Conspiracy Theories

'Crisis Actors,' Conspiracy Theories, and the Fear of Social Media

Yes, kooky rumors can spread quickly online. In this case, the angry reactions to those rumors may be spreading even faster.


"Crisis actor" conspiracy theories claim that various mass shootings and other public tragedies are staged by the powers that be, and that you can tell this because some of the same faces keep coming up when the media cover the crime scenes. The idea has taken off yet again in the wake of the Parkland massacre, with assorted yo-yos declaring that the survivors who have been all over TV for the last week are actually paid actors. As always, some of those yo-yos hold more prominent positions than you'd guess from the common but misleading stereotype of the conspiracy theorist as an unemployable crackpot in his mom's basement. Notably, an aide to a Florida state representative lost his job this week after claiming that two of the Parkland teens "are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis [sic] when they happen."

For some pundits, this isn't merely a reminder that people are capable of believing bizarre stories that are based on only the thinnest alleged evidence. The pundits worry that the rumor represents a breakdown in the media ecosystem. A ThinkProgress story, to pick one representative example, announces in its lede that these crisis-actor tales "have spread like wildfire across social media platforms—despite the repeated promises of Big Tech to crack down on fake news." The author circles back to that idea at the end, arguing that "the viral spread of the 'crisis actor' theory, along with other recent examples of highly-shared fake content, shows that [Facebook] is still ripe for misinformation and exploitation."

How ripe? The piece notes that one Facebook post touting the theory has gotten more than 110,000 shares, and that some of the videos promoting the idea have been "viewed tens of thousands of times."

We do not know how many of those 110,000 shares were trolls or bots, those crisis actors of the online world. Nor do we know how many people watched one of those videos because they were inclined to believe it, how many watched because they were inclined to laugh at it, and how many just turned it off after 30 seconds. Most importantly, ThinkProgress doesn't do anything to contextualize those numbers. MSNBC posted a video yesterday of one of the Parkland students reacting disdainfully to the idea that he's an imposter; as I type this, that's been viewed 94,000 times. That is also in the "tens of thousands," though I suppose we don't know how many of those viewers believe what they're hearing either. (The student himself suggests that the conspiracy theorists are just trolls, and that they're ultimately helping rather than hurting his anti-gun cause.)

I probably follow more weirdos on Twitter than most people do, and in my feed the overwhelming majority of tweets mentioning crisis actors have denounced, debunked, or just made fun of the theories. Of course it's possible that I just follow a better class of weirdo, so I did a Twitter search for "crisis actors" to see what sort of cross-section of opinion would appear. Of the first 30 tweets that came up, two-thirds were putting down the idea. I did the same on Facebook both Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, and I got roughly the same results, with a slightly higher percentage knocking or mocking the idea on the second day.

I also noticed that several (though not all) of the Facebook posts promoting the idea were getting pushback in the comments. So this isn't just a matter of conversations taking place in separate bubbles. Actual arguments were underway.

Now, I know very well that those are not scientific samples. I'm not going to make any grand claims here about how many people have embraced or rejected the rumor. But what I saw does at least reinforce what common sense would suggest: that widespread discussion of a bizarre belief is not the same as widespread support for a bizarre belief. That is especially true when you remember three more things:

1. Many of the people who believe the crisis-actor theory—I suspect almost all of them—are already predisposed to believe tales like this. In an earlier era, with an earlier weird rumor, they may well have whispered the story to each other in person.

2. Social media tend to make marginal ideas more visible. But this increased visibility does not always go hand in hand with increased popularity, and you should not mistake one for the other.

3. Most people still get more news from TV than from social media, and TV coverage of the crisis-actor thesis has been overwhelmingly critical of the concept. Indeed, just about all the mainstream coverage has been overwhelmingly critical of the concept. With that extra boost, there's a strong chance in this case that criticisms of the rumor have been more viral than the original rumor.

The idea that the crisis-actor story is replicating unchallenged in some endless cancerous pattern may play to people's anxieties about social media. For some, it may also play to the pleasures of highlighting the most idiotic arguments on the other side. (Debating whether a vast conspiracy is hiring kids to pose as crime victims is probably more fun than debating whether the assault weapon ban worked.) But out there in the actual internet, people are knocking these crisis-actor stories down. And the process of knocking it down is probably happening much more quickly now than in the days when such rumors unfolded in more private spaces.

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  1. How many actually believe it and how many in the face of looming prohibitions are just grasping for something they can use to water down a little the unimpeachable victims’ unimpeachability.

    And let’s not kid ourselves. For every GOP aide who pushes this kind of conspiracy theory, there’s a Dem aide who would actually do it if he could get away with it.

    1. Checks and balances are good.

      Americans ready for any conspiracy by politicians provides a check to those politicians that would actually conspire to undermine America or steal money.

      1. The checks are generally good, except here that victims who put themselves out in an advocacy capacity get pseudo-doxxed or whatever you want to call it.

        1. Yeah. This is a shitshow.

          1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

            This is what I do…

            1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. Someone just told me to stand in one spot and cry hysterically!

          2. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

            This is what I do…

      2. Well, given how stunningly successful the !RUSSIANS HACKED THE ELECTION!!!! gambit has proven why be surprised when others play similar games?

        Tit. Tat. Some assembly required.

        1. The idea that Russian state actors attempted to interfere in the election is equivalent to, and a justification for, accusing the survivors or bereaved relatives of a school shooting of being paid actors?

    2. “Conspiracy theories?” What the hell are these FAKE NEWS-LOVING LIBTARDS talking about?! The only ones promoting lies here are precisely said leftists by claiming that these school shootings are actually “real” and NOT a bunch of actors; or perhaps they’re actually dumb enough to believe the false crap spewed from their dirty, filthy mouths. I think it’s a combination of both. On the other hand, all we libertarians aka conservative Republicans (same thing) are sane, therefore we’re not stupid enough to believe “conspiracy theories,” and we never lie. In all due respect, however, to H-U-G-E-L-Y noble truth-tellers such as Rush (no not that horrible “prog-rock” group), Michael, Ann, Bill, Sean, Tucker and none other than our brilliant, sensual lord and savior Don, if you want to hear the best articulation of what is REALLY happening with these so-called school “shootings,” I’d suggest that you listen to the great Alex Jones more; although most of you probably already do. Alex reports only REAL NEWS. Why, it was from him that I first learned that Sandy Hook and the 1969 Moon landing was FAKE. TRUMP NOW, TRUMP IN 2020, AND TRUMP FOREVER!

      1. God, you are fucking pathetic. No one even nibbles at your stupid troll-bait.

        1. You just did, General. And anyway, it’s probably just a bot.

    3. So now I am asking why Dems would do this “if they thought they could get away with it”, while GOP aides obviously CAN get away with it. Are Republicans just so much more gullible that they would naturally buy into stuff like this, while Democrats (and others on the Left) would not buy into phoniness that supported their point of view?

    4. If you want the truth and nothing but the truth, your best is the great ALEX JONES. I’ve never heard that man tell a lie. TRUMP NOW, TRUMP IN 2020, AND TRUMP FOREVER!

  2. The Deep State knows no bounds!

  3. Maybe there’s only so much visual variation among teenagers. Hell, my kid’s had friends all through middle school who i still can’t tell apart.

    1. “They” all look the same.

      1. Half of them have the same stupid haircut. Now get off my lawn!

        1. Actually, it fills me with joy to see the 90s haircuts of MY youth come back into vogue. The more urban kids are sporting tall-ass flat tops, and the less urban ones have that floppy grunge hair.

          1. Is that code for white guys with flat tops and blacks with floppy grunge hair?

            1. Wouldn’t “floppy grunge hair” be cultural appropriation?

            2. IIRC, you have them ass backwards. The urban kids sporting tall-ass flat tops replaced the large Afro. The less urban floppy grunge hair replaced the high & tight.

          2. Really? Cause all the quasi-urban ones I know are sprouting undercuts that make them look like they’ve stepped out of a weird, alternate reality Hitler Youth propaganda poster.

    2. Your kid had only one pity friend who paid a lot of look-alikes to pretend to be their friend.

      It was what crisis-actors did before crises came along.

  4. True. People believe conspiracy theories not because they exist, or because people are stupid – but because people are perverse. They believe them because they annoy the heck out of the ‘elite’ like you and me. So yeah, we’re actually the dummies here. Also if you ban these theories, the nuts will just seek them out even more persistently – and will use the ban as ‘evidence’ that they’re true. There’s no winning with these guys. Best you can do is keep them busy with menial tasks and distract them with Wendy’s on election day.

    Having said that – this kid is an FBI stooge. He was pushing Lady Gaga’s “Til it happens to you” campus rape hysteria a few years ago. It was basically, “If you didn’t enjoy sex then maybe you were raped” and “Don’t drink at parties because alcohol makes you rapey.”

    1. In addition to what you’re suggesting, there’s also a bit of psychology. Folks who want to believe something, however tenuous, generally ask, “Can I believe this?” Then, as they find small shreds of corroboration, they say, “Yes, I can.” Whereas folks who are skeptical ask, “Must I believe this?” Then, as they find countervailing bits, they say, “No, I don’t.” Conspiracy theorists operate almost entirely in that first area of inquiry.
      I must admit, the first time I heard the term “crisis actor” in passing, I thought first of the paid protesters (partisan conspiracy) and not about some government conspiracy. I’m not buying the crisis actor theory until someone can produce a rather credible interview with one. Considering how quickly we got those interviews with paid protesters, you’d think that, if crisis actors do exist, it won’t take too long.

  5. At the bottom of these conspiracy theories is something substantial.

    It’s like the Birther conspiracies about Obama. People saw the president attacking the American way of life, trying to force us to make sacrifices for the benefit of people in other countries, etc., and so they come up with an explanation–the reason Obama seems to be behaving like a traitor to the American way is because he’s not an American.

    The substantial part of that conspiracy is that Obama really was trying to remake Wall Street, the banking industry, the healthcare industry, environmental policy, our ideas about marriage, etc. in his image.

    Likewise, because the Bush Jr. administration really did use 9/11 and terrorism to launch attacks on our civil liberties, it was quite natural for conspiracy theorists to invent the idea that 9/11 itself was part of that plan a la the Truthers.

    “Crisis actor” conspiracy theories claim that various mass shootings and other public tragedies are staged by the powers that be, and that you can tell this because some of the same faces keep coming up when the media cover the crime scenes.”

    The substantial part of that conspiracy theory is that the media, the Democrats, and the anti-gun lobby really do use these mass shooting as an excuse to come after our gun rights. It’s only natural for conspiracy theorists to go the extra step and presume that orchestrating mass shootings is part of that effort.

    1. People saw the president attacking the American way of life, trying to force us to make sacrifices for the benefit of people in other countries, etc., and so they come up with an explanation–the reason Obama seems to be behaving like a traitor to the American way is because he’s not an American.

      The birther nonsense started during the Democratic primary.

      1. “Why did it catch on, proliferate, and survive?” is the question.

        The answer is that people saw the president going after the American way of life and, trying to force us to make sacrifices for the benefit of people in other countries, etc., and Birther explanation seemed to fit.

