"Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the Field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organised, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it." Woodrow Wilson, The New Freedom (1913)
What is Conspiracy Theory?
"Conspire" from Latin literally means "breathe with" or "breathe together". A "conspiracy theory" attempts to explain the ultimate cause of an event or chain of events as a secret plot by a covert alliance.
If blockbuster books and movies are anything to go by, everyone loves a good conspiracy theory. Whether it is James Bond battling some secret group of mad scientists, or a secret arm of the CIA with its own agenda - conspiracy theories are the bread and butter of much entertainment. Yes Prime Minister anyone?
And why not? Isn't everyone is involved in a conspiracy at some time in their lives? Children conspire against parents and teachers; workers against bosses; and country against country - I would argue that it is part of human nature.
But given all this, the term “conspiracy theory” is still successfully used to ridicule or denigrate the credibility of anyone in the public eye who dares mention secret agendas, covert plots or sinister deals.
How prevalent is conspiracist sentiment in Australian society, and where does it most often surface - on the left or right, in churches or mosques, among new agers and environmentalists?
After 20 years of active communication with conspiracy thinkers of all variations, I can make the following observations:
The born again, fundamentalist Christian movement has the greatest number of conspiracy theorists. For them, at the heart of it all, is Satan. Most believe in international secret power groups conspiring (with Satan) to bring a world government, a cashless global currency, and a biochip implant aka Mark of the Beast.
A growing number of new agers are examining conspiracy theories dealing with history, science, and the paranormal. Nearly all the “new age channelers” include in their theories variations of evil non-physical entities with a hidden agenda to bring about a one-world government and more. Nearly all UFO believers accept the concept that someone in authority, somewhere, knows more about UFOs than we are being told, and that this is being covered up.
The UFO community tend to believe that such authority rests with groups and organisations “higher” up a chain of command than governments, and that there is an active conspiracy to keep information from the media and the public.
The bulk of environmentalists draw from the left wing and academic sections of society, where conspiracy theories are not generally entertained.
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