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6-5 9:10am Tommy, conspiracy theories

Jun 5, 2014|

Tommy talks to Tim Melley, a Professor of English at Miami University and a conspiracy theory expert, about why people believe in conspiracies

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Tim Millie joins us right now a professor of English at Miami University. To talk about. His book empire of conspiracy to mourning process. -- -- -- nice to have you. Tell me about your book first off yes. I'll let the about the rise of conspiracy theory. Roughly since that 1950 to the president's it it attempts to connect. The explosion of conspiracy theory. To the Cold War and some of the on the things that happen in mass media since the 1950s. Like well really the change intermediate structures the primary thing I mean they're fully been conspiracy theories. And a lot of experts have had shown that. The United States really what the place for conspiracy theories flourished a long time together and all these ideas that the women not the yen. These enlightenment secret groups and things like that. But one of the things that. Start to happen in the 1950s is that the US built this huge infrastructure of Covert institutions. And I think you can see even in the example you were just giving. That people have developed a lot of distrust. About what their government stealing we all know it's sort of an open secret that the government is involved in lots of secret dealings that the public can't know about. And one of the effect that that is that creates. Kind of corrosive. -- trust where people who are Smart and know that they're in the know know that they can't now in don't know exactly what the government's stealing. Most of us. Have a certain degree of trust and and you know would never believe that something like -- that can be done -- government. But some people. Start to you know ask questions about things like that. You know as you say that about the history of the country. As saying about other conspiracy theories there are some that don't believe we went to the -- Exactly and that's and that speaks to the other issue that's really at the core of this which is. The nature mediation. When the world. When the world becomes increasingly mediated. That is our experience of then news and the world around that comes to us through media. That goes through all these filters and people like you are now maybe are filtering. Some of what gets to the listeners out there and what that means is that she very large number of authorities. Media authorities government authorities professors like myself. Are in the way. Or are in between what happens. And what and and how people hear about it and those layers. Can introduced distrust. So people start to really questioned. How news is being delivered to them whether they can trust the authorities that. That delivered to them and increasingly with the Internet. People can become their own media authorities straights we recap now. Court and quotes civilians were putting out the news. And who were doing the analysis. And that's one of the fascinating things about sandy. A lot of the people that created these videos. About -- cut conspiracies are not trained its media professionals they simply comb the Internet. And found correspondence has to work. You know little connections between things. And put together order. Actually so pretty pretty technically proficient videos. That assert that there were the weird eerie connections. On some of them are you know are really quite good as I mean they I don't believe them but their professionally assembled. But you can be creative when you're not bound by the truth right because not. A new idea -- I've told people often that you know one point I was news director my career and I hated. Having you get everything exactly accurate as opposed to being creative and having a blank piece of paper there's some people what did you see opposite. Exactly. And you know I think a lot of the public doesn't realize. The that procedures. And and the standards that much of the practice helped too and so people start I think all I can do this. Let me give you an analogy. Used to go to the doctor to get diagnosed and ailments. But now we can all go on the Internet and diagnose. Our prowl again let me interrupt for a second professor if you ever really wanna get on your -- good -- I have recently. Go to that -- Gruber ability that authors and tell him what you found on the Internet her act they loved that. Not. Exactly it means so that you can see what happens is people start to take a few they're not trained in interpretation. Andy -- says -- a few random symptoms. With possibilities that they found that there they don't have that clinical expertise with the training. To make judicious interpretations. And that's what that's sort of what's happening with conspiracy theory. It it's rooted in the good impulse which is to understand the -- panel works in society. People are driven by it kind of desire to get to the truth that a desire for rationality. But they're interpreted. Actions are not rooted in in training and so they tend to pretty. Explanation that most of us find really implausible. You know one thing I've heard allotted and I've said this myself that. I know that if a teacher in a school is dating another school everybody knows about it even though it's supposed to be a secrets -- find. It impossible and -- comes in and says key to finding the truth and conspiracy of more than one person knows about it. The truth of come the the adage about three and deepest -- of two are dead. I often say well if there was this incredible conspiracy as it relates to sandy hook inside job 9/11 moon landing. Surely by now somebody would have said something -- then other people counter that by saying well we know we got in line nobody says anything. Other things happen that we're secret and then we found out about it nobody knew. Well yeah he. Really put your finger on something. Which is that it's very hard to -- prove. A conspiracy theory except by sang. No one has talked