        1. No, that wasn’t the question. You said they came up with this “explanation” of his behavior as president, as if it was a rational, disinterested survey of the facts that were missing a unified cause. Instead, it was a desperate conspiracy theory spread by his political rivals to discredit him, based largely on his weird name, his sketchy father, and his early years spent abroad. It did not “catch on” only after he signed Dodd-Frank or some shit. (and certainly not years later when he reversed his position on gay marriage)

          It survived because he won the primary and then the election, and people who already disliked him and questioned his patriotism were bitter, or wanted to keep the theory alive for their own benefit, or are idiots. Of course, those who sincerely believed the theory for years afterward would find more and more ‘evidence’ to support their conclusion, because that’s how the conspiratorial mind works.

          1. “No, that wasn’t the question. You said they came up with this “explanation” of his behavior as president, as if it was a rational, disinterested survey of the facts that were missing a unified cause. “

            I was trying to explain why consumers buy into a conspiracy theory.

            Same with the 9/11 Truthers.

            Same with the “crisis actor” conspiracy theory.

            I’m saying that people buy into these things because they see a truth in them.

            Obama was remaking American society in a progressives image.

            Bush did attack our civil rights using 9/11 and terrorism as an excuse.

            The Media is propagandizing gun control.

            All these conspiracy theories do is take the truth and add one unknowable element to them.

            Yeah, people manufacture them for all sorts of reasons. People looking for explanations latch onto these conspiracy theories (and they proliferate and persist) because they provide an explanation.

            1. You still didn’t answer (or comprehend) his question, not that I think it’s a material question, but your dodging it just looks suspicious.

              You said he tried, as President, to remake America in his image, and that is what triggered the birther conspiracy theory. The question was, how then do you explain that the birther conspiracy theory started during the campaign, before he was President?

              1. Exactly what was his question?

                He stated “the birther nonsense started during the Democratic primary.”

                Well, so what of it?

                That Birtherism started “during the Democratic primary” does not preclude others from later seeing “the president attacking the American way of life,,,” nor from them concluding this is ” because he’s not an American.”

                Whether they did so independently, or after being exposed to Hillary’s shills pushing Birthirism does not change the fact that many, many people adopted support for the conspiracy well after the primary was over and his prior Democrat opponents stop pimping it.

              2. “It’s like the Birther conspiracies about Obama. People saw the president attacking the American way of life, trying to force us to make sacrifices for the benefit of people in other countries, etc., and so they come up with an explanation–the reason Obama seems to be behaving like a traitor to the American way is because he’s not an American.”

                My intention wasn’t to suggest where these conspiracies originated. I was talking about why these conspiracy theories gain traction.

                If that conspiracy theory originated elsewhere, whatever.

                What I was trying to say, however, was that people buy in to these conspiracy theories because they find explanations in them.

                Why does Obama seem so profoundly unAmerican? Well, there’s a theory floating around, out there, that he’s not American. That’s one explanation.

                It’s like the explanation that the reason we’re seeing mass shootings that can be used to argue for gun control is because the media uses mass shootings to argue for gun control.

                It’s like the explanation that the reason the Bush administration is using 9/11 as an excuse to attack our civil rights is because they needed to orchestrate 9/11 in order to have an excuse to attack our rights.

                That’s what I was trying to say.

                People create these explanations in their minds for what they see happening around them by taking the truth they see and adding some unknowable element to them–like a conspiracy theory.

                1. I did not mean to imply that this is how the text of every conspiracy theory originates. I was trying to explain how these conspiracy theories gain currency with the general public. Conspiracy theories about UFOs may not gain as much currency in people’s imaginations because they aren’t grounded in truths that explain the behavior of our presidents.

                  I understand it was widely believed by isolationists before World War II that FDR allowed Pearl Harbor to happen with full foreknowledge of it coming–because he needed Pearl Harbor to jolt Americans out of their isolationism. The truth that made such a conspiracy theory gain such currency has little to do with how the fire first started. The kindling for that fire is the fact that before Pearl Harbor, the American public were reluctant to join in the war–and Pearl Harbor jolted them out of it.

                  No doubt, the way I could have written that comment better, but because I didn’t do an excellent job of writing it doesn’t mean I was trying to say something other than what I was trying to say.

                2. People believe conspiracy theories because the theories confirm their own pre-determined beliefs and they are too lazy to check them out.

                  1. Bullshit. People believe that the Deep State engineered 9/11 and killed JFK because they’ve read just a few of the hundreds and hundreds of books describing evidence that the Deep State engineered 9/11 and killed JFK.

                    Confirmation bias is ubiquitous in human beings but not ubiquitous in all human behaviors. Sometimes they really are out to get you.

                3. So people who have so much difficulty dealing with democratically elected politicians seeking to enact political policies they disagree with they will invent, or choose to believe, or be susceptible to believing, outrageous conspiracy theories to justify a radical and hysterical over-reaction, because if an outrageous conspiracy theory is true, then it’s not such a leap to assuming a political agenda conceals a deeper, more sinister and conspiratorial agenda. Makes sense.

            2. I was trying to explain why consumers buy into a conspiracy theory.

              And your primary example happened to whitewash the motivations behind one of the uglier conspiracy theories of recent history.

              1. (err, the motivations and the logic/reasoning behind it)

              2. Whose motivations?

                The people who first started it?

                The people who later continued to spread it?

                Or the people who adopted a belief in it’s veracity?

                That’s going to involve a vast list of different motivations. Some uglier than others. Most ugly probably being the people who started it.

              3. Obama started the birther conspiracy because it was convenient as a student to call himself African. He did not plan ahead to the question of being a natural born citizen.

            3. Congrats. You have discovered that people have confirmation biases.

              1. “Congrats. You have discovered that people have confirmation biases.”

                To a certain extent, I suppose I am saying that conspiracy theories are a way of rationalizing a confirmation bias, although it may be a little more complicated than that.

                It’s certainly not just because they’re stupid. That’s one complication.

                Another complication is that some conspiracies are true.

                There are and have been false flag operations.

                Foreign governments have been covertly overthrown.

                Every country in the world has an intelligence service that’s both conspiring against their enemies and dealing with enemies who are conspiring against them.

            4. Guys, come on now. We all know the true reason for the Birther thing getting traction was Hillary conspiring with the aliens we met at Area 51 to popularize the idea using extraterrestrial enhanced MK Ultra technology deployed from orbital satellites. It would have been totally successful if it had not been stopped by Jesus. Although a vengeful Hillary emptied a bum stocked AR-15 magazine into him out of revenge. This triggered his 3rd regeneration, into the fourth Jesus.

              So really, the whole ‘birther’ thing was just silly, given all the irrefutable facts I listed above.

              1. Now that’s how you do sarcasm on the interwebz.

                That was sarcasm, right?


                1. Who can say for certain?

                  1. It doesn’t matter. How many of these things started out with malicious idiots being sarcastic or ironic for the lulz and they got taken seriously? That seems to have been the origin of Pizzagate, for one.

        2. Why did it catch on, proliferate, and survive?

          I thought the reason it was so believable was because there was evidence (or “evidence”) that Obama was registered in school at one point as a non-resident or immigrant or something. I don’t remember specifically. Wasn’t it something that was in Obama’s memoir or biography or something? I don’t know, I didn’t pay much attention to that conspiracy either.

          1. Things like that book jacket blurb playing up his Kenyan roots didn’t exactly quell the flames.

            But one of the keys to establishing and maintaining a conspiracy is to keep everything somewhat vague, and just ‘out there’ enough to keep the otherwise ‘reputable’ sorts at arms length – lest they risk Pierre Salingering themselves.

            1. That, and the fact that he actually fought in court having his original birth certificate made public. People assumed that he had to have a good reason for doing that, it was somehow damaging, or else why would he do it?

              It should have occurred to them that there were alternate explanations. Like he was just being obnoxious with other people’s money.

              Or, most likely, he actually wanted people obsessing over his birth certificate, because, why wouldn’t you want your enemies obsessed over your secret weakness when you know it isn’t real?

              1. ‘most likely.’

              2. That wasn’t his original birth certificate.

          2. Yeah, you can find things to support the theory.

            The theory can never be completely disproved.

            However, the reason people buy into it is because it explains something they want to understand.

            I’m not even saying whether the conspiracy theory is true or false in that case. As I wrote above, some conspiracy theories are true.

            However, the reason people buy into it is because it explains something–before they know for sure whether or not it’s true.

        3. That’s just crap. Everything about the birther stuff was racism through and through. The one-drop rule – applied first in the Dem primary to try to separate his black father from the experiences of ‘normal’ black Dems – and then latched onto by the right to deny the existence of his mother.

          It had fucking NOTHING to do with what Obama DID. It had everything to do with what people wanted to paint Obama AS.

          1. It also had to do with the small detail of whether Obama was qualified to be President at all per that often ignored piece of paper generally referred to as the Constitution.

            1. No it didn’t. He could have been born anywhere in the world and still met the original (and only legislated) definition of ‘natural-born’ (from the Naturalization Act of 1790)

              the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States.

              His mother was a citizen from birth (and for many generations). His father was resident in the US as a student at Univ of Hawaii (and no one has ever disputed that) – BEFORE his parents met/married.

              1. Nice try, but unless you’re actually born in the US, natural born citizenship is statutory, and per the Naturalization act in effect at the time of his birth, rather than the one you cite from nearly two centuries earlier, he really did need to be born in the US. Because his mother hadn’t spent enough time in the US prior to his birth to pass on citizenship.

                But, of course, he was born in the US.

                But the joke is, you know who really did have the natural born citizen problem? Not Obama, but McCain. “Natural born citizen” means a citizen at the time of your birth, and McCain wasn’t a citizen when he was born. Congress changed the law a few months after he was born, and presumed to make the change retroactive.

                But lacking a time machine, Congress can’t change the past. McCain wasn’t a natural born citizen, he was a naturalized citizen, ineligible to be President.

                1. No he did NOT need to be born in the US. US citizens do not give birth to aliens except under a specific set of circumstances. It is called jus sanguinis (right of blood) and has been in place since the US was formed – and is still in place – State Dept – Citizenship Laws for Children Born Abroad

                  The 14th Amendment ADDED a form of citizenship – called jus soli (right of soil) – for the children of NON-citizens (which is what slaves were then – and former slaves after Dred Scot – and aliens today) born in the US. It did not take away existing citizenship rights for anyone.

                  The ENTIRE purpose of pretending that the 14th Amendment is the only thing that applied to Obama was to deny the existence of his mother. It was entirely racist.

                2. Congress changed the law a few months after he was born, and presumed to make the change retroactive…McCain wasn’t a natural born citizen, he was a naturalized citizen, ineligible to be President.

                  No. That 1934 law did not apply to him. It applied to an alien father (his father was a citizen) and a citizen mother (as was his mother) – for a child born abroad – where the mother had resided in the US for fewer than 10 years (both his parents had easily met that requirement). That 10 year residency requirement for the citizen parent was the only thing that changed post-1934.

                3. I’ve always been far more interested in Obama’s sealed college records. My guess is that he committed fraud when he applied as and received student aid for being a foreign student. As he did hold an Indonesian passport.

              2. Indeed. I’m glad to see someone point this out. It’s always been baffling to me how people could pretend that being born overseas would have somehow disqualified him despite an American citizen parent, and yet saw no issue with his opponent, who was definitely, documentedly born overseas to parents who were American citizens, as was widely reported and never contested (because why would anyone bother contesting it…it didn’t matter, just as Obama’s location of birth wouldn’t matter to him being natural born).

        4. Bigoted, disaffected, downscale, half-educated people — the yahoos who fantasize about good old days that never existed, largely because they can’t handle American modernity — feared Pres. Obama and became birthers.

