I’ve not had a lot of interaction with the Truth movement until last year. I’d known of their existence, and had read many of their publications but had never really engaged with the community. I’d always known that Truthers were very passionate people, and that some have some rather unorthodox beliefs. That said, I always assumed that their main pursuit was truth- unfortunately, this seems to not always be the case.
Is the Truth movement a misnomer?
I noticed at Occupy Vancouver that people from the Truth movement were sort of relegated to one side of the camp and didn’t integrate very deeply with the rest of the movement. So, I began approaching some of the Truthers and tried to understand what the barriers were. I got to know some interesting people that way, and also began to understand more about their movement.
My first impression was that there are many good people in the movement- but, also, that there also seem to be some who are taking advantage of these people by turning the movement into a merchandising opportunity. Those people are spending more time selling t-shirts, books, DVDs, and other trinkets than actually pursuing the truth. This was rather disappointing.
But, it wasn’t until I began investigating Kevin Annett that I found myself getting deeply immersed. Once I began exposing his fraud I learned that he was rather well known in the movement- and that many of his supporters were unhappy to see his work being questioned.
There are four groups of people I met while working on this story:
1.) People who were already sceptical about Annett’s stories and were actively studying the background behind them. This group accounted for about 5% of the people who I engaged with.
2.) People who were sceptical about Annett’s stories but had not yet engaged in studying the truth. This group accounted for about 10% of the people who I engaged with.
3.) People who had not yet considered whether Annett was a fraud, but who were open to examining the gaps in his story. This group accounted for about 60% of the people who I engaged with.
4.) People who became incredibly defensive, and often aggressive when I began sharing the gaps I found in Kevin’s story. This group accounted for about 25% of the people I engaged with.
So, a man claimed that he had found a mass grave, without providing any solid evidence, and only 15% of the people I discussed this with in the Truth movement had questioned his story. Even more concerning is that 25% of the community stood-by and defended his claims, without a shred of evidence produced. Can you see the problem here?
The first step to having a fair, honest, and equitable world is that we must question anything where solid evidence has not been produced. In Annett’s case, this evidence would have been simple- produce DNA tests that prove he found human bones. Considering the significance of Annett’s claims, and the impact they have on people’s lives, it is highly irresponsible for anyone to accept and take action on them without some sort of proof.
Too much of the Truth movement appears to be based on cults of personality. This is most certainly true in Annett’s case- many people aren’t able to separate the issue from the man. There’s a lot of irony in Annett’s case, people who support him are often radically against the concept of organized religion (which is a good thing.) But, in essence, they have adopted an almost religious belief in what Annett says. As with religions, one is expected to ‘have faith’ in what Annett is saying, and not to ask difficult questions.
Annett’s partner, Alfred Webre, has a very similar following. Webre makes outrageous, and unbacked, claims such as that Obama comes from Mars! But, where’s the birth certificate to prove this? In fact, there isn’t any evidence given to back his claims. Webre presents us with a Invisible Pink Unicorn, and people are expected to believe in it. Just have some faith, will you!
If the Truth movement wants to shed its “tinfoil hat” reputation, people inside of it need to learn to question everything presented to them- both things that people want to believe in, and those that they are against. So, while it may be satisfying to believe that Obama is an alien (who want’s to believe he is representative of humanity?), it is essential to not accept that he is until it can be proven. Without a healthy sense of scepticism, the movement will be relegated to the prison of self-parody.
All too often, when someone challenges unproven theories, people in the Truth community will start throwing allegations that the person questioning is a provocateur who is trying to destroy the movement. But, the reality is that the majority of people in this world won’t believe something until they see solid evidence.
So, I’ll leave you with a question. Who’s really the provocateur in this situation- the person who asks for evidence, or the person who asks people to “have faith”? Which position is more likely to get support from the masses?
The answer should be quite clear…