May 2, 2022

CultNEWS101 Articles: 5/2/2022 (Conspiracy Theories, Aum Shinrikyo, Japan)

Conspiracy Theories, Aum Shinrikyo, Japan

Conspiracists are omnidirectionally beefing over a theory that starts with the claim COVID is connected to snake venom and only gets more out there.

"The world of COVID deniers is, more or less, a marketplace, where a variety of ambitious hucksters loudly rattle their wares and hope someone, somewhere, will take them home. This can be challenging, since the COVID- and vaccine-skeptical have often promoted uniquely unpalatable advice on how to deal with the ongoing pandemic. They've advised their followers, for instance, to take up an antiquated faux cure-all that can turn you permanently blue, or else drink bleach, or your own urine, or choke down an anti-parasitic with no proven effectiveness against COVID. Even when the advice isn't overtly bad, it can be contorted and hard to follow, as anyone who's followed along with fringe medical groups and complicated theories about 5G technology knows. But at last, something has come along that even some of the most diehard conspiracy peddlers can't swallow. That something is snake venom. 

A faux documentary is quickly circulating throughout the conspiracy-verse, claiming to be an exposé revealing that COVID and COVID vaccines are derived from snake venom. More specifically, the theory claims that king cobra venom is being pumped into the water supply to sicken and envenomate us and imbue us with Satanic, anti-human DNA. Meanwhile, the government is suppressing monoclonal antibodies, which are really anti-venoms that could end the pandemic. (Even this extremely general summary lends the theory a level of coherence that it does not actually possess). The documentary, titled Watch the Water, was produced by a far-right podcaster and COVID conspiracy theorist named Stew Peters. The sole expert cited is a retired chiropractor named Bryan Ardis, who claims to have discovered this dastardly plan, which he ultimately pins on Dr. Anthony Fauci and, of course, the Pope. "I actually think the Roman Catholic church and Pope Francis is over this entire thing," Ardis told one interviewer. 'I think he's manipulating and controlling the entire narrative.'"
"A large study published in the journal Political Psychology suggests that the link between conspiracy belief and religiosity is rooted in cognitive similarities between the two beliefs. The overall findings suggest that people with higher conspiracy beliefs also tend to be more religious, and this is likely driven by overlapping ideological and political worldviews.

Scholars have noted the similarities between religion and features of conspiracy theories, but the nature of this overlap is uncertain. Some researchers have suggested that the two beliefs fulfill similar psychological needs, such as morality, belonging, and sense of control. Others suggest that the beliefs share cognitive styles, with both alluding to invisible forces at play and offering "anomalies as explanatory starting points."

"Several similarities have been noted between religiosity and conspiracy theory beliefs: Both suggest that there is more in the world than is visible, both promise to address similar needs like to understand the world, and both tend to speak to similar political orientations. But it was unclear what these parallels mean empirically for their relationship. They could either serve as surrogates or as complements for each other," explained study author Marius Frenken, a doctoral research assistant at the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz."
"A former senior member of the Aum Shinrikyo cult was released from a central Japan prison Tuesday, having served a nine-year term for his involvement in three cases related to the group, people familiar with the situation said.

Makoto Hirata, 57, turned himself in to police in 2011 after nearly 17 years on the run. In 2014, he was given the nine-year jail term for his involvement in the abduction and confinement of a Tokyo notary clerk as well as the bombing of a condominium and the firebombing of an Aum facility in the capital in 1995.

The sentence was finalized after the Supreme Court rejected Hirata's appeal in 2016.

The bombing of the condominium and firebombing of the Aum facility in March 1995 — which took place on the eve of the cult's sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system — were aimed at impeding a police investigation into the religious group."

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