Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Rise of Conspiracy Culture

This is probably going to anger a few of you out there...

A strange thing is taking place in modern American culture. What used to be considered opposing fringe beliefs are now becoming one mainstream subculture. Grand theories of UFO's, Illuminati conspiracies, and Apocalyptic Christian visions of our doom are are combining into a giant stew brought on by the rise of our information society. Nothing appears to be too outlandish, or beyond belief, no matter how unusual or wild it sounds.

The Perfect Media to Spread the Meme

A culture has developed, seeking to profit from the linking of all these theories into one great Conspiracy Subculture. Whether these myths and legends are propagated for political reasons, or simply to sell the latest book, conspiracies are for sale. It is sold to the masses who yearn for something unusual or different, or who need to believe in something other than the little slice of the world they have been given. The public loves gossip, and that is exactly what much of it is.

There are real conspiracies in this world, that is true, but most of these are overshadowed by the craziness. For example, much is made of shadowy organizations like the "Illuminati", shaping our world, but very little thought is put into the real organizations or corporations who, in the name of profit, have designed the very world and lifestyle most of us live. It is easy to talk about a conspiracy to make us all slaves, when by some accounts, we already fit the definition. Nor does this wild conspiracy talk threaten the existing industrial/economic structure, which is the true law of the land, politics simply being the entertainment division.

The rise of this culture has culminated in a strange mixing of these beliefs into something that almost resembles a pseudo religion, which is starting to be ingrained in mainstream culture. You are more likely to find someone that believes in a UFO conspiracy, a Magic Bullet, or a Satanic plot to enslave us all, than someone who does not these days. Part of this observed effect is the passing on of these wild theories from one generation to the next, and amplifying it with the instant media culture found on the Internet. Our mass media culture starves for sensationalistic and unusual content. The Internet, 24 hour news, and Radio Talk shows are the perfect media to spread these viral views, as no opposing viewpoints are normally presented. A general lack of skepticism prevails according to which cultural filter the media is directed from.

Undermining Science and Education

This subculture has the potential to undermine true efforts to understand what is truly going on in our world. It is quickly reaching the point where true scientific knowledge is being lumped into this new subculture. This can be seen with the ongoing arguments against evolution vs Christian Creationists, or with subjects such as climate change. We are seeing right wing fears of Secret Societies and Apocalypse, blending with belief the paranormal, and the end result is a degradation of true education and scientific knowledge.

Anyone or anything that does not fit the accepted norm has the potential to be lumped into this fringe; in this case, healthy skepticism appears to be the casualty. Viral Ideas and Memes are at play in our culture beyond what has ever been seen before in human culture, all amplified by the continual evolution of our information technology and media.

Don't get me wrong, If you are into this sort of thing I hold nothing against you. I like a good conspiracy or UFO story as much as anyone else, but we are quickly reaching reaching some sort of tipping point and it is starting to affect our cultural history and collective beliefs. How this will affect the world 50 years from now is anyone's guess. (unless you are a 2012'er in which case you probably believe we will all be dead anyway).

Some of the content of this blog smacks of this conspiracy culture, but I try to ground it in somewhat of a scientific background. It is mostly just creepy, dark, or strange. I avoid the truly outlandish or unproveable stuff.

Maybe it is all just a big conspiracy to discredit all of us freaks and mutants...

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