          Their betters did not fear the black guy.

          1. The betters of the progressives feared his Marxism. They were right.

            1. A good question, if they feared this, is why they didn’t make a point of this, and push aside the distracting birtherism. His ideology, and that of any presidential candidate, were and are legitimate topics of debate. Why has the opposition to state-heavy ideas gone pointedly into the gutter and rolled around in the mud? It saves those favoring a big state from even making their case. Ah, but of course the Republicans are big state advocates, as shown in the nice Veronica de Rugy article in this periodical, as shown by Bush creating a huge new entitlement in order to save pharmaceutical companies from the horrors of price competition, etc. I guess that leaves racial dog whistling.

    2. “Crisis actor” theories come from actual usage by Palestinian Arabs for agitprop against Israelis. We would see the same “dead” people and belongings in numerous photos from geographically and time separated events. IOW staged to make more of the event than actually occurred.

    3. To a certain extent, the Media bring this on by their own actions. Newtown Connecticut was close enough to NYC that the networks and a lot of local outlets had crews camping there 24/7 for several day safter that shooting, yet there were no images of either ambulances or med-evac copters. I’m guessing those were skipped for reasons of “good taste” on the part of the media(for once). But within a week I was hearing conspiracy theories about how there hadn’t really been any bodies/no one was actually killed. And then the school building was demolished…..

  6. Do we really know that Russian trolls aren’t behind this?

    1. Did the real Jesse Walker write this article?

      1. Jesse is just playing his role as a member of the liberal media plot to take our guns.

    2. I think it’s broadly accepted (though not by everybody) that the Russian Apartment Bombings, which precipitated Putin’s rise in popularity and the war in Chechnya, were orchestrated by Russian intelligence as a false flag operation. Russian_apartment_bombings

      If he’d do it there, why not do it here?

      Conspiracy Theories = Reality + One Unknowable Step

      It’s sort of like historical science fiction.

      1. That also falls into the categories of assertion that “fit” and assertions that “nothing can be done about.”

        The former being seen as almost confirmation, and the latter rending any efforts at confirmation a total waste of time. In combination tending to increase the rumour’s persistence.

    3. Do we really know that Russian trolls aren’t behind this?

      I do like the continued narrative of ‘impromptu’ and ‘grassroots’ demonstrations organized via social media in the backdrop of the Russia investigation.

      Throw a whole pot of spaghetti against the wall and if even one noodle sticks, dust your hands off and call the job done.

  7. The media is making a big deal of it because it shifts the narrative away from the fact that CNN, NBC and others are astroturfing this issue.

    Where is all the money coming from for these kids to travel around and how are they so organized so quickly?

      1. They are no longer media, they are political advocacy masquerading as media.

        1. The media has become the propaganda arm for the Progressive Plantation. Reminds me of the USSR’s TASS/Pravda and individual so-called reporters remind me of Iraq’s Baghdad Bob.

          1. There is nothing about accomplished, educated, reason-based, tolerant people that conservatives can abide.

            1. Conservative Ives AREacdomplished, educated, Reason-based, tolerant people. Your kind are the trash that we’re rioting and burning Berkeley down last year because a gay British conservative was going to engage in a free discussion of ideas in their area with which they disagreed. Hence riots. As dissenting speech is not tolerated by your kind.

    1. Where is all the money coming from for these kids to travel around and how are they so organized so quickly?

      I don’t know anything about their money. But the rapid organization doesn’t seem all that unusual.

      1. Debbie Wassermann Schultz transported them to Tallahasse.
        George Clooney has given Never Again MSD $500,000 and other celebrities have pledged at least as much.
        Bloomberg’s astroturf anti-gun groups have been in this since the start.

        This is all widely reported in the MSM

        1. Yeah, you’re right; I remember seeing the Clooney story now. Along with donations from Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, etc.

        2. The NRA or someone needs to start busing around pro-gun rights kids.

          1. What the NRA needs to do is get out in front of this by showcasing all the million or two defensive guns uses every year. Most don’t involve even firing the gun, but that still leaves thousands every year where shots fired prevent a murder or rape. They need to air commercials with 5 second clips (or even in print magazines! 🙂 of people who prevented a rape or bearing or murder by shooting their guns: “I shot my would-be rapist” — “I shot a home invader who had tied up my husband” — I shot a guy who was beating a cop”.

            Don’t get into detail. Don’t explain each one’s circumstances. Just 5 second clips of people whose gun saved them. Let the media go hog-wild trying to debunk them and come up empty.

            1. This article works to debunk the 2 million number and supplant it with an estimate from the National Crime Victimization Survey stating that it’s really closer to 100,000. I’m not particularly satisfied with any of the studies that attempt to quantify this because I feel like many uses don’t get reported.

              I was under the impression that 2 million was an estimate by the FBI and considered to be conservative by 2A advocates, but I can’t find anything to corroborate that.

              1. The CDC itself, gun-haters that they are, said 76,000, I think, and their methodology was laughable and biased, something like (this is a paraphrasing from memory) asking crime victims if they had used a gun to prevent worse results, then extrapolated that to the entire population.

                The 1M and 2M stats include people simply shouting “I have a gun” or racking a slide (pump shotgun or handgun). They seemed pretty solid to me, given that overall inclusiveness. Factor that down by 100 to get actual shootings, which again seems reasonable.

    2. They organized it through Facebook.

      1. Yup. It also seems like a lot of adult commenters on there.
        March for our lives FB

        1. Yeah, NPR ran audio of one of the protests that was organized by students.

          “You work for us!”
          “You work for us!”
          “You work for us!”


    The media is not a bunch of lying pieces of shit who cover for each other and/push a lefty narrative.

    1. Yeah, that’s at the bottom of it, too.

      The polls about the American people’s faith in the media to tell the truth honestly fell through the floor over the course of the year leading to Trump’s victory. By the time Trump was elected, it was at historical lows.

      When people’s opinion of the official narrative falls, I’m sure conspiracy theories get a nice boost.

      1. Here it is from Gallup:

        “WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly” has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32% saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. This is down eight percentage points from last year.”


        September 14, 2016…..w-low.aspx

        Looking back, it’s no wonder that the negative coverage of Trump in the mass media failed to connect with voters. The Fourth Estate may have been the only artifact of our society that was less popular than both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

          1. “Time has passed, so you can believe us again.”

          2. “WASHINGTON, D.C. — Democrats’ trust and confidence in the mass media to report the news “fully, accurately and fairly” has jumped from 51% in 2016 to 72% this year — fueling a rise in Americans’ overall confidence to 41%. Independents’ trust has risen modestly to 37%, while Republicans’ trust is unchanged at 14%.”

            —Your Gallup Link

            So, America’s overall confidence in the media has risen from 32% just before Trump was elected to 41% now. And last I checked, it looked like Trump’s job approval ratings were somewhere close to 40%?

            Wow, the media might even be more popular than Trump . . . finally!

            Last week, anyway.

            In the meantime, with Republican’s trust in the mainstream media hovering at 14% for more than a year, don’t be surprised if pro-gun conspiracy theorists continue to believe that the media is feeding us fake news with fake victims/crisis actors, etc. Surely, those two things are in some way related, aren’t they?

            1. Is seems reasonable to expect the gullible, poorly educated, disaffected goobers who became birthers to be skeptical about a bunch of accomplished, elite, professional, mainstream journalists.

              1. Jschoolgraduates are hardly ‘professional’, or ‘accomplished’. In fact, many are barely literate. Although you’re probably not smart enough to really understand anything said around here. In fact, a low end neurotypical brain like yours likely pukes out little shrieks of activity that barely passes as thought.

                Honestly, your cognitive functions appear to move in slow motion to someone like me. Primitive little masses of brain tissue that are more in line with sub Forrest Gump IQs than anyone with at least median cognition.

                You’re probably smelly too.

            2. Trump’s approval is now just over 50%

          3. It’s nice to see your renewed confidence in our media.

      2. Some people just cruise the interwebs looking at stuff. Just because you click on something does not mean it is read or believed.

        That’s a reason why I laugh at internet marketing numbers. Visits =/= actual advertising victims.

  9. Like stereotypes, conspiracy theories spread when there’s some nugget of truth at the heart of it. A conspiracy theory is only believable to the extent that it’s believable that “they” would do something like this.

    I think of the South Park episode where the boys uncover some evidence that 9/11 was an inside job only to uncover the truth that the 9/11 conspiracy theory itself was started by Bush in an effort to push the idea that the government is so powerful it could pull off a job like that and then cover it up rather than so incompetent it couldn’t uncover and stop an entirely foreseeable attack. Which is the more believable conspiracy theory, that the government pulled off 9/11 or that it’s behind the 9/11 conspiracy theory to make people think they’re capable of such a thing?

    Is it believable that somebody like George Soros would fund crisis actors to push his agenda? If you know the other shit that gets funded, it’s not such a crazy idea.

    1. And if you already hate and distrust Soros, it’s even easier to believe.

    2. Wasn’t that the episode where all the kids wanted to do was play some sort of video game, and they kept getting interrupted by someone trying to give the “big reveal” speech? About how it was all layers upon layers of conspiracy and deception, and their response was always “don’t care, don’r care” they just wanted to focus on the game – ie. the things in their own little lives that they really thought were important.

      Yeah, that about sums it all up.

      1. Different episode. The one you’re thinking of is the one where the military has created sentient pothead towels for some reason. The 9/11 episode involves somebody taking a shit in a urinal and Stan (or maybe Kyle) wanting to find out who did it and unraveling the massive 9/11 conspiracy along the way.

        1. Amd a version of the Hardy Boys that were really gay, and retarded. Just like Tony.

        2. Thanks! A few years out and they all kind of run together.

  10. I am very skeptical of this, and conspiracies in general, but I have a couple of FB friends who wholeheartedly believe the “crisis-actor” conspiracies, so I see them in my feed sometimes.

    I have a question. Some of these pictures showing up along with these articles show kids who look incredibly similar. Is it just coincidence (ie the “7 people in the world look just like you” trope), or good photo-shop (taking other photos out of context, or maybe I’m just not that good at telling people apart (certainly a possibility)? Seriously, a couple of these have given me pause. Like the young guy that’s the alleged “FBI stooge”.

    1. To be fair, the FBI did plant stooges in civil rights rallies to gain intel and/or kick-off violence and vandalism.

      1. Repeatedly, protractedly, in exceedingly difficult groups to penetrate, and at a time when employing stooges to do such work and the process of putting them in such places and positions was phenomenally more difficult and complex.

        1. I thought the thing about these “crisis-actors” was that it meant the whole event was a staged, or false flag.

          I think a plant, or mole, is a different sort of beast, or is that what this conspiracy is alleging? That the CIA/FBI/other-alphabet-soup-agency massaged it into happening?

          1. I would say that you’re right about degrees of government involvement.

            As we see from history, the FBI was actively trying to control developing civil rights demands by blackmailing MLK, who was one of its biggest leaders.

            I don’t want government to do anything except watch and make sure nobody breaks the law or hurts anyone.

          2. I thought the thing about these “crisis-actors” was that it meant the whole event was a staged, or false flag.

            That’s how people in my Facebook feed appear to use the term “crisis actor” — they literally don’t believe that mass shootings (or many other sorts of violent incidents) happen at all and use the term “crisis actors” to refer to people who are victims, relatives of victims, etc.

