Теории на конспирацията. Кой вярва в тях и защо? (Недовършен превод)

Кой вярва в теории на конспирацията и защо? Как да установим дали дадена конспиративна теория е вярна или грешна?

Conspiracy Theories

1. Конспирации – трудно е да вярваш само в една.

Какво е теория на конспирацията и защо тези теории процъфтяват?

Защо хората вярват в теории на конспирацията? Според изследване, озаглавено „Жив и мъртъв: вярата в противоречащи си теории на конспирацията“, психолозите Майкъл Дж. Ууд, Карън М. Дъглас и Роби М. Сътън от Университета в Кент твърдят, че конспиративната теория е „предполагаем заговор на хора и организации с власт, чието тайно сътрудничество е насочено към изпълнението на някаква (обикновено злонамерена) цел“, която е „всеизвестно устойчива на опровержение“, и която съдържа „нови слоеве на конспирацията, добавяни впоследствие, за да рационализират всяко ново опровержително доказателство“. Щом веднъж повярвате, че „мащабна, злонамерена конспирация би могла да бъде изпълнена успешно в почти перфектно секретни условия, се предполага, че много подобни заговори са възможни.“ Изхождайки от тази кабалистична парадигма, конспирациите могат да бъдат „обяснение по подразбиране за всяко едно събитие – неделим, затворен светоглед, при който убежденията постъпват под формата на взаимноподкрепяща се мрежа, известна като монологична система от вярвания.“

For example, the authors of this study report that “a belief that a rogue cell of MI6 was responsible for [Princess] Diana’s death was correlated with belief in theories that HIV was created in a laboratory, that the moon landing was a hoax, and that governments are covering up the existence of aliens.” The effect continues even when the conspiracies contradict one another. For example, the more participants believed that Diana faked her own death, the more they believed that she was murdered.

They call this process global coherence: “Someone who believes in a significant number of conspiracy theories would naturally begin to see authorities as fundamentally deceptive, and new conspiracy theories would seem more plausible in light of that belief.” Thus, “conspiracy advocates’ distrust of official narratives may be so strong that many alternative theories are simultaneously endorsed in spite of any contractions between them.”


Conspiracy theories connect the dots of random events into meaningful patterns (patternicity), and then infuse those patterns with intentional agency (agenticity). Add to this the confirmation bias (the tendency to look for and find confirmatory evidence for what we already believe) and the hindsight bias (after the fact explanation for what you already know happened), and we have the foundation for conspiratorial cognition. As Arthur Goldwag writes in his 2009 book, Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: “When something momentous happens, everything leading up to and away from the event seems momentous too. Even the most trivial detail seems to glow with significance.” Consider the JFK assassination. “Knowing what we know now…film footage of Dealey Plaza from November 22, 1963, seems pregnant with enigmas and ironies—from the oddly expectant expressions on the faces of the onlookers on the grassy knoll in the instants before the shots were fired (What were they thinking?), to the play of shadows in the background (Could that flash up there on the overpass have been a gun barrel gleaming in the sun?). Each odd excrescence, every random lump in the visual texture seems suspicious.”

Transcendental Conspiracists v. Empiricists

Transcendentalists believe that everything is interconnected and all events happen for a reason, while empiricists think that randomness and coincidence interact with the causal net of our world, and that belief depends on evidence for each individual claim. The problem for skepticism is that transcendentalism is intuitive and empiricism is not. Our propensity for patternicity and agenticity leads us naturally into the transcendental camp of those who see events in the world as unfolding according to a preplanned logic, whereas the empirical method of being skeptical until a claim is proven otherwise requires a concerted effort that most of us do not make.


In their 2014 book American Conspiracy Theories the political scientists Joseph Uscinski and Joseph Parent conducted an extensive empirical study on conspiracy theories and found that “Conspiracy theorists are often caricatured as a small demographic composed primarily of middle-aged white male Internet enthusiasts who live in their mothers’ basements,” but that polls reveal that “conspiracy theories permeate all parts of American society and cut across gender, age, race, income, political affiliation, educational level, and occupational status.” They note that in laboratory experiments “researchers have found that inducing anxiety or loss of control triggers respondents to see nonexistent patterns and evoke conspiratorial explanations” and that in the real world “there is evidence that disasters (e.g., earthquakes) and other high-stress situations (e.g., job uncertainty) prompt people to concoct, embrace, and repeat conspiracy theories.” An analysis of tweets, for example, found that people were more likely to tweet about conspiracies surrounding the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan the closer they were to it, and those who lived in New York City on 9/11 were more likely to believe that it was an “inside job”.


Group identity is also a factor. African Americans are more likely to believe that the CIA planted crack cocaine in innercity black neighborhoods, created AIDS to kills blacks, and that the Jews control the media. By contrast, white Americans are more likely to believe that the government is conspiring to tax the rich in order to support welfare queens, to take away our guns and abolish the Second Amendment, and even that President Obama is setting up concentration camps for Americans who resist his socialist agenda. This figure from American Conspiracy Theories shows how this political dimension interacts with the propensity of people to believe (or not) conspiracy theories in general.


Political ideologies also play a role in conspiratorial belief, on both the left and the right equally, although each concocts different conspiracies at work. The left suspects that the media and political parties are pawns of the rich, while the right suspects academics and the liberal elite control the same institutions. Climate change conspiracy theories are endorsed primarily by those on the right, GMO conspiracy theories are embraced primarily by those on the left. A figure from American Conspiracy Theories shows very little difference between political orientation and conspiratorial predisposition. The specific conspiracy theories may vary, but not the levels of conspiratorial thinking.


Another interesting finding by Uscinski and Parent is that education makes some difference in reducing conspiratorial thinking, but not as much as we might hope it would. This figure shows what they discovered across the educational spectrum. Even at the post-graduate level more than 1 in 5 Americans show a high predisposition for conspiratorial belief.

References: American Conspiracy Theories by Joseph Uscinski & Joseph Parent. Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies by Arthur Goldwag. “Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories,” by Michael J. Wood, Karen M. Douglas, and Robbie M. Sutton.


Some conspiracy theories are true, some false. How can one tell the difference? The more the conspiracy theory manifests the following characteristics, the less likely it is to be true.

