WORDS: Gilbert Wham.
What are the most popular conspiracy theories on the internet? And how, O Suspicious Readers whose hackles have immediately gone up, have I compiled this list? Whose lights do I present to you to divine this? Where's your methodology, you fucker? I hear you cry, as you peevishly crumple yourself a new foil hat.
Well, now there's a question. Having given it some thought, I have approached it thus: I googled it, looked at some stuff, and took an average in my head. Science, you see. Anyone following a similar (or, indeed, a better) methodology would come up with the same five or so: 9/11, Faked Moon Landings, NWO/Illuminati (or Lizards, if you want to give it full fuckin' laldy on the cuckoo-ometer), Chemtrails, HAARP, and so on.
Now, in a quest for a more stringent approach, Stuff By Actual Scientists was read next. It was very interesting Stuff too. What is striking about these stories is their mutability: they change over time, and according to the teller, in order to fit said teller's world-view. This gives them, in the words of the psychologists who study them, immunisation from falsification. i.e. small, but significant elements can change over time, or are open enough to interpretation that debunking or arguing the veracity of even part of the narrative becomes like herding cats. Humans like stories, it's how we define ourselves and the world. We're funny like that – we see faces in clouds, Jesus in dog's backsides and demons in the dark.
Of course , none of this goes to say that conspiracies don't exist. That would be idiotic. One need only look at the newspapers, or read a history book to prove quite the opposite. Watergate springs to mind, for instance. Or any of the many, many depressing tales of police suppressing evidence, frightening witnesses and closing ranks to protect themselves. Now, the latter case there is interesting, as it's something slightly different to both Watergate, and to the narratives of my Top Five Scientifically Collated Theories above. They are top down conspiracies. A bottom up conspiracy is a different, and altogether more likely bit of monkeybusiness, monkeys that we most assuredly are. I shall let this fellow explain, so I don't have to type:
“The bottom-up conspiracy emerges when a group of individuals with a common interest begin to coordinate their action without necessarily needing to be told. It does not need to begin with an explicit agreement. Nor does it have to involve anything so grand as making reality conform to a prior design. This second model of conspiracy is bottom-up in the sense that it can begin from the voluntary coordination of a group of individuals without necessarily an explicit agreement or design. But it becomes a conspiracy in the sense that the actors involved know that they are bound together in collective action that is illegal or wrong, they know they are bound together, and that their activities depend on their ongoing – and secret – cooperation. The end effect is intentional deception and hidden coordination by the participants, even though there was no original plan”
That, right there, is the kind of conspiracy we see every day. And, like Watergate, it has actors that are bumbling, obvious, and really fucking stupid. You know, humans.
Contrast that, or, say any of the CIA's shitheaded, disastrous plots of the cold war and beyond (they make fantastic reading), with the genius supervillains of 9/11, HAARP, or the superb tradecraft of the covert teams of Geo-Engineering Chemtrails pilots. Tricky Dick got caught. Cops do, though sadly not often enough, get indicted for their shenanigans. However, we're apparently helpless against the Shadowy Forces of the Big Conspiracies.
Why? I'll fucking tell you why: because they're not real.
That's not to say that shady business isn't going on, mind. Not at all.
Now, as anyone who has followed the Cow Page's many, many arguments on this may know, I keep saying this, but a paranoid sort might look at conspiracy memes of the top-down persuasion, and think, 'Hmmmm. It is interesting how seductive these memes are, these narratives of helplessness in the face of Great Evil. Well crafted, even. It could almost be that they were designed by people who've spent a long time studying how stories work, and how they propagate in the minds of humans, how they evolve and change, how very distracting they are, for the purpose of obscuring all the evil shit they do in plain sight, couldn't it?'
And that paranoid person, I put it to you, would be right.
Alan Moore calls it Bardic Magic, advertisers call it marketing, and use it to sell us shit we don't need, and make us believe shit we shouldn't about ourselves. Politicians use it to get us to vote for them, and call it PR, Sociologists and psychologists study it, and intelligence agencies call it Psyops and Cointelpro, and use it to propagate bullshit in order to up the signal/noise ratio, so the half-arsed, corrupt, venal and sometimes blatant stuff they ACTUALLY get up to (whilst fucking up royally in the process as often as not) pales into insignificance, as it's not as sexy, the pieces don't mesh as well as these beautifully crafted memes do.
That's the Grand Conspiracy: there isn't one. Sure, there are lots of conspiracies, lots of evil, shitty things governments and corporations do, but as I said, they're messy; committed by fallible humans for banal and/or stupid reasons. And there are people whose job it is to do damage control, and keep people from paying attention to the man behind the curtain, so we don't arrest these pricks for their thuddingly dull and predictable evildoings and send them all to fucking jail where they belong.
To that effect, I think that they muddy the waters, and detract from the credibility of witnesses, victims and whistleblowers of their grubby little machinations by making shit up specifically crafted to be attractive to those of a suspicious and questioning bent. Powerful narratives that whilst wildly improbable, nevertheless spread, and are retold and grow in their retelling. Computer viruses for the human brain, as it were.
Basically, someone has weaponised the content of a decent university's Humanities department; creaming off the bits they need from Theology, Sociology, Anthropology, Linguistics, Creative Writing, Marketing and so on.
There are plenty of well-documented plots and conspiracies that ARE true. I think the ones that get the most attention however, are the ones that are false because, as I said, they're designed to be attractive, to lodge in the human brain, firing off those same circuits that religion hits, that makes kind, decent people who just want order rally behind charming psychopaths and commit atrocities, that make us 'identify' with brands. They're also designed to look fucking stupid to the average schmoe. And if Average Schmoe can see that crazy shit about chemtrails, 911, Haarp, and so on, ad nauseam is fucking stupid, and so are the people that believe it, then people who spout crazy shit about the despicable frauds perpetrated by financial institutions, and the fact that we're all being spied on whenever we're online, just in case we turn out to be Baddies, and that we're constantly at 'war' with nebulous concepts, in order to keep shithead authoritarians and their devious leaders rich in a constant circlejerk of government contracts, arms sales, financial corruption and good, old-fashioned fraud and outright theft must be crazy too, like all those other 'conspiracy theorists'. They're all the same, right?
That's the trick. It's a good one, too. Brilliant, in fact. There's a subtext of helplessness, of insignificance, in the face of such complex plans, of such incomprehensible actions, that is superbly crafted. But the evil shit that happens because bastards are in charge is well-documented. All one has to do is look for it. But be critical, always, because weaponised memes are fucking dangerous. I recommend reading lots of fiction, the weirder the better as a prophylaxis. More difficult to be tricked by a story when you've read lots of them. Especially ones with big, fuck-off spaceships in them. Those are the best.
(recommended reading for those interested in Psychology is here: http://journal.frontiersin.org/researchtopic/863, http://www.conspiracyanddemocracy.org You're all bloody lucky I didn't write something a LOT dryer. Be thankful)