“That’s a Mannequin”: In Which I Reach My Breaking Point

One uncomfortable aspect to running a blog like this is the question: am I mocking the mentally ill? Well, are conspiracy theorists mentally ill?

I don’t think so. Not generally. You don’t have to be insane to believe wrong things.

People who deny climate change aren’t mentally ill. Bigots aren’t mentally ill. Evolution skeptics are usually perfectly lucid. Their beliefs are merely part of their overall life philosophy; they’re part of a belief set, often one they were raised in. Say, religious conservatism, and especially racism are often raised beliefs. In the US, modern conspiracy theories basically arose in the ’60s as a reaction to the killing of JFK and rebounded in the wake of the War on Terror – both profoundly disillusioning events that upset their culture and awoke new cynicism.

Conspiracy theorists have a paranoid ideology, but paranoia isn’t automatically harmful. Paranoia can even help you. When you’re walking alone at night in a rough part of town it’s only natural to consider everyone you see a potential threat. It’s okay to double-check that you’ve turned off the oven or locked the doors, but it’s harmful when it becomes an obsessive drive or turns into agoraphobia.

Conspiracy theorists are inquisitive, but so is everyone. They’re just inquiring in the wrong directions. In Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World, we hear of a man who eagerly asks Sagan scientific questions – but they’re all pseudoscience like aliens or astrology. Sagan describes the man as “well-spoken, intelligent, curious” – one who wanted to know science, but when that science was transmitted to him by society it taught him just “pretense and confusion”. Many conspiracy theorists are like the man Sagan met: intelligent people who want to understand the world, who think they do, but who have been misled.

They think they alone know the truth and must reveal it to the brainwashed world. It’s a heroic fantasy, and one that can be true. Barbara Demick’s account of North Korean defectors, Nothing to Envy, details the myriad of small things that made people realize that North Korean society is based on lies: a doctor on an illegal journey to China discovering that Chinese dogs eat better than North Korean doctors, or a sailor who sees a South Korean sitcom where characters are arguing over parking spaces and realizes how prosperous South Korea really is.It’s an understandable fantasy.

So conspiracy theorists may be paranoid and delusional, but they aren’t usually insane.

Alas, I encountered someone today who honestly unnerves me. I can’t make jokes here; I can only vainly hope that this person receives the help they need.

There’s the possibility this video is a hoax. Their store (yes, they sell merchandise) is called “YouBeenHoaxed”…but it’s saying you’ve been hoaxed. I certainly hope this person is just a troll: the possibility that it’s real is disturbing.

Conspiracy theorists enjoy writing off tragic events as “false flags”: they seem to believe in a conspiracy that’s evil and overbearing, but they display tremendous optimism as well by writing off senseless acts of violence as non-existent. There may be a shadow organization controlling the world, but no one actually died in that plane crash; you might get shot going to the mall, but it’s always the fault of a purely evil conspiracy, not disturbed individuals. This video’s creator boils this down to a pithy motto: “NO ONE DIED AND NO ONE GOT HURT”

Dave Johnson believes that World War II is a hoax.

In a very poorly edited (and, to warn you, LOUD) video, he argues that WWII never happened. He zooms in on bodies in archive footage while talking about how they were a mannequin; he looks at dead bodies in detail and decides they aren’t decayed enough to be real dead people; he apparently believes every European city was destroyed in the war, as he declares footage fake because it has standing buildings in it. The fact that some war footage was staged for propaganda purposes means all war footage was staged.

There’s a very high chance that this is a troll video, but he is persistent: his other popular videos discuss such topics as the Moon being a hologram (a theory I’ve heard before, surprisingly), “No Body Died, No Bodies got Hurt, The MH17 Official Real Story”, Michelle Obama being a man, and “proof” that ISIS videos feature “No Real Death Shown MOVIE acting only”. If true, it’s a strange ideology: no one dies, no one gets hurt. There’s no planes crashing, no mass shootings, no war. It’s all just fake: every war going back to the Civil War was just a hoax, conducted by actors to disguise secret power struggles. No, over seventy million people weren’t killed in the world’s deadliest war.  It was all just pretend! Like those old TV shows where people get shot and keel over, but you never see any blood.

There’s an obvious appeal to a world without war and tragic violence, and many people channel this desire into more productive ends. Making videos ignoring the existence of war is not so admirable. Many conspiracy theorists believe shootings are “false flags”, but even they’d think a faked war is a bit too hard to believe.

Yet in the video’s comments, we find people who agree with this:

The purpose of wars, at least since the American Revolution (and in earlier centuries), was to kill off large numbers of young, healthy and brave, white males, which ostensibly prevented most of them from passing on their genes to the next generation, just as the US Civil War prevented 400,000 or more young, healthy, aggressive white males from ever reproducing. Yes, I believe that WWII was a hoax, but in the sense that it was designed

Great video Dave. Before I woke up one thing has always stuck with me for my whole life. I was in the Air Force back in the 80’s. And one day I was talking with this Vietnam Vet Pilot. Before every attack they had a briefing where they would go to drop bombs. And he told me the places they bombed he NEVER saw anybody. But sometimes he would see troop movement tanks and things to and from the bombing area. But they were NOT allowed to bomb those troops and tanks. I always thought that was odd. It NEVER made sense to me. But now its perfectly clear. Its funny how synchronicity works. Keep up the great work bro 🙂

Unreal, literally. Just like the holohoax. I used to get so angry about all the lies, but now that I am cutting them off at the pass, I have learned to laugh at them from the start. Oh, how great it would be to see a Dave and Pompo holohoax skit…hehe! Your green screen is awesome 🙂

Our education system started and still is government indoctrination of the people.

I’ve always contended that the US Revolution was fake. My intuition tells me that the British , being the duplicitous douche-bags that they are , had to set up a fictitious state in order to keep their criminals , whom the British East India Company deposited on American soil to increase their profits,  in line . The script was most likely in place long before the phony Armada

I hope whoever made this video did trick me into falling for a hoax. Because the truth is altogether more disturbing.