1.Proof of the conspiracy supposedly emerges from a pattern of “connecting the dots” between events that need not be causally connected. When no evidence supports these connections except the allegation of the conspiracy, or when the evidence fits equally well to other causal connections—or to randomness—the conspiracy theory is likely false.

2.The agents behind the pattern of the conspiracy would need nearly superhuman power to pull it off. Most of the time in most circumstances, people are not nearly so powerful as we think they are.

3.The conspiracy is complex and its successful completion demands a large number of elements.

4.The conspiracy involves large numbers of people who would all need to keep silent about their secrets.

5. The conspiracy encompasses some grandiose ambition for control over a nation, economy or political system. If it suggests world domination, it’s probably false.

6.The conspiracy theory ratchets up from small events that might be true to much larger events that have much lower probabilities of being true.

7. The conspiracy theory assigns portentous and sinister meanings to what are most likely random and insignificant events.

8.The theory tends to commingle facts and speculations without distinguishing between the two and without assigning degrees of probability or of factuality.

9.The theorist is extremely and indiscriminately suspicious of any and all government agencies or private organizations.

10. The conspiracy theorist refuses to consider alternative explanations, rejecting all disconfirming evidence for his theory and blatantly seeking only confirmatory evidence.


9/11 conspiracy theories are based on a number of testable claims. SKEPTIC magazine consulted demolition expert Brent Blanchard, Director of Field Operations for Protec Documentation Services, a company that documents large building demolitions worldwide, to answer 9 specific claims about 9/11:

Claim #1: The towers collapsed exactly like controlled demolitions.

Protec: No they did not. The key to any demolition investigation is in finding out the “where”—the actual point at which the building failed. All photographic evidence shows World Trade Center buildings 1 and 2 failed at the point of impact. Actual implosion demolitions always start with the bottom floors. Photo evidence shows the lower floors of WTC 1 and 2 were intact until destroyed from above.

Claim #2: But they fell straight down into their own footprint.

Protec: They did not. They followed the path of least resistance and there was a lot of resistance. Buildings of 20 stories or more do not topple over like trees or reinforced towers or smokestacks. Imploding demolitions fall into a footprint because lower stories are removed first. WTC debris was forced out away from the building as the falling mass encountered intact floors.

Claim #3: Explosive charges are seen shooting from several floors just prior to collapse.

Protec: No, air and debris can be seen being violently ejected from the building—a natural and predictable effect of rapid structure collapse.

Claim #4: Steel-frame buildings do not collapse due to fire.

Protec: Many steel-framed buildings have collapsed due to fire.

Claim #5: Witnesses heard explosions.

Protec: All Seismic evidence from many independent sources on 9/11 showed none of the sudden vibration spikes that result from explosive detonations.

Claim #6: Heat generating explosives (thermite?) melted steel at Ground Zero.

Protec: To a man [and woman], demolition workers do not report encountering molten steel, cut beams or any evidence of explosions. Claims of detected traces of thermite are inconclusive.

Claim #7: Ground Zero debris—particularly the large steel columns—were quickly shipped overseas to prevent scrutiny.

Protec: Not according to those who handled the steel. The chain of procession is clearly documented, first at Ground Zero by Protec and later at the Fresh Kills site by Yannuzzi Demolition. The time frame (months) before it was shipped to China was normal.

Claim #8: WTC7 was intentionally “pulled down” with explosives. The building owner himself was quoted as saying he decided to “pull it.”

Protec: Building owners do not have authority over emergency personal at a disaster scene. We have never heard “pull it” used to refer to an explosive demolition. Demolition explosive experts anticipated the collapse of WTC7, and also witnessed it from a few hundred feet away and no one heard detonations.

Claim #9: There is evidence that explosives were used.

Protec: Most of our comments apply to the differences between what people actually saw on 9/11 and what they should have seen had explosives been present. The hundreds of men and women who worked to remove debris from Ground Zero were some of the country’s most experienced and respected demolition veterans. They processed the experience and expertise to recognize evidence of controlled demolition if it existed. None of these people has come forward with suspicions that explosives were used


The belief that a handful of unexplained anomalies can undermine a well-established theory lies at the heart of all conspiratorial thinking and is easily refuted by noting that beliefs and theories are not built on single facts alone, but on a convergence of evidence from multiple lines of inquiry. All of the “evidence” for a 9/11 conspiracy falls under the rubric of this fallacy. For example, according to 911research.wtc7.net, steel melts at a temperature of 2,777 ° Fahrenheit, but jet fuel burns at only 1,517 °F. No melted steel, no collapsed towers. “The planes did not bring those towers down; bombs did,” says abovetopsecret.com. Wrong. In an article in the Journal of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society, M.I.T. engineering professor Dr. Thomas Eager explains why: steel loses 50% of its strength at 1,200°F; 90,000 liters of jet fuel ignited other combustible materials such as rugs, curtains, furniture, and paper, which continued burning after the jet fuel was exhausted, raising temperatures above 1,400 °F and spreading the fire throughout the building; temperature differentials of hundreds of degrees across single steel horizontal trusses caused them to sag, straining and then breaking the angle clips that held them to the vertical columns; once one truss failed, others failed, and when one floor collapsed (along with the ten stories above it) onto the next floor below, that floor then gave way, creating a pancaking effect that triggered the collapse of the 500,000-ton building.

Автори: Майкъл Шърмър и Пат Линс.

Източник на текста и изображенията: skeptic.com/downloads/conspiracy-theories-who-why-and-how.

(Недовършен превод) Томас Маколи за авторското право (1841 г.)

През 1841 г. Томас Бабингтън Маколи изнася реч пред Камарата на общините на британския парламент относно новопредложения тогава закон за авторското право. Тази реч често бива цитирана, но рядко бива четена. Което е срамота, защото тя е брилянтна. (И забавна.) Един от удивително проницателните моменти е когато Маколи предупреждава, че максимализмът на авторското право ще доведе до необуздани незаконни действия, тъй като всеки с лекота би нарушил един закон, който отдавна е загубил всякаква нравствена легитимност.

