How To Create Conspiracy Theories

Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness

It is easy to birth conspiracy theories.

All that is required is chronic government stonewalling of reasonable requests for transparency. Then add in high officials serially lying under oath, along with the blatantly unequal application of the law. Institutionalize arguments from authority of politicians and bureaucrats who refuse to adjudicate arguments empirically.

Include the weaponization of investigatory and intelligence bureaucracies. Finish with the transformation of an obsequious media into a mouthpiece of the state. And presto, you end up with a skeptical, cynical public that learns to believe the very opposite from what it is told by elites.

January 6th

Curiously. some conservative politicians, media and politicos often remark of their surprise that so many of the Trump base insists that the January 6 riot at the Capitol was in part a federally driven conspiracy, or perhaps just a mere “demonstration” gone awry.

But whether true or not, why would some not believe that—given the efforts of the state to hide and warp facts?

Consider what drives rational people to embrace supposed “conspiracy” theories around the so-called “insurrection?”

One reason, of course, is that there was evidence of FBI informants present on January 6. Do not take the word of conservatives for such suppositions.

Instead, remember what award-winning New York Times’s reporter and keen follower of right-wing political activity, Matthew Rosenberg said of January 6, albeit in an ambush interview conducted by Project Veritas:

The left’s overreaction — the left’s reaction to it in some places was so over the top. They were making it too big a deal … that gave the opening for lunatics in the right to be like, ‘Oh, well, nothing happened here. It was just a peaceful bunch of tourists,’ you know, and it’s like, but nobody wants to hear that.”

Rosenberg then remarked that he spotted numerous FBI informants among the crowd milling around the Capitol. Or as he put it, “There were a ton of FBI informants among the people who attacked the Capitol.” Cannot the FBI refute such allegations?

Apparently not. Given such speculation, one would expect that FBI Director Christopher Wray might at least categorically deny such inflammatory accusations.

Yet in congressional testimony when asked whether the FBI had inserted informants among the protestors, sphinxlike Wray merely shrugged, “So I really need to be careful here talking about where we have or have not used confidential human sources.”

Then there is the mysterious case of Ray Epps, initially sought by FBI “as a person of interest” for allegedly inciting demonstrators to break the law and enter the Capitol.

But then oddly Epps was de facto exempted for some 30 months from arrest—even as hundreds who urged no such action were indicted and convicted of “illegal parading” or unlawfully “demonstrating in front of the Capitol”—misdemeanors that ended up resulting in felony-type sentencing.

In one video clip, as Epps attempts to gin up the stationary crowd to move illegally into the Capitol, he is met with “conspiratorial” accusations from skeptical bystanders calling out: “Fed! Fed! Fed!”

Epps filed suit against Fox News for defamation on grounds that anchor Tucker Carlson had tied him to efforts to incite January 6 violence. Yet then suddenly Epps announced that he believes he will soon be charged, after all, by the government for his role in the January 6 protests.

If true, such an arrest was long anticipated, since Epps is caught on tape, unambiguously, on more than one occasion, urging demonstrators to enter the Capitol unlawfully (e.g., “We need to go to the Capitol”).

If one would like to hatch an Epps conspiracy theory, then one could do no better than quoting another Ray Epps braggadocious claim that he had texted to his nephew: “I orchestrated it.”

It did not help the Left’s construction of a January 6 “insurrection” theory that it serially misled the country about the actual loss of life. At first, Democrats insisted, falsely, that Officer Sicknick’s tragic death was due to protestor violence. Yet an autopsy revealed that he died a day later from a stroke.

Then Democrat leaders pivoted to claim that any law enforcement officer present on January 6, who for any reason subsequently committed suicide, was to be counted a victim of protestor violence.

All the while, the media kept largely quiet about the fact that the only unambiguously violent death that day was that of military veteran Ashli Babbitt. She was unarmed as she was shot unlawfully entering the Capitol through a broken window.

