The Week in Conspiracy | 1 Sept, 2017

The Week in Conspiracy is out – https://paper.li/d_g_robertson/1502115472#/

Some updates… The manuscript of The Brill Handbook of Religion and Conspiracy, which Asbjorn Dyrendal, Egil Asprem and I have been working on for the last couple of years, was submitted to the publishers last week. I’m getting ready to travel to Chester for the annual conference of the British Association for the Study of Religion, where I will be giving a paper on Competing Narratives of Gnosticism, the first fruit of my current research project on the contemporary discourse on Gnosticism. More on that soon…

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The Month in Conspiracy

Alex Jones has publically apologised for his coverage of #PizzaGate, and specifically the allegations against James Alefantis. There is obviously considerable legal pressure being applied behind the scenes here, and it is at this point unclear how this relates to his close connections to the Trump White House. Video below, and a full transcript here.

Antarctica is a hot topic in alternative history narratives these days. Here’s David Wilcock and his latest “insider” Corey Goode on how “The Antarctic Atlantis” relates to the secret space program:

Want to know how it all fits together? This could only be improved if it was designed to look like an octopus. Or a squid, I suppose: http://laughingsquid.com/the-conspiracy-theory-flowchart-they-dont-want-you-to-see/?utm_source=feedly

Barth’s Notes on Westminster Attack conspiracy theories: http://barthsnotes.com/2017/03/24/westminster-terror-attack-the-troofers-emerge/

The autism caused by vaccination narrative gets another celebrity endorsement: https://nexusnewsfeed.com/article/human-rights/his-life-has-been-altered-forever-de-niro-finally-opens-up-about-his-son-s-autism-link-to-vaccines/

The Week in Conspiracy, 20th Feb 2017

 

“Health Ranger” Mike Adams claims “I am being threatened with the ‘complete destruction’ of my reputation, my brand and my character by left-wing media operatives who have issued a new threat this week: ‘Destroy Alex Jones or we will destroy YOU.’” Poor snowflake – sounds like he’s been triggered.

https://nexusnewsfeed.com/article/geopolitics/threats-directed-towards-health-ranger-mike-adams/

Image result for growing up in the new world orderAn interesting graphic novel which wants to WAKE THE SHEEPLE. And no it’s not by you, it’s by Tom Hoover and Michael Lee:

https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/02/19/baking-minds-growing-new-world-order/

 

Steve Bannon’s Apocalypticism:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/steve-bannon-apocalypse_us_5898f02ee4b040613138a951

 

Fake News is not a new phenomenon:

https://drdavidclarke.co.uk/2017/02/17/100-years-of-fake-news-the-german-corpse-factory/

 

Winston Churchill discusses alien life in newly-found 1939 essay:

http://www.space.com/35713-winston-churchill-discusses-search-for-alien-life.html?_ga=1.222001176.1057865260.1483620055

The Week in Conspiracy, 20 January 2017

By Mitch O’Connell, via BoingBoing

I haven’t done one of these in a while. That’s because all the wild conspiracy stuff I used to post is now our everyday reality, and the stuff of the regular news shows… So perhaps today is a good time to post.


John Carpenter publicly denies that They Live (1988) is an allegory for the secret Jewish control of the world:


Erich von Daniken appears on the Richie Allen Show. Yes, he’s still alive, and still promoting the Ancient Aliens thesis:


Delegates at the Contact in the Desert UFO conference see UFOs. A weird coincidence? Were these delegates more “ready” to see UFOs? Or were the ETs deliberately reaching out to them? Whichever reason, this sighting is by no means the only such example, and you might enjoy the Last Podcast on the Left’s take (but put the kids to bed first) – http://cavecomedyradio.com/podcast-episode/episode156-the-coronado-group-abduction/


The CIA have declassified 13 million documents and published them online. Most news outlets are focusing on a small number of inconclusive UFO reports. Sky news, however, focused on their tests on Uri Geller, something that Geller has claimed for a while, though not always being taken seriously. The papers provide evidence, however, stating that “As a result of Geller’s success in this experimental period, we consider that he has demonstrated his paranormal perception ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner.”