            1. A friend of mine, who is intelligent, thoughtful, and well educated, firmly believes that Newtown was completely staged. Even asserting that the school itself had been closed for years prior to the incident. He doesn’t believe any of those kids ever existed.

              I think his problem is that any perceived incosnsistency equates to a massive conspiracy. He generally believes that nearly any event like that is staged by the CIA. Whether he thinks they used MK Ultra to do it, or outright faking the event.

              Oddly coincidental is that he works for a government contractor that is likely run by the CIA.

              1. Well, then, I guess he would know.

                BTW, there is much evidence for your friends assertions about the school being closed.

          3. I think a plant, or mole, is a different sort of beast, or is that what this conspiracy is alleging? That the CIA/FBI/other-alphabet-soup-agency massaged it into happening?

            First, if it there were documented scripts, it wouldn’t be a conspiracy theory. My point being, just knowing that COINTELPRO, ECHELON, Room 641a, etc. do/did exist make an alphabet-soup-agency’s involvement seem more towards the ‘likely’ end of the scale rather than the ‘incidentally’ or ‘plausibly’ end.

            In their anti-terrorism and anti-hacking cases, the FBI actively and repeatedly advances or surrounds itself with this ‘We walk among you.’ narrative.

    2. What jumps out at me from the photo above is that in times of emergency and grief people A) use the phone, B) cover their faces, and C) adopt a similar grieved look.

      Considering the fashion of coloring hair and even more radical and whimsical body modification, I’m beginning to think that three photos like the one above are near worthless in identifying anyone without corroborating evidence.

      For all I can tell, the girl on the left is Kristen Stewart, the one in the middle is Katie Holmes, and the one on the right is Shailene Woodly.

      1. Yup. And sometimes you can get a photo of someone that makes them look a lot like someone else. But you see other images of that person and the resemblance just isn’t as strong.

        1. That’s a really good point. There are some really hilarious comparison photos out there, where you know for a fact that the person generally does not resemble the person they are so seeming comparable to.

      2. That they also look vaguely like that picture of all the White House staff after Hillary lost tells us a lot.

      3. Wait, you’re telling me that Stewart, Holmes, and Woodly are all different actresses?!

        1. Just another group of three people who’ve never been in my kitchen as far as I’m concerned.

        2. Amd theoretically you could have a foursome with them.

      4. It probably says more about what journalists and editors consider dramatic. A person trying to hide their grief while on the phone (presumably talking to loved ones panicking about them) is more recognizable and dramatic than someone staring off in shock or talking on the phone nonchalantly.

    3. I remember having a decent interesting political conversation with a relative of mine (trump voting conservative) and then all of a sudden he whipped out the “crisis actor” thing with complete credulity. At that point I just realized that this was not going to be productive and just uh huh…’d the rest of the discussion until the topic changed.

      I’ve spent hours trying to find “evidence” of this conspiracy more than a few “THESE PEOPLE LOOK SIMILAR, ZOMGZ” meme-y pictures and have come up with empty hands. But I guess all that you need to make a conspiracy theory to catch on is for there to be a desire for it to be true.

      A conspiracy theory is adopted by someone who seeks to find the motive before there is even evidence of a crime.

      1. To be fair, the Democrats are such lying, conspiring, and thieving pieces of shit one can get tired of having to sort through the cesspool that is media to find the lying, conspiracies and thieving.

        At this stage anyone who needs more evidence that socialists are lying, conspiring, thieving murders really needs to read a book or watch a documentary about WWII and the Cold War.

        1. While I resist your knee-jerk whataboutism it’s hard to say you are wrong when the leading media narrative on the left is all revolving around Russia-gate. Neither side is immune from this. I’m sure libertarians have their own problems with confirmation bias and conspiracy-theorizing.

          It’s a part of the human experience to resort to convenient narratives that conform with your worldview. It’s why it’s completely necessary to constantly question information you intake with a healthy dose of skepticism.

      2. > I’ve spent hours trying to find “evidence” of this conspiracy more than a few “THESE PEOPLE LOOK SIMILAR, ZOMGZ” meme-y pictures and have come up with empty hands

        You didn’t spend it on YouTube. Lots and lots of videos of obvious acting.

        Guy’s a bullshitter.

  11. You know what IS bullshit, is having to login three times just to post a comment on Reason because the website kicks people out every 5 minutes.

    If you are doing scheduled maintenance during peak hours, you people are morons. If you cannot handle the traffic, spend some of that donation money on better equipment.

    It just reflects badly on Reason. Free market advocates but have shittiest website around.

    1. Maybe you should go comment elsewhere.

      1. I like how much you seem like a miserable fuck lately.

      2. Or they could do the things he says, which would be sensible.

    2. because the website kicks people out every 5 minutes.

      Just you, bro. My iPhone has been logged in to the site for more than a month.

      1. It just reflects badly on Reason.

        Don’t blame them for your problems.

        1. I had no idea you and Hugh were Reason employees.

          1. I am pretty sure MJ Green is a sock puppet for someone connected to reason. It would not shock me if Hugh were as well. Sparky is not open borders. So there is no way he is connected with reason.

            1. Haha. You can definitely tell the difference in presentation of opinions between the lefties, Libertarians, and Reason interns or whatever.

              Plus, unless you are retired or work for Reason most people don’t have enough time to post as much as some do.

              Hihn has intricate bolded messes of nonsense that even crazy people cannot create. Makes you wonder.

              1. unless you are retired or work for Reason most people don’t have enough time to post as much as some do

                So which are you?

                Because it’s literally impossible that some people have good paying jobs that occasionally have long periods of downtime which can be used to browse the interwebz.

                1. it’s literally impossible that some people have good paying jobs that occasionally have long periods of downtime

                  Insecure much…

                  1. Insecure much…

                    I’m sure John’s government salary is much higher than mine.

                2. He’s said multiple times he’s retired.

                  1. He’s said multiple times he’s retired.

                    Huh, I’ve never seen that. Guess I don’t spend nearly enough time posting here.

                    1. More than me.

                3. My commenting and prom surfing would both go much faster if my girlfriend learned to balance my laptop on her ass better.

              2. Hihn’s Posts also seem different lately. Is it really…… Hihm?

            2. You really think that only Reason employees could possibly hold the views those people do? What reason would they have to spend years pretending to be a regular commenter? I’m pretty sure that the reason people who can be bothered with the comments comment with their own names and the rest largely just keep out of it.

              1. All sorts of people can have all sorts of views.

                I have gotten good at picking out subtle clues from lefties trying to hide in plain sight.

                It is also interesting that certain posters defend other certain posters or defend Reason for something that happens with the Reason website occasionally. If you have a vested interest in Reason, you defend it one way and if you are shooing away lefty trolls from Reason, you do it another way.

                Maybe there is nothing to it, maybe there is.

                1. I have gotten good at picking out subtle clues from lefties trying to hide in plain sight.

                  No you haven’t, you just call everyone lefty and hope for the best.

                  1. Hyperbole is your game, I see.

                    I don’t call most commenters on here lefties.

                    I haven’t called Ken a lefty because he doesn’t post comments that advocate socialism or some other lefty political scam.

                  2. “…you just call everyone lefty and hope for the best.”

                    Which nearly always works, somehow …

          2. You are such a doofus it’s literally unbelievable.

            1. This is emblematic of the quality of your posts.

              It literally sounds like a 3rd grader.

              1. It literally sounds like a 3rd grader.

                Sweet, mission accomplished then.

                1. I’m sure you think that.

                  1. I’m sure you think that.

                    Of course I believe it, you just said it. I have come to rely on the vital service you provide to this comment board. I can see no reason to not believe everything you post.

                    1. I’m sure you think that.

                    2. I’m sure you think that.

                      Of course I believe it, you just said it. I have come to rely on the vital service you provide to this comment board. I can see no reason to not believe everything you post.

                    3. You provide the vital service of being a tiresome asshole Sparky. It is not the best role, but it is something I guess.

                    4. You provide the vital service of being a tiresome asshole Sparky

                      Coming from you that means a lot.

                    5. You seem to love the role and born to play it. I really don’t understand why that is. The point of the board is to discuss these things. You never seem to want to do that and instead just insult people. You seem to have no positions or beliefs beyond the desire to be a jerk to everyone.

                    6. You seem to have no positions or beliefs beyond the desire to be a jerk to everyone.

                      No everyone, just you. I figure if anyone deserves it it’s some government lackey with nothing better to do than surf the Internet.

                    7. No Sparky you are a jerk to pretty much everyone. And regardless, you never seem to have any substantive opinions or anything to add to the conversation. Maybe you could, but you never do.

                    8. No Sparky you are a jerk to pretty much everyone.

                      Ok, you got me. Not everyone, just some.

                      And regardless, you never seem to have any substantive opinions or anything to add to the conversation. Maybe you could, but you never do.

                      I’m honestly not bothered by the fact you think I have nothing valuable to add. The feeling is mutual.

                      If you want to know what’s funny, Dajjal, Ken Shultz, Jerryskids, and you all felt the need to lecture the class on what makes people believe conspiracy theories. You were the only one who decided to get butthurt by my comment. You know how you sometimes say “people looking to be offended usually find something to be offfended by”?

                    9. Yes Sparky, you called everyone stupid and I pointed out all you ever do is insult everyone. If you don’t like that, stop insulting everyone.

                    10. you called everyone stupid and I pointed out all you ever do is insult everyone

                      Yes, I called everyone stupid and you donned the mantle of The White Knight to defend their honor. So noble.

                    11. The less that people discuss Libertarian issues and solutions the better for people on the left.

                2. Literally?

            2. Poser: Look at the big words you used. Good job.

              What a parody account you have there.

              1. What a parody account you have there.

                Am I a lefty or a Russian troll?

                1. If you are, man is the KGB not what it used to be.

                2. You tell me.

                  You just seem like a doofus to me.

                  1. You just seem like a doofus to me.

                    Well damn.

    3. It doesn’t log me out. Might be a problem on your end.

      Anyway, a crappy comment system is just part of their brand at this point, I think.

      1. It works now and I have been doing everything the same all morning.

        Just one of things we expect at Reason from time-to-time.

    4. Disqus is free to integrate, even.’s comment section was made using Dreamweaver.

      1. In their wheel at Reason, the server squirrels lie dreaming.

    5. Try typing your comment into a text editor, then copying and pasting it into the comment box.

  12. [Facebook] is still ripe for misinformation and exploitation

    The telephone is still ripe for misinformation and exploitation
    The written word is still ripe for misinformation and exploitation

    1. Somehow the world was filled with conspiracy theories, including things that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that were believed by tens of millions of people and contributed to the deaths of millions more, before we had an internet much less Facebook.

    2. The telephone is still ripe for misinformation and exploitation

      At the most fundamental levels, the human brain will make shit up (confabulation, Mendela Effect, etc.) rather than return 404 errors or go into lockdown and render services unavailable. There’s no reason to believe that warriors, hunters, and thieves haven’t exploited these this since well before the written word existed.

      1. What about Sorcerer class? Do they get a pass?

        1. Sorcerers and wizards definitely do. Warlocks will as well if you have someone with a wide rules interpretation running the show.

          1. What about druids, monks, bards, or psionicists? Or the beggar class (they actually had that).

          2. What about druids, monks, bards, or psionicists? Or the beggar class (they actually had that).

    3. Heck, divinely inspired stone tablets are still ripe for misinformation and exploitation.

  13. People believe in conspiracy theories because it gives them a sense of importance. To believe in a conspiracy theory is to believe that you are a part of a select group of people who know the truth and are above the rest of the public who are being fooled. That is what makes believing conspiracy theories so attractive.

