Tag Archives: conspiracy theory

McCarthyism and the Anti-vaccination Movement. What?

10 Feb

real enemiesA conspiracy of circumstances (how appropriate) lead me to the topic for this post. This week, I’ll be teaching undergraduates about the Second Red Scare in the United States. I’ve also been reading about the recent Disneyland Measles Outbreak in the United States. How are the two connected? Please, bear with me on this.

As part of my prep for classes, I’ve been re-reading Kathy Olmsted’s marvellous 2009 book Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War 1 to 9/11. Olmsted persuasively traces the rise of conspiracy theory and mistrust in the US government. The twentieth century, Olmsted argues, saw a turn from a belief that alien enemies were out to destroy the Republic to a belief that the government itself was the main conspirator.[1]

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Confronting the Conspiratorial II: Return of the Conspirator!

22 May

These research trips do not half reduce the time available for pithy, insightful commentary of a blogular nature. Hopefully once I get back to the UK next week, things should get back to the usual weekly schedule.

By way of saying something, rather than nothing, I was forwarded a rather bizarre link by my friend John Anderson (paramedic and international relations bod – now there’s a combination for you.) The link in question is to a forum/website that puts forward one of the nuttiest conspiracy theories I’ve yet come across (something that I’ve discussed before.) Given that most of said theories are pretty nutty, you have to be really reaching to raise more than a quizzical eyebrow. This one, however, really raises the bar: nuclear weapons are a con. A fake. A big lie. Huh?

I’m in two minds whether or not this is actually a genuine belief held by at least some of the people posting on the forum or it is all part of a knowing jab at conspiracy theory in general. Like all such things, you have to wonder. I think invoking a variation of Poe’s law would be appropriate here: “Without a winking smiley or some other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of a conspiracy theory that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.” Out there on the internet, it’s often hard to tell who’s kidding and who isn’t.

Edit: the person who runs the above linked site may also be a holocaust denier. I’m surmising this based on some of the other pages he/she runs. I must admit to, at the moment, being unwilling to delve too deeply into those sites for fear I may find myself in a filthy sewer. They may also be completely batshit, if you’ll pardon the langauge. I suspect that Poe’s Law may not, in fact, need deployment in this instance.

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