A conspiracy for dunces

This is what happens when you apply journalism to the internet

America was forged in a conspiracy.

It was a winter morn at Griffin’s Wharf in Massachusetts. Dozens of men, many of them illicit tea smugglers and entitled businessmen, disguised themselves in Native American garb and boarded a vessel fully stocked with a commodity whose taxes helped fund their righteous invasion of “the New World.” In true proto-American fashion, these outlaws wanted the benefits of governance without actually having to, you know, pay for it.

On December 16, 1773, nearly a hundred colonists spent three hours hacking at wooden hatches with prop-tomahawks and shouldering 342 crates of British Early Grey into Boston Harbor’s turgid froth. The vandals called themselves the Sons of Liberty. Their act of sabotage became known as the Boston Tea Party. And the story of what happened—more than the actual facts—helped galvanize a budding rebellion across the 13 colonies. The Crown was overthrown and a new franchise was started—we call it the United States of America.

Cut to 2018 and America is OD’ing on a different, more destructive strain of conspiracy. Flat earthers. Anti-vaxxers. 9/11 Truthers. Holocaust deniers. Pizzagate-crashers. At no time in history did the average person have access to the zettabytes of free information than we do and yet we can’t seem to agree on what’s true—and what’s so clearly not. Blame Vladimir Putin. Blame the singularity. Blame Facebook marketers or tailored Google searches that feed you results that correspond with your ever-shrinking worldview. Whatever the infection point, the prognosis is a terminal case of stupid:

A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that nearly a quarter of Americans can’t tell the difference between a fact and an opinion. Worse? Most of those surveyed disagreed with factual statements that they incorrectly labeled opinions.

This is the age of believing what you want to believe.

Well, it’s time to wise up, America.

As the nation flounders into middle age, SN&R wants to help it rediscover its inner bullshit compass. This issue, we take some of the craziest, weirdest or most pernicious conspiracies plaguing Sacramento and beyond—and diligently report them out to find the actual facts. Open your mind, check your assumptions and be forewarned: The truth hurts.