Kemper's Reviews > Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History

Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch
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Jun 28, 12

bookshelves: non-fiction, history, vast-conspiracy
Read in April, 2010

NASA landing a man on the moon was one of the biggest engineering challenges ever taken on. It involved thousands of people and billions of dollars. It was documented by countless still pictures, hours of film, warehouses full of paperwork and scientific data. And some people will tell you that it never happened. Because they use bad science and faulty assumptions to say that it’s far more likely that the U.S. pulled off the most elaborate lie in history rather than that that we actually went to the moon. (And if you want to argue about it, I’ll just refer you to the Mythbusters moon hoax episode or the Bad Astronomy web site.)

For some reason, people would rather believe that Princess Di was whacked in an elaborate conspiracy rather than admit that her driver was drunk and speeding recklessly to get away from paparazzi, and she wasn't wearing a seatbelt. Or that JFK was the victim of the CIA/Mafia/Soviet/Cuban/military-industrial-complex plot to kill him instead of just having bad luck that his motorcade route went by the workplace of a pathetic loser who couldn’t stand being a nobody. Or that the story behind The Da Vinci Code is real even though the French hoaxsters who duped the idiots who wrote the book that Dan Brown got the idea from confessed years ago that they made the whole thing up.

Does it matter that a fair percentage of the population at any given time thinks that Marilyn Monroe was murdered or that Roosevelt let the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor to get the U.S. into World War II?

Yes, it does. Why? Because once upon a time, a political allegory about Napleon III got rewritten and released as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion by a Russian at the turn of the century who claimed it was the ‘true’ plan the Jews use to wreck and control the civilization. After World War I when everyone was trying to figure out a way to avoid admitting responsibility for what they just did, it got widely distributed, and the Jews instantly got scapegoated for the war and everything else going wrong in the world. It got so much mainstream credence after World War I that legitimate newspapers discussed it and people like Henry Ford helped spread it even after it had been debunked. And Adolf Hitler believed it and he told his pals about it. They used it as a key point of their government and things ended badly for several million people. It’s still around though, especially in the Arabic world where it’s usually taught in schools.

The book does a great job in showing how the conspiracy theory has become so pervasive that it’s become mainstream. There is no legitimate evidence that Bill Clinton had Vince Foster killed or that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. or that Bush orchestrated 9/11. Yet all of these things have been treated as legitimate news items or fact because pseudo science, bad research and reckless speculation have led to a culture where people will believe almost anything except the truth.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Kasia (new)

Kasia Hymm, you've caught my interest, if I ever stumble upon this, I'm reading it, although I'm a bit more interested in why people choose to invent and believe all those whacked out theories. I don't quite understand the appeal of it all.


message 2: by Kemper (last edited Apr 16, 2010 09:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kemper Kasia wrote: "Hymm, you've caught my interest, if I ever stumble upon this, I'm reading it, although I'm a bit more

Yeah, this does concentrate more on how conspiracy theories have become part of the culture, but he does touch a bit on the personal psychological aspects of them. One part I found really interesting was how almost no one will admit their theory is wrong, even after their 'evidence' is completely discredited.


message 3: by Stephanie (new) - added it

Stephanie Kemper wrote: "One part I found really interesting was how almost no one will admit their theory is wrong, even after their 'evidence' is completely discredited. ..."

Typical. Sounds interesting, I'm reading it.


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