Since the Revolutionary War, a secret society has carefully planned to destabilize and control the banking system in order to enslave the lives of Americans. Based on the readings from class, this conspiracy theory, known as the bank conspiracy, falls within a broader category of ideas, called memes. A meme, according to Susan Blackmore, is “’something’ [that] can be passed on again, and again, and so [it] takes on a life of its own. We might call this thing an idea, an instruction, a behavior, a piece of information” (Blackmore 4). Using three online sources from individuals who truly believe in the bank conspiracy, this blog post will track down the key identifiers and ideas that help this meme disseminate.
This first source comes from blogger and hypnotist Kelley Woods. The website where this post comes from is a hypnotist forum where people can interact and learn about hypnosis. The site is moderated by three hypnotists, two of which who are volunteers. Woods believes by instituting paper and electronic money like credit and debit cards, this secret society hopes to wipe out all financial data and knock the human race back to the Stone Age. She merely copies and pastes an article from Wikipedia, yet her post has nearly 1000 views and many people comment in agreement with Woods. Why does her post get so much attention? Author Richard Hofstadter would say that Woods uses a paranoid style in order to get her message across (Hofstadter 77). After explaining the theory, Woods articulates her fear. She is so afraid that she is going to take action herself and switch to precious metal currency in exchange for her hypnotherapy.
The next post about the banking conspiracy comes from a more radical source. The American Patriot Friends Network (APFN) is a very Conservative site that urges people to take action in order to build on the work of “those original American Patriots.” The APFN posts about everything from the Patriot Act to the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. The site is moderated by Kenneth Vardon, who founded the site in 2000. This particular post by Randy Lavello traces the history of the banking conspiracy and cites evidence of its validity. In his post, Lavello uses other conspiracy memes to bolster his argument. Blackmore would call this entire group of memes a memeplex. (Blackmore 19). The “essence of any memeplex is that the memes inside it can replicate better as part of the group than they can on their own” (Blackmore 20). Lavello could possibly be linking the banking conspiracy to other conspiracies in hopes of identifying with a broader audience. His goal may be to sway his audience into believing that if one theory is true, then they all must be true.
The final source comes from a conspiracy website that posts about everything from the Illuminati to Miley Cyrus. The site is named after famous conspiracy theorist, Henry Makow. It is not apparent if Makow himself oversees or has any input in the site. This particular post, by Alex Newman, recaps an interview with an apparent insider of the banking industry. The expert, Karen Hudes, claims to have worked for the World Bank for twenty years and have been fired after discovering the truth. Hudes, a former member of the banking world, acts opposite of the “herd mentality” (Goertzel 5). Goertzal would claim that using Hudes as a source would provide a strong argument. This “meme is frequently introduced with the example of Galileo’s defense of the heliocentric model of the solar system against the orthodoxy of the Catholic Church” (Goertzel 5). The dissenter is marketed as a crusader, someone who is out to abolish the injustice. This article also makes use of several annotated hyperlinks that take the reader to other examples of skepticism. While linking the article to other sites can be useful, it is only beneficial if the examples come from credible sources. However, most of the links in this article come from other conspiracy sites or are blocked by pop-up blocker. The most valuable sources are those that are peer reviewed. Peer-reviewed journals play a “central role in determining which research findings deserve to be incorporated in the scientific consensus on an issue” (Goertzel 7). The Internet is filled with a vast quantity of true and false resources. Peer-reviewed journals help sift out those misleading and problematic resources that distort the readers understanding.
Susan Blackmore (1999). The Meme Machine. London: Oxford University Press.
Ted Goertzel (2011) “The conspiracy meme,” Skeptical Inquirer, 35(1).
Richard Hofstadter (1964) “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Harper’s Magazine, November.