Why We Are More Likely to Believe Conspiracy Theories After Tragedy. ~ Kimberly Lo

Via Kimberly Lo
on Apr 30, 2013
get elephant's newsletter

arctic northern lights

It seemed that no sooner had the Boston Marathon bombings occurred that the conspiracy theorists started to come out of the woodwork.

Hours after the incident, the internet was abuzz with rumors that this had been a government-planned conspiracy. Indeed, Alex Jones, who in the past has accused the government of staging the Sandy Hook tragedy, asked Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick, if was a “false flag” to which Patrick answered, “No. Next question.” On an anecdotal note, I have noticed while scrolling through my Facebook feed, that a fair number of people I know are claiming that this is a conspiracy

It used to be that the conspiracy theorists were by and large dismissed as crackpots. However, thanks to the internet and social media, many of them, if not quite being taken seriously, are at least getting more support than they have in the past. (The fact that Alex Jones was even able to ask his question and get an answer shows this.) Why is this, though? Why are people so quick to believe these things even when, time after time, their theories are debunked?

While I do not espouse that one takes everything any government says as the Gospel, I also feel that logic and proof should take precedence. However, those that believe or want to believe that the government is the Boston bombings, Sandy Hook and 9/11 will not be dissuaded. (If you are looking for evidence of this, then simply Google any of the above and “conspiracy.”)

The question as to why people believe these things is hard to pin down, and there is no single explanation. However, I believe it may have something to do with the uncertain times that we live in. As hard as it may be for some people to swallow, conspiracy theories provide a certain level of comfort to some.

When tragedies like 9/11, Sandy Hook and the Boston Marathon bombings occur, the reasons behind it are often complex and baffling. One thing that comes up time and again from friends and acquaintances of suspects is how they never thought they were capable of such a thing. “He seemed like such a normal guy” is a phrase that is often repeated.

There is also the inevitable question as to whether such an event could have been prevented: if only I had paid more attention, if only I had listened more to what he was saying, etc. For some, it may be more comforting to think that the faceless government is the one that planned it than someone they knew or could have known. At the very least, it makes it easier to focus on an enemy that most people do not like. Also, if it is the government, then it takes away the “what if?” questions. Anyone who has watched enough spy movies know that would-be informers are always done away with or locked away so no one can ever hear them.

Despite the fact that my usual motto is, “Believe what you will,” conspiracy theorists irritate me.

It’s about time that many of these theorists are either ignored altogether by legitimate news sources or at least asked to provide concrete evidence to back up their claims if they are going to appear on serious news sites. Many people appear to confuse freedom of speech with the right to being heard by a wide audience. Alex Jones and others are free to post their theories online or in a newsletter, but that does not mean that the mainstream media has a duty to report it.

While no one would ever wish for tragedies like these to occur, one of the few silver linings is that people often come together to support each other. The Boston bombing is no exception.

However, conspiracy theories cause even deeper divisions in this already-divided nation of ours and increase fear and paranoia. They can also be harmful. Antisemitic  conspiracy theories like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion which originated in the late 19th century and claimed that the world was being run by a group of Jewish bankers was used as propaganda by Hitler even though it had been proven to be  a hoax years before.

The time and energy spent ranting about the  government is behind the murder of its citizens in order to take away personal liberties, guns, or whatever they claim could be better well-spent on learning about the true motivates behind the attacks and better still, how to prevent them. Ironically, they often give the perpetrators of such attacks exactly what they want when they set about planning these things. While the irony may be lost on them, it should not be lost on us.






Like Enlightened Society on Facebook.

Ed: Brianna Bemel



About Kimberly Lo

Kimberly Lo is a yoga instructor and freelance editor & writer based in Charlottesville, VA. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework, travel, and photography. Connect with her on Facebook.


