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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Harvard Offers Conspiracy Class, Recommends Dummies For Text

Harvard University's Extension School (their version of night school) is offering an introductory class on Conspiracies, and has made Conspiracy Theories & Secret Societies For Dummies a required textbook.

From the online description and syllabus:

Extension Home > Courses > Social Sciences >
SSCI E-132 Conspiracy (22156)
Spring term

William Henry Anderson, MD, Lecturer on Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

Class times: Mondays beginning Jan. 25, 7:35-9:35 pm.

Course tuition: noncredit $600, undergraduate credit $900, graduate credit $1,800.

This course examines conspiracies, both real and imagined: their origins, development, and consequences. What psychobiologic factors, personality traits, and social institutions predispose individuals to this perspective? What parts have been played by sects, secret societies, and political parties? How are these beliefs formed, and how may they be supported or refuted? Prerequisite: introductory course in biology, psychology, or anthropology. (4 credits)

Interesting to note the four books on the required reading list:

• Barkun, M. A. Culture of Conspiracy, 2003. Berkeley: University of California Press.
• Burnett, T. Conspiracy Encyclopedia, 2005. Penguin Group (USA).
Hodapp, C. and A. von Kannon. Conspiracy Theories & Secret Societies for Dummies, 2008. Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing, Inc.
• Vankin, J. and J. Whalen. The 80 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time, 2004. New York: Citadel Press.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New "Secret Society" Forms at University of Virginia: THE TEN

The University of Virginia in Charlottesville has had a long love affair with secret societies. A stroll through the Thomas Jefferson-designed campus reveals the most notable secret campus groups' symbols painted on buildings, sidewalks or stairway risers: the letter Z and the number 7.

Now, a new group wants to form a secret society of their own, and they have used the internet to find recruits.

THE TEN have borrowed Kabbalistic symbolism, and announced themselves by way of a website. Interestingly, instead of being an invitation-only organization like UVa's own secretive "The Seven," "IMPs," and "Z" societies, or Yale's Skull & Bones, THE TEN are actively seeking applications. The website's banner lists its goals as "to protect self-governance and elitism practiced rightly; to reignite students' absent strength of spirit; and to chide the insufficient and debauched elements."

The group was reported on in the University's The Cavalier Daily:

THE TEN hopes to accept members who will improve the state of elitism at the University, according to the e-mail and Web site.

“Elitism on [the University] Grounds isn’t practiced rightly,” the anonymous society member stated. “There’s a difference between the elitism that guides the Honor Committee and various fraternities on Grounds and the elitism that guided the true, honorable gentleman of the past. We believe the best should carry themselves as the best — but that if the weak and childish carry themselves as the best, something is wrong. It’s not arrogance — it’s elitism practiced rightly, when the best are honored and adored, and competition breeds better and better members of society.”

Visit THE TEN website, and be sure to get your application in by March 10, 2010.