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tv   Lectures in History Conspiracy Culture in American History  CSPAN  October 12, 2021 10:24am-11:49am EDT

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c-span.org/history. >> did you know all of c-span's american history programs are available online? c-span org/history and type in your search in the box. next time for lectures in history. this week, indiana university bloomington's professor steven andrews teaches a class about conspiracy culture in american history. >> thank you so much. this is my second year. i also did some things with the music. like to thank everybody at the nine eleven music as you all know. the entire staff is wonderful. it hit me last year and i thought maybe this year it would be different that i hadn't -- i had already experienced the 9/11 museum and now it would be
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become old hat being in this space. and it's not. right? this space as you know as well as anyone over the last five days is hallowed ground. and it is a powerful place and a hard place in a sense to use something as mundane as give a lecture. i'm going to do my best to do that and i say that because some of the things we're going to talk about weird. some funny, some are scary, some of them are gross. and i don't want any of that to seem disrespectful to the space that we're in. nothing we can do, you know, as lincoln said can unhallowed this ground that is hallowed. but i do want you to know that i'm cognizant, as i'm sure you are, as the space we're n but still have do the task before us. steve andrews. i had a great pleasure of working with with ed and continue to work him. from a small southern town in florida. brandon, outside of tampa. i was raised a as fundamentalist evangelical southern baptist. i say that because we will talk
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at some points conspiracy culture interacts with american religion. and we have to talk about that. and when we do, i don't want it to ever seem that i'm being derisive or joking about religious things. i think there is crucially important both to me personally and professionally as a historian. but we need to talk about some of those issues. but i'm just laying that out that the place i'm coming from is not a place outside religion but within it. so comments i'm making are from a person that is part of a culture that you are also critiquing. when i was in graduate school, i was working on spiritualism. i'm not sure how familiar you are with spearmintism but spearmintism was the popular belief that it was possible to talk to the spirits of the dead in the 1850s and becomes a cultural phenomenon of people having seances and it goes through the 1860s of talking to the dead and the fox sisters in 1848 and the thing that
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fascinated me was i was well familiar with the academic work on and folk belief. things like keith thomas's religion and the decline of magic. right? which is as we become more modern in the enlightenment our briefs in things like witches and monsters and fairies are diminishing. and yet when we're laying cables that link new york and london, people in america and and other parse of europe but particularly america. how do you talk to spirits. both things. mo dernty. but i want to talk also. keep that in the back of your head. when i is a i conspiracy theorist or we talk american
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conspiracies, what are come of the kind of conspiracies that we're talking about? what are conspiracies that you know of the united states? >> we did not land on the moon. the moon hoax. >> yes. >> i had a student told me the las vegas shooting with as ploy by the united states government to take away american -- >> right. this is second amendment kind of new world order stuff. >> sandy hook didn't happen. others? >> jfk -- >> jfk assassination. >> holocaust. >> holocaust didn't happen. >> -- >> parkland shooting is set up. crisis actors. so we could go on and on and on. here is the short list. kennedy assassination. birthers. obama wasn't born in the united states. truthers, 9/11 was an inside job. ufos that the united states government is hiding information about aliens and ufos. fema, new world orlando. jade held martial law.
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the fema camps, atf is going to take our guns. this is crisis actors around every shooting. nafta and the amay rio. the amero was nafta was the north american free trade agreement. there was an argument that was leading into a tri union of united states, mexico and canada that would use a new dollar bill called the amero. in fact there were reports about red money. vaccine, gm foods, mercury, autism. weather modifications, kim trails. the fed. moon landing was a hoax. u.n. conspiracies. ajend 21. agenda 21 was signed in rio de
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janeiro.genda 21. agenda 21 was signed in rio de janeiro. supposedly in the eyes of many this is the plan of radical population reduction to get the population of the world down to 300 million. these things often tie together. builder burgers. a conference of world economic and political leaders that is close to the public. rothschilds, publication reduction. >> would you be able to share this with us? >> absolutely. yes. so, so many. so i think there are, as we talked about it, if you wanted to we could have gone on for another 20 minutes coming up with deeper and deeper conspiracy, right? or different versions of same ones. so a wide range. some of them are spectacular and truly weird. david ike who i'm not sure if you are familiar with. a british broadcaster. sports broadcaster who came convinced that the royal family and other world leaders are all
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actually shape shifting aliens who are lizards. and that the royal families of europe that are all tied by blood, world war i, all of the combatants in europe are all kin. they are all cousins. so they are all a family in a sense. this they are all actually shape shifting lizards. not believed by very many. but spectacular. some believe in evergreen. the kennedy assassination. there are kennedy assassination conspiracy believers of all stripes from owl places and we'll talk about that. others are widespread keed into cultural moment likes to birther controversy. it was very big news in the late 20 teens. will probably not be huge news 15, 20 years from now. there are some that never take. some that obama sabotaged the deep water horizon in the gulf of mexico to have new policies
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against oil use to. push solar power. but this one came up with sampled. everyone was like no. and then it kind of went away again. so this happens in this kind of life cycle of conspiracy theories. so the reality, and one of the things we have to think about and the second part will be talking about what we do with our students and how we talk to our students about conspiracies and our fellow american citizens about conspiracies. one of the things that we have to acknowledge as part of this conversation is that conspiracy theories exist. every corporation that is coming up with a new roll out of the bacon double cheese burger, the 11 herbs and spices in kfc, the secret formula of coke. people meet in secret to do all kind of things for their own interest. and right now, maybe less now
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than in the cold war, there are people in high-rise office buildings thinking how to protect you. the cia, fbi, justice department. also certainly when i was a child in the 1980s outside of mcdill air force base it was someone probably not much older than me in somewhere in rush sit on an icbm targeted with my neighborhood. there are secret groups work against you and protecting you. we live in a web of secrecy, not all is a conspiracy. but we have to recognize that conspiracies do exist. right. so i think that when we talk about conspiracy culture, we talk about conspiracies, it seems like we're talking about something that's weird and strange and outside of the mainstream, outside of the way that most of us, because we all general think of us as a group, right? educators educator who is team people we are not part of this group. that group o out there and this is a fringed strange part of
