Over at the New Republic, Julia Ioffe has a fascinating piece on the Russian media's treatment of the downing of MH17:
Did you know Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was full of corpses when it took off from Amsterdam? Did you know that, for some darkly inexplicable reason, on July 17, MH17 moved off the standard flight path that it had taken every time before, and moved north, toward rebel-held areas outside Donetsk? Or that the dispatchers summoned the plane lower just before the crash? Or that the plane had been recently reinsured? Or that the Ukrainian army has air defense systems in the area? Or that it was the result of the Ukrainian military mistaking MH17 for Putin’s presidential plane, which looks strangely similar?This reminded me of a conspiracy theory I've considered blogging on partly because it uses such bad statistics to make much of its case, but mainly because it is so incredibly weird. Forget von Däniken and Velikovsky; this is the hard stuff. From Wikipedia:
Did you know that the crash of MH17 was all part of an American conspiracy to provoke a big war with Russia?
Well, it’s all true—at least if you live in Russia, because this is the Malaysia Airlines crash story that you’d be seeing.
As the crisis surrounding the plane crash deepens and as calls for Vladimir Putin to act grow louder, it’s worth noting that they’re not really getting through to Putin’s subjects. The picture of the catastrophe that the Russian people are seeing on their television screens is very different from that on screens in much of the rest of the world, and the discrepancy does not bode well for a sane resolution to this stand-off.
The New Chronology also contains a reconstruction, an alternative chronology, radically shorter than the conventional chronology, because all ancient history is "folded" onto the Middle Ages. According to the revised chronology, the written history of humankind goes only as far back as AD 800, there is almost no information about events between AD 800–1000, and most known historical events took place in AD 1000–1500.The main mover for this is Russian mathematician Anatoly Fomenko and he has put in an incredible amount of effort making sure everything fits his theory, including some things that are difficult to ignore:
The Great Pyramids naturally fit in the epoch of the monumental constructions, which blossomed in the XIV-XVI cc. all over the Empire. They are: 1) The Great Wall of China, 2) the magnificent cathedrals of Western Europe, 3) the indomitable Kremlins and fortifications in Russia-Horde, 4) the massive Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, aka (according to our reconstruction) – The Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem = Czar-Grad, 5) the Great Sphinx, [actually "a very familiar Christian Cherubim." Who knew? -- MP] 6) the Great Pyramids and temples of Egypt 7) the great pyramids and temples of Central America, in particular Mexico, 8) gigantic constructions of Baalbeck (Lebanon).That part about the Russia-Horde is important. (All remaining quotes from Wikipedia):
Central to Fomenko's New Chronology is his claim of the existence of a vast Slav-Turk empire, which he called the "Russian Horde", that played the dominant role in Eurasian history before the 17th century. The various peoples identified in ancient and medieval history, from the Scythians, Huns, Goths and Bulgars, through the Polyane, Duleby, Drevliane, Pechenegs, to in more recent times, the Cossacks, Ukrainians, and Belarussians, are nothing but elements of the single Russian Horde. For the New Chronologists, peoples such as the Ukrainians, Belarussians, Mongols, and others who assert their national independence from Russia, are suffering from a historical delusion.That might explain this:
Despite criticism, Fomenko has published and sold over one million copies of his books in his native Russia. Many Internet forums have appeared which aim to supplement his work with additional amateur research. His critics have suggested that Fomenko's version of history appealed to the Russian reading public by keeping alive an imperial consciousness to replace their disillusionment with the failures of Communism and post-Communist corporate oligarchies.I don't know enough about Russia to even start speculating about the larger question of conspiracy theories in today's Russia. That's a question for people who know what they're talking about. I will, however, note that, if nothing else, Fomenko's New Chronology shows why chess masters might not make such formidable Bond villains in real life.