January 12, 2021

The Problem with Conspiracy Theories: “Why are ‘Spiritualists’ quoting QAnon?”

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In 1726, Mary Tofts, a young woman in Surrey, England gave birth to a litter of rabbits.

Or so she claimed.

Her case became such a national sensation that a fascinated King George I sent his personal physician to examine her. They were followed by numerous doctors and scientists, some of whom were taken in by the ruse. The fledgling newspaper industry had a raucous field day that boosted their circulation. The fun ended when Mary’s husband was caught buying baby rabbits at the local market.

Although she confessed and was imprisoned for fraud, the ensuing scandal rocked England for the next year, and the medical profession was ruthlessly mocked in the press.

In the end, it can be seen as a good, harmless diversion. No government fell, nobody was murdered, and the nation was not divided into two warring camps.

Everyone—no matter how intelligent—is susceptible to goofy beliefs.

I had a friend who once lectured me that he had evidence proving that former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice was actually an alien space lizard and that the only reason we invaded Iraq in 2003 was to gain control of an inter-dimensional portal located in the center of Baghdad. I listened politely, while thinking that he was stark raving crazy. I didn’t, however, notify the FBI or Homeland Security because I knew him to be a peaceful soul who would never act on his beliefs—no matter how bizarre.

During the past year, I came across several New Age “channels” that had their own questionable forecasts to share. I wasn’t bothered, aside from some private eye-rolling, to learn that the ancient Lemurians are currently living in an underground city underneath California’s Mount Shasta or that alien spaceships are hiding in specially designed clouds. While the former struck me as daft, I’ve seen enough definite UFOs to consider the latter. Again, I saw no danger in these proclamations, especially since the vast membership of these so-called psychics was made up of educated women.

There was a red flag, however, when one of these spiritualists posted on Facebook (where else?) that Donald Trump was, in fact, a “massive, powerful lightworker” sent by “higher entities” to dismantle the deceitful, manipulating systems of government: media and Hollywood.

They further “channeled” that Trump has come to expose the vast network of satanic sex-enslavers involving members of the above institutions.

It took me some time to realize that this person was quoting QAnon—the far-right, racist, and Jew-hating conspiracy cult. They even referred to the “Elite Media Cabal,” which has always been a code phrase for the “International Jewish Conspiracy.” I soon discovered other supposed mediums in the same vein.

They posted this on Facebook where their thousands of fans answered with cooing posts of gratitude and appreciation; there was a distinct cult-like aura in their failure to discern and to blindly believe a fantasy with potentially lethal implications.

There is currently on Facebook a page called “Lightworkers for Trump” that includes the usual lies and misinformation one would expect from the MAGA crowd.

It doesn’t take a higher entity to realize that Donald Trump would more likely participate in a satanic sex cult than protest against one and that his dismantling of our health care infrastructure has helped murder over 375,000 American citizens who were stricken with COVID-19.

Trump has indeed been an engine of destruction, but not to uplift the human race for which he displays an unmistakable contempt.

Again, I doubt if any of this soothsayer’s followers stormed the Capital on that fatal January 6, 2021 afternoon, but others did. Suddenly, the American people woke up and realized that many of their fellow citizens are obsessed with beliefs that have morphed from eccentric to dangerous.

If you believe that Hillary Clinton, Oprah, and Tom Hanks are part of a sinister Hollywood cabal who murders children and drinks their blood, then you would consider it your moral duty to prevent such an atrocity, violently if necessary.

In a free society, we’re all entitled to believe what we want.

According to the First Amendment of the Constitution, we Americans enjoy Freedom of Speech—which is a blessing in a world where so many are denied that privilege. But, that privilege entails responsibility, one that goes beyond the proverbial yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.

When that speech veers into conspiracy theories that label a murderous pandemic as a hoax; when a sitting president in a democracy refuses to recognize the results of a free and fair election; and when such theories endorse the ethnic cleansing of an entire race, then that freedom becomes an excuse for oppression.

During these fretful times, it might be a relief if a young woman claimed to give birth to a litter of rabbits; then, everyone, whatever their politics, could unite together, engage in a good, relieving belly-laugh, and regain a measure of sanity.


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