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american culture. i disagree. i think conspiracies is how americans do politics. it is often the first move. when i heard yesterday, maybe you did too that stormy daniels got arrested i had conversations with no less than five people about it yesterday who are all of differing education levels from hoo high school to postgraduate middle school medical school who all said they set her up. no thought why, who, but the first thought is they set her up. there is a growing sense in the united states, and i'm going trace conspiracies from early on in our founding to the present day of about this is a way that americans do politics, think politically. and it is also part of our, and maybe other countries too, i don't know that it is just unique to america but america is what i've studied. and it is a powerful force here. the way we think about politics. whether it is bernie was looked
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out of via conspiracy of the clintons or trump saying this is a conspiracy to get me unelected or all of these simple things, probably down to every local school board of a conspiracy to do one thing or another. put in a streetlight, change the hours of the bus schedule, whatever. right? so in my own classes i talk about to cult. and on one level the occult. and that is part of american culture. salem witch trials and other places where this kind of what we tend to think of as scary super natural believes come up. but i actually think there is a big part of the occult in the latin sense of occultis, of hidden. american fascination with hidden knowledge that shows up in our popular culture. that shows up in our advertisements, shows up in our tv shows. this idea that we are americans are haunted by that the world is
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not what we see and the real things that happen and really effect us, the important things are the things that are happening hidden, underground. metaphorically and literally. that they, them, are making the decisions. and they them are somewhere hidden under ground and we have to find a way to discover what that reality, what reality actually looks like. right? so occult thinking, thinking spear or thely is how americans i watched a lot of oprah and daytime television in the 80s and 90s. here are diet secret, beauty
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secrets. things your cardiologist doesn't want you to know. the way to eat the and if you eat this way you will magically lose weight. and your cardiologist doesn't want you to know that so you stay fat and have to come and get a heart transplant. the idea there is a secret knowledge of a way to do things and some powerful force wants to keep you from doing that. that is politics, and culture. popular culture. i looked through the tv listings. hard to find a night in tv i would argue that you might not be able to. to find a night in popular culture where one of the major shows on networks is not about exactly this. is not about secret groups of agents stopping underground groups. 24 agents of shield, right? angels and demons, x files comes back. it was massive in the nineties. all of these things. buffy. again, i was joking that i was watching downtown abbey with my wife and realized about four episodes in, something was
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missing. and i turned to her and i said where are the vampires? how is it we're going to go four episodes of a show and like no one has super powers? there are no under -- the kiezer is not a werewolf? how is this not a show? so this is what we're obsessed by. and it is percolating through our culture in ways that americans are prepared to think that there is an occult underground world. an occult not necessarily werewolves and vampires but hidden, away from us, that other people control. this was up a year ago and i showed it and i always try to find things more popular. this was so good. i could not use it. this was on twitter. sometimes it is a horrible mistake to let 10 year olds name their own baseball team. then an again sometimes they crush it. and the baseball team is the illuminati. with the baseball back of the jersey being trust no one with the all seeing illuminati eye.
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when i was 10, we would have never come up with illuminati. right? so what does it mean to have kids name themselves after, as we'll talking about, a 1770s, enlightenment underground movement in bheemia and to have trust no one as the tag lineohe trust no one as the tag line. what does this say about our culture? conspiracy theories, big events like wars, current recession and outcomes of elections are controlled by small groups of people working in secret against the rest of us. we'll talk about more on this in our second hour. only 30% disagree. kyrie irving believes the earth is flat. they lied to us.
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right? so part of this, i don't want to necessarily make fun of krooirve. but i wanted to read some of thiskyrie irving. but i wanted to read some of this from the sporting news. the idea that the earth is truly flat and this is being hidden. so the earth is flat sat matter of factually. he joins as the notable denier of a sphere-shaped planet. any time you have a question about is the earth flat or round i think you node to do research on it. i think we all agree. he responded because it is right in front of our faces. they lie us to. he also acknowledges he's been taught his entire life the planet is round but thinks logically it doesn't make sense. if you really think about it from a landscape the way we travel, move and the fact that can you really think of us rotating around the sun and all planets rotating in specific dateds being perpendicular where these planets and stuff like
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that. air quoting saying planets. and i am not here necessarily to talk, to make fun of kyrie irving who literally states newton's theory of plantry motion as a big scametary motion as a big scam. but this quote. because it is right in front of our faces, they lie to us. trust no one. so stefon diggs said. one we want to not say that here we're talking with a wide receiver of the minnesota
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vikings about whether or not the earth is flat. but look at the evidentiary argumentative moves, right? which is i don't believe it. they lie to us. show me a picture but not one you got from somewhere. because underneath that is a sense they lie to us. the evidence by which we would argue this is true or not is so tainted it is not accessible and a circular argument in which the evidence you want to introduce will be immediately discounted because the source you are going produce it from are the only people who could take pictures from space who are them. we're in a box. intellectual box. okay? richard hoff stetter wrote in 1964 for harpers. it is an article you can give to students. very easy to read and accessible. about the paranoid style. american politics has often been an arein for angry minds but i believe there is a style of behind far from new and not necessarily right wing. i call it the paranoid style. simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of
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heated exaggeration, suspiciousness and conspiratorial fantasy that i have in mind. writes about conspiracy in the 1850s, from a texas newspaper. as the notorious fact the monarchs of europe and pope of rome are at this very moment plotting our destruction and threatening extinctions. tainted with the infectious venom of catholicism. in the 1850s there is a worldwide conspiracy against the united states but it is from the pope and it is already infected the presidency. there are many things you could probably say about franklin pierce but i don't think he was a pawn of the pope. right? also communist.
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joe mccarthy in the 1950s, which is how can we account for our present situation unless we believe that men high in this government are concerting to deliver us to disaster? this must be a product of a great conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. not just a conspiracy. the biggest in the history of man. and that this is eisenhower who won world war ii is actually a secret pawn of the communications. if not eisenhower, then certainly people high up in the white house. truman administration. traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. he is always manning the barricades of civilization. >> he constantly lives at the turning point. expresses the anxiety of those living through the last days and he's sometimes disposed to set a date for the apocalypse.
