Friday, February 16, 2007

Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy Theories

[This post is an attempt at a chronological description of my exposure to the Conspiracy Theory phenomenon and the related aspects of explosion of unverified and easily accessible “information”. Neither do I claim veracity of any of the facts nor do I promote any of the theories mentioned herein.

This is by no means a comprehensive compilation of all such theories. It’s just a log of my journey from childhood to the present-day delving in the mysteries surrounding our world. I have poured my thoughts to remove a clutter which had been growing for long – serves the purpose of pensieve. The post will also help me to evaluate my theory that personal blogs, unless talking about general interest stuff, don’t hold relevance to readers, if they aren’t acquainted with the writer.

The generously sprinkled links have been searched and added to help the reader, if s/he wishes to embark on the journey with me. Many of the links are just more than information; they have been selected on the merit of being unique / surprising. They also serve as a future one-stop search engine for my own surfing habits. And I do hope that they will also lead the unknown reader(s) of this blog to interesting or temporarily amusing ideas. Please report any broken links and/or suggest additional/better ones. Better, leave a comment, bricks or bats. :D]

[Update: The post got referred by]

They abound everywhere. To the latest ones doing round on the internet to the age-old urban legends concerning mythical monsters. Geographical boundaries and progress of technology hasn’t impaired their strength.

My indulgence in conspiracy theories has been growing over a period of time. My first encounter with an urban legend was the reference to Kraken in the class 3rd ICSE English reading book (Gulmohar Reader) – an excerpt from “The Kraken Arrives” story (unfortunately, I could not find the source and author of this story). While browsing through the old Indrajal comics collection of my dad, I found that even Mandrake the magician had to face the Kraken once, but this one was MUCH bigger.

Gulmohar Reader was instrumental in introducing me to many other legends and myths. Minotaur got its share of space in the emphasis on use of brains by Theseus to navigate the labyrinth. Greeks had more to offer through stories on 12 tasks of Hercules, Achilles’ vulnerable heel, Phoenix, et al. David and Goliath inspired me to take on the senior standard hunks (thankfully, I never put that into practice) without any knowledge of the story’s significance in Biblical scheme of things. Even my initial introduction to Middle-Eastern literature began with knowing about a large bird from the legends of Sindbad the Sailor and Arabian Nights.

Following close on heels was the story of Yeti – the abominable snowman of the Himalayas – in my all-time favorite Indian comic book series (Super Commando Dhruva – Barf ki Chita). The Yeti made further appearances in the same series. However, there was another comic book which involved Yeti in a different context. Tintin found a formidable foe, and then later an ally, in a Yeti when he was in Tibet. Discovery Channel brought back memories of this creature with a special run episode on Ape-Men from around the world including BigFoot (I guess you must have seen the runs and re-runs of Roger Patterson’s 1967 BigFoot footage)

Till this time I had been untouched by more frightening and scary propositions of urban legends. Enter the Dracula, in a “comic” way in retrospect, in its Lambu-Motu incarnate from the Diamond Comics annals. The legends of scary creatures got another shot in arm by reference to Jersey Devil in an issue of Hardy Boys – The Outlaw’s Silver, where the Hardys go on a treasure hunt in the Pine Barrens.

The Jersey Devil would make another appearance in years to follow in the X-Files (Season 1, Episode 5). The series followed up on many such legends through its “monster of the week” episodes on Nessie, werewolves, vampires, El Chupacabra. The X-Files deserves a special section of its own for the contributions made in firmly ingraining in me the thrill of mystery and unexplained. Werewolves beamed themselves into my living room through the TV Series aired on AXN (which I now realize must have been originally aired on Fox Network). Underworld, Blade and Van Helsings of the world followed later.

This was about the beginning of the time when instead of conspiracy theories coming to me in unexpected ways, I started chasing them. The Pustak Mahal “World Famous” series was the first step in this journey. Titles like “World Famous Unsolved Mysteries” were quite a rage in those times (circa 1990 – 1995) and formed a quintessential gift item on kids’ birthdays and academic successes. Each new conspiracy theory thread spun off from the two page articles in these books would explode in future when I would be introduced to Internet and unlimited access to uncensored “information”.

The Web opened up a portal to a world hitherto hidden from my reach with all its conspiracies and unexplained phenomenon. The first to strike was the Moon Hoax, with its paradox of the destination being visible yet not affording irrefutable evidence of “Mankind’s One Giant Leap”. The unknowns of the space continue to haunt me from that time. The other frontier beyond human exploration is much closer to the home - the deep ocean floor – Atlantis, Lemuria and recently the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

This point of time marks the explosion of (mis)information which a democratic medium like Web would offer me. It becomes difficult from here to track the exact chronology of what I was exposed to but here is a genuine try to capture the motions.

