It is very effective to mobilize mass support against a scapegoated enemy by claiming that the enemy is part of a vast insidious conspiracy against the common good. The conspiracist worldview sees secret plots by tiny cabals of evildoers as the major motor powering important historical events; makes irrational leaps of logic in analyzing factual evidence in order to “prove” connections, blames social conflicts on demonized scapegoats, and constructs a closed metaphysical worldview that is highly resistant to criticism.~1

When conspiracist scapegoating occurs, the results can devastate a society, disrupting rational political discourse and creating targets who are harassed and even murdered. Dismissing the conspiracism often found in right-wing populism as irrational extremism, lunatic hysteria, or marginalized radicalism does little to challenge these movements, fails to deal with concrete conflicts and underlying institutional issues, invites government repression, and sacrifices the early targets of the scapegoaters on the altar of denial. An effective response requires a more complex analysis.

The Dynamics of Conspiracism

The dynamic of conspiracist scapegoating is remarkably predictable. Persons who claim special knowledge of a plot warn their fellow citizens about a treacherous subversive conspiracy to attack the common good. What’s more, the conspiracists announce, the plans are nearing completion, so that swift and decisive action is needed to foil the sinister plot. In different historical periods, the names of the scapegoated villains change, but the essentials of this conspiracist worldview remain the same.~2

George Johnson explained that “conspiratorial fantasies are not simply an expression of inchoate fear. There is a shape, an architecture, to the paranoia.” Johnson came up with five rules common to the conspiracist worldview in the United States:~3

“The conspirators are internationalist in their sympathies.

“[N]othing is ever discarded. Right-wing mail order bookstores still sell the Protocols of the Elders of Zion…[and] Proofs of a Conspiracy [from the late 1700’s].

“Seeming enemies are actually secret friends. Through the lens of the conspiracy theorists, capitalists and Communists work hand in hand.

“The takeover by the international godless government will be ignited by the collapse of the economic system.

“It’s all spelled out in the Bible. For those with a fundamentalist bent, the New World Order or One World Government is none other than the international kingdom of the Antichrist, described in the Book of Revelation.

Conspiracism can occur as a characteristic of mass movements, between sectors in an intra-elite power struggle, or as a justification for state agencies to engage in repressive actions. Conspiracist scapegoating is woven deeply into US culture and the process appears not just on the political right but in center and left constituencies as well.~4 There is an entrenched network of conspiracy-mongering information outlets spreading dubious stories about public and private figures and institutions. They use media such as printed matter, the internet, fax trees, radio programs, videotapes and audiotapes.~5


If you want to jump out of this article, try these related pages:

The Conspiracism Collection:

The Sucker Punch Collection

Why Are Conspiracy Theorists Bullshitters? How To Spot The Frauds!

8 Ways to tell a Conspiracy Theorist is really a Fraud

 As I have been observing conspiracy theories, and by extension, conspiracy theorists themselves. From my observations I’ve noticed that some of them may not be entirely truthful in what they believe, and that some of them may be out right frauds.
Here are eight ways to tell if a conspiracy theorist is a fraud:
1. Constant self promoter
It’s one thing for a conspiracy theorist to promote the conspiracy theories they believe in, it’s quite another for a conspiracy theorist to constantly promote their own materials and media concerning conspiracy theories they allegedly believe in.
The fact is, is that some people do make money off of promoting conspiracy theories, and some fraud conspiracy theorists do realize they can make lots of money creating and pedaling books and videos about conspiracy theories.
2. Tells people to ignore facts
While most legit conspiracy theorists will usually ask a person to examine all of the facts before asking you to conclude that they are right, a fraud conspiracy theorist will tell you to ignore any facts other then the “facts” that they present. Some even go so far as to call real facts disinformation. This is done as a way to discourage people from actually examining real facts, and by doing this a person might stop believing a certain conspiracy theory, and thus stop believe the fraud conspiracy theorist.
3. Constantly making up stuff
A fraud conspiracy theorist constantly makes up stuff, and then discards certain “information” when no one believes it any more, or no one really cares about it any more.
One of the main reasons this is done is because it keeps people coming back, wanting “new” information.
4. Claims to be withholding information until a later date
Many fraud conspiracy theorists claim they have “secret information” that they claim they are withholding until a later date. Most of the times this “information” isn’t even revealed at all, or the “information” that is revealed is actually false and made up, and sometimes not even new at all, just reworded.
5. Presents known fraud media as real
Some fraud conspiracy theorists will take documents, photos, and videos that are known to be fraudulent, some that were even created as a hoax in which to point out how gullible some conspiracy theorists are, and present such media as real and legit. Sometimes a fraud conspiracy theorist will even create the fraud media themselves.
6. Claims persecution, but presents no evidence
Many fraud conspiracy theorists claim they are being persecuted, but present no evidence what so ever that they are being persecuted, whether it be official legal documents, photos or videos showing they a being persecuted, or other credible eye witness backing up the claims of persecution.
7. Lying about credentials
Fraud conspiracy theorists will often times lie about their credentials, such as lying about military service, or about their education, or their expertise. This is done in order to make it seem that they know what they are talking about when they are discussing a conspiracy theory, and in hopes that the conspiracy theory they promote will seem more valid.
8. Unable to pass a lie detector test
One of the most likely ways to tell if a conspiracy theorist is a fraud is that they are unable to pass a lie detector test concerning the conspiracy theories that they promote, or they are unwilling to take a lie detector test concerning the “information” they present, or concerning whether or not they believe in what are promoting in the first place.

Tabloid Birtherism

Tabloid Birtherism

Without a single side to make the looming Presidential election a Manichean battle of good vs. evil for certain segments of the country (since Romney isn’t exactly a paragon of the common man or the folksiness of the Tea Party), the Birthers have taken to stirring up shit the only way they know how: by asking ridiculous questions based only on a vague conspiracy theory. And as the Birthers have proved in their past ability to influence idiots across America (one in four Americans believe Obama is a Muslim), “asking the question” is a form of push-polling. The existence of a largely-publicized “debate” provides ammunition to those who are inclined to use it as such.

My own experience in work as well as life is that it is dangerous to give voice to the fringe and lunatic voices simply because they make for sensationalized headlines. Almost like the Streisand Effect applied to politics, even pointing out that such a position is ridiculous gives it added weight and gravitas (by dignifying it as a question worth focusing on).

So why do media outlets give any focus to these kinds of fringe theories if they patently lack legitimacy? It’s not like anybody is writing stories about people who deny we landed on the moon or about who claim there is a secret Illuminati controlling the government (other than crappy novelists). Presumably, it’s because these new allegations are salacious and potentially important enough to give people the satisfaction of reading further, even if they know the debate is entirely artificial. Like reading the tabloids, or something like that.

One birther explains that Romney’s citizenship is up for debate because his dad was born in Mexico. Thats right, Mitt Romney’s father was born in the Mexican colony that Mitt’s great-grandfather founded after fleeing the United States so he could stay married to Romney’s four great-grandmothers.

Then again, maybe these are questions that can reveal something about the character of the candidates.

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