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'It Was Like a Cult': Leaving the World of Online Conspiracy Theories

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posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 05:28 AM
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An interesting article I stumbled across at vice.com, that I felt worth drawing attention to. As someone who has been interested in conspiracies for a long time, I found this person's awakening very illuminating (if you'll forgive the pun). Other members may relate to this story, and I'm sure a few will vehemently disagree with it.



broadly.vice.com...


Stephanie Wittschier believed in a lot of different things throughout her life: that aliens were locked away in Area 51; that the Third Reich was alive and well, along with the Illuminati, and—last but not least—that ruling elites were using chemtrails to poison humanity.

The 35-year-old German was deep into the conspiracy theory scene for years before she dropped out, turning her attention to educating outsiders about the sinister truth behind Third Reich truthers and "chemmies" a.k.a people who believe the government is dumping toxic agents in plane vapor trails. Now she and her husband, Kai, run a Facebook page and Twitter account called Die lockere Schraube ("The Loose Screw"). And they've since incurred the wrath of their former conspiracy colleagues.


Of particular interest is where she starts to do her research, stops believing in what she has previously believed, and how her 'community' reacts.


Wittschier spent months questioning the conspiracy theories and she began doing her research for the first time: "At a certain point I started thinking: Gosh, my best friend was totally right. I was shocked. That's the moment you realize that you have invested all that time and money just to make a complete fool of yourself. It was awful. I felt ashamed, like a total prat. I just wanted to crawl into a hole. I thought about my family, my sister and my husband and all the things I told them."



"When I told them, Guys, something's really wrong here, they became really aggressive, like out of nowhere. Contradictions are not a welcome guest. As some of them were old friends of ours they knew who I was, who Kai was, and where we lived. All of the sudden our full name and adress appeared openly accessible on the internet. They called me a bitch, a whore, and a c**t. They said, I should butt out and that I had become an agent for the other side, the ruling elite."


The article is fascinating, and delves into the way people can behave when locked into believing something, to the point of dismissing real facts and evidence. The accusations of 'working for the elite' seem not too dissimilar to cries of 'shill', and 'disinfo agent' not uncommonly heard around ATS.




While she first tried to convert non-believers into the chemtrail way of life, she now tries to proselytize her former friends. "It's basically the same as ever—I'm talking to a wall. First there were my parents who didn't want to believe or hear about my theories, now there are the chemmies and other people. Sure, back then I also assumed I knew the facts, but now I know: these are the facts that are true for everyone."


I personally believe there are real-life conspiracies, but I too dismiss much of what I believed before, simply due to reading and piecing evidence together. I believe people are entitled to their own opinions, but when they threaten others, a line is crossed that indicates that maybe, just maybe, you are taking things far too seriously. Beliefs are fine, but there's a real tendency in the conspiracy world to dismiss facts that contradict one's beliefs. This happened to me, once an avid believer in 9/11 conspiracies, UFO conspiracies, amongst others. I still think there are things which don't add up in certain narratives, but fact-finding has allowed me to dismiss a lot theories I once held sacred. Perhaps not an easy process, but certainly a liberating one.
edit on 22-4-2016 by cuckooold because: (no reason given)



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posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 05:46 AM
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a reply to: cuckooold

Most often, those who lack critical thinking will often end up using fear, intimidating and sometimes outright violence in order to justify their theories and ideas.

I'm a bit miffed that she called herself a Conspiracy Theorist but had never done any of her own research. This is part of the problem. Had they done so to begin with, they never would have fallen into that world.

Moral of the story:

Do your own research, then come to your own conclusions.

I'm always reminded of this video:



~Tenth

edit on 4/22/2016 by tothetenthpower because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 05:54 AM
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a reply to: cuckooold

I see what they are saying... But to play Devils advocate and be a conspiracy theorist if you will, maybe we are just getting too close and they need some articles to get us to back off.

Lol

I will say I don't trust a journalist or writer no matter where they are from... They or their organization can literally create stories or put full spin on them. The diction they use can create a different message or convey a feeling they want. And with the media getting to go to red carpet events in the US with the state dept. I reeeaaalllly have no faith in anyone.

