Conspiracy Theories Are Infecting Millions of Brains – Are they all Toxic?
The growing mistrust of institutions is a breeding ground for Disinformation, Kooks and Dangerous lack of common sense
Conspiracy theories have been around as long as so called civilization, although they are not an artifact that exposes the best of our species. Typically conspiracy theories begin to form when there is fear, mistrust and anxiety, uncertainty or even feelings of powerlessness. It is no surprise that for many Americans, there are warranted reasons to hold any of the above feelings.
This has laid the groundwork for misinformation, disinformation and propaganda to hold the new name “fake news” a moniker embraced by the most fake and most blatant propagandists. You can almost hear them chanting “I know you are but what am I” like some deranged schoolyard manic. Qanon, Cults and simple ignorant lack of recognizing simple lies, such as the “Michigan Man of the Year” award Trump has repeatedly claimed to have won (there is no such award) are seemingly everywhere.
Some theories turned out to be real – such as the Watergate Conspiracy that was simply covered up, and those examples are what make it so hard, particularly for the average person, to differentiate between the “wacko” and the plausible.
The serious study of propaganda, particularly in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia is a great place to start to unravel the mess that seems to swirl all around us. Many of these, mostly simple, techniques are being reused with a digital amplifier and algorithmic acceleration.
The Future remains Fertile Ground for even more Outrageous Theories
Regardless how 2021 will soon look with US elections finalizing, becoming familiar with the “dark arts” of how to initiate, propagate and benefit from “fake news” will be highly useful going forward.
To that end, we’ve assembled some suggestions for reading and reflection on the subject. Perhaps understanding the telltale signs of misinformation can be useful even if you are not considering a career as a CIA operative or anti-propaganda czar. Or maybe the past examples of extreme theories, and how they caught the imagination of so many, can serve as entertainment for any who are fascinated by the possibility of a trip down the rabbit hole.
1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmare vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever.
“1984” is still the great modern classic “negative Utopia” – a startling original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing from the first sentence to the last four words.
No one can deny this novel’s power, its hold on the imagination of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions – a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.Click here to see “1984“
and help Independent Bookstores.Also available on Amazon.
The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory
Jesse Walker’s The United States of Paranoia presents a comprehensive history of conspiracy theories in American culture and politics, from the colonial era to the War on Terror.
The fear of intrigue and subversion doesn’t exist only on the fringes of society, but has always been part of our national identity. When such tales takes hold, Walker argues, they reflect the anxieties and experiences of the people who believe them, even if they say nothing true about the objects of the theories themselves.
With intensive research and a deadpan sense of humor, Jesse Walker’s The United States of Paranoia combines the rigor of real history with the punch of pulp fiction. This edition includes primary-source documentation in the form of archival photographs, cartoons, and film stills selected by the author. Click here to see “The United States of Paranoia” and help independent Bookstores. Also available on Amazon.
Understanding Nazi Ideology: The Genesis and Impact of a Political Faith
Nazism was deeply rooted in German culture. From the fertile soil of German Romanticism sprang ideas of great significance for the genesis of the Third Reich ideology–notions of the individual as a mere part of the national collective, and of life as a ceaseless struggle between opposing forces. This book traces the origins of the “political religion” of Nazism.
Ultra-nationalism and totalitarianism, racial theory and anti-Semitism, nature mysticism and occultism, eugenics and social Darwinism, adoration of the Fuhrer and glorification of violence–all are explored. The book also depicts the dramatic development of the Nazi movement–and the explosive impact of its political faith, racing from its bloody birth in the trenches of World War I to its cataclysmic climax in the Holocaust and World War II. Click here to see “Understanding Nazi Ideology” and help Independent Bookstores. Also available on Amazon.
Hidden History: An Exposé of Modern Crimes, Conspiracies, and Cover-Ups in American Politics
Starting with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Don Jeffries chronicles a wide variety of issues that have plagued our country’s history. Whether it is the assassinations of MLK and RFK, Iran-Contra, the Oklahoma City bombing, TWA Flight 800, voting fraud, or 9/11, every major disaster or war that we’ve witnessed has somehow been distorted by those who are supposed to be protecting us.
Jeffries also delves into extensive research on the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr. – and what he finds will shock you. So whether you’ve only heard bits and pieces of these stories or you’ve read several books on the topics, Hidden History is the book that belongs in every conspiracy theorist’s library, as the information included here has never been collected together in any other published work available. So sit down, strap in, and get ready to be shocked and awed by how much has been hidden by our government over the past fifty years. Updated, this version features a new introduction by political insider Roger Stone. Click here to see “Hidden History” and help Independent Bookstores. Also available on Amazon.
Conspiracy in the Streets: The Extraordinary Trial of the Chicago Eight
Reprinted to coincide with the release of the new Aaron Sorkin film, this book provides the political background of this infamous trial, narrating the utter craziness of the courtroom and revealing both the humorous antics and the serious politics involved.An afterword by the late Tom Hayden examines the trial’s ongoing relevance, and drawings by Jules Feiffer help recreate the electrifying atmosphere of the courtroom.
Opening at the end of 1969–a politically charged year at the beginning of Nixon’s presidency and at the height of the anti-war movement–the Trial of the Chicago Seven (which started out as the Chicago Eight) brought together Yippies, antiwar activists, and Black Panthers to face conspiracy charges following massive protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, protests which continue to have remarkable contemporary resonance. Click here to see “Conspiracy in the Streets” and help Independent Bookstores. Also available on Amazon.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people–including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others–she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. Click here to see “Caste” and help Independent Bookstores. Also available on Amazon.
Chaos: Charles Manson, the Cia, and the Secret History of the Sixties
Over two grim nights in Los Angeles, the young followers of Charles Manson murdered seven people, including the actress Sharon Tate, then eight months pregnant. With no mercy and seemingly no motive, the Manson Family followed their leader’s every order — their crimes lit a flame of paranoia across the nation, spelling the end of the sixties.
Manson became one of history’s most infamous criminals, his name forever attached to an era when charlatans mixed with prodigies, free love was as possible as brainwashing, and utopia — or dystopia — was just an acid trip away.
Twenty years ago, when journalist Tom O’Neill was reporting a magazine piece about the murders, he worried there was nothing new to say. Then he unearthed shocking evidence of a cover-up behind the “official” story, including police carelessness, legal misconduct, and potential surveillance by intelligence agents. Click here to see “Chaos” and help Independent Bookstores. Also available on Amazon.
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