Probing the Ebola Conspiracy Panic

ebola-is-realBy James F. Tracy

In 2008 media studies scholar Jack Bratich introduced the concept of conspiracy panics to interpret powerful government and media reactions to the “collective intelligence” activities enacted by laypersons and evident within broader forms of popular culture.[1]

[Image Credit: USA Today]

The idea is useful when observing how over the past several weeks mainstream media outlets have busied themselves decrying various critiques of the US government’s response to the Ebola phenomenon, the government’s potential intentions concerning the predicament, and speculations on the disease’s uncertain origins and means of diagnosis as a similarly dangerous “strain of contagion”: “the Ebola conspiracy theories.”[2]

The conspiracy theory term essentially designates inquisitive perspectives and analyses that have been generated by corporate media nor routed through salaried journalists’ Rolodexes of conventional establishment sources—in this instance experts in healthcare, academe, government, and the corporate sector itself.

Rejecting or explaining away differing perspectives on how powerful institutions operate is a foremost function of mainstream media. From this worldview alternative media outlets, many of which provide valuable insights on Ebola and a host of other events and concerns, are understood by corporate media managers as so much “noise” in society’s informational and explanatory conduits that they perceive as essentially belonging to them.

Yet unlike would-be terrorist attacks or political assassinations, the Ebola phenomenon is one that fundamentally involves an understanding of and ability to interpret scientific and medical evidence and procedure–things most journalists know little more of than the broader public they seek to serve.

Thus in the midst of such a “crisis” what passes for a good deal of journalism is in fact a propitious platform for the high-level public relations maneuvers of interested parties—in particular certain government agencies and for-profit healthcare and pharmaceutical companies which are closely intertwined via the revolving doors often linking them.

Despite the complex and uncertain terrain of such sourcing and reportage it is telling how corporate media move to condemn what essentially amounts to practical wariness and critical thinking, both of which have become increasingly essential in light of the multitude of events—from 9/11 and the so-called “war on terror” to “weapons of mass destruction” and the Boston Marathon “bombing” spectacle—where such media have at best failed in conducting due journalistic diligence and at worst have intentionally misled their audiences and readerships into accepting dubious if not largely invented narratives that pervert public discourse and impair popular memory.

Academics in particular are well aware of the tentative and thus potentially manipulative nature of what constitute “truth” and “truth claims.” In the humanities especially “truth” itself is commonly deemed to be socially and historically constructed.

Along these linesebola-victim, events and issues are frequently deemed “controversial” by those seeking to frame a perceptible disagreement by parties authorized to analyze pertinent facts. Lacking such approval are those falling outside the accepted parameters of debate.

[Image Credit: New York Times]

Yet such a disingenuous stance is commonly open to contradiction. In its quest to bolster the Ebola conspiracy panic and disparage unwelcome parties to the exchange, the New York Times’ Alan Feuer recently called upon cultural studies scholar and University of Florida law professor Mark Fenster. “’The truth is that we do rely on private corporations to develop and produce our pharmaceuticals,’” Fenster remarks.

“’While we may not like that fact, it’s not so hard or paranoid to imagine private companies acting in their own best interests.” According to Fenster, “The theory works … because it is ‘truthy,’ to borrow from the comedian Stephen Colbert.” In other words, “it has just enough veracity ‘that it rings true when carried to Ebola.’”[3]

Fenster’s 1999 volume, Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture, employs a cultural studies approach which at its core upholds and often celebrates “truthiness”—or the relative notion that truth is akin to that which passes for such and is overall socially and historically constructed.[4] This allows Fenster to proceed throughout the book conveniently omitting important facts concerning momentous events such as the JFK assassination, the Oklahoma City bombing, and 9/11, in order to establish and sustain an object of study that in reality is as much a component of the CIA’s prolonged psychological warfare program against the American public [5] as it is a doctrinal strategy to corrupt entire intellectual enterprises, in particular US journalism and academe.