The name and identity of the officer, remember, were suppressed for months—a protective protocol unlike any other accorded law enforcement officers in the country who lethally shoot unarmed suspects.


If all that was not enough to create suspicion about media and political narratives, then there was the asymmetrical media coverage and the reaction of the Justice Department to the 2020 summer riots.

Touch an officer on January 6, and one sat in jail for months. Club an officer in summer 2020, and the offender was likely to become certified as a member of the Antifa or BLM resistance, albeit acting up a bit during the “summer of love.”

Unlike January 6, the violence of arsonists, murderers, rioters, and Antifa and BLM mobs resulted in 1,500 injured law enforcement officers, more than 35 violent deaths, nearly $2 billion in property damage, and 14,000 arrests. Yet most of the indictments were dropped, or plea bargained down to minor misdemeanors by sympathetic leftwing city and state prosecutors.

Note that the 2020 rioters also targeted iconic and government buildings. Rioters attempted to burn down a federal courthouse, a police precinct headquarters, an historic Washington D.C. church—all topped off by the mob’s nocturnal effort to stampede into the White House grounds to get to the president.

That failed assault precipitated a hasty Secret Service effort to put Trump and his family in a secure subterranean bunker. Again, why was such violence aimed at the White House largely unpunished given its intensity matched or exceeded that of the Capitol riot?

Even more importantly, the investigatory January 6 committee also fed rather than quieted conspiracy theories. The Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives first denied nominated Republican representatives any seats on the select committee.

Instead, they cherry-picked just two Republicans—on the apparent requisite that both Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger were a) die-hard Trump haters, and b) politically inert and headed for forced retirement.

The committee neither called any contrarian witnesses nor subpoenaed documents and videos felt to be antithetical to their narrative of a rightwing violent and armed “insurrection.” Yet, again, they did not produce evidence that anyone arrested inside the Capitol was in possession of a firearm.

Nor were any plans found of “insurrectionists” planning to occupy government property for any length of time—in the fashion of, say, Seattle’s “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ) or (CHOP) “Capitol Hill Organized Protest.”

In that case, rioters simply annexed government space as their own for over three weeks, ran the sanctuary-like mini-revolutionary state, forbid the police to enter, and were granted exemptions from city and state authorities.

The January 6 narrative of continuous threats of an armed revolution was leveraged to justify deploying 20,000 armed soldiers —the largest militarization of Washington D.C. since Jubal Early’s Confederate raid of 1864. Again, such use of federal troops stood in dire contrast to the abject appeasement of the far more violent 2020 rioters, when sympathetic mayors and governors resisted calls to deploy federal troops to their jurisdictions.

Recall that the suspicions arising around January 6 followed a long series of revelations about government misconduct that confirmed the suspicions of once reviled “conspiracists.”

In numerous cases, the wild charge of conspiracists eventually were proven, while the sober and judicious defense narratives of government officials were exposed as outright lies, and occasionally themselves conspiracies.

The True Conspiracists

There was no “Russian collusion” conspiracy.

There was a Clinton conspiratorial effort.

It sought to hide campaign money through three paywalls to hire Christopher Steele to add to his ad hominem lies and to ensure that they were disseminated throughout the media and government. The point was solely to emasculate her opponent, Donald Trump.

As far as the first Trump impeachment phone call, given the multimillion-dollar corruptions abroad of the Biden family syndicate, and the boasts of Joe Biden about his past interference in Ukraine politics to fire a bothersome prosecutor, any president would have warned Ukraine to clean up its act with the Bidens or face holds on American largess.

The Covid-19 virus did escape from a nearby Chinese virology lab. It was a media and government fed lie that it was birthed naturally in the wild by a bat or pangolin, part of a three-year long effort to appease the Chinese communist party. And there was a clear role of the NIAID and NIH in funding dangerous gain-of-function research under the auspices of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

Most of what the government assured about the quarantines and vaccinations proved eventually to be wrong or only half-true. That reality proved ironic when those who warned of lockdown dangers were eventually vindicated, but never received apologies from their accusers.

