Wed, 30 May 2007

The Conspiracy Trap

My last blog entry was about conspiracists. Elsewhere on the net I've been much harsher in my opinions of them. Imagine my shock this afternoon upon discovering that I was heading down the path to becoming one myself!

Politically, I am opposed to the income tax and the Federal Reserve. So upon watching Aaron Russo's "America: Freedom to Fascism" last week, I was hooked! My politics and the film were in sync. I was determined to spread this news to as many people as possible, so I made a bulk order of 100 DVDs to pass out to friends, family, meetups, etc. Today the order arrived. I was so excited!

I wasn't completely stupid, however. I knew the film was sensationalist and engaged in quite a bit of hyperbole. I could see that Mr. Russo had played fast and loose with some facts. I also didn't like the over-the-top clip with Lou Dobbs at the end. But I believed that in the whole it was telling the truth: The IRS and the income tax were unlawful, and the Federal Reserve banks were running the country.

But I'm a natural skeptic. I was smelling something fishy. I was thinking up excuses to tell people, to get them to watch the film. I imagined telling folks, "Yeah, it's sensationalist, but once you get past that it's a good film." I was trying to explain to others why it wasn't a conspiracy film like "Loose Change". Most disturbing of all, the 9/11 Truthers were glomming onto the movie. The smell became strong enough that I had to do a tiny bit of fact checking.

I knew there had to be more rebuttals to this film than just the IRS FAQ. I found them. I should have looked at Wikipedia first, because it has some good information. I don't always trust Wikipedia, but it's a good place to start from, and it helped me find some good rebuttals of the film. More importantly, I discovered the law that Aaron Russo said didn't exist!

The message in the film is still a good message, but it is a message that does not need to be bolstered with lies. The income tax may not be illegal, but I still want to abolish it. The Federal Reserve may not be a conspiracy, but it still has too much control over the economy. And of course, our government is far too large for our good.

I now understand a bit better the mind of the conspiracist. It's a trap one falls into. If I had been a bit more credulous, I might be one myself. That's a sobering thought.