The click-through effect of web media led to one discovery after another. Area 51 became my sought after address on Earth. The Cydonia face stared at me from millions of miles with all the fascinating possibilities ranging from the aliens building an artifact on Mars to the Humans actually descending from a Martian race. Even on Earth, intricate geometries of crop circles embarrassed me by reminding of my own lame drawing skills. Majestic 12 seemed to have become the ultimate masters of human race and by proxy - of its destiny. US government agencies, like CIA, FBI and some which perhaps don’t even have a name, seem to hold keys to numerous caverns filled with logs of activities and truths which they believe shouldn’t be known to the world. Some of them were exposed – CIA mind control experiments using LSD. Some are still open to conjuncture – mystery surrounding Nikolai Tesla. I am not an American and thus haven’t been exposed to the extent of conspiracy theories existing in US society about events in their own national history – like JFK assassination.

The evil empire of Microsoft entrapped me in its grip – not from the expected Windows or Office suite – but through a PC game called Age of Empires. My childhood memory of the Hardy Boys “The Aztec Warrior” got a shot in the arm by playing the campaigns of Emperor Montezuma and the serpent God Quetzalcoatl. The Meso-American and Amazonian races of the Aztecs, the Mayans and the Incas soon found their way into my mental frame through horde of uncountable mentions. If Cortez never found El Dorado, his bad luck – I did. The unforgettable hills of Machu Picchu were as fascinating as the plains hosting as drawing board for Nazca lines, at least with respect to their mysterious origins. Far up north, the Reds won’t be much of a trouble except the Anasazi peopleX-files episode (Season 2 Finale) and a Johnny Quest episode. The date 22nd December, 2012 is etched on my mind. I will start my packing my bags then, as probably Arthur Dent would have advised, because that’s the date that Mayan calendar “promises” as end of the world. And this has inspired multitude of other theories, one of which I will deal later in the post. The X-files series ended with this date being set for beginning of alien colonization of Earth.

Of course, Hollywood had to have its say in all this through the Terminator, the Aliens and the Predator. Though not exactly conspiracy theories, they did fall in the chain of command to serve the hunger for not-so-real. And then came along a movie which changed my identity to NeoThe Matrix. This post can’t even attempt to do justice if I try to explain the profound effect of the movie on my life.

While Matrix had a definite Neo-Christian theme to it; my belief in what constitutes a religion was to be shaken by a mere work of fiction – The Da Vinci Code. I don’t know whether Dan Brown ever intended but an ignorant person like me was taken completely off-guard by the political machinations of religion exposed in the book. The threads spawned here divide and re-divide and some of them later merge into other conspiracy theories. Though many of the readers would be aware by now of Holy Grail, Knights Templar, Priory of Sion, Illuminati, New World Order; I would like to mention a book which dealt with the core theme of exclusion of “knowledge” by few to gain power. Umberto Eco’s “The Name of The Rose” delivered a fiction in the world of 14th century persecuting Church along with a message of “Knowledge/Information is the source of ultimate power” (perhaps Google bosses would appreciate this better).

As it had to be, religion and controversy proved to be bretheren-in-arms as I dug more into the history of the fertile lands of Tigris and Euphrates. The common Abrahamic origin of Jews, Christians and Muslims and their claims and counter-claims made me shrink to a cocoon shrouded by the web of undocumented and re-documented chapters of human history. In my humble personal opinion, if any good can come from analyzing existing conspiracy theories, the whole gamut of these related gray areas of history should be the best candidate to spend time and resources on as a lot of present world international and religious disputes might appear in new light and hopefully also get a solution.

Ahh, I digressed. Back to the conspiracies. Discovery Channel added fuel to the alien angle by linking the physical sites and geometry of Stonehenge, Easter Islands, Giza Pyramids, Yonaguni-jima (a sunk pyramid off the coast of Japan), the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, lake Titicaca, ruins of Tehoticuan to the likes to constellations and stars in the Heavens – the Orion’s belt, Draco constellation, Pleiades. Soon my interest-telescope was focused on Sirius and the Dogon tribe which claimed to have been taught astronomy by “Sirians”. It was also time to look back to Indian Hindu mythology to find more alien connections and give wings to my own imagination through one of the initial posts on this blog.