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he's writing about political thinkers as a religious historian in particular this language speaks out in the language of millennialism and apocalyptic visions. and hearing people in american politics, they talk about a war of civilization, everything will be over if we don't have a border wall or something else. everything will be gone or overridden that if this election doesn't happen it's all over because of some dark conspiracy. the illuminati. we go back into our history. the ill lumened ones established in bavaria in 1776. founded by adam wieshopt. a university professor advanced the goals to enlightenment. so the illuminati is a real thing. a real organization set up for enlightenment goal that in 1785, the leader of bavaria, issued a edict making all secret
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societies illegal. illuminati fled the country and published papers showing they were anti-religious. the enlightenment was often opposed to particularly the catholic church so this was a reason to expose them. but they show up again in the 1790s in america. and an america that's involved in both about to be involved in a quasiwar with france that's between france and england as they are fighting a revolution. france is fighting a revolution and england is about to fight a war against france and america is caught in the middle. if you know about the election of 1800 from hamilton, etc. right, jefferson was framed as the french revolutionary who will make the streets of america run with blood and adams framed as the monarchist who will return the united states to england. and the ill loom nat was seen as the secret force causing the french revolution. a small group of people in bavaria often accused of being
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the secret force behind the french revolution. >> free masonry comes up again and again. established in the 18th century but claims an ancient connection to the temple of solomon. an international society of brotherhood with secret signs and symbols of initiation. do you recognize any? the all seeing eye of free masonry that finds its way both on to the american dollar and the jersey of a 10 year old little league player. many of these symbols, the parquet floor, the all-seeing eye, the apron, this is a part of when you look at the language of symbols of american conspiracy theories, these symbols come up again and again. and free masons are one of these group. they are pan national. they are pan-cultural in which they stretch around the world. that have secret rituals and those rituals may be no more
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complicated than the lion's club in some estimation of part of a radical secret agenda. in a sense as the secret society. we don't know. this is a list of famous masonic teachers. it could go on and on. 27 signers of the constitution. most of the earliest presidents. and others. easy to make the argument, if you are willing to connect particular data points that the united states government itself is a masonic plot. the reason the great seal looks like a masonic symbol is the masons are basically behind it all. in new york, 1826 tried to joi the local man lodge and was
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denied he said i'm going to reveal all your secrets. he was arrested and never returned home. there was a full fledge pan take the secret society of the mason was a murderous conspiracy that was attempting o take out the united states. and this was not just a fear that kind of percolated among americans in upstate new york. it became an organizing principle for a politically party. and the anti-masonic party bins elections in 1832 and 36 and elects anti-masons to political office and its agenda is against people in american government being parts of secret societies. because if you are part of a secret society you are not doing the people's work and your allegiance is to something else. this was the argument against kennedy in 1960. the argument that kennedy as a catholic would have to follow the rules of the pope rather than serve the american people. in a sense among people john
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berkshires and other people opposed to american catholicism generally, that you could not be both a catholic and an american president. because you either served one master or the other. right? same thing with the anti-masons in the 1830s. but if the modern and i'm not -- there are other conspiracies and other things to go through. i'm going to jump ahead now. because if the way we understand modern conspiracy theories in. now, by the modern age we're in now, many times the american government itself. so if the modern conspiracy theories have a birthday, it is in 1947 with the many times it's the american government itself. if the modern conspiracy theory iscu anticipate birthday, it is 1947, with the national security
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act of 1947. it establishes the national securityit council, it establiss the cia, it establishes the air force. the air force had been a prior part of the army, and it establishes the .cia, as i said. it's charged with other functions and dutiest related t intelligence. that is boring government speak for secret operations, right? >>nt this is really important. because for t the first time in american history, the federal government is saying we are going to have a part of the government that willec do secre things we won't tellou you abou that will spend money we will nott reveal, and we will do it o protect us because we have to have t secrets to protect ourselves. and that secret state has
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evolved and grown and grown and involved things like the patriot act when it moves into a whole other level like 9/11. but it has a birthday, 1947. the idea of the secret part of the government that does covert operations in a world of the cold war, post world war ii we find ourselves in makes a lot of sense, right? there is i a reason to have secrets. there is a reason you might need covert actions. so it's not that is somehow wicked on its t face. but in an era that trusts the government i implicitly, this i fine. having a secret government apparatus isn't a problem. butes that is not the country w are, andro it's certainly not t country we are as we move forward, right?
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this covers the ground for conspiracies. there is literally a box where you can say, we know the federal government does this and we are against it. humans would never do that against each other. that is not a strong argument given what we know about what humans will do. it is a stronger argument in the 1940s and the 1950s to say the american government would not do that. when you get a conspiracy saying the american government would do one thing or another, you say, the american government would not i do that. not a big deal in a society where people trust the government. but it is a big deal for a group of people wore politically awakened by this event. not to shock you, kennedy was shot in dallas on november 22, 1963, right? after that, lee harvey oswald is arrested. the president is j murdered in e middle of the cold war, lee harvey oswald is arrested, then
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a minor league gangster in dallas jumps out and shoots the person who shot the president in front of national tv. in the context of the cold war, in thete context of knowing tha there is a national security state, in the context of moving or just about really to be movingor cultural anxieties in e 1960s, they put the supreme justice and the supreme court in charge of the kennedy assassination.re this is ape bid to say you needo trust us because if there's one thing you can trust, it is the chief justice of the supreme court. the person who in theom countrys at the top of our judicial branch. he is going to be in charge of thise commission and says he actedld alone. one man.
