Question: Which of the following are conspiracy theories?
- The belief that 9/11 was plotted and carried out by radical Muslims
- The belief that 9/11 was a “false flag attack,” perpetrated by the U.S. government and/or Israel
- Belief in UFO’s
- The belief that genetically modified food is a threat to our health
- The belief that God will protect Israel and the United States from their enemies
This quiz is a little tricker. Believe it or not, it could be argued that none of these are conspiracy theories. However, if you chose #2 as a conspiracy theory, we’ll give you credit for that one. Moreover, all five are associated with conspiracy theory in one way or another.
Let’s examine each one.
9/11 perpetrated by Muslims ˆ
The belief that 9/11 was orchestrated by a bunch of goat herders hiding in a cave in Afghanistan is essentially a lie cooked up by the U.S. government or its allies. OK, maybe they weren’t really goat herders, but you get the point.
We might best describe the mainstream 9/11 account as a bogus conspiracy theory designed to divert attention from the real conspirators.
9/11: False flag attack ˆ
The belief that 9/11 was a false flag attack is confusing for the opposite reason. In the days following 9/11, it was a conspiracy theory. However, it is supported by so much logic and evidence, it is now widely accepted as fact, even if many details are still unknown.
Belief in UFO’s ˆ
UFO is an acronym for “unidentified flying object.” Period.
A UFO could be an atmospheric phenomenon, an unusual aircraft or, conceivably, a spacecraft piloted by space aliens. There’s nothing conspiratorial about seeing or reporting any of these.
However, if you promote the theory that the strange object you saw was an aircraft secretly built and operated by the government, then you’re promoting a conspiracy theory, because we now have a conspirator—the government.
Space aliens are a bit of a question mark. It’s highly unlikely than any human has ever conspired with space aliens. It’s possible (though unlikely) that people have conspired to hide the existence of space aliens, but it’s unlikely that space aliens have ever visited Earth. In fact, there’s probably no solid evidence that space aliens even exist. If they do exist, then they may be capable of conspiracy, but their conspiracies will probably never affect us.
Bad GMO ˆ
Genetically modified food (GMO) IS a threat to your health. That’s a simple fact.
What if you think I’m wrong? It would then just be an incorrect theory or opinion. However, if you believe that certain people are deliberately hiding the fact that GMO is bad for your health or making it difficult for scientists to study GMO and report the truth, then we have a conspiracy.
God loves America and Israel ˆ
The belief that Christians, Americans, Jews or all the above are God’s chosen people, though just as kooky as the kookiest conspiracy theories, is probably best defined as a religious belief, or perhaps a political-religious or socio-religious belief.
This particular belief goes hand-in-hand with American exceptionalism and Jewish exceptionalism and is ferociously manipulated by propagandists, making it a major ingredient in conspiracy. Moreover, it’s possible that the belief was originally created for conspiratorial purposes.
However, even people who have been brainwashed into believing such nonsense aren’t espousing a theory involving conspirators. Rather, they’re expressing a really stupid and arrogant belief in a deity that favors them above everyone else.