7 Responses to “Why We Are More Likely to Believe Conspiracy Theories After Tragedy. ~ Kimberly Lo”

  1. Another Whacko says:

    Alex Jones was not in Boston during that press conference. It was an infowars ‘reporter’ who asked the question.
    The reason why people think that the government might be involved in violence on it’s own citizens in order to promote various agendas, is that the government has routinely dine such things in the past.
    Alex Jones is a kook, a fearmonger and a number of other unflattering things. . . However, being suspicious of the government that has used every tragedy of the past 20 years to increase surveillance of it’s own people, is actually quite sane.
    People like Alex Jones, or David Icke, very successfully make those who question the mainstream accounts of events easily dismissed as conspiracy theorists.
    Your article lacks depth. You clearly have not looked into what it means to question official narratives. If you had you would realize that Alex Jones is one big strawman designed to make everyone who can think and process information look like a rabid clown.
    I don’t know what happened in Boston, but I do know that it will lead to more federal legislation that will further infringe on the rights of ordinary people. And it will certainly distract from the coming attach on Syria, which will slide right by.
    Conspiracy or opportunism? Does it even matter?
    We live in a doublespeak world where Obama gets a peace prize. But people who question the motivation of governments are the delusional ones.

  2. kimberly lo says:

    You wrote: "Your article lacks depth. You clearly have not looked into what it means to question official narratives. If you had you would realize that Alex Jones is one big strawman designed to make everyone who can think and process information look like a rabid clown. "

    Actually, I have done my research. If you read the article, I even said that one should not take what any govt says as the Gospel.

    Do I think our government is perfect or always tells us the truth? No, I do not.

    However, the claims that this is "false flag" has no basis in any proof or logic. You talk about strawmen arguments, but pointing out that the government engages in a number of questionable and wrong things gives no proof whatsoever that Boston was a government conspiracy.

  3. daninicole says:

    This article is not good. The official story has zero, yup null, basis in logic or proof.

    Regardless of if it is or is not a conspiracy job, the overall point of this was what exactly?

  4. kimberly lo says:

    The overall point was about why some people are more likely to believe conspiracy theories. Do a Google search or visit any social media site. I was exploring why that may be the case.

    As far as the official story has no basis in logic or proof, it certainly seems far more logical that some young people embrace extremism and then go on to commit terrorist acts then somehow the government is all behind this without any shred of viable evidence whatsoever.

  5. kimberly lo says:

    If I have learned anything since Boston and reading the comments here, it is that some people simply will also say "we'll never know what happened in Boston" simply because they don't want to do so. The facts so far support the idea that these two young men-one now deceased-were radicalized and planned these attacks. The fact that any government could take a tragic even and use it as an excuse to take away individual rights does not prove that this was a government plot.

    To all those who keep saying that this is designed to take away rights, what new law or legislation post-Boston has done so or proposed so? Even the so-called "lock down" was voluntary and one could argue, it made sense to ask people to stay inside while the manhunt was underway as these two suspects had already been accused of at least 4 deaths.

    I know that some right-wingers claimed Sandy Hook was a hoax to take away guns from "honest patriots" but what would Boston serve? To take away bombs and bomb-making materials from "honest patriots"? Also, WHY target these two (mostly) American-raised guys as most Americans could not find Chechnya on a map?

  6. Asma says:

    This article is a breath of fresh air from all the scatter brained hoopla that goes on the Internet about every single subject, from government conspiracy to nutritional therapy to the FDA. I am so sick of hearing one fear mongering after another that some government organization is always figuring out to take our rights away (guns), to “poisoning” us and giving us autism. Give it a rest! We need MORE articles like this to call out the bullshit all over the Internet infiltrating minds one by one like dominoes. We need to make critical reading mandatory once again.

  7. Barbara says:

    "I don't know what happened in Boston…." Well, I do. Two guys exploded two homemade IEDs. They may or may not have had help. It is fine to distrust the government, and yes, when these things happen, forces that want increased surveillance will take advantage of the situation. That always happens, people are opportunistic. It does not mean the situation was manufactured in order to increase the government's hand. Keeping an open mind and a vigilant eye toward government, corporate, or other motives does not mean we have to take a straightforward incident of civil mayhem and shroud it in "I don't know what happened." That sort of false equivalency is disingenuous. We don't need to stand facts and speculation on similar footing. People who are worried about the government or other groups would do more good if they did the hard work of following the money trails in government and business, and disentangling the self serving legal verbiage that is put into place to control us. Those people don't need to set up a Newtown or a Boston to control us; they are doing fine by controlling us while we forward cat videos and watch American Idol. The central idea of Kim's article is true. People prefer conspiracy theories because they are easier to believe in than the more uncomfortable truth that things are happening around us every day that are much more complex and dire than we want to imagine.