An active online cooker was aghast at a YouTube video (apparently his main source of information; he doesn’t trust the mainstream media). The video was from Michael West who runs a superb media organisation that pokes, prods and uncovers the nefarious financial dealings of assorted governments and other entities.
The story that Michael West referred to in the video (it was from 2019) was about the bizarre financial arrangements surrounding the deal between the Berejiklian government and the operators (Healthscope) of the Northern Beaches Hospital who were selling out to Brookfield in the Cayman Islands. It is another tax rort. Profits from the sick people of Sydney’s Northern Beaches are to be funnelled to George Town, Gran Cayman, along with whatever cash can be ripped out from the other 42 Australian hospitals operated by Healthscope1.
In West’s article he refers to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald from 2015 which initially broke aspects of the story2.
I suppose it is comforting to know that cookers occasionally bump into real stories rather than their fanciful conspiracy theories of a cabal of paedophiles running the world and eating children in the basement of pizza restaurants, or the 5G chip in the Covid-19 vaccine to control people, or that climate change is a conspiracy by government scientists to depopulate the world, or that the Covid-19 pandemic was planned, or that 5G towers are spreading Covid-19, or that Donald Trump is honest and a billionaire fighting for them, or that the Moon landings were faked, or that aircraft condensation trails are ‘chemtrails’ spreading chemicals to control the population, or that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, or that former US president John F. Kennedy was still alive as was his son John F. Kennedy Jr, or that Kim Jong-un is a CIA plant, or that the Vatican contacts aliens through its Lucifer Telescope, or that former German Chancellor Angela Merkel was Adolf Hitler’s granddaughter, or all elections in the US in which republicans were not elected were fraudulent, or that the US had secret laboratories making biological weapons in Ukraine, or that the satanic cabal running the world were reptilian humanoids or ‘lizard people’, or that the British royal family were themselves lizard people, or that anyone attempting to refute these fantasies was either a paedophile (this has been suggested of me) or a lizard person, or part of the illuminati3. The fantasies seem endless both in scope and stupidity.
The thing about the gullible people who believe this tripe is that it distracts them from the real and current conspiracies. Real conspiracies include:
- that fossil fuel companies have for decades been funding climate change denialism4-6.
- that Murdoch media in the US and Australia has been denying climate change constantly7-12.
- that there is a half-arsed conspiracy of the religious to take over conservative political parties to protect their power, influence and tax-free status13, 14.
- that big business and the wealthy enthusiastically supported the spread of neoliberal economics which benefited them directly and hugely15, 16.
- that the Liberal and National parties give contracts preferentially to those who are either directly associated with those parties or donate to their political campaigns17-23.
The fact that these cookers could be distracted from reality by their conspiracy fantasies is disturbing enough; the fact that they actually vote on the basis of such fantasies is even more disturbing. It is people like them who vote for buffoons like Craig Kelly, Malcolm Roberts, Matt Canavan and other criminally derelict candidates, as well as other cookers who are certainly away with the fairies24, 25.
Some psychologists have compared conspiracy theories to religious beliefs, in the way that they help us to feel more in control, by taking unpredictable or random events and making them seem somehow predestined or shaped by human hands. Others have gone so far as to suggest that this is why they stick: in their content, storylines and purposes, they come uncannily close to the beliefs perpetuated by many organised religions (more on this elsewhere)26.
Where the authorities either can’t or won’t provide more information about some event, such knowledge gaps combine with a general mistrust to drive the public straight into the arms of those who claim they have the answers. This is compounded by the fact that science, government inquiries and other legitimate forms of information-gathering can be painfully slow, in the meantime leaving a temporary void in which other sources can become established. For example, after the disgraced scientist Andrew Wakefield falsely claimed, in the 1990s, that the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine can lead to autism, it took years of research to show that this had absolutely no scientific basis, by which time, the conspiracy had done serious damage26.
This and other cooker fantasies have led to a spike in measles cases world-wide, including in countries (like the US) where it had previously been declared eliminated27. In the US, in 2019, 1,274 cases of measles were recorded, the greatest annual number since 1992. Fortunately, it has declined since then, with only 121 cases being recorded in last year28.
While many conspiracy theorists have alienated parts of their families with their fantasies, my go-to solution for these people has been ridicule in a reply, at the same time sending them to somewhere containing facts which refute their ludicrous claims. According to people with more knowledge than me and certainly more patience, the solution is not ridicule but what is termed ‘resocialisation’ or a ‘social epistemic reboot’. How that is accomplished is for another day29. This is how people extracted from cults are brought back to reality, for conspiracy theorists are certainly in a cult.