Good conspiracy theories spread like juicy gossip. Some fade, a few endure, others are too silly to discuss. Lives are devoted to unearthing “truth”. Conspiracy web sites abound and television shows like Conspiracy Theory with Jessie Ventura or Brad Meltzer’s Decoded offer hours of mindless dribble.
The other day I stumbled upon an episode of Jessie Ventura”s conspiracy show. The subject was “humanzees” , a secret U.S. government research project aimed at designing ape-man hybrids. Ventura and his investigators took the matter seriously – in the end we had a lot of unanswered questions, no credible evidence, and one overly concerned Jessie Ventura.
Naturally I started pondering my list of favourite outrageous conspiracies, a task more difficult than it sounds. It would be easy to go to conspiracy sites and pick out the most ludicrous. Instead I’ve decided to pull them out of my head, approaching this like a game of telegraph. Far too preposterous to research, I settled on fantasises presented as fact.
Ancient Aliens – one of my guilty pleasures – is the source of spectacular nonsense. Hitler escaped in an alien time machine, bigfoot is an alien, an alien race genetically altered the evolution of man, and Joan of Arc was acting on behalf of alien guardians. Not to be out done, Scott Wolter on America Unearthed offers copper from the Great Lakes fuelled the bronze age, the Knights Templar hid the Holy Grail in America, and a possible ancient Maya site exists in Georgia. Conspiracy dwellers claim Fort Knox hasn’t contained any gold for decades, a massive secret government bunker was built beneath the airport in Denver, Freemasons secretly control America, and the Alaska Triangle gives Bermuda a run for its money. All of these fall into the rather silly category; but I have to admit Fort Knox conspiracies and secret bunkers haven’t been completely stricken from my mind. Nor do I believe Christopher Columbus “discovered” America – ancient history conspiracies should perhaps be given some other name.
The most well known conspiracy might be what happened at Roswell New Mexico. Area 51 has created a cult following of theorists; in my mind the fodder for the science fiction craze that followed. There are people who believe the moon landing was faked, 9/11 was orchestrated by the government, and the CIA assassinated Kennedy. Though little doubt lingers that governments orchestrate perception; look no farther than the weapons of mass destruction fiasco precipitating the invasion of Iraq as an example – I’m more curious about an explosion of misinformation from news media.
Glenn Beck sits upon his Fox news throne proclaiming Obama is creating a “civilian security force” to enforce Marxism and socialism in America. Beck also came up with his theory of a secret “land based currency”, reporting a government plan to base American currency on land rather than gold. He claimed plans were in place to forcibly take land from citizens using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as their foot soldiers. As if that isn’t crazy enough, Beck claims the government would ask China to step in as muscle in exchange for oil, land, and mineral rights. Beck frequently speaks of Obama’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Most people easily discount alien intervention as belonging to the “tin foil hat” crowd. Television programs about conspiracies are taken with a grain of salt, nothing more than mild entertainment. The far greater concern is opinion dressed up as news. The Glenn Becks of this world are dangerous; planting seeds of fantasy, which translate into truth for far too many people, People who now stand unshakeable in their belief that Obama is Muslim with a secret agenda to destroy their way of life. It’s beyond crazy. We wonder why society is crumbling, fanaticism is out of control, and paranoia has replaced common sense.
Ponder mass media conspiracy theorists then ask yourself why we allow opinion to be dressed up as fact. This isn’t about freedom of speech ; when opinion presents itself as truth – a line has been crossed.