Currently in my life I work to pay my bills as a carpenter. I work for a high end custom home company that specializes in earthquake proof residential construction. We are one of the only companies in the country with this speciality working on the seventh project of its kind in the US and the third in the Pacific Northwest. Prior to being a carpenter I worked in a bronze foundry that cast and installed a large portion of the WWII Veterans Memorial. Before that I worked in industrial cleaning specializing in historic buildings and difficult access buildings. We employed the most environmentally friendly processes available and worked from ropes dangling high in the air over vast city scapes; Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati and others.
“Why” you may ask “are you telling us this?”
Because in one way or another, in all of these jobs I got to be one of the guys behind the yellow tape. That caution tape that says “Do Not Cross” and seems to hold vast crowds of onlookers psychologically at bay. I like being on the inside. Or at least that is one way of thinking about it. I kind of like it. and there are plenty of people like me, those who want to be on the inside looking out at all those who are not willing to cross the line, however ephemeral that line may be, because there is a perceived safety on “their” side.
That, in my perception, is at the very root of the construction of a conspiracy theory: The desire to be on the inside of something that other people are fascinated by. To perceive oneself as part of the elite, the informed, the empowered. One of the strongest elements of a conspiracy is empowerment, either feeling it or feeling its loss. Universally there is an element of elitism to a conspiracy, those in power controlling our lives, or our minds through information and distraction. Well, that much is true. That is a large part of what governments and the entertainment industry do.
Governments pass laws, we hope for the betterment of life in general and the protection of the people. They tax us to pay for the enactment of those laws. We the people feel the loss of freedom through the enforcement of those laws and the loss of those monies when we too often do not see the positive effect of its expenditure, and too often see the waste that would appear to be inherent in the system. We feel the loss of personal control over our lives.
Movies, and television and the internet exist (or seem to) to distract us, to sell us something through advertisement both overtly and indirectly. They often do this by showing how much better some other person’s life has become by having or using the product being advertised. One thing that has been universal to the entertainment industry for as long as entertainment has existed is there are always those who believe its sole effect and purpose it so distract from the essential activities of life, and only serves to render those caught up in that distraction to be useless.
This argument is put forward about the internet and video games, but it did not start there. Television was once the culprit, before that Rock and Roll was destroying our culture, before that Jazz empowered the African American community to rise up in revolution. According to the Nazis swing music empowered the Jews. Radio threatened our minds, and has been employed as a tool in that way in the cold war of the last century. The list does not stop there. Trace back through history any cultural or technological revolution and you will not have to look too hard to find similar objections.
What can we do to regain our feeling of control? The first step is to choose someone to blame. Government is the obvious answer, but the propagation of information has so detracted from our faith in government that most of us no longer believe any of our governments are capable of governing let alone running a larger conspiracy, so we look for a larger source, those behind the government. Envy of wealth imbues it with power, because the wealthy live lives we working stiffs believe we do not understand. Because the wealthy can effectively do what they like, why should we not believe they exercise that power over us? From there, is it any wonder that with the popularity of Alien encounters in our popular entertainment that Aliens would become woven into the fabric of conspiracies? Whoever the shadow powers of conspiracy theory may be they are always derived from whatever cultural or counter cultural influences there are upon our lives.
So how do you build a conspiracy theory? Even if it just happens to be the way your mind works, rather than a considered plan to generate such for the attention it gains you, there are some universals.
Here are the six elements:
To begin: choose an Event
1. Appeal to precedent
2. Ruling elite
3. Disturbing question
4. Dedicated group of truth-seekers
5. Expert endorsement
6. Suggestion of imminent threat
Ironically, there are some very strong parallels to one of the supposed perpetrators and purveyors of conspiracy, the advertising industry. Fight Fire with Fire I guess.
“The most effective advertisements of all are those with little or no rational content.”
Les Binet/Peter Field
1. Attention Grabbing
From the above, here is where the Disturbing Question, and Suggestion of imminent threat come in.
2. Trust Development
Here is where you employ your Dedicated group of truth-seekers and often unnamed Expert endorsement.
3. Positive Associations
Appeal to precedent, if they believe it happened once then why not again?
4. The Desire Hook
This I discussed above, the desire to be on the inside, the Dedicated group of truth-seekers. You want to know what they know.
5. Action Motivator
Again employs the Disturbing Question. Fight or Flight, fear is a natural motivator in most people.
Does this prove that advertising is a tool of conspirators, or a tool of theorists? Right there is one of the beauties of Conspiracy Theory, it is totally reflexive. Any criticism of the theory makes you part of the conspiracy, or one of those blinded who do not believe. I
Here is a little experiment I found online, Create Your own Conspiracy theory:
Are you kidding me? [ event ] was a total sham! Think about it! Everyone knows that [ appeal to precedent ]. And have you noticed that [ ruling elite ] has started to act very strangely? They obviously don’t want this story getting out. I mean, what would happen if people began asking [ disturbing question ]? Well, they may be able to fool the sheeple, but the members of [ dedicated group of truth-seekers ] aren’t swallowing their story. Look, don’t take it from me; [ expert endorsement ] is convinced as well. But we have to act fast, because [ suggestion of imminent threat ]. I just wanted you to be aware of this, in case I disappear.
Or here is another you can try
Build your own conspiracy
See how much your invented Conspiracy resembles those that are in the media and often appear in these pages and maybe question if those are any more valid, and feel free to post it to the comments below.