My Greatest Fear

If you asked what my greatest fear was, you might be surprised to hear that it’s not dying alone, nor is it seeing a cat with long, human fingers slowly emerging from the shadows – although that one’s up there for sure – but becoming a Conspiracy Guy. Post-911, conspiracies went irritatingly mainstream, and you don’t have to look much further than the self-service queue at Tesco or your own Facebook News Feed to witness paranoid fuckwits harping on about chemtrails, or The Man sticking up so much CCTV that they might as well install a policeman into your house to honk a giant perv-horn into your face every time you even think about having a wank.

The big champion of Conspiracy Guys is David Icke. He started out slow, by dressing funny and issuing dire, po-faced warnings about the impending apocalypse, but these days he tells anyone who listens (and the people who don’t listen are just closed-minded sheeple) that shape-shifting, twelve-feet-tall lizard people walk among us, in the upper echelons of society, eating children, and controlling the world through their secret, lizardy cabal. The human forms these shape-shifting space lizards take include the Queen of England, George W. Bush and Kris Kristofferson. Oh yeah, old Whistler from Blade, when the cameras stop rolling, he’s eating live babies all the live-long day. Oh, and the moon isn’t a moon at all. It’s actually a big, hollow spaceship from which the Space Lizards control and project the Matrix style holographic fantasies that prevent the sheeple from seeing true reality.

"Babies, you say? Yummy, yummy, in my tummy!"

As well as most of his theories being what is quite clearly a rampant, untreated case of schizophrenia, Icke regularly “opens the doors of perception” by taking hallucinogens and going on three-day-long drug trips. These things that he sees during these mystical voyages, and then writes and talks about on his speaking tours, they’re not drug induced hallucinations at all. It’s also no coincidence that Icke’s descriptions of the events that led to his spiritual awakening into this Lizardman Mind Matrix are absolutely identical to accounts from sufferers of paranoid schizophrenia of the period when they first developed the illness. The story of the night he learned The Truth involves dropping some tribal acid in Peru and having a disembodied woman’s voice talk to him at length about how everything was an illusion.

“She was very funny,” Icke says, “at points my feet were up in the air because I was laughing so much.” Yeah, well, YOU WERE TRIPPING ON ACID IN THE MIDDLE OF THE JUNGLE. I’d be giggling too if I was high off my arse on coconut-pipes. I’m not a doctor (information I’m legally obliged to surrender after that whole ‘Free breast exam!’ business), but I’m pretty sure the prescribed medication they dole out to people with mental health problems doesn’t normally consist of LSD and Peruvian toad-cum. If he’s going to include crazy shit seen while tripping, Icke might as well work his dream journal into his “teachings” while he’s at it.

David Icke’s “bright white light and voices” origin story ties in neatly with Uri Geller’s similar beginnings, although neither delve too much into those anecdotes these days, oddly. Both have carved long careers out of, essentially, mental illness. Most people think of Geller as the cynically opportunist, wacky spoon guy, but anyone who saw that documentary about him being terrifyingly OCD about his mystical powers and repeatedly trying to guess the age of a confused stranger’s dog will know better. This is a man who’s talked about his own bullshit superpowers for so long, he actually believes it, and thanks to his magical vibes pulsating out into the world, Geller has taken credit for just about every vaguely positive event in the entire course of human history.

It might seem like the mental instability of a David Icke is a long way off for people who merely think Zeitgeist is “really opening my eyes, man,” but once that ball starts on rolling, it’s not always so easy to stop. A great example of somebody’s trundle down the path of conspiracy theories mirroring their own slide into terrible insanity is David Shayler. He was initially known as the MI5 whistle-blower who breached the Official Secrets Act, fled the country, and even did a guest spot on Have I Got News For You via satellite feed on a little monitor, because presumably if the government knew where he was, Black Ops would have shot him in the dick with special spy-bullets. Back then, Shayler looked like this.

Then 911 happened. People tended to react to September 11th in two ways. One way was to think “that was pretty fucked up,” and to mourn the dead; the other, to become convinced it was an inside job and generally behave like a shrieking twat. Yer boy Shayler chose option two, and immediately became a big name on the Truther circuit, giving talks in pubs to people who think Loose Change is totally for realz. At this point, he looked like this.

Then, David Shayler discovered something. He discovered that he was literally the Messiah.

“I am the messiah and hold the secret of eternal life”

Between drags on a roll-up cigarette, he explained how the engravings on the Rod of Aaron, the staff carried by Moses’ older brother in the Old Testament, contained an anagram of “David Shayler, Righteous King”.

It’s all so obvious when you think about it, the evidence clear for all to see in anagrams, and ancient prophecies and, well… undiagnosed schizophrenia. Anyway, he wasn’t just the reincarnated Christ. Among others, in previous lives he’d also been:

– Lawrence of Arabia

– Moses

– Mark Anthony

– King Arthur (a fictional character)

– Che Guevara (who died two years after Shayler was already born)

Here he is, looking all Christlike.

