Diwate: What Makes Conspiracies a Growing Business

Varad Diwate

Why does everything have to be a conspiracy or an inside job? The latest theory for conspiracy enthusiasts is that President Obama had a part to play in the Oklahoma tornado to divert attention from his administration scandals.

This is after you thought that the 9/11 conspiracy doesn’t add up, Sandy Hook and Boston bombing truthers are crackpots and Alex Jones was for people who had nothing better to do with their time.

I have always wondered about conspiracies ever since I came to know that the “9/11 truther” movement had a serious following. Why would someone go a long way to discredit something that has been assumed to be the universal truth? Is it just about the sheer distrust in the “official versions”?

An article in the Scientific American notes that psychologists have for a long time believed delusions of conspiracy theorists are associated with paranoia. However, the staggering number of people who believe in different conspiracies makes it difficult to believe in this association.

Studies cited in this article find that there is a general tendency to support conspiracy theories stemming from “distrust of authority.” Also, belief in conspiracies is linked to rejecting scientific evidence and even mere exposure to such theories can lead to political and social disengagement.

Ever since I heard of the mastermind Alex Jones, who always finds a globalist conspiracy in every major event, I have wondered if he himself believes what he puts forth as the ultimate truth. There is good reason to believe that he is more interested in peddling seed vaults and other doomsday stuff.

A Salon article analyzed the bucks behind “Conspiracy Inc.” The estimated revenues in the conspiracy business are mind-boggling. Jones has a media empire with two websites, an online show, a radio show, merchandise sale and tie-ups with “prepper” product (for the impending doomsday!) manufacturers. Jones’ revenue is estimated to be anywhere between $2.7 million and $10 million. Alex Seitz-Wald writes in this piece, “What’s clear is that he’s savvy and moved adroitly to capitalize on a market that he helped create, impressing every one of our experts with his strategy of developing a loyal cadre of fans who are probably responsible for the bulk of his income.”

Given the millions of dollars riding on his conspiracy theories, I would say Alex Jones has good reason to keep on making new conspiracies. Shouting, making up odd theories and scaring the populace works just fine to attract new audiences.

So, what would be the consequences of believing something that contradicts even common sense? Some people might say conspiracy theorists are just an overhyped harmless fringe group who practice their right to free speech. Maybe it’s not that simple.

I wonder about the far-reaching effects of this phenomenon. A lot of conspiracy theories can turn into something similar to the boy who cried wolf. If you keep crying for attention on something ridiculous, you are going to be ignored when you need others.

There are genuine stories of human rights violations, overreach of power and other issues that don’t see the light of the day due to powerful interests. Whenever they make it through the alternate media, a lot of people might dismiss these stories as something made up by the “conspiracy nuts.” Another concern is that beliefs often lead to actions that affect others. For example, Gene Rosen, who sheltered kids saved from the Sandy Hook massacre was harassed by the “Sandy Hook truthers.”

Other factors also aggravate the problem. State secrecy in a lot of matters only adds to fuel to conspiracy theories. Its true that a lot of times we do not hear the complete truth. Facts are lost in the spin on news shows and panel discussions. Powerful interests and a few media conglomerates do not help the situation either.

It also depends on what you would call a “conspiracy.” If it means actions for an ulterior motive and usually hidden from the general public, then there have been a number of CIA sponsored coups in countries including Iran and the Dominican Republic. As for open “conspiracies”, there are still U.S. backed rulers and dictators in Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Equatorial Guinea. Well, these are the stories proved to be true over a period of time and make logical sense. Things are being stretched too far when Alex Jones talks about the Illuminati, ruling elite, depopulation and the New World Order.

It’s certainly a good thing to question and scrutinize events and interpret new possibilities. But, it is still important to stay in touch with reality and not stray into la la land. At the end of the day, we all agree (I hope) that we live on a round planet called the earth that revolves around the sun.