From JFK to 9/11, America has a long romance with the bizarre, the dangerous, and the downright weird world of conspiracy theories.
But in the last four years, our conspiracy pot boils over, with the stirrer-in-chief none other than the ’most powerful man in the world’ himself, the President of the United States.
We’re currently at Peak Conspiracy. ‘Stop The Steal’ is Trump’s grandest conspiracy yet. They stole the lection is going straight into the Conspiracy Theory Hall of Fame for one outstanding reason: Trump spent million trying to prove it. Usually conspiracy proofs consign to the remainder bins of sketchy quasi-science blogs and authors after a quick buck. Not this time. The right-wing of American politics tacitly supports Trump’s conspiracy.
With a robust conspiracy appetite, America has given birth to several lucrative conspiracy markets: The Assassination of JFK, The Assassination of Lincoln, the mega-hit and still number one of all time, 9/11. How about good old Area 51, or the much beloved Faked Moon Landing?
I’m a conspiracy theory skeptic, but that doesn’t stop me reading some material. There’s a fascination with these fanciful flights of human imagination. Usually, the conspiracy theories are better reading than the truth. And the more outlandish the truth, the more potent and long-lasting the conspiracy theory. 17 men trained on flight simulators, used box cutter knives, took over insanely complex aircraft, and hit two buildings at high speed, bringing down several other buildings in the process? That’s unlikely, and I have 260 books, eight documentaries, and 9,000,975 You Tube videos to prove it.
We live in the middle of Manhattan, and earlier this year we went through the extraordinary lock-down of COVID-19. We woke up one day to an eerily empty streetscape, took long solitary walks in the park, looked up and down abandoned avenues. On the east side of Central Park, across 5th Avenue from Mount Sinai hospital, some Christian folk from the south built a temporary field hospital to aid with the urgent and over-whelming demand for treatment.
It was disturbing to be out walking our dog and come across a field hospital in the park. But what was more disturbing was three days later to read this hospital was actually a front for a child trafficking operation that occurred underneath the field hospital tents in a secretly dug out tunnel system.
This conspiracy was part of the sprawling (and growing like a malignant tumor) Q-Anon. Q-Anon was astounding, even penetrating such benign industries as Wellness. We first learned about the Sex Trafficking Field Hospital conspiracy from the website of a chiropractor we knew. It then showed up on a website from someone who usually propagates the benefits of vegetable smoothies. Now that’s a conspiracy theory with punch.
Nothing beats 2020 for conspiracy theories. They’ve been breaking out faster than fire on a California hillside. 1 in 3 Americans believe COVID-19 is a biological weapon developed by the Chinese. The CDC disseminates COVID information with the sole purpose of upending the Trump administration. The Deep State created false Impeachment charges. And my favorite, Lizard People disguised as Corporate Leaders are taking over.
According to the New York Times, “In the most comprehensive analysis to date of people who are prone to conspiracy beliefs, a research team in Atlanta sketched out several personality profiles that appear to be distinct. One is familiar: the injustice collector, impulsive and overconfident, who is eager to expose naivete in everyone but him- or herself. Another is less so: a more solitary, anxious figure, moody and detached, perhaps including many who are older and living alone.”
Is there a grand unifying theory why we’re so prone to conspiracy theories? They’re fun in the way watching WWE wrestlers fake fight is fun. They’re contrarian in a world of contrarians. Know-it-alls love knowing-it-all, even if they have make-up what they know.