God, I hope that these numbers
are wrong, because the results really depress me. The primary conspiracy theory that I consider viable -- hell, proven
-- is the JFK assassination. Yet only 51 percent of the populace accepts that Oswald was not the sole killer. (Frankly, I think he may have been down in the lunchroom during the shooting, just as he claimed.)
Fifty-one percent is a bare majority. Although the assassination remains the most widely believed conspiracy theory in America today, I am disturbed because previous polls had more robust numbers. In the mid-1990s, even after the release of Gerry Posner's horrible Case Closed
, a CBS poll declared that over 90 percent of the American public believed that a conspiracy killed the president. Hell, you can't get 90 percent of the citizenry to agree that up is up and down is down.
So why did the numbers dwindle? The answer, I think, has much to do with the exploding conspiratard subculture in the post-9/11 era. By acting and speaking in such a foolish and repugnant fashion, that subculture has brought discredit to anyone who challenges the Voice of the Authority, even when the challenge is valid.
Yes, the creatures inhabiting that subculture remain in the minority -- but it's a large
minority. And an ugly one. Examples:
21% of voters say a UFO crashed in Roswell, NM in 1947 and the US government covered it up. More Romney voters (27%) than Obama voters (16%) believe in a UFO coverup
- 28% of voters believe secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order. A plurality of Romney voters (38%) believe in the New World Order compared to 35% who don’t
- 28% of voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. 36% of Romney voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, 41% do not
I can't believe that so many people still accept the Roswell fable, even though any number of excellent articles and books have pointed out the problems. (Weirdly enough, one of the best skeptical works
was written by a guy named Kal Korff, who later went off the deep end
. You may recall what Nietzsche said about gazing into the abyss.) Oddly, only 29 percent of the populace thinks that aliens exist. Conclusion: Of the alien believers, the vast majority still accept the Roswell myth.
The "believes in aliens" number -- 29 percent -- leads me to suspect that the pollsters may have framed their questions sloppily. Of course aliens exist
: Somewhere in this incredibly vast universe filled with billions and billions of galaxies, there must be other life forms. Nearly every astronomer would agree with that proposition. Alien visitation
is a very different matter.
Can it be true that 28% of our fellow Americans believe in the John Birchian myth of the New World Order? Good lord. This nation's educational system really has
gone downhill. I feel pretty sure that, even in the 1980s, that question would have received a single-digit positive response rate.
Another 28% (or is it the same 28%?) believe that Saddam Hussein was the secret power lurking behind 9/11. Even though numerous teevee talking heads have tried to set the record straight -- and even after George W. Bush himself admitted on camera that Saddam had nothing to do with that event
-- nearly one third of the populace prefers to live in Dreamworld.
The larger point I'm trying to make here is that roughly one-quarter to one-third of the populace is a sucker for wackiness. The Alex Jones view of reality has taken hold of a disturbingly large sector of the body politic.
I believe that "the 28 percenters" have ruined things for the JFK research community. In the popular media, assassination investigators are routinely listed alongside the freakazoids who accept the "bombs-in-da-buildings" theory of the 9/11. The JFK guys suffer from miscategorization. The stink emitted by others now perfumes them.
I may get in trouble for saying this, but some stereotypes have a basis in reality: The conspiracy theorist subculture (the "28 percenters," as I have called them) is filled with repellent, paranoid, uncultured louts who have fewer social skills than a rabid dingo. I've seen what happens to young people who get mired in that subculture. They change physically -- they hunch their shoulders and squint their eyes. Remember the way Dubya would hunch and squint after the Iraq war went sour? That "trapped rat" look he would get on his face? Like that
The most distressing characteristic of the 28 percenters is their loquaciousness. These guys are incessant, brutal and pitiless. They talk talk talk talk talk talk TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK
!!! This violent ear-rape of anyone unfortunate enough to be standing nearby only injures their cause, yet they will not stop
. Their conviction that Powerful Forces seek to silence them only makes the verbal bombardment more intense, and they would rather slice off their own fingers than allow anyone else the luxury of a completed thought. That's why most people would rather spend a month on an island filled with killer shrews than spend five minutes in the presence of a conspiracy theorist.
Yeah, those shits have screwed the JFK community. Whenever the Alex Jonesians attempt to "solve" the JFK murder, the results are disastrous and dismaying. See, for example, here
I've come up with a simple way of separating the sheep from the goats when it comes to books and videos about November 22, 1963. You may not think that my method is fair, but I don't care. I ask: "What is the basic political stance of the author of this work? Would this person have voted
The assassination is a topic that belongs to liberals and traditional Democrats -- to people who have (more or less) voted the way I have voted over the decades. We liberals are not part of the hunch-and-squint crowd. We have standards of evidence. We like footnotes. We are willing to challenge our presumptions. We don't live lives of Total Paranoia; we have the ability to talk about normal
things. In conversation, we use our ears as well as our mouths.
Whenever libertarians, Alex Jonesians, the Birchers and their comrades get involved with the JFK question, they bring nothing but discredit to all the good work done previously. It's a classic case of guilt-by-association.
And I, for one, am sick of this situation. We must create a clear line of demarcation. The 28 percenters do not represent us. We