you’ll ever be satisfied.
Skeptic: I’m satisfied when I deal with trustworthy people. I’m dissatisfied when I deal with dishonest people. That’s not so unusual.
Believer: Yes, but how many people do you know who are trustworthy?
Skeptic: I give people the benefit of the doubt, but once they lie to me, I never believe them again.
Believer: So you say I’m gullible?
Skeptic: I say when you look at evidence and reject dishonesty, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re gullible. Your conclusions rest on thinking you’ve done for yourself. That’s what Emerson meant by self-reliance. You don’t let other people determine your beliefs.
Skeptic: For what?
Believer: For talking about what’s far fetched, and what’s not.
Skeptic: What’s far fetched?
Believer: Well I’m not sure, but I know you’re not.