Most of the journalistic and scholarly analyses of “conspiracy theories” that carry the implicit burden of “objectivity” are far less excusable. While they feign outrage at unorthodox (thought often accurate) ideas and commentary, they succeed as commonplace demonstrations of the bias they condemn, suggesting a recurrent balance between society’s two main ideological engines that form the bulwark of the established order. “Power,” George Orwell reminds us, ” is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

Notes

[1] Jack Z. Bratich, Conspiracy Panics: Political Rationality and Popular Culture, Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008.

[2] Quote from Alan Feuer, “The Ebola Conspiracy Theories,” New York Times, October 18, 2014. See also Eric Owens, “Crackpot, Taxpayer-Funded Professor in Delaware Warns US Military is Killing Liberians with Ebola,” Daily Caller, September 27, 2014; Abby Phillip, “Delaware State U Won’t Interfere With Free Speech of Professor Spreading Ebola Conspiracy Theories,” Washington Post, September 26, 2014; John Blosser, “Professor Floats Conspiracy Theory Implicating US in Ebola Spread,” Newsmax, September 26, 2014; Jessica Firger, “Ebola Fears, Conspiracies Spread Through Social Media,” CBS News, October 3, 2014; Alice Audley, “Ebola Conspiracy Theories: Separating Fact From Fiction,” UK Telegraph, October 8, 2014; Jason Millman, “The Inevitable Rise of Ebola Conspiracy Theories,” Washington Post, October 13, 2014; Ludovico Iaccino, “Ebola Cause by Red Cross and Other Conspiracy Theories,” International Business Times, October 14, 2014.

[3] Feuer, “The Ebola Conspiracy Theories.”

[4] Mark Fenster, Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture, University of Minnesota Press, 1999/2008.

[5] Lance deHaven-Smith, Conspiracy Theory in America, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013.

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24 thoughts on “Probing the Ebola Conspiracy Panic”

  1. I keep getting these ‘suspicions’.

    How does J. Tracy make a living (and stay out of prison)?

    As a matter of fact, how do any of these ‘really good’ journalists and reporters on the web (eg., Jon Rappoport, Miles Mathis) make a living (and stay out of prison)?

    We are living in a ubiquitous, totalitarian and fascist police state. Free speech is certainly no longer possible.

    So how do these men do it? Manage to speak out, apparently freely, make good sense out of things and still be employed/have enough money to exist on?

    How do I do it?

    Just thinking and getting/having ‘suspicions’.

    Great website and reporting, Mr. Tracy.

    Really like this site and some others.

    Ned Lud

    1. Pamela,

      Like you, I was very intrigued by this FEMA Pandemic drill listing at SIFMA, especially since it’s been in the works for well over a year and the culminating events are only a few weeks away…. So, I did a little digging and came up with this:

      Keith Alexander (former head of NSA) + SIFMA= FEMA Pandemic exercise….

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-08/banks-dreading-computer-hacks-call-for-cyber-war-council.html

      Just thinking out loud.

      John

    2. This is a very informative document and the timing is interestingly overlapping. It seems to me that the other shoe will soon drop (in such a scenario). The doctor seems to me a bit of a devil-may-care type, but his activities just take him over the Brooklyn Bridge and no farther. He travels not in a standard yellow cab, but one of those new-fangled cabs which have just come on line. He takes the A-train (famously a train which goes to Harlem). So you have the picture of Harlem to Brooklyn Heights. I cannot imagine a real doctor just back from the Hot Zone who actually ignored flu-like symptoms until he had a fever as high as 103 degrees F. Not after all the news. Another interesting coincidence, he is employed at Columbia Presbyterian and another Presbyterian hospital was involved in the Dallas case. Now they may have long ago cut ties with the original church trust that founded them — or not. But it is an interesting little side thing to consider.

