Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Conspiracy theories - harmless entertainment?
Conspiracy theories are generally considered to be far-fetched, sensationalist nonsense. They are seen as an outlet for those with unusual and some might say, crazed opinions on politics, science and dramatic world events such as the attacks of 9/11 or the environmental debate over global warming. Before the invention of the internet, such theories would have taken the form of gossip and probably only appealed to those with enquiring minds and wild imaginations, thus doing little damage and posing no threat to the opinion of society in general. The internet provides the world with the incredible ability to network, communicate and research an enormous range of topics, but is there a darker side?
With sophisticated graphics and convincing wording, anyone can create a website proposing a theory about any given subject and it is instantly available to anyone who wishes to read it. Although this is in most cases a valuable resource, it also provides fertile ground for the propogation of ridiculous opinions that lack any real evidence and have the potential to influence thousands of people. There is a rising fear that the extensive publication of such material is warping society's view of reality and convincing those who are perhaps vulnerable to such ideas that they are the truth, providing them with the authoritative opinion that they desperately seek.
There are many conspiracy theories surrounding issues in the Middle East and the reasons behind and causes of wars with the West. William Engdahl's recent theory on the agenda behind western war with the Middle East states that 'western wars are pre-planned' and contrived to carry out NATO's complete dominance of The Middle East, Russia and China by initiating various small conflicts, 'under the guise of the war on terror.' He claims that the CIA has constucted a force by recruiting Al Qaeda, creating the Taliban, providing a confrontable side for the allied forces so that they are able to carry out 'low-intensity warfare.' This, ultimately prolongs and accentuates 'the ongoing destabalisation that the West seeks.' Engdahl discusses the plans of 'resetting the culture' and 'a new government that has a Western perspective.'
It is of course wrong to directly impose western ideals on another culture, particularly through force. Intervention should only be carried out under the correct guidelines, without any hidden agenda. I think there are many who remain sceptical as to the intentions of the United States and British governments, regarding their entering Iraq and some previously questioned the existance of the elusive weapons of mass destruction.
I feel that it is right for us to form opinions and question political action and it is right that we should be allowed the freedom to express our questions appropriately. Has the freedom that we have been permitted gone a step too far? Is it right that websites full of conspiracy theories are so widely available and have the potential to attract scores of followers, forming opinion groups and provoking endless discussion?
It is quite terrifying that, through the capabilities of the internet, individuals' opinions, such as Engdahl, have the potential to hold such virtual power over the minds of others.