In the recent weeks following the tragedy of the Sandy Hook shooting, we have seen many different viewpoints expressed regarding the fiercely debated issue of US gun control. In particular, one of the most controversial and volatile interviews came from CNN’s Piers Morgan, who invited conservative conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to discuss gun control, and a petition to get Morgan deported from the US for attacking the 2nd Amendment.
The interview revealed some interesting insight into the types of conspiracy that Jones propagates. As one of the (self-proclaimed) founders of the 9/11 truth movement, Jones broadcasts a radio show syndicated to over 100 stations across the US, and boasts over a million and a half listeners. In his show and associated website, infowars.com, he discusses a vast array of theories ranging from governments tracking citizens with microchips and raw milk controversies, to Bin Laden’s faked assassination and more traditional 9/11 conspiracies.
Watching the interview, it demonstrated how often political and conspiracy ideology overlap, and it could be argued that conspiratorial ideas are a form of political process, especially from those who consider themselves alienated or deserted by the traditional political methods. Consider the ‘Birther’ movement that suggests Barack Obama was not born in the US and thus cannot legally assume the position of President. People unhappy with the original political outcome (the election) could feel exposed or betrayed, and thus turn to alternatives. This also helps to explain why a substantial amount of conspiracies have government at their heart, with their participation (or inaction) key to many of the world’s injustices.
In the fifteen minutes Jones has on air with Morgan, we see a perfect example of what psychologists have termed a ‘monological belief system’. This is the where an individual can build and maintain a view of the world that is ruled by conspiracies, they are seen everywhere and anywhere, and explain many of the surprising, uncontrollable, or deadly events that happen. As this system develops, people become closed-off and reluctant to believe in alternative explanations, spotting conspiracies in increasing amounts of events and situations.
This system has been demonstrated by research that suggests that belief in one particular conspiracy theory strongly predicts belief in others, even unrelated or contradictory ones. These views are not driven necessarily by theories supporting each other, but instead a general overarching belief that supports conspiracy in general.
With this belief, it is not necessarily the specifics of a conspiracy that are important (often in sensitive cases such as mass shootings conspiracists “just ask questions”), but the fact that the perpetrators are lying, covering up, or misleading the public. This motivation to uncover deception leads to performances such as Jones’, who in his interview mentions between 8 and 12 distinct conspiracies, not all overlapping. These include:
a. Megabanks either control the world already or are about to seize control in order to enact global tyranny
b. Loose theories around large media groups controlling what is revealed to the public, including the Bloomberg group /AP/Reuters
c. US Government plans to oppress the people once guns are removed
d. Prozac and other ‘Mass murder/suicide pills’ responsible for mass shootings
e. The UK as a police state
f. Morgan (and others at CNN) are ‘Hatchet men’ of the NWO
g. First person shooter style video games responsible for mass shootings
h. Most of the recent mass shootings are false flag events setup by government to control the population
i. More specific conspiracies surrounding Building 7 (WTC attacks)
j. “Criminal elements of the military-industry complex” responsible for 9/11
k. Other general false flag conspiracies through history including Gulf of Tonkin, Operation Gladio and the Reichstag fire.
American politics in particular suffers from a underlying amount of paranoia, and Mike in his recent article discussed how any mass shooting is politicised by default because of the thorny issue of gun control. The leap, however, in taking a set of tragic shocking circumstances, and maintaining that it was orchestrated for a more sinister purpose, is difficult for some to comprehend.