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March 29, 2011

Dissecting Political Paranoia

I’m just throwing pebbles in the pond, and over time it starts making bigger and bigger waves.” ~Alex Jones

This week, author Joe Hagan published a focal piece on Alex Jones in New York Magazine, entitled, "A Strange Man Is Following You". The profile essentially rips apart Jones (as well as Jones' alleged enemy, Peter Joseph, maker of the Zeitgeist Films), his fan base, and all "the wilds of political conspiracy".  Although Alex Jones is relatively coarse with his delivery, is frequently overly dramatic, and often goes into tangents on certain issues, he also presents a line of investigative journalism and critique that we need in America and around the world.  He presents issues and opinions that, although unpopular with the mainstream, still tend to focus attention on previously undisclosed hypotheses worth exploring.  So while it is true that I do not "embrace the full Jones package" (or even listen to his show), I support the alternative news and political analysis perpetuated by the man and appreciate his efforts. 

My biggest issues with the NY Mag piece is that it reflects reality - many people are all too eager to dismiss propositions like those proposed by Mr. Jones as "conspiracy theories," an unfortunate moniker that encompasses a whole genre of political scrutiny and investigation.  Once labeled with the "conspiracy theory" stigma, an idea immediately loses credibility with the majority of individuals, and people who entertain such theories are viewed as paranoid.  People are so eager to maintain the comfort of their viewpoints, that any conflicting information, despite the appeals to reason and rationale, are quickly dismissed.     

Regardless of mainstream media's views on political conspiracies,  I will continue with my crippled epistemologies to public trust and the political system, as discussed by legal scholar and member of the Obama Administration, Cass Sunstein.  At one point in the New York Mag article, on the topic of Sunstein's view of the informational cascades which legitimize "conspiracy theories," it states, "[i]n this way, false information, augmented by fancy editing and music and narrated with authority, can travel fast, taking on greater and greater credibility the more it is linked to and e-mailed and posted by like-minded and trusted sources."  I ask, can't the same thing be said about mainstream news media and the stories that set forth as fact?

It is worth noting that we at FugginSuggin.com are not "conspiracy theorists." Rather, we ask questions, follow reason and causal connections, and search for truth.  There is a difference between blindly accepting hypothesis as fact, and allowing yourself to consider a theory and apply scientific method to further examine the position.  Today, our mainstream media, the "Fourth Branch of the Government", merely accepts authority as fact without independent and objective investigation.  By doing so, they manipulate their customers and do an injustice to their creed.  There should be no such thing as journalism without objectivity.

And Alex, we support the cause, but take it easy, stop yelling so much and posturing for the camera, and seriously, if you go to Fox News, most of us will be done with you. 

"In extreme cases, they [conspiracy theories] create or fuel violence. If government can dispel such theories, it should do so." ~ Cass Sunstein, Harvard Law professor whom President Obama appointed as his “regulatory czar” in 2009, and co-author of "Conspiracy Theories".

Please dispel such theories.