There are crazy people out there for sure... Like people thinking nazis live in the center of the earth.. Or that Hillary is a good candidate for president lol


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posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 05:56 AM
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I think people sometimes lump us all together under that one banner, Conspiracy Theorist and then use that dismiss anything we say. I believe there are different levels or kinds of conspiracy theorist. You have one group that believes pretty much anything, such as cloud ships, chem trails, etc, and then you have the ones like many of us here, who dig for evidence and try to expose the lies and get to the truth.
Conspiracy Theorist is a title I wear proudly. It means I think for myself and that I have discovered the world is not what it always seems to be. That the official story is not always the truth and there are many in our governments and big business, that will gladly trade our safety, our lives and our future for a profit.



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 05:58 AM
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originally posted by: cuckooold
I personally believe there are real-life conspiracies, but I too dismiss much of what I believed before, simply due to reading and piecing evidence together. I believe people are entitled to their own opinions, but when they threaten others, a line is crossed that indicates that maybe, just maybe, you are taking things far too seriously. Beliefs are fine, but there's a real tendency in the conspiracy world to dismiss facts that contradict one's beliefs. This happened to me, once an avid believer in 9/11 conspiracies, UFO conspiracies, amongst others. I still think there are things which don't add up in certain narratives, but fact-finding has allowed me to dismiss a lot theories I once held sacred. Perhaps not an easy process, but certainly a liberating one.


I completely agree.
There are certainly conspiracies, we know this, there has been evidence for them throughout history. However, the problem with places like ATS and the modern Conspiracy Theorist is that they seem to think EVERYTHING is a conspiracy. It goes so far that these people will bend time and space to make their conspiracy work when presented with evidence to the contrary.

When you look at how a conspiracy theory evolves you can see a psychological problem.

The Boston Bombing is a perfect example of that:

1. People believed that it was a "false flag" because there had been a bomb search - ignoring that there are searches at all major events all the time.
2. Then they claimed the injured were "actors" - ignoring the fact that these "actors" would have been treated by paramedics who know the difference between real injuries and "fake blood"
3. To keep the conspiracy alive they then claimed those paramedics were also "actors" - ignoring the fact that those injured would be taken to Hospitals.
4. To keep it going they then claimed all the hospital staff had been "replaced" by... ACTORS! - ignoring the fact that no they hadn't, and someone would have noticed if all their colleagues had disappeared to be replaced by complete strangers, and ignoring the fact that all those people who had been "replaced" would have been rushing into work to assist in a major emergency.
5. When the suspects were identified the "theorists" started going over every pixel attempting to make a shadow into proof of fakery - ignoring the fact that the suspects were seen on multiple cameras in the same locations.
6. Even when the suspect ultimately admitted to what he'd done, the "theorists" then claimed he was under "mind control"

When you have a group of people reaching so desperately far in the face of all common sense and available evidence, manufacturing a whole world full of "actors" in order to maintain their conspiracy theory, there is clearly something psychologically wrong going on.

We're beyond the point of saying "offer proof for a claim", aside from being unable to offer any proof to support their beliefs, they even reject actual science and the actual world around them, they'll defy physics, space, time and matter as it suits to maintain the bizarre theory they have developed in their own mind.

So, I'm entirely in agreement with her, it is a cult, it's built on a bizarre form of constant faith-based delusion about something existing when all evidence available tells them that this thing doesn't exist. The conspiracy theory is like God, there's so much out there to say "no, it probably isn't real", and they can offer nothing to prove that it is.



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 06:00 AM
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off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


 


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posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 06:03 AM
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originally posted by: tothetenthpower
a reply to: cuckooold

Most often, those who lack critical thinking will often end up using fear, intimidating and sometimes outright violence in order to justify their theories and ideas.

I'm a bit miffed that she called herself a Conspiracy Theorist but had never done any of her own research. This is part of the problem. Had they done so to begin with, they never would have fallen into that world.

Moral of the story:

Do your own research, then come to your own conclusions.

