My Boing Boing post on Haarp and Haiti has gotten more attention than anything I’ve ever published on the Internet. Hugo Chavez is the latest proponent of the “tectonic weapon” theory of the Haitian earthquake; yesterday I appeared as a talking head on Russia Today to comment on the issue.
A couple of years ago Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule published an academic paper on Conspiracy Theories. Sunstein was a professor at The University of Chicago and Vermeule taught at Harvard Law School at the time, but now that Sunstein is an official in the Obama administration (he heads up the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a department of the Office of Management and Budget) its prescriptions for ways that governments can attempt to correct or control “harmful” theories via “cognitive infiltration” of the groups that promote them has received a lot of critical scrutiny in the conspiracy community. I plan to write a detailed post on both the paper and the controversy soon, but I bring it up now because one of the explanations it offers for why conspiracy theories gain traction seems especially germane to the situation in Haiti:
Whenever a bad event has occurred, rumors and speculation are inevitable. Most people are not able to know, on the basis of personal or direct knowledge, why an airplane crashed, or why a leader was assassinated, or why a terrorist attack succeeded. In the aftermath of such an event, numerous speculations will be offered, and some of them will likely point to some kind of conspiracy. To some people, those speculations will seem plausible, perhaps because they provide a suitable outlet for outrage and blame, perhaps because the speculation fits well with other deeply rooted beliefs that they hold. Terrible events produce outrage, and when people are outraged, they are all the more likely to attribute those events to intentional action.
Given the US’s shameful colonialist record in the Caribbean, Latin America, and South America, it’s not surprising that people would look to it as the author of this latest catastrophe. Assigning the blame to HAARP, the New World Order, or the US government has the added benefit of exculpating God.
PS Still more on Boing Boing. Click here for string about Hugo Chavez.
PPS Blather.net has the RT clip on their website; click here to see me on TV.