The internet is replete with “Alternative News” and “Alternative Facts.” In a TV and Print only world, there was already a lot of junk. The conspiratorial show about aliens, X-Files TV show aired at the perfect time to prime users of the internet for conspiracy and “Alternative News.” With Youtube now profligate and the History Channel highly sensational around ten years ago, it seems that many people were primed to go headlong down “rabbit holes.”
9/11 was another major impetus for men to go chasing rabbits. While 9/11 conspiracies are or were the most popular conspiracy theories out there, 9/11 material too, lead to other attractive rabbit holes.
There is a mushrooming effect that comes with many conspiracies. Those who consume one theory will likely be drawn into other theories where with there is a synergy.
As for the theorists themselves, the underground theorists, theorists who are only a few ticks away from the mainstream and just plain mainstream may take cues from all along the spectrum.
As time has passed, the conspiracy and alternative market has gotten bigger. Lots of money can be generated. The more outstanding and mainstream conspiracy proponents can get MSM coverage and even gigs.
On the other hand, there are tons of con-men and those who have had their brains on drugs wasting people’s time, money, energy and emotion. One of the widespread effects that conspiracy theories can create is alienation and divisiveness.
Governments have been interested in conspiracy theories for sometime. They sometimes create them. What comes to mind right now is that “Saddam Hussein has Weapons of Mass Destruction.” In other cases, as was the case with the after President Kennedy was killed, the government seeks to combat them. After the assassination, “conspiracy theory” became a four letter word for loon.
Very recently, a Cass Sunstein served in the Obama Administration from 2009-2012 as the head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The year before, in 2008, Sunstein co-authored a paper called “Conspiracy Theories.” The paper sought reasons why people believed in conspiract theories and advocated “cognitive infiltration” of conspiracy theory believing segments of the population. What was being advocated were methods to cause confusion and doubt amongst the conspiracy communities.
I am sure similar tactics can be used among other groups.
On the other hand, I am sure all sorts of groups have been coming up with conspiracy theories for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, there wouldn’t be conspiracy theories if there weren’t actual conspiracies.
Second, with the radical change computers and the internet has had on society, one major boost the internet can give the average man is pretty much unlimited information at his fingertips. Guiding the curious to chase phantoms in a partitioned playground/echo chamber is a form of information and population management. It’s a 21st century boob tube.
Almost everything to do with conspiracy theories, most especially fake ones can be a never ending wild goose chase where there is nothing that can be done about them in real life.
Some of the proponents of conspiracy theory become trusted and work hand in hand with the MSM. In my opinion, those guys work for the government apparatus.
Conspiracy theorists who have shows and sites offer ideologies. The ideology of a proprietor’s good job on a conspiracy will lead many to take up his ideology.
As many of these conspiracy guys all know each other and are networked, they can easily mobilize against a more honest group.
Many conspiracy theorists offer an alternative to other alternatives to Christianity and have outright hate for it.
The bottom line is that the way most of these conspiracy guys work, they too are the problem. A big trick they use, just like everyone else, is information curation. Whether you are reading a website or watching a video, to understand what is really going on in the world, it takes a lot of work.
Luckily, like I said, there is a ton of information on the internet. There have to be thousands of free books alone that are on PDF. Other sites catalog speeches and the like.
Yes there are conspiracies out there but knowing about them is only a small part of being able to affect political change.