Nobody asked my opinion on these conspiracy theories, and although I may be dumb as a bag of inbred hammers, as it was so eloquently put by the author, I figure I will post my responses here.
How many of you think Barack Obama is the Antichrist?
I'm atheist/non-religious, so I can't say this one has ever crossed my mind as remotely plausible. The idea that end-times are at hand, though, is a dangerous idea because of its paralyzing tendency; Armageddon is only as real as we make it, or let it be. Given the religious nature of so many Americans, I'm not terribly surprised at it's prevalence.
...fluoride into drinking water not for dental health but for “other, more sinister reasons,”
This one, I don't know enough about to say. I know "official position" is fluoride is good for teeth, so the more fluoride, the better, right? If anyone has good information about the science behind water fluoridation, I would like to read it. I've been drinking fluoridated tap water for pretty much my whole life, and obviously I'm still alive and healthy (for the most part), but I wonder if it has or will cause other unintended physiological effects. The human body is such a complicated thing, I think it is a topic which should continue to be researched and debated. I've heard it proposed that we should put lithium in the water too, to reduce suicides and depression. Where do we, as a society, draw the line for medicating our tap water?
...that childhood vaccinations cause autism or aren’t sure whether they do.
This is a more popular theory than the previous two, (54% vs. 26%) and I think it is emblematic of the lack of trust the public has in the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA. I think people (rightly) suspect that big pharma is more concerned with profits than with public health. It is a complicated issue, of how to keep the profit motive in line with an altruistic "public health" motive. Nevertheless, I think as a technology, vaccines have improved public health enormously, to say the least. It's easy to color the whole topic as solidly black or white, but reality is much more nuanced. While I trust the scientists and the scientific method, I don't trust pharma executives, or the bureaucrats who regulate them. I also have concerns about how new vaccine tests are outsourced to places like India.
The big pink elephant, a conspiracy in a conspiracy, wrapped in a conspiracy! This one, like vaccinations, but even more-so I think, spawns discussions like few others do. Both sides accuse the other of conspiring for various reasons. I think any business that deals with carbon or energy in some way, has a motive to act on one side of the issue or the other. Personally, I trust the scientists who say that the climate is warming, and that humans are causing it. The idea seems plausible to me, that vast quantities of carbon, when released into the atmosphere will alter the delicate balance; it has happened before from natural events that we can see from the geological and fossil record. It is ironic that in an article deriding conspiracy theories, the author lends credence to the idea that global warming denial is a conspiracy orchestrated by the fossil fuel industry. Even just using the term "climate change" is evidence of the PR war; look up Frank Luntz's 2002 memo to the Bush administration about it. I think there are lots of little conspiracies surrounding this issue, attempting to influence the science, public opinion, and economics of it. It is a big issue that affects so much, it will only grow in importance over the coming decades.
...Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11...
Now we get to the 9/11 conspiracies. I found this to be a little surprising, that so many people thought Hussein was involved in 9/11 although considering we went to war with him in 2003, and with all the lies/faulty intelligence surrounding that war, some misinformation and confusion is to be expected, I guess. I personally believe that there was a conspiracy on some level within the government to go to war in Iraq. I suppose you could blame the war on incompetence, but in reality, that was some pretty stunning incompetence, which turned out to be very profitable for some people. Considering that Al Qaeda terrorists used Saudi passports, and were funded (in part) with Saudi money, I wonder what percentage of people think Saudi Arabia was involved in 9/11. That, to me, is a much more plausible conspiracy.
...the Bush administration knowingly allowed the 9/11 attacks to happen.
This one seems plausible, although I have seen no hard evidence of it. Was FDR, or other officials, aware of the Pearl Harbor attacks before they occurred? They were both terrible tragedies, but were means to an end. There is so little transparency in our government, it's hard to know what they do, don't do, know, don't know. Add a dash of misinformation and propaganda and people will be confused about the issue for decades (JFK assasination?). One hand can do things that the other hand doesn't know about, and individual officials can have wildly different motivations; the US government (and even individual administrations) are not a monolithic entity.
Thirty percent either believe that the media or the government adds secret mind-control technology to television-broadcast signals or aren’t sure whether it’s true.
This was a funny one. WTF is "mind-control technology"? The closest I can get to this is believing that mainstream news is essentially an arm of the public relations industry. As someone familiar with Edward Bernays, PR is essentially propaganda, so if you consider propaganda as mind-control, well I guess it is partially true. If you add in advertising, there is plenty of social-shaping that happens through media; it is fairly pervasive, invisible and effective. It is a very poorly worded question, and it certainly isn't some grand conspiracy, but I think it hints at an underlying truth.
Do you believe that a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order, or not?
I believe those with money and power will seek more money and power, either through legal means, or extralegal conspiratorial means. Globalism is a trend which cannot be ignored, with both pros and cons. I believe there are "power elites", some of whom are authoritarians, and some of whom would like to see more global control. There are also "power elites" who have conflicting agendas, who aren't authoritarians, and who aren't seeking global unification. I think it is important for people to look at the actions of their leaders and determine for themselves whether they are advancing the values that they believe in, whether they are advocating for the good of their people, and humanity in general, or the good of themselves and their cronies.
In the end, I question the author's flat assertion that "conspiracies are hard to pull off". Sure, they are hard to pull off, but that does not stop people from attempting, especially when vast quantities of money and power are at stake. Conspiracies are uncovered all the time, at which point people don't call them conspiracy theories, they're called crime or corruption or lies or however the media chooses to frame them (or ignore them). There is so much bullshit, misinformation, disinformation and propaganda surrounding topics, I would much rather see investigations into plausible theories, rather than ad hominem attacks and implausible theories used to discredit plausible ones.