why a conspiracy theorist and his money are soon parted

Thanks to modern technology and streaming platforms, conspiracy theories are big business, meaning that you’re quite literally paying to have people mess with your mind.

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We live in a time when more voices than ever can be discovered and heard. There are fewer gatekeepers than ever. Technology that was once only available to professionals is an order of magnitude cheaper and easily available with a few clicks. Editing software used in million dollar music videos and blockbuster movies can be had for an affordable monthly subscription. As a result, those newly found and amplified voices can be crystal clear and have a sleek, seemingly high budget presentation. But of course, there’s a drawback to all this.

Some of those empowered voices are out to misinform and spread conspiracy theories meant to undermine your trust in science, technology, and the very fundamental facts of the world around you. Even worse, the streaming platforms which host them do absolutely no fact checking and assume that not only is every bit of content equally valid, but they should help your descent into conspiracy theory land by recommending ever more odes to paranoia and crank magnetism until you question the very shape of the Earth. (That said, some people believe in various conspiracies for what seem like very logical, at least to them, reasons.)

It’s the same mechanism by which social media radicalizes political hyper-partisans until their world is warped beyond all logic and reason. The big question in all this is is why. Why make conspiratorial documentaries? Why make a business out of getting as many eyeballs to them as possible? The answer is simple. Money. The filmmakers want the royalties and notoriety that will lead them to new money making opportunities. The streaming services want to give users the kind of content they think will keep their attention and keep their monthly payments coming.

And beyond that, there’s an entire industry meant to separate dedicated conspiracy believers from their cash, both on vacations and in politics. The people behind them want your attention, then your money. They want you to buy their book about why you might be an alien hybrid, or buy a supplement they endorse and from which they get a cut of the sale, or donate to some political think tank or campaign. Meanwhile, the platforms hosting their content caring only about engagement statistics and aren’t about to stop them as they take your money.

So the next time someone promises to let you in on a secret doctors, scientists, experts, or any authority whatsoever are keeping from you, a secret that will make you rich, or cure a terminal disease, or save you from a dark conspiracy you’ve never heard of and somehow involving the entire mainstream establishment, be very, very skeptical. If just having peace of mind isn’t reason enough for you, just think of your wallet. Because if the person who claims to know a deep, dark secret no one else does and whose views are rejected by every expert because “they’re all in on this dark plot,” you’re not someone they’re trying to educate. To them, you’re a mark or a useful tool to get what they want, nothing more.

# oddities // algorithms / conspiracy / conspiracy theorists


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