Exclusively Online | Spring 2020 Issue

A Lighter Look — “Believe It Or Not”

Rick Meyer's regularly appearing column takes a lighter look at politics and public affairs around the world. This month: Believe It or Not

By Richard E. Meyer

The Earth is flat. It’s a disc, and NASA is suppressing the fact. Sure, and communists are hiding under bus benches.

A New World Order, run by the Illuminati, controls governments, businesses and the media. Partners include the Federal Reserve, the Trilateral Commission, the United Nations and Bohemian Grove. Headquarters are in an underground city beneath the Denver airport. Indeed, and Elvis is the mayor.

Emperor Nero faked his own death and plotted to regain the throne. Hitler survived World War II and fled to Spain, or maybe it was Argentina. Paul McCartney died in a car crash and was succeeded by a look-alike. Melania Trump has been replaced by a body double.

Believe it or not, these are among conspiracy theories that many people accept. Several are funny: Be careful walking along the edge of the world. And that city under the Denver airport – imagine what it’s like when an Airbus 380 lands.

Then there’s the theory about Coca-Cola: The company made New Coke deliberately grody to drive up demand for the original. President Donald Keough could hardly keep a straight face. “The truth is,” he said, “we are not that dumb, and we are not that smart.”

Many of these theories are simply wacky: We didn’t land on the moon; NASA staged the moon walks in a film studio. NASA also is keeping a planet, Nibiru, a secret, because it will destroy the Earth. And the government is lying about contrails from high-flying aircraft; they are secret chemicals, biological agents or toxic metals that can change the weather and manipulate psychology.

Some conspiracy theories have been promoted by candidates: Barack Obama’s presidency wasn’t legitimate because he was not born in the United States. He is a Muslim who fronts for the wealthy elite, and his administration arranged the attacks on a diplomatic compound and its CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, which killed an ambassador and three other Americans.

Indeed, some theories of treachery are endorsed by President Donald Trump: Obama and Joe Biden are part of a conspiracy to undermine him by investigating the hoax that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Treason, Trump calls it. It was the Ukraine, not Russia, that hacked Democratic emails and made Hillary Clinton look bad – the same Ukraine where Biden protected a company that had his son on its board of directors.

Some conspiracy theories are scary: A clandestine “deep state” of intelligence agencies, armed forces, secret police and entrenched bureaucrats controls the U.S. government, impeding the policies of elected officials and imposing purposes of its own. (A 2017 ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that 48% of Americans believed this.) Meanwhile, FEMA is building concentration camps to prepare for martial law and genocide.

A number of lunatic theories are cruel: There was no Holocaust. Or Armenian genocide. On 9/11, the Twin Towers were dynamited, and the Pentagon was hit by a missile, both at the hands of the U.S. government, to justify invading Iraq and Afghanistan. The shooting massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school was staged by actors. The truth: Millions died in all these events, including children, whose memory deserves no such disrespect.

Nor does the widower and family of a staff member who died in TV host Joe Scarborough’s district office when he was a congressman. The president tweeted a conspiracy theory asking whether Scarborough, his frequent critic, might have gotten “away with murder.” The truth: A coroner said the woman died in a fall caused by a heart condition.

And finally, Mr. President, the physician you found so impressive, Stella Immanuel, is wrong: 1) hydroxychloroquine does not cure COVID-19; 2) medical treatments do not use alien DNA; and 3) infertility and sexually transmitted diseases are not caused by intercourse with demons.

Many conspiracy theories are dangerous: Vaccinations cause autism. Result: Increased infections from deadly diseases. Global warming is a lie. Result: Oceans are encroaching on continents. Democrats were running a child-abuse ring out of a Washington pizzeria. Result: A would-be rescuer shot up the place.

No, QAnon. The world is not run by devil-worshiping pedophiles conspiring against the president.

Experts say there is a reason why conspiracy theories have such traction. Adam Enders and Joseph Uscinski, professors at the University of Louisville and the University of Miami respectively, have written that such theories “are tools for imposing structure on an unpredictable and unforgiving world.”

So be nice to that funny looking little guy out on your front porch. He says he’s lost and wants to go home. Please tell him how to get to Area 51.



The Last Laugh:

“It’s like every time you think to yourself, ‘The world can’t get any more f**ked up,’ the world says, ‘Hold my beer.’ ” – Tony Daro, comedian.

Richard E. Meyer

Richard E. Meyer

Meyer is the senior editor of Blueprint. He has been a White House correspondent and national news features writer for the Associated Press and a roving national correspondent and editor of long-form narratives at the Los Angeles Times.

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