I'm always reminded of this video:



~Tenth


I think that her brand of conspiracies could be labled "that world" as you put it. Area 51, Nazi zombies etc, but to use those particular brands to generalize ANY belief in a conspiracy where the so called "facts" are stacked against that conspiracy is irresponsible and dangerous.

My mother is (was) a PHD researcher in life science and it took the better part of her career to realize that there is no such thing as "facts" is the research world. It is all politics and in any political arena you are expected to tow the line or be outcasted. Research needs funding and there are no wealthy financial backers for fringe topics.

I am warry of conspiracy theories now days mostly because it is as obvious as daylight that most of these theories are working (whether intentional or not) to discredit ALL theories.

Bottom line, I dont care what this chick has to say. Thinking critiically means questioning theories and "facts" because nothing is as it seems. It never was and it never will be.



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 06:06 AM
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off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


 



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 06:07 AM
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off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


 



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 06:14 AM
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a reply to: cuckooold

better let SO know...that his site is useless. There are no conspiracies in the real world. We are all here just killing time.

I'm so glad for this girl. She has just unraveled the biggest conspiracy of them all...that there are no conspiracies to uncover.

Oh the humanity...my life now has no meaning what so ever...going off to end my self.


+1 more 
posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 06:20 AM
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She sounds like a gullible stooge who fell for some of the more fringe and speculative narratives.

Sounds like she kept her mind too open and it fell out.



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 06:29 AM
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a reply to: cuckooold

In my experience the 'conspiracy world' is full of decent people. Most of them are curious about mysteries and political misdeeds whilst another group are more curious about them - the classic believers versus skeptics scenario.

Yeah, yeah, yeah it's more complicated than that because so many more people don't fit into the believer v skeptic profile. Lots of ATSers are open-minded skeptics or doubting believers; lots of colour and lots of individuals. Others have their own ideas and enjoy sharpening them in the 'conspiracy' world.

What the woman in the OP is claiming is also TRUE. There are out-on-the-edges, minority people like that and we've seen them come and go on ATS. As much as there are fanatical 'debunkers,' there are plenty of people who are so hostile and fundamental in their conspiracy beliefs that they cannot get along in polite society. Those are the ones who would think nothing of ostracising people and 'cult' isn't too strong a word for them. At their core is so much hatred against others that it's mind-blowing.



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 06:32 AM
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Who even needs disinfo agents anymore; we do enough damage to the truth by virtue of attracting loons and asshats by the bussload. And that's not even counting the legions of scammers and con artists.

Of course, it doesn't hurt the TPTB when someone gets vocal in the media and compares us to cultists or that reading conspiracy theories will "make a fool of yourself" (which is pretty much more terrifying than death for 90% of people).
edit on 22-4-2016 by Unresponsible because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 06:57 AM
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I find some theories very interesting and some completely surreal (yes you flat earthers)
I guess the issue is your stress levels concerning them

If you can't do anything then just acknowledge and be wary.

I come here for a bit of fun and interesting opinion

If it's to much for her then better she step back.

There is no question there is something going on, burying your head, denying, it doesn't prove helpful.



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 07:00 AM
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Use ATS as an example.. we have plenty of people that debunk some theories but believe in others..
Are those people still conspiracy theorists?



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 07:06 AM
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Lets see if this comment doesn't get removed, which confirms the original post I made but whatever. Anyways, This is the largest and most popular conspiracy page on the internet, the govt has obviously taken notice and if you don't think at least one of the moderators or popular posters isn't some govt "spy" I have some beachfront property in Arizona to sell. At least a few of these were stories were so out there that the intent had to be to make people here look like nut jobs.



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 07:08 AM
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a reply to: cuckooold

I am disturbed by this. Deeply disturbed.

Ever since I first began to think about the way society functions, about the hierarchies that govern the way of life I am accustomed to, and began then to research the way that other people live their lives, and the way these things affect one another, I have made every effort to be objective when forming conclusions about matters.

