Crushing the Conspiracies

Crushing the Conspiracies

Dylan Brehm

Crushing the Conspiracies

You would think that, in the midst of the information age, false information and presumptions would have been crushed, long ago. However, more access to information also means more access to misinformation. 

We have all seen that one friend, or peer, post something on their story that is blatantly misinterpreting facts; but the danger truly begins when this “fact” becomes a theory, and then widespread belief. I have already talked about Fake Facts and their danger, but some have taken it a step further into Conspiracy Theories. 

Conspiracy theories have risen dramatically since the outbreak of COVID-19. The pandemic was sudden and overwhelming that many people wanted answers, outside of science, to comfort themselves. Additionally, the general craziness of 2020 has led people to believe theories that, otherwise, would not have been given any attention.

The three conspiracy theories that demonstrate the behavior of how these theories can spread are QAnon, the Matrix theory, and the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) in Alaska. They cover everything from political and moral beliefs to scientific and mathematical ideas. They also all share three common themes: Vilification, deception, and suppression.

The first theme carried by many, if-not-all, conspiracies is vilification. People who spread these theories do this by taking a topic that is sensitive, or important, to a group of people and say “They want to [insert evil claim/deed] us” or “They are [insert evil characteristic].” This gets certain groups of people even more energized and piques curiosity about these conspiracies since they were already sensitive to the issue before.

QAnon conspiracies do this by claiming politicians and economic elites are child-sacrificing Satanists. Theories such as these cause concern amongst mothers, as they typically have the maternal instinct to protect their children. Additionally, this conspiracy poses liberals and democrats as generally bad and conservatives as generally good, which makes these ideas more popular amongst some Republican voters.

The Matrix theory, or the idea we are living in a simulation, may not be directly tied to vilification, but it states that those who are running the simulation are cruel. Especially this year – when so much has gone wrong, along with the fact that much of it has been unjust – people who believe in this theory think that those who are controlling the simulation are evil for making them go through this pain.

The HAARP facility in Alaska also demonstrates this trait of vilification. People believe that the government is testing anything from mind control-to-climate change at this campus. Most of the belief is based, solely, on the fact that the complex looks creepy. Additionally, the complex name provides no peace. Subscribers to this conspiracy vilify the government as well as the compound and scientists.

The second theme shared by all conspiracies is deception. All conspiracy theorists believe that, at some level, people are being deceived or that they, themselves, are being deceived. This is typically phrased as “They are pulling the strings” or “This was all planned.” These phrases carry the idea that those who are in control cover-up their true intentions.

The QAnon theory is dependent on this. They believe that the media and the “rich and powerful elite” are covering up the story of this satanic cult. Additionally, they believe that these same people have been trying to get Trump out of the office for the sole fact he wants to expose them. They often call people who don’t agree with the “sheep” because they believe that they are following the lead of “liberal deception.”

While, yet again, the Matrix theory does not pin responsibility to one group of people in the current day or in “our reality,” the entire idea is that reality is a simulation and we are being deceived into thinking this is all real. 

The belief that the HAARP facility is responsible for countless environmental disasters, as well as a potential mind control testing site, is coupled with the cover-up. People see the craziness in our climate, and the craziness in our world as a whole, and don’t see the explanation for it. Some are more inclined to believe the explanation of a corrupt government and mad scientists than it simply being scientifically caused.

The last common theme is the suppression of these theories. This may be the truest part of any conspiracy because generally these ideas are suppressed and discouraged. However, not for the reasons, they believe. Most of the time these theories are suppressed and discouraged by others is because they are contradictory in nature or simply false and disproven. People who believe this may say “They don’t want you to know about this.”

QAnon followers believe this, totally. As mentioned, they believe the media and big tech is responsible for covering up and suppressing their beliefs. This is another reason it has taken such footing in America, as we pride ourselves on our independence and freedom. People who subscribe to this belief are often concerned about this aspect of our country being nothing more than a lie.

The Matrix theory does not state this idea, but in nature, those who follow this idea, believe this. One of my friends in middle school asked if I believed in this conspiracy. I said “No, it makes no sense” then they responded with “That’s exactly what the simulation would say.” While I do not think they believed in the idea, completely, it is something that is held as true in their community.

As is the case with QAnon, believers in the HAARP conspiracy theory claim the government is deceitful and suppressing the ideas that they hold. Additionally, they believe many scientific discoveries, as well as many environmental disasters, were all faked, and that HAARP caused them to happen.

These three themes and their existence within society can be described and explained by Philosophical Skepticism. This term was developed by the Greeks to represent people’s disbelief of reality. While this term does not pertain to conspiracies, it does fit them. The term specifically targets those who either deny all possibility of knowledge or those who advocate for the suspension of judgment due to the inadequacy of evidence. In Ancient times these people were great philosophers and thought-leaders who challenged the ideas set forth and refused to believe everything they were told. Today, these people refuse to listen to others and are quite ignorant.

While I firmly believe in researching information for yourself and holding some skepticism until it is proven, conspiracy theorists go too far. Without going into the specifics of each conspiracy, the idea of philosophical skepticism explains why people believe them. It states that some people, maybe even all, are naturally not wanting to follow every “commonly held” idea. It also helps disprove each one, as they each contradict each other yet hold onto the same general beliefs. I believe that Conspiracies are general Skepticism plus Bias.

In conclusion, QAnon, the Matrix theory, and the HAARP facility are all outlets for natural skeptics to release their contrarian ideas. No matter how opposite and different each theory is, they all hold three common themes, Vilification, Deception, and Suppression. I implore you to do your own research and find information from many sources. This is the only way to avoid conspiracy, as you take the bias out of skepticism.