Am I the only one who’s seeing this? -

Am I the only one who’s seeing this?

Recession, war: nothing slows U.S. paranoia productivity. And nation, we can’t fall behind.


Their economy is in decline, their military is bogged down in two wars and their Jon & Kate have split up, but Americans remain undisputed world leaders in one pursuit: the creation of conspiracy theories.

A building can’t be blown up, a prominent figure can’t be gunned down and a Marisa Tomei can’t be awarded an Oscar without a mistrustful minority of Americans blaming the shadowy hand of sinister forces beyond their sight and comprehension. The shootings at Fort Hood are just the latest example. Within hours, the attack was being described online as a Republican conspiracy to undermine opposition to the Iraq war, an Islamic conspiracy to undermine the Republicans or a CIA conspiracy to . . . well, that CIA is up to something.

Forget baseball and crystal meth: our neighbour’s real national pastime is paranoia. It’s as American as Mom, apple pie and childhood obesity. The assassination of JFK? A secret plot to install a New World Order. Efforts to fight climate change? A secret plot created by the New World Order. Discontinuing the McRib? You’ve gone too far, New World Order!

These skeptics have a number of things going for them. First, they have their moniker—conspiracy theorist. It makes them sound smart, and confers more credibility than, say, friendless shut-in. Second, they have the Internet. It’s hard to believe there was a time when the default domain of the conspiracy theorist was a blank sheet of foolscap crying out for cramped handwriting and spelling mistakes. Today, all that’s needed to disseminate one’s theory that the “moon landing” was filmed on Shelley Winters’ backside is an Internet connection and a knowledge of CAPS LOCK. (Because nothing makes you seem more rational than TYPING LIKE THIS.)

IN THE MIND OF THE CONSPI—oops, sorry . . . In the mind of the conspiracy theorist, every government decree is suspicious. Every “fact” is likely to be proven phony. Every newspaper headline is the handiwork of the cigarette-smoking man from The X-Files. In the writing of the conspiracy theorist, there is no such thing as a lone gunman, a benevolent Jew or punctuation.

This is not to say that all such theories are hogwash. There is, for instance, abundant evidence to support my belief that having Kathy Bates appear naked in About Schmidt was a vast Hollywood conspiracy to turn me gay. And everyone who’s anyone knows that Oprah is an amphibian shape-shifter.

The root of the appeal of these theories isn’t the conspiracy itself—it’s what the conspiracy means. It’s weirdly reassuring to believe the planet is secretly run by Jews, seven-foot-tall lizard people or—to push all limits of believability—seven-foot-tall Jews. Think about it: if dark, menacing influences are behind our every failing and calamity, we’re not to blame for screwing the world up. It was all the fault of the lizard Jews!

But you want to be careful when picking a conspiracy theory to probe, support and ADVOCATE ONLINE. Some are too underwhelming to warrant the kind of hysteria you’re going to want to express. Take the “birthers.” They believe Barack Obama was born in Kenya and is ineligible to serve as president. Alas, it’s hard to get people interested in a “conspiracy” that was allegedly masterminded by someone with 50 cents and access to a photocopier at Office Depot.

Other theories have disreputable connections. Consider the 9/11 “truthers.” They contend the 2001 terrorist attacks were the work of rogue elements in the Bush administration, or possibly rogue elements in the intelligence community, or maybe rogue Jews, or most likely all these people sitting together in an underground lair stroking their cats. The 9/11 conspiracy is big and exciting and it would be an excellent theory to get behind were it not for the fact its most prominent advocate is—and I am not making this up—Charlie Sheen.

Sheen is a hero among truthers. He has spoken about his belief that the twin towers were brought down by “controlled demolition.” (He has also spoken about his belief that his latest wife is “smokin’ hot,” a theory that is not in question.) The actor has even sponsored a contest offering a $14,000 prize for the video that best makes the case for a new investigation of the events of Sept. 11. And hey, if that video somehow manages to include a three-way with hookers, he’ll investigate that too, bro.