Понастоящем, държателят на авторското право разполага с обществената съпричастност. Тези, които нарушават авторското право, се възприемат като негодници, които отмъкват залъка от устите на заслужили мъже. Всеки изпитва задоволство, когато те бъдат скастрени от закона и принудени да възстановят нечестно припечелените средства. Нито един търговец с добра репутация не би си позволил да свързват името му с подобни позорни транзакции. Приемете този закон: и обществената съпричастност ще приключи. Мъже, доста по-различни от настоящия тип пиратски книгопродавачи, скоро ще престъпят границите на този нетърпим монопол. Огромни количества капитал ще бъдат впрегнати в оскверняването на този закон. Всяко изкуство ще бъде употребено с цел да се избегне преследването на юридическа отговорност; и цялата нация ще бъде въвлечена в тази интрига… Помнете също, че, щом веднъж нахлуването в литературната собственост спре да бъде смятано за грешно и непочтено, никой не би могъл да определи рамките на тази инвазия. Обществото рядко прави деликатни разлики. Благоразумното авторско право, което съществува днес, ще сподели позора и заплахата на новото авторско право, което се каните да създадете.

Коя по-точно промяна в закона има предвид той? Удължаването на авторското право до абсурдния период от 50 години след смъртта на автора.

Днес законът за авторското право в САЩ важи за цели 70 години след смъртта на автора; до 120 години за корпоративно авторство. За справка: Законодателният акт за удължаване на периода на авторското право, влязъл в сила през 1998 г., известен на английски като Mickey Mouse Protection Act или Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, в памет на конгресмен Сони Боно, един от активните защитници на този закон. Преди да влезе в политиката, Сони Боно развива кариера в развлекателния бизнес, като музикант и звукозаписен продуцент. Заедно с втората си съпруга сформират популярното дуо „Сони и Шер“. Макар официално да определя себе си като католик, Сони Боно проявява открит интерес към сциентологията.

Това е третата от поредица публикации на тема „интелектуална собственост“, част от свободно достъпния за обществеността сборник с казуси, изготвен от академичните специалисти в областта на интелектуалната собственост и авторското право – проф. Джеймс Бойл и Дженифър Дженкинс. Двамата работят в насока да освободят труда на изкуството и науката от оковите на закостенели институции и да го направят обществено достояние – така, освен, че всеки може да се образова свободно, всеки може и да допринесе с нещо в развитието на сферата, която го вълнува. Ако темата за авторското право ви вълнува, както мен, препоръчвам да се запознаете подробно с текстовете на Джеймс Бойл от сайта му thepublicdomain.org, а сборникът с казуси може да свалите безплатно оттук – thepublicdomain.org/2014/08/26/open-coursebook-in-intellectual-property – за сравнение, един подобен учебник струва около 200лв. Други публикации от сайта на Бойл по темата „интелектуална собственост“ включват: Виктор Юго: пазител на общественото достояние (на английски) и Марк Твен за нуждата от вечно авторско право (на английски).

Считана за един от важните трудове покрай нашумелия дебат за авторското право, книгата на професора по право Джеймс Бойл може да бъде свалена свободно от сайта му.

Считана за един от важните трудове покрай нашумелия дебат за авторското право, книгата на професора по право Джеймс Бойл може да бъде свалена свободно от сайта му.


Томас Бабингтън Маколи
Първата реч към Камарата на общините относно авторското право

5 февруари, 1841 г.

Трудно ми е да изкажа становище, което може да бъде разбрано накриво, като враждебно спрямо интересите на литературата и хората на книгите. За мен е мъчително, ще добавя, да

It is painful to me to take a course which may possibly be misunderstood or misrepresented as unfriendly to the interests of literature and literary men. It is painful to me, I will add, to oppose my honorable and learned friend on a question which he has taken up from the purest motives, and which he regards with a parental interest. These feelings have hitherto kept me silent when the law of copyright has been under discussion. But as I am, on full consideration, satisfied that the measure before us will, if adopted, inflict grievous injury on the public, without conferring any compensating advantage on men of letters, I think it my duty to avow that opinion and to defend it.

The first thing to be done. Sir, is to settle on what principles the question is to be argued. Are we free to legislate for the public good, or are we not? Is this a question of expediency, or is it a question of right? Many of those who have written and petitioned against the existing state of things treat the question as one of right. The law of nature, according to them, gives to every man a sacred and indefeasible property in his own ideas, in the fruits of his own reason and imagination. The legislature has indeed the power to take away this property, just as it has the power to pass an act of attainder for cutting off an innocent man’s head without a trial. But, as such an act of attainder would be legal murder, so would an act invading the right of an author to his copy be, according to these gentlemen, legal robbery.

Now, Sir, if this be so, let justice be done, cost what it may. I am not prepared, like my honorable and learned friend, to agree to a compromise between right and expediency, and to commit an injustice for the public convenience. But I must say, that his theory soars far beyond the reach of my faculties. It is not necessary to go, on the present occasion, into a metaphysical inquiry about the origin of the right of property; and certainly nothing but the strongest necessity would lead me to discuss a subject so likely to be distasteful to the House. I agree, I own, with Paley in thinking that property is the creature of the law, and that the law which creates property can be defended only on this ground, that it is a law beneficial to mankind. But it is unnecessary to debate that point. For, even if I believed in a natural right of property, independent of utility and anterior to legislation, I should still deny that this right could survive the original proprietor. . . . Surely, Sir, even those who hold that there is a natural right of property must admit that rules prescribing the manner in which the effects of deceased persons shall be distributed are purely arbitrary, and originate altogether in the will of the legislature. If so. Sir, there is no controversy between my honorable and learned friend and myself as to the principles on which this question is to be argued. For the existing law gives an author copyright during his natural life; nor do I propose to invade that privilege, which I should, on the contrary, be prepared to defend strenuously against any assailant. The only point in issue between us is, how long after an author’s death the state shall recognize a copyright in his representatives and assigns; and it can, I think, hardly be disputed by any rational man that this is a point which the legislature is free to determine in the way which may appear to be most conducive to the general good.

We may now, therefore, I think, descend from these high regions, where we are in danger of being lost in the clouds, to firm ground and clear light. Let us look at this question like legislators, and after fairly balancing conveniences and inconveniences, pronounce between the existing law of copyright, and the law now proposed to us. The question of copyright. Sir, like most questions of civil prudence, is neither black nor white, but gray. The system of copyright has great advantages and great disadvantages; and it is our business to ascertain what these are, and then to make an arrangement under which the advantages may be as far as possible secured, and the disadvantages as far as possible excluded. The charge which I bring against my honorable and learned friend’s bill is this, that it leaves the advantages nearly what they are at present, and increases the disadvantages at least fourfold.

