Newsweek: Conspiracy Theories "A Clear and Present Danger"

Newsweek052314

The cover of the May 23, 2014 Newsweek magazine warns readers, “Conspiracy Theories Are a Clear and Present Danger.” The cover story, by Kurt Eichenwald, is titled, “The Plots to Destroy America.” [1]

The “experts” are called in. The amusing ravings of the tin-foil-hat crowd have in recent years crossed a threshold, they say. Our old friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) weigh in: The conspiracy theories are completely distorting “rational” discussion, says Mark Potok of SPLC. [1]

The “conspiracy theories” are multiplying. “We seem to have crossed a threshold,” observes Professor Eric Oliver of the University of Chicago. [1]

The conspiracy theorists use an insidious technique: they ask questions. One Karen Douglas, co-editor of the British Journal of Social Psychology, notices how this asking of questions is “quite a powerful rhetorical tool.” Just by asking questions, the conspiracy theorists insert doubt into the official narrative. [1]

The conspiracy theories originate with “fringe groups” suggests Newsweek. From there, these ideas acquire a life of their own. Before you know it, even the respectable people have become infected. “It literally is as if it was contagious,” says one Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law School. [1]

Sadly, this “disease” of conspiracy theories is uncorrectable for some people. One solution offered by Cass Sunstein is “cognitive infiltration” of the conspiracy tribes, with government agents infiltrating chat rooms, newsgroups such as alt.conspiracy, and the like. The government agents would seek out and destroy the “dangerous theories” via contrary information. [1]

But Cass Sunstein was formerly the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. “Aha!” decided the conspiracy theorists. “This is itself a conspiracy!” [1]

Newsweek warns readers that the conspiracy theories “can’t be corrected, they can’t be killed.” Even Newsweek itself may be accused of conspiracy just for their cover story, warn the “experts.” [1]

(J’accuse.)

So now Newsweek has joined the fun. Remember the idea of “Conspiracy Theory As Play,” broached in yesterday’s entry of Ersjdamoo’s Blog. “The players can be investigators, members of various conspiracy groups (like the Bilderbergers, the Illuminati, etc.), or someone marginally intersecting (or stumbling upon) a conspiracy. The game manager is not passive but can intervene, for example by introducing new elements.”

Since now Newsweek is “J’accused”, it has joined the fun as one of the “game managers.” As one of the game managers, Newsweek has introduced some new elements: the regular players have “crossed a threshold”; asking questions is suspicious; government “cognitive infiltration” of the conspiracy tribes has begun.

And a new player has joined the game: Dr. Kevin Barrett, a mysterious Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, inserts a counter-narrative to the “disease” concept of conspiracy theorism earlier introduced by player Cass Sunstein. Dr. Barrett says questioning, for example, the official version of 9/11, and constructing an alternative explanation, is a sign of psychological health! [2]

“People who doubt the mainstream media’s version of 9/11 are not deluded. Quite the opposite: They are notable for ‘individuation,’ a term coined by Carl Jung which he defined as: ‘The better and more complete fulfillment of the collective qualities of the human being.'” [2]

So just when you thought you were a crazy conspiracy theorist, now it seems you are not insane but quite the opposite: hypersane.

This past year, a new player, Jesse Walker, has joined in by adding his own elements to “the game which never ends, because you can’t defeat them.” (You can only soldier on, struggling to reveal one more layer of the conspiracy, while staying one small step ahead of those who would destroy (or co-opt) you.) Walker’s book, The United States of Paranoia, adds intriguing new pieces to the puzzle. The game manager (if Walker is a game manager) is not passive but can intervene, for example by introducing new elements. Game manager or player, Walker has uncovered how the 1896 campaign of William Jennings Bryan may have been a “cunningly devised and powerfully organized cabal”, controlled by an anarchist secret society. Walker himself doubts this is true, yet nonetheless has given us this new information. Stalwart players thank him for this, even while remaining suspicious.

——- Sources ——-
[1] “The Plots to Destroy America”, by Kurt Eichenwald. Newsweek, May 15, 2014. http://www.newsweek.com/2014/05/23/plots-destroy-america-251123.html
[2] “New study: We’re all ‘conspiracy theorists’ now”, by Dr. Kevin Barrett. Press TV (Iran), May 18, 2014. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/05/17/363020/new-study-were-all-conspiracy-theorists-now/

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About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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3 Responses to Newsweek: Conspiracy Theories "A Clear and Present Danger"

  1. Pingback: Theorizing About the Theories | Ersjdamoo's Blog

  2. Pingback: Interview With the Assassin | Ersjdamoo's Blog

  3. Pingback: Major Gaffe Unchallenged About September 1939 | Ersjdamoo's Blog

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