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20% thought one person did it. as we move into the 1960s, that number goes up and up and up. in march of 1981, it is 100%. what they're sayingg is we had n investigation, the government nd investigated, the chief justice of the supreme court came out and20 said this is what happene and at some point in 2001, more than three-quarters of the american people go, you're lying. trust no one. they lied to us. then there are revelations of government conspiracies that started in the 1970s. watergate in 1972 said the
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president himselfgo is about toe indicted for breaking into the offices of the dnc at the watergate hotel. there arehe investigations of t churchte committee, the committ oner assassinations and what th come out with are these things that the united states was doing. operation mongoose, we'll talk a little bit about, was to harass castro. working with gangsters like sam giancana. modern people like martin luther king who put the government in leftist organizations like snik or the c sps. there were timesth in jokes tha at a time there would be some civil rights or leftist meetings in which halff the group was informing on the other half, because half of them were working for the nypd and the other half were working for the fbi, right? following,it taking pictures of the king. in 1976 they come out and raise doubts themselves about the
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warrenme commission. they overthrew iran and guatemala in which african-american men inrs alaba go to a clinic for their syphilis and are not treated so government doctors can monitor howhe syphilis progresses throu the lifetime because penicillin has been curing i syphilis too early without telling themt the purpose.a public stargate, the revelation through the 1970s and 1980s out of ft. mead, maryland, the dia, cia, it moves around, is operating a program to train psychic spies to spy and use r their powers against russia. john ross writes about them in "the men who stare at goats." a project paper u clip, clinton
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releases it all in 1988. this is bringing nazi scientists into the united states to work here. we fought against the nazis.s this isn't a revelation.n. as early as 1947, 1946 we knew some of this, right? that the people who designed the v-2 that hit london are very soon in huntsville, alabama, working on the apollo program. but this is project paper clip releases all of the -- not just the things about the kind of big figures everyone knew about but all of the rest of the nazi and many of them part of the nazi party that snuck out and into the united states. so, that argument of well, the united states government wouldn't do this is beginning to fall apart too. f so, project northwoods was a proposed secret plan proposed bc secret chiefs to a series of false attacks. it's made public in 1997.
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so, in 19 97 when kennedy comes in, the joint chiefs say, we want to invade cuba. we need to have a false flag operation. those who are talking about this are not inventing it out of uae whole cloth. it's not like they come up with an idea no one has ever thought of in the government, right? mongoose was a series of plans to harass cuban leader and assassinate fidel castro. operation dirty trick was a plan that if john glenn's space capsule blew up, they were going to blame it on cuba. we have these plans. many shelved, but not used. but someone is drafting them.ir rockefeller committee first e reveals that the cia was working on mind control, attempting to use lsd to influence people to y question them to make them more compliant or turn them into double agents if they could use them on russians. the church committee hands overe documents, more are handed over in 1978.8. they randomly drugged civiliansd there was an operation called midnight climax in which prostitutes -- the johns coming itit
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to visit prostitutes in california and new york would be given lsd and then monitored without their knowledge to see what would happen to them. so, you could live fire test lsd on subjects to see if this would be the chemical that would be used to give, for example, a spa n, in moldova and see what would happen.we can we modernize it? this is all coming out in the a '70s and '80s and '90s, that all seems so sci-fi that desperately undercuts something we would l love to be able to say. we would love to say, we wouldn't do that. but it gets harder to say that, particularly to minority communities when they come up -- when people in minority sum communities have a theory or o argument, we'll talk about some of them, to say, we certainly -- we wouldn't do that.s that's not something that's -- that the united states government would do. throughout this period of revelation, one of the things that's so frustrating are the e people involved are not punished. p doctors that dose people with lsd, none of them go to jail. people in iran contra are found
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guilty but pardoned and find themselves back into united states government.go there's revelation without repercussions. there's a sense that some people are above the law, that, yes, wa the government allowed the small fish to take the fall but what was really going on was never revealed.at that area, that dark area of, we know there are secrets, we know bad things are done, allows people to come up with conspiracies that expound those into new levels. on -- oftentimes new levels of complication and horror. >> skull and bones, this was established in 1832 at yale university. it meets in a windowless room oo yale university campus called the tomb. it picks people who are going to be successful, about 15 men and now women every year. have you guys heard of skull and bones?en so there are -- this is, again, there are societies with
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secrets. but are they secret societies and how do they tie into the other things we talked about? this is the skull and bones class of '47.. this is the headline from "new york times," yale, a great nursery of spooks. one thing you may not know about yale is yale was directly connected through its membership into the oss ask later the cia. many of the great leaders of the cia, many of the people that you know,ur number of people who ar assumed to be the people on the three trampss on the grassy knol were yalies. mcgeorge, bundy, all yalies, all -- some of them were skull and bone, some weren't, who later went into the oss and later the cia.ta in cia, 1943, 24 members of that class go on to the oss. there is a statue in front of cia headquarters, nathan hale. nathan hale was the first spy killed by the british in the american revolution. i regret i have one life to give
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for my country.. that statue that is in front of cia headquarters is a model of n another statue on yale university campus because nathac hale is yale university class of 1773. you move forward and say -- we get to 2004. you have two bonesmen. one, george w. bush, whose t father was a bonesman, also the head of the cia, also the head of a major oil company, whose father's father, his grandfather, prescott bush, was also a bonesman, running against another bonesman in 2004. now the arguments are, there's a secret society at yale that's plugged into the american intelligence agency that's done -- like the guys who are s sitting and writing northwoods, urn, maybe not, but the sense is they all just came from yale and played squash together and said, why don't we have a false flag operation? oee i don't know that that's true but you see the pieces are there, right? a secret society of wealthy s individuals all together planning this.ra and this is the stuff that
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conspiracy theorists move. i when they were asked about it in the 2004 election, both of them refused to comment.om george bush saying something to the effect of, it is a secret society and i don't talk about secret societies.t so, it's a society with secrets. but is it a secret society?he another one is the bohemian grove. has anyone heard of the bohemian grove?e? the bohemian grove is a large collection of trees in northern california, redwood forest. it is the site of a gathering ev every year of political, cultural, scientific leaders who come to the forest, closed to the press and live in the trees for two weeks. now, this is -- can anyone identify anyone in this picture? this is 1967 of the bohemian
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grove. o nixon on one side, reagan on the other. the guy in the middle is harvey hancock. he was the campaign manager for eisenhower and also a big executive at pan am. this guy, to the left of nixon, is glenn sayborg, who discovered 11 elements, was a professor at cal berkeley, was also in the manhattan project at uc, and also was the co-winner of the nobel prize in 1951. so, he is a leader of, and later on moving for peace, arms control, et cetera, but these are the kinds of people who are there.ut w now, is it a problem in america that people have a secret society at yale that -- and with yale's connection to the intelligence community, is it a problem they gather in places that are defined as secret, the bohemian grove? is it a problem they are there without press, meeting and chatting? h maybe, maybe not.y is it a problem that they put on