    To understand conspiracy theories and why they are so persistent, you also have to understand how people reason. Confirmation bias is considered a bad thing and it often is. Some confirmation bias is however essential to making sense of the world. You can’t just absorb events without context. You have to impose some kind of order on things or nothing makes sense. Humans reason by taking what amounts to a guess based on their experience and then trying to fit their perceptions into that guess. Yes, at some point the facts become inconsistent with the guess that you have to change the guess but you always shave an idea that you are looking for ways to make your perceptions support.

    1. So everyone engages in some level of confirmation bias. And how strong that bias is is a factor of how badly you want to believe whatever it is you believe. Conspiracy theories are so persistent and are still believed by people in spite mountains of evidence to the contrary because they give people a sense of being elite and in the know and thus create a compelling reason to want to believe. Moreover, the longer you believe, the more foolish you will look when you finally do admit the theory isn’t true, meaning the longer someone believes the more reason they have to want to believe.

      1. I blame George Noory.

        1. That is just because you are working for the aliens.

        2. That’s how we know you are a troll. If you REALLY knew the truth, you’d blame Art Bell.

      2. If only someone wrote a book about conspiracy theories.

      3. So everyone engages in some level of confirmation bias.

        Not me.

      4. And sometimes people don’t know exactly what is at the core of their various beliefs. Nor admit why they know, or think they know something. “I feel it’s true” is common even though it’s a poor measure of reality.

      5. Accurate, but it works the other way too.
        Take the whole pizza/pedogate thing. Just to state up front, I’m agnostic on that one but I see more reason for further investigation than these “crisis actor” ideas or 9/11.
        But, getting back to my point, every time the pedophile ring allegations are brought up, they’re referenced simply as “debunked” – yet I haven’t seen anything attempting to provide evidence for that debunking (except the NY Times, who made one or two legitimate points… yet their credibility was hurt when it was discovered that their editor-in-chief was the same person who covered up Jimmy Saville’s transgressions). I’ve looked at the “conspiracy” theory – it provides a great deal of circumstantial, yet reasonable, evidence and arguments, along with some that are ridiculous. Still, the counterargument has yet to be made beyond, “It’s been debunked” (how? by what?) and “It’s too crazy an idea” (maybe, but it’s not like there isn’t precedent for large, powerful organizations – or individuals within those organizations – committing the exact same crimes and covering them up for decades). Yet, this lack of counterfactual is accepted without further question.

        1. My main point is that ‘confirmation bias’ works both ways – both to support inane theories, and to support ignorance and denial of reasonable suspicion. 9/11 had theories, and those theories were addressed by counterarguments and alternate explanations – that is, evidence of why the official story is true and the conspiracy angle is false. Same for birtherism. But there are certainly events that go unquestioned despite being reasonable, simply due to the confirmation bias of people and their desire to accept official/popular narratives.

    2. I have a friend who firmly believes Newtown was staged and no actual children died there, nor was there an operational school at the crime scene.

  14. There sure are lots of Dr Psychologists in the commentariat who are happy to explain how conspiracy theories work. Thanks for providing your valuable insights, fellas.

    1. You don’t need to be a psychologist to understand how reasoning works. This is not exactly new or complicated stuff. If you think anything that was said here is wrong, you should say why. If you have nothing to add, then you should not add anything.

      1. If you have nothing to add, then you should not add anything.

        Maybe you should moderate the Reason comments? I’m curious to see the result.

        1. Sparky is free to add nothing. In fact, that is just what he did.

      2. This is not exactly new or complicated stuff.

        And yet here you are taking the time to explain it as if nobody else has a clue.

        1. In fairness Sparky, you seem not to have a clue. So, I at least had an audience of one.

    2. If you’re not gonna bloviate about complex social phenomena and offer simplistic solutions that everyone else is too stupid to understand, then wtf are you doing here?

      1. That is a good question Green. You don’t seem to be able to even rise to the level of bloviating. So just what are you doing here?

    3. There sure are lots of Dr Psychologists in the commentariat who are happy to explain how conspiracy theories work.

      Too bad the Dr. Psychologists are experts on conspiracy theories and still have yet to really pin down the whole school/mass shooter thing. Even when the shooter’s family and classmates effectively hand him over on a platter.

      1. Oh, I’m sure the geniuses in the commentariat can tell you exactly how to stop mass shootings.

        1. I don’t recall seeing anyone on here, other than maybe Hihn who is a troll and doesn’t believe a word he says, claiming to have a way to stop mass shootings. In fact, the consensus seems to be there is no way to stop most of them and the occasional mass shooting is just an unfortunate fact of life.

          1. The best way to cut down on them is to raise kids like they were raised prior to the 90’s and also stop medicating the shit out of them. That cuts down on the supply side of the problem.

        2. If you came to the Reason commentariat or, really the internet in general, looking for bona fide, credentialed content, you’re doing it wrong.

          1. Well duh.

          2. We’re all RUSSIANS anyway.

            1. Nyet.

        3. You can’t stop mass killings. How’s that for simple?

          1. What!?! That is not what the TOP MEN tell me!

            1. If a shooting begins, just make sure you call force fields right away before some other dick does. Then you’re covered.

      2. The shooter is exactly the same thing as the truancy law, government school and Kristallnacht law coercion fanatics. The only real difference is that he delivered the initiation of deadly force the rest of them all advocate, just as Robert Dear did. The only real difference is in the cheering sections and sections acting appalled. When the waiter bringing the order asks: “Who had the initiation of force?” each will point to the other.

  15. The statists use tragedies and crisis to expand their power. I don’t think this is in debate.

    The question is “are they willing to purposely stage an event?” in order to expand their powers.

    It sure is easy to read the incredible incompetence of everyone involved as conspiracy.

    1. I have no doubt lots of them are willing. The problem is that I seriously doubt they are able. The problem with all conspiracies is that their existence depends on the silence of too many people for them to exist in secrecy for very long. Look at the clowns who were exchanging text messages about the Russia investigation. That is about the mentality of the typical person who would be involved in a conspiracy like this. You really think those to doofuses could pull something like staging a mass murder off much less keep quiet about it? I don’t.

      1. Yup. But it’s not just the incompetence, it’s the coordination needed, and the state sucks at coordination. I’m amazed at the number of libertarian leaning conspiratards who thump the Bible of Mises, yet don’t know the first thing about what Mises wrote. The coordination needed to pull of a successful conspiracy at that level and then keep it secret is impossible to pull off by central planning.

        1. Pretty fucking huge coincidence that the school had a shooter drill 4 hours before the actual shooting. Lots of the cell-phone footage we are seeing came from the drill, not the real shooting.

          1. Coincidences happen. Moreover, why would there being a shooter drill before the actual shooting be part of a plan to stage it? If you stage it, you just have the guy come in and do it. Running a shooter drill the day of would be unnecessary.

            1. If you stage it, you just have the guy come in and do it. Running a shooter drill the day of would be unnecessary.

              It seems to be some sort of evolution of the common conspiracy theory that various mass shootings did not actually happen at all, but instead were “drills.”

              1. If I hadn’t seen it in Reason I’d still be wondering if it weren’t manufactured out of whole cloth. Everything the looter media showed when last I peeked at it was at best gross misrepresentation.

            2. Having a drill at the same time allows for plausible deniability. If a black hat (masquerading as a white hat) is working on the plan to do the actual crime, and is discovered by a white hat, all he has to say is “I’m working on the drill for Operation XYZ” It’s how they concealed 9/11, 7/7 and several others. In a situation like the recent school shooting, there were fewer actors involved, so the drill was probably for the purpose of confusing the target population.

              We know there was more than one shooter:

              Sandy Hook didn’t get the people riled up enough, so they had to actually kill real people this time:

              Investigate, folks. Don’t just dismiss without investigating.

        2. libertarian leaning conspiratards who thump the Bible of Mises

          Is Mises’ the only Bible they thump or could Rothbard, Hayek, Bastiat, and Smith work their way in as well.

          Can you show me the difference between an unseen hand and an invisible hand?

          1. Sometimes they thump Hayek, but most still think of him as a fucking socialist. Bastiat and Smith are second rate. And Rothbard is a conspiracist in his own right.

      2. The Democrat conspiracy to rig the primaries for Hillary Clinton would have never been found out if not for Wikileaks.

        Strozk and Page would have never been found out if Clinton won.

        Conspiracies happen all the time. The problem is separating the crazy from the facts. If a conspiracy theory is hitting too close to home, watch the media point out the crazy.

        1. The Democrats rigging the election was right there in the Democratic Party bylaws. Yes, the Clinton Campaign did pull some shenanigans with the help of the DNC, but all that super-delegate shit the Bernie bros were whining about was not a mystery. Not in the slightest.

          We did find out about those shenanigans due to disgruntled party members, but that just goes to show why the Grand Insider Conspiracies can’t exist: too many mouths to keep shut. It’s also not what got Hillary the nomination. The Bernie Bros may have been loud and noisy, but they never put in the work necessary to get the nomination. I still consider their campaign a success though, because it definitely moved the eventual nominee way over to the left.

          1. Although it has taken a pretty big set of conspiracies to keep the Clintons out of prison. With so many dead bodies in their wake.

            1. Those Republicans are honestly just the most stupid and incompetent bozos, not managing to expose the vast and wide-ranging and incredibly obvious conspiracy with all their hearings and investigations.

      3. Cow pucky.

        1) The Manhattan Project employed around 30,000 people. Arguably the most important statist project ever. Zero leaks over its life.

        2) If the state is so goddamned incompetent, and the market is a million percent awesome, how is it that the state still exists? Obviously, the state is good at *something*, and that something is ruling/governing us. Now, there is quite a bit to ruling a large number of nominally free people, it involves lots of violence, but even more deception (’cause it’s way cheaper). Who said, “None is more enslaved than the man that falsely believes he is free.”? Or something like that. The main function of the state is deception. Check out the testimony of former DCI Colby during the Church Committee hearings, and search “Operation Mockingbird”. 40% of CIA moneys went into this program. With the consolidation of the media in the past 20 years, does anyone think that control of the public narrative has gotten easier or more difficult? Have you personally seen (in the MSM) a greater ideological diversity of thought or a narrower one in the past 20 years?

        Y’all are being lied to every time you watch any of the MSM. No where in any of these (arrogant, smug, condescending) comments do I see anything resembling actual search for truth, (‘cept for Nardz) acceptance of actual evidence. No, you just insist that things are exactly what you’ve always thought they were. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  16. These high school students are literal “crisis actors”. Just notot in the conspiracy sense that the shooting was staged or faked.

    They’re all drama students, coached and scripted to stay “on message” and now very well funded by liberal donors.
    Bloomberg’s anti-gun astroturf seems to have been there since the beginning.

    1. Kind of my point above. They had a rehearsal on the anti-gun message hours before the real shooting.

      1. I don’t see the logic to your argument at all. As John said above, if it was a planned conspiracy, what reason is there to have a shooting drill the day of? We had those drills from time to time when I was in school, it seems a lot more plausible that the shooting coincidentally happened on one of those days than the government decided to carry out a false flag shooting but made sure to have a shooting drill hours earlier.

