Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Since the term has a derogatory slant, few conspiracy theorists self-identify as such. The term is mostly used to suggest that a particular theory is false, or that the person proposing it is unreliable. A reliable means of discrediting a story, it's often used unfairly.

As Uri Dowbenko, who runs several popular conspiracy sites, including Conspiracy Planet, says: "There's no 'theory' in criminal conspiracy."

Mark Fenster, a law professor at the University of Florida and the author of Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture. "You see a lot of people who have received high levels of institutional education. For this reason, conspiracy theorists may well be of somewhat higher than average income level and wealth."

Fenster says the Internet is simply speeding up a process that would normally happen.

Ventura is merely the latest in a long line

One of these is George Noory. In 2003, he succeeded the legendary Art Bell as the host of the most successful overnight radio program, "Coast to Coast AM."

Another media figure is Alex Jones, also a popular nationally syndicated radio host and the founder of high-trafficking conspiracy sites such as Infowars and Prison Planet. Jones resolutely rejects the conspiracy theorist designation for himself. Unlike Noory, he refuses to engage "fantasy" conspiracies such as Big Foot and does not consider himself an entertainer.

Noory says he grew passionate about the theories he discusses on his show after the Bush administration's claim of WMD in Iraq turned out to be false. That made him question government actions more than he had before.

driven to do what they do because they are distrustful of the powers that be. The fear of a government that ignores your constitutional rights or of too-powerful interests controlling the economy is a perfectly legitimate concern. This manifests itself across the political spectrum in the United States. When a Republican is in the White House, conspiracy theories veer to the left; when a Democrat is in power, they veer to the right, says Fenster, the conspiracy theory scholar.

Mike Ruppert, a self-described investigative journalist who is often labeled a conspiracy theorist, and author of Confronting Collapse, which details connections between money and energy, told me that conspiracy theories not only indicate distrust of power, they also remind you that "this 'system' has no real means to hold bad people accountable.

conspiracy theories are so popular "because people leave lots of room for doubt."

That doubt stems from not knowing what happens behind closed doors in government and in the board rooms of the largest, most powerful companies in the country. What we have little doubt about is that power in the United States -- and everywhere, for that matter -- is monopolized by small, associated groups that do not represent the interests of the great majority. That's why there is at least a grain of truth in every bit of conspiracy theory, even the most delusional ones.

The fear of concentrated power is valid and brings up important questions that mainstream culture is often unwilling to ask. Conspiracy theorists ask those questions, though their answers may lead some astray.

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