The advantages arising from a system of copyright are obvious. It is desirable that we should have a supply of good books; we cannot have such a supply unless men of letters are liberally remunerated: and the least objectionable way of remunerating them is by means of copyright. You cannot depend for literary instruction and amusement on the leisure of men occupied in the pursuits of active life. Such men may occasionally produce compositions of great merit. But you must not look to such men for works which require deep meditation and long research. Works of that kind you can expect only from persons who make literature the business of their lives. Of these persons few will be found among the rich and the noble. The rich and the noble are not impelled to intellectual exertion by necessity. They may be impelled to intellectual exertion by the desire of distinguishing themselves, or by the desire of benefiting the community. But it is generally within these walls that they seek to signalize themselves and to serve their fellow-creatures. Both their ambition and their public spirit, in a country like this, naturally take a political turn. It is then on men whose profession is literature, and whose private means are not ample, that you must rely for a supply of valuable books. Such men must be remunerated for their literary labor. And there are only two ways in which they can be remunerated. One of those ways is patronage; the other is copyright.

There have been times in which men of letters looked, not to the public, but to the government, or to a few great men, for the reward of their exertions. It was thus in the time of Maecenas and Pollio at Rome, of the Medici at Florence, of Louis the Fourteenth in France, of Lord Halifax and Lord Oxford in this country. Now, Sir, I well know that there are cases in which it is fit and graceful, nay, in which it is a sacred duty to reward the merits or to relieve the distresses of men of genius by the exercise of this species of liberality. But these cases are exceptions. I can conceive no system more fatal to the integrity and independence of literary men than one under which they should be taught to look for their daily bread to the favor of ministers and nobles. I can conceive no system more certain to turn those minds which are formed by nature to be the blessings and ornaments of our species into public scandals and pests.

We have, then, only one resource left. We must betake ourselves to copyright, be the inconveniences of copyright what they may. Those in­con­ve­ni­ences, in truth, are neither few nor small. Copyright is monopoly, and produces all the effects which the general voice of mankind attributes to monopoly. My honorable and learned friend talks very contemptuously of those who are led away by the theory that monopoly makes things dear. That monopoly makes things dear is certainly a theory, as all the great truths which have been established by the experience of all ages and nations, and which are taken for granted in all reasonings, may be said to be theories. It is a theory in the same sense in which it is a theory that day and night follow each other, that lead is heavier than water, that bread nourishes, that arsenic poisons, that alcohol intoxicates.

If, as my honorable and learned friend seems to think, the whole world is in the wrong on this point, if the real effect of monopoly is to make articles good and cheap, why does he stop short in his career of change? Why does he limit the operation of so salutary a principle to sixty years? Why does he consent to anything short of a perpetuity? He told us that in consenting to anything short of a perpetuity he was making a compromise between extreme right and expediency. But if his opinion about monopoly be correct, extreme right and expediency would coincide. Or rather, why should we not restore the monopoly of the East India trade to the East India Company? Why should we not revive all those old monopolies which, in Elizabeth’s reign, galled our fathers so severely that, maddened by intolerable wrong, they opposed to their sovereign a resistance before which her haughty spirit quailed for the first and for the last time? Was it the cheapness and excellence of commodities that then so violently stirred the indignation of the English people? I believe. Sir, that I may safely take it for granted that the effect of monopoly generally is to make articles scarce, to make them dear, and to make them bad. And I may with equal safety challenge my honorable friend to find out any distinction between copyright and other privileges of the same kind; any reason why a monopoly of books should produce an effect directly the reverse of that which was produced by the East India Company’s monopoly of tea, or by Lord Essex’s monopoly of sweet wines. Thus, then, stands the case. It is good that authors should be remunerated; and the least exceptionable way of remunerating them is by a monopoly. Yet monopoly is an evil. For the sake of the good we must submit to the evil; but the evil ought not to last a day longer than is necessary for the purpose of securing the good.

Now, I will not affirm that the existing law is perfect, that it exactly hits the point at which the monopoly ought to cease; but this I confidently say, that the existing law is very much nearer that point than the law proposed by my honorable and learned friend. For consider this; the evil effects of the monopoly are proportioned to the length of its duration. But the good effects for the sake of which we bear with the evil effects are by no means proportioned to the length of its duration. A monopoly of sixty years produces twice as much evil as a monopoly of thirty years, and thrice as much evil as a monopoly of twenty years. But it is by no means the fact that a posthumous monopoly of sixty years gives to an author thrice as much pleasure and thrice as strong a motive as a posthumous monopoly of twenty years. On the contrary, the difference is so small as to be hardly perceptible. We all know how faintly we are affected by the prospect of very distant advantages, even when they are advantages which we may reasonably hope that we shall ourselves enjoy. But an advantage that is to be enjoyed more than half a century after we are dead, by somebody, we know not by whom, perhaps by somebody unborn, by somebody utterly unconnected with us, is really no motive at all to action. It is very probable that in the course of some generations land in the unexplored and unmapped heart of the Australasian continent will be very valuable. But there is none of us who would lay down five pounds for a whole province in the heart of the Australasian continent. We know, that neither we, nor anybody for whom we care, will ever receive a farthing of rent from such a province. And a man is very little moved by the thought that in the year 2000 or 2100, somebody who claims through him will employ more shepherds than Prince Esterhazy, and will have the finest house and gallery of pictures at Victoria or Sydney. Now, this is the sort of boon which my honorable and learned friend holds out to authors. Considered as a boon to them, it is a mere nullity; but considered as an impost on the public, it is no nullity, but a very serious and pernicious reality.

