When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch
eyes on the U.S.

Why Conspiracy Theories Are Thriving: A French Explanation

French writer Bruno Fay argues that lies regularly told by the authorities and a general mistrust of official speech are to be blamed for the spread of conspiracy theories for everything from 9/11 to Nicolas Sarkozy's biography.

Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania (Jeff Kubina)
Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania (Jeff Kubina)
Pascal Boniface

PARIS - Times are booming for conspiracy theorists. French journalist Bruno Fay's book Complocratie (Complocracy) attempts to explain the growing audience for those who espouse secret-plot theories for the major events of our times.

The book focuses of course on the 9/11 attacks, which many people – including and especially Americans – are convinced were plotted and executed directly by the United States government. But this general denial of reality stems from other cases that were never solved, such as the Kennedy assassination.

Fay offers some convincing clues to understanding this phenomenon. He argues that the main reason why conspiracy theories thrive is that authorities too often resort to telling lies, which inexorably results in official information being completely discredited. Conspiracy theories, however, have their advantages – where governments are concerned - since they work especially well when it comes to diverting attention from the real scandals.

"The Cartesian doubt, holy and legitimate, has been gradually giving way to a systematic questioning of current events," he writes. "The success encountered by conspiracy theories reflects the emergence of a new mass "conspiracionism" feeding on the lies of our societies."

After all, how can anyone think that repeated public departures from the truth have no consequences on the public opinion? By desecrating official speech, by rearranging the reality in a more suitable way, politicians stoke the need for rumors.

Bruno Fay gives the example of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his assertion -- which later proved to be false -- that he was in Berlin the day when the Wall came down. If he is capable of lying about something as trivial as this, people might ask, it is tough to be sure that he does not lie on much more important topics such as the the reasons why France joined the war in Afghanistan or the Iranian nuclear threat?

But what is the right way to fight against conspiracy theories? Insults, questioning motives and direct accusations are the weapons of choice most frequently used by the media hostile to conspiracy theories. Bruno Fay thinks that this is the wrong way to do it, since "demonizing conspiracy addicts is advertising them and their cause." He suggests instead that people concentrate on analyzing established plots rather than attacking the conspiracy theory itself.

For example, saying that the 9/11 attacks represented the perfect opportunity for neoconservatives to bring about the political changes they had been dreaming of for so long, is not adopting the rhetoric of conspiracy theorists. Bruno Fay believes that the moving details given of the heroic revolt mounted by the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 are simply part of a story constructed to cover up the decision by the US government to bring the aircraft down in Pennsylvania (to avoid it being used by the terrorists to crash into another target).

He thinks that it is increasingly harder to draw a clear distinction between the information issued by a traditional communication agency, a consulting company in business intelligence and public relations and a private intelligence agency. If it would be unfair to accuse all the media of regular conspiracy theories, he says, it would be just as wrong to discharge them of any responsibility.

Bloggers, alternative web sites, collaborative forums are nothing else but reactions to the failure of traditional counter-powers to do their job, illustrating a chronic lack of trust in traditional information channels. Fay's very well-documented book avoids the easy shortcuts and accusations, and provides a true reflection on a phenomenon which is not likely to disappear from the social landscape anytime soon.

Read the original article in French

Photo - (Jeff Kubina)

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

Keep reading...Show less

The latest