Since he found out he was the Messiah, Shayler has also been “expanding his mind” with hallucinogens, just like David Icke. But again, I’m sure tonguing a shitload of acid isn’t the cause of thinking you’re Christ or hearing voices, or seeing Lizard Men from space around every corner. Shayler’s post-awakening plan was to save the world by squatting on a farm with a bunch of smelly hippies and growing vast amounts of hemp, which according to him, will magically put an end to climate change. At this point in the David Shayler story, he looks like this.

The link between mental illness and obsessive interest in conspiracy theories is a fascinating one to me, because so often they seem go to hand in hand. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg thing. I think the conspiracy world becomes dangerous because it’s such a cottage industry at this point, that, rather than being told “You should probably knock this on the head for a bit,” tinfoil hatters will easily find a thousand allies to reinforce their beliefs, in any one of the numerous messageboards and conferences devoted to The Illuminati and celebrity horse bukkake rings. If you’re a bit crazy, and you get into digging around about that stuff, you probably feel as though you’re figuring it all out like a detective. Each Youtube lecture or link between two Conspiracy World story tropes has you tumbling deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, and you’ll want to share this grand, world-shattering truth with others, like a missionary spreading the Good Word. When others can’t see it, or react like you’re insane, that has to be frustrating. Which I’m sure doesn’t help those feelings of paranoia and detachment from society either. Being told “You’re wrong,” is just a nudge to continue from either the sheeple who don’t want to see the truth, or those who’ve been got to by The Man.

Some of the sheer intensity of tinfoil hatters comes from simply not wanting to be proven wrong on something they’ve spent much of their lives obsessing over. For those nuts, it has to be true, or they’ve wasted a decade on something very silly indeed, so any little crumb of “evidence” is hoovered right up and clutched to their chest in desperation-cum-relief. Facts to the contrary just get swatted aside as misinformation, in the fear that everything’s going to come crashing down, lest the world be exposed as just the regular, boring old place it outwardly appears to be. If the leading conspiracy gurus came out tomorrow and out said they’d been wrong the whole time, it would only encourage believers to double up on their tinfoil beanies. “They’ve been gotten to by The Man! Don’t you see?! If David Icke and Alex Jones can be pressured and brainwashed into lying like this, that only shows how right we are!”

Motherfucking CRAZY (and possibly anti-Semetic)

As with religious debate, you also get the unassailable viewpoint, where you can be as smug you like, because Kris Kristofferson’s Wikipedia entry being under the categories of 1936 Births and Actors from Texas, yet not Shape-Shifting Lizards is just evidence of the cover-up. “Yeah, but if the Queen ain’t a lizard from space, how comes she ain’t sued David Icke in court or given a DNA sample? Eh? Eh?”

If conspiracy folks weren’t straddling the bridge of sanity to begin, then any serious amount of time trying to convince yourself there’s something in those wacky theories will probably put you down that David Shayler path eventually. And once you get in deep, there’s no easy way out. It’s strictly a one way street; never back down. If you ever had to admit that you were wrong, you’d basically be saying “yes, I was an insane idiot who wasted years of my life thinking there were glass cities on the moon, and Lady Gaga was the mothership for an invading race of mouse-people.” Plus, if I genuinely believed the world was run by blood-drinking giant lizards from space, I’d probably lose my shit a little too.

Right now the big issue on the frazzled minds of Conspiracy Men involves an undercover ring of Scottish bastards, that the nonce-protecting media refuse to out. I won’t get specific here – not because I’m frightened of THE MAN, but I’d just rather my chucklicious blog not get drawn into that whole tedious world. Although, if you’ve been a victim of the chain-email/forum spamming by wannabe activists of this cause yourself, it all seems to me to be a rather obvious case of Münchausen Syndrome by proxy, exploited by some pretty scuzzy folks for a 2000’s take on the Satanic Abuse Scandals of the 80s, complete with false memory syndrome, and with nappy-rummaging politicians in place of the Devil. Google ‘Michelle Remembers,’ as it’s a pretty good insight into what’s going with this.

The Queen of England, naked and sans old lady disguise

While I’ve always had this fear of suddenly believing in Conspiracy Guy things, the push to actually make a blog post about it was twofold. Firstly, I stumbled across the Youtube account of a guy who seems to have taken a pretty by-the-book plunge into conspiracy madness. He’s clearly severely mentally ill, and his account contains over 500 arm’s length, phone-shot videos of him being thrown out of various stores and fast food joints, as he accuses bewildered cashiers and aisle-moppers of being undercover FBI agents in league with the Canadian rock band Rush to drive him to suicide. I’m not even going to link to it here, because the whole thing is terribly sad. The other factor to writing this was the perpetual slide into Conspiracy World by a poster of a forum I frequent, which has made for an oddly hypnotic case study in action, over the last few years.

