Thursday, September 03, 2009

Is Alex Jones Psychotic?

Most of you know Alex Jones, a man who has never met a conspiracy he does not believe in, including his most recent "film," The Obama Deception, a biased, unbalanced, factually empty hit on Barack Obama that is very popular on You Tube and among some of the integral folks (the paleoconservative branch).

As you might guess from my loaded language, I do not like Jones, nor do I believe he should be taken seriously as a journalist. At best, he is on the cultural fringe; at worst, he is delusional. I think it's a little of both.

Jones's fans are miffed about a story in the current Psychology Today that (they say) portrays Jones as a conspiracy nut whose beliefs have little connection to reality. The article isn't available yet from PT, but the Jones people have posted it online as a PDF. The article is not flattering, but that has as much to do with Jones as it does with the author - but that is not something his followers can fathom, it seems.
Dark Minds
When does incredulity become paranoia?
By John Gartner

ALEX JONES is trying to warn us about an evil syndicate of bankers who control most of the world's governments and stand poised to unite the planet under their totalitarian reign, a "New World Order." While we might be tempted to dismiss Jones as a nut, the "king of conspiracy", is a popular radio show host. The part-time film-maker's latest movie, The Obama Deception, in which he argues that Obama is a puppet of the criminal bankers, has been viewed millions of times on YouTube.

When we spoke, Jones ranted for two hours about FEMA concentration camps, Halliburton child kidnappers, government eugenics programs-and more. When I stopped him to ask for evidence the government is practicing eugenics, he pointed to a national security memorandum. But I found the document t0 be a bland policy report.

Jones "cherry picks not just facts but phrases, which, once interpreted his way, become facts in his mind," says Louis Black, editor of the Austin Chronicle, who knows Jones, a fellow Austin resident. When I confronted Jones with my reading of the report, he became pugnacious, launching into a diatribe against psychologists as agents of social control.

Conspiracy thinking is embraced by a surprisingly large proportion of the population. Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe President John F. Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy, and 42 percent believe the government is covering up evidence of flying saucers, finds Ted Goertzel, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University at Camden. Thirty-six percent of respondents to a 2006 Scripps News/Ohio University poll at least suspected that the U.S. government played a role in 9/11.

We're all conspiracy theorists to some degree. We're all hard wired to find patterns in our environment, particularly those that might represent a threat to us. And when things go wrong, we find ourselves searching for what, or who, is behind it.
Read the whole article.

Needless to day, Jones's supporters are not pleased. They see this as a hit piece that unfairly neglects all the "facts" Jones presents on his shows and in his films that support his theories. Their headline suggests that Gartner called Jones psychotic, a word which never actually appears in the article.

It's worth noting that when Gartner disagrees with their view on the national security memorandum they contend supports a eugenics policy, they say hie didn't read it or couldn't understand it - a common stance for many conspiracy theorists when others reject their interpretation of reality.

Psychology Today Hit Piece Labels Conspiracy Thinking A Psychotic Illness

Psychologist Gartner fulfils the very criteria he levels at “conspiracy theorists” to claim their concerns are a product of mental instability

Psychology Today Hit Piece Labels Conspiracy Thinking A Psychotic Illness 020909top2

Paul Joseph Watson
Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In an article entitled Dark Minds: When does incredulity become paranoia, Psychology Today writer John Gartner attempts to make the case that the concerns of “conspiracy theorists” are not based in reality but are a product of mental instability, while himself fulfilling every criteria for what he claims classifies such people as psychotics – ignoring evidence that contradicts his preconceptions while embracing the ludicrous “conspiracy theory” that powerful men and governments do not conspire to advance their power.

Probably somewhat upset about how our coverage of the dangers associated with the swine flu vaccine has contributed to a global revolt against mass vaccination programs being readied, Psychology Today’s gravy train of big pharma advertisers will no doubt be pleased to see the publication wastes no time in savagely attacking radio host and film maker Alex Jones, dispensing with any notion of fairness and zealously going after him as early as the second paragraph.

The nature of this vicious hit piece (PDF link) is confirmed when Gartner laments that Jones refused to provide him with phone numbers for friends he grew up with, presumably frustrated that he couldn’t dig up some dirt from an old girlfriend to throw into the mix of what is nothing more than a personal attack on Jones’ character, and a complete departure from any debate about the issues Jones covers on his radio show, which is the phony pretext that Gartner used in order to secure the interview in the first place.

Gartner has trouble believing that eugenicists occupy powerful positions, even in the aftermath of the John P. Holdren story when Obama’s top science advisor was exposed as having advocated forced abortion, sterilization and mass drugging of the public. Despite the fact that we sent Gartner dozens of pieces of evidence for his article, he cites a single national security memorandum and dismisses it as “a bland policy report”.

Mr. Gartner was obviously too lazy to read the entire document and/or too stupid to comprehend it.

You can read the whole rejection of Gartner's article, as well as a letter some other guy has sent to Gartner asking for an interview to prove that Jones is correct in all his views.

Let us return for a moment to Gartner's actual article:
Information is the conspiracy theorists' weapon of choice because if there's one thing they all agree on, it's that all the rest of us have been brainwashed. The "facts" will plainly reveal the existence of the conspiracy, they believe. And while all of us tend to bend information to fit our preexisting cognitive schema, conspiracy theorists are more extreme. They are "immune to evidence," discounting contradictory information or seeing it as "proof of how clever the enemy is at covering things up," Goeftzel says.

Conspiracy theories exist on a spectrum from mild suspicion to full-on paranoia, and brain chemistry may play a role. Dopamine rewards us for noting patterns and finding meaning in sometimes insignificant events. It's long been known that schizophrenics overproduce dopamine. "The earliest stages of delusion are characterized by an overabundance of meaningful coincidences," explain Paul D. Morrison and R.M. Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London. "Jumping to conclusions" is a common reasoning style among the paranoid, find Daniel Freeman and his colleagues, also at the Institute of Psychiatry.

Indeed, there are no coincidences in Jones' world. In a scene from The Obama Deception, Jones dives "into the belly of the beast," the hotel where purported conspirators will be meeting. As he begins a telephone interview, the fire alarm goes off. "The bastards have set us up," he says.

Jones says that he has been visited by the FBI and the Secret Service but can't discuss the interviews. It maybe that federal agents, in fact, wanted to evaluate whether he is a threat to the president. There's no reason to believe he is -but the same can'tbe said of his listeners. In 2002, Richard McCaslin, carrying an arsenal of weapons, entered the Bohemian Grove, a campground in California that annually hosts a meeting of the political and business elite. He told authorities he had been planning his commando raid for a year, after (he says) hearing Jones claim that ritual infant sacrifice was takingplace there.

The "war"continues. In a video promoting The Obama Deception, Jones urges, "We know who they are. We know what they are. We know what has to be done."
Psychotic may not be the right word - perhaps dangerous, despite Gartner's feeling that he is harmless. He is not harmless if he is leading his listeners toward violence, especially violence toward public officials. That puts him in the same league as Glenn Beck and other wingnuts.

The reality is that conspiracy theories on both sides of the political landscape are common, and often, the same folks believe both sides are involved in vast conspiracies - those without power, and who have the brain chemistry that allows for paranoia, will tend to see whoever does have power as being evil, sinister, or some other ulterior motives.

But they might counter with, "just because I am paranoid does not mean they are not out to get me."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

People are going to believe what they want to believe.

What I don't understand, though, is how some of these people can get away with promoting violence against others who don't share their views. Are there no laws against that sort of thing? Or do they have to actually kill someone before they're taken seriously?