      As we know with the BMB hoax, the hospitals fully participated in what seemed originally to be a FEMA drill. I get the feeling it is like a firing squad where no one knows if his own bullets killed the condemned man. I would imagine that in having fake patients, you might nevertheless imagine your colleagues were treating real ones. Kind of a grand illusion. It is these grand illusions we are faced with, ones which make people scared and ready to obey authority no matter how they tell us to act against our own instincts or best interests.

      1. Let’s not forget that they ANNOUNCED that they would be using media to “influence public opinion” a few years ago. They were forming “teams” in DoD for this purpose.

        There is also a federal court ruling that basically says that it is alright for “news” to lie. So, if they’re “caught”, they’re not “guilty” of breaking the law.

        The current stage we’re in seems to be one in which they will go to any lengths to push an agenda. We must remember that the purpose of swaying public opinion is not to garner their permission. They don’t ask permission. They simply would prefer less outrage.

        There are a number of scandals hovering lately. Of course there is little cause for concern on their part as the “media” is not pursuing any of them. But they do want into Africa. Any excuse will do.

        We are merely spectators. We can gnash our teeth and rend our garments all we like and we’ll see no relief.

  2. I’m mostly rolling the whole Ebola thing around in my head, trying to figure out the money and the uses. My first thought was smoke and mirrors to cover up something bigger going on or coming down. Of course the money path is to the big pharmaceuticals companies and medical supply companies. The next obvious conclusion is an ability to establish martial law in the face of an “epidemic” either real or contrived. Another thought has been one of using Ebola as a subtle threat, intimidating people somehow, almost like the mad villains in the comics: “Ebola is contained, it doesn’t spread…. OOPS a case popped up in Texas….. UH OH here’s another case in New York City…..”

    Just a disclaimer – these are only my personal observations

    1. The Powers That Be like the world to be in a state of political crisis at all times, but not in an economic crisis (hence they downplay the real looming dangers in the world, the collapse of the US and European economies, the impending China crash). They prefer to have several crises in play at any one time. In case one doesn’t go their way, they play up another crisis, right now we have an ISIS problem, before that it was Ukraine and Syria. Since the US lost on Ukraine and Syria Attack 1, now they are going with ISIS and Syria Attack 2. If this doesn’t pan out, they will bring in the Ebola Crisis, to maintain the state of “world tension”.
      Corbett Report also notes that TPTB like to “roll out” their product (i.e. terror attacks of various kinds) in September, after everyone has returned from vacation.
      I suspect that once the US invades/bombs Syria, Ebola will magically disappear.

    2. A possible theory that has been floated around is that disease may be used to remove money from circulation. Play up the contagion factor, well money is just SO DIRTY. It must be removed. Disney has been using electronic wristbands for commerce with its guests. Maybe a test run? And then progression to ultimate chipping (end goal). Just a theory.

      A nurse is fighting the NY quarantine as she claims it violates her civil rights (she tested negative for ebola). WONDER how that case will end.

  3. Enter Anderson Cooper stage left and Ebola crisis actors stage right as they conduct televised drill entitled Preparing for Mass Casualties As A Result Of Viral Ebola Infection. FEMA had this upcoming drill posted on their website a few months back in order to evaluate the effectiveness of medical procedures in case of a bio outbreak, media was used to evaluate the flow and control of information. The drill also measured if the US had enough medical supplies and pharmaceuticals in place to deal with a mass viral outbreak and if not, how quickly could they get them. In short, it was a drill, much like Sandy Hook and Boston Marathon, no big deal.

  4. Thank you Mr. Fetzer for a very good blog post. I listen and read your things quite often. I want to take a moment to also thank you for your work and your participation on debates about SH. Just please be careful.

  5. This editorial from the Lancet is titled, “National Armies for Global Health?”
    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)61923-1/fulltext

    Our friends at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, (a Brzezinski hang-out among other globalists) issued a ‘report’ entitled “Global Health Engagement: Sharpening a Key Tool for the Department of Defense” wherein (and I haven’t read the report yet) the CSIS supposedly criticizes the DoD (yeah, sure) for previous health engagement activities–meaning (a quote from the Lancet) -“Much of this criticism focuses on the poor coordination of DoD efforts alongside other civilian agencies, which still provide the vast majority of humanitarian global aid.” (are they after coordination?)