The principle of copyright is this. It is a tax on readers for the purpose of giving a bounty to writers. The tax is an exceedingly bad one; it is a tax on one of the most innocent and most salutary of human pleasures; and never let us forget, that a tax on innocent pleasures is a premium on vicious pleasures. I admit, however, the necessity of giving a bounty to genius and learning. In order to give such a bounty, I willingly submit even to this severe and burdensome tax. Nay, I am ready to increase the tax, if it can be shown that by so doing I should proportionally increase the bounty. My complaint is, that my honorable and learned friend doubles, triples, quadruples, the tax, and makes scarcely any perceptible addition to the bounty. Why, Sir, what is the additional amount of taxation which would have been levied on the public for Dr. Johnson’s works alone, if my honorable and learned friend’s bill had been the law of the land? I have not data sufficient to form an opinion. But I am confident that the taxation on his dictionary alone would have amounted to many thousands of pounds. In reckoning the whole additional sum which the holders of his copyrights would have taken out of the pockets of the public during the last half century at twenty thousand pounds, I feel satisfied that I very greatly underrate it. Now, I again say that I think it but fair that we should pay twenty thousand pounds in consideration of twenty thousand pounds’ worth of pleasure and encouragement received by Dr. Johnson. But I think it very hard that we should pay twenty thousand pounds for what he would not have valued at five shillings.

* * *

But this is not all. I think it right, Sir, to call the attention of the House to an evil, which is perhaps more to be apprehended when an author’s copyright remains in the hands of his family, than when it is transferred to booksellers. I seriously fear that, if such a measure as this should be adopted, many valuable works will be either totally suppressed or grievously mutilated. I can prove that this danger is not chimerical; and I am quite certain that, if the danger be real, the safeguards which my honorable and learned friend has devised are altogether nugatory. That the danger is not chimerical may easily be shown. Most of us, I am sure, have known persons who, very erroneously as I think, but from the best motives, would not choose to reprint Fielding’s novels or Gibbon’s “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” Some gentlemen may perhaps be of opinion that it would be as well if “Tom Jones” and Gibbon’s “History” were never reprinted. I will not, then, dwell on these or similar cases. I will take cases respecting which it is not likely that there will be any difference of opinion here; cases, too, in which the danger of which I now speak is not matter of supposition, but matter of fact.

Take Richardson’s novels. Whatever I may, on the present occasion, think of my honorable and learned friend’s judgment as a legislator, I must always respect his judgment as a critic. He will, I am sure, say that Richardson’s novels are among the most valuable, among the most original, works in our language. No writings have done more to raise the fame of English genius in foreign countries. No writings are more deeply pathetic. No writings, those of Shakespeare excepted, show more profound knowledge of the human heart. . . . Sir, it is my firm belief, that if the law had been what my honorable and learned friend proposes to make it, they would have been suppressed.

I remember Richardson’s grandson well; he was a clergyman in the city of London; he was a most upright and excellent man; but he had conceived a strong prejudice against works of fiction. He thought all novel-reading not only frivolous but sinful. He said,—this I state on the authority of one of his clerical brethren who is now a bishop,—he said that he had never thought it right to read one of his grandfather’s books. Suppose, Sir, that the law had been what my honorable and learned friend would make it. Suppose that the copyright of Richardson’s novels had descended, as might well have been the case, to this gentleman. I firmly believe that he would have thought it sinful to give them a wide circulation. I firmly believe that he would not for a hundred thousand pounds have deliberately done what he thought sinful. He would not have reprinted them.

And what protection does my honorable and learned friend give to the public in such a case? Why, Sir, what he proposes is this: if a book is not reprinted during five years, any person who wishes to reprint it may give notice in the London Gazette: the advertisement must be repeated three times: a year must elapse; and then, if the proprietor of the copyright does not put forth a new edition, he loses his exclusive privilege. Now, what protection is this to the public? What is a new edition? Does the law define the number of copies that make an edition? Does it limit the price of a copy? Are twelve copies on large paper, charged at thirty guineas each, an edition? It has been usual, when monopolies have been granted, to prescribe numbers and to limit prices. But I do not find that my honorable and learned friend proposes to do so in the present case. And, without some such provision, the security which he offers is manifestly illusory. It is my conviction that, under such a system as that which he recommends to us, a copy of “Clarissa” would have been as rare as an Aldus or a Caxton.

I will give another instance. One of the most instructive, interesting, and delightful books in our language is Boswell’s “Life of Johnson.’’ Now it is well known that Boswell’s eldest son considered this book, considered the whole relation of Boswell to Johnson, as a blot in the escutcheon of the family. He thought, not perhaps altogether without reason, that his father had exhibited himself in a ludicrous and degrading light. And thus he became so sore and irritable that at last he could not bear to hear the “Life of Johnson’’ mentioned. Suppose that the law had been what my honorable and learned friend wishes to make it. Suppose that the copyright of Boswells “Life of Johnson” had belonged, as it well might, during sixty years, to Boswell’s eldest son. What would have been the consequence? An unadulterated copy of the finest biographical work in the world would have been as scarce as the first edition of Camden’s “Britannia.”

. . . Sir, of the kindness with which the House has listened to me, that I will not detain you longer. I will only say this, that if the measure before us should pass, and should produce one tenth part of the evil which it is calculated to produce, and which I fully expect it to produce, there will soon be a remedy, though of a very objectionable kind. Just as the absurd Acts which prohibited the sale of game were virtually repealed by the poacher, just as many absurd revenue Acts have been virtually repealed by the smuggler, so will this law be virtually repealed by piratical booksellers.

At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men. Everybody is well pleased to see them restrained by the law, and compelled to refund their ill-gotten gains. No tradesman of good repute will have anything to do with such disgraceful transactions. Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot. On which side indeed should the public sympathy be when the question is whether some book as popular as “Robinson Crusoe” or the “Pilgrim’s Progress” shall be in every cottage, or whether it shall be confined to the libraries of the rich for the advantage of the great-grandson of a bookseller who, a hundred years before, drove a hard bargain for the copyright with the author when in great distress? Remember too that, when once it ceases to be considered as wrong and discreditable to invade literary property, no person can say where the invasion will stop. The public seldom makes nice distinctions. The wholesome copyright which now exists will share in the disgrace and danger of the new copyright which you are about to create. And you will find that, in attempting to impose unreasonable restraints on the reprinting of the works of the dead, you have, to a great extent, annulled those restraints which now prevent men from pillaging and defrauding the living.

Източник: http://www.thepublicdomain.org/2014/07/24/macaulay-on-copyright.