While the U.S. advances its dominance in manufactured conspiracies, Canada continues to lag. We can’t afford to fall further behind in paranoia productivity. First step: we need to develop an alternate history of some our country’s seminal moments. The failure at Dieppe? Aliens. The failure of the Meech Lake accord? Really boring aliens. That time when Kim Campbell was prime minister for 20 minutes? It was all the doing of a seven-foot-tall, Jewish Charlie Sheen.

And this column? This column never happened.


Am I the only one who’s seeing this?

  1. We're falling behind because you emessemers are a part of the conspiracy. Remember the stunning revelation that McGuinty was an "evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet" and how quick the press was to cover it up. Until we get our own Glen Beck–who coincidentally is actually a liberal plant–that can rise above the oppressive emessem to deliver the truth, we'll never catch up to the Americans in the paranoia industry and it will never be safe for our kittens to walk the streets alone.

  2. Most of our conspiracy theories are directed at the media. Such as: Those reporters at Macleans are clearly Conservatives/Liberals/hippies/muppets. Also, conspiracy theorists in Canada are much less likely to use CAPS LOCKS and more likely to begin with "While I respect the gentleman putting forth such a reasonable explanation, I must beg his forgiveness as I disagree with….".

    Macleans, your pro-muppet agenda has gone on for far too long!

      • Actually, does anyone else think that Andrew Coyne sorta looks like Beaker?

        • Hmmm, I wonder what that makes Wells?

          • Depending on the mood he's in, he's either Fozzie Bear or both of those old guys heckling from the balcony.

          • I was trying to allude to Dr. Bunsen but sure you're welcome to your own perspectives :P

  3. Among those challenging the official account of 9/11 are:

    – Ray McGovern, former Chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Estimates (NIE) "I think at simplest terms, there's a cover-up. The 9/11 Report is a joke."

    – Bill Christison, former Director of the CIA's Office of Regional and Political Analysis. "I now think there is persuasive evidence that the events of September did not unfold as the Bush administration and the 9/11 Commission would have us believe. … An airliner almost certainly did not hit The Pentagon. …The North and South Towers of the World Trade Center almost certainly did not collapse and fall to earth because hijacked aircraft hit them."

    – Mel Goodman, former Division Chief of the CIA's Office of Soviet Affairs and Senior Analyst from 1966 – 1990. "The final [9/11 Commission] report is ultimately a coverup. I don't know how else to describe it."

    For more info see the article "41 U.S. Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence Agency Veterans Challenge the Official Account of 9/11"

    • And you apparently. That's what sold me on it.

    • What do you expect from a report brought about by a guy who refers to "terror" as "tera"?

      Everyone knows that the Twin Towers were brought down by a cabal of OPEC insiders at the behest of Donald Trump who decided that there was no longer anything larger than his hair allowed in New York's inner sanctum. And EVERYONE knows that those OPEC insiders hired a bunch of gay Iranians who thought that they were making a statement about ABBA, tolerance for monkey on monkey love, and sexual reprogramming.

      In short your well thought out words have NOTHING on my weak evidence! NOTHING!

  4. You, sir, are either complicit or an idiot. I suspect the former.

    • Can't I be both?

      • You can, but then you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin. It's best to specialize. The yackers who drone away about the MSM and cry media conspiracy do so as a fulltime committed hobby. That's why they're so good at it. And convincing too. :)

        Don't get me wrong, I'm repelled by most of the media. But rather than complain of conspiracy, or worse yet, media bias, I just tune it out. Nassim Nicholas Taleb claims that one realizes an immediate net increase in information after completely tuning out the media. I'm inclined to agree. You may not actually know more, but tuning out the noise enables one to think more clearly. (That hasn't actually worked for me yet either, but I remain hopeful.)

  5. The only conspiracy is that you think you write well enough to have your own blog so that you can toot your own horn.

    • I tried tooting my own horn as an adolescent. Wasn't quite flexible enough.

      • Then you're not doing it right. I'll send you my video.

      • I have reliable information that suggests that will make you go blind.