And thus, this brings me to write about the theory which just swept the rug from under from my feet - Zecharia Sitchin and his theory of the 12th Planet, Nibiru. His claims - that humans were genetically engineered from Homo Erectus to serve the purpose of a slave race for mining operations of an extraterrestrial traveling race which were referred as Annunaki by Sumerians, one of the first civilizations on the face of the Earth - just left me gasping. Forget about the ethical and moral questions, he claims that Mayan calendar ends at 22nd June, 2012 because that’s the date when “Gods” will descend to claim their space back on Earth. I wont even attempt to describe how he interlinks Old Testament with Sumerian Tablets (Book of Enoch and Gilgamesh) to spin this story which seems plausible when viewed in context of recent findings about actual era of construction of many old world structures (including Sphinx and Pyramids) when humans shouldn’t have even existed according to present day beliefs about human origins.

The arcs of conspiracies slowly converge to the one event in well-documented history which is near close to Apocalypse imagined on contact with Aliens - World War 2. The sightings of two most popular shapes of UFOs (cigar and a disc with 3 bubbles underneath it) are rumored to be result of Nazi re-engineering of captured crashed UFOs. Wernher von Braun, creator of V2 rockets and father of US space program, commented about some superior technology traveling in our air space, he was not far from what President Reagen himself reiterated twice in public as extra-terrestrial menace. Legends have it that The Third Reich made a desperate attempt to flee to Antarctica to establish a base in collaboration with Nordic aliens and they wait for the right time to make an appearance on world stage. Sounds incredulous? It won’t if you were to be told that US undertook a costly Operation Highjump with a strong naval fleet without any apparent reason immediately after World War 2 ended.

This pretty much rounds up what I have read, felt, believed and sometimes hoped to be true. As an X-Files fan and a believer, I maintain that “The Truth Is Out There”. History teaches us that what was chronicled may be forgotten, what once existed may perish, what once ruled might be decimated – yet, they will leave clues – clues waiting, almost tantalizingly, for an inquisitive mind and an adventurous spirit to query into the unknown. For, though, the past is gone, it defines what we are now and a spark of knowledge about its truth may change what our future might be.


fafridi said...

>>The post will also help me to evaluate my theory that personal blogs, unless talking about general interest stuff, don’t hold relevance to readers, if they aren’t acquainted with the writer.<<

First, i don't understand how this post will throw any light on your theory. Second, please elaborate on your theory, what makes you think so. And third, i don't agree with your theory and would love to refute if you obliged me on the second point.

Apart from that it's a wonderful compilation. Loved reading through the links. Haven't gone through all of them yet, will keep doing so in installments. Some of the mysteries that i like best are the X-files ones, though i don't watch them (they scare me more than i can handle), but i do listen to them and the like, from people who watch them and that's a very common topic of discussion with a particular group of friends. And ofcourse The Da Vinci Code, that is some book i can read over and over and think new thoughts every time. It's just amazing how much that book makes me think. I'll try and get my hands on the book you suggest 'The Name Of The Rose'.
Religion, beliefs, fears are somethings that cannot be explained using logic always, they are beyond reason, we probably need a new dimension to explain them. But till we can get to that, we'll keep drawing parallels to what we know explanations to and try to amuse ourselves.
Looking forward to more such writings from you :)

neo said...

>>First, i don't understand how this post will throw any light on your theory.

I said it will help 'me' evaluate my theory and not throw light for others.

>> How

The blog statistics and comment if any are a good way to gauge the response to the post.

>> Second, please elaborate on your theory, what makes you think so.

Each person has his/her story of life. Some of the events are quite common for people living in similar social conditions and time. I hypothesize that reading about general activity of a stranger will not hold somebody else's interest. Unless it has been described in a humorous, creative manner. A missing context and knowledge of characters involved will not allow to fully appreciate the post.

>> And third, i don't agree with your theory and would love to refute if you obliged me on the second point.

Go ahead :)

fafridi said...

The writing has to be humorous or creative, even for an acquainted person to be interested in reading your blog. In fact i think, to even hold your own interest in 'writing it, you have to make it interesting to yourself. A person writing a personal diary, which is only for his consumption, never writes it as a bullet points, short and precise list of what happened in the day. It is written with a lot of philosophical garnishing.
And a stranger's blog describing events happening in his personal life, can interest a person for various reasons, it could be that he identifies with the stranger's life, or maybe that it is something very different from his own life. There are numerous instances that i can cite of blog friends, who sometimes don't know more than the blog identity of the other person. After a certain period of reading each other's blogs, for whatever reason it interested them, they anyway start feeling acquainted to each other, and then it interests them according to your theory also :)