In which +Christopher Butler deals with conspiracy theories really quite superbly. Original thread :

His comment (shared with kind permission) :

I'm going to put this as kindly as I can: your brain has been hijacked by what might best be described as an aggressive virus of the mind.  And I understand this very well because to be really honest, I used to be very deep into to this kind of shit.

And it is very well polished, very rehearsed, very attractive mounds of obfuscating bullshit.

Consider this a kind of confession to the people who follow me on G+.  They may be a little surprised by this, but in much the same way that the testimony of an ex-holy roller/faith healer who finally sees reason can be illuminating, maybe this will help somebody understand why the conspiracy-bullshit paranoia is so hard to shake off once it takes hold of an otherwise sound mind.

Long story short(er): I was very into and excited by all things conspiracy, weird, paranormal, etc.  For years and years.  I read everything. I watched everything.  I talked to everyone. 

Skipping to the end...

 Back in the earlier days of podcasting, I had a short lived but popular little podcast called The Noosphere, and it dealt with aliens, UFOs, monsters, demons, conspiracy, etc.   We had pretty solid guests (people you've heard of in the 'conspiracy' genre) and despite it being a ridiculously long show (around 2 hours), people seemed to love it. 

You have no reason to believe me (because skepticism rightly dictates that if I make a claim, you're not really compelled to just take my word for it), but the truth is that I'm fairly confident that there is no 'new world order facts' or 'history' (including what you posted above) that I haven't encountered.  You've no obligation to believe it, but I've probably forgotten more of this Alex Jones/ Jim Marrs / "they're comin to get us!"  bullshit than you're ever going to know.

In other words, you're not going to "out-conspiracy-nut" me...or at least what I used to be.  *I have heard everything you can imagine.* Not a word of your above comment was new to me.  At all.  

  Talking to a lot of people who believe a lot of very strange things, I slowly developed a kind of model in my head that I called "The Conspiracy Pool" (or sometimes "the Paranormal Pool").  This Pool is fun to hang out in.  The people who hang out around the pool are surprisingly genial to everybody else at the pool...because if you're at the pool you feel like you have access to or awareness of some hidden agenda of the government/the universe/god/the devil/whatever that makes you special and makes you the underdog.  Its like a brotherhood. Everyone not at the pool is a muggle.  Its a marketplace of ideas and theories and interconnecting gobbledeegook.  I remember one guy claimed he was a dolphin/human hybrid, for fucks sake.  Its a blast and all seems very serious when you're in the pool.

But what it also does is slowly chip away at your critical thinking skills.  

The beginning of the end for me was talking to a geologist who insisted that there was evidence that there were nuclear weapons being used in ancient times.  This was a man with a doctorate in geophysics.  His evidence didn't make sense to me (I'm not a scientist, but I've been a very enthusiastic amateur my entire life and I'm more than a little informed when it comes to general science)  Who am I to argue with an expert in his field?

But it turns out he was dead fucking wrong.  I did the homework, and not a single thing he said did not have an infinitely better explanation than some high tech ancient society lobbing nukes at each other.  

So the choice was to believe that there was an elaborate conspiracy of science to mislead me...or this guy had a deeply felt conviction so strong that he allowed it influence his ability to use logic.  It was the latter, of course.  

  Here's the thing, man:  there are actual conspiracies.  History has shown that people conspire for nefarious ends.   People suck sometimes.  And a stopped clock is right twice a day.  Yes, Project Paperclip brought Nazis into the US after WWII.  The choice to do that is...arguable.  And should be debated.  On one hand, the Soviet Union...our political rival on the global stage...would almost certainly have snapped up the minds behind some really powerful technology. On the other hand...these people were part of a war machine that remains the gold standard for evil on Earth.  Its a hard subject. I still don't know what was right. But then...its a rung bell, anyway.  
  But what conspiracy theorists don't choose to understand is that its all too easy to take some uncovered truth like Project Paperclip or MKULTRA and allow their collective imaginations to spin ghosts and demons out of the shadows there.  Its easy for some fuckhead like Alex Jones to weave little bits of fuzzy data into a grand tapestry of demonic/illuminati/newworldorder panic (and I know that a lot of hardcore conspiracy people try and distance themselves from Jones...but it doesn't matter.  He's the Patron Saint of your particular religion.  That man is the fuckhead to end all fuckheads.) The world is forever ending.  The NWO is forever coming.  The demons are always just moments away from stealing your soul and your liberty and your guns.  We're forever almost there and then we'll be sorry for not listening to your words of wisdom.

  What it comes down to is this:  its easy to feel harder than we think.  But some things require thinking more than feeling.  

  There are mysteries in the world.  To be frank, I'm still fascinated by UFOs as a topic, but not to the point of making assertions without facts. And I think that a lot of what our government does sucks and is sometimes even suspicious as hell.  For all I know, there may even be people who think they control the world.  But even if they do, they don't.  Reality does not work that way. There is no demonic conspiracy that I need to fear. Aleister Crowley was just a perverse guy with money who wanted to bone women and pretend he was magical.  Jack Parsons too. Reagan was just a guy.  Obama is just a guy. Bush is just a guy.  Everybody you've ever heard of is just another human being like you and me. They can be very rich or very powerful and even draw up grand designs...but they're just flesh and bone and wisp of spirit for a few brief years.  In all my searching, I've never found any compelling reason to believe otherwise no matter how scary the monsters under the bed are reputed to be.  And if there are monsters and grand what?  What can I do but deal with reality as I find it? That's what Alex Jones-types always leave out: what the fuck do you expect to do about it, really?  Nothing.  Just talk and talk and talk and fear and panic and surly posts on the internet about how people are "sheep" (oh, the irony).  That's why all the bullshit conspiracy videos are just hosed down with dramatic, frightening music and scary graphics and edited like a Roland Emmerich movie.  Its theater. Its a big show.  Its fun to think you live in a scary, pre-apocalyptic horror story that you're gonna pew-pew-pew your way out of.  

If and when a monster emerges...I'll deal with it with as clear a head as I can manage.  If you swing your sword in the dark just because you're afraid , you're going to do more harm than good.  

But so far, the biggest monster I've found is the fear and paranoia we make for ourselves.

 Maybe there's boogiemen out there, maybe not.  

But I'm not going to live in terror of the dark like a fucking child because you copy/pasted quotes that you find scary.   
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