Lies, Lies and Conspiracy Theories
The first big lie is Santa Claus. Then come the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. We move on to lies about school, relationships, politics, and finally, the biggest whopper of them all, religion. Why do we so willingly accept this nonsense ? As children we believe what the grown-ups tell us, so we don’t have much choice. As adults we willingly “suspend our disbelief” because it helps us make sense of a chaotic world.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
“Oswald killed Kennedy with a $10 mail-order WW II rifle,” said the Warren Commission. We just don’t buy it. So we make up stories to explain what really happened. We start to doubt the people who are in charge, and the conspiracy theories get out of hand. Before you know it, we believe that Hillary Clinton is running a child porno ring out of a pizzeria in Washington, D.C., and that George W. Bush brought down the Twin Towers, and that the moon landings were filmed in a Hollywood studio, and that the Sandy Hook dead children were actors. It gets batshit crazy very fast.
Bumper sticker: “Conspiracy theory is not a theory.”
Conspiracy theories reflect our lack of trust in the institutions that should bind us together. We ask, “Why would Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, the United States Congress, the pope, or Sigmund Freud lie to us?” Answer: Follow the money!
For years I thought conspiracy theories about “Who really killed John F. Kennedy?” was as weird as it got. No more. I now realize that RELIGION takes the cake for the best line of bullshit ever invented. I can think of five lies and conspiracy theories that have dominated our thinking and have gotten us into a world of trouble. Let’s go up the line from the most innocuous to the most dangerous.
Freud and Psychoanalysis
In high school I became a “patient” in psychotherapy with an “orthodox” Freudian. Totally loved it. I had inside information that my friends didn’t have. I was cool. Even though I didn’t get good grades, go out for sports, or play a musical instrument, I had therapy going for me. I read Freud. I knew what your dreams meant, and could tell you all about the unconscious. BTW being in therapy was a great way to get dates. I could talk about feelings! Take that, Mr. Quarterback.
I went to conferences at Asilomar with titles like: “Reaction formation and castration anxiety as the result of unresolved Oedipal conflict in the negative transference of the patient-therapist relationship with roots in the oral-anal phase.” Seriously.
My therapist’s office had double doors and a low humming noise machine in the waiting room so I could not hear the sobs of the patient before me. And, of course, the waiting room reading material included The Kenyon Review and the New York Review of Books. In college, no question, I was a psychology major. I knew Freud had the answers. I had great contempt for logical positivist professors who believed just the opposite: research and statistics.
In later years, I drifted away from Freud, especially when I became a therapist in grad school. I found that Freud and psychoanalysis was all useless gibberish. At the end of the 20th century we watched in awe as the entire Freudian superstructure that had controlled American psychiatry for 50 years started to fall apart. It turned out Freud was mostly a charlatan. He lied, and made up case studies. His theories about the mind had no basis in research. It was more like poetry. He was a self-serving narcissist, who was paranoid, and autocratic. He demanded loyalty and would obliterate anyone in his inner circle who challenged him. In a word, he was just like Donald J. Trump.
How could we have been seduced by this theory that didn’t even work in practice? We wanted to believe. We longed for the certainty that someone knew what was going. At least I did.
Read “Freud: The Making of an Illusion” by Frederick Crews to get the whole story.
The Vietnam War
Who was really behind the drumbeat for the Vietnam War? Who would profit from a protracted war eight thousand miles from our shores? Could it be the financial elites who really run the country and the arms makers like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman? Of course.
This nonsense of stopping the spread of Communism and the “domino theory” is hardly something I would die for – or worse, have my son or daughter die for. From Kennedy to Johnson to Nixon, our presidents knew this was a bad idea and an unwinnable war. Yet, they kept lying to the public. For example, take the Gulf of Tonkin incident which was the excuse used to intensify our involvement. Historians say it never happened.
Of the people I know who fought in Vietnam, two were Navy Pilots. The first, who became an admiral, began to have doubts toward the end of the war. He said, “All the turmoil and demonstrations in places like Berkeley were getting to us. I finally thought it was a huge mistake.” He looked off into the distance recalling his bombing missions and said, “I have killed a lot of people.”
The other pilot is a high school friend who confided, “By the end it was clear to me this was a civil war, and we had no business there.”
