Who is Profiting from the Conspiratorial Industry They Created?

Emily Horvath, Stewart AM Period, Honorbound

It is a known fact that Americans love conspiracies. In 2014, Public Policy Polling found that 51% of Americans believe that the J.F.K. assassination was a part of a larger conspiracy [1]. Believing in conspiracy theories fits with the way our brains make sense of the word. And the conspiratorial trend is only growing. But who is taking advantage of this trend?

In Naked Economics the author says “What we don’t know can hurt us.” [5]. This is especially true when it comes to conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists. They take advantage of what you don’t know and use it to influence your thought process. They do this in order to make money off of your unfamiliarity. These people create their own outlet to solve information problems even if their information is false. As the book says we have to buy the outlet in order to know the material they hold [5].

There are two important ideas that conspiratorial thinking is built on: 1) The US Government is powerful, secretive and willing to obfuscate 2) people create narratives out of facts so that “the story” makes sense to them [1]. During the better parts of the 2000s, stock prices have gone so far ahead of economic reality that even the majority of economists can’t agree on how it happened. Ed Yardeni, a former Wall Street strategist who holds a PhD in economics, has claimed that the Federal Reserve and the US Government will do everything in their power to support Wall Street including rigging the market [2].

Alex Jones, broadcasts conspiracy theories from Infowars, is estimated to make more than $10 million a year [2]. Glenn Beck, a right-wing industrialist, has created various theories and earned approximately $90 million from June 2012 to June 2013 [2]. Another example is in the UK. David Icke has an estimated $9 million net worth which was generated through book and merchandise sales where he talks about reptilians from the fourth dimension rule the world [2]. Many of these theories were created for the sole purpose of making a profit. For these people the incentive of making more money and gaining followers is greater than the danger of misinforming them.

The Illuminati is one of if not the most infamous and influential conspiracy scapegoats there is. In a 2013 poll almost 30% of voters believe that the group controls every aspect of society, including the economy [3]. This group seeks to create a global government, called The New Order, by controlling institutes like the Federal Reserve and US Government. Some say that the illuminati caused the financial crashes in 2008 and 1929, and plan on doing it again [3]. In this case conspiracy theories are influencing people’s beliefs about our government leading to the change in how they view our economy.

Many profit from conspiracy theories by selling books, magazines, T.V. shows, and even movies. The business of making money from conspiracies may even be a conspiracy in and of itself. The phrase “conspiracy theory” is cited in google 261,000 times [4]. On the other hand people who don’t believe in conspiracies still spend money on their preferred outlet to read about them for entertainment purposes. While this is happening the creators of the theory are raking in the money that the attention brings.

[1] Jacobsen, Annie. “The New York Times Company.” The New York Times. Accessed June 19, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/01/04/are-conspiracy-theories-all-bad-17/conspiratorial-stories-have-a-rich-tradition-in-story-telling.

[2] Mullin, Frankie . “The Psychology and Economy of Conspiracy Theories.” Vice. Accessed June 19, 2017. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/the-psychology-and-economy-of-conspiracy-theories-890.

[3] Teich, Isadora. “Conspiracy Theories About Wall Street and the Economy.” Ranker. Accessed June 19, 2017. http://www.ranker.com/list/wall-street-economic-conspiracy-theories/isadora-teich.

[4] VanFossen, Lorelle, Chris Garrett Says, Ian In Hamburg Says, Lorelle VanFossen Says, Sean Goss Says, and David Ben Ariel Says. “The Economics of Conspiracies.” The Blog Herald. November 27, 2007. Accessed June 19, 2017. http://www.blogherald.com/2007/11/22/the-economics-of-conspiracies/.

[5] Wheelan, Charles J., and Burton G. Malkiel. Naked economics: undressing the dismal science. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012.



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