Looking for a 9/11 Truther? An Obama Birther? Elvis is alive and well and living in Maine? Crop Circles by Aliens? Why do so many people believe much of this nonsense? Nothing people share online or believe in surprises me these days. A year ago when the Boston Bombings occurred almost immediately there were crackpots espousing their conspiracies online.
What intrigues me about these conspiracy theories is just how many people get drawn into them (these people are still only a fraction, but they are loud). I personally think there are a few factors involved here, but the major factor is almost entirely the fault/beauty of the Internet. Lesser, but just as importantly is an innate distrust of authority, add a distrust of ‘mainstream media’ and finally the influence of that media from large corporations.
The Internet has given rise to just about every crackpot theory on offer. However in the past, these people would be found standing on boxes or simply place some cardboard over their shoulders with some marker text and hawk the parks of capital cities all over the world, shouting their ‘truths’.
But take any sample of any population and you would find at least one percent of the population are bonkers, draw that out statistically to the Internet and that that leaves us with around 70 million people who spend their lives fighting an enemy that really only exists in their minds and in the online communities they find shelter in.
The Internet has allowed perceived experts in the field of controversy to make a lot of money from traffic to their websites, so they immediately seize on any opportunity to misinform their audience. Social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allow this information to spread quickly.
Most people just laugh it off or ignore it, but for every spread, you will get another person who will be taken in. So why do we let people get away with this nonsense? I think it is time to just tell people to put up or shut up!
One of their favorite targets is the media getting it wrong in the aftermath. Well, think about it, the media are all trying to get a scoop all at once, and yes, they are hopeless at getting things right early on, they eventually do, but it is human nature – especially when you add the fact that they need to make ‘scoops’ to make the almighty dollar for their advertisers and employers.
Every single journalist on the planet that works for the tens of thousands of media outlets wants the big story, this is all they want, this is why the majority do what they do. They all want to be like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and break a Watergate type scandal and win a Pulitzer Prize.
So it makes no sense that all that any of these wouldn’t want to break the biggest story of all time, whether it be September 11th, aliens creating crop circles, Obama being born in Africa or even that the government was complicit in a Sandy Hook or a Boston Bombings type tragedy.
The Boston Bombings
Shortly after the Boston Bombings uber conspiracy theorist and ‘Health Ranger’ Mike Adams pointed to some interesting ‘facts’. In a ‘shocking’ development the USA state government hired intelligence and security experts in and around the event and even more ‘shockingly’ these intelligence experts had black backpacks. Now I personally own 5 backpacks and 4 of them are black, how this leads to anything close to evidence is beyond me, but this doesn’t stop our thousands miles away expert from calling in a ‘fix’ and likely government involvement.
Head on over to infowars, a site frequented by every nutter on the planet (and one which I visit frequently for a laugh) and the same nonsense is served for anyone willing to give up their critical faculties. Infowars has a problem, it rails continuously against governments complete incompetence, yet doesn’t credit that same government for the amazing intellectual act of getting away with every conspiracy since Roswell.
With the rise of the Internet and mobile communications you can find a friend online with almost any conspiracy theory. The laughable thing about all of these theories is the complete lack of any testable, credible evidence to back their claims against the mountains of evidence to the contrary. There are websites dedicated to sightings of Elvis, JFK, Osama Bin Laden and even Saddam Hussein with millions of subscribers – seriously!
If anyone sat next to you on a bus and said they had seen any of those mentioned above and believed them to be alive and well, your first thought would be to move away. However when it comes to September 11, Sandy Hook or the Boston Bombings these conspiracy hacks really do think they are onto something and are told that anyone who doesn’t believe them are brainwashed.
A serial offender is a laughable commentator called Mike Adams aka and self titled “the Health Ranger” from the sloppy Natural News which is a website that seems to make the most amazing claims about its own products and services curing just about every disease known to man – yet rails against companies that have to go through rigorous testing/studies just to get their products to market.
Like the sun rising, you can be sure that with any tragedy ‘The Health Ranger” rolls out the usual nonsense, immediately makes multiple claims with no evidence, quotes media sources selectively and ends up with nothing to back his claims time and time again. Oh, except that all the media, security, police and scientists are in cahoots with government and so we never hear the truth, blah, blah, blah!
Was the Bush Administration involved in any way with any of the incidents on September 11? There is absolutely zero evidence to support this. Were certain security departments negligent in their duties leading up to the tragedy and did some of these departments try to cover up this negligence? Almost certainly. Are the two related? Not in the slightest.
Carl Sagan once said “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” and every major conspiracy theory is thin at best, plays with the truth, selectively quotes their own ‘experts’ and misrepresents just about every piece of evidence it can find.
In the past I found myself walking away from people who make claims about September 11 and other conspiracies, I then tried listening and researching their claims, giving them some mind-time, but these days I am confronting them, I want the evidence and it better be good, because every one of these claims are usually up against mountains of evidence and reason in the other direction!
So who are the dumbest people in the room? The ones who go on about conspiracy theories being real, rail against fluoride, vaccinations, climate change science, well tested GMO crops (we have been modifying crops for generations), environmental scientists and so on.
They simply know more than the people who spend decades studying these things and tune into their favorite station, website or network to have their views reinforced.
They all have one thing in common, they are not interesting, they rely on the same sources time and time again and they know they are right and they have their ‘experts’ to back them and any expert who goes the other way, is just part of the system!
What do I do? I listen and and smile internally visualizing that they are just like any other fundamentalist crackpot preaching their ‘wisdom’ on a box in a random park somewhere in the world right now.