Bringing paranoia to the digital masses
Excerpt, part 2 of 4: In a new book on conspiracy theories, Jonathan Kay explains how the Internets has become an echo chamber for fringe fearmongers.
The Internet has produced a radical democratization of the conspiracist marketplace of ideas. No longer does one have to spend years researching and writing a book to attract attention: One can simply set up a blog, or chime in on someone else’s, with some refinement of the existing collective lore. In fact, today’s conspiracists don’t even have to read books — they can pick up all their talking points from Truther websites, or, better yet, from Truther propaganda videos. Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism, Augustin Barruel’s 1798-99 classic conspiracist opus about the French Revolution, ran for thousands of pages, and took weeks to read. The Warren Commission report ran to 26 volumes. Watching the latest edition of Loose Change, on the other hand, takes about an hour and a half.
Part 1: The enduring influence of The Protocols of Zion
Photo: The re-assembled shell of TWA flight 800 inside a hangar at the National Transportation Safety Board training facility, July 16, 2008 in Ashburn, Virginia. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)