The Conspiracy Theorists

It feels really good to be back at work. I’m doin’ stuff, writing code, etc. Three more days before I can show you all the big giant thing I’ve been working on for the past several months.

I told you before that I’ve been watching this show on Trio called The Secret Rulers of the World this week. I don’t think it’s an ongoing thing, just a mini-series of different events and coverage of different conspiracy theorists and movements. So far, I’ve seen episodes on the Oklahoma City bombing, Ruby Ridge, David Icke and the Bilderberg Group. I TiVo’ed one last night that I haven’t seen yet about the shadowy satanic elite that I think is the last one in the series. I’ve been struck by several things while watching them. Jon Ronson, the filmmaker responsible, does a great job at treating everyone he interviews with respect even though their viewpoints are extreme and even implausible to most people. While he treats them with respect, he doesn’t shy away from asking tough questions, which I admire to no end. He got people to open up that I don’t think would have even talked to most journalists. He gets some calm and well thought out responses from the conspiracy theorists that I’d never heard before. With all of that, the series is an eye-opener, not only in what people believe, but the lengths they go to try and validate and justify them.

I think I’ve got the conspiracy theorists figured out to some degree; I at least have my own theory on how they’re created and find people to believe them. This is a theory in two parts. First is the idea that there really are no global conspiracies, just small groups of people who feel their cause is the Right Thing™ to do, and at some point lose all perspective in getting their Right Thing™ to happen. They start believing that they need to accomplish their goal by any means neccessary. In the end, it doesn’t matter to them the side effects of getting to their goal: the people they hurt, the damage they do to the environment, the laws or ethics they throw to the wayside. They must do this Right Thing™. The second is that people need a way to explain their marginalization. They need some way to understand how the world works, why they have a crappy job, no one understands them, and they’re not rich like the people on the TV. To get to this understanding, they’re willing to make extreme leaps in logic to create a reality that explains their problems as someone else’s fault.

Conspiracies don’t exist on large scales. The best example from the series that illustrates this point is in the David Icke episode. Who’s David Icke? Well, among other things, he believes the world is run by twelve-foot tall reptiles of extra-terrestrial origin. The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) believes that to David Icke, reptile = Jew, and have labeled him an anti-semite. I don’t know whether reptile = Jew to Mr. Icke, and well, it doesn’t matter to me. The show didn’t come down on either side, and from what I saw, I’m not sure Mr. Icke knows if reptile = Jew to himself. Doesn’t matter for this story. In the show, Icke is in Vancouver to do some appearances in support of his book, go on some radio shows, give lectures, etc. The local ADL chapter gets wind of his appearance and goes into action. The hold meetings, which they allow Mr. Ronson to videotape. They decide to start a campaign to get him off of the radio shows he’s been scheduled on and try to organize a protest in front of the hall his lectures are held in. They succeed in blocking the radio appearances, which to Mr. Icke, looks like the work of this Reptilian conspiracy, even though it’s the work of a relatively small group of people doing what they see as The Right Thing™. Nevermind free speech and freedom of the press (which I hear exist even in Canada), Mr. Icke had to be stopped from spreading his disease to the masses. Conspiracies are easy and comfortable ways to explain the crappy things that happen to us on a daily basis. Do I believe there are conspiracies? Oh yeah, I do. I just think they’re on a much smaller scale. But, I think the people who start them really believe they’re doing (again, just to say it again) The Right Thing™. Their resolve gets twisted at some point by zealotry or greed and doing The Right Thing™ becomes all-consuming.

Conspiracy theorists need to explain their place in society. Ok, everyone needs to explain their place in society. Conspiracy theorists just go a little farther than the rest of us. They’re the folks on the fringes of society who have no other way to explain their place than to blame it on vast organizations of the powerful, and shadow worldwide governments. Again and again in the series, Mr. Ronson interviewed Neo-Nazis, members of the Militia movement, the anti-New World Order folks, etc. In each case, they passionately believe in their causes. But, in each case, they display some tragic flaw. Either they seemed a little less than brilliant, or a little short on logic. Each conspiracy theory has tremendous leaps in logic not backed up by evidence. If there is evidence, what I saw were second hand accounts and conjecture.

The scariest part about all of this is the way the series opened up these fissures in our society where these people exist. The shows about the Oklahoma City bombing and Ruby Ridge showed places like Elohim City, a collection of trailers and half-built houses where separatists live apart from the world. The scariest part wasn’t what they believed, but that there were children there who looked dirty and unfed, being indoctrinated into this world. What happens when they grow up? Do they perpetuate the society they grew up in? If they wanted to, could they really break free and join the mainstream (with all of mainstream society’s problems, I admit)?