I have always admired people like David Harris and Mohammed Ali who refused to go. Ali said, “Why should I fight in Vietnam? No Viet Cong ever called me ‘nigger.'” His refusal to go cost him his title. He was sentenced to five years in prison – later overturned by the Supreme Court. If more of our youth had the critical thinking ability to see that this was a civil war, and the guts to take a position of nonparticipation like Ali and Harris did, the war machine would have run out of cannon fodder.
Finally, we spent over $1 trillion in today’s money with 58,000+ killed and 153,000+ wounded or permanently disabled. For what? Some say that war marked the beginning of the decline of this country that we see unfolding today.
As Ken Burns’ recent documentary pointed out, even our presidents knew this was a lost cause. So why did they keep telling us on TV we were winning – or about to? We may never know, but I suspect it was the big defense money that kept it going. Only our brave youth brought it to an end, in the streets.
It seems to me heroes are not the people who salute smartly to and die valiantly for the war mongers. They are the people who stand up to power and holler “Hell no, we won’t go.”
The big Vietnam lie was the notion that we were fighting to prevent the spread of Communism in Asia. Really? Lots of elites sent their children to Ivy League colleges with the money they made from the war.
The Iraq War
Remember “weapons of mass destruction?” Boy, that was a whopper. The U.N. inspector, Hans Blix, had been in Iraq for five years. He reported no evidence of WMD. Of course, his reports were ignored because Bush and Cheney wanted to go to war. Just after 911, they started the hype that Saddam Hussein was behind the attack, and he had WMDs and must be stopped. When Bush and Cheney started telling the American people about all this, only 3% believed it. Six months later, 73% believed it. It is amazing what people will believe if they hear it again and again from the “people who should know.”
As the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels noted,
“A lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”
“Truth is the greatest enemy of the state.”
“Propaganda must be simple and repetitious.”
Going to war in Iraq to get rid of a brutal dictator who had WMDs was the cover story. The real reason for the war was to stabilize the international oil markets and assure U.S. oil companies access to the oil. That war cost $2.2 trillion with 4,400+ killed and 32,000+ wounded. It also destabilized the Middle East and continues to drain money and American lives.
In addition, the cost of this war was hidden from the public. Now we hear great concerns about our spiraling national debt. Spoiler alert: it ain’t about welfare moms. It is about the war machine. The decline of the Roman Empire was all about nation building around the world while quality of life at home was hollowed out for the average citizen. America: take note.
The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
Where to begin? The lies we’ve been fed by our government e.g., the Warren Commission, are just plain unbelievable. Hundreds, if not thousands of people, have been working on this one for forty or fifty years. The idea that Lee Harvey Oswald did this alone is pure lunacy.
First let’s look at competing explanations of how it happened. I refer you to endless clips on YouTube that offer hundreds of different explanations of what happened in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. Some are well reasoned with lots of scientific evidence, others clearly woo-woo. If you have trouble getting to sleep and have nothing important to do with your time around 10:30 p.m., go to YouTube: “Who Killed Kennedy?” Entertainment for hours on end.
Most theories tell us there were other gunmen besides Oswald. Some say he had nothing to do with it. As he exclaimed, “I’m a patsy.” My favorite is that there were eight shots fired from five different locations… and… get this, the fatal shot was fired from a position in a sewer drain just in front of the limo. Writing about the release of assassination papers, the New York Times (10/26/17) noted, “The level of distrust is such that people will believe anything.”
So, why did this happened? If we dig deeper, there were plenty of people who wanted Kennedy killed. For various reasons, it could have been the Mafia, the FBI, the CIA, Lyndon Johnson, Texas oil billionaires, Fidel Castro, and the “military-industrial complex.” The list goes on and on.
Last week, President Trump authorized the opening of the closed JFK assassination files from fifty years ago. Let the games begin!
What is so troubling about all this is why and how our government has lied to us about what really happened. Clearly, there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Since people involved are dying off, we may never know the truth. You’d be safe to bet that is was all about keeping the money flowing to the war makers.
