- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
Thursday, Sep. 27, 2001 at 4:09 AM
Conspiracy theories make the world seem safer
Monday, 24 September, 2001, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
Why we need conspiracy theories
By BBC News Online's Charlotte Parsons
The moon landing was faked, Princess Diana was murdered and JFK was the victim of an elaborate CIA assassination plot.
When major historic events shake our world, conspiracy theories are seldom far behind.
The US terror attacks are no exception. The dust had barely settled on New York before the cloaks and daggers came out.
Less than two weeks after the disaster, BBC News Online found itself inundated with e-mails seeking confirmation of the various theories now circling the globe.
Hundreds of them cite a web page that lambasted the CNN for stirring up anti-Arab sentiment by running "fake footage" of Palestinians cheering over the attacks on the US.
If you think it's a rogue person or an unsophisticated group you start worrying about your daily life
Psychology Professor Cary Cooper
The news network is accused of digging out 10-year-old images of celebrations that followed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and passing them off as Palestinian displays of anti-Americanism.
The allegations can be traced back to a message posted on Chicago Indymedia's website.
"Think for a moment about the impact of such images," the text urges visitors. "This kind of broadcast has a very high possibility of causing waves of anger and rage against the Palestinians."
Another popular theory holds that the Israelis working in the World Trade Center left the building shortly before the attacks. In a similar vein, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is said to have cancelled a visit that would have placed him in New York on 11 September.
The implication: The terror attacks were a trick designed to turn world opinion against Israel's Muslim enemies.
The theories are unsourced, unfounded and untrue. But they are spreading fast.
This begs the question: Where do conspiracy theories come from? What is it in human nature that drives us to create alternative worlds peopled by shadowy figures?
Are we paranoid, delusional or just plain bored?
According to Psychology Professor Cary Cooper we are trying to stave off fear of random violence and unpredictable death.
"They do that because they can't come to terms with the fact that it could be just a few people," said Professor Cooper, who lectures at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
"If you think it's a rogue person or an unsophisticated group you start worrying about your daily life. If this can happen, what sense of security can you have?"
We create alternate realities because we reject the world where a single madman can bring down a president, a reckless driver can snuff out a princess... and a few men with knives can terrorise a country.
The internet helps the theories grow and spread. An estimated 36,000 Princess Diana conspiracy web sites were created after her death.
Professor Cooper predicts that, in the weeks ahead, US terror attack theories will expand and become attributed to an ever larger group of culprits.
"We simply can't believe a small number of people could be behind it," he says, adding that a similar ripple effect followed the John F Kennedy shooting.
Conspiracy theories are not unique to Western culture. Experts say they have operated in many societies throughout history.
On a certain psychological level, we appear to need them.
Giving misery and injustice an identity makes life more bearable, according to Jeffrey Bale, who writes for an online magazine that examines the phenomenon.
"Conspiracy theories account for current crises and upheavals and explain why bad things are happening to good people or vice versa," he said.
Report this post as:
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 4 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
||Thursday, Sep. 27, 2001 at 1:19 PM
|a tiny truth
||Thursday, Sep. 27, 2001 at 3:08 PM
|Yes, but ...
||Thursday, Sep. 27, 2001 at 3:44 PM
|Important Point, But Underdeveloped
||Paul H. Rosenberg
||Thursday, Sep. 27, 2001 at 6:59 PM
Woolsey Fire: Worst News of 2018?
Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development
Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development
OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Presents Night for Hope
Marshall Tuck’s racist dog whistle
Marshall Tuck’s ethnocentrism contradicts Californian values
Debunking Some Anti-Prop 10 Propaganda
Why Should California Choose De Leon Over Feinstein?
Change Links September 2018 posted
More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre
Site Outage Friday
Change Links August 2018
Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land
More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke
Change Links 2018 July posted
More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena
"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena
Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles
More Local News...
Paraphysique du burnout post-démocratique
911 : establishment terror
Actor Patrick Kilpatrick Discusses and Signs his New Book Dying for Living
The Attack of Corporations and the Rich on the Rest of Society
VAN ATTACK HOAX
Mobile Royale Hack Online Generator - Get Unlimited Crystals
Unification, séparation et fragmentation
FAKE NEWS POR SOROS
Chemtrails and Prince
Wages For Housework
A Mistake: Jesse Jackson-Toyota deal-in Lexington -Ky is .8 billion over 10 years 2018
If Trump Declares a AantionalEmergency, He'll Be Breaking the Law
Jesse Jackson's Sneak Attck on Toyota Lexington Ky and it's workers 2018
Video: Chris Herdges in Eugene, 1 hr 24 min
Judge Delays Ruling on Puerto Rico Debt Deal White House Opposes Island's Food Assistance
Paraphysique de proxémie guerrière
DEAD MAN LIVING
More Breaking News...