Given the blanket exemptions provided to Hillary Clinton for unlawfully destroying subpoenaed material and using a home server to transmit classified information, and the reduction of Hunter Biden’s numerous felonies to minor misdemeanors, and the likely exemption given Joe Biden for storing classified files for years at his various homes and offices, why would anyone not believe that the government and the media work hard to suppress the truth?

And why would any citizen believe the government or the media after the Biden campaign solicited “51 intelligence authorities” to swear falsely that the genuine Hunter Biden laptop was likely a product of “Russian disinformation.”

The entire concocted lie was a Biden-campaign effort to use the gravitas of former government officials and the complicity of the media to promote a fantasy to influence the impending presidential debate. And it worked to a tee.

Note as well that the FBI hired out Twitter employees to suppress information concerning the Biden laptop. The truth was deemed “disinformation” in order to mislead voters on the eve of the 2020 election.

Normally, distinguished government heads of hallowed bureaus carefully weigh in on investigations to warn against idle speculations and convulsed conspiracies. But who currently in Washington could be sure of any such voice since our most esteemed intelligence and investigative directors are admitted liars?

Former FBI Director James Comey feigned amnesia in congressional testimony. He passed off a dossier he knew to be fallacious as genuine evidence to a FISA court.

His successor Andrew McCabe lied on four occasions to federal investigators. Current Director Christopher Wray has continually stonewalled congressional oversight committees.

Special counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller preposterously claimed he knew nothing of the Steele dossier or Fusion GPS.

Both John Brennan, former CIA Director, and James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, admittedly lied under oath to Congress. None of these liars faced any legal consequences.

Anthony Fauci’s incriminating emails keep appearing in the public domain, making a mockery of his earlier, ludicrous claim that he had not channeled U.S. dollars to the Wuhan lab to ensure the continuance of outlawed gain–of-function research.

Worse still, so often those screaming “conspiracy theory” are conspiracists themselves. Hillary Clinton schemed with dark money and paywalls to smear her 2016 opponent.

As election denialists Hillary Clinton (“He knows he’s an illegitimate president”) and Jimmy Carter (“He [Trump] lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf”) refused to accept the 2016 verdict, projecting such denialism onto others.

So how does the government abort a conspiracy theory?

Simple: Quit the chronic lying and for once tell the truth.


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32 thoughts on “How To Create Conspiracy Theories”

  1. Thanks again for telling like it is,Mr.Hanson. I’m an of yours for many years because you’re a National Treasure and true Patriot! May God continue to Bless you and yours!

  2. Reggie Summers

    Well done article of truth telling! Thank U.
    Although, the depravity of the left, especially the media, and all the intelligence agencies, and others I fear, will never give in to “truth telling”. Just partial truths, silence, narrative misdirection, u name it. But never real truth. Even if it destroys the best system in the world. Sadly, pride in our system is dead. – Reggie Summers

  3. Essie Ghetler

    Before the conditions could be ripe for the creation of conspiracy theories, the conditions had to be ripened for a change in the character of our culture. It was never the color of the skins of our Founders that created us; it was the culture that evolved from the government the Founders created here, combined with those specific cultural habits they brought with them and never discarded.

    In the open society they created lurked a fatal vulnerability, which has now been exploited to the 9th degree by the enemies of freedom; all it took to weaken and transform this country was an action plan, and patience. The action plan had two main methods: huge, steady immigration from different cultures, many of them corrupt, and re-education of our youth.

    Together this one-two punch has destroyed before our eyes the America we knew and loved, and brought us a culture of corruption at the highest levels, of lawlessness; disrespect for authority; chaos and danger, hatred for competition, capitalism and the lack of total equality of outcome that results from these two cultural qualities. It brought us respect for reverse-racism, substituted nonsensical systems for learning reading and math for systems that actually worked in our public schools. And it insured that no one would be teaching our children the dangers and failures of collectivism.

