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 Anatomy Of A Conspiracy Theorist: Inside The New Wave Of An Ancient Tradition

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Raziel



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PostSubject: Anatomy Of A Conspiracy Theorist: Inside The New Wave Of An Ancient Tradition   Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:43 pm



David Johnson woke up suddenly in the middle of the night in early 2012 and realized that he had to do something.

The self-described “cannabis consultant" said he was struck by a deep-rooted feeling of unease about the version of events being presented to him by the government and the media and that he vowed to help expose it.

“That was the first time I realized that I need to do something because something’s not right, something’s happened,” Johnson explained via Skype from his home in Tracy, Calif., an hour east of San Francisco. He said his revelation came after a decade in the armed forces: “I’m passionate about the truth because I was in the military for ten years. I did boardings [of suspect ships] in the Persian Gulf, and I did a lot of dangerous things for this government, so I want to hear some truth back from them.”

And so a conspiracy theorist was born. In the year since Johnson had his epiphany about the lies he is convinced he is being presented, he has spent his days creating new marijuana-seed technologies and recommending pot strains to cure his clients’ specific ills.

And he has spent his nights Skyping with fellow theorists, as he has produced and posted hundreds of YouTube videos outlining his beliefs about the true underpinnings of a wide swath of current events.

Investigating occurrences ranging from the shooting spree at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December to the meteor that exploded above central Russia last month, Johnson has found and documented alternative theories that he believes provide proof that the events are hoaxes or events staged by governments and the media to keep the populace complacent and afraid.

And his following is growing among members of a new wave of the conspiracy-theory movement, which, fueled by the advent of the Internet and growing distrust of authorities, has grown during the past two decades from an underground fringe into a full-fledged subculture with astonishingly wide reach.

An Old American Tradition


The conspiracy-theory movement as it currently exists is the latest iteration of a tradition that has spanned centuries, according to experts who spend their careers tracing its evolution.

The term “conspiracy theory” was first used in The American Historical Review in 1909, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

But the concept has been around for ages, dating back at least as far as early Christianity, when the First Council of Nicaea in 325 raised controversy by unilaterally drawing conclusions on disputes about the true story of Jesus’ life, a topic that continues to be at the center of numerous conspiracy theories to this day.

And conspiracies have never left public discourse since. Instead, they have become more intricate, more intertwined, and more persistent.

In the 1950s, a study showed that about 75 percent of Americans said they trusted in their government to do what is right “all or most of the time,” according to Robert A. Goldberg, a professor of history at the University of Utah who has published numerous books and papers on conspiracy theories.

By the 1990s, the percentage of Americans who answered “all or most of the time” in response to the same question about trusting their government had dropped to 25 percent -- and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America it fell even further.

This distrust of authority continues a long tradition of American skepticism that has its roots in the run-up to the Revolutionary War, during which Goldberg said many patriots believed they were victims of a nefarious plot by their British overlords, represented by the Tea Act of 1763 and the Stamp Act of 1765.

“Conspiracy theories are a tradition in American history,” Goldberg explained. “What Americans saw, to quote Lord North [Great Britain's prime minister from 1770 to 1782], was a ‘diabolical’ interpretation of these events -- that rather than an attempt to raise revenues it was a conspiracy against American liberties and rights.”

Birthers, Truthers, And Obama's Nazi Camps


Slight variations of North’s interpretation could be used to describe the foundations of many of the conspiracy theories in wide circulation today.

Take the fairly common belief among far-right extremists that U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is using gun-control laws to disarm Americans to leave them powerless against a New World Order government that plans to throw them into Nazi-style work camps, as described by Conspiracy Reality TV. With the Internet providing a platform for positions shunned by mainstream media, the movement is becoming a real force in politics.

“The Internet provides the means by which people with ideas that would normally be considered fringe ideas can potentially reach a mass audience and can do it in ways that those ideas can then be picked up by other means of communication,” said Michael Barkun, a professor emeritus of political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, who has written a number of books on conspiracies.

Once posted on blogs and forums, conspiracy theories are often amplified by a number of prominent alternative-media outlets ranging from Alex Jones’ InfoWars.com to the popular “Coast to Coast AM” radio program.

And if a particular theory -- such as the Birthers theory that maintains that Obama was born abroad or the “truther” conspiracy that posits the 9/11 terror attacks were an inside job -- gains enough traction, it can then filter upward through a range of quasi-partisan outlets such as the Fox News Channel or MSNBC, which often grant such alternative views airtime, but stop short of endorsing them outright.

“Twenty to twenty-five years ago, ideas like those the ‘birthers’ are associated with would never have made it into mainstream political discourse,” Barkun explained. He added, “The ideas get sanitized as they go upward ... so it doesn’t completely eradicate the distinction between the fringe and the mainstream, but it allows ideas that would have never reached a mass audience to do so.”

source - http://www.ibtimes.com/anatomy-conspiracy-theorist-inside-new-wave-ancient-tradition-1127679#
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