Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Thoughts on why conspiracy theories exist

Here are some of my own thoughts on why we have conspiracy theories and conspiratorialists:

Have you noticed that in the past decade or two, the amount of real, hard and factual investigative reporting has decreased? I have. Most of the "news" we get now is what could be considered "fluff". The runaway bride, Natalie Holloway in Aruba, the Scott Peterson murder case, etc. All stories reported constantly, and at great length in the national news media as national news stories. In reality, most of these stories are nothing more than lurid local crime stories - nothing of any real legitimate national interest. It's essentially "supermarket tabloid journalism" being carried into the mainstream national media. For every story such as these that are being reported, that much less investigative reporting is being done. I'm sure a lot of people would like to know more about what is going on within our government, what sort of relationships exist between government and Big Business, how vast and extensive the corruption in our government really is - none of which is being reported by the major news outlets anymore. It's almost like they've been bought off, or intimidated into keeping quiet.

My point here is that in the absense of any serious investigative reporting, conspirancy theories and theorists have appeared to fill the vacuum. I don't believe that it's a coincidence that the amount of conspiracy theories have seemed to increase with the corresponding decrease in investigative reporting. It's my belief that the two are related. Of course it's always fun to speculate, and many theories are what could be considered "way out" and not worthy of serious consideration. But just because some theories fall into this category, I don't believe that all conspiracy theories should be written off. Many past theories (as mentioned in this blog) have been proven to be true and factual - too many to write off all conspiracy theories as the ravings of the mentally unbalanced. Indeed, it has been suggested that those officials and VIPs who discount all conspiracy theories and theorists do so deliberately to hide agendas - a conspiracy theory in itself.

In light of the fact that news outlets don't really report real news anymore, conspiratorialists fill a vacuum by helping stimulate debate and investigation on topics that major news outlets are paid to ignore and keep quiet about. No, not all conspiracy theories turn out to be true - in fact many are easy to legitimately debunk - but enough of them have turned out to be true not to discount them entirely. And in the absence of investigative reporting by those who call themselves journalists, it has been left (mostly by default) to the rest of us out here to try to find the truth as best we can on our own.

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