What conspiracy theory gets wrong.
So let’s start off with where we agree. The mainstream media lies. As a supporter of Julian Assange I watched in horror and disbelief as a brave and principled journalist was traduced for more than a decade by a combination of disinformation, misdirection and blatant lies; as much by the “impartial” BBC, and the “left-wing” Guardian, as by the right-wing papers.
So we can agree on that. But the real measure of how threatening a point of view is, is how the establishment reacts to the person putting it over. In the case of Julian Assange, he is currently in prison. In the case of David Icke, on the other hand, he is still trotting around in public saying all the same stuff he’s said for years. It’s true that Icke has been banned from Facebook, but he still has many other platforms from which to spread his views; which he does, often, and with great alacrity, popping up on every media space that will play host to him.
If Icke was really exposing the truth about the great global fascist conspiracy he’s always warning us about, how come he isn’t either dead in a ditch somewhere, or languishing in prison beside Julian Assange?
Why? Maybe because his misinformation actually serves the establishment? Maybe conspiracy theory is a conspiracy to spread disinformation using conspiracy theory?
I’m joking, of course. (Although maybe it is!)
I know you don’t like the term “conspiracy theory”. You prefer to think of yourself as a “researcher”. But the research you do all takes place on the internet, which is no more a reliable source than the TV. It, too, is being gamed, from a variety of different sources; including by the far right, for whom deliberate disinformation in order to spread alarm is part of an old play-book, going back to the thirties and beyond.
It was Adolph Hitler who first came up with the phrase “the big lie”. As he said in Mein Kampf: “the broad masses of a nation….. more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie.” You like to tell us that the pandemic is the big lie. I would suggest that the idea that the pandemic is a hoax is actually the lie, being perpetuated by the far-right as a power-grab, and that you have bought into it.
We are all conspiracy theorists, to some degree. Governments and corporations definitely do conspire against us. The problem is, by the very nature of the process, no one but the conspirators themselves know what took place. And therein lies the conundrum. You are busy selling us a raft of highly elaborate, highly complex conspiracy theories, but it is all based upon guess work and speculation. You have no actual proof, only supposition.
Indeed, some of your theories are contradictory, as, for example, the idea that they want to introduce facial recognition technology while, simultaneously, forcing us to wear masks. Both of those can’t be true at the same time.
I have no objection to you asking questions about the pandemic and about our governments’ handling of it. There is profiteering going on, as a recent Oxfam report made clear, and repressive laws are being enacted. But you seem to have put two and two together and come up with a million. When you say that people will die of the vaccine, and their deaths blamed upon covid-19, you are spreading misinformation that is likely to put vulnerable people at risk.
I’ve already said I won’t take the vaccine: but that’s because I am resilient and generally resistant to illness. For vulnerable people with underlying health conditions, however, not taking the vaccine could well be a death sentence. By spreading this disinformation you are, at best, causing serious concern to people who are already worried; at worst, some people may well decide not to take the vaccine on the back of the things you say. That is irresponsible of you, and could be a real danger to those people who are naturally scared about what the vaccine might do.
The central problem with conspiracy theory is how divisive it is. It divides the world into Us and Them. You either go along with the idea, or you are excluded. You are a “Truther” and the rest of the world are “Sheeple”. You live within your own conspiracy bubble. It’s a self reinforcing construct as, once you enter it, more and more of your information comes from within that sphere, and less and less from outside. All of your friends are conspiracy theorists too. There’s a kind of siege mentality. You lose friends from outside the bubble, who don’t want to hear your views, and find yourself inside the conspiracy echo chamber. Your friends think the same way as you. In the end, you lose the capacity for critical thinking altogether.
I won’t take the pandemic as my illustration this time, but I will go back to an earlier theory that also created its own conspiracy bubble at the time: 9/11.
When I met a bunch of anti-lockdown protesters in Canterbury a few weeks back this subject came up. People who believe in pandemic conspiracies tend to believe in 9/11 conspiracies too.
Once again, we can agree on certain things. Is the mainstream view of what happened on 9/11 suspect? Yes. There are all sorts of anomalies, and contradictions, that make it clear that the official story about 9/11 is, at best, absurd, at worst, a fabrication.
I won’t go into that here. There are a million sites that explore that particular theme. What worries me is how, when people have got it into their heads that a particular theory is true, they become almost religiously fanatical about it: wanting to prove it to everyone else, and attacking those who disagree with them.
This is exactly what happened in the wake of 9/11. I remember Truthers turning on Robert Fisk, for example – a rare honourable journalist, and no friend of the establishment – because he didn’t believe in their theories and thought that Osama bin Laden probably was behind it. He was called a “shill”. Fisk was entitled to his view, being the last person in the Western media to have interviewed bin Laden.
I also remember people calling Noam Chomsky a “left-gatekeeper” and a “Zionist stooge” and other such insults, because he, too, didn’t buy into the theory.
Get that! Noam Chomsky being derided by a bunch of young pretenders for not being radical enough. Like saying the Pope isn’t Catholic enough, or the Rolling Stones aren’t rock’n’roll enough. Some people have no respect.
The problem is, while we can all agree that we are not well served by our media, and that it is very hard to find the truth, conspiracy theory will always remain just that: theory. It can never be proved so we will never know.
Meanwhile we really don’t need elaborate conspiracy theories about who blew up the World Trade Centre when we have actual proof of illegal invasion, torture, extraordinary rendition, support for Islamic terrorism, theft of resources, and the rest.
Likewise, we don’t need grand unprovable and divisive conspiracy theories about the pandemic when we have actual proof of financial malfeasance, corruption and profiteering.
It’s a question of priorities.
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