Wednesday, March 15, 2017

#1808: Peter Joseph

Peter Joseph is the guy behind Zeitgeist, an amateurish (complete with cheap CGI and a terrible soundtrack) but inexplicably popular conspiracy film made for the Internet. It is, basically, a disjointed string of various paranoid delusions, ranging from Jesus mythicism (Joseph’s take is discussed here; apparently the Bible is mostly just a guide to astrology) to income tax denial and claiming that the Federal Reserve is an elaborate plot by international bankers to take over the world, and – of course – 9/11 conspiracy theories (controlled demolition variety; the various myths and unsourced claims made in the move are discussed here). It will all ultimately (soon) lead to a one-world government and everyone getting barcodes tattooed onto them and RFID tags implantations. The whole thing comes across as a filmatization of randomly selected articles from whale.to; it is reviewed here and here, and some of its claims are debunked here. The connecting thread, if there is one, is the idea of shadow bankers, a nebulous, nefarious group that runs pretty much everything from behind the scenes, apparently for the purpose of enslaving humanity and reaping huge profits through instigating wars and financial crises through not-entirely-coherently explained mechanisms. Pretty standard fare for conspiracy theorists, admittedly, but with somewhat better production values.

And, of course, since the movie has such an important agenda to promote, it is entirely appropriate to engage in rank dishonesty, as when the movie shows TV screen shots of network or cable news with voice-overs to suggest that what was said on the news was what the (unidentified) voice-overs tell us (not remotely). There is also e.g. a quote attributed to David Rockefeller, though conveniently without providing a source or date. Now, the zeitgeist website does include a Sources page, but its just a list of books with no page numbers or further information given. Perhaps they just “forgot”? Edward Winston did a thorough job of locating sources here, but unfortunately his research tended to undermine the claims made in the movie itself – most of the quotes attributed to various historical people are either badly quote-mined or simply made up (often by other conspiracy theorist on other conspiracy websites). Apparently Joseph responded to Winston’s criticisms by suggesting that Winston must be mentally ill for disagreeing with him, so there’s that.

Zeitgest: Addendum, the follow-up movie, is somewhat less concerned with conspiracy theories and more with economic woo. Based on the message of the movies, Joseph also later started the Zeitgeist movement, a grass-roots international internet network formed to further his ideas with pseudo-economic ideas derived from The Venus Project and Buckminster Fuller. His Gentle Machine Productions LLC has later produced the web series Culture in Decline and InterReflections, which don’t seem to have made the same splash.

Diagnosis: Standard conspiracy theorist with a Messiah complex – Joseph is pretty influential among the weak of critical thinking skills, however.


Hat-tip: Rationalwiki

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