11" x 14" mixed media on canvas panel.
As many of you know, I stopped being a journalist in 2008. Why? I realized our society prefers to be entertained than informed. That's when I made my comparative religion studies a full-time pursuit instead of part-time research. Part of this included studying among conspiracy theorists to see how belief forms in the mind. In 2012, I spent nearly a year among UFO/alien believers, alternative history adherents & conspiracy theorists for research.
The common theme in all conspiracy theories is that what you are being told is not common knowledge.
This makes you special by proxy, part of a club that knows the "real truth." There will also be a mysterious "They" bent on world domination & conquest in some form. This "they" will also be said to hold beliefs that you personally find morally offensive, which is the point where your outrage will gloss over the serious cracks in the logic being presented.
Video is by far the most effective methodology to promote a conspiracy theory because images are chosen precisely to evoke emotion instead of critical thinking.
Most will also not ask why the video was made nor research the credibility of those involved with the project. None will ask themselves who will ultimately benefit from the video's release on the long-term.
As a political journalist, these were questions I asked about anything that crossed my desk before I passed it along to anyone. When you are involved with politics long enough, you come to understand that truth is hardly ever the goal with any leaked story. It's all about the spin & the chaos of the fallout. And frankly, a lot of people just love to watch a scandal unfold. It's entertaining.
Every conspiracy theorist I studied with mentioned a video that convinced them.
None of them asked those 3 questions I mentioned, though. By far, the most popular conspiracy theory I was told involved world domination by a select group of wealthy & a decrease in population size by various methods while using propaganda to fool us all. Who the wealthy people were depended solely on the primary political & religious beliefs of the person I interviewed.
2012 also marked the end of the Mayan Calendar, which is precisely why I chose that year to embark on these studies. There were a great many predictions made that year regarding what would happen on this planet - nearly the same amount as in the 1840s when large sectors of society became convinced Christ was about to return. This era is called "The Great Disappointment." It birthed many religions at the time such as the Seventh Day Adventists. I was curious about what belief structures 2012 would create. It seems to have created societies where people live entirely in bubbles of false reality that are simply immune to logic or facts.
The Internet has furthered this cognitive divide by cultivating
an atmosphere that rewards the lunatic fringe shouting the loudest
rather than listening to experts with actual information on any given topic.
Our 24-hour news networks added to this by creating media personalities to entertain you like Jerry Springer instead of informing you like Peter Jennings. We get to believe whatever we want with an assortment of videos & materials to back it up. And not one bit of it is helping us become better people, save our planet or each other. All it's doing is causing fights that keep escalating into violence.
So the gist of this is that not all information is created equal.
As a former journalist, I know that. Do you?
Light, Peace & Good Health on your paths.