I never really knew how to react at work over the last few years when young colleagues went into a frenzy of conspiracy theories and damned everything that was presented in the news. I’m as skeptical a being as you would wish to encounter on lots of things…but I am pretty much prepared to believe the evidence of my eyes.
I will admit to the fact that television presentation does pass through the hands of networks, censors, and directors. And some of it is remarkably bad – poor scripting, poor acting, and poor photography. And the worst examples of this are often the most convincing scenes we see.
I’ve seen the first moon landing on television – crowded round a portable television in the student dentures lab at the Dental School with all our false teeth patients in there with us – they were still wearing the bibs and aprons straight from the morning clinic. Several of them were slobbering over impressions that were still setting, but we were all glued to that screen.
I saw the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York. Of course the first was hit before there were any cameras rolling, but I definitely saw a jet hit the second tower as the television journalists were speaking directly to the camera. Construct as complex a series of hints and assumptions as you like to be kewl and klever but I know what I saw.
There were no end of other conspiracies that the young chaps latched onto. They nearly all revolved around some malfeasance or miscreancies by the US government – and even the ones that were a local Australian scandal of some sort could be tenuously linked back to Washington. If the dear old New Era communist book store had still been open in Bulwer Street I could have gone I there and picked up a few Trotsky pamphlets to help them along – change a few words and recycle them. I can’t help feeling that the source of their conspiracy theories was much the same in 2013 as it was in 1933…
I dread to think what nonsense is currently being traded behind the counter of my old workplace*. The American election would have tied them in knots and the outcome can only be wormwood and gall. But at least they will have a fresh batch of conspiracies to snuffle through once the booksellers and YouTube get busy.
* The danger of this sort of thing arises when the customers also indulge in it and raise some political issue. Convention says that you do not pooh-pooh them for fear of losing a sale. But you could sometimes see the loud mouth of one client causing other customers to leave the shop incensed. It was a tricky situation to deal with.