The August 20th episode of the "On on One With Steve Adubato" show is available online right here.
We discuss the dark side of the conspiracy culture and why all the Alex Joneses and "crisis actor" conspiracy fanatics have crossed way over he line of all human decency today. As I make the point in my novel, CONFIRMATION: INVESTIGATIONS OF THE UNEXPLAINED, people like that can hardly be cast as heroes any more.
And the antidote to all this madness where people who want to believe too much and want to live inside their self-constructed fantasy worlds of chem-trails and shadow governments, run by the New World Order, the Illuminati, and time-traveling Nazis commanded by Elvis Presley? Education! As I discuss the fantastic opportunity I get to teach about the conspiracy culture and its destructiveness, education must now become the bulwark against the modern Dark Ages we are slipping into faster and faster.
And you can be sure that absolutely no student will ever walk out of any of my classes believing in crisis actors or how the Freemasons coordinated the attacks of 9/11 from Denver International Airport.
This is quite an amusing story and a perfect example of what Rush Limbaugh used to call "illustrating absurdity by being absurd." And I find it quite absurd and amusing that in 2018 this sort of a public kerfuffle still goes on. So the Satanic Temple in Arkansas wants to place a statue of the devil - OK, they call it "Baphomet" - in front of the state capitol if the Ten Commandments get placed there too. If one religion is to be favored, then, if the First Amendment is to have any value, all religions must be given the same equal treatment. The First Amendment, after all, is quite clear in its prohibition against the government favoring any one belief system that worships invisible magical beings over any other beliefs and their imaginary beings.
So, yeah, go ahead and put Baphomet up in government buildings if the deities and religious artifacts of other faiths are placed there. The Satanic Temple is absolutely right.
Actually these kinds of culture wars over the displays of religious symbols in government-run places are the most absurd of all. If you don't get to put your religious iconography on public display, it does not mean that you don't get to practice your faith in the privacy of your own home or have to somehow deny your faith in the privacy of your own thoughts. If you are a Christian or a Jew, you are NOT being oppressed just because you can't put the Ten Commandments up in a public building!
And no, this kind of a prank for the sake of attention by the Satanic Temple is not another sign of the End Times or the Apocalypse or the rise of the Antichrist or the New World Order or any of that nonsense. It's a prank and simple a prank by an organization which - guess what?! - doesn't believe in a literal Satan. As I discuss with my students in my Communication Ethics class when we examine "meta ethics" and various belief systems' views on the source of our sense of right and wrong, "Satanism" today is a form of radical social constructionism. It's a belief system that advocates a very extreme form of individualism and calls for the critical interrogation of ALL belief systems that seek to control people through arbitrary rules. They especially call for the critical interrogation of belief systems that seek to control by way of commandments coming from invisible, unprovable magical beings.
Oh, yeah, and the Satanic Temple also has one of its tenets arguing that "one should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason." Sounds pretty good to me.
By the end of that class session, usually many students find that there just might be a little bit of a Satanist in all of us.
At least when it comes to the First Amendment, the Satanists right now are spot on.
I recently got the chance to talk about the classic 1974 conspiracy thriller "The Parallax View" on The Projection Booth podcast. You can check it out here. The entire show is a fantastic series of discussions about the film - and it includes an interview with William Daniels, one of the stars of the film - but my segment starts at 1:46:00.
The film really is one of the best examples of the political conspiracy theory genre, very tense and unnerving because it is plausible. The film is a product of a time, after all, when conspiracy theories themselves were plausible, well before they spun off into the realm of the false flag, crisis actor, flat Earth and chemtrail absurdity that's putting piles of money into the coffers of all the Alex Joneses out there.
We discuss the impact of the film on the genre and the evolution of "real" conspiracy theories themselves, the way these theories always need to grow, to top themselves, to make claims that are more outrageous and outlandish than before.
I also got to talk about my new novel, CONFIRMATION: INVESTIGATIONS OF THE UNEXPLAINED, and how conspiracy theorists should seldom be seen as heroes these days. Conspiracy theories have mutated from critical warnings about how power can be abused, turning instead into a demented, social-constructionist fantasy world where anyone can claim belief in anything and the lack of any evidence to back up their beliefs can always be blamed on the machinations of a big, evil, shadowy conspiracy.
So I finally got through perusing parts of - probably just a small part of - all the information cropping up in the media about the Qanon conspiracy theory. After several days of this enterprise, I just got tired of the whole thing and more than a bit irritated by the amount of stupid that exists in the world. However, I was also fascinated by the larger social phenomenon of it all, the confirmation of a number of venerable media theories that have been arguing for decades that people are quite active and facile when it comes to protecting their own belief systems, in interpreting and twisting information in the world all around them in such a way as to confirm their own preconceived notions and biases...
...You see as an eggheaded academic who tries to corrupt and brainwash America's youth by teaching them how to debunk conspiracy theories about the New World Order, to embrace the status quo and to appreciate the subversive, Satanic fun of the "Lucifer" TV series, I need to frame everything in terms of high-flown theories...
