By Jesse Lopez
It was recently revealed that half of the US population believes in some form of a conspiracy theory. Whether medical or political we have all fallen for something that later turned out to be bologna. From “Flat Earthers”, “Anti-Vaxxers”, to “QAnon” we have all heard these and other sometimes outrageous claims about a specific group of people or to all of society. What is it about conspiracy theories that seem so inviting to the human brain? Why do so many of us drink the Kool-Aid? Is there a difference between people that seek truth and facts, and those that believe the unseen?
Recent studies are focused on today’s psychological realm attempting to discover why some individuals are predominantly captivated by conspiracy theories. This research and examinations into the human psyche have discovered that conspiracy ideology can be fundamentally related to lower levels of education and an inability to grasp logical, rational, or common-sense thinking. These individuals are more likely to have a mental predisposition called hypersensitive agency detection or teleologic thinking. Many of these individuals seldomly think for themselves, and tend to follow the crowd, and show deficiencies in the ability to be unique. Researchers have also uncovered that individuals who believe in conspiracy theories are more inclined to have a profound need for a conclusion they understand, or the longing to find explanations where the clarifications of events are endorsed by unseen forces, willpower, and personal motivations. Leaving them to only believe their opinion as facts.
Although many conspiracy theorists believe strongly in the same conspiracy, they seldomly share the same beliefs or facts of how the conspiracy started and each individual comes to their own conclusions about how they got to where they are at the current moment in their movement. As newspapers, die-off in our digital era, and TV is shifting to OnDemand streaming apps like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube TV we see fewer and fewer people obtaining their news from these sources, and are now turning to the internet for their news and entertainment. These traditional forms of media are very censored and supervised by government agencies limiting them to lies, and published disinformation.
The internet is like being on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, you can do just about whatever you want. There are still rules and a speed limit, but no one around to enforce them. So, if you want to spread a conspiracy theory online who’s going to notice? As we reached the third quarter of 2020, we finally saw internet companies like YouTube, and social media companies like Facebook, and Twitter banning conspiracy’s that could have a negative effect on public safety, like “QAnon” or angry white supremacy groups forming on their platforms. That was just last month. Since it’s conception on a 4Chain political board titled “Calm Before the Storm” posted on October 28, 2017, by an anonymous member under the screen name “Q Clearance Patriot”, “QAnon” has grown to over 35,000 active members.
Considered as a far-right conspiracy theory “QAnon” advocates believe a satanic cult of pedophiles that run our political sector and Hollywood rape and sacrifice children of whose blood they drink and obtain a youthful existence. These children used in the sacrificial ceremonies are produced and purchased through a child sex trafficking ring controlled by Wayfair, the online furniture and home goods store. In this conspiracy theory a man (Donald J. Trump) who has been accused of sexual assault from 29 victims, and the man (Robert Muller) who impeached him is somehow going to stop this child sex trafficking ring and bring justice by way of law and order to protect these abducted children. Sometimes “QAnon” and another conspiracy theory called “Pizzagate” get lumped together as the same thing.
“Pizzagate” was conceived way before “QAnon”, during the 2016 US presidential election. This viral theory published on Wikileaks claimed that hacked emails belonging to Hilary Clinton and several other high- ranking Democratic officials revealed them using coded messages about them using a D.C. based pizza company named “Comet Ping Pong” as a front for a human trafficking and child sex trafficking ring that took place in the pizzeria’s basement. Remember all that talk about Hilary’s emails? Well, this is now what all those “coded emails” has spiraled into. The help of conservative media and the lack of understanding the internet and social media companies had for such a silly concept like “QAnon” allowed for the idea to grow and grow like gas to a flame.
Conspiracies like these have been targeted to the younger generations through apps like TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. These company interfaces collect data using COOKIES that track these companies’ members directed content based on interest and likes submitted while engaging their profile. So, if at any time you showed interest in any of these topics, these internet and social media companies would drive similar content to these members making it all they would see. Not so hard to fall down the rabbit hole when that’s the direction you are being guided in, is it? Why aren’t we holding these parties accountable for them assisting in today’s abundance of believed conspiracy?
Well, we are. As we are just a week away from our countries most awkward Thanksgiving our country has ever endured, we can all agree this year’s election has made it more awkward than ever. From those of us who choose to zoom a family get together or have an in-person holiday, we all will experience some strange moments of silence. Trying to act like some of our own intermediate family members didn’t just show their true colors, posting racist and offensive things online about a race of people one of their own family members might be married to. Sweeping under the rug the recent online slurs, and emotional discomfort they created, through fake compliments and smiles. Just know that we have some people in our country’s leadership actually standing up for our democracy like Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey’s 7th district who are holding these companies accountable creating legislation that will prevent dangerous conspiracies like these from growing right before our eyes.
These domestic terror threats are the new reality we all face whether you’re a truther or a conspiracy theorist. It’s so unfortunate that the only time our country ever bans together as one is when a massive catastrophic tragedy takes place like 9/11, killing hundreds to thousands of US citizens at one time-stopping all our lives. At these moments, all we can see is the lives lost, we stop thinking about the color of skin (like we do in neighborhood homicides) when we see US citizen die together. We stop caring about each of their religion, or their beliefs. The purpose of propaganda is to destabilize and confuse people creating controversy and conflict. We’ve all heard the term “the truth hurts”, and as humans, we primarily hate pain so we avoid it at all cost. That’s why conspiracy theorists will go to the end of the earth to prove their point. The difference between truthers and conspiracy theorists is one argues their facts, while the other one bases their facts on studied provable research.