Into the Ether

Note from the Editors: This article originally appeared in our third print edition “Conspiracy: Psyops & Demons“.

What we don’t understand about Reality and Conspiracy Theories

My memories of conspiracy and paranoia date back to my early childhood. I remember family friends talking in serious hushed tones about black helicopter sightings and satellites that could tell if a dime was heads-up or heads-down on the deck of a ship. The internet was still in its infancy and people were not yet plugged into the matrix of surveillance. The idea of being watched by the government was not yet normalized or accepted. It felt sinister. The fiery images of Waco were burned into my brain. I was too young to understand explanations of how or why it happened, what stuck with me was that at night the ATF and FBI would play recordings over loudspeakers of rabbits being killed. I had pet rabbits. I couldn’t fathom the evil.

I remember only a couple of things from the Oklahoma City bombing: the photo of the firefighter holding the lifeless bloodied body of a young child, and overhearing a conversation my parents had with a family from Oklahoma that was sitting at a table near ours one night at McDonald’s. Something about a microchip that had been implanted in McVeigh, and them talking about how there were other people involved in the attack but the FBI wanted to make it seem like McVeigh acted alone.

Growing up as a kid, alternative narratives were largely confined to word of mouth, amateur VHS documentaries and literature that were passed around. With the flattening of the information superstructure in the age of the internet and social media, however, counter-narrative information has become much easier to find and disseminate. What was an underground current of the culture has now become mainstream to the point of becoming its own entertainment industry.

People are attracted to conspiracy theories because they offer more satisfying explanations of the increasingly strange events in our society than official narratives. As a consequence, people increasingly see shadowy forces behind every deviation from the norm. Every protestor is now a federal agent. Every outbreak of disease is a plot. Every notable dissident is controlled opposition or a foreign agent. And of course, this paranoia is often justified. There are shadowy forces responsible for aberrant events. Federal agents and informants do infiltrate protests and political organizations. Manmade pathogens have sparked pandemics. Controlled opposition does exist. And the paranoia and suspicion this breeds among the public is deliberate.

Paranoia strikes deep / Into your life it will creep / It starts when you’re always afraid / Step out of line, the men come and take you away.

There is precedence for this atmosphere of paranoia. The anti-establishment counterculture of our times is strikingly similar in many ways to the counterculture of the 1960s, and in response to many of the same conditions. Political turmoil. Race riots. Heavy drug use. Senseless acts of violence carried out with dizzying frequency. A malignant tension hanging in the air. Military brats turned hippie icons clustered in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, around a secret military base called “Lookout Mountain Laboratory” where the footage of nuclear tests was developed. Occult groups with devotees ranging from runaways to celebrities to rocket scientists.

Of course, the paranoia in the ’60s reached a fever pitch with the murders of Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and Steven Parent at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, LA. The Manson murders were carried out in unimaginably brutal fashion, and details such as Sharon Tate pleading to be spared long enough to give birth to her unborn baby only to be answered by two fiends plunging knives into her belly deeply traumatized the nation. Most historians agree, the killing spree carried out by the Manson cult marked the end of the Sixties.

The Manson murders also offer plenty of fuel for speculation and conspiracy theorizing. They marked the end of an era, and tie directly to other conspiracies and sinister happenings.

Charles Manson was associated with Dr. Jolly West, who was the court-appointed psychiatrist for Jack Ruby — assassin of the assassin of President John F. Kennedy — and also worked for the CIA, studying the potential of pairing hypnotic suggestion and LSD to create programmable assassins who would have no memory of the violent acts they committed or of the handlers who programmed them to carry out those acts. Sharon Tate dined with Sen. Robert F. Kennedy at the Malibu home of The Manchurian Candidate director John Frankenheimer on the evening before Sen. Kennedy’s assassination. Sirhan Sirhan, Kennedy’s alleged assassin, had reportedly attended orgiastic drug parties at Tate’s residence.

There has even been speculation that Tate was murdered because she overheard some piece of information about the assassination which made her a loose end, and that the Manson family was hired to tie up that loose end. Who knows. There is doubt as to whether Sirhan Sirhan was the only assassin. Is it a coincidence that the jail cell he wound up in was right next to that of Charles Manson? Or that Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted the Manson killers and popularized the “Helter Skelter” false narrative that Manson intended to spark a race war, died on June 6th — the anniversary of Bobby Kennedy’s death?

From the Manson murder rabbit hole, you can find connections to MKUltra, to the nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, to both Kennedy’s assassinations, even all the way to Pizzagate. How can so many disparate events all be connected in such strange ways?

