Friday, November 12, 2010

On Becoming a Conspiracy Theorist

 Over at Public School Parents Blog, Steve Koss makes some very interesting points:

Consider first that Ms. Black's prior education credentials, as now being reported in the New York Times, appear to consist of having once attended a mentor day with Michelle Obama at a Detroit school, and having once been the figurehead "principal for a day" at a Bronx school. Add to this the fact that she just joined the HVA National Leadership Board "a few months ago" and has yet to actually attend any meetings. Throw on top of that the information that the co-chair of this advisory board (along with singer John Legend) is Rupert Murdoch, a multi-million-dollar contributor to HVA, and top it all off with the announcement that Joel Klein is taking an education industry, strategy-related position at Murdoch's News Corporation.

Now this is clearly remarkable.  Can you imagine getting a job in an industry based on your membership in an organization whose meetings you didn't even attend?  Koss has me thinking there.  He loses me, though, when he says this:

This writer is not given to conspiracy theories in general, but the timing and interconnectedness of it all, added to Mayor Bloomberg's disturbing secrecy in acting seemingly entirely on his own, to fill a VERY public position, certainly generates some interesting questions and intriguing possibilities.

I know a few people who embrace conspiracy theories, and I'm afraid Koss is a rank amateur.  First of all, for a conspiracy theory, this is not nearly far-flung enough.  There doesn't seem to be anything attributable to mere coincidence.  It's almost like someone gives their kid a job, you label it nepotism, and call yourself a conspiracy theorist. Does that, in itself, earn you the title?

Frankly, I'd say Koss needs work if he want to establish conspiracy theories.  For example, if he wanted to work out a good one in this case, he'd start from the premise that Ms. Black is qualified to run the largest school system in the country.

That could certainly form the basis for some wild-eyed theory, and some people are doing a good job putting out just such theories.  For example, Mayor Bloomberg spun a real doozy of a tale about an extensive search for an appropriate candidate, a tale no one seems able to verify.  Now I'll admit that, since it appears the Mayor sought the council of no one and simply did whatever the hell he felt like doing, it doesn't seem much of a conspiracy.  But the story, at least, has no evidence whatsoever to support it, an important starting point if you want serious consideration as a conspiracy theorist.

As things stand, I'd have to say Koss' story is far too much credible to label him a conspiracy theorist.   Perhaps he should start from scratch.  Otherwise, I'd have to advise him he's utterly unsuited for the conspiracy theory racket and advise him, with all seriousness, to simply keep his day job.

Truth be told, making Koss a conspiracy theorist would be as ridiculous as, oh, making a magazine executive Chancellor of NYC Schools.
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