  6. I read something about conspiracy theories recently on the web, can't recall who the author was unfortunately, but one point stuck. It was something to the effect that we have to pity paranoids because they are doubly tormented: by the world that surrounds them firsthand, in that it fails to understand them, and in their imaginary world too, for their world vision can only be the source of endless torment.

    • Endless torment indeed. How would YOU feel with all those shadowy interests scheming against you?

  7. The thing is reality has almost never reflected a real conspiracy invariably some human along the way puts piece of paper from stack 1 to stack 2 or forgets to file it in the bosses inbox and then when all is said and done no one belivees them instead opting out for a secret cabal of shadowy figures – the real problem with kool aid drinkers is that they put too much faith in human ability and for the most we just stumble along screwing up more than we can fix – we should all pray to the real master of the universe Murphy!

  8. Americans lead the world in conspiracy theories? Feschuk, befriend some Arabs.

  9. .Americans lead the world in conspiracy theories? Feschuk, befriend some Arabs., Peter K.

    Isn't that the truth eh?
    But you're not going to find open discussion about this on this thread I'd suspect…

    Most Canadians need to see the world a little more and stop blaming Americans for every damn little thing that they personally perceive as a big deal, when in reality it's just their personal little bug-a-boo.

    Just endless pandering to the American negativity that has gone on for decades from this neck of the woods, that the small minded love to feed on.

  10. "Think about it: if dark, menacing influences are behind our every failing and calamity, we're not to blame for screwing the world up."

    Rather tongue in cheek to declare that humans are to blame for screwing up the world while decrying everyone to just ignore what is an obtuse use of secrecy by those with guns and the power to 'lead' the world. This tripe is merely pandering apathy.

    Just sayin'…

    • Nah. Feschuk is way too apathetic to put the effort into pandering.

  11. Don't you know that everything in Canada is either a vast left-wing conspiracy or a right-wing conspiracy?
    Personally, I'm a fan of the vast centreist conspiracy.

  12. I read the best conspiracy theory the other day. The explosion of theories is a conspiracy to keep us away from the actual conspiracy being committed. He did not say what the conspiracy was, of course it was a male, but he knew all the 'fake conspiracies' were keeping him/us from seeing the truth.

    I enjoy conspiracy theorists/theories but I also remember they are barking mad.

  13. This column was part of Feschuk’s conspiracy to continuously reference Charlie Sheen.

  14. An article bashing conspiracy theorists, as if the elite don't conspire to do anything.

    In 2002, David Rockefeller authored his autobiography “Memoirs” wherein, on page 405," Mr. Rockefeller writes: “For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as "internationalists" and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it."

    Let me repeat. The above is from his self authored book. David Rockefeller is probably the most powerful man in the world. And he is personal friends with all the other most powerful people in the world. Read his bio on Wikipedia. Shocking isn't it?

    • Wow, that's a real smoking gun their Kissenger.
      And your point is….

      • I thought it was obvious, but I can spell it out for you if I must.

        This article portrays conspiracy theorists as nutcases, and yet we have the worlds premier globalist admitting that he is part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States in order to create a one world government. I suspect that you don't know enough about this man to understand the scope of what he is saying. Before replying, if you do, I would encourage you to read his bio on Wikipedia.

  15. Wow, You sir are either Ignorant to how the world is run, or you know hows its run and know not to say anything, All country are run buy the people who control or money, and yes they are pushing for a New/One world order, The only way out of our mess is to get rid of the bankers who controll our money, and start makin our own currency without the instant dept. Long story short do some reseach about what your trying to discredit, There will be a new world order in place by 2012……

  16. Lay off the lizard people, I know them and they are hard working fools like the rest of us.

  17. We created a commission to investigate the events of 9/11 and gave them a budget of $15M USD. To put that in perspective Ken Starr got $40M USD to investigate the Clinton blowjob.

    Many of those on that commission have since come forth to say the commission was a joke, hamstrung by people who refused to testify and people who flat out lied. While they stop short of claiming government complicity (self preservation is a powerful motivator) their statements are enough to cause the questions that are deemed to be conspiracy theories.