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robes on one of the first days and have a ceremony in front of a giant statue of an owl in which they burn a human effigy in a ceremony called the cremation of care.e.tmetn i mean, it's weirder, right? so, when someone is inclined tot conspiracy theories, sees what g the american government actually has done, sees the connections they can draw, and sees, wait, l they're all wearing robes in front of a giant owl, burning a statue of a human effigy. it gets harder and harder -- it gets to be the stuff at which point is a secret -- a society with secrets a secret society? at what level does it reach the point we should care or there is something, you're attempting to put something in a place that isn't.ruthi john ronsom wrote a book about e the experiences he and alex jones snuck into the bohemian grove and got this footage. the question, is this a big deal at all?coak this is the raw material for
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conspiracies. the real conspiracies are a little different, the pieces they will mixut and match to tr to make a conspiracy. but we have to recognize -- the raw material is out there for people to make conspiracies. it doesn't make conspiracies real, it doesn't o make it work but weo need to recognize that this is the well of stuff that people are drawing from who are coming into your classrooms, right? all of o this information is on youtube. all of this stuff when they want to make these kinds of things, these areow the raw materials. if we're going to talk about this with our students and fellow americans, we need to know some of this history to know whatit is inbounds and whas not? of a good conspiracy group, a state within a state helps. this is the masons, the catholic church,, the international bank, maybe even some of the organizations i depending on ho you want to define it, it stretches beyond national borders. it has famous members if there is a secret society in which the highestbu ranking member is a barber from muncie. i don't think anyone cares, right,t, but when you have reag
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in the picture, all of a sudden you haves my interest. money, secret rituals and often sexualon abuse. this is the disturbing part is that you take people with robes inin the care ceremony and you d in a little eyes wide shut, right, and i you begin to creat something that evolves itself into pinginping-pong, a place ts alleged in 20 d.c. ae goal in secret society is jut to get together and have a party, and no one much cares. a little bit about ufos. i'm going to -- i know because this is a place -- one of the things we o need to recognize i conspiracies don'tne simply involve politics. they aren't simply about political power orf connections made at yale or the
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internationalju espionage, thos kinds ofth things, right? or oil or just money or just those kinds of things. there is a carnival-esque period in which you trade many of these conspiracies, they're going to move to the fantastic, the unreal, seemingly, the unbelievable, the religious, tht miraculous, right? ufos have been with us a long time. this is the book of ezekiel, chapter 1 points to ufos that we've been visiting for a long time. if you read it in a particular jaundiced eye or unjaundiced eye, moving over mt. rainier in
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1977. he said they were crescent shapedil but they skipped over saucers. they were t never saucer shaped they were crescent shaped. this is 1947, the founding -- now, is that a connection? i don't think so, but in the eyes of a conspiracy theorist, i can tell youou that dates and times are going to be very important and they're going to echo, right? in 1947, a public information officer namedam robert haut recovered pieces of a flying disc near roswell, new mexico. roswell is an almost unknown air base that p no one had heard of prior to this event and now it is possibly due mainly to the x-files and other things. it is part f of our popular culture, right? they issued a retraction on a weather bullet. but it was off and running.
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thene air force investigates uf from 1952 to 1970 in project blue book for those of you in my generation who watched the leonard nimoy show. there were many shows investigating blue book and this was very popular in the 1970s. the fbi investigated 12,618 cases, most were explained but 701 remained unexplained. officers were going place to place investigating them, and two, they're issuing a report in which they'rely finding some unexplained. it is not aer a step to say thi all a front for clearly men in black going from place to place and covering up ufos, right? so the next step of alien contact is abductions, right? betty and barney hill is one of
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the classic abduction theories. there are all kinds of ufo shows that are involved in these kinds of things, right? bettyve and barney hill saw it new hampshire. they p realized their drive hom normally four hours took more than seven. this is the missing time of so much erufo culture.. returning home, betty has nightmares. they remember what happened. a ship landed, they were taken on board, and if i asked you to writehe down on a sheet of pape the e types of medical examinations that were done, you know what they are, right? they were probed here and there, andd what seemed so fringy in te 1960s, we could say what an
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alien abduction feels like, sounds like. the grays become the popular figure and they publish a book in 1966 called "theinterrupted journey." why are wewall talking about uf? because gufos come back to conspiracy theories about the government in interesting ways from all kinds of theorist groups.fo by the '70s, people were talking aboutle rob lowe's "the smoking gun" proving there was contact. there was anhi alleged agreemen at -- pick your air force base -- patterson, andrews -- in which there were alliances formed between the ufos and th united states government, right? bill cooper, who is a writer ad one of thet, leading conspiracy
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voices, who is now dead, but he was a leading voice in the conspiracy of thes government. there was a conspiracy that the government had made a deal in an agreement with aliens in exchange for technology to allow alienshe to kidnap and torture american people. andp that the abduction movemen, the ufos, the cia, all of this is a cover-up of a giant ufo arrangement.ld so s it combines the builder burgers, the new world order and other groups into a kind of conspiracy group. underneath a lot of conspiracy groups that you will discuss in class are bigger conspiracies that the students are not going to discuss because they're arguing about the evidence of one particular little bit. it's important to recognize that these things canan grow and spa, and they involve this kind of carnivalesque stuff. in it1990, the air force said,
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we'll m release all documents about this, it was project mogul, it was high-altitude weather balloons to discover whether moscow was doing nuclear tests and it crashed. but do you think this helped? the issuing of more things was taken in the ufo community as look how close we're getting. they're now trying to recover thee cover-up because we're abot to uncover it. we're aboutth to below this thi wide open. a thean more the government said, look, here are more documents, the more they said, these documents areag so fake, i can' believe these guys are so scared. we have them on the run.nl so the effort to engage with the conspiracy at this point only leads to make the conspiracy stronger as a sense of, well, we're totally justified, right? sos there's other arguments, right? there are other arguments that the a ufo conspiracy is a conspiracy, a conspiracy of the air force. soes the air force is putting o stories about ufos so that when people see test aircraft in the air, they don't say, oh, that's
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the f-37 stealth fighter. they say, it's a ufo. soen this is a cover-up to get people to believe in ufos so theyea aren't paying attention what's really going on in areas like area 51. areaea 51 is an area on a government map that no one knew about prior to conspiracy theorists saying that is grim lake where they're testing ufos that they gotbo from the aliensy allowing them to abduct people and takere their bodily organs, right? have you guyss heard of area 51? there is a 5 thing you know abo that's on a government map literallyar listed as area 51, because the name is top secret because we have t a national security state that takes a large partha of the united stat territory and says, this is area 51. we can't tell you what we're doing sthere. we can't tell you what we're spending here, but it's to kee you safe, trust us. i understand youou need to test aircrafts and i don't have a problem with that. but as s it plays into this conspiracy ththeory, it is the w
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stuff to allow this stuff to go on, right? the other one is that the ufos are a cover-up, because what they're really doing is they are taking people andnd probing the torturing them and doing medical experiments on them or their cattle. cattle mutilation comes in here now. but thehe cover-up is rather th it being black helicopters of the united states government kidnapping people, drugging them and torturing them to do medical experiments on them, instead it is ufos. so whoever is out in the cattle ranch gets mad at ufos and not atpi the united states governme. so, yes, it's a conspiracy, but it's a conspiracy of a conspiracy hiding a bigger conspiracy. these arereaz the mazes -- these theil mazes we go down, right? again,ie these might seem silly but they show how conspiracy theories expand and darken as they move forward, right?
