Forgive me if this topic has been covered elsewhere on ATS. To me, it's almost inconceivable that it hasn't. It's an important topic that needs to
be pondered carefully, and there are no easy answers.
I have been a member of the quote-unquote "conspiracy theory world" for almost 25 years now, since back in the days when the Internet was still out
of reach for most people, and all we had were kooky paperbacks, badly-photocopied 'zines, "alternative bookstores," and edgy coffee shops. I've
watched the Internet grow and with it, the conspiracy theory world has blossomed and increasingly become the conspiracy FACT world. It's been a great
thing to behold, and I'm pleased and proud to have done my modest share as one of the many toilers in the vineyard who has worked to deny
Paranoia has always been part of the conspiracy world. That's a given. We are all a little paranoid, otherwise we wouldn't be here. And it
increasingly appears we have every right and reason to be paranoid
: We have witnessed the terrifying growth of the total surveillance society,
the tracking of our every move online and off, by companies and countries alike, and (most recently), the
that shills infiltrate forums and other social media platforms with the intent of manipulating opinion.
It's getting scary, folks.
But in side-by-side with these worrisome trends has grown another -- a kind of witch-hunt hysteria
where it seems everyone and everything is
decried as "shilling," "disinfo," or the like. Yes, this stuff exists. And yes, we have to be on our guard against it. But at the same time we
don't want to be so excessively skeptical that our doubt leads us into another kind of ignorance -- what happened with the hysteria of Salem, the
French Reign of Terror, the Red Terror of the Bolsheviks, the East German Stasi, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
In all of the aforementioned historical events, the paranoia got so bad that the "bad guys" could just stand back and let the mobs generated by
mass paranoia do their dirty work for them.
After a while, Mao didn't have to give his "Red Guard" explicit orders: the mass paranoia had
developed its own unstoppable momentum. Neighbors were accusing innocent neighbors of all sorts of ridiculous crimes because they were afraid their
neighbors would accuse them
unless they acted first. It's the "circular firing squad" mentality, and nobody wins these kinds of
Never have I seen the paranoia so high in the conspiracy community. And this itself is a dangerous thing, because if carried to a more extreme level,
TBTB don't have to police us...we'll be policing ourselves out of existence just fine with all the accusations.
And in addition, I've been seeing the "shill" word tossed around as a lazy substitute for critical thinking skills.
Just because somebody
disagrees with you doesn't make them a shill. But I see the "s-word" being tossed around as a way to shut down debate. Don't like what somebody
says? They must be a shill. Don't like their avatar? They must be a shill. Disagree with their take on politics or religion? They are shills. Don't
like the color of their shirt? Must be a shill. See how that works?
We have to be skeptical, but we also have to stay sane. It's not an easy tightrope to walk, but we have no choice but to walk it. So let's all take
a deep breath and calm down. Because the ultimate victory for the bad guys isn't them oppressing us: It's them getting us to let our fear lead us
into policing ourselves for them.