How come so many Christians fall for conspiracy theories?

 

Progressive Christian blogger Joe Forrest has a great piece up on Medium about conspiracy theories, that begins with the story of how he convinced his sixth grade class that the moon landing was faked. He rounds up plenty of thoughtful links, quotes, and observations about these dangerous beliefs in general, but also how they seduce and appeal to those who worship Jesus.

Maybe it’s because, from a young age, many of us were taught the “scientific establishment” was out to destroy our belief in the Bible.

Or maybe so many of us were convinced by the Left Behind books that a satanic one-world government was on the horizon, it just makes sense we need to be as vigilant as possible right now.

Or maybe because we’ve already been conditioned by our own belief system that there exists a hidden spiritual reality that making the leap to a hidden “shadow government” reality isn’t all that big of a deal.

And it’s important to note that a lot of Christians share conspiracy theories out of good faith. They believe they’re “exposing the truth.” But most conspiracy theories are rotten at the core. It’s obvious they’re rooted in fear, insecurity, and loneliness. And they’re often designed to give us more reasons to loathe our ideological enemies.

Forrest's faith is clearly one of radical empathy, not of evangelical self-persecution, which gives him a unique perspective. He's clearly familiar with all kinds of Christian life, and writes with that audience in mind. Read the rest

Pentagon releases UFO footage

Pentagon confirms that the guy from Blink-182 was right about UFOs. Unless he's a patsy.

Why 5G doesn't cause Covid-19

People in Britain are burning down cellphone masts in a panicky reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, goaded by online trolls and ignorant TV presenters telling them that radio waves, especially at frequences used by 5G, might carry the virus.

As futile as it may be, Science Man Dan explains in a few minutes why 5G cannot carry viruses, and is as demonstrably safe as all other low-frequency radio waves floating about.

BONUS: the underlying rage here is at cellphones and social media and news and the scraping hollowness of life mediated by technology. Read the rest

American conspiracy theorists keep insisting on their right to trial by combat

Some American conspiracy theorists believe (incorrectly) that the US inherited the entire body of English common-law prior to the American Revolution, including the law allowing litigants to demand trial by combat (this law was struck down in England in 1819). Read the rest

Podcast: Why do people believe the Earth is flat?

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my Globe and Mail column, Why do people believe the Earth is flat?, which connects the rise of conspiratorial thinking to the rise in actual conspiracies, in which increasingly concentrated industries are able to come up with collective lobbying positions that result in everything from crashing 737s to toxic baby-bottle liners to the opioid epidemic. Read the rest

Why do people believe the Earth is flat?

I have an op-ed in today's Globe and Mail, "Why do people believe the Earth is flat?" wherein I connect the rise of conspiratorial thinking to the rise in actual conspiracies, in which increasingly concentrated industries are able to come up with collective lobbying positions that result in everything from crashing 737s to toxic baby-bottle liners to the opioid epidemic. Read the rest

Birds Aren't Real

Birds Aren't Real is an amusing parody of conspiracy grift merch, which is to say it is a site where you can buy t-shirts and other things emblazoned with a bespoke conspiracy theory that Birds Aren't Real (they are, of course, government surveillance drones).

All across this wretched country there are leaders, those that have chosen to lead. To impart the knowledge of this travesty to every man, woman, and child. They will not rest, and can't (even if they wanted to) as there are drones on top of their house making loud noises. This bird nightmare makes the Illuminati and JFK conspiracies look like a toddler playing in the Burger King Play Place.

The Audubon Society reports that the site was "hatched" by a 20-year-old student.

Sounds extreme but also somewhat fitting, given the landscape of today's social discourse. By surfacing murky bits of history and the ubiquity of Aves, Birds Aren’t Real feeds into this era of post-truth politics. The campaign relies on internet-fueled guerilla marketing to spread its message, manifesting through real-world posters and Photoshopped propaganda tagged with the “Birds Aren’t Real” slogan.

For much of its devoted fanbase, Birds Aren’t Real is a respite from America’s political divide—a joke so preposterous both conservatives and liberals can laugh at it. But for a few followers, this movement is no more unbelievable than QAnon, a right-wing conspiracy theory turned marketing ploy that holds that someone with high-level government clearance is planting coded tips in the news. Therein lies the genius of Birds Aren’t Real: It’s a digital breadcrumb trail that leads to a website that leads to a shop full of ready-to-buy merchandise.

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If you think Jeffrey Epstein was murdered because no prison would treat an inmate that negligently...

Ken "Popehat" White (previously) has expanded on his excellent Twitter thread about Jeffrey Epstein's suicide in jail, and just how (shamefully) normal it is for prisoners to die in custody due to indifference, overwork, malfeasance and sadism on the part of prison authorities. Read the rest

Survey finds high levels of harassment in multiplayer games, as well as white supremacist recruiting attempts

The ADL surveyed 1,045 US adult gamers (oversampling Jewish, Muslim, African American and Hispanic/Latinx individuals) and asked them about their experiences in multiplayer games: on the one hand, they found that playing these social games brought many benefits: friendship, support, fun, connection and romance; on the other hand, they found that a very high proportion of gamers experienced harassment of varying kinds, that many players had quit games because of harassment, and that some games were home to much more harassment than others. Read the rest

"Fake News is an Oracle": how the falsehoods we believe reveal the truth about our fears and aspirations

For many years, I've been arguing that while science fiction can't predict the future, it can reveal important truths about the present: the stories writers tell reveal their hopes and fears about technology, while the stories that gain currency in our discourse and our media markets tell us about our latent societal aspirations and anxieties. In Fake News is an Oracle, my latest Locus Magazine column, I use this tool to think about the rise of conspiratorial thinking and ask what it says about our world. Read the rest

Meatless burgers are Satan's work

Rick Wiles, host of the racist and anti-semitic "Christian" media outlet TruNews, reveals that meatless burgers are “plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products, is part of a satanic plot to alter human DNA so that people can no longer worship God.” Listen up:

When you go to your favorite fast food restaurant, you are going to be eating a fake hamburger. You’re going to go to the grocery store and buy a pound of fake hamburger or a fake steak, and you won’t know that it was grown in some big corporation’s laboratory. This is the nightmare world that they are taking us into. They’re changing God’s creation. Why? Because they want to be God....