    1. Thanks for this comment/opinion.
      Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.
      Plutarch, Parallel Lives, Sertorius, sec. 16

  4. The French Revolution American-style. The Jacobins are the modern left wing Dems (but you already know that).

  5. Sad, scum-level decline. Heard DeSantis recently give a skillfully but not actually untruthful reply . . . is there hope?

  6. Telling the truth doesn’t seem to be on the table. We need a “housecleaning” of the justice departments AND see these crooks actually go to prison for their crimes before considerations of trust can move forward.
    I’m not holding my breath for that to happen…

    1. Thomas O'Brien

      A stiff price must be paid by these treasonous transgressors, if such future behavior is be discouraged.

  7. Great synopsis and explanation, albeit there are two notable omissions (of similar things that are catalysts for “conspiracy theories,” in no particular order):

    1) The myriad lies about Covid, and particularly the vaccines being “safe and effective,”

    2) The lies about 2020 being a “free and fair” election with “no evidence” of election fraud. In particular, the variant of willful refusal to even discuss the “machines” and voter rolls (e.g., the ERIC voter roll database).

    1. 1) Maybe they were safe, relatively speaking. The lie that people not getting the jab were killing other people was a flat-out lie. They knew it made no difference, in the spread at least. The people with natural immunity not being as effective was also a lie. Not getting the virus is another lie. Non, N95 masks’ effectiveness with viruses is a big lie. Quarantining and closing schools was a travesty.

      2) Most secure election ever without ever providing data to support this statement was irresponsible. And the overwhelming data suggests there were an incredible amount of issues. For example, PA had over 2 million ballot changes – reported on the PA website. PA also broke the law and just made changes without ever going through the legislature and putting them up for votes; all the changes are still out there with another corrupt Governor at the helm. Barr lied about investigating the 2020 election; I believe McSwain, a decorated Marine sniper over Barr, a CIA and DOJ insider for his whole career. Barr also knew Biden and the 51 so-called intelligence experts were lying, he admits it in his book, and did nothing.

  8. Getting this government to tell the truth is not going to happen. Joe Biden is a life-long liar and has paid no price for it. As you point out, many high officials in government are liars and not one of them has paid for their deceit. So if it has been proven that you can lie to achieve your political aims, why stop? This government has morphed from by and for the people to the enemy of the people. I don’t believe a word they say about anything.

  9. It appears to me there is at least one of three ‘I’s required to be a democrat voter today.
    Ideologues-which should be the fewest among them.
    Ignorants-which could be the majority due to the corrupt media covering for the democrat party. I suspect the corrupt media would fall into the Ideologue group.
    Idiots-which I hope would be the smallest of numbers but sadly are some.

    What each of these ‘I’s need is a solid dose of Professor VDH with annual refreshers prior to each election. It may do little to convince the Ideologues but would convert others to more honest analysis of today’s political thinking. Thank you VDH for making the case for sane folks to remain skeptical of our elected officials, unelected agencies and the bogus media regardless of the label(s) the left places on us “conspiracy theorists”.

  10. Billye Miles-Seale

    WISE ADVICE INDEED: “Simple: Quit the chronic lying and for once tell the truth.”

    Thank you Professor Hanson.

  11. Bonnie Marshall

    Well said, Professor Hanson . Your wisdom does make a significant difference, and I am unanimous in that!

  12. Serpentor of the 3rd Circle, keeper of the Shiny Thing

    Yessss, focus on your petty factional battles and ignore the Grand Design of the Firstborn as it unfolds before your very eyes!


    Serpentor of the Third Circle, Keeper of the Shiny Thing

  13. Reportedly, four Capitol police suicides followed J6. Conspiracy theorists say Vince Foster and Jeffrey Epstein experienced similar despair.