    The Lancet piece also includes the following: [regarding the DoD report] “….discusses the increasing demands on the DoD to provide humanitarian assistance as a consequence of climate change. The report 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap describes climate change as a “THREAT MULTIPLIER”, with the potential to exacerbate existing challenges to US national security.”
    Now you might laugh at this since you might ask yourself, “What do Ebola and ‘climate change’ have to do with one another?” Don’t laugh –if you haven’t seen it yet, search engine “Weather as Force Multiplier -Owning the Weather 2025″ – A Research Paper Presented to Air Force 2025”

    The final paragraph of the Lancet editorial: “As the DoD has recognised, the security of one nation’s citizens is inextricably linked to others through both global health and climate change. (Or so you are to believe) Therefore, the military seem set to play a greater part in global civilian health in the future. (No kidding) The question is what should this role look like in the 21st century?”
    SO IT’S A FOREGONE CONCLUSION don’t you know.

    So here is the link to the CSIS report:
    http://csis.org/publication/global-health-engagement

    And here is the link to the DoD report:
    http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=16976

    Anyway, is the “Ebola, oh my God, Ebola, Ebola” mantra simply a way to get the idea implanted that many ‘Western’ boots on the ground on the African continent are needed to stop it “over there’ (like the WWI ‘patriotic’ song) before it gets a toe-hold over here, AND perhaps also to act as a counterbalance (or balance of terror) to the Chinese boots already on the ground on the continent? The chess pieces are being moved around.

    1. Good find. I’ve been reading more than my share of education-related reports lately, and I’ve been flabbergasted by how overt the plans are. In most cases, they come right out and tell us exactly what it is they want to do, but most of us don’t bother to read it (the material is voluminous, redundant, and sometimes overly-technical…but not always).

      Our new Ebola czar mentioned Ebola and climate change in the same breath: http://www.wnd.com/2014/10/is-new-ebola-czars-biggest-fear-overpopulation/

  6. http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-architecture-of-evil

    INsight into mindset of a seemingly “normal”person who goes rogue as did Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect and engineer of considreable talent, who devised a better way to kill in camps.

    A journalist oserving Aldolf Eichman’s trial in Israel, remarked his demeaner with the phrase, “The banality of evil”

    What forces turn an unscrupulous egotist into a peditory monster?

    That is a question worthy of our condideration.

    When a society suffers from terminal dissolution,
    madness sets in among the high elite. They begin by eating their own. Then it filters down to the general
    population. We are now at that stage of decay.

    Stay tunned for updates; movie at nine…:)

    1. I have a confession…the original post was deleted; my mouse went awol and my cursor was playing hide and seek as I attempted to compose my thoughts. Still I soldiered on, like a good scout; that is my way of fighting back.

      Anyway, I left my computer alone for two hours and when I returned, the problem had rectified itself. but my second post on subject was the product of my frustration and exhaustion. full of gaffs. typos and misspellings; sorry, not usually my way of communicating to this very savvy and articulate audience. The journalist referenced is Hannah
      Arendt–survior of NAZI occupation of Germany. She coined the phase, “The banality of evil”

      The author’s name is Roger Forsgren–in his
      excellent analysis of the Albert Speer bio and his impact on world history,
      forsgren digs deeply into psychology, pathology and theology. His main thesis is the amoral mindset of the technocrat versus his place in civil society.

      Albert Speer charmed and talked his way out of the gallows but did receive a hefty prison sentence for crimes against humanity. MOst NAZI scientists who were useful in the coming Cold War against the Soviets, were given peferencial treatment in U.S.and Russia. Their crimes were simply expunged from the record.

      The way of the world–a world of “endless enemies” and endless conflict. Where is the justice?

