On Conspiracy Theories and Tin Foil Hats

A conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event or situation that has been realized by sinister and powerful groups, often political in motivation. A conspiracy theory is not simply a conspiracy; instead, it refers to a hypothesized result that is opposed to the mainstream consensus among those people (such as scientists, historians, politicians, etc.) who are professionally qualified to substantiate the event or situation. The term has a negative connotation, implying that the appeal to a conspiracy is based on prejudice or insufficient evidence.

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines conspiracy theory in this way: “Conspiracy theory, an attempt to explain harmful or tragic events as the result of the actions of a small powerful group. Such explanations reject the accepted narrative surrounding those events; indeed, the official version may be seen as further proof of the conspiracy.”

Conspiracy theories once limited to fringe audiences have become commonplace in mass media, emerging as a cultural phenomenon. Today, they are widespread around the world. Among the longest-standing and most widely recognized conspiracy theories are notions concerning the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the 1969 Apollo moon landings, the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America, and numerous theories pertaining to plots for world domination. Today, there are many conspiracy theories surrounding the Wuhan coronavirus and the global vaccination program.

A “tin foil hat” is a hat made from one or more sheets of aluminum foil applied overtop conventional headgear, often worn in the belief or hope that it shields the brain from threats such as mind control, mind reading, and electromagnetic fields. The notion of wearing homemade headgear for such protection has become a popular stereotype and insulting byword for paranoia, persecutory delusions, and the belief in conspiracy theories.

For example, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attempted to discredit Conservative MPs in their questioning about legislation that will censor the Internet by stating they are wearers of “tin foil hats.” He made similar claims about his policy objectives to implement The Great Reset in Canada.

Wikipedia explains the origin of the term “tin foil hat”: “Some people have a belief that such hats prevent mind control by government, spies, or paranormal beings that employ ESP or the microwave auditory effect. People in many countries who believe they are “targeted individuals”, subject to government spying or harassment, have developed websites, conference calls, and support meetings to discuss their concerns, including the idea of protective headgear. Vice Magazine claimed that the tinfoil hat in popular culture “can be traced back in a very weird and prescient short story written in 1927 by Julian Huxley, brother of the better-known author Aldous and half-brother to Nobel laureate Andrew” titled The Tissue-Culture King, wherein the main character uses a metal hat to prevent being mind controlled by the villain scientist.”

For illustrative examples of the mumbling that can be heard by modern day conspiracy theorists, check out the memes in the By George Journal’s #TinFoilHatBrigade

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

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