Conspiracy theories are “cultural viruses”, the internet is to blame, believers are psychologically challenged, blah blah blah…
“…if you believe Disney planted subliminal messages about sex in the movie The Lion King, you are also likely to believe mobile phone GPS technology is used by the government to monitor citizens.”
Truth and lies: Conspiracy theories are running rampant thanks to modern technology
November 12, 2011
Conspiracy theories are cultural viruses. Once they infect the zeitgeist, it is extremely difficult to stamp them out – no matter how solid the evidence against them is. Studies have shown that people who are prone to believe in conspiracies display an innate bias towards information which supports that conspiracy, no matter how spurious that information is and no matter how solid the evidence against the conspiracy is.
Today, there are more conspiracy theories and more conspiracy theory believers than ever before. They range from the simply fanciful – such as the theory that Kentucky Fried Chicken is owned by the Ku Klux Klan which laces the food with a drug that makes only black men impotent – to the labyrinthine, such as the intricacy of theories around 9/11 and the death of John F Kennedy.
Almost every world event spurns a set of conspiracies. According to one new theory, Muammar Gaddafi was not overthrown because he was a crazed brutal dictator; he was ousted and killed because he was plotting to introduce a new Africa-wide trading currency to threaten the dollar. Gaddafi himself was an arch conspiracist. Early on in Libya’s uprising, he blamed Osama bin Laden for influencing the rebellion and claimed rebels were fuelled into action by LSD. Perhaps fittingly, there are now conspiracies which claim his death photographs are faked.
From terrorist attacks to high-profile deaths such as those of Princess Diana, bin Laden, and Michael Jackson, each major news event spawns a set of suspicions. While some are harmless, others, such as the Starbucks conspiracy, are used to bolster extremist ideologies. Easily spread through the internet, they can incite and inspire misguided actions and, at their most dangerous, they provide cohesion for terrorist groups, unifying followers behind a particular cause or against a perceived enemy.