I guess to sum up what turned into a monster of a post, if conspiracy theories are a potential path to mental ill-health, then Loose Change and things of that ilk are the gateway drug. Say no, kids. Unless you’re watching them to have a right old sneery laugh, in which case, go ahead. But you know, since I typed it, I can’t stop thinking about that cat with the long human fingers. I’m pretty sure they don’t exist, but I’ll just check Maybe someone’s seen something?

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~ by Stuart on February 10, 2011.

16 Responses to “My Greatest Fear”

  1. Admittedly, if I was rich enough to get away with it, I’d probably eat babies too.

    Also, you totally need to IM me the link to that youtube account.

  2. I don’t disagree with you on the mental illness side, but there are also a lot of very thick people who subscribe to the “looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, must be a duck” ideology. People who make assumptions (“the plane wouldn’t form such a tiny hole in the pentagon would it…its a bloody plane!”). People who would absolutely believe the “0 = 1” proof without question. People who have no idea about transitivity in logic. People who forward all those stupid “COMPUTER VIRUS CONFIRMED BY IBM AND MI5” emails.

    • Yeah, not everyone who gets into this stuff will inevitably end up being sectioned. Some people are just a flat level of stupid their whole lives. That assumptions thing is so true, too. If people only paid more attention to the “…you make an ass out of u and me!” saying, the Truth movement would immediately die on its paranoid arse.

  3. […] of my fascinations, and one that I’ve written about before, is with those wacky, mentally unbalanced conspiracy types, who think the moon is a giant spaceship […]

  4. Brilliant article, sir. I too have a strange car-crash fixation with the conspiracy nuts. Nice to see it articled so humourously and thoughtfully.

    For a special kind of crazy, google “educate yourself”. Some articles are funny, whilst some (The couple that believe their still-born child was in fact stolen by lizardmen) are absolutely heart-breaking.

    • Cheers. I see what you mean about “educate yourself”. Only three results down the page, and there’s my old favourite, chemtrails.

      After this week’s Jimmy Savile-related comment madness on here, I’m further convinced that the people who take up conspiracies are deeply, deeply unhappy, with a huge hole in their life that they’ve chosen to fill with lizards. On a different day, they might have walked into an Alpha Course instead of watching Loose Change for the first time, but both fulfill the same purpose of filling an empty hole with something hollow.

      • I just read the Savile comments. I’m surprised you didn’t have more fun with it, chief. Go nuts.

        The more I read at Educate Yourself, the more I think the guy who runs it is actually dangerous. Here’s a for instance, right: this diabolical sodmong, a man who sells orgone generators as the universal panacea like the cheap snake-oil salesman he clearly is, actually tells people that they shouldn’t get vaccinations…

        …or go to hospitals.

        To quote Brasseye: “I believe he is what is technically called a ‘Zero-Watt Bulb’.”

        I think you’re dead right in making the comparison with the Alpha Course. From what I’ve read, a lot of the conspiracy set are tied pretty tightly with Christianity. A big part of the anti-semeticism seems to stem from that connection. Tragically, God and the Devil are never very far away from those types of discussion. Having said that, there seems (to me, at least) to be a correlation between Christanity becoming/feeling more marginalised and Christian folks turning to this whole conspiracy jamboree, which seems to me to fill the role of a kind of [wank alert] an American-born syncratic 21st Century religion, with it’s own mythology and sectarianism. It’s like the idea of Christianity is adapting… becoming self-aware… wait, no… that’s Skynet.

        Anyway, forgive me for chewing your eyes off with twaddle. I’m off to troll the Icke forums for kicks of a very special kind.

      • I just got burnt out on dealing with them all. The first couple of days, I felt like I was being called a Masonic Sodomite every five minutes, or having someone demand I answer a flood of questions while dismantling BBC paedo rings.

        When the smoke’s blown over a bit, I’m planning on writing another thing about just how rooted the entire conspiracy cause is in antisemitism and homophobia. There are people on the Icke forum rocking genuine Hitler quotes in their sigs like it ain’t no thang.

        And yeah, it’s definitely a weird surrogate religion for a lot of them. A religion with all the hateful parts that really only want rid of the minorities they think are interfering with their grand plan for enlightenment.

      • Ah, look forward to reading it, chief.

  5. Sorry, I meant “articulated”.

  6. […] * My Greatest Fear (aka the mental health slide of conspiracy theorists) […]

  7. […] * My Greatest Fear (aka the mental health slide of conspiracy theorists) […]

  8. […] * My Greatest Fear (aka the mental health slide of conspiracy theorists) […]

  9. Is there anything someone can do if they have a friend who has fallen into this trap? Also, there seems to me to be a striking link between heavy grass smoking and conspirasy theory belief.

    • Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s an answer to that. I’ve seen and heard of a lot of people who’ve fallen into that world, but none who managed to be pulled back out. And yeah, heavy weed use doesn’t help. It cures cancer, don’t you know?

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