Превод: Димитър Кръстев.

Кой е Томас Маколи?

© Photos.com/Thinkstock

© Photos.com/Thinkstock

Томас Бабингтън Маколи, барон Маколи от Ротли, е британски есеист, поет, историк и политик, живял в периода 1800-1859 г.

Изключителните умствени заложби на Маколи никога не са били, както при много гении, източник на беди и мисловни терзания. Стига да го бе пожелал, той би могъл да се издигне до високо политическо място, вероятно до най-високото; вместо това, той избира да посвети силите си в изобразяването на английското минало. Владеенето му на литературата е ненадминато. Гръцките и римски творби, съхранени в невероятната му памет, били близки до него от ученическите му години; към тях той добавил литературата на собствената си страна, на Франция, на Испания, на Германия. Притежавал известни ограничения. В по-късната част от живота си той никога не дава индикации за каквито и да било религиозни убеждения, и никак не почитал достойнствата на духовното, за разлика от етичното. Всевъзможните религиозни и философски спекулации са далечни на ума му, и не проявявал никакъв интерес към откритията на науката, с изключение на техническите. Относно изкуството, той сам се определя като невежа, а към музиката бил напълно глух. В игрите, спорта, и физическите умения – дори бръсненето и връзването на вратовръзка – некомпетентността му била пълна. На външен вид, той бил нисък и набит, с ясно изразени черти, които отразявали могъщ ум и откровен характер.

Източник на описанието: Енциклопедия Британика.

За „пиратството“ и любовта към книгите

Огромна част от образованието си (онова живото, което се обновява всеки ден) дължа на Интернет и възможността за свободно споделяне на информация. Благодарение на сайтове като ЧитанкаThe Pirate Bay, /sci/ и благодарение на градската библиотека в Пловдив, тези и други храмове на познанието, които съхраняват стотици хиляди книги, възпитавах и подхранвах у себе си любовта към четенето. А колкото повече четях, толкова повече ми се четеше. И същевременно държа да притежавам в книжен вариант творбите на любимите си автори. Може би, защото така се чувствам по-уверен, че няма да забравя написаното, ако чисто физически се намира близо до мен. Все пак, след четенето на „пиратски“ книги, гледането на „пиратски“ филми, слушането на „пиратска“ музика, определено се възбужда интерес да инвестираш повече време и средства в изкуство, да купуваш повече книги, да ходиш на концерти и кино. Това е едно съвсем естествено явление, което вече е добре познато на голяма част от хората, но, за съжаление, все още се срещат алчни ръбати типове, които смятат, че на човешкото любопитство може да бъде сложен таван. Писателят Нийл Геймън не е от тях.

Ако ви харесва какво говори в това видео, почерпете се с неговата книга „Американски богове“, която той няма против да свалите безплатно от Читанка. Ще ви се услади!

Популярни логически заблуди (Недовършен превод)

В логиката и реториката логическа грешка или логическа заблуда (още „софизъм“, „логическа уловка“) е грешка в разсъждението, която води до неправилно аргументиране, а от там — до погрешно схващане или предположение. Логическите грешки често звучат риторично убедително, защото разчитат на емоционалните импулси в слушателя или опонента (напр. позоваване на чувства), или на евристиките, създадени от социалните взаимоотношения между хората (напр. позоваване на авторитет).

Когато един аргумент е „логически невалиден“, това не означава непременно, че заключението му е погрешно; означава единствено, че заключението не би могло да бъде правилно достигнато чрез този аргумент. Логическите грешки най-често се ползват неумишлено, но те също така може да бъдат използвани умишлено с цел победа в спор, без истината да е от значение.

Логическите заблуди обикновено се класифицират като неформални (предпоставката не подкрепя представеното заключение, т.е. съдържанието е неправилно, но аргументът е структуриран правилно), или формални (при тях самата логическа структура е неправилна).


По-долу представям списък с популярните логически заблуди (заимстван от сайта yourlogicalfallacyis.com; умишлено съм запазил оригиналните им названия на английски и латински, тъй като е по-вероятно да ги срещнете така в интернет-форуми и литературата, която борави с тези понятия). Отчитането на тези пропуски в способността ни да разсъждаваме и да взимаме решения е важен фактор за извличане на оптимални ползи от всеки дебат по всяка тема.


Straw man (чучело, сламен човек)

Нечий аргумент се представя неточно, за да се отслаби неговата валидност.

Чрез преувеличаване, невярно представяне, или просто измисляне на нечий аргумент, е много по-лесно да представите собствената си позиция като разумна, но този тип непочтеност служи за подкопаване на честния рационален дебат.

Пример: След като Иван каза, че трябва да вложим повече пари в здравеопазването и образованието, Петър отговори, че е изненадан от това колко много Иван мрази страната ни, тъй като е готов да я остави беззащитна, като ореже военния бюджет.


False cause / questionable cause / non causa pro causa (спорна първопричина)

Заключението, че дадена взаимовръзка между две неща означава, че едното е причина за другото.

Много хора бъркат взаимовръзка (корелация: когато нещата се случват заедно или последователно) с причинно-следствена връзка (каузалност: когато нещо е причина за появата на нещо друго). Понякога взаимовръзката е коинцидентна, или пък е следствие на общовалидна причина.

Пример: Като сочи към сложната графика, Ганчо показва как температурата на въздуха се е покачила през последните векове, като в същото време броят на пиратите се е понижил; следователно пиратите охлаждат света, а глобалното затопляне е измама.


Appeal to emotion / argumentum ad passiones (позоваване на емоция)

Опит да бъде предизвикан емоционален отклик на мястото на валиден или неоспорим аргумент.

Позоваването на емоция включва позоваване на страх, завист, омраза, съжаление, гордост, и други. Важно е да отбележим, че понякога един логически съгласуван аргумент би могъл да предизвика емоция или да крие емоционален аспект. Проблемът и заблудата следват когато емоцията бива използвана вместо логичен аргумент, или за да прикрие липсата на здрав рационален довод в подкрепа на нечия позиция. Всеки, освен социопатите, бива повлиян от емоции, и затова позоваването на емоция е често срещана и ефективна тактика при воденето на спор, но подобен тип аргументация води до погрешни съждения, а също е и некоректна в стремежа си да омаломощи емоционално опонента.