I also insist upon evidence being bought forward which stands up to scientific and logical examination. And yet, I consider myself to be a conspiracy theorist, because although I do not believe everything I hear, regardless of the source, I would like to think that the checks and balances I have developed to keep me honest, and for that matter, somewhat sane, have worked.

What disturbs me, therefore, about this article and this woman's escape from the clutches of the cult like monstrosity that was her circle of discussion on matters strange, is that there are people out there who are involved in CT life, who clearly have not developed these tools, or if they have, choose not to employ them.

Because of the nature of what we discuss, it is VITAL that we use reason in all that we do, to examine everything we are told, and everything we can discover, through a lens of reason and logic, rather than through a crystal of insanity and thoughtlessness. If we fail in this most serious endeavour, we cheapen the entire community, and the word of any of us who might stumble upon, or uncover through diligent effort, a true conspiracy.

Look at the Snowden revelations.

For years, perhaps even a decade before these revelations were made in the press, communities like ours were discussing the possibility that a global informational network could be hijacked for intelligence purposes, that it may well have happened already. We now know that indeed, this is absolutely the case, without a shadow of a doubt. Reason, logic, the ability to discern the truth from inferences made from a position of rational cogitation, are what put communities like ours ten years ahead of our time, in terms of informational awareness.

The vindication that many of us felt when Snowden announced himself and his information to the press, should be a reminder to us all, that if we are to be taken seriously, rather than as kooks and nut bars, we must be rigorous, unyieldingly demanding when it comes to evidence, rigidly logical in our musings and our thought exercises. The truth, if it is out there, will not be uncovered by being as mindlessly devoted to our strange stories, as many others are to the official account of matters.

The individual who authored the piece in the OP, was clearly not a member of an organisation or community that takes seriously its commitment to the truth, and is an example of what goes wrong when a community looses sight of the goal. Reality is not our enemy. The lies we are told are, and exposing them is our duty, honour, and our mission.



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 07:09 AM
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originally posted by: AVtech34
Lets see if this comment doesn't get removed, which confirms the original post I made but whatever. Anyways, This is the largest and most popular conspiracy page on the internet, the govt has obviously taken notice and if you don't think at least one of the moderators or popular posters isn't some govt "spy" I have some beachfront property in Arizona to sell. At least a few of these were stories were so out there that the intent had to be to make people here look like nut jobs.


Of course this site is checked out along with most other forums and social media.. I'm sure you could build quite a good profile on someone, if you were to go through their posting history..
If someone showed tendencies towards extremism for example those people would be monitored.

This is the digital age my friend.. You willingly carry a tracker and listening device with you at all times, put your innermost thoughts and opinions out there for anyone to read, what you spend your money on can also be traced..
We have just been de-sensitised to it all now and do the hard work for those that monitor us..

I bet most folk wouldn't think twice about having a chip implanted under their skin now.. But if you suggested that 20 years ago there would be uproar..
edit on 22/4/16 by Misterlondon because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 07:16 AM
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a reply to: TrueBrit

What you say here, exactly right.

I get the feeling the lady quoted in the OP was indeed into the more radical theories as 'watchitburn' suggests, those with very questionable evidence. Now I imagine her article and website are used to muddy the waters of real conspiracies.

Or it could be that chemtrails are 100% real and Vice are doing a very successful psyop with this piece here.



posted on Apr, 22 2016 @ 07:18 AM
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Here is the main problem with enthralling yourself with such theories:

"As for you, then, be on guard against the world. Prepare yourselves with great strength, so the robbers can't find a way to get to you, for the trouble you expect will come."

Conspiracy theories can evolve into a type of schizophrenia in which someone thinks all is malevolent and out to get them,, when in actuality, the root of most conspiracies is a group of covert #holes making a lot of money. The fear of this ignorance can manifest to the point where I've heard some people claim people in black suits are following and watching their every move. These pseudo-characters are similar to terrors in a bad dream, they are only scary until they are addressed and realized to be a figment of your mental manifestation and thus harmless

"So if you are going to be afraid of what is about to come upon you, it will engulf you. For there is not one among them who will spare you or show you mercy."
edit on 22-4-2016 by cooperton because: (no reason given)



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