Here is the REAL mother of all nonsense. Christianity tells us that God came down from the sky, had sex with a virgin who then gave birth to Jesus. Then the story goes, her son was killed, then came back to life, and flew up to heaven. Today he is watching what we are doing and will soon come back to pass judgment on us. As a humorous bumper sticker said, “…and boy is he pissed.” If we believe in Jesus, we can go to heaven for an everlasting life of bliss. If we do not, we’ll go to hell for everlasting torment.
But wait, there’s more…
Watching the evolution (or, devolution) of religion in modern times is more fun than watching a Super Bowl game.
Fights over the literal or “metaphorical” meaning of the Bible rage on. Smart people say, “No, it is just a metaphor.” Dumb people say, “It is the Word of God. Period.” As a bumper sticker says, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.”
Besides the virgin birth and the resurrection, other silly ideas in the Bible:
- Garden of Eden / Adam and Eve/ original sin: just pretend. Never happened. The human genome shows we go back to protozoa, not “The First Couple”.
- The great flood / Noah. Just a story.
- Jews escaped from Egypt to find the Promised Land. Nope. No archaeological evidence for this in the desert of any sort.
- Heaven and Hell – good news, there is no hell. Oops, no heaven either.
- Jonah and the whale – really?
- Jesus’ “miracles.”
How do we know what Jesus said? Oral history, of course. LOL. Two thousand years ago only about 2 -3% of people in the Middle East could read and write. So scholars talk about “oral history” passed down for 2000 years. What could possibly go wrong? Anybody making shit up? Hmmm, could be. Hell, we can’t even figure out what happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
Did a person called Jesus actually live? Thirty years ago, the most liberal theologians suggested that Jesus really lived, but was human, not divine. Today, the liberal theologians are saying the whole thing is a total myth. Jesus never existed.
Skeptics now believe that Christianity was made up by the Romans around the year 200 A.D. to quell Palestinian discontent in the Middle East. Jesus was a composite of Caesar and Jewish traits. They made him passive, “Turn the other cheek,” and “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, etc.” Additionally, there are zero stories about a man called Jesus Christ in a number of books written about the Middle East by Greek and Roman historians writing around the first or second centuries.
Why would we willingly believe in such an implausible story? For one thing, it promises us life after death, as do most religions. No one wants to die. If we have a terrible life on earth, religion gives us hope. On the other hand, for the elite, owner class, religion is a great way to get low-paid workers to come to work every day in our factory or field in subhuman conditions. It also stops the workers from turning on the elites, burning down their homes, killing their families, and taking over “the means of production.”
“Religion is the opiate of the masses,” said Karl Marx. Promise them that things will be better in the next world, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).” Ha, ha, ha. People really believe that? Yep. By the billions. Every Sunday they sing in church about needing Jesus. What they really need is a strong union. How about making life better in this world.
The key to all these lies is to “follow the money.” Who is getting rich off this nonsense? Psychoanalysis brought boatloads of money to the psychiatric elite in this country. The Vietnam and Iraq wars enriched the shareholders and top executives of the war machine. The Kennedy assassination helped to keep the war machine going, including funneling money to the top. The Mormon church is estimated to have $35 billion and the Catholic church about $15 billion, excluding land holdings. People will pay for forgiveness.
If we start thinking more critically about what is going on around us, perhaps we can see the world as it is and stop buying lies. Do we want to send our children to war so the rich can get richer? Do we really want to believe in a bearded man in the sky pulling the strings of our lives and helping our high school team win on Friday night?
If we give up all this religion nonsense, we stand naked and alone, waiting to die in a universe that doesn’t know or care about us. It is my belief that there is no God, no Jesus, no greater purpose, no master plan. People say, “Things happen for a reason,” or “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Nope. Babies and puppies die for no reason. Bad people get rich and powerful.
Like balls bouncing around on a pool table, everything is simply random. We are, in the end, just flukes in a vast, uncaring universe. Two generations after our death no one will remember us, or care that we lived at all. Of course, if you are Bill Gates and have a computer science building named after you on the Stanford campus, that’s different. But for the rest of us…
We are gone, but our DNA lives on in our children. Perhaps we are the real slaves and our master is the DNA we carry in our testicles and ovaries. Accept our mortality, and our need for big lies and conspiracy theories vanish, poof.
Have a good day.