But anyway, the Qanon conspiracy theory! For those who have not kept up with this, it basically started with a series of postings on the 4chan and 8chan social media sites by someone (or maybe some parties) calling himself "Q" and claiming to be a high-level government operative with inside information that can best be described as depressingly bonkers. And I mean so bonkers that if the producers of The X-Files would ever craft an episode around it, they would make it one of their comical self-parody episodes. But the main points of the theory claim that Donald Trump had been "installed" in the presidency by a secret cabal of military brass to work together with Robert Mueller to expose and smash a world-wide Satanic pedophile ring run by Hilary Clinton, the Democratic party, and numerous A-list Hollywood celebrities. So, yup, Mueller's Russia investigation is just a ruse, a smoke-screen for the real work of taking down the global Satanic child-sex trafficking ring.
And because high-ranking government whistle-blowers would try and blow their whistles by going to disreputable online forums instead of respected media outlets...
Oh, yeah, the so-called "respectable mainstream media" are all infiltrated by sex-trafficking Satanists too. Sorry, forgot about that!
So anyway, there's no point in beating a dead horse here and repeating what so much of the news stories about Qanon have already talked about, namely how absurd all of this is and how there is no evidence to prove any of this silliness. Yes, it's all completely unbelievable and it's all stupid. And no, there is no credible evidence to prove any of these claims. Furthermore, it stretches the imagination beyond all breaking points to suggest that such a far-reaching conspiracy that would include thousands of people from the mass media, law enforcement, and politics could ever pull off a plot like this...
So let's just repeat after me, kids: 9/11 was not an inside job, JFK was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, we landed on the Moon, mass shootings in Colorado, Sandy Hook, and Florida were not false flag operations and there are no such things as "crisis actors." Thousands of people can NOT work together on such ridiculously convoluted plots without slipping up, spilling the beans, or turning on one another. Yes, if you disagree with me, you fail the class!
What is more interesting here, however, is how the Qanon phenomenon gives evidence to how fragmented our society has become to the point of the disappearance of a consensus reality for such a large sectors of the American population. People - again, as decades worth of research on how individuals process information and how personal beliefs and desires intersect with external sources of information coming from mass media sources has demonstrated - will selectively expose themselves to information that confirms their inherent biases. We believe what we want to believe and we will aggressively ignore or reinterpret information that contradicts our beliefs. Cognitive Dissonance is the phenomenon that explains how unpleasant and how downright painful it is to be proven wrong, to hear points of view that disagree with us, and have our beliefs challenged. It so unpleasant that people will go to extraordinary lengths to escape such feelings. The easiest way to escape dissonance today is by way of the conspiracy theory. Scientific studies have disproven the vaccine-autism link you've come to believe? Well, the scientists that authored those studies are in on the conspiracy!
The Qanon phenomenon can best be viewed, I believe, through this framework of a toxic cultural fragmentation and dissonance. Some have come to despise those whose political positions they disagree with to such a pathological extreme that they are willing to embrace the head-spinning absurdity of the Qanon claims.
This article, as a matter of fact, posits that maybe the Qanon conspiracy theory was actually a creation of some leftist pranksters to make ultra-conservatives look bad. At some point, perhaps the pranksters will show themselves in public and yell "Psych! Fooled you!" Now such an anti-conspiracy conspiracy is quite unlikely, I think. However, if someone tried to pull such a grand-scale joke, it would, no doubt, work quite easily.
Now let me predict that the political opposite of such a prank would work as well. There are demented crackpots on the left as well, and not just on the right. The repellent, violent morons of the "Antifa" movement would be just as ready to swallow a conspiracy that would blame some grand, world-scale act of evil on a vast coalition of the military/industrial complex, corporations, George W. Bush, all in league with Big Oil, FOX news, Dick Cheney, and Rush Limbaugh.
Today, unfortunately, stupid has no exclusive party affiliation. And conspiracy theories are its favorite refuge.
The date is set! On August 20 my interview on the "One on One with Steve Adubato" show will air. Check out the program schedule right here.
We will be discussing my new novel, CONFIRMATION: INVESTIGATIONS OF THE UNEXPLAINED, along with the corrosive and downright sleazy impact of conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones on American society. Very timely, I think, especially with all the bizarre new headlines about the QAnon conspiracy theory and Jones getting the book off of social media sites like Facebook, Apple, and Spotify.
So tech giants Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and Spotify, as discussed in this article, have just banned Alex Jones' InfoWars website from their services. These services, of course, have every right to do so as private companies and this in no way constitutes any form of censorship. Only the government can censor. Private organizations and individuals have absolutely no legal obligation to give anyone a platform for their speech.
However, this is still not a good idea.
The only thing such a move can accomplish is to make a martyr out Jones. Removing his moronic conspiracy rants from these sites will now make him even more appealing as a "rebel" who dares to "speak out" and "expose the truth" that the big, evil, New World Order mainstream media tries to keep hidden. He, in fact, is already telling his readers and listeners that InfoWars is the most "censored" site on the Internet. It makes it sound really sexy and courageous, doesn't it? I bet his dimwit fans certainly think so. This move just might have been one of the biggest favors Facebook and these companies could have done for Jones.
Banning speech by organizations in the business of mass communication, even when legally allowed, is seldom a desirable - or even ethical - thing to do. Even if this speech is the sort of absurd and repugnant conspiracy theorizing that's Jones' stock in trade, offensive speech is best countered by more speech. The very philosophical foundation of democracy, after all, is the idea that individuals must be trusted. As vast a marketplace or ideas should be provided for individuals as possible because is such a marketplace, sensible, logical and decent expression by decent people will outweigh the garbage.
The best antidote to Alex Jones' garbage is not to martyr him but to expose it for what it is.