        1. it seems a lot more plausible

          There’s your first mistake in analyzing anything in connection with conspiracy theories. Next you’ll be pointing out that it seems a lot more plausible that, if someone wanted to attack the Pentagon and hijacked a jetliner on takeoff from Washington National and didn’t care about killing the passengers, they would just fly the jetliner straight into the Pentagon rather than fly the jetliner to some undisclosed location, execute the passengers, repaint and retool the jetliner to disguise it as something else, while separately firing a cruise missile into the Pentagon from another aircraft or launch platform to simulate the damage of crashing a jetliner into it.

          1. Kind of like this kind of conspiracy plotting………..


  17. Obama was the first Obama birther. He had an author blurb on a book saying he was born in Kenya, because that gave him more cred than “raised by a rich white mother on a beach in Hawaii”, and being President wasn’t even a consideration.

    1. We’re all supposed to ignore that, apparently.

      1. No you’re supposed to inflate it to a huge stupid racist conspiracy.

  18. ?Shooting Survivor: CNN Gave Me “Scripted Question” After Denying Question About Armed Guards
    …”CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions and it ended up being all scripted,” Haab said. “I don’t think that it’s going get anything accomplished. It’s not gonna ask the true questions that all the parents and teachers and students have.”…

    1. Donna Brazile finally admits giving primary debate questions to Clinton campaign
      …The former Democratic National Committee chair and ex-CNN contributor, in a piece published this weekend in Time magazine, acknowledged funneling inside info to the Clinton camp before two debates with Bernie Sanders….

      WaPo: CNN Coached Audience To Cheer For Hillary During Town Hall Event

    2. Interesting links, thanks for sharing. I can imagine that some coaching is necessary (don’t clap for too long, keep your mouth shut during XYZ, etc) to efficiently produce good takes. It seems that it’s being taken too far. All the media outlets have to compete for a finite viewership, and people like cable news that is digestible rather than perfectly accurate.

  19. The market place of ideas [drink] is not a Connecticut boutique store, it’s more like a New Mexico flea market. You can find a brought stuff there, but you can also find crappy velvet painting of dogs playing poker.

    The progs are mad about the memes, but last I checked they had their own stupid ass conspiracy memes. They’re not mad that there are stupid ideas out there, they are mad that there are ideas not their own out there. I think conspiracy theories are stupid too, but I think that because they are stupid, not because they don’t match my narrative.

    The progs act like they want Facebook to exert control over ideas. They want Idea Police. The problem with Idea Police is that sooner or later someone you don’t like will be running the Idea Police. Just like sooner or later someone who is not a Democrat will become president.

    Instead of police, we just need people to be free to mock the ideas. Within five minutes of me seeing the first of these crisis actor memes, I saw another viciously mocking them. And within an hour I actually saw someone admit they were mistaken and the meme target was not an actor but a genuine student.

    1. One man’s conspiracy theory is another man’s insight. And yes, people of every political stripe believe in them. And you know what? Occasionally they turn out to be true. The people who said the Reichstag fire was a false flag operation were at the time conspiracy theorists. The people who said that the KGB gave funding to the civil rights movement were conspiracy theorists. Yet, both of those things turned out to be true.

      1. So that proves that 9/11 was an inside job? Rubbish. There is a difference between real world conspiracies, and the deep insider secret government conspiracies. The first difference is that the real world conspiracies all get found out. Usually sooner rather than later. Second, they’re never as deep and complex as the conspiracists imagined, and never achieve their ostensible goals.

        Take your KGB example. Sure the KGB did some covert espionage stuff. So what? They have have sent *some* money to *some* civil rights groups, but they most certainly did not control the civil rights movements. As a conspiracy it failed. And not just because it was discovered by some clever basement dwellers, it failed because it’s aim was simply not achievable.

        Contrast that to the grand insider conspiracies. They expect us to buy into the idea of super-human planning, super-human coordination, and super-human execution. And if not for the super-human metallurgical skillz of some clever basement dweller, they would have gotten away with it too!

        1. It doesn’t prove anything other than the fact that just because something is dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” does not automatically mean that it is not true. Everyone calls things they don’t like “conspiracy theories” in an effort to discredit them. Sometimes they are but once in a while they are not.

          1. Remember that it was the CIA that coined the phrase “conspiracy theory” to discredit the JFK Assassination researchers that were getting a little too close to the truth.

        2. No one said the KGB controlled the civil rights movement.

        3. As I have argued for years, neither you nor anybody else can carry the burden of proving the government’s 9/11 conspiracy theory that a handful of Saudis, armed with box cutters, were the culprits.

          1. And no Troofer has every proved that 9/11 was an inside job. Not. Even. Close.

            At least those of us on the side of rationality have a ton evidence on our side, and not just misleading editing in youtube videos, and memes about fire not melting steel, and weird discussions about the differences between thermate and thermite, and outright lies about no Jews being killed. Why the fuck does every conspiracy have to drag in the Jews?

            1. Bullshit. The collapse of the towers HAD TO, via laws of physics, collapse from a controlled demolition. Who had access to the buildings? Who had access to the surveillance videos at the airports? How were the FBI able to collect surveillance videos from all of the businesses around the pentagram withing 20 minutes (!?!?!) of the impact unless they already had agents in place an ready to go knowing what to go after?

              In the aftermath of the “mistakes were made”, how come no one went to jail, no one was convicted, no one was tried, no one was prosecuted, no one was indicted, no one was fired, no one was suspended, no one was written up, and AFAIK, no one was even spoken to in a sharp tone of voice. To the contrary, promotions, raises, and bonuses (!?!?!) were nearly universally distributed. Because they all DID WHAT THEY WERE TOLD TO DO.

              The cover-up is run by the perpetrators, therefore, elements in the govt. are the perps.

              This is a very small portion to of the evidence. The physical evidence is overwhelming. Search Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

        4. > The first difference is that the real world conspiracies all get found out. Usually sooner rather than later. Second, they’re never as deep and complex as the conspiracists imagined, and never achieve their ostensible goals.

          And just how the fuck do you know this?

    2. One of the sillier leftist conspiracy memes* out there right now is that the NRA controls some big chunk of bought-and-paid-for politicians. If you were buying politicians, wouldn’t powerful politicians like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi be attractive targets? So how much money has the NRA spent trying to buy those two? Isn’t it more likely that the NRA donates money to politicians because they support gun rights rather than that politicians support gun rights because the NRA donates to them?

      *I’m pretty sure it’s only a leftist conspiracy meme among gullible leftists too stupid to understand cause and effect, the smarter ones actually spreading this illogical nonsense know damn well it’s illogical nonsense.

      1. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to guess whether Nancy Pelosi – one of the main ones spreading this nonsense about the NRA buying politicians – is one of the ones smart enough to know she’s spreading nonsense or one of the gullible ones too stupid to understand cause and effect.

      2. They know it is a lie because if they actually believed that resistance to gun control was some NRA conspiracy not the result of such measures being unpopular, they would have passed gun control in 2009 when they controlled both the Congress and the White House.

        1. Just like they were so anxious to pass “immigration reform”.

      3. If believing that a rich and powerful lobbying organisation has politicians beholden to them through donations is the sillier of the leftist conspiracies… I mean, there’s shootings are faked by crisis actors, and then there’s rich donors have politicians in their pockets. Wild.

  20. the meme target was not an actor but a genuine student.

    They’re both. The “crisis” wasn’t staged but the reaction to it totally has been.

    I’m surprised wikipedia is standing by this. They don’t have a cite for her career as an activist dating to 2013.

    Born c. 1999/2000 (age 18?19)
    Nationality American
    Education Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (2013?2018)
    Occupation Activist
    Years active 2013?present

    1. ^Emma Gonzales wiki bio^

      1. Oh well then, that clinches it. Mass shootings are an inside job by the government.

        1. No, the reaction to them are often astroturfed. It is just a live-action version of the “lifelong gun owners who have after this decided to destroy their guns and do something about that damned NRA” that magically appear in so many comments sections after one of these events.

        2. How disingenuous of you.

        3. No but have you never heard “never let a tragedy go to waste”?

          Politicians use tragedy to have Americans give up our rights.

          9/11 allowed for the Patriot Act.

          1. Yep, and the “Russian meddling” (yes, there were trolls – no there weren’t only Russian trolls and they didn’t cause a damn thing) and the “fake news” narratives have allowed social media platforms to openly state their intent to censor certain content. It gives them pre-emptive cover to “moderate” the messages that are disseminated to the general public.
            Also of note: the “dossier” that was rejected by every news outlet (despite their affinity for anonymous sources and complete lack of ethical integrity) as being not credible/verifiable enough during the summer/fall of 2016 was not only used to obtain a FISA warrant for surveillance of an American citizen in the fall of 2016, but also used to start a “collusion” investigation in January 2017, 2 weeks before the inauguration.
            I can’t wait for the “Patriot Act” that comes out of this whole debacle

        4. Most mass shootings ARE inside jobs by the govt.

          James Holmes, Aurora,CO: multiple witness report multiple shooters. No evidence that Holmes was one of them. Cops found him in his car, doped up (see video of his arraignment – high as a kite). Why did he voluntarily report his apt was wired to blow up? Had military linked psychiatrist. So did Cruz.

          Sikh Temple shooting: Almost ALL witnesses report multiple shooters. The dead one was 10 years Army Psy Ops.

          You are talking out of your ass without knowledge, and you are a fool because you do not seek it.

        5. Not OUR looter government!

    2. Emma is the president of MSD gay/straight alliance. She has spent all her HS years as an activist.

      1. Hey I was president of GSA for a year! Today I learned I was an activist in high school!

    3. Activist is an occupation? How much does it pay?

      1. How lefty can you act?

      2. Depends on whether it helps you get tenure or not.

  21. The other thing is that when people lose trust in the government they start believing even the most outlandish conspiracy theories. A couple of years before the Iranian revolution, there was a massacre at a movie theater. The Islamic radicals had railed against the presence of western movies in the country and had been threatening vengeance against those who patronized movie theaters for years and were, in fact, responsible for the massacre The event turned out to be a complete disaster for the government. People had grown so mistrustful of the government that they believed the conspiracy theory that it was a SAVAK run false flag operation created to discredit the radicals. Even though the government had irrefutable proof it was the Islamic radicals who were responsible, people refused to believe them and believed the conspiracy theory instead.

  22. The Aurora shooting was six years ago. Isn’t the bigger mystery how she’s managed to stay 17 years old the whole time?

    1. I am not saying it is aliens, but it is totally aliens.

      1. My favorite meme!

    2. Some people just look youthful?

      1. Check out porn babe Dakota Skye. She’s 23 and looks maybe 14-15 (hence her appeal).

    3. That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.

  23. For some pundits, this isn’t merely a reminder that people are capable of believing bizarre stories that are based on only the thinnest alleged evidence.

    Like Trump/Russia?
    Like McCarthy not actually finding communists?
    Like the popular vote actually matters in a presidential election?
    Like a gun free zone stops guns?
    Like web posters make any sense?

    1. The Trump Russia thing is a perfect example of something that some people would want to believe. If you voted for Hillary and believe Trump colluded with the Russians and is an agent of Putin, then you didn’t vote for a loser candidate who held unpopular views, you were a great patriot who did a great thing trying to save the country.

    2. McCarthy did in fact find communists. Valachi papers confirmed this after the fall of the Soviet Union.

      1. McCarthy, while a drunken demagogue. was exactly right. He was going after the right people in the right places. He truly was an American hero maligned by the left.