Пример: Васко не искаше да яде агнешкия мозък с накълцан черен дроб и брюкселско зеле, но баща му му каза да помисли за бедните, гладуващи деца в страните от третия свят, които не са имали късмета да консумират каквато и да било храна изобщо.


The fallacy fallacy (заблуда за заблуда)

Предположили сте, че понеже дадено твърдение е слабо аргументирано или понеже налице присъства логическа заблуда, то тогава твърдението само по себе си трябва да е грешно.

Напълно възможно е да твърдите нещо, което е погрешно и все пак да го защитите логически, също както е възможно да твърдите нещо вярно, в чиято подкрепа да представите слаби аргументи или логически заблуди.

Пример: Като установила, че Аманда извършва логическа заблуда, спорейки че трябва да ядем здравословна храна, защото един диетолог казал, че е популярно, Алис заключила, че по същата логика трябва да ядем двоен чийзбургер с бекон всеки ден.


Slippery slope (хлъзгав склон)

Казвате, че ако позволим А да се случи, то евентуално ще се случи и Я, следователно не трябва да позволяваме А да се случи.

Проблемът с този начин на разсъждаване е, че се избягва належащият въпрос и вместо това вниманието се насочва към крайно хипотетични развръзки. Тъй като не се представя доказателство в подкрепа на това, че тези развръзки действително биха могли да се случат, този тип заблуда наподобява позоваване на емоция чрез насърчаване на страха. В следствие на това конкретният въпрос бива пренебрегнат за сметка на необосновани догадки.

Пример: Волен твърди, че ако позволим брака за еднополовите двойки, то следващата стъпка в тази насока, без да се усетим, ще е да позволим на хората да се женят за собствените си родители, автомобили или дори за маймуни.


Ad hominem (към/срещу човека/личността)

Когато атакувате характера на своите опоненти или лични черти в опит да подкопаете тяхната аргументация.

Нападката тип аd hominem може да бъде разпозната като открито атакуване на някого, или намек, който да предизвика съмнение в целостта на нечий характер или личните особености на човека, като начин за подронване на неговия аргумент. Резултатът от подобна нападка е пренебрегване на нечие твърдение без изобщо да се ангажирате с него.

Пример: След като Ан красноречиво и убедително представя своята аргументация за по-справедлива данъчна система, Сам пита публиката дали трябва да вярваме на жената, която не е омъжена, била е арестувана, и мирише малко странно.

Tu quoque (ти също)

Отказвате да приемете нечия критика като я отправяте обратно към обвинителя – отговаряте на критицизма с критицизъм.

Произнася се ту-куо-куий. Буквално се превежда „ти също“ и тази заблуда обикновено може да бъде припозната като обвинение в лицемерие. Често се използва за отвличане на вниманието от главния въпрос, защото сваля тежестта от плещите на някой, който трябва да защити своя аргумент, и вместо това измества фокуса обратно към човека, който отправя критиката.

Пример: Никол установява, че Хана е направила логическа грешка, но вместо да се насочи към същността на своето твърдение, Хана обвинява Никол, че тя самата е направила грешка по-рано в разговора.


Personal incredulity

You avoided having to engage with criticism by turning it back on the accuser – you answered criticism with criticism.

Pronounced too-kwo-kwee. Literally translating as ‘you too’ this fallacy is also known as the appeal to hypocrisy. It is commonly employed as an effective red herring because it takes the heat off someone having to defend their argument, and instead shifts the focus back on to the person making the criticism.

Example: Nicole identified that Hannah had committed a logical fallacy, but instead of addressing the substance of her claim, Hannah accused Nicole of committing a fallacy earlier on in the conversation.


Special pleading

You moved the goalposts or made up an exception when your claim was shown to be false.

Humans are funny creatures and have a foolish aversion to being wrong. Rather than appreciate the benefits of being able to change one’s mind through better understanding, many will invent ways to cling to old beliefs. One of the most common ways that people do this is to post-rationalize a reason why what they thought to be true must remain to be true. It’s usually very easy to find a reason to believe something that suits us, and it requires integrity and genuine honesty with oneself to examine one’s own beliefs and motivations without falling into the trap of justifying our existing ways of seeing ourselves and the world around us.

Example: Edward Johns claimed to be psychic, but when his ‘abilities’ were tested under proper scientific conditions, they magically disappeared. Edward explained this saying that one had to have faith in his abilities for them to work.


Loaded question

You asked a question that had a presumption built into it so that it couldn’t be answered without appearing guilty.

Loaded question fallacies are particularly effective at derailing rational debates because of their inflammatory nature – the recipient of the loaded question is compelled to defend themselves and may appear flustered or on the back foot.

Example: Grace and Helen were both romantically interested in Brad. One day, with Brad sitting within earshot, Grace asked in an inquisitive tone whether Helen was having any problems with a drug habit.


Burden of proof

You said that the burden of proof lies not with the person making the claim, but with someone else to disprove.

The burden of proof lies with someone who is making a claim, and is not upon anyone else to disprove. The inability, or disinclination, to disprove a claim does not render that claim valid, nor give it any credence whatsoever. However it is important to note that we can never be certain of anything, and so we must assign value to any claim based on the available evidence, and to dismiss something on the basis that it hasn’t been proven beyond all doubt is also fallacious reasoning.

Example: Bertrand declares that a teapot is, at this very moment, in orbit around the Sun between the Earth and Mars, and that because no one can prove him wrong, his claim is therefore a valid one.



You used a double meaning or ambiguity of language to mislead or misrepresent the truth.

Politicians are often guilty of using ambiguity to mislead and will later point to how they were technically not outright lying if they come under scrutiny. The reason that it qualifies as a fallacy is that it is intrinsically misleading.

Example: When the judge asked the defendant why he hadn’t paid his parking fines, he said that he shouldn’t have to pay them because the sign said ‘Fine for parking here’ and so he naturally presumed that it would be fine to park there.


The gambler’s fallacy

You said that ‘runs’ occur to statistically independent phenomena such as roulette wheel spins.