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from a government covering up technology or covering up something they've seen in the sky to the wholesale torture of americans, right? oftentimes these things will move in a religious way, that this plot of the ufos, that the ufos are not aliens from andromeda but t they are, in fa, lucifarian beings. religious beliefs will come into this depending on the conspiracy theory,on right? joseph r.ch kelly argued in 199 for a what he called fusion paranoia. it was a radical union of the left and right which is often distinct groups. but they shared in the evil of the government and its allies. as you go to the left and the right, you find that the villains are the same, and it's often the u.s. government. what we think of, there had been
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leftists movements like the weather man. there were leftist movements of the army faction in newark. the aryan nations, boelt of theseth groups could get togeth and agree on nothing about the political g outcomes they want, but they both agree that the target they've chosen is the united states tgovernment. that it is impressing both the african-american americans, if you want to look at philadelphia or the embattled downtown philadelphia, or you want to look at radical movements in idaho, they are alled identifyi the exact same enemy. that is, the national security state and b all the securities the federal government. inls 1991, george h.w. bush, bonesman, yalesman, former head of the cia, comes forward and gives a speech about the new world order. many people who heard that said, well, that makes sense.
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the soviet union has just fallen. we have had a 50+ cold year in which we split the war between communists andd capitalists, no one of those is gone. it is time to remake the world and create a new world order and seems utterly unremarkable. i can guarantee you for other people listening with different ears,er bonesman h.w. bush, forr director of the cia declaring a new world order is scoring the brotherhood. randy weaver in idaho getting delivered a warrant, the fbi and other agencies weres attempting to use him as a witness or as a source against the aryan nations. he didn't want to. they were going to arrest him on gun alcharges, and it turned in an armed standoff in which his wife and other members of his
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family were killed. waco in 1993, the standoff in waco, texas for 51 days around the branch davidians who had an end-of-world me say sargely. i was also brought up in the southern baptist it, acting the role of the government they would see in a 5d 1, and an encouragement into the fbi and atff saying this has gone on log enough which ends up in a fireball that kills lots of people, right? allid of these things in the context of the national security state, of ufos, of the american government is hiding it, both left and right seeing the
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ridiculous notion r. they coming for our guns. a compound again where you have accusationss r. >> o first step to stretch with thera american people. there might be a t different version of who these people are. which ofns these conspiracies ie laid out for you, how they're putting them ltogether, but th all come to similar conclusions about the fault of the u.s. government. trust no one,s they lied to us. and it ends -- it doesn't end, it's a mid -- timothy mcvey is at waco. there ishe footage of him selli
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anti-government stickers from the back of his car watching waco. he makes a statement that he is a war that the united states government has declared war in 1991 p in ruin ridge, 1991 in waco, and that's the way it is. it is part of a long, detailed, anti-american conspiracyy theor. pick your pieces from the lego box. masons, jewishow bankers, but ts event is coming out of the conspiracy theories and coming out of thein u.s. government wh hass maintained a secret state, national security state intelligence organizations are allowing a lot of these claims to be made. >> also the actions of the things i that were done in mk
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ultra in northwoods and other things that are coming out makes its harder and harder to make te case we'd love to make, which is we would never do that. this is gore vidal. he's a rolong-time western crit of americanar kbirz, he said. he wrote about the shredding of the bill of rights. he declared vicky and sam weaver as cults of slaughter. he wrote that quote. most of today's active terrorists can be found s in ou own governments, federal, state and municipal. i'm not sure you would say that post-9/11, it seems a strange thing to say, but it does tell youp that gore vidal is far mor political than he needs to be. they h become pen pals when
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timothy mcvey is in prison. they comment on how much they have in common and their beliefs. thisur is tied into 9/11 being inside job, right? it is unsurprising, all the things i haveet laid out for americans who gohe searching on youtube or they watch a show or hear a talk, these are the thingsg they've put together. this is four years after the revolution that they actually discussed a project in the northwoods that they never did. but h they claim that bush knew. echoes claims that fdr was behind the pearl harbor attack, that he so wanted to get involved in war in europe that he either allowed pearl harbor to have or actually took a stronger hand in it in an even harder to prove conspiracy, right? so many of these claims about 9/11, and p know that we'll get into them - in much more detail.
