Putting my conspiracy theorist hat on for a moment (lined not with tinfoil but velvet; got to keep comfortable), the problem isn’t that the videos are about conspiracy theories per se (because not every conspiracy theory is false or irrational to believe; I really ought to plug my books here…) but, as you say, the videos are not just slick, but there are so many of them. It turns out that unwarranted fear-mongering means you can pump out countless videos without ever having to rely on pesky things like fact-checking or reading past the abstract of an academic article. People like Natalie Wynn or hbomberguy, who end up fisking the kind of material which is increasingly popular on YouTube – alt right race science, climate change denial, Jordan Peterson etc – produce far fewer videos because it just takes them more pre-production time to get to grips with the arguments. But if all you’re interested in is alarming people on the basis of a hazy understanding of the science, then you can slickly produce several videos a week, thus saturating the market with woo.
In deference to Limbaugh (a sentence fragment I never expected to have to write) it is not as if false flags never happen: to name but a few there was the Gleiwitz Incident in 1939, Operation Embarrass in 1946, and Operation Sussanah in 1954 (the failure of which lead to the Lavon Affair, which attempted to cover up the false flag). But false flags events tend to happen in response to some kind of conflict, or perceived conflict. And there’s the rub: people like Limbaugh – who can’t stomach the idea the terrorist action in Otautahi might be motivated by the kind of rhetoric Limbaugh helps disseminate – tend to think there is a culture war going on, and they are on the losing side.
I think conspiracy theories have been with us for a while now, and some research indicates there are actually fewer conspiracy theories now than there were fifty or sixty years ago,” Dentith said. “Rather, I think they are easier to find because of the Internet. In the old days, if you wanted to write about a particular conspiracy theory, you had to write a book or a magazine article, and then wait months and months to get feedback on your theory. Now, you can post your conspiracy theory online, and it can be picked up or critiqued almost immediately. So, it can look like they are really popular [now] , but what we might be seeing is that it is just easier to find conspiracy theories than ever before.
[M]y standard response here is that I am more interested in talking about the theory of conspiracy theory, I don’t want people to think that I am pre-judging my conclusions by saying I believe x or y. But yes, the shortcut to that is historical events which were the result of conspiracy, such as the Gulf of Tonkin, the assassination of Julius Caesar, the Moscow Show Trials, the Watergate affair, and depending on how you want to define things, the ‘dodgy dossier’ motivation for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – all seem to be clear cases of cover up and collusion that led to events which were pejoratively labelled as conspiracy theories by people in power at the time, but turned out to be warranted on the evidence nonetheless. So in that particular respect, there are a whole bunch of historical conspiracy theories that I am quite willing to say, yes those things really were beliefs that resulted from conspiracies.
Dr Dentith, a conspiracy theories researcher for the University of Bucharest, said the jump in popularity for the big business conspiracy theory reflected a 10-year trend of growing suspicion in big companies.
“No matter what you believe about the how and why of the (9/11 attacks) on New York and Washington, D.C., it’s a conspiracy theory,” Dr. M R.X. Dentith, a philosopher who lives in New Zealand and has written a book titled “The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories,” tells Florida Weekly in an interview conducted via email. “For example, if you accept the official theory, that’s a theory about a bunch of plotters who acted in secret to commit a terrorist attack. That is a theory about a conspiracy. It just happens to be one that is well-accepted.”
He says this is a problem because it leads to the “I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but…” school of thinking. “It seems we’re just not very good at applying standards to all of our beliefs.” He cites otherwise first-class scientists who believe in intelligent design, people not wanting to offend others’ cultural practices such as in the Janet Moses case, and sceptics who become rigidly dogmatic in their positions.
The Press, D2-3, June 27th, 2009
An academic conspiracy, Te Waha Nui, August 31st, 2007
Conspiracy! The Press, February 11th, 2006
Thinking Critically, The University of Auckland News, Volume 35, Issue 9, November, 2005
RADIO AND PODCASTS
Real Politik with James Tracy interview
Radio New Zealand interview with Kathryn Ryan
Showtunes on 95bFM with Mohamed Hassan
Weekend Variety interview with Graeme Hill on RadioLive
Interview with Duncan Garner (starts about twelve minutes in) – 3:55pm, 19/12/2012, Radio Live
The last (for 2012) bFM segment – 8:15am, 20/12/2012, 95bFM
Interview with Mike Hoskings (starts about four minutes in) – 7:15am, 21/12/2012, NewsTalk ZB
Irish Side of the Moon – Talking about the case of Pernilla Hagberg and her revelations about Sweden’s role in the dissemination of Chemtrails with Michael Leddy
Irish Side of the Moon – Talking about my PhD work with Michael Leddy, 2011
Am fost fascinat să aflu de conspirația Soros în România | Interviu cu cercetătorul Matthew Dentith (English, with Romanian transcript)
Media Take interview, 2014
Media 3 “Interview with Russell Brown on Conspiracy Theories” – 11:30pm, 8/5/2013, TV3
Firstline – 21st of December, 2012
Media 3 “2012 Doomsday Conspiracy Theories” – 10:25am, 22/12/2012, TV3
TVNZ Breakfast – 6th of May, 2011
The Wonderful World of Thinking for Yourself! (from “Media 7”, Episode 12, Series 5, 2010)
Media 7 Special on Conspiracy Theories (Episode 14, Series 3, 2008)