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A Culture Of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions In Contemporary America

2495 words - 10 pages

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a conspiracy theory is a belief or idea that some covert and influential institution is responsible for an unexplained event or secret plot largely unknown to the commonwealth (Conspiracy Theory, 2013). Many nations have these circulating rumors of perfidious authority; however, it has been observed frequently that the United States of America is a uniquely fertile land for individuals to suspect high-ranking government organizations, or other powerful societies, are plotting to do something unlawful or harmful to American citizens. Viren Swami, a psychology professor researching beliefs of conspiracy theorists at the University of Westminster, suggested, “the best predictor of belief in a conspiracy theory is belief in other conspiracy theories”. This is because of the psychological phenomenon referred to as confirmation bias, the tendency to be more aware of evidence that supports what someone already knows or believes to be true (Koerth-Baker, 2013). In other words, when people lose faith in authority and begin to doubt the assumed truths proposed by officials then suspicions spread like a contagion and soon develop immunity to logic. Multiple examples of this contagious conspiracy ideology have been constructed over the years such as: man never walked on the moon; extraterrestrial beings have crash-landed on Erath; and a totalitarian one-world secret government has assumed all power. These undisclosed schemes appeal to conspiracy theorists through their creative presentation of evidence and seemingly plausible narrative. However, of the most proclaimed theories, two stand above the rest as the most proclaimed conspiracies—the disturbing assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the devastating terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. Both conspiracy theories employ evidence and narrative similarly in order to advocate their particular point of view to the public.
The conspiracy theory involving John F. Kennedy precipitated from the events of Friday, November 22, 1963. On that day, President Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy arrived in Dallas, Texas for a presidential campaign with Texas governor John Connolly and his wife Nellie. The Commander-in-Chief and his party led a motorcade through the downtown metropolis in an open-topped presidential limousine. Trailing the limousine was the Secret Service, Dallas Police, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. The motorcade entered Dealey Plaza at 12:30pm, Central Standard Time, and was greeted by a jubilant throng of onlookers, many of who were recording precious home videos of the occasion. President Kennedy waved to the masses from the back right seat, behind Governor Connolly and beside Jackie Kennedy, as they passed the Texas School Book Depository building. Suddenly, thunderous eruptions echoed over the crowd and President Kennedy simultaneously raised his hands to his throat and Governor Connolly rocked forward in his seat, a...

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