Conspiracy theories and rumors are the creation of people who have extraordinary minds to exaggerate ideas and event happenings in a non-desirable or negative way. People who spread rumors tend to have a lack of education and wisdom. However, it is also observed that even education does not stop people from sharing information that is not even known to exist. Some people disseminate information while threatening about something such as GMO foods or weapons of mass destruction etc. Thus, it is a continuing practice in today’s world to speak without thinking and believing in things or rumors that do not exist at all. Figuring out and understanding truth is one of the major troubling realities in today’s society. The technological advancements have fuelled the spreading of rumors and conspiracy theories and even a disinformation is spread within seconds; penetrating into peoples’ minds as real (Sunstein & Vermeule, 2008).
People all around the world believe in the authenticity of conspiracy theories. They hold the similar belief that people in power work together so as to refuse to give the correct information truth about some significant practice or tragedy. The best example in this regard is the shared extensive worldwide belief that the Al-Qaeda is not responsible for the 9/11 attacks as the attack were conducted by the USA and/or Israel. People who approve of conspiracy theories may involve themselves in the creation of grave risks that may include violent activities. Such people also contribute in raising considerable challenges for the laws of the respective area/country. It is exceedingly important to mention here that self-sealing characteristic of the conspiracy theories is one of their major distinctive features. If truth be told, people that pay great attention in spreading conspiracy theories never agree that they may be wrong. Instead, any such attempt to dispel their theories is used by them as an additional proof to the authenticity of their conspiracy (Sunstein & Vermeule, 2008).
It is important to understand here that conspiracy theories are a global phenomenon and cannot be restricted to any particular part of the planet. In case of the occurrence of an unfortunate event, it is a certain thing that the rumors and speculation would occur at the same time regarding that event. A lot of people do not have the credible resources to know the details of an event such as a plane crash, assassination of a popular figure, terrorist attack etc. As a result of this unavailability of or inaccessibility to authentic sources, they are offered a number of speculations after such events. It is always expected that conspiracy theorists will come forward to pinpoint some kind of conspiracy in every event, big or small (Sunstein & Vermeule, 2008). People accept conspiracy theories on a number of grounds. To begin with, such assumptions seem reasonable by people “perhaps because they provide a suitable outlet for outrage and blame, perhaps because the speculation fits well with other deeply rooted beliefs that they hold” (Sunstein & Vermeule, 2008).
It is natural that tragic events consequently spawn outrageous chaos and people are likely to make justifications regarding such mayhem as a direct consequence of deliberate action. Moreover, precursor beliefs determine the successfulness or failure of any conspiracy theory. For example, whenever a civil rights leader is assassinated, it becomes impossible for some people to think CIA as the culprit. For other people, CIA would be the main power behind such assassinations (Sunstein & Vermeule, 2008). Thus, it is crystal clear that truth is in the ear of the beholder. People like to listen what they already think as right.
- The Sandy Hook Shooting Conspiracy
The Sandy Hook shooting has ranked itself among other tragedies that are linked to conspiracy theories. It has become a controversial event “with talk of a second shooter, Israeli death squads, and connections to The Dark Knight Rises” (Edwins, 2013). Alternative conspiracy theories started rising up only days after the killing of twenty 1st grade students and six people at a school in Newtown, Conn. A man who had given a helping hand to the shooting survivors also came under attack afterwards (Edwins, 2013).
A number of speculations regarding the Sandy Hook shooting have arose due to the governmental and media distrust. It is important to mention here that such conspiracies have circulated through the Internet and social media. It appears that the World Wide Web has become home to the nurturing and flourishing of the conspiracy theory. The web has turned out as the best place from where small, negligible stories are circulated within seconds (Edwins, 2013). As far as the conspiracy theories regarding Sandy Hook shootings are concerned, the assumptions of the theorists have risen on several grounds.
First, the parent or witness shown on TV have never shed a tear of mourn. Till this very day, not even a tear has been captured by the camera and this surely raises many questions regarding the emotional connection of the mourners with the departed (if there were any?). Second, parents, friends and relatives attended TV programs and gave interviews immediately after the shootings, nice, tidied up and without a look of grief. The testimony given by the eyewitness children is completely different when compared with the official story. Moreover, no video releases ever took place showing the shooter entering the school even when there were claims regarding the recordings. Finally, there was never an Assault Rifle found. The law enforcement agencies only found a number of handguns. Adam Lanza, the killer, is reported to die before the day of shooting. How is it possible then for the whole event to take place? It is also an amazing find that the memorial websites and FB pages regarding the whole incidence were already arranged. Also, there were reports regarding the crisis actors that were used to of giving interviews to the media. Gene Rosen is one of the most important names in this regard as he has been accused of playing an actor in the whole scenario. Thus, the Sandy Hook School Shootings is perhaps a hoax and the conspiracy theories regarding it may have some weight (Fader, 2013).
The Sandy Hook Shooting is evidence that conspiracy theories are found on some solid grounds many times. It is suggested by a number of sociologists and other intellectuals that “the underlying theme in all the theories is that the media, the government, and Obama administration specifically either manipulated or orchestrated the shooting to move political opinion on gun control” (Edwins, 2013). On the other hand, it is extremely important to mention here that such conspiracy theories are debunked at several times. As there is no clear information and evidence regarding the Sandy Hook Shootings as a hoax, many people claim it to be an insult to the dead people if conspiracy theories arise about the nonoccurrence of such an event.
Thus, it can be said that conspiracy theories are seldom employed for the sake of deflecting blame. For example, is a person owns a gun, he/she would never like others to blame his/her group. Therefore, he/she ultimately adopts a conspiracy theory in order to get others blamed. Thus, conspiracy theorists perform the function of putting the tragic events in the box in order to get their own ways so that the tragic events could be neutralized.
Edwins, L. (2013, January 16). Sandy Hook 'Truthers' Harass Newtown Man, Conspiracy Theories Go Viral. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved January 22, 2014, from http://www.questia.com/read/1P2-34126400/sandy-hook-truthers-harass-newtown-man-conspiracy
Fader, C. (2013, February 3). FACT CHECK; Misinformation over the Sandy Hook Massacre Persists. The Florida Times Union. Retrieved January 22, 2014, from http://www.questia.com/read/1G1-321472098/fact-check-misinformation-over-the-sandy-hook-massacre
Ramsay, R. (2000). Conspiracy Theories. Harpenden: Pocket Essentials.
Sunstein, Cass R. and Vermeule, Adrian, Conspiracy Theories (January 15, 2008). Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 08-03; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 199; U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 387. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1084585 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1084585