By Brian McKay
It didn’t take more than a few hours for the conspiracies to start. Immediately after the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history, people started disrespecting those that had perished with utter bullshit. A fourth-floor shooter, shooters from other hotels, the government trying to take away our guns. Never mind that the majority of our current government receives NRA donations. It must be the globalists and a shadow government, right?
Gun stocks jumped the next day as the expectation was that Americans would flock to the local gun dealer before the 2nd Amendment disappeared. They would be ready to fight for their rights, even though repealing or modifying a Constitutional Amendment requires a Constitutional convention and the vote of 2/3s of the states. Maybe they are gathering at the local Applebee's to gather the militia as we speak.
A supposed image of Antifa training with ISIS posted on Infowars. Never mind that any fool can see the photoshopping of the symbols on the flags.
9-11, false flags, Sandy Hook faked, globalists lead by George Soros, thousands of climate scientists faking the data, Monsanto trying to ruin small farms and poison us, the CDC being paid off by big pharma to push dangerous vaccines, a shadow government, Antifa being trained by ISIS… This list could get really long. Really, really long and even more dumb. The grand conspirator, Alex Jones, has even stated that the government puts chemicals in juice boxes to turn children gay and that aliens work with the government in a network of underground tunnels. He has over 4 million regular followers and the endorsement of the President.
The amount of people that believe in such conspiracies has grown in massive leaps. It might be that the Internet is much to blame as anyone can publish anything now. What was widely ridiculed and the domain of the crazy in the 90’s, has become mainstream. Why?
Let’s explore why adherents to such theories are rising in numbers and why conspiracies typically can’t happen.
In the past, I typically ascribed conspiracy theory growth to people not being able to understand and incorporate complexity in an ever-complex world. This might be part of the reason for the growth in believers as people become more confused while the rate of data generation is rising in an exponential manner. Our minds simply haven’t involved as much as our collective ability to collect knowledge. Science is outpacing us, mostly due to Moore’s law and the corresponding increases in processing power. The Internet now generates as much data in less than two hours as all of human history up to 2001. The Internet also makes it easier to share the junk information that claims to assuage the inability to understand.
Recent studies are showing a more robust reason for the growth of conspiracy theories though. It seems that much of the reason is in the need to feel special. Believers exhibit more insecurity and feel less control over their lives. Fear is big factor and fear rears its ugly head in both conservatives and liberals, but a greater number of conservatives are embracing conspiracy theories. Other studies involving MRIs show that the amygdala (fear center of the brain) is more involved in the thought process of conservatives as it is typically larger. This is clearly evidenced in the rise of websites such as Infowars and Yournewswire (they are so bad they don’t even deserve links in this article). Also, the dramatic distrust of the mainstream media and statistical evidence are very apparent with this group.
The elimination the Fairness Doctrine, which required media to show both side of an argument, might also be to blame in the rise of salacious conservative news sources. After its elimination by Ronald Reagan in 1987, salacious “news” sources have risen dramatically.
The biggest problem with conspiracies is that they undermine the workings of democratic government and negatively impact the lives of others. That the United States is the only country with a major political party that denies climate change, makes perfect sense. Fear of vaccines, climate science and GMO’s, all have a detrimental impact. All of this because more and more of our population feels less control over their lives.
How can we know these conspiracy theories aren’t real?
In my studies, such theories break down most when one considers complexity, randomness, hypocrisy and time.
Here’s a quick break down:
Occam’s Razor says that when presented with two competing hypotheses, one should choose the simplest one. What is easier to believe about 9-11; that it was perpetrated by seventeen guys with ceramic knives or that it involved thousands and thousands of contributors and the hiding of people and whole aircraft? The problem with such theories is simply that they are far too complex. You should know someone that was personally involved in pulling off 9-11, as the number of perpetrators involved would predicate that 400 million people would be within 1 degree of separation.
Complexity is impacted by randomness. The more complex, the more potential for randomness and things to go wrong. That something so complex could be planned and perfectly executed with the amount of people and transactions involved, is impossible. Period. Randomness says it can’t happen. Again, seventeen guys with knives win. Two or more people doesn’t just double the chance of randomness interfering in Las Vegas, it increases it by a factor of at least ten.
Every conspiracy theorist will have competing beliefs that they might justify each theory. There isn’t just one crazy theory of the Las Vegas shooter on Inforwars today. There are actually five. The hypocrisy repeats itself over and over again. Some science is good and other science is bad, despite using the same method. A shadow government wants to take our guns despite a government very indebted to the NRA. Billionaires are plotting to take over the world but let’s go support an economic myth that gives them tax cuts. The list goes on and on.
Time plays into many conspiracy theories. The globalists have been plotting for years and communists have slowly been infiltrating the Vatican and introducing corrupting modern art into our museums. The gay agenda is to slowly infiltrate the schools and turn children. FEMA has had Christian death camps just waiting in the wings. The U.N. has been just waiting to take us over. Barack Obama was ready to become a dictator throughout his entire presidency.
Those conspirators are pretty damn patient, aren’t they? Time brings in more complexity, more randomness and opens the conspiracy to even more hypocrisy. Do you evangelicals really think that if FEMA had death camps, you wouldn’t already be in them?
The U.S. is showing greater and greater strain as the empire deteriorates more and more. Industries are drying up with automation. Supremacy is being challenged. White evangelicals think themselves the most persecuted group in America. All of this will lead to ever increasing potential for such theories to take hold.
There is one bright spot though. Millennials are far less accepting of such theories and Generation Y is showing that they reject them outright. Our children are far more steeped in the science and critical thinking the Boomers and Generation X seem to be lacking. Religious fervor is diminished with these generations and the propensity to be so tied to U.S. supremacy is minimal.
It might just be the next generations that kill this ridiculous and damaging cycle.