Friday, May 24, 2013

Paranoia must be catching because so many people have it

Rachel Maddow, on her MSNBC show May 23, 2013, spoke of Alex Jones and his raging paranoia. Jones has an Internet show, Infowars. He is a crackpot who can come up with a government plot or conspiracy for just about any tragic event.

The one Maddow called him on was claiming the government can use weather as a weapon, and may have done it with the deadly EF-5 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma this past Monday. He claims that if you see planes or helicopters in the air during a storm and then a tornado  well, not only can “the government” cause a tornado to form, they can steer it where they want it to go.

He conceded at least that the “conditions have to be right.” As long as we have Alex Jones to tell us it’s not a genuine weather event but a government plot we really don’t need a weatherman to tell us which way the wind blows!

Rachel’s segment on Jones’s bold and paranoiac comments is here:



Maddow also accuses Jones of claiming that the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Newtown, Connecticut, and the Boston Marathon bombing, were all faked. According to Jones, the mass shootings were “an excuse to take away our guns.” (Yawnnnnn.) Whenever I hear talk like that coming out of the mouth of a person I ask myself what exactly are the thought processes that allow a mind to wander down such a path, only to drown itself in a swamp of ignorance? Some of my questions are answered by Maggie Koerth-Baker, who wrote the article, “Why Rational People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories” for Eureka, posted on May 21, 2013. Ms. Koerth-Baker tells us:
“’The best predictor of belief in a conspiracy theory is a belief in other conspiracy theories,’ says Viren Swami, a psychology professor who studies conspiracy belief at the University of Westminster in England. Psychologists say that’s because a conspiracy theory isn’t so much a response to a single event as it is an expression of an overarching worldview.” 
 Quoting Richard Hofstadter’s 1965 book, The Paranoid Style in American Politics
“Conspiracy theories . . . are a favorite pastime in this nation. Americans have always had a sneaking suspicion that someone was out to get us  be it Freemasons, Catholics or communists.”
And now it appears the enemy “out to get us” is our own government. And Ms. Koerth-Baker continues: 
“But in recent years, it seems as if every tragedy comes with a round of yarn-spinning, as the Web fills with stories about ‘false flag’ attacks and ‘crisis actors’  not mere theorizing but arguments for the existence of a completely alternate version of reality.” 
Conspiracists have something special about them, really active imaginations, and they can allow their brains to connect events, large and small, into some sort of cohesive narrative that makes sense to them. We've all heard of those who see the events of 9/11 as a government plot, faked (of course) to look like an attack. But they get even more fabulous in their speculations. Some have even claimed the second plane to hit the tower was actually a guided missile. And when asked why the television images show an airplane and not a missile the answer is because the missile was surrounded by a hologram to make it look like a plane. You can tell that, those imaginative theorists say, because the image wobbles a bit. I just don’t believe there is any medication currently known to humankind that will cure that kind of aberrant thinking. It would make a terrific scene for a science fiction movie, though, along with all of the other screwball theories about 9/11.

Alex Jones is sort of an extreme view of conspiracy theories, but there are others, even people in public office (Maddow showed pictures of Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul) who believe some or all of what Jones preaches over his Internet show. One of the reasons people believe in conspiracy theories, as another article I read claimed, is that there are real conspiracies in life. The author listed Watergate for one. But to list Watergate as a conspiracy against what has to be the grandest conspiracies of all time, like faking the moon landings, or the 9/11 attacks, is laughable. Watergate was a burglary gone bad, and a president trying to avoid culpability and responsibility. The other conspiracies I named are much more grand  and considering the loss of property and life surely evil government pilots herding a tornado over a town in Oklahoma for god knows what reason, is a grand conspiracy along with the grandest of them.

These conspiracy theories are breathtaking in the way their authors go about concocting the reasons and methods by which such events are done. It’s clear to me that Alex Jones and his conspiracy-minded friends have never heard of Occam’s razor, where the solution to a problem with more than one solution is almost always the simplest. The solution to what caused the tornado over Oklahoma would be cold air from the Rocky Mountains meeting up with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, and in one of those “perfect storm” moments  a massive tornado that killed people and caused tremendous damage was formed. Since tornadoes have been happening in our country even before it was a country you don’t have to take my word for it that Mother Nature is the most dangerous terrorist and murderer of all, with no regard for life or property.

It’s just that Mother Nature isn’t part of some government cabal which has its mysterious and arcane reasons for the terror it inflicts on its own citizens. There’s no fun in that, and no buzz with which Alex Jones can infect the public discourse with his idiot blather. That is unless he can somehow figure a way to hook the government into collusion with Mother Nature, a la the tornado-herding scenario.

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