about it -- -- has not come out and to some people that's not a that's not a high standard of truth. One of the real difficulties is. Is that most of us lack the technical expertise to comment that the repeatedly on things like -- -- That seems totally. Crazy to me to say that we didn't land on the -- But if you if you ask me to say what technical knowledge electors that. -- you know persuade me that we landed on them and I would have to say will. I guess I just believe that the people who told me that they were down in Florida. You know and the command center where actually no telling the truth and that the scientists who were there wouldn't all life at the same time but I can't. Really go beyond that and that's again part of the nature mediation and specialized technical knowledge in this particular era. Did it do people winning construct this conspiracy theory. Is like is safer -- Kennedy assassination or four. Did the moon landing take technology that was today and kinda. If it has some what's ramping it up some chronological difficulties some anachronisms where a cable that sounds great but it didn't exist then. Yes I mean you know it's it's important to point out that they're all kinds of. Theories that range from relatively plausible theories to completely. You know completely implausible crazy theories. I mean there were people there're there're books written about Kennedy's assassination. It is certain that he had implants that that Oswald had implants in his brain that control them remotely did you -- you know kind of like the. Entering Canada at a mainland. Just to be clear the Manchurian candidate at least in the original was. He did have any implants he had a key -- trigger card right right it just. Brainwashed. By the by the Chinese scientists but I mean let's let's also point out that the house. On the US House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations. In 1978 when they were -- Kennedy's case concluded that a problem they're probably what the conspiracy to kill Kennedy. So you know we we have two different government report. On the Kennedy on that -- yet JFK's assassination. That Warren commission report concluded that it was a lone gunman the later 1978. Report by congress concluded that there were probably a conspiracy. So it's not that the ID you know there are conspiracies and there -- plots in the world and it's not at all. Attempt to say that should be dismissed out of hand. It's it's a question that's. You know how you put together an explanation -- what evidence you look at. And I think again there is the way in which. We we what we are hearing we think that this says -- logically instead of asking. Whether the person says these experiences and not to. We just think about the fact that there are so many of them -- that relatively reasonable people believe in some of these ideas. What we're seeing again it's -- general level of distrust. In authority in our society. You know a day do you see news stories -- things happen and you know okay a year ago that the next conspiracy theory I gotta tell you I didn't see it coming with sandy hook at all I can't believe that anybody would. Actually believe that this didn't happen. And it was all faked up in terms of again I guess so -- main goal of controlling guns but. I know with Malaysian flight I think it's 703. At the number of a that to me is something that. Yeah if it's if it's not already started there will be numerous conspiracy theories about that. Sure I think he can pretty much guarantee now that that any event like this will be understood that having some. Nefarious. Secret can help component behind the scenes -- -- but is it shocking. But. After 9/11. Which was widely understood -- an inside job by experienced people. It seems less shocking to me. I'm in a -- had people -- that. They were they were really quite. Good to kind of amateurish videos looking at the demolition of. Some of the buildings in the World Trade Center and comparing them to planned -- A building that were being taken down in city. -- real quick before -- let you go I don't I'm saying and I was traded criminal police station after Katrina and I love what I do here but. What does it is sometimes I get confused about the truth Audi a note truth is anymore if you can't hear about economic. -- daddy if you hear about what what happened with. Yeah -- it's so partisan politically because he'll take the same numbers one brutal crunch and one way. Any other group of crunch in the other way to. To determine what it is or at least get their political point across Mark Twain I think it was said their lies damn lies and statistics -- does that factor in this at all where it is dated so partisan people are telling different stories about the same thing. That that fuels these conspiracy theories are you just doubt with the truth it is. Yes I think that that that that's really what this is about. Everything. Unfortunately it would be nice if we could just say there's just the truth and someone has un mediated access to the problem and. That first nobody has -- mediated access to quote unquote -- truth. -- and secondly that narratives stories about the world power inherently political even in sandy a key concede that. Some people understand what. -- many of us understand that kind of a tragic situation. But a lot of people. Understand this has in inherently political Meredith. And when they retell the story they -- Through their own political filtered through and enter into some place that's unavoidable we shouldn't be surprised by that. I'm all we can do is try to listen to as many people as we can try to sort out trying to get good at. The analysis. But the information I mean people that are. People that are deceived by those those the use of statistics and creative ways tend not to be good at understanding. How -- statistics works so. And we just need to be more numerically literate and listen to a lot of experts and try to make her way through. Profess seven to -- timeout -- back on some time -- mentally happy.

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