  7. Thank you, once again, James. I feel your work on this blog is unparalleled and indispensable. I see things in this country ending up one of three ways. 1) thermonuclear war. 2) indefinite martial law. 3) federal government overthrown. I just wonder which one will happen first?……

    1. (1) medical martial law; (2) controlled economic collapse; (3) depopulation; (4) chaos; (5) new world order rising out the ashes.

      Ongoing throughout the above: wars for profit, false flags and hoaxes to perpetuate control. Can we derail the horror? Sure, if enough of us wake up.

      between | the | lines
      http://between.yuku.com

    1. Another great catch with this footage. I’ve been suspicious about this one from the beginning. I just wonder what it’s diverting our attention away from…

  8. On average 3.5 million people die from influenza/pneumonia each year, 1.8 million die of HIV/Aids, 1.4 million from TB, 827 thousand
    from Malaria, 155 million from measles, 128 thousand from Hepat.B
    and the list goes on. So why does the media think 5 thousand deaths
    from Ebola is a major issue?

  9. This sure seems like a series of bungled events meant to cause mass hysteria.

    Index One, first ebola patient, escaped Africa after handling a dying patient, and lies about that exposure.

    Now we have him, being turned back from the emergency care initially, and a whole bunch of folks, or the CDC giving them permission to disregard self quarantine directives.

    – His fiancé sent 4 children to 3 different schools, after being under self quarantine
    – A nurse, who treated him, flew to OH from TX and back again, with CDC permission, with the big E, don’t worry, they washed the plain a bunch of times.
    – An NBC news team, evacuated because their newly hired, within hours, photo Journalist got the big E, and others on quarantine were caught getting take out food
    – A supervisor of blood work at index one’s hospital, managed to get the entire cruise ship turned around, as Belize would not allow them to disembark, and please explain why hufpo reported passengers are happy to receive $200 for their inconvenience.
    – A ‘doctor’ returned from treating the big E in Africa and potentially exposed millions in NYC as he had a jolly old time going to and fro on the subway system for a week, before having to call EMS.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/19/ebola-cruise-ship-returns-texas-woman-quarantine

    Clearly with all these citizens violating suggested quarantines, we need mandated imprisonment at government authorized sites.

    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/10/24/new-york-new-jersey-set-up-mandatory-quarantine-requirement-amid-ebola-threat/

  10. A very insightful article. The cure for “Ebola” is to stop believing in it.

    Also, to one of the commenters: there is no such thing as a thermonuclear bomb, either. Check this out (there are a few other sources on the web, as well.)

    23 October 2014 – Explanations why atomic and hydrogen bombs do not work
    http://heiwaco.tripod.com/bomb.htm

    “Government” can only work by making people believe in it and its stories.

  11. THX, you are, as far as I am concerned, a welcome addition to the MH blog even though–and I say this with all due respect–you are a complete loony. It is BECAUSE you are a dingbat that you are so useful, because I am intensely interested in why the American people are so delusional, and you may provide a clue. They have been ideologically deluded by power, yes, but WHY do we believe what the powerful say? You, on the other hand, go to the other extreme and reject it all, even the obvious reality, and perhaps in doing so you can shed light on the pathological norm. Have you read any of Patrick yet?

    I hope you are White because White Supremacy is a basic value of the commenters here. James requires a personal civility here but allows boorish and vulgar insults of non-White heritages, as well as a soft anti-Semitism. In my opinion, this is the reason why commenters cannot identify with people, since the White population is only a tenth of the people of the earth, and is rapidly losing its Elite status.

    The current Ebola crisis is associated with anti-Black and anti-African racism, in order to extend American imperialism in Africa. Obama has sent 4000 troops of the 101 Airborne division to Liberia to fight, shoot and possibly bomb the microbes of Ebola. Why send combat troops to fight an infectious disease? You have to read the NY Times or view Fox News to find out. In any event, there is nothing that you can say that can be more preposterous than American policy, or the media justification of it.

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