The Week in Conspiracy, 28th March 2016

Red Ice Radio completes its journey from the left wing spirituality to right wing racial politics, via conspiracy theories, with an episode interviewing former BNP leader Nick Griffin and Jack Sen, who was thrown out of UKIP for antisemitism. http://rediceradio.net/radio/2016/RIR-160325-nickgriffin-jacksen-hr1.mp3

Richard D. Hall has released the third part of his series of documentaries on the disappearance of Madeline McCann – this one clocking in at four hours – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70oo2-Sj7to

Is Mark Millar working on a comic with David Icke? Probably not, but they’re up to something… http://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/03/30/could-david-icke-be-reborn-with-mark-millar-or-is-it-another-conspiracy-theory/

Just for fun: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Conspiracies (Web Exclusive) – https://youtu.be/fNS4lecOaAc

Meanwhile, a couple for the “Some truth to this stuff after all” File:

http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2016/02/22/the-government-has-announced-the-outlawing-of-intellectual-opposition/

LA Times – “In Syria, militias armed by the Pentagon fight those armed by the CIA” – http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-cia-pentagon-isis-20160327-story.html

 

Another Other: Do Conspiracy Theories = Bad Thinking?

A couple of people recently sent me a link to this article by Quassim Cassam (Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick) which recently appeared on the online magazine, Aeon. In it, Cassam asks “Why do some people believe conspiracy theories?”, and answers  “It’s not just who or what they know. It’s a matter of intellectual character.”

It is not surprising that he personifies conspiracy thinking as the result of poor thinking – such an approach has been the mainstay of academic and popular studies since Festinger’s 1954 article, The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Fewer studies acknowledge that this is what the term was coined to do, according to CIA Document #1035-960 which sought to quell criticisms of the Warren Commission into JFK’s death. Using the term “conspiracy theory” uncritically is simply repeating the Othering claims of epistemic and political hegemonies. While many conspiracy theories are irrational, plenty are not – Watergate being a clear example, but remember when only conspiracy theorists claimed that the US had drones in Syria and were tapping every communication?

On the other hand, it is unusual to see the point stated so bluntly: to quote Cassam, “Oliver believes what he does because that is the kind of thinker he is or, to put it more bluntly, because there is something wrong with how he thinks.” If there is something wrong with how Oliver thinks, then there’s something wrong with how most of us think. Figures show that belief in supernatural and paranormal phenomena remains high, higher indeed than rates of identification with more conventional religious traditions. Indeed, it is telling that the other examples of “bad thinking” riddled with “unsubstantiated speculation” given by Cassam (“the Moon landings were faked, that Diana, Princess of Wales, was murdered by MI6, and that the Ebola virus is an escaped bioweapon”) do not include the claim that a creator god who, despite being benevolent and omnipotent, nevertheless created suffering and condemned an aspect of himself to incarnation and brutal death. This claim too is surely unsubstantiated (at least by the standards which Cassam would accept), but is held by up to 80% of the US population. Is this bad thinking too? Or is Cassam not prepared to criticise those bad thinkers?

I would argue that such assumptions are, in fact, typical of much academic work, and not only in Religious Studies. We tell people who think and act “correctly” (ie, people like “us”) what the defects are which causes people to think and act “wrongly” (ie, “them”, “the Other”). For example, (and to appropriate Russell McCutcheon’s recent post) no one is writing articles explaining why “our” soldiers go off to shoot at people in other countries. But if someone wants to go and fight for another group, they must have been brainwashed, or radicalized due to deprivation, right? In other words, there must be a reason why they don’t think and act like “us”.

X, X Everywhere  - Folk categories Folk categories everywhere

“Oliver”, by the way, is the name of the conspiratorial thinker around whom Cassam bases his piece, and whose background and beliefs are elaborated as it progresses. The problem is that Oliver is completely fictional. We cannot adequately judge Cassam’s conclusions, as the only evidence presented has been invented for rhetorical purpose. Now, imagine this was an article about another marginal group, another Other: women, perhaps, or Jews. Meet Ruth. She’s a Jewish woman. Sex makes her anxious and she thinks The Hunger Games was overrated. It means nothing. I made her up. But when supposedly objective studies by serious scholars are based on invented evidence and uncritical assumptions, they can only perpetuate and reify cultural discourses which Other one group at the expense of another.

Cassem hits the nail on the head when he writes;

It is in the nature of many intellectual character traits that you don’t realise you have them, and so aren’t aware of the true extent to which your thinking is influenced by them. The gullible rarely believe they are gullible and the closed-minded don’t believe they are closed-minded. The only hope of overcoming self-ignorance in such cases is to accept that other people – your co-workers, your spouse, your friends – probably know your intellectual character better than you do. But even that won’t necessarily help. After all, it might be that refusing to listen to what other people say about you is one of your intellectual character traits. Some defects are incurable.

The Brethren in Scotland > The Religious Studies Project

A new interview by me at The Religious Studies Project – speaking to my friend the anthropologist Joseph Webster about the Brethren of Gardenstoun on the Aberdeenshire coast:

Anthropology “at home” – within our own culture, rather than that of some exotic Other – undermines many of the assumptions that the study of religion is based upon, and has the power to make “the strange familiar, and the familiar strange”.

Listen to the full interview at The Religious Studies Project.