God is an environmentalist. He takes this very seriously. He created this planet, he created the universe and he’s watching these Luciferians destroy this planet, destroy the animal kingdom, destroy the plant kingdom, change human DNA. Why? They want to change human DNA so that you can’t be born again. That’s where they’re going with this, to change the DNA of humans so it will be impossible for a human to be born again. They want to create a race of soulless creatures on this planet.

(Patheos via Daily Grail)

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Roswell UFO crash site sold to new owner

In 1947, an extraterrestrial spacecraft and its crew (or a weather balloon, or a nuclear test surveillance device) crashed on a ranch about 75 miles north of Roswell, New Mexico. That 78 acre property has just changed hands for the first time since the early 1950s when it was purchased by the Bogle family. Dinwiddie Cattle Co. now holds the deed on the legendary site and the still-standing shed where the crash debris was held until the Air Force retrieved it all. From the Roswell Daily Record:

Without a strong personal interest in the UFO connection at this time, (new property owner Tommy) Dinwiddie said he can’t say for sure whether the crash-site property will be made available to the public.

“I just don’t know a whole lot about it,” Dinwiddie said. “The guy who is running the ranch over there for me knows quite a bit about it, and after we kind of get our feet on the ground running it, we will do some more talking about it and figuring out what we want to do.”

The Bogle family hosted tours of the site during the most recent UFO Festival in July, marking the first time that the group provided visitor access during its 66 years of ownership of the land. Prior to that, only researchers or documentary makers were given permission to be on the property.

"Site of alleged 1947 UFO crash changes hands" (via The Anomalist)

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Campbell Soup Co. fires exec who tweeted racist Soros #MigrantCaravan conspiracy

M'm! M'm! Good! Tweeting conspiracy theories about George Soros is bad for your career. Just ask Campbell's Soup Company former vice president of government affairs, Kelly Johnston. Read the rest

Qanon "codes" are consistent with an English-speaker mashing a QWERTY keyboard

Qanon (previously) is an eye-wateringly stupid far-right conspiracy theory whose proponents spend hours trying to decode alleged ciphertexts created by the cult's leader or leaders. Read the rest

Anonymous declares war on Qanon

Qanon is a person or group behind an unhinged right-wing conspiracy theory that is really too stupid to elucidate (you can listen to this Reply All if you're really interested); it's a kind of trumpian Pizzagate successor that includes great, unhealthy lashings of secret Democratic pedophile rings (because far-right assholes are more worried about imaginary children in nonexistent pizzeria basements than they are actual children in ICE cages). Read the rest

Alex Jones claims Robert Mueller is a pedophile, fantasizes about killing him

The bottom is falling out on the right, which is to say that there is no bottom there. The weapon—unsubstantiated accusations of pedophilia and fig-leaved fantasies of violence—is crude. But it works for their audience, and justifies whatever happens next.

Jones took on a particularly insidious tone during his Monday show, accusing Mueller of violent child sex acts before dramatizing a hypothetical "wild west" shootout with Mueller, a Republican appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to lead the Russia investigation in May 2017. ...

"It's going to happen, we're going to walk out in the square, politically, at high noon, and he's going to find out whether he makes a move, man make the move first, and then it's going to happen," Jones said as he pantomimed shooting at Mueller.

"It's not a joke. It's not a game. It's the real world. Politically. You're going to get it, or I'm going to die trying, bitch. Get ready. We're going to bang heads," Jones continued, pretending to fire a gun at Mueller.

Zuckerberg's vacuous blather about the good faith of holocaust deniers, waffling from Facebook's executives about InfoWars itself, and the growing impression of ideological fellow travelers atop Twitter (or at least a paralyzing fear of the right there) has made conservative provocateurs think that the bar for survival on social media is lower than they thought. So they're stepping over it and going to town. Read the rest

RFK Jr. calls for a new investigation into his father's assassination

Robert F Kennedy Jr. is calling for a new investigation into the 1968 assassination of his presidential candidate father.

"I didn't feel it was something I could dismiss," said RFK Jr. who recently met with Sirhan and looked over his father's autopsy report. "I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father."

Sirhan Sirhan is serving a life sentence for the murder that he confessed to but claims to not remember.

From CBS News:

On the night of June 5, 1968, Kennedy was celebrating his victory in California's Democratic presidential primary. As he was leaving, he was shot three times...

Sirhan was standing in front of Kennedy at the time of the shooting, but an autopsy report found Kennedy was shot at point blank range from behind. Over the years new evidence reportedly shows as many as 13 shots were fired that night.

But Sirhan's gun held only eight bullets. That's one reason why many now question Sirhan's guilt – including Robert Kennedy Jr.

"There were too many bullets. You can't fire 13 shots out of an eight-shot gun," RFK Jr told the Post.

Read the rest

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