Conspiracy Theorists waste no time after Las Vegas shooting

October 8, 2017

Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Conspiracy, Shooting

These days, with modern technology, it only takes a matter of days after most tragic events before conspiracy theorists have converged on an "alternative narrative". For the Sandy Hook massacre, there are people who claim it was a "false flag" operation where no children were actually killed. For missing flight MH370, the aeroplane was apparently re-routed to a secret military base.

In the case of the recent Las Vegas shooting things are no different (opens new window). There's already a prevailing theory that at least two gunmen were involved. This idea is supported, as always, by some circumstantial evidence that can be used to weave a story - however, unsurprisingly, there's no definitive positive evidence.

Mike Adams, who runs an alternative health website called Natural News, is a big fan of conspiracy theories, and this case is no exception. He's put online a list of 10 reasons (opens new window) why he thinks there were multiple gunmen.

He starts by saying that people can't fire a weapon non-stop on full auto for 10 minutes, due to overheating, weapon jams and fatigue.

He then goes on to say that there were 10 weapons, and why would one person need so many?

It seems to me that point 2 perfectly answers point 1. If the gunman had multiple weapons, he wouldn't need to worry about overheating and jamming mechanisms. If a weapon stops working, he could discard it and pick up another.

Next is the argument that the gunman, Stephen Paddock, was found dead. Adams argues that the official narrative of suicide is wrong, and that there's no evidence of suicide. What he seems to be saying is that HE has seen no evidence of suicide - presumably because the police have not released details of the case. However, this doesn't stop Mike Adams then suggesting that the gunman was killed to stop him talking - again without any evidence.

Mike argues that there are no muzzle flashes seen in videos of the hotel during the attack, and that two people firing can be heard. Presumably the gunman was firing from inside the hotel room, so you wouldn't expect to see muzzle flashes. From the video he uses to illustrate his point, I'm pretty sure the sounds he thinks are two weapons being fired are actually the sounds of the weapon being fired and an echo - the first sound is a sharp crack, and the follow-on sound is a longer rolling boom. The firing sounds are in sync - starting and stopping at the same time. It seems unlikely that two gunmen would start and stop their shooting in sync like that, so it's likely to be one gunman and multiple sounds for each shot.

Next up is that ISIS claimed the attack - however in recent months there have been a spate of claims from ISIS that they were responsible for attacks that were proven to be nothing to do with them.

The remaining points are mainly about how the gunman supposedly had no experience with weapons - it's an argument from personal incredulity: "I don't understand how he could have done this, so therefore he didn't do it". The skeptical thing to do when you don't understand something is to admit you don't understand and refrain from commenting further.

I find it disrespectful to those who have suffered through this tragedy that people are already trying to use the event to further their anti-government conspiracy thinking. Those commenting should be content to accept that they are not in possession of the facts so early on, and hold back on any pronouncements until the authorities have released the information they have.