This commonly believed fallacy can be said to have helped create an entire city in the desert of Nevada USA. Though the overall odds of a ‘big run’ happening may be low, each spin of the wheel is itself entirely independent from the last. So whilst there may be a very small chance that heads will come up 20 times in a row if you flip a coin, the chances of heads coming up on each individual flip remain 50/50, and aren’t influenced by what happened before.

Example: Red had come up six times in a row on the roulette wheel, so Greg knew that it was close to certain that black would be next up. Suffering an economic form of natural selection with this thinking, he soon lost all of his savings.



You appealed to popularity or the fact that many people do something as an attempted form of validation.

The flaw in this argument is that the popularity of an idea has absolutely no bearing on its validity. If it did, then the Earth would have made itself flat for most of history to accommodate this popular belief.

Example: Shamus pointed a drunken finger at Sean and asked him to explain how so many people could believe in leprechauns if they’re only a silly old superstition. Sean, however, had had a few too many Guinness himself and fell off his chair.


Appeal to authority

You said that because an authority thinks something, it must therefore be true.

It’s important to note that this fallacy should not be used to dismiss the claims of experts, or scientific consensus. Appeals to authority are not valid arguments, but nor is it reasonable to disregard the claims of experts who have a demonstrated depth of knowledge unless one has a similar level of understanding and/or access to empirical evidence. However it is, entirely possible that the opinion of a person or institution of authority is wrong; therefore the authority that such a person or institution holds does not have any intrinsic bearing upon whether their claims are true or not.

Example: Not able to defend his position that evolution ‘isn’t true’ Bob says that he knows a scientist who also questions evolution (and presumably isn’t a primate).



You assumed that one part of something has to be applied to all, or other, parts of it; or that the whole must apply to its parts.

Often when something is true for the part it does also apply to the whole, or vice versa, but the crucial difference is whether there exists good evidence to show that this is the case. Because we observe consistencies in things, our thinking can become biased so that we presume consistency to exist where it does not.

Example: Daniel was a precocious child and had a liking for logic. He reasoned that atoms are invisible, and that he was made of atoms and therefore invisible too. Unfortunately, despite his thinky skills, he lost the game of hide and go seek.


No true Scotsman

You made what could be called an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss relevant criticisms or flaws of your argument.

In this form of faulty reasoning one’s belief is rendered unfalsifiable because no matter how compelling the evidence is, one simply shifts the goalposts so that it wouldn’t apply to a supposedly ‘true’ example. This kind of post-rationalization is a way of avoiding valid criticisms of one’s argument.

Example: Angus declares that Scotsmen do not put sugar on their porridge, to which Lachlan points out that he is a Scotsman and puts sugar on his porridge. Furious, like a true Scot, Angus yells that no true Scotsman sugars his porridge.



You judged something as either good or bad on the basis of where it comes from, or from whom it came.

This fallacy avoids the argument by shifting focus onto something’s or someone’s origins. It’s similar to an ad hominem fallacy in that it leverages existing negative perceptions to make someone’s argument look bad, without actually presenting a case for why the argument itself lacks merit.

Example: Accused on the 6 o’clock news of corruption and taking bribes, the senator said that we should all be very wary of the things we hear in the media, because we all know how very unreliable the media can be.


Black or white

You presented two alternative states as the only possibilities, when in fact more possibilities exist.

Also known as the false dilemma, this insidious tactic has the appearance of forming a logical argument, but under closer scrutiny it becomes evident that there are more possibilities than the either/or choice that is presented. Binary, black-or-white thinking doesn’t allow for the many different variables, conditions, and contexts in which there would exist more than just the two possibilities put forth. It frames the argument misleadingly and obscures rational, honest debate.

Example: Whilst rallying support for his plan to fundamentally undermine citizens’ rights, the Supreme Leader told the people they were either on his side, or they were on the side of the enemy.


Begging the question

You presented a circular argument in which the conclusion was included in the premise.

This logically incoherent argument often arises in situations where people have an assumption that is very ingrained, and therefore taken in their minds as a given. Circular reasoning is bad mostly because it’s not very good.

Example: The word of Zorbo the Great is flawless and perfect. We know this because it says so in The Great and Infallible Book of Zorbo’s Best and Most Truest Things that are Definitely True and Should Not Ever Be Questioned.


Appeal to nature

You argued that because something is ‘natural’ it is therefore valid, justified, inevitable, good or ideal.

Many ‘natural’ things are also considered ‘good’, and this can bias our thinking; but naturalness itself doesn’t make something good or bad. For instance murder could be seen as very natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s good or justifiable.

Example: The medicine man rolled into town on his bandwagon offering various natural remedies, such as very special plain water. He said that it was only natural that people should be wary of ‘artificial’ medicines such as antibiotics.



You used a personal experience or an isolated example instead of a sound argument or compelling evidence.

It’s often much easier for people to believe someone’s testimony as opposed to understanding complex data and variation across a continuum. Quantitative scientific measures are almost always more accurate than personal perceptions and experiences, but our inclination is to believe that which is tangible to us, and/or the word of someone we trust over a more ‘abstract’ statistical reality.

Example: Jason said that that was all cool and everything, but his grandfather smoked, like, 30 cigarettes a day and lived until 97 – so don’t believe everything you read about meta analyses of methodologically sound studies showing proven causal relationships.


The Texas sharpshooter

You cherry-picked a data cluster to suit your argument, or found a pattern to fit a presumption.

This ‘false cause’ fallacy is coined after a marksman shooting randomly at barns and then painting bullseye targets around the spot where the most bullet holes appear, making it appear as if he’s a really good shot. Clusters naturally appear by chance, but don’t necessarily indicate that there is a causal relationship.

Example: The makers of Sugarette Candy Drinks point to research showing that of the five countries where Sugarette drinks sell the most units, three of them are in the top ten healthiest countries on Earth, therefore Sugarette drinks are healthy.


Middle ground

You claimed that a compromise, or middle point, between two extremes must be the truth.

Much of the time the truth does indeed lie between two extreme points, but this can bias our thinking: sometimes a thing is simply untrue and a compromise of it is also untrue. Half way between truth and a lie, is still a lie.

Example: Holly said that vaccinations caused autism in children, but her scientifically well-read friend Caleb said that this claim had been debunked and proven false. Their friend Alice offered a compromise that vaccinations must cause some autism, just not all autism.