    The recent inquiry in the UK into the Iraq war has backed up the claims of others that the war was being planned before the events of September 11. Read that again for full impact. The US government was planning the war before the stated reason for going to war ever happened. If you study a lttle US history, you'll find we're full of all kinds of little tricks like this.

  18. When a respected national magazine publishes a well written, well referenced and insightful article followed directly by a lousy soapbox rant, I am given to think that the latter must be a test of some sort. Call it a combination of my sunny optimism and what I perceive to be the habitual quality of the publication, but I find it hard to believe that the editorial staff was so lax as to let such an unfortunate article past their discriminating eye, or that they are under the impression that their market is so exceedingly uncritical as to let prose that could serve as a schoolboy's reference to written logical fallacy reach print. Of course, there is the ever present pitfall that besets the unwary rational mind into excusing the flaws in statements that agree with one's own bias. Pardon me for begging the question, but it must be a test, right?

    The article in question is Scott Feschuk's effort in November 2009's issue of MacLean's entitled Am I the only one who's seeing this? (the juxtapositional benchmark that I referred to is Mark Steyn's commentary on the dangers of political correctness with regards to the recent Fort Hood incident). If you distill his exercise in ad-hominem attacks–pardon, his article, he makes the specious pronouncement that anyone who expresses doubt in any “official story” is a radical conspiracy theorist, and thus, by turns, a friendless shut-in, mentally unbalanced, and a sophomoric writer to boot. Let us pick this article apart and see what merit it has once the smoke clears and the mirrors are put away. Mr. Feschuk begins with the uncontroversial statement that a minority of people attribute calamity to “the shadowy hand of sinister forces beyond their sight and comprehension.” Clearly this is true. There are multitudes of conspiracy theories out there and the only limit to the fringe's absurdity is the limit of human imagination.

  19. No doubt there were all kinds of radical explanations for the shootings at Fort Hood. Such is the price of free speech and mass communication. Our saving grace is that the majority of people do not believe stories that depart flagrantly from observable or recurrently verified facts, meaning that the chaff is swiftly consumed in the fires of basic logical deduction until only the most uncritical, yet sadly ever present fringe big-mouths believe it. Feschuk would have us believe that to question the President's word on the September 11th attacks is to believe that seven-foot-tall lizard Jews are responsible for the demise of the McRib.

    Mr. Feshchuk goes on to state that “in the mind of the conspiracy theorist, every government decree is suspicious… … there is no such thing as a lone gunman, a benevolent Jew or punctuation.” Again, chances are that there are fringe radicals that legitimately act this way, but since you can find fringe radicals out there of literally every flavour, what use in exemplifying them? Oh yes, because it allows us equate people who are upset with proven lies and desire governmental accountability with flat-earth basement creepers and thus discredit them in front of the uncritical multitudes. This sets up his next logical flaw. He equates doubting “government decree[s]” with racism (believing all Jews are crooked) and then goes on to say that the most probable of a “theorists” claims are still south of a Hollywood plot involving Kathy Bates to turn him gay. This is an easy way to win an argument if your audience is asleep; avoid your opponent's questions entirely by equating him with fringe psychotics, calling him a quack and saying that the patently absurd is more probable than his position. You don't have to address his position at all; just make a big empty clown suit and throw mud at it. The construction of a straw man to attack is the earmark of a desperately weak position… or a faulty intellect.

  20. Equating the 9/11 truth movement with Charlie Sheen's character and intellect is another cop out that should be fairly easy to recognize. If Michio Kaku or Stephen Wolfram were to make an incredible advance in super-string theory and Charlie Sheen decided, for reasons of his own, to publicize that too, would we equate the cogitations of these brilliant scientists with his insipid comedy as well? Would that make Sheen the theory's most prominent advocate? I suppose if you defined prominence as popular fame rather than relevant expertise. 'Nuff said. Try again Mr. Feschuk.

  21. Upon review, please pardon my layman's writing and realize that it is truly irrelevant.