Maybe conspiracy theories aren’t just the ramblings of wackos but are purposeful, “the products of devious minds intent on deception.” Joseph at Cannonfire makes the case.
I’m going to propose a more radical possibility, one that goes beyond the utterly predictable pop sociology offered by armchair bloviators. There really is a conspiracy — and the conspiracy theorists are part of it.
Thus, conspiracy theories can be deliberate attempts by provocateurs to stir things up.
They can also be an early warning system that things are becoming unhinged and the center isn’t holding. A whole people of people now believe in all sorts of conspiracy theories. To me, this indicates a culture that no longer believes in its leaders and which has lost its way.
However, sometimes conspiracies turn out to be true. After all these decades we now learn that RFK and RFK Jr believe JFK was assassinated by more than one person and that organized crime was involved, opinions which used to be considered crazed.
But still, Cannonfire makes a solid point. Sandy Hook conspiracy rantings (“Obama staged it because he wants to take away our guns”) have an underlying political motive. That doesn’t necessarily mean these conspiracy theories were plotted by a central source. They could just as easily sprout all over like mushrooms after the rain then spread rapidly with no central planning required.
What the increasing numbers of often bizarre conspiracy theories tell us is that fewer and fewer people actually believe what the government says. This is often quite true, our government does lie to us, rather constantly too.
Authority is respected when authority is respectable. And when authority is respected, no one much cares about conspiracy theories.