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that there was a plan of there was no plane in thed pentagon, that these wee actually missiles and not planes with holographic planes around them, depending how far you want to stretch the bounds of reality they're going to use. these are important issues on the part of a debate, the debate about 9/11, and no one can talk about it. part of it is evidence, and depending on who you talk to, they may have been having an evidenc oiary debate. but the evidenciary basis of 9/11 or any of these is a cover for l anxiety, the anxiety of ty liedf to us. trust no one. and the conversation about 9/11 is only the tip of the iceberg of allve this other stuff behin it, of how we think about democracy, how we think about how the american government works and ourur relationship to
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it. this is all for the first part, and we'll move to the second part after the break. we can ask somey questions if you'd like. do you want to do -- i think i need youg] to have a mic. >> do you see a difference between thee conspiracy theorie, from whator i can tell, is the distrusting the other white man, and the people of color o who has a government th has y consistently oppressed an killed them over and over again? >> i think you're absolutely right, and i would advise you to stay tuned for the next hour. we're goingra to talk about it. we're going to talk about how conspiracies are broken down
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racially and i the kind of conspiracy theories there are. given the long history of american government and government of power. slavery.ti >> is there a white american malele phenomena, is what i'm wondering. >> i think that's probably true. if you hadn't asked that question, it would be a truly devastating question. >> can you speak to if this speaks to internationally at all? >> i i can try to. there are --rl i don't think its an american phenomenon. i think ifs you look at other governments, particularly the soviet union andnm communists we rife with conspiracies. i think h anyplace you have a government that's not responsive or secret parts of the government in how the function
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of political governments and political economy f isn't cleari think you have conspiracies. even the little league, in a fantasy football tleague, have conspiracies.th i can't believe they want to switch to ppr is a conspiracy, right? i also think that one of the things that make it -- and, again, i'm talking about evidence so i'm just kind of recognizing that all of this could be revised by better scholarship. i thinknt one of the things tha makes us particularly rife since 1957 is important people and a lot of money. america has a lot of money and huge power and the ability to power project inn ways that if you were, say, sweden or lithuania or belize. if belize has horrible ideas, i'm not sure they're having a
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whole lotes of effect. america has an empire. we are in, what, 100 countries? we haveno military bases around the world. we have nearly unlimited capital.fu the m economic system flows rig through the city of new york. we have the t most powerful, biggest, most expensive military in the haworld. we have satellites, we went to the moon. if there is as country, with th possible exception of the soviet union, that has the power to do bad things if it is inclined to do badca things, it's the unite states. so the fact that america has doing some bad things,, there is a belief. if belize says there is a bad notion, wow. if hebelize had a world power possibility, then those conspiracyom theories -- there the tgreenbriar or cheyenne,
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there are areas for bombproof. we have anar entire infrastructe that was designed to accept the fact we were probably goinghe t be in a nuclear war. we have laws drawn up that allow certain parts of the government to be completely non-democratic, which in the eyes of some people are like, see, we already have thela plan. all we have to do is announce a nationalof emergency or we can dissolve this or do this or do this, plans made up in the cold war. america is inn a a position bece power and its extent and its reach that those theories may notot be bound in reality. having been a teenager, any time you get three people together, the third one is plotting against the first one. >> in recent years it feels like there is more and more of a conversation about how people are onlyy reading news that
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support what they say and how people are looking for information thatt support what their mindset is. i'm not a believer in conspiracy theories at all, but i'm looking at this and saying, surely you're trying to prove there is a conspiracy. you can always findpl that one detail and say this part isn't solved. yeah, because there's nothing. people willha always gravitate toward apthat, but what sense i it of people not taking responsibility for actions that are happening. oh, we're not going to say what's really happening and we don't want to admit to what might be the problemig and we'r going with the conspiracy because that's easier than thinking what actually might be a problem and addressing it? >> i think that's exactly right. we'll talk about this in the secondt half, which is what is thee attractive part of conspiracy theories. what is the -- a conspiracy theory isn't simply just -- it's very seldom the best answer for the given evidence, right? there are other things p going . what is emotionally attractive
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about i conspiracies, what is politically attractive about conspiracies? you're right, part of it is the world is super complicated and we want to have answers for it. and there are times in which because of that complex nature, conspiracycy theories seem easi and more attractive because they explain more things. but we're going to talk a whole lot more about that. i do alsoms think that the division of news in which you consume only that news which seems toar most agree with what you believe leads to a lack of examples, inions and yeah. i think that's absolutely true. please. >> you've been talking about conspiracytr theories that peop have l about government, but in this administration it's like they are the ones promoting some conspiracy theories, like the birther movement, ted cruz's dad
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being involved in the jfk assassination, michael flynn and -- and so many others, and that is extremely scary that some of the t followers, becaus trump has a lot of supporters, might actually believe those conspiracy theories because they're i coming from them, fro him. >> i think you're right. you know the comment s ping-pon right? a guy shows up with a rifle. we can talk about it in some detail about imagery and the way symmetry is used there. there is no way around -- one of the things that achieves political takeoff for donald trump was his opposition to obamahe and pushing birtherism, right? he was attached tot that early n as a kind of -- i don't think that's the only reason he won, but it certainly was a reason. i would say part of this is -- we talktu about this in various
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ways. we see conspiracy theories separate and apart to the way people think about stuff, and trump, to his credit, said, there is a lot of people who think like me, or people who think like this, and i can mobilize them to become active political participants in a way that other politicians think, i won't talk about that because it's horrible or untrue or no one is going to respond to that or people will think i'm a nut. i think trump didn't have that opinion, bright? >> building off of rick's question, are you going to talk about t women and conspiracy movements? >> as little bit. surprisingly, if you look at most of the scholarship oft it, women, there is some scholarship about belief on women but less
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about perpetuating of women and it's very anti-feminist. depending on which conspiracy theory you're looking at, things like the feminist movement in the 1960s are things they're acting eagainst, the aryan nation, a lot of these right wing movements are very much about traditional female values, so there really isn't a space for them to be the kind of engineers -- there is not a lot -- there isov a lot more abt in radical movements or movement ins. extreme movements but n much less on women as leaders of those movements? >> i agree, i almost never think oft women. i always think of men saying, oh, this is a conspiracy. >> it will say that's not entirely true. depending on what community you're f looking at, to the dege that religion is an important
