A conclusion, sort of
I’m not sure that I have covered every conspiracy theory about the Christchurch Earthquake of September 14th; the fact that Christchurch is still suffering serious aftershocks is bound to lead to even more theories as to what was really the cause. Frankly, I think it was probably the cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers (CHUDs). They love to party, and they love to crank up the noise.
What I have found, looking at the conspiracy theories with sometimes jaundiced eyes, is just how easily the event (the Earthquake) was placed into an existing conspiracy theory dialectic/template. Do you believe in weather manipulation? If so, then the quake can be fitted into that story. Do you believe that dairy farming is evil? Guess what, dairy farmers were a cause of the earthquake? Are the gods out to get us? Sure; look at what happened on September 4th in Te Wai Pounamu.
I was a little surprised by the speed at which these theories have appeared, but I shouldn’t be. Vague theories spread quickly on the internet, and attributing a natural disaster to some fuzzy causal mechanism such as the LHC and its perpendicular gravity waves or the potential release of pressure on the local tectonic plates due to a change in the water table is just par for the course1. I should note that there don’t appear to be any original conspiracy theories for the quake (if we ignore the satirical take of Bob Parker, Jon Gadsby and the muffins2.). No new theses have been advanced for the cause of the quake; rather, existing conspiracy theories were able to accommodate the quake into their narratives with nary a pause for doubt.
Business as usual.
It has been a little draining to go through all of these theories, trying to make sense of why people would shout “Conspiracy” for something that seems, not just on the face of it, to be a natural disaster. Still, I shouldn’t complain. Despite the “hardship” of reading blogposts and forum comments, nothing compares to what the people of Christchurch are going through. They’ve been through (and are still going through) hell. The last thing they need are conspiracy theorists, who don’t know any better, claiming that the disaster was the result of this, or that, or even “them.”
The people of the Canterbury Plains should not have to deal with such conspiracy theorists. Not now, possibly not even at some point in the future. Whilst I don’t know that anyone will be making much capital out of these conspiracy theories (although Jonathan Eisen and “Uncensored” might well prove me wrong), if they do… Well, point them out to me.
One final thought. I started this series of posts with the disclaimer “Conspiracy theorists are just like us and any one of us could have been a conspiracy theorist.” I have, maybe, moved away from that assertion over the last few days. Even though my doctoral work doesn’t really indicate to me that conspiracy theorists are any more pathological in their inferential mechanisms than anyone else, reading all this stuff has made me go “Hey, maybe the psychologists are right after all…” I suspect this is just a symptom of spending too much time trying to make sense of what seems like a truly crazy proposition, claiming that a natural disaster was the result of a conspiracy. I can understand conspiracy theorising when it comes to events of political import, but earthquakes? No. That seems a tad bit of crazy too far.
If new theories come up, well, I shall cover them. For the moment I think nit’s time to take a rest from this “investigative journalism” and go back to focussing on finishing this PhD of mine. I do want to do write on the Chemtrails NZ people at some point in the future; the letters Will Ryan (he who called me one of the country’s top debunkers) has been sending to Nick Smith and John Key are worthy of note. One thing this series of posts has shown to me is that local conspiracy theories really could be my bread and butter post the submission of the dissertation. Between them and the Celtic New Zealand people, why look overseas for weird and wacky ideas to entertain, critique and do the fandango over?
And, of course, there is always Plan B; become moderately less poor than I am now by endorsing one of these theories and doing a lecture tour through small towns, playing to the kind of people who believe such things.
I probably jest.
Next time: Well, unless something new and interesting comes up, next time will be a pretty PDF (and maybe even an ePub) of all these posts, put together as one article. I might even try to submit it to darling old “Uncensored” to see if they would be willing to print something of a critical thinking perspective around conspiracy theories about the quake. Then again, I’m loath to legitimise Eisen and his crusade, so maybe I should submit it elsewhere. The Fortean Times, perhaps? Any other suggestions?