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Are Those Who Believe in Conspiracies Undermining the Fabric of Democracy?
By Staff Report - January 25, 2013
Exposure to conspiracy theories has dramatic consequences ... The school massacre in Newtown was a government hoax designed to bolster gun control. The destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11 was the result of a controlled demolition. Elvis faked his own death. For every major event, there's a conspiracy theory to explain it. And though the temptation is to treat it as harmless paranoia, a new study finds mere exposure to such information can have serious social consequences. Researchers from the University of Kent in the U.K. found that simply reading a conspiracy theory increased people's feelings of powerlessness, which ultimately reduced their desire to politically engage. And this effect occurred even when the information wasn't directly related to government. – Vancouver Sun
Dominant Social Theme: It is time to stop all of this confusion and doubting. Democracy works. Our leaders are wise. Our society is good.
Free-Market Analysis: Wow. Memes are flying like a cloud of malicious monkeys over the Wicked Witch's western castle. Every time we look up we're assaulted. We can hardly catch our collective breath.
And then there is this from the Vancouver Sun ...
Exposure to pro-conspiracy material on climate change, for example, not only made people less motivated to reduce their carbon footprint, it also negatively affected their interest in voting.
"When you're exposed to a conspiracy – say, that the government is involved in secret plots – it can make you feel as though your actions won't make a difference," said doctoral student Daniel Jolley, the study's co-author. "(It) appears to trigger a conspiratorial mindset."
The research, published in the British Journal of Psychology, is the first to experimentally demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between conspiracy theories and feelings of powerlessness. And this sense of reduced agency appears to weaken interest in democratic participation.
This bears out across two experiments conducted by Jolley and co-author Karen Douglas.
In the first, 168 university students read an article that either refuted a conspiracy theory about Princess Diana's death or endorsed it. Afterward, those in the latter group reported heightened feelings of political powerlessness in comparison with the first group, along with reduced intentions to engage in politics (such behaviour as voting or contributing money to a particular candidate's party).
In a second experiment with 191 university students, this process was repeated using articles that either presented climate change as a hoax or as a legitimate phenomenon.
Those who read the conspiratorial material were more likely to report feelings of climate powerlessness, uncertainty and disillusionment, which in turn reduced their desire to act in environmentally friendly ways. They also reported a greater sense of political powerlessness – despite the article's lack of direct reference to government – which led to reduced desire to politically engage.
The researchers found this especially intriguing, as it implies that political engagement could be negatively affected by conspiracies of every stripe. Indeed, there are alternate explanations for everything from the NASA moon-landing to the death of Marilyn Monroe.
"There's not just one type of person who believes in conspiracies. Millions of different people believe in them," said Jolley.
To wit, a 2003 poll for ABC News found seven in 10 Americans believed John F. Kennedy's assassination was the result of a broader plot.
Let's unpack the above a little bit. We can see the rhetorical tricks, of course, the conflating of real concerns with things like the "death" of Elvis. In fact, its dishonesty is what makes it a meme. Yes, the assumptions are dishonest: Democracy works; an engaged electorate is preferable to a passive one; those who believe in conspiracy theories are not merely damaging their own lives and families but also their larger societies.
There is, in fact, one more meme thrown into this stew of elite truisms that has to do with the credibility of government itself. The article tells us, "Healthy skepticism can encourage government transparency and public debate."
We've been pointing out for years that "transparency" is a significant dominant social theme. We knew it even before we found out that a former top exec for the World Bank was head of the world's main "transparency" organization. We knew it even before we found out that charming "national socialist" Ellen Brown was a big proponent of transparency in government.
The power elite that wants to officially run the world loves the transparency meme. For one thing, it makes people in government more controllable – and the elites control society by controlling government. For another, it provides pro-government types with a rallying cry: "Government is bad so let's make it better!" The idea is never to SHRINK government. No, the idea is to PERFECT government.
And that's really what this larger (nascent?) conspiracy meme is all about. Yes, things may be terrible and as a result people may believe in a variety of conspiracy theories. But the answer is not social disengagement or cynicism. We are being strongly reminded here that idealism and activism count for something, too.
The stakes are high, after all. "'Conspiracy theories aren't necessarily just harmless fun,' said Jolley. 'They may have potentially serious social consequences.'"
In fact, we hope they DO have serious consequences. We hope current society unravels – peacefully and continually. We hope people simply begin walking away from their jobs, their banks, their elected officials.
That's what it will take.
Not violence. Not rhetoric. Action. Dropping out.
Creating one's own independent space and sharing it voluntarily with others.
A nation of peaceful disobedience is the proper response to an elite that has decided on a strategy of progressive, rolling genocide. A nation of small, agrarian communities – self-sufficient, informed and linked together via technology – is the antidote to decaying, poisonous urban environments and churning ruin.
Those involved in this sort of social movement – and we see it coming – will not be conspiracy theorists. They will be an informed, activist people. They will be most democratic. And republican.
They will be educated about history, yes. But they will understand the reality of their history and will be working hard to regain the REAL narrative of their existences.
You see, what this article calls conspiracy theory we call "directed history." And the Internet Reformation itself is exposing the reality of this history. It is also cultivating the sorts of trends of which this article disapproves.
And while this article – and the study that spawned it – seem to make the argument that people should consciously choose to NOT believe in "conspiracies," we hardly think it will make a difference.
The real conspiracy is the conspiracy of globalism created and activated by a small handful of impossibly wealthy Western elites. People have discovered this for themselves now and no amount of social disapprobation will likely dissuade people from believing in what they consider to be truth.
As "conspiracy theory" evolves into "speaking truth to power," the trend that will expand will be one of accuracy and reality. People will indeed pursue "activism" – but the activism will be based on certainty and passion, not faux consumerism and misguided environmental concern.
People are gradually discovering that "conspiracy theory" is actually "directed history." And once they discover this, there is no turning back.