Yesterday in our nation’s capital was a planned rally in support of people who were connected to the insurrection event of January 6, 2021 and are currently being investigated by federal authorities. Apparently the attendance was far less than expected on the part of organizers and Capitol police. As part of the news coverage, a person was interviewed about their presence and what they hoped for as an outcome. The person essentially denied there had been any unrest on January 6th that people were just entering a public building (the US Capital) and now were being persecuted and prosecuted unjustly. When shown film of the event, the storming of the building, the assaulting of police officers, the reaction was that it was just government propaganda. When it was further explained that social media was filled with clips, taken by those storming the building, and posted online – that too was waved away as a government plot. Apart from it being a very sad state of current affairs, it is also an ever present state of affairs. Did we really land on the moon? I mean…. Have you ever met someone who stepped foot on the moon?
Apollo 11 moon landing? Really? Wasn’t it just a $30 billion government swindle? William Kaysing, scion of the moon landing naysayers “believed the astronauts had been removed from the command capsule moments before takeoff, flown to Nevada, where, a few days later, they broadcast the moon walk from the desert. People claimed to have seen Armstrong walking through a hotel lobby, a show girl on each arm. Aldrin was playing the slots. They were then flown to Hawaii and put back inside the capsule after the splash down but before the cameras arrived. This scenario was turned into Capricorn One, probably the best acting work of O.J. Simpson’s career. In that movie, which did as much as Kaysing to spread doubt, the capsule burns up on reentry, leaving NASA with no choice: they must kill the astronauts. O.J. escapes, runs across the desert, and shows up at his own funeral. This twist was said to echo another aspect of the conspiracy, the most chilling. Some attributed the fire that tore through the rehearsal capsule during preparations for Apollo 1, killing three astronauts—Gus Grissom, Edward White II, Roger Chaffee—was really part of a cover-up, a way to silence men who were about to go public.” (How Stanley Kubrick Staged the Moon Landing, Rick Cohen, Paris Review)
Conspiracy theories will always abound, be a cottage industry, and will attract its adherents and faithful. Books will be written, websites developed, Facebook groups will chatter away. What makes it possible? I suspect that there is a latent desire in all of us to have concrete answers to questions. Neil Armstrong’s “Giant Leap for Mankind” – if he was the first man on the moon, then who was filming him go down the ladder? Stanley Kubrick, right? By the way, a camera had been mounted to the side of the lunar module. But what about the lighting in film? There’s only one source of light on the moon—the sun—yet the shadows of the astronauts fall every which way, suggesting multiple light sources, just the sort you might find in a movie studio – Stanley Kubrick again! Sorry, there were indeed multiple sources of light during the landings—it came from the sun, it came from the earth, it came from the lander, and it came from the astronauts’ space suits. Ok, what about….. I guess concrete answers will not satisfy everyone.
Is it the same type of person who believes that the US spy agencies hacked reams of information from customers of Google, Yahoo and other American internet companies without those companies’ knowledge. Supposedly, the spy agencies did this by intercepting internet traffic from undersea internet cables. And eyes roll. This theory is that deep, remote control submersibles went to the bottom of the ocean, clamped onto the cables, and started relaying information back to spy headquarters? Right. … well, actually that one is real. That came from the files that Edward Snowden released to the world. And that has led to a dramatic way in which tech companies, notably mobile phone operating systems, have built up system security. Companies including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo sped up their use of encrypted technologies for voice and text. Encryption both protects ordinary people’s communications from prying eyes and makes criminals harder to track. But when U.S. officials prod tech companies such as Apple and Facebook over the harmful effects of encryption, rarely do they acknowledge that the government’s actions helped make the technology widespread. Now, the government doesn’t trust the tech companies. The tech companies don’t trust the government. And what about us? Netflix is showing a documentary, The Social Dilemma. The documentary provides a deep dive into how social media’s design nurtures an addiction, manipulates people’s views, emotions and behaviour, and spreads conspiracy theories and disinformation, to maximize profit.
And on and on it all goes.
Maybe I am not really surprised about the person at yesterday’s event in Washington DC. I am beginning to wonder less and less why the election fraud theories don’t die – even if they certainly died in court. Concrete answers will not satisfy everyone. Maybe it is just the age in which we live. I grew up in an age when you knew your neighbors, trust was earned and reciprocated, and ability for conspiracy theories to spread was limited. Now we rely on big tech to patrol that boundary for us…. Oh, wait… we don’t trust them either.
It takes a certain Wisdom to stay on the right path. “On the way of wisdom I direct you, I lead you on right paths. When you walk, your step will not be impeded, and should you run, you will not stumble. Hold fast to instruction, never let it go.” (Proverbs 4:11-13).