Oct. 9th, 2014

I posted on FB about a strange interchange in class on Monday; I had a visiting lecturer talking about her work with people at high risk of developing schizophrenia--they are already showing mild symptoms and starting to lose function but some of them, of course, are not developing schizophrenia. I asked her about the symptom of "unusual thoughts" -- I understand hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, etc., but what is "unusual thoughts"? So she was trying to describe them; they are a lot like weak delusions, e.g. convinced that you are in a romantic relationship with a celebrity you've never met, but not quite reaching the level of a firm conviction. But, she pointed out, you have to be sensitive to what is a weird thought based on the person's background; certainly people talking about ghosts and magic outside of your own sphere of experience may reflect their own cultural and religious background. And then she gave an example of a subculture, trying to steer away from religion (a particularly tricky topic since religious grandiosity and delusions can play a role). She asked how many in the class had heard of the Illuminati, and almost everyone nodded and chuckled.

Then she asked, ok, so who runs the Illuminati?
And the chorus came back, "Jay Z and Beyonce!" Which completely floored me--I never thought of anyone *running* the construct commonly known as the Illuminati, and I certainly would not have pinned it on rap/hip hop stars. But she pointed out that certainly within Atlanta (and it turns out it's bigger than that, it's quite the internet/youtube thing) there's a connection between rap/hip hop and the Illuminati, so if someone suddenly spouts off about that, that doesn't count as "unusual thoughts."

I asked the hubby if he'd heard of such a thing, since he's more knowledgeable about conspiracy theories than I am, and it was not news to him. He pointed out that the Christian Right started taking over the conspiracy theories a few decades ago, and the Illuminati is a favorite (and certainly in looking this sort of thing up since Monday I've seen Glen Beck's clips talking about it). So while when I heard about them back in the 80's it was in the role of shadowy financial folks controlling the world in league with the Trilateral Commission etc., now they are the source of all social and moral decay (favorite topics of the Christian Right). So Hollywood and the entertainment biz is purportedly rife with people who sold their soul to the devil and are working for or with the Illuminati to destroy Amurrica. How can anyone become that successful if they haven't sold their soul, after all? And particularly a black man or woman.

SIGH. Double SIGH. Wow, people can be stupid. I am intrigued that the conspiracy theories have become so rife that they are common place, though. Is that a change or was it always that way? It seems like a change to me, but I wasn't polling the average guy on the street in the 80s.



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