Jesse Ventura Takes the Soaring Interest in Conspiracy Theory to TV -- And Viewers Are Flocking to It
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Distrust of power
But even Noory -- who does dedicate airtime to the most fantastical conspiracy theories -- is ultimately most motivated by political conspiracies involving elites. Noory says he grew passionate about the theories he discusses on his show after the Bush administration's claim of WMD in Iraq turned out to be false. That made him question government actions more than he had before.
"We have got to get to a point where we have leaders who are there for us instead of representing their manipulative, greedy ways," he told me.
This insight is one most progressives can identify with, and it drives home the fact that people like Jones and Noory are driven to do what they do because they are distrustful of the powers that be.
The fear of a government that ignores your constitutional rights or of too-powerful interests controlling the economy is a perfectly legitimate concern. This manifests itself across the political spectrum in the United States. When a Republican is in the White House, conspiracy theories veer to the left; when a Democrat is in power, they veer to the right, says Fenster, the conspiracy theory scholar.
George Noory, who has his finger on the pulse of at least one segment of the American conspiracy theory community, has observed this as well. "What this tells me is that there's an incredible dissatisfaction with the ways government handles issues that affect people. People just seem disillusioned with the government and it's obvious by the way they flip-flop all the time," Noory said. It doesn't matter who's in power, "they just don't trust government."
Mike Ruppert, a self-described investigative journalist who is often labeled a conspiracy theorist, and author of Confronting Collapse , which details connections between money and energy, told me that conspiracy theories not only indicate distrust of power, they also remind you that "this 'system' has no real means to hold bad people accountable. When has Dick Cheney ever been held accountable? Henry Kissinger? George W. Bush?"
That's a fair question.
There is always doubt
Jesse Ventura gets to the heart of the matter when he says that conspiracy theories are so popular "because people leave lots of room for doubt."
That doubt stems from not knowing what happens behind closed doors in government and in the board rooms of the largest, most powerful companies in the country. What we have little doubt about is that power in the United States -- and everywhere, for that matter -- is monopolized by small, associated groups that do not represent the interests of the great majority. That's why there is at least a grain of truth in every bit of conspiracy theory, even the most delusional ones.
The fear of concentrated power is valid and brings up important questions that mainstream culture is often unwilling to ask. Conspiracy theorists ask those questions, though their answers may lead some astray.