The term “conspiracy theory” is a conspiracy

This is in response to Jim MacKenzie’s letter concerning the illicit “Illuminati” insert that was placed in some copies of the Mountain Xpress weeks ago.

I do not condone the placing of these inserts in the Xpress without permission, and I did not see one. MacKenzie’s letter, however, elicits a response.

Whenever I see someone seriously using “conspiracy theorist” as a descriptive term, it reminds me of Pavlov’s dog. When a certain stimulus is experienced, the subject has a predictable response based on prior conditioning. We’ve been so conditioned to think “conspiracy theory” any time someone asserts that something unsavory has gone on behind closed doors; we’re like Pavlov’s dog without even realizing that such a reaction has been intentionally implanted.

The fact is that conspiracies are as common as the rain — they’re one of the most common charges brought by district attorneys. It’s only when we hear about conspiracies that come from the seats of power that the mental conditioning kicks in and we think “conspiracy theory.”

In this sense, our unconscious definition of conspiracy theory has a lot in common with what Joseph Goebbels called “The Big Lie.” He correctly observed that people will see through small lies, but if the lie is big enough, they will fail to believe that their leaders and authority figures would perpetrate such a lie. Hence the reason that it’s a lot easier to get away with a big lie. The common people will simply not believe that it’s a lie, and people who point out all the evidence of it being a big lie will be called “conspiracy theorists.” It’s an interesting case of mass psychology and mental conditioning.

As the best example in recent times, the objective evidence is overwhelming that the events of 9/11 were staged as a result of a very powerful and pervasive conspiracy. In the immediate aftermath, the big lie — that 9/11 was carried out by 19 crazed Muslim fanatics — was repeated over and over and over again so that the people came to believe it in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

So, for most people who are incapable of objectively examining that evidence, when they hear others talking about it, they automatically think “he’s a conspiracy theorist.” It’s a psychological mechanism for the protection of our existing belief system.

— Michael Ivey
Asheville

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