Dec 15, 2021

CultNEWS101 Articles: 12/15/2021 (Conspiracy Theories, MDMA, Rajneesh, Influence)

Conspiracy Theories, MDMA, Rajneesh, Influence

The Conversation: How conspiracy theories in the US became more personal, more cruel and more mainstream after the Sandy Hook shootings
"Social media's role in spreading misinformation has been well documented in recent years. The year of the Sandy Hook shooting, 2012, marked the first year that more than half of all American adults used social media.

It also marked a modern low in public trust of the media. Gallup's annual survey has since shown even lower levels of trust in the media in 2016 and 2021.

These two coinciding trends – which continue to drive misinformation – pushed fringe doubts about Sandy Hook quickly into the U.S. mainstream. Speculation that the shooting was a false flag – an attack made to look as if it were committed by someone else – began to circulate on Twitter and other social media sites almost immediately. Far-right commentator and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and other fringe voices amplified these false claims.

Jones was recently found liable by default in defamation cases filed by Sandy Hook families.

Mistakes in breaking news reports about the shooting, such as conflicting information on the gun used and the identity of the shooter, were spliced together in YouTube videos and compiled on blogs as proof of a conspiracy, as my research shows. Amateur sleuths collaborated in Facebook groups that promoted the shooting as a hoax and lured new users down the rabbit hole.

Soon, a variety of establishment figures, including the 2010 Republican nominee for Connecticut attorney general, Martha Dean, gave credence to doubts about the tragedy.

Six months later, as gun control legislation stalled in Congress, a university poll found 1 in 4 people thought the truth about Sandy Hook was being hidden to advance a political agenda. Many others said they weren't sure. The results were so unbelievable that some media outlets questioned the poll's accuracy.

Today, other conspiracy theories have followed a similar trajectory on social media. The media is awash with stories about the popularity of the bizarre QAnon conspiracy movement, which falsely claims top Democrats are part of a Satan-worshiping pedophile ring. A member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, has also publicly denied Sandy Hook and other mass shootings."

But back in 2012, the spread of outlandish conspiracy theories from social media into the mainstream was a relatively new phenomenon, and an indication of what was to come.  

Vice: Did the Cult From 'Wild Wild Country' Introduce MDMA to Ibiza?
"The free-loving sannyasins from the Bhagwan movement were a "crucial bridge between Ibiza's 60s counterculture and the 90s electronic dance".

"'I would only believe in a God who knew how to dance.'

So opined the famously deity-suspicious philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. This remained an oft-used saying of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh – the pseudonymous leader of the free-loving Bhagwan movement, the subject of Netflix's 2018 docuseries Wild Wild Country.

Nietzsche's quote twins nicely with a longstanding rumor that floats around the edges of drug culture: that Bhagwan's disciples (also called Rajneeshees, sannyasins or simply Bhagwans) actually introduced MDMA to Ibiza in the mid-80s. From here, the drug supposedly coalesced with the island's new Balearic sounds, played most famously by DJ Alfredo at the nightclub Amnesia, to sow seeds of many contemporary cultures – from electronic music and festivals to "the sesh" itself. But does the story stand up to scrutiny and did the Bhagwans help the world to dance and get high? I wanted to find out.

But before that, some history: In the 30s and 40s, Ibiza became a nexus of artists, musicians and beatniks escaping the vagaries of European fascism. Californian Vietnam War draft-dodging hippies were added to the melting point and the island became a common stop on the hippie trail. From the mid-70s and into the 80s, the island's horny freaks and trust fund babies nurtured an embryonic club scene, with legendary venues like Amnesia, Pacha and KU serving a pleasure-seeking crowd.

MDMA, meanwhile, had evolved from still-legal preserve of progressive 70s Californian psychotherapists to the gay nightlife scene in New York, Chicago, and Dallas – the latter sold over-the-counter of the Starck nightclub. It was finally banned by the DEA in 1985, but not before the preeminent producers of ecstasy in America, named the Texas Group, had reportedly churned out two million tables in the weeks preceding the shutdown."

Inc: Want to Be More Influential, Persuasive, and Charismatic? Science Says First Take a Look at the Clock
New research shows how to leverage your circadian rhythm to increase your charisma and be more inspiring.

" ... Some people are extremely persuasive. They influence (in a good way) the people around them. They make people feel a part of something bigger than themselves.

In fact, every successful person I know is at least somewhat charismatic. And tends to be really good at persuading other people; not by manipulating or pressuring, but by describing the logic and benefits of an idea to gain agreement."

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