Meeting a non-shouty, socially adept conspiracy theorist in real life seems impossible. So we decided to take to the streets of London and ask the general public: What conspiracy theories do you believe in?
Alex Jones calmly discusses the Bilderberg conference on Andrew Neil's Sunday Politics.
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones freaked out on live TV this weekend, screaming at bemused Scottish sofa fanatic Andrew Neil that, due to his role as a political broadcaster at the BBC, it is partly his fault we are all living in a "police state." Now, no matter how unlikely you feel it is that the BBC are part of a global plot to give us all cancer and make our children infertile, AJ's not alone in his cynicism. And you know what, sometimes those triangles that Jay-Z throws up on stage do look kind of dodgy. And all those famous people did turn out to be pedophiles. And how do you know what those mad Monsanto food creeps are putting in your food?
That said, meeting a non-shouty, socially adept conspiracy theorist in real life seems impossible. So we decided to take to the streets of London and ask the general public: What conspiracy theories do you believe in?
Jonathan, 25, artist: The latest conspiracy theory that I’ve heard of, but I don’t know if I believe, is the one about the Obama administration. That he’s a puppet for the Illuminati and stuff. I don’t think the Illuminati exist but I do think there are loads of people who are wealthy enough to influence the world.
Do you think they run the world from a golden palace in Dubai?
I think they do control the world, but just by making business for themselves. They don’t want to control the people, they want to control the markets.
So do you think democracy is a bit of a sham?
I vote every time there’s a general election. I voted for the London Mayor, so I do believe in democracy.
OK, so it's the people controlling the money who are shady dealers?
The banking scandal went to shit because banks wanted to make more money for themselves. People want to moan about that but that’s what banks are there for. It’s just like this bar, they sell drinks at a higher price to make money.
Anja: My brother believes in that a lot. But to be honest, I believe in Freemasons and stuff like that to a degree.
Any particular theories?
Just the Freemasons thing. But that’s how politics are anyway, that’s the way the country is. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy, I think it’s quite evident it’s the way of the world that we live in.
What do you mean?
If you look at the way the world has gone and the way that everyone is dealt with, they want the poor to be poor and the rich to be richer. It’s quite evident.
So there's a global conspiracy to separate the privileged from the poor?
I think it’s become apparent to people that if you get in a certain position, it’s easier to manipulate others. People are happier to take things off people, for things to be less even.
Depressing and probably true.
Nicholas, 20, works in fashion design and womenswear: Is one of them where that plane was meant to have gone through the Pentagon?
Uh, that was true. Do you believe in the Illuminati?
I’d like to believe they were real, but they’re not.
Why would you like to believe it?
Because I just think it’s hilarious that Jay-Z would be part of like, running the world. I wish there was actually some truth behind it, but that isn’t the case at all. That would be ridiculous, Rihanna and Jay Z like, 'Yeah, we rule.'
So the internet made it up because it was bored?
People have too many thoughts to process. They see those Wingding things and think “Oh my god, this means THIS,” and you’re like "No, you’re stupid."
But what if they turn out to be right?
I don’t think I’d care. I’d just live my life. Under the rule of Jay-Z.
Sounds fun. Sort of.
Tom, 39, flash developer: I think it’s a diversion, it’s all smoke and mirrors. Most conspiracy theories are too big to be real, if you know what I mean. You’d need too many people involved for it to work.
Why do you think people invent them, then?
I think you put the big ones out, and get away with the little ones.
So people use conspiracy theories to distract us from the smaller crimes they're committing? That sounds like a conspiracy theory to me. What are they covering up?
Taking money out of the system, letting fat cats put their money offshore, things like that. Just standard, normal, boring theft by the rich.
How do you think the internet has affected the conspiracists?
It’s helped the loonies. There’s a lot of odd people putting out weird ideas, and a certain amount of them probably have a bit of validity, but it’s a big world.
Jamila-Alice, 22, works in web design: I believe they’ve found a cure for cancer, but they don’t like to leak it out too much.
Because private companies make so much money from medication?
Yeah, partly that and partly because loads of people get cancer so it’s a way to control the population. I don’t know, that could just be a random idea.
So our healthcare system is lying to us?
No. I do trust the NHS, I know they’ve got lots of stresses and stuff and it isn’t the best system, but it’s a system.
I'm not sure I follow, but thanks anyway.
Previously: How Would You Like to Evolve?