2019, Podcasts

Conspiracyland (2019)

This is a fascinating and infuriating, brief (6 episode) podcast about the conspiracy theories that spiraled out after the murder of Seth Rich in Washington, DC in 2016. If you can handle it, it’s well worth your time.

This podcast meticulously follows how the unsolved murder of Seth Rich, who happened to work for the Democratic National Committee, turned into wild conspiracy theories about how the Democratic (particularly the Clintons) or the CIA murdered Seth Rich because he supposedly leaked the infamous “Emails!!!” to Wikileaks. It is about as meticulous debunking of these types of theories as you can get in podcast form.

One of the fascinating things about the show is the interviews granted by some of the people responsible for these theories. We listen to them as they get extremely defensive (and, in one case, extremely nervous and agitated) while they try and fail to justify their actions. (At least one of them still 100% believes his own bullshit, which just goes to show you Denial is not just a river in Egypt, yuk yuk yuk.) Not only do we get a really interesting forensic analysis of how a random mugging can turn into a vast conspiracy theory but we also get to see how cognitive biases and dysrationality completely distort our ability to see the truth in a situation when we really, really don’t want to.

One of the other things which makes a really big impression is the lies people tell themselves. I have spent my adult life trying to lead a life as free as possible of serious regrets; I try to go to sleep at night with a clear conscience. Listening to these people, it’s really hard to understand how any of them can. But, of course, that is the wonder of the human mind. They do not see the Riches and the other people they have implicated as real people, and they already believe in vast conspiracies, so they may actually sleep at night because they manage to convince themselves they have not done anything wrong. It’s a testament to how distance can dehmuanize. And it’s awful to listen to these people as they destroy lives.

Anyway, I strongly recommend it.


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