      2. You mean Venona Papers

      3. I think you mean Venona papers.

  24. One thing that amuses me about Trumpkins is how devoid of agency they are. Whenever they do something reprehensible, it’s never their fault. No, it’s always because the left is MAKING them do it!

    “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

    1. What the hell are you talking about? Did you take a marijuana or something?

      1. I’m referring to all of the “you can’t really blame them for spouting crazy conspiracy theories, it’s all the media’s fault!” type comments.

        1. I am unaware there are any such comments. That being said, look at my example of the theater attack in Iran. When people lose faith in the media and government, they will often believe conspiracy theories. The media has lost a lot of its credibility and been caught in one outrageous lie after another. It is no surprise that people have stopped believing them even when they are telling the truth.

          And I really don’t see what that fact has to do with partisan politics. Plenty of Democrats believe things like 911 being an inside job or Donald Trump being an agent of Putin in return for furthering his business interests.

          1. “I am unaware there are any such comments”, and then immediately precedes to make just such a comment.

            1. A reason is not an excuse. I am explaining why people on both sides believe these things. That doesn’t deprive people of their agency or in any way make any judgment about those actions. You don’t seem to understand that just because there are reasons for people doing things does not mean they are right or without agency in doing them.

              So, your point really doesn’t make any sense.

            2. An explanation is not a justification.

              1. Let us not forget that no person has ever proven with incontrovertible evidence the government conspiracy theory that a bunch of loser Saudis, armed with box-cutters, perpetrated the murderous acts.

                1. I think the accounts of flight 93 would be pretty hard to fake and are quite compelling. Also, the air traffic controllers have no reason to lie and are pretty clear that the planes were hijacked.

                  Did the government hijack the planes and blame it on the Saudis? For that to have happened the government would not only have to keep such a thing secret but find people willing to die in the effort. I find that very unlikely. More likely is the people who had been planning to attack us and took credit for doing it were responsible.

                  1. > I think the accounts of flight 93 would be pretty hard to fake and are quite compelling

                    Aaaaaaand you would be very wrong. Speech morphing technology was advanced enough at that point to fool most people. Also, remember that the recordings weren’t released (no independent examination) and the listeners/family members had to sign secrecy oaths.

                    Evidence of hijacking very easy to fake. And they didn’t know that they were “hijacked” for nearly an hour – after the planes missed a bunch of course changes they were supposed to make according to their flight plan.

                    Dude. You really don’t know very much about this, do you?

                2. Bingo. In fact, almost all of the govt’s assertions about 9/11 have been demonstrated to be false, and that the govt knew they were false when they said them.

            3. yes it is the medias fault for repetedly lying and misinforming the public to such a degree that anything on TV is looked at as a blatant LIE and any information contradicting the venue to which people are used to being lied to by seems to represent the truth.
              If we were living in a world where our government wasnt intentionally spying on and its minions werent getting paid vacations for killing our fellow citizens maybe conspiracys would be harder to believe, but in our current world it is FAR easier to believe that the government is 100%full evil and would commit acts of evil against the citizens to push progressively more insane ideology to increase its totalitarian control than it it to believe our government secures the rights “guaranteed” by the consitution.

              1. in our current world it is FAR easier to believe that the government is 100%full evil and would commit acts of evil against the citizens to push progressively more insane ideology to increase its totalitarian control than it it to believe our government secures the rights “guaranteed” by the consitution.

                It helps to push the paranoia and misunderstandings even farther when you get to look at declassified, insane and evil plots proposed and planned by our government in decades past. Eg: Operation Northwoods is the kind of stuff that helps to propel conspiracies like 9/11 Truthers. In the case of Northwoods, the DoD pitched it, the JCoS approved it unanimously, and it only didn’t go forward because Kennedy torpedoed it thankfully.

                This, the Gulf of Tonkin, and other false flags help to give the rational anchor for these claims.

  25. Conspiracy theories are more interesting than actual facts anyway.

  26. So what you’re saying is, that the best counter to fake news is more free speech, not less.

  27. The real conspiracy is that the MSM will ONLY cover people with the most insane statist ideology trying to promote it as the new normal.
    you dont need a paid crisis actor, theres plenty of overemotional wackjobs out there to support the states ravenous lust for more control.

    1. Very true. Most of the time, the media (mainstream or otherwise) have an agenda they are trying to push.

      Many years ago, my mom was approached on the street by a TV news crew that were doing a story about terrible customer service at some downtown department store. They asked her if she’d ever shopped at the store they were in front of and would she comment on her experience.

      When she told them that she had never had any problems and actually liked that store a lot, the reporter admitted outright that it was not at all the angle they were looking for, so he just thanked her for her time and said they wouldn’t use her in the finished piece.

      I was maybe 8 or 9 years old when this happened, but my mom telling me about this experience always stuck with me. It was an early lesson on how the media has little or no interest in reporting on different points of view.

      1. Yes, only people who’ve never been involved in events that were covered by the media think media accounts are reliable. Those of us who happen to have had first hand knowledge of something that ended up reported on know better.

      2. Remember Fox News is part of the mainstream media. They all have an agenda they are trying to push whether leftest or Republican stooge.

        1. I hate that you can’t edit these comments and correct typos.

  28. I hadn’t really heard much of the “Crisis Actors” Conspiracy outside of the Sandy Hook nonsense that’s been floating around for years.

    I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if some news agencies have hired people to pose for photos after traumatic crises so they have great pictures for their articles. But this madness about “X event never happened” seems just patently ridiculous. That said, it’s pretty obvious that the women in the picture above aren’t the same woman. On inspection, they have different eyebrows and different noses. Pretty easy to tell that even if they were “crisis actors” that were hired to pose for a photo op–and there’s no evidence they were–they aren’t the same woman.

    Look at the White Helmets in Syria for an example of photo-ops around real tragedies. They’ve been caught more than once acting. That doesn’t mean the Syrian Civil War isn’t real and people aren’t/weren’t being killed nor does it mean the White Helmets don’t exist or didn’t help anyone, which would be the equivalent claim to the “Crisis Actors” conspiracy nuts here in the states.

  29. Reading this article, and thinking on those who attach with an unhealthy zeal to conspiracy theories, I am reminded of a quote from GK Chesterton’s Orthodoxy:

    The last thing that can be said of a lunatic is that his actions are causeless. If any human acts may loosely be called causeless, they are the minor acts of a healthy man; whistling as he walks; slashing the grass with a stick; kicking his heels or rubbing his hands. It is the happy man who does the useless things; the sick man is not strong enough to be idle. It is exactly such careless and causeless actions that the madman could never understand; for the madman (like the determinist) generally sees too much cause in everything. The madman would read a conspiratorial significance into those empty activities. He would think that the lopping of the grass was an attack on private property. He would think that the kicking of the heels was a signal to an accomplice. If the madman could for an instant become careless, he would become sane. Every one who has had the misfortune to talk with people in the heart or on the edge of mental disorder, knows that their most sinister quality is a horrible clarity of detail; a connecting of one thing with another in a map more elaborate than a maze.

    1. …The madman’s explanation of a thing is always complete, and often in a purely rational sense satisfactory. Or, to speak more strictly, the insane explanation, if not conclusive, is at least unanswerable; this may be observed specially in the two or three commonest kinds of madness. If a man says (for instance) that men have a conspiracy against him, you cannot dispute it except by saying that all the men deny that they are conspirators; which is exactly what conspirators would do. His explanation covers the facts as much as yours…

      Nevertheless he is wrong. But if we attempt to trace his error in exact terms, we shall not find it quite so easy as we had supposed. Perhaps the nearest we can get to expressing it is to say this: that his mind moves in a perfect but narrow circle.

      1. Excellent quote. I know a few people with mild schizophrenia, and if you ask for elaboration on an outlandish claim you can see the rationality of the individual steps. They’re hyper-vigilant. Our brains try to find patterns, and some peoples’ brains are a lot more active.

  30. At least 2 of them do look awfully similar. Is it supposed to be like those Arabs who were staging & recording atrocities? If it is the same person, then managing to be on scene at the various events would indicate at least foreknowledge. Has anybody tried face recognition software on them?

    1. The “theory” is like that of the Arabs where the same exact girl gets carried out by the same exact guy at multiple locations. Except as far as I know, no one is denying that places in Syria are being destroyed by a war, whereas many of these people in the US are claiming that “Sandy Hook never happened”.

      If you get a better series of pictures of the women in the photo above, you’ll see that they have different facial features, particularly different noses and eyebrows. Because people shrink down the photos to make a meme the photos lose resolution, and so these women look a lot more alike than they really are.

      1. On the matter of the Arabs, the explanation I read was that the girl was being transferred between people as part of the triage, not for the purpose of photography. It just made for a good photographic subject so the journalist took many pictures. I also didn’t see anything about the guy being the same guy, just the girl. I imagine that the people claiming so can’t necessarily tell many Arabs apart.

      2. Also, photographers seldom choose unattractive subjects even in covering a tragedy. The fat chick with the nose ring may be an equal victim but they know the thin pretty girl will get more sympathy.

  31. I was chuckling myself at some of these conspiracy memes until I came across this one: Rex&src=tyah

    That’s young Cameron Kasky, star of last night’s CNN debate who blasted Rubio about taking NRA money.

    That’s Nellie Ohr pictured next to him. Who is Nellie Ohr you might ask? An employee in good standing of Fusion GPS. I think you might know who they are — the Trump dossier people. Small world huh?

    btw Kasky is supposed to be the founder of #MarchforOurLives, yet here he is calling Ohr “the grand creator of our movement.” Strange huh?

    1. p.s. link appears to be broken in post, also see:

      1. Interested, but not signing up

      2. You lost me at Facebook…

  32. Isn’t the theory of “crisis actors” actually just the part of the larger conspiracy theory of a false flag operation?

    The thing is, I’m fairly sure (but not entirely certain) that there have been some actual false flag operations in history. The earliest one I’ve heard about was when the U.S.S. Maine blew up in Havana harbor, sparking the Spanish-American War. Supposedly the U.S. blew it up themselves.

    In the 1940s, Zionists who were pushing for the creation of the state of Israel supposedly blew up a cinema in a mostly-Jewish section of Cairo, killing dozens of Jewish movie goers in an effort to rally support to their cause.

    Probably the most famous one is during the Viet Nam War, when another U.S. Naval ship was bombed supposedly by friendly fire in order to justify deeper involvement over there.

    Are any of these actually true? I don’t know, but even assuming even one of them is, any political leader that would stoop this low would certainly not hesitate to hire some phony people to play up the cause for the benefit of reporters.

    I tend to disbelieve most every conspiracy theory, but I also realize that some unknown number of them may contain at least a grain of truth. In that sense, they are a little bit like stereotypes. The reason stereotypes about certain people (whether its race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, even age bracket) persist is that at least some small percentage of people actually seem to live up to the stereotypes.

    1. Of course there are government conspiracies. However 99% of the conspiracies out there are pure fabrication of demented minds of individuals divorced from reality. I don’t give them much creed without evidence. Neither should you.

      1. credence* … fucking phone

    2. I think the current understanding (though it’s still divided) is that the Maine kept its munitions too close to its coal, which released a gas that helped ignite everything.

    3. The thing is, even under the controlled conditions of scientific study, more questions emerge than answers. So yes, questions should be asked, but grasping for the most sensational answer, or the answer that fits a particular narrative, doesn’t get anyone closer to reality. Rather, further from.

