The conspiracy theories (3)

In the closing post of the series I will touch on the human factor, often neglected in the conspiracy theories.

First an insight from Richard Feynman, quoted on da-boss a few times before. To remind everyone – Feynman was a particle physicist, member of the Manhattan Project crew, Nobel Prize winner and one of the brightest minds on the 20th century. Did I mention he had an above-average IQ :-)? In one of his essays on science in general he related his run-ins with the UFO proponents. Feynman’s frustration was that they were coming up with all the hairy concepts which only stuck together if a number of physical and political scenarios went exactly as theorised. His response was “you have shown that the UFO is possible but not that it has happened”. This, I believe, is the crux of the matter. We, as consumers of conspiracy theories should not be in the business of ascertaining if a particular scenario is possible but rather if, on the balance of probabilities, it has happened. In this context I will look at the human factor involved.

A sizeable piece of the conspiratorial universe is occupied by the Pearl Harbour theories. They typically assume that the US High Command knew about the impending Japanese attack from intercepted radio transmissions and deliberately did nothing to thwart it. Their intention was to draw the US into war with Japan and the fact the Japanese were about to strike first was viewed as a fortunate coincidence. By not defending Pearl Harbour the US High Command aimed to maximise the resulting losses to ensure the public anger forces the politicians to declare war of Japan. The plan worked (or so the theory proponents will have you believe).

Ok, so this time we have a reasonably full and consistent theory which cannot be easily dismissed on the ground of physics. But let us look at the logistics of the deal. The code breakers decipher the Japanese messages. These messages read something like “six aircraft carriers with 400 planes on board are on their way to bomb Pearl Harbour”. The transcripts are then sent to Washington. There, after some deliberations, a close circle of military and political leaders decide to do nothing about it. They must advise the Pearl Harbour commander, Kimmel, that if the Japanese armada is accidentally detected no action is to be taken. Kimmel accepts the order and issues instructions to his staff. When the approaching bombers are spotted by the US radar at Opana this contact is duly ignored and no air-raid warnings are sounded. The Japanese planes swoop in and cause carnage, killing  2400 people and sinking four battleships. Public outrage ensues and the US join the war.

So, let us tally up how many people must have been in on the secret.  We have the US code-breakers in Hawai – say 3-6. Their radio operators who coded and sent the deciphered “Japs are coming” transcript to Washington – say 2. Someone must have decoded the message in Washington, typed it up and delivered to the brass at US High Command – 2-3. The inner circle who made the decision to sacrifice Pearl Harbour – 4-6. Then their instructions made their way back to Pearl Harbour where Kimmel enacted them – 1. I would say that some of his lieutenants also must have known why a strange order to ignore any sightings of a Japanese fleet approaching Hawai is being issued – 2-3.

So, a group of at least 15-20 people must have had full knowledge of the impending Japanese strike and the US decision to allow it to happen. These people had assistants, partners, children, confidants, mistresses, barbers and must have spilled the beans to others later in their lives. In particular, the US code-breakers saw their mates torn to shreds by Japanese bombs but none of them went public to say “we had told the High Command the Japs were on their way”. Almost 2400 people died and the US infrastructure in Pearl Harbour was shattered yet none of the people who could have prevented the carnage ever said a word. People with guilty conscience sometimes come clean on their death beds but this also has not happened in the case of the Pearl Harbour conspiracy.

Paraphrasing Richard Feynman I will say that it is possible but I do not believe it has happened.



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