I hope Trio replays the series at some point. It was extremely interesting to me. I can only imagine the searches this post will generate. To sum up, I’m trying to be objective about all of these movements and their beliefs. It’s hard. It was really hard to watch the David Icke episode with a straight face. It was hard not to be completely repulsed by the neo-Nazi’s. Ok, I admit, I was repulsed. I tried to get past it and understand their point of view, and get at the reasons behind their belief. It helped paint a clearer picture of who these people are, and crack open my cartoon image of these groups. The other thing I realized is that zealotry is any form is a bad idea. If you believe something so strongly that you’re willing to give up anything to be a part of it, willing to do anything to bring it to pass, it’s time to re-examine that belief. True Believers are truly dangerous. If the the Right Thing™ is the only thing, something is out of whack. Man, I sure hope this made sense… What did I screw up? Or, better yet, ignore everything I just said and go read an interview with Mr. Ronson.

Categorized as politics

By Kevin Lawver

Web developer, Software Engineer @ Gusto, Co-founder @ TechSAV, husband, father, aspiring social capitalist and troublemaker.


  1. Dawson says:

    Don’t forget the underlying heavy lifting that has to be done for a governmental conspiracy; my favorites are like the “Roswell UFO” folks. That happened in what, 1947, 48? Thousands of military and intelligence types would have to be brought in on the secret to make use of the information, all those would have to be watched to make sure they don’t spill the beans, and the watchers have to be watched, etc., etc. Thousands of people and the only ones that “break security” and spill the beans are obvious loons. The simple truth of the matter is that conspiracies RARELY are kept secret. Too many people know, and people want to talk about cool secret things.

  2. Kevin says:

    I agree! The other thing I didn’t mention that was rammed home last night after watching the last episode (I think) of the series was how subjective the conspiracy theorists are. Given evidence that, when viewed by an objective observer may seem completely innocuous is twisted and turned by preconceived notions and prejudices. The Bohemian Grove episode (the one I watched last night) was amazing, and really highlighted the total lack of objectivity in the anti-New World Order group.

  3. terrible says:

    thank you for dipping into such a dirty and abnormal world, so much different than yours and mine. Hope your not a christian – “they seemed a little less than brilliant, or a little short on logic” and the ever uplifting “there were children there who looked dirty and unfed”.
    Really, where did you grow up and were is your family from?

  4. sensi says:

    You need to really open your eyes and do a little thorough research on some of these subjects before you make outrageous claims about about people who simply question the made-for-tv version of reality. You can’t watch a tv show and proclaim to have figured out an entire group of people. A trillion rewinds on Tivo will never provide the backround story for the thousands of years of history that have been hidden from the general population. To make ignorant claims about someones beliefs and values that differ from yours is the same type of mentallity that truly believes that say, africans were uncivilized before us white people went over to their country and robbed them of their history and culture. Or that a race of people who differ from you are inherently inferior. Extreme…..maybe, but you need to read a couple hundred books on some of these subjects before you make truly ignorant claims about people with a view different from their own. If someone is trying to analyze a situation critically, does that make their logic twised and far from reality? I think accepting the “official version” of the story is as far from logic as you can get, because your simply not using it. Wake up….
    “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”
    (morpheus – The Matrix)

  5. Kevin says:

    (I tried just e-mailing this to Sensi, but their e-mail isn’t working – it’s a conspiracy!!)
    I went back and reread what I’d written (because it was a looong time ago), and I’m not sure how it could be construed that I think conspiracy theorists are crazy or somehow detached from reality, or that I think conspiracies don’t happen. Yes, I’ve seen *The Matrix*, but you know, it was just a movie. There is evil in the world, but usually, that evil thinks it’s doing *The Right Thing*, whether they are or not.

  6. For anyone who says conspiracy theories are just conjecture I ask them to look at footage of the collapse of the WTC 7 building.
    Anyone can see that this is a controlled collapse and that the small fires in that building were nearly not big enough to cause it’s collapse. But preparing the demolition of building takes weeks. There may not be any conspiracy, but there *certainly* was prior knowledge of the WTC attacks in New York.
    You go figure that out.

  7. H says:

    Enough about justifying the anti’s or pro’s of the ‘truth’ or ‘conspriracy’. These are just words with a pre-concieved application in your own minds. By simply writing anything off whilst obviously having done no wider reading you too can jump to conclusions, you too can be ignorant. I am proud to say the last thing I want to be like is that of people on ‘TV’ rich or not, so it is not from desperation I explore the possibilties, rather, from curiosity, not from marginalization. As proven by the world’s formost scientists to date, the universe is made up of only 5% of matter we have identified, what the ^%&*@% do I truly know, what the $!@*& do you truly know. So what’s say we throw around a few ideas, listen to each other and take what makes sense to each of us! And leave the media, and so forth to scwabble amoungst themselves.. conspiracy theories and anti-cospiracy theories(=truth?! mmphwhaha!!) are both just.. theories!! So chuck away your TV?(or watch TV from around the world), meditate?, go for a jog?, read(widely)?, anti-meditate?, play golf? i dont know?! you are only playing a game of conspiring on both sides! wake up, dont be fools, think for yourselves goddammit!!! otherwise keep on being fed the baby food your used to being fed!! its your choice!
    ‘nuf said:)

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