Before the Manson family carried out their killing spree, a foreboding tension was already building up in Los Angeles. As Joan Didion described in The White Album:

“The jitters were setting in. I recall a time when the dogs barked every night and the moon was always full. On August 9, 1969, I was sitting in the shallow end of my sister-in-law’s swimming pool in Beverly Hills when he received a telephone call from a friend who had just heard about the murders at Sharon Tate Polanski’s house on Cielo Drive. The phone rang many times during the next hour. These early reports were garbled and contradictory. One caller would say hoods, the next would say chains. There were twenty dead, no, twelve, ten, eighteen. Black masses were imagined, and bad trips blamed. I remember of the day’s misinformation very clearly, and I also remember this, and wish I did not: I remember that no one was surprised.”

Didion would go on to try to make some sense of the strange connections she had experienced herself in connection with the killings. Connections that were simultaneously meaningful and senseless. Like how on the morning of John F. Kennedy’s death she had purchased a silk dress, which was later ruined at a party when Roman Polanski (Sharon Tate’s husband) spilled red wine on it. And how when she went to interview Manson cult member Linda Kasabian, Kasabian asked her to pick out a dress for her to wear on her first day of testimony. And how she and Roman Polanski happened to be godparents to the same child.


We have come to rely on narratives, official or otherwise, as a way to make sense of the world around us. We tell ourselves stories in order to live, as Didion said in the first line of The White Album. The rabbit holes are filled with rabbit holes, which in turn lead to other rabbit holes. It all seems connected, yet it all seems incomprehensible at the same time. Some connections map onto the popular conception of reality — they make sense, causality is there. Others feel meaningful but are senseless. They may be personal and inconsequential, like Didion’s ruined dress, but they feel meaningful all the same.

We have been raised on the popular dogma of the cold materialism of a vacant and cooling universe. This perception of reality has influenced even those who profess belief in God and in divine intervention. People pray for something, and are shocked when the prayer is answered. There is a striving by those who profess faith to prove that reality is not coldly materialistic, but their striving is itself proof of doubt, and their assumptions remain calibrated to this materialistic worldview.

That worldview also leads people to believe that nearly all connections and synchronicities of conspiracy theories are also material and deliberate; that when a film or book foreshadows an actual event, it is proof of an all-encompassing plot – predictive programming. Or that when pandemic simulations are conducted at Johns Hopkins or the Munich Security Conference and pandemics that eerily mirror them occur shortly thereafter, this must be evidence of deliberate orchestration.

But what if reality works fundamentally differently than nearly everyone assumes? Consider this: life imitates art. When emotion and thought are aligned, a force comes into play that affects quantum reality in such a way that events are manifested into existence. That reality is not rational, but poetic. It rhymes. When man lives in accordance with the natural order of Creation, the poetry of reality is beautiful. The muse of creation whispers in his ear. But in our age, it is the enemies of this natural order who most energetically embrace mysticism.

It is not by accident that many of the top nuclear and missile program scientists were tied up in the occult, or that Pfizer executives wore black face masks adorned with the slogan “Science Will Win” when they gathered to hear the trial results of their Covid vaccine; or that the wife of Novavax’s CEO lit candles to a West African voodoo doll while waiting for the results of that vaccine trial.

During the trial of Sirhan Sirhan, he was asked about a certain book that was found in his possession titled Cyclomancy. Sirhan said that the book taught him that you can do anything with your mind if you know how… you can install a thought and have it work in your mind and manifest it into reality. Like many others who delved into esoteric texts to unlock secrets of power, Sirhan likely opened himself up to a dark destructive force — the anti-muse.

The truth is that these practitioners of New Age occultism might not be involved in a central organization, but they are involved in a central conspiracy — just not one of human origin or design. The church laid down mysticism, and the world picked it up. The spiritual war has been lopsided ever since. We now live with the consequences.

Publicity is part of the program. Being drawn into their psychodrama, our fear response amplifies their power. Some are convinced that “exposing” them will bring justice. That if we allow ourselves to become obsessed and figure it all out, things will change. It won’t. Awareness is only valuable insofar as we know the underlying intention and use that knowledge to separate ourselves from the tools of mass control.

Rather than allowing ourselves to be drawn to evil acts, our primary focus should instead be on building arks where goodness and beauty can flourish. Those arks may be an individual, a family, a community, or a country. We may have to face evil in the pursuit of justice, but we must be on guard. As Nietzsche once warned, “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

Benjamin Braddock is an American writer and IM—1776’s Commissioning Editor. He can be followed @GraduatedBen.

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