  33. You dont have to believe these events are staged and/or faked to believe that there are organizations/interests with plans, money and material dedicated to capitalizing on these events for the purposes of advancing a particular agenda.

    Absurd conspiracy theories are in fact excellent cover for actual conspiracies.

  34. Can’t believe the mostly smart people here at reason are justifying the lunatics who say there is a conspiracy of school shootings. They’ve been watching wag the dog too much in their basements, don’t give them any attention; it just feeds their psychosis.

  35. If you are not as dumb as the so-call leader of our country then you know the true, but if you believe that there were actor there at a school shooting then you need to see a doctor.

  36. Several years ago I was optimistic that the internet would be a constructive force, a place where ideas and knowledge would be shared for the better. Man, was I wrong. Facebook, Twitter and other social media gathering places do more to break apart society by disseminating polarity and falsehoods than anything in the history of man.

  37. As much as I don’t believe anyone would stage or implement a mass murder (i.e. the deadly act, itself) in the US, I equally believe that there are people like George Soros and organizations supported by them who coordinate with people to show up at these tragedies, pretend to be part of the community, and seek out gullible reporters to make sure that the “narrative du jour” is stated with proper emotion and clarity. The same strategy happens all across the Middle East, but over there, they actually stage the incident.

  38. IDK. It’s one thing to speculate that news networks might use crisis actors for interviews to enhance the drama. It’s another to go full Alex Jones and say they and all the victims are making the whole thing up.

    For the record, I don’t believe that they are, as I’ve seen no concrete evidence. I’m just stating that I see why they may fly in these actors to these tragedies to better broadcast their political narratives.

  39. Wow. A lot of this tread would be a good sieve for psych evals to own a gun (which is the reason a lot gun fetishist would resist any link to evaluations & ownership).

    Generally, I’ve noticed most CT believers would prefer to think of the world run by cabals of deep state agencies & deep pocketed billionaires that to accept the indifferent randomness of the universe.

  40. “Crisis actor” conspiracy theories claim that various mass shootings and other public tragedies are staged by the powers that be, and that you can tell this because some of the same faces keep coming up when the media cover the crime scenes

    I’m sure someone has such conspiracy theories. But it’s no conspiracy theory that there is a core of leftist and progressive protesters that drive around between different crises, protests, and disasters and that those people are supported by various non-profits and activists groups. I mean, heck, even Rosa Parks is portrayed as an accidental civil rights icon, when she was really a lifelong activist.

    There is nothing wrong with professional activism, though it is dishonest to create the impression that such activism is a grass roots movement.

    As for the school shootings, obviously, students are not usually paid professional activists. At the same time, I’m sure that such crises attract activists and political professionals with an agenda, and they are going to frame and manipulate the event and the people for their own purposes. And they are going to deflect from their presence and political machinations by spreading obviously ridiculous claims (“people say victims were paid actvists”) to cover rational observations (“victims and events are framed and manipulated by activists for their own purposes”).

    1. I have a hard time believing they’re deliberately staging such events. As opposed to just being ready to exploit them at a moment’s notice.

      OTOH, it is fairly well established that some of the more obnoxious people you see at political events, making the organizers look bad, are actually actors hired by the other side. There’s a long track record of Democrats hiring actors to pretend to be KKK members at Republican events, for instance.

      And, of course, one of the revelations of the 2016 campaign was that the Hillary campaign was paying people to start fights at Trump rallies.

      But, murder? I rather doubt they’d go that far. At least, I’d require some fairly significant evidence before I’d take the claim seriously.

      1. > I have a hard time believing they’re deliberately staging such events

        Why? You know that the statists are evil, they start wars that kill thousands “their own people” (soldiers) and thousands of civilians. They have no conscience. Why wouldn’t they get things started with killing a few innocents?

        1. Basically because the consequences of being exposed are literally revolutionary.

          1. Some people are exposing them on this very thread. Why doesn’t it spark revolution?

            Oh. No one believes us.

  41. These sorts of crackpot stories have been floating around YouTube and various sites for over 15 years. During that time, a lot of damage was done to the perception of libertarians, because of people like Alex Jones, who did his “libertarian” schtick for almost the entirety of the Bush and Obama admins. The glaring contradictions existed even then, like when he simultaneously supported Ron Paul and the idea that 9/11 was somehow “orchestrated” by the government, even though Ron Paul repeatedly stated that 9/11 and other terrorism in general was blowback from years of awful foreign policy and meddling.

    The cognitive dissonance is stunning, but we’ve been seeing this for decades now.

    1. “Orchestrated” 911 and “blowback” terrorism are NOT mutually exclusive.

      The Gulf War was to defend an invaded nation and had no blowback. The Iraqi invasion was a violation of international law which the US Empire agreed to and turned out to NOT be defensive. No matter. The Empire could have gotten away with it without blowback if they got in – got out, but they didn’t. They dropped the original excuse and used democracy building to justify occupation. And they got away with it in the US but not in the Arab world. Goodwill for liberating Iraq was destroyed by continued occupation. Anti-American terrorism took its place.

      At the same time, 911 was plausible, given the blowback. A closer look revealed a sinister false flag conspiracy. This was a shock to even me, a voluntaryist, who reviles all govt. The depths of depravity that the US Empire has reached was expected but still shocked me. The day of 911 I deduced the consequences. I pointed to the event on the TV screen in a room of 2 dozen and exclaimed: “This destruction is nothing compared to what the govt. will do to us in the name of protecting us.” I knew 911 would make it easy for the rulers to get new draconian laws. They did, e.g., The Patriot Act and the NDAA. Even if 911 were as the propaganda tells us, the US Empire has struck back at “We the People”.

      1. “Orchestrated” 911 and “blowback” terrorism are NOT mutually exclusive.

        When I stated “orchestrated”, it referred specifically to conspiracy stories of detonation and CGI airliners. Unsurprisingly, 16+ years later the “truthers” still have no consensus or even a loose agreement on exactly how that supposedly happened.

        That is a vast difference from government apparatus taking draconian measures, which not coincidentally has happened in response to far lesser events than 9/11.

        At the same time, 911 was plausible, given the blowback.

        It wasn’t only plausible, it was nothing short of amazing that among countless mass-casualty terror attacks around the world through the 80s and 90s, a major attack of that scale had yet to materialize on US soil until 2001 (aside from the attempt in 1992).

        1. > Unsurprisingly, 16+ years later the “truthers” still have no consensus or even a loose agreement on exactly how that supposedly happened.

          We don’t have to. We have conclusively proven that the government narrative is a lie from start to finish.

          I don’t have to have an alternative hypothesis to prove yours is false.

  42. A nice “reasoned” argument and article. One question, with the proliferation of facial recognition programs, what has that said?
    Some of the criseses do seem to see some of the same people when looking at those video’s. We don’t even have to consider some of the other logistics, however, rather than discuss how many or what the people are saying. Or, what the main stream media says (really, who gives a rats ass what bought and paid for propagandists tell US), would it not be better to get some of the tech types that work with you to just check it out?
    One other point, pharmacology. Why is it that the fact that most if not all of the last 20 years of mass shootings have involved individuals that were on or had just cold turkeyed off of Prescription Drugs? These prescribed drugs have warning labels that are impressively scary.
    I don’t watch main stream “news” so if this is being discussed, I just have not heard it or seen it on the web (other than arguing this must be researched).

    1. Do you know how much Big Pharma spends on advertising on news shows? You will NEVER, NEVER, EVER see this on a network news show.

      There was someone commenting on this very topic on either CNN or MSNBC, and as soon as – the very insant – they mentioned (I’m not sure they even got to the words drug or medication) the topic “they were taking …” the host cut them off and changed the subject.

  43. I got: “Social media is better than the MSM.” Why? Because social media is refuting silly rumors faster than they arise. Good. But what about the MSM news most take seriously? Isn’t that situation more important? Don’t we need social media to criticize MSM news more than silly rumors? I think so.

    For example, today I heard POTUS say he has fulfilled more promises than any POTUS. Then he included promises being discussed/worked on as if they were fulfilled. Next, he said he has fulfilled promises he didn’t make. And he repeated this contradiction. Did the MSM, who supposedly hates him, point out this absurd claim? Or the inclusion of unfulfilled promises as fulfilled because they are in the works? No, they didn’t.

    And the national “dog & pony show” goes on. Are you going to let them distract you? Can you stop them? Yes, by not watching much, e.g., just enough to remind you their propaganda game goes on as it has for centuries.

    1. But what about the MSM news most take seriously? Isn’t that situation more important? Don’t we need social media to criticize MSM news more than silly rumors? I think so.

      Not sure why virtually nobody in this increasingly cliched debate about “MSM vs. social media” looks at the important and truly relevant points.

      Both Facebook and, say, CNN fundamentally operate the same way. That is, they sell an audience to advertisers. The user of Facebook or audience of CNN are not the “customer.” The customers are the advertisers, which buy a product, the audience.

      The result of both is a feedback loop, but in different ways. CNN’s programming is an investment in the product (audience). The more that programming attracts viewers (by telling them what they want to hear), the greater the value of the product.

      Facebook’s feedback loop works in a more granular way. That is why more loopy stories about supposed conspiracies and crackpot cure-all health articles proliferate. Facebook not only tracks what you take interest in and serve more of that to you, but they even know when you pause scrolling on your phone or PC to look at something.

      The overall problem isn’t just “the MSM” or social media. In all primarily commercial media (as opposed to independent media or privately-funded media), this is in their DNA. Facebook just happens to be able to tailor content vastly more specifically.

  44. Yet again, Jesse Walker is the only worthwhile writer at reason.

  45. Jesse’s debunking is always as refreshing as Houdini with a flashlight at a seance. But even my own non-Farcebuke social media page was somehow invaded by no-less-fanatical socialists exploiting a shooting (not at a shitkicker event) as a photo op for further howling against the Second Amendment. So his poniard could easily cut both ways in this last-gasp of hysteria-fanning to get Americans to copy European National Socialism.
    Christian prohibitionist totalitarians and communist prohibitionist totalitarians are both wrong and for the exact same reason: both define altruistic coercion as The Good, and abhor freedom from coercion as Evil, Wrong, Socially dangerous.

  46. I have never lent much credence to either Truthers or Birthers, but I confess to having some initial sympathy for this conspiracy theory when I first saw supposed crisis actor, David Gunn, absolutely everywhere mere hours after the shooting. Why were I and other skeptics partial to this particularly canard? Well, we live in a world in which public truth has become an increasingly elusive subject, in which government officials try to pin a terrorist attack on an American embassy on an anti-Muslim video, in which once respectable media outlets eagerly reported on fictional accounts of Donald Trump’s moist dalliances with Russian hookers because they fit a narrative in which they had invested, and in which that same Trump routinely inflates numbers to suit his own ego,. Hate crimes get reported by that same over-anxious media with alarming frequency, but the retraction when many of those crimes are revealed as hoaxes are not as forthcoming. Keep in mind that a man stood just feet behind President Obama at Nelson Mandela’s memorial, pretending to be a sign language interpreter and that CNN reporters have almost routinely had to apologize for falling for faked up news about notables like LeBron James and Denzel Washington. People might be wrong for suspecting a vocal teen who has suffered a horrible trauma of duplicity, but we are not wrong for our skepticism of the people we once relied on for their dedication to truth.

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