  14. john clay price

    I am so fortunate i am one of the few dozen people who can read in this country. As for the rest ,they must be illiterate because upon reading this or anything else VDH puts out on the subject there would be such an outpouring of calls to clean up the media and government it would be tectonic in outcome. Wish in one hand and crap in the other as Granny used to say about certain things. Looking for the truth to be told by the media and justice to be done by the government has gone from a unicorn hunt a few years ago to a quest for a golden horned unicorn that plays the piano. Interesting times indeed.

  15. Thomas O'Brien

    For all of my adult life I held a fundamental trust in our government and its institutions. I knew it was far from perfect, but felt it was comprised of enough honorable men and women whose patriotism would not allow to happen what we now see clearly as happened.

    For me, all that is now destroyed! I now view us as no different from a banana republic.

    My only hope for us now is that we can have a thorough examination of what has transformed us, and how so many were complicit. The investigative committees of the Republican controlled House are doing an exemplary job. So much more needs to be done. We must remember and publicly shame those who in government and out of government (e.g., MSM, big ten) who tried to run interference for the unlawful acts. If properly done, our country will be favorably transformed right to its core.

    As stated earlier, people must, must be held accountable so as to discourage others, and our general public become enlightened to the insidious threats to our Republic that exist.

    IMHO this will not happen to the degree necessary without four more years of Trump.

  16. The 3 ‘I’s comment is spot on. Unfortunately, I lost a good friend after the 2020 election and he’s no idiot nor is he ignorant….though he does believe in whatever the W post and NYT publish. But the truth was revealed in my good friend being an Ideologue. This is one of the positive outcomes we are living thru…the exposure of our corrupt govt. and who are the real Ideologues in our society.

  17. Albert L. Smith, Ph.D

    Democrat politicians are notorious liars. Their genius is that they get away with it while pushing the axiom that “All politicians are liars.” This, while Republicans who pose as the “good guys” (mostly true) just go along with it. However, with the successful rise of the Conservative movement incorporated into the MAGA movement, Republicans are waking up to the very real fact that they are the Party of Abraham Lincoln. Democrats are as notorious as “co-optors” as they are liars. This morning Biden was telling us that America is great! Can you believe it? He’s stuck in Marshall McCluan’s “The medium is the message” philosophy. Americans have always known better.

  18. Just started reading the book, “They Thought They Were Free” by Mayer about the rise of the Nazis. It provides a perfect description of what is happening to us today and why. It is beyond chilling. We seem to be at a stage where there is no hope it will end well. But perhaps America has the gift and grit to overcome inevitable sorrows ahead.

  19. I’ve read several detailed accounts about the murder of another innocent woman, Roseanne Boyland, who purportedly was purposefully trapped and forced into a gauntlet wherein she was first inadvertently trampled by a manipulated and unwary crowd, and then singled out and viciously beat to death at the hands of a female police officer.

    Having not only read of the tragic account but additionally seen video of this heinous activity, I’d appreciate knowing whether you might have been aware and had an opportunity to investigate this. I understood the matter to be the orchestrated coverup of an additional outrageous murder of an innocent and nonviolent protester by certain authorities. Please address that supposition.

  20. Underlying this is another obvious and ugly truth, as obvious as Biden’s corruption:

    None of this would have a chance of surviving more than a few days if we truly had news journalists in this country who saw their mission as providing ALL politicians and bureaucrats with the exact same level of scrutiny and reporting of their findings. The media that pointed out Biden’s lies 40 years ago during his attempt at running for the presidency has completely disappeared.

    What we are left with is an overwhelming majority of “journalists” who are primarily political party propagandists, supporting their personal biases and beliefs, or both. And in doing so, they are even more corrupt than the politicians and the causes that they function as apparatchiks and propagandists for.

    And we’re left with the old question: who will watch these watchers, who are SUPPOSED to be watchers?

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