How did this get categorized under "Conspiracy Theories"?


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Showing 1-15 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 23, 2007 3:20:43 PM PST
This book opens a reasoned political discussion. Book outlets should not slyly try to dismantle or influence that discussion.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2007 5:42:49 PM PST
Absolutely. This book has nothing to do with conspiracy. It is an analysis
of currently existing political tendencies and actions in the United States.
This is someone's way of trying to marginalize a serious book, and I'd like
to know who at Amazon took this "cheap shot."

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2007 10:02:20 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 23, 2007 10:07:57 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2007 2:20:41 PM PST
Andrew says:
The Definition of Conspiracy Theory is pretty accurate. Just because there is a negative association with the word doesnt mean its a bad word. I would say its pretty accurate.

A conspiracy theory usually attributes the ultimate cause of an event or chain of events (usually political, social, pop cultural or historical events), or the concealment of such causes from public knowledge, to a secret, and often deceptive plot by a covert alliance of powerful or influential people or organizations. Many conspiracy theories imply that major events in history have been dominated by conspirators who manipulate political happenings from behind the scenes.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2007 2:50:22 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2007 2:50:54 PM PST
Andrew Pogue: I can agree with you in the general idea of "negative associations" but disagree on specifics w/r/t this book and its premise.

In the book, the authors state that "it would clearly be wrong to think of the [Israel] lobby as a single-minded monolith, much less portray it as a cabal or conspiracy..." They've repeated this belief in interviews and emphasize that there is no "concealment" or "deceptive plot" on the part of the lobby. The authors have pointed out that this influence on U.S. foreign policy is very much in-the-open.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2007 3:35:51 PM PST
L. King says:
Yer kidding, right? You aren't honestly suggesting that someone at Amazon is conspiring against this book?
:-)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2007 4:08:06 PM PST
L. King: No, I'm suggesting that the book was categorized according to an unfair criticism against it.

Are Said's books on Middle East culture categorized as Political Science or "conspiracy"? Or the more incendiary Naomi Klein's books? These people present a reasoned theory, backed up by facts, and therefore deserve to be discussed simply on those points. This book does not (yet?) deserve to be labeled with the agreed-upon negative connotations of the phrase "conspiracy theory."

Again: in my opinion.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2007 5:22:59 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2007 5:23:13 PM PST
L. King says:
OK - you are serious. ;-)

The way it works is that anyone can add a tag to a book. In the case of this book 1 person tagged this book under the phrase "conspiracy theory" - on the main page for the book look click where it says "see all 155 tags" - the number may have increased by the time you read this. Follow thru to where it says "conspiracy theories" and you'll see a count (1). Thats it - 1 person. No conspiracy, no intervention by Amazon and certainly nothing to get upset about. IMHO opinion it would be worse if the categorization was removed. Feel free however to tag the book as "non-conspiracy theory" - you'll still be a minority of 1 but you are entitled to post your opinion.

Now expect the count to rise a bit because we've been discussing it (an observer effect), but its all automatic and based on readers' opinions.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2007 6:00:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2007 6:07:25 PM PST
L King - you are incorrect that those 155 tags are responsible. The book is only categorized under about 6 categories in total, not 155. The "conspiracy theories" tag also only has one vote (as you correctly point out), while many of the other tags have significantly more vote but they are not being used to definitely categorize the book's character -- this discrepancy suggest additional intervention.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2007 6:32:24 PM PST
Chris JJ says:
I agree - I have just sent this email of complaint to Amazon:
"I want to complain about Amazon's classification of 'The Israel Lobby' book as a 'Conspiracy Theory'. Your new sales ranking system appears to arbitrarily assign classifications to books that are completely inappropriate. This particular classification is loaded with connotation and, if Amazon is assigning these classifications, means that Amazon has its own opinion of this book as being just a theory and not for real. In fact the authors are both respected academics and the book is about how the Israel Lobby influences Washington Politics and foreign policy. Please remove this scurrilous classification from the book."

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2007 7:57:21 PM PST
L. King says:
Sigh -

The problem with conspiracy theorists is that they can never be convinced that any explanation other than their own is right. I suspect that Amazon will reply that the categorization is automatic, which will only prove to you that they are lying. Please publish what they say anyway.

If you look at the list of books classified under "conspiracy theories", the Israel Lobby comes out ahead of a book about the Bilderburg group which (at this time) is ranked at 411. Conspiracy theories are likely a popular category (ref: 9/11, the Kennedy assassinations etc) and M&W's book probably does better in this category than most others. Conversely, M&W point out that their book has nothing to do with Jews per se, yet it ranks #2 in "History->World->Jewish".

You are looking for causes where you expect to see them, not where they exist. All you are observing is the behavior of something similar to Google's Page Rank algorithm, geared towards selling books. And it works! A number of reviews of the book talk about Jewish/Zionist conspiracies showing that the book is drawing a natural target market.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2007 8:18:30 PM PST
King writes "Conversely, M&W point out that their book has nothing to do with Jews per se, yet it ranks #2 in 'History->World->Jewish'."

This is false. The authors say that they aren't talking about a "Jewish lobby" but they do discuss the fact that many Jewish Americans do play a substantial role in the "Israel lobby". There are other factions of the lobby that are non-Jewish, such as the Christian Zionists, but the authors never made the claim you are saying they have. Here is a quote from the paper:

"Jewish Americans have set up an impressive array of organisations to influence American foreign policy, of which AIPAC is the most powerful and best known. In 1997, Fortune magazine asked members of Congress and their staffs to list the most powerful lobbies in Washington. AIPAC was ranked second behind the American Association of Retired People, but ahead of the AFL-CIO and the National Rifle Association. A National Journal study in March 2005 reached a similar conclusion, placing AIPAC in second place (tied with AARP) in the Washington `muscle rankings'."

King also writes: "You are looking for causes where you expect to see them, not where they exist."

The post you are replying to (Chris JJ) does not posit specific causes for the change in classification. Thus you are talking past him.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2007 10:03:26 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2007 10:07:19 PM PST
L. King says:
Apparently Jiff I'm talking past you or above you as well. I'm not discussing whether or not the tags are appropriate - I'm pointing out that the categorization is done by a computer algorithm that has no knowledge of the meaning of terms. There was only a count of (1) next to Jewish - and now its gone. Someone has added the tag "International Relations (1)" and since the book ranks higher than any other with this tag (for now) this rating displaces the #2 ranking of "History->World->Jewish".

I briefly considered demonstrating this by adding a tag "Science Fiction and Fantasy" to the book, but there were already books in that category that had a higher sales rank so it would not have had an effect. If you check the Amazon.ca and Amazon.co.uk sites you'll find that the book doesn't even rate a 2nd or 3rd category ranking. The rankings are dynamic and change roughly every hour.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2007 7:42:26 AM PST
King, you are misinterpreting how Amazon.com works. You are looking at the 3 categories that are half way up the page. These 3 categories appear to change but they are merely randomly selected from the 6 categories this book is classified in. Those 6 categories are not changing and they are listed near the bottom of the page. They are as follows:

* History > Americas > United States > General
* History > Middle East > Israel
* History > World > Jewish > General
* Nonfiction > Current Events > Conspiracy Theories
* Nonfiction > Politics > General
* Nonfiction > Politics > International > Relations

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2008 6:10:40 AM PDT
tom boy says:
from what i have read, King might as well work for AIPAC or AMAZON.
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Participants:  8
Total posts:  15
Initial post:  Nov 23, 2007
Latest post:  Mar 31, 2008

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The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by Stephen M. Walt (Hardcover - August 27, 2007)
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