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factor, for example, randy weaver's wife had visions of an apocalypse, had visions of going to a mountain and she was really -- she wased in some way thet leader of the family all te way around, and they moved to idaho because they thought the apocalypse was coming. where religion comes into this, there very t often is a powerfu woman figure on that, though there's also very much a masculinist warrior culture that puts women into the background on that. there are women in these places that areer pushing some of thes things. you're right, i can say in the literature they play perhaps a very muchg underdeserved small
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role. do you have a second whone? >>he yeah. so when you were talking about, like, how, like, the people -- the power of the united states, like, engenders conspiracy theories, i was thinking about north korea and howre the entir population is brainwashed to believe they're the most absolutely powerful nation in the worldhi and they're perfect and p everyone else is like thi horrible persons in this but you don't e, really have conspiracy theories there. >> it's hard to know, right? it's a good question. there is also -- i think what you have s there is a cultist personality. but you alsohe have the idea th kim played a round of golf and had 18 hole-in-ones. when he was born, there was a double d eclipse and five rainbows. there is that kind of myth building. i don't know that it's quiteho conspiracy, but it is interesting to think about those closed communities that are
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dominated by a cultist personality the kind of things you have. >> so it's a brainwashed solution toy those conspiracy theories. >> do you have a question? > you showed that they've be around forever, but i'm just wondering, have they kind of changed and morphed and grown since the advent of the internet and people able to communicate instantaneously around the world together? >> that's a really good question. there are the kind of techno prophets who say once we're all able to talk to each other, we'll move to this new level of intelligent discourse, and then there's the internet, which is not that. so i think the internet has been key to this. i mean, again, if we looked at, say, comment ping-pong which starts on a reddit board on november 4th, and within a week it's become on tv, on fox news
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event, this this thing in which there is this allegation that there is a pedophilia ring underneath this pizza place in d.c. frequented by powerful politicians, likely democrats, in which they talk about pizza. becausee my sense is if you hav a bunch of political volunteers, you buy them a lot of pizza. but people on the internet going through, he's saying pizza so much that you know pizza is code for pedophile sex with children. so thes internet allows that ida which iske -- what it allows is one person or a group of people have an idea. and it might be a joke. it might beth just for the lull. it might be just they're playing a joke on somebody, but they started intoio the internet whi now can be spread so rapidly that everyone who has an
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inclination on that or advice about that can now be part of the a community. it spreads to the point that, than a month later, on november 3rd, my guess is outside of a six-block area around theur pizza place, nobod has ever heard of this place, right? but it turns into the idea that all thesell businesses are link and there is this pedophiliac situation soo the elite can hav sex with gchildren, and it get to a guy in north carolina who, i guarantee you, a month earlier never heard of comment ping-pong. soch he drives to do what he cas self-examination. that kind of speed which can go from really disinterested and
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being created on the internet. there is a picture of obama at comment ping-pong which -- maybe he'sit actually holding a ping-pong paddle but h it's in e north part of the white house with a ping-pong table in the middle. it says, obama comment ping-pong. it could be someone made a joke and passed k it to a friend who then puts it on this reddit page and then it's in the kind of -- it's a new kind of conspiracy disease vector in the kind of mind of the body politic. we'll talk about it some more, but the internet certainly has allowed communities that otherwise communicatednd much me slowly to communicate much more rapidly and evolve much faster in a way that's kind of surprising. andrn shocking. i, unfortunately, spend more time engaging with people on the internetet that i definitely dot want to meet in real life. it's shocking how fast these
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things canan metastasize. another question. >> going to what you just said and also something that struck me ass you were talking about te history of the illuminoti and the breakup of the illuminoti and there becomes this evidence of o how they gather evidence a create argument toward the argument they want to make, which made meon think of the id thatat in a trusted conspiracy, there is no source because your source is m contaminated by peoe who want you to see what they want you to see. which really led me to kind of theac modern era of the view of your truth, the view of your facts. i have my i i truth and my fact and ie kind of wonder if a lot f this comes down to the idea that beliefs don'tfa need proof becae you have what you believe and i have what i believe.
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>> imagine if we go back to stefan diggs which said, let's have i an evidenciary discussio about knowledge, and let's turn tor stefan diggs. go ahead and proveve it to me rightev now but don't give me a picture of something you got somewhere because they lied to us, m right? what we're in is this weird evidenciary space where technologygy has made it even pre-photo shop. the idea that the evidence you gave me is fake because i have decided thatt nasa is a front t fake the moon landing. so the pictures you're giving me as evidence can't work as evidence because i've already decided that because they are part of the conspiracy, none of that evidence can be trusted. so there is no evidence. i think we'reor at a point now and i was an english major as well, undergrad, and we talked about post-modernism, and this
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was going to be really great. we were throwing around masterisms,te inherent ideas of gender or power or capitalism, these kinds of things, and we would be free of the masterisms ande. we wouldn't be able to control the narratives. well, we're here. this is what it looks like, right? in an area where w you say how we engage and talk about these issues when we won't share a world view of what counts as evidence? and when we are in? an area, an again, this is where it moves toward religion, i right? you would neverer say to someon and i grew up and i say, i jesus died for my sins. you're like, well, give me that evidence. there are somegu claims that ar in our culture from evidenciary claims. we're not going to have that argument, right? or maybe we will, but it's going to be uncomfortable. that sense of belief has moved to what we would think of as
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traditionally difficult questions. i wouldns, argue this, many arguments about conspiracies are religious a questions. they function like religious questions, not like political questions, and that can put us in a really gray area as we try to debate them. does that make sense? we'll talk about it more. thank you. recently on "lectures in history," emery university professor felix harcourt talked about how american theories shaped our culture. >> the invasion of the body snatchers but also invaders from mars, killers from space, earth versusg the flying saucers and more. there is a couple interesting elements to be brought out from these films, not the least of which is a lot of them deal with aliens either taking control of
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humans' minds or of replacing them entirely with look-alikes. given that these are coming out mid to late '50s, what are the fears we've been talking about that those coincide with with? melissa? >> communist infiltration. carol? >> brainwashing. >> brainwashing. good. this is very much n playing on o simultaneous feeders bubbling up in the 1950s, not just that the communists are infiltrating but the communists are infiltrating throughh these kind of mind control fears. i'm pairing that with an extraterrestrial threat as well, >> you can watch the rest of this class and our entire
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library of american history online at c-span.org. american history tv continues now. you can find the whole schedule for the weekend on your program guide or at c-span.org/history. edward ball talks about his books "slaves of a family" and "life of a klansman" that looks at why a natural history museum is being built inn charleston, south carolina. >> mayor, do you want to welcome onceer again edward ball to our classroom? >> indeed, professor. thank you very much. i'm so grateful and honored that edward ballim has so generously given of his time to be in our

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