Examining nearly every conspiracy theory in the public’s consciousness today, this investigation seeks to link seemingly unrelated theories through a cultural studies perspective. While looking at conspiracy theories that range from the moon landing and JFK’s assassination to the Oklahoma City bombing and Freemasonry, this reconstruction reveals newly discovered connectionExamining nearly every conspiracy theory in the public’s consciousness today, this investigation seeks to link seemingly unrelated theories through a cultural studies perspective. While looking at conspiracy theories that range from the moon landing and JFK’s assassination to the Oklahoma City bombing and Freemasonry, this reconstruction reveals newly discovered connections between wide swaths of events. Linking Dracula to George W. Bush, UFOs to strawberry ice cream, and Jesus Christ to robots from outer space, this is truly an all-original discussion of popular conspiracy theories....
|Title||:||Cryptoscatology: Conspiracy Theory as Art Form|
|Number of Pages||:||376 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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Cryptoscatology: Conspiracy Theory as Art Form Reviews
This particular book is not in my wheelhouse, but I was offered a free copy in exchange for a fair and honest review, and the person doing the offering is a friend of the author’s and of mine. Thus, I found myself spiraling down the rabbit hole, reading about everything from Watergate to the connection between the Freemasons and the Mormons. This book is available to the public right now.Guffey’s purpose as stated at the outset is to offer an encyclopedic view of every conspiracy theory prevalent today. He organizes his book into sections dealing with pop culture and ‘mind control’; secret societies; conspiracies and the dominant Western religions; conspiracies in ‘high places’, which refers to heads of state, with the most attention being focused on Bush, Cheney, and Hitler; and conspiracies and the paranormal. He tells us he wants to tease apart the conspiracies that have been proven to be true, such as the Watergate cover-up, from those that are from among the lunatic fringe, such as those that claim, despite all evidence to the contrary, that President Obama is secretly a Muslim and not really an American citizen. But most of what he discusses is material that he considers to be fuzzy and ambiguous, a matter of perspective. Most of these things I regarded before and after reading Guffey’s book as more material for the lunatic fringe.To be sure, there are some vital nuggets to be found here. Many people aren’t aware, for example, of programs of involuntary sterilization. Guffey points out that that Ronald Reagan, when he was governor of California, had been convinced that there was no moral wrong in sterilizing African-American men that landed in Californian psychiatric wards and in prisons, because after all, these had been proven to be the most violent members of the population…right? Furthermore, Black kids, categorized as “pre-delinquents”, that hadn’t actually done anything wrong might receive brain implants without their knowledge or consent so that they might be tracked and studied. However, Guffey also points out that this program was killed by more sensible people in state government and it was never implemented. This and much of the other meaty, credible material in his book was made available through the Freedom of Information Act, and because it was relatively easily found, I was frustrated that Guffey didn’t offer more widely known sources to back up his statements. And I was also frustrated that he didn’t discuss the involuntary sterilizations of poor Black women in New York that sought abortions in the 1970s. It was ripe fruit hanging from a vine, but he left it where it was, and without providing it any mention, went on to talk about Jonestown and mind control. Reading Guffey’s findings in a wide variety of places, one might readily accept his leaps as he adds his facts to sometimes astonishing conclusions, because he’s a good writer. He’s very fluent, but as a researcher I found him wanting. This reviewer’s spouse, who more or less skimmed, said it looked like solid work, but he didn’t read the sources cited at the ends of the chapters. Anytime something seems peculiar or surprising—no, anytime one is reading nonfiction material based on research—it’s absolutely essential to read the sources. Such audacious claims as are bandied about here should have multiple citations from as wide a variety of well known sources as is possible. In some cases it would have been fairly easy to come up with a lot of great sources in a relatively short time span, yet it isn’t done.My conclusion: Guffey is a good writer but a less than conscientious researcher. Because of this, it’s impossible to tell which of the widely touted conspiracies examined here are actually verifiable when he hasn’t shown much proof, and which are scantly cited because there’s nothing out there beyond a few tin-foil-hatted survivalists that think it’s true.There are those that will love this book because it offers at least the benefit of a doubt to the conspiracies to which they already ascribe. I can see these folks right now, sitting in a basement rec room somewhere telling each other, “See? And look here! He says…” What I didn’t find was any basis for the art form mentioned in the title, beyond a few literary phrases tossed in here and there. For those interested in today’s most popular conspiracies, this will provide hours of juicy reading. But for academics that need credible sources, this book won’t provide what you need. And that’s kind of a shame.
I found this book in my local library, and with the subtitle "Conspiracy Theory as Art Form," I thought this might be an entertaining examination of conspiracy theory stories as pop art, or the impact of conspiracy theories in contemporary art and culture. Guffey seems to recognize that such a subtitle might lead the reasonable reader to infer as much, so he caps the book with essays at the beginning and end that vaguely address the art of conspiracy theory, the role of conspiracy theory as contemporary myth, and the types of conspiracy theory research out there (well, the end essay is at least about myth, although it's more of a tongue-in-cheek farce that suggests Guffey's almost embarrassed to be taken too seriously).I can honestly recommend the first chapter, "Conspiracy Inc: Anatomy of a Discipline," because it does provide a somewhat insightful and amusing account of conspiracy theory research and researchers, breaking research down into categories: Insanity, Disinformation, Misinformation, Satire, and Legitimate Research. Guffey notes that there can be kernels of truth to works within all these categories. And there are kernels of truth in the rest of Guffey's book, but he quickly jumps into the deep end after that first chapter. Suddenly, the book becomes a loose collection of essays written at different times and about different conspiracy theory subjects. He claims to be well-sourced, but his sources are typically second-hand, compiled from a quirky collection of paranoid conspiracy theorists and fringe scholars and sci-fi authors. Further, he misuses or misunderstands facts; frequently, connections are drawn between factoids that I either know or suspect to be false or inaccurate (I tried fact-checking on occasion for those factoids I merely suspected were wrong, but it would have been a Herculean effort to parse the whole book in such a way).Guffey seems exemplary of what is wrong with conspiracy theorists. There is a rejection of the traditional myths--religion, for example--and a replacement with these new myths. Connections are drawn between government-sponsored LSD testing in the 1950s, the Unabomber, and the Columbine shooters. Government officials--real people--are called monsters, and Guffey actively wills for the deaths of at least some of them. There is a lot of hate and intensity; the Government has become the new Devil for people like Guffey. It is as though people like him cannot simply accept that terrible things happen sometimes for difficult-to-understand reasons; it is easier to draw loose connections between disparate subjects to make an easy villain.Guffey is more enjoyable when he is doing literary analysis (he is a university English lecturer) and discussing the Freemasons (he is a Freemason). His views are less dogmatic then; he approaches his subjects in these areas with some interesting ideas and greater objectivity (only in comparison to the other essays). But I suspect that these sections will be unsatisfying, since other authors have already covered these subjects in greater detail.I think I get the kind of person that this book was intended for; that person is not me, though, and I hope that even the intended audience can approach such material with critical analysis.
Appears to be collected from his articles in PARANOIA. In one, he cites Korzybski's warning against using "all" and "none". However, in the rest of the book he has no compunctions about using "all", as well as weasel words like "there can be no doubt" and "many believe", and assertions which are plain daft.
Conspiracy as modern myth. Trouble is, I figured out that when I was a freshman.
I read everyone of these essays their first go round. Amazing stuff. I am so happy to see Robert tying them all together in this volume.