With the anniversary of 9/11 upon us . . .
Stephanie Wittschier believed in the Illuminati and chemtrails, and even tried to convert people online. But then she started to have doubts.
Stephanie Wittschier believed in a lot of different things throughout her life: that aliens were locked away in Area 51; that the Third Reich was alive and well, along with the Illuminati, and—last but not least—that ruling elites were using chemtrails to poison humanity.
The 35-year-old German was deep into the conspiracy theory scene for years before she dropped out, turning her attention to educating outsiders about the sinister truth behind Third Reich truthers and “chemmies” a.k.a people who believe the government is dumping toxic agents in plane vapor trails. Now she and her husband, Kai, run a Facebook page and Twitter account called Die lockere Schraube (“The Loose Screw”). And they’ve since incurred the wrath of their former conspiracy colleagues.
Wittschier’s journey into the world of conspiracy theories began when she watched a documentary about the alleged inconsistencies in the 9/11 attacks. “Immediately afterwards she went online and googled ‘conspiracy’ and ‘9/11,'” Kai told Broadly. Wittschier got hooked. “She started to talk about elites, the Illuminati… At a certain point it stopped being fun, as it became impossible to talk to her. She stopped listening and seemed closed off to any reasonable discussion.”
On the internet, Wittschier found people who shared her convictions. “That’s how it was,” she writes via email. “Back then, I had a friend who was into the same ideological conspiracy [stuff] and we got along pretty well. We believed in the same stuff, browsed the same forums, we used to talk about all sorts of things and most of the time we shared the same opinion.” Wittschier felt accepted among these like-minded people, who would ridicule outsiders’ attempts to re-educate them: “Those people [with different opinions] are representatives of the system or get paid; so-called sheep, people who don’t think.”
At the height of her obsession—especially when it came to chemtrails—Wittschier was part of various groups on Facebook, participated in a forum called Allmystery, and was active on YouTube. But in August 2012, her best friend in the conspiracy world started to question and oppose certain theories, and began the slow process of dissociating herself from the world she shared with Wittschier.
By Amy Sipovic via The Times (mywebtimes)
A recent University of Chicago study found approximately half of all Americans believe in one of six medical conspiracy theories.
Two examples include the idea a U.S. spy agency purposefully infected African-Americans with HIV, and the government has dumped large quantities of toxic chemicals into the water supply under the premise of fluoridation.
Another study found 19 percent of Americans believe the 9/11 terrorist attacks were concocted by the U.S. government, and another 11 percent think the switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs is an attempt to make people more obedient and easier to subject to mind control.
In some regards, these numbers do not surprise me. I am asked questions from time to time by students who have read something on the Internet that sounds like a conspiracy theory, and they ask if I have heard about it.
While I think there should be a healthy discussion about policy and current events, I worry the Internet and online public comments sections are making everything — including scientifically-proven ideas — up for debate.
Conspiracy theories are different from a critical analysis of information because conspiracy theorists continue to cling to their beliefs, despite facts that continually disprove them. Often, they then say the facts are all a part of the overall conspiracy, and the cycle of ridiculousness continues.