Jon Ronson

The Allure Of Conspiracy and the Culture War

The Labyrinth of Conspiracies: A Dive into Belief, Skepticism, and the Culture War


Welcome to "Some Dare, Call it Conspiracy," where we delve into the beguiling maze of conspiracy theories that stretch far beyond the realm of hearsay and whispers. In today's exploration, we sit at the precipice of belief and skepticism, guided by our distinguished guest Jon Ronson, an acclaimed documentarian and writer who has traversed these tangled paths.


In this episode, our conversation meanders through the rich and shadowy undergrowth of conspiracies, touching upon not only the beliefs that give them life but also the societal implications they bear. Our journey is filled with anecdotes, insights, and revelations that shed light on the reasons these theories enthrall and divide us. Join us as we uncover the intricate connections between personal experiences, the allure of forbidden knowledge, and the broader fabric of our culture war.


The Allure of Forbidden Knowledge


Conspiracies, by their very nature, suggest the possession of knowledge that is hidden from the common eye—secrets that offer deeper insights into the workings of power or the truths of existence. This allure of forbidden knowledge was palpable in our conversation, as Ronson delves into his observations of conspiracy culture through the documentary "Plandemic," featuring Judy's contentious claims. It's a fascination that captivates many, leading them down rabbit holes in search of elusive truths.


Our discussion with Ronson dissected the fabric of such theories, from David Icke's denial of HIV to the purported rituals of Bohemian Grove. These narratives often hinge on the seductive idea that there is something more to be known—a hidden layer of reality that, once unveiled, can grant a superior understanding of our world. The potency of such stories lies in their ability to challenge perceived norms, drawing adherents into an inner circle of 'the enlightened.'


However, this draw towards the clandestine can sometimes have dire consequences, as epitomized by the failures to replicate Judy's research findings, resulting in her legal battles and fractured relationships within the science community. The human cost of conspiracies can be high, as beliefs harden and the unwillingness to accept counterevidence entrenches participants in increasingly isolated echo chambers. This is a poignant reminder of the responsibilities we hold as podcasters, to tread carefully in the dissemination of ideas that may seem intriguingly forbidden but can lead to disparate paths of division and conflict.


Conspiracy Theories and Their Social Impact


The impact of conspiracy theories extends beyond individual beliefs, permeating the social and political fabric of communities. Jon Ronson's account articulates this influence, especially in the context of Judy's journey from respected researcher to a fugitive of the law. Her tale echoes the broader sociopolitical consequences of conspiracies—how they can shape not just life trajectories but also the collective ethos of entire movements, such as the groups denying COVID's existence with which Judy had a falling out.


As we delved into the Whittemore Peterson Institute's controversial involvement with chronic fatigue syndrome and XMRV, the discussion naturally transitioned towards the influence of evangelical groups on hot-button issues like abortion. The proliferation of conspiratorial thinking has often found fertile ground in these identity-based conflicts, exacerbating divisions and often dictating the political stances of influential groups like the Heritage Foundation and the C Street group.


Moreover, the episode broached the complex interconnections between figures such as Frank Schaeffer and institutions like the John Birch Society, highlighting the ways in which these actors weave themselves into the tapestry of American sociopolitical life. In doing so, they not only influence personal beliefs but also shape the larger narrative that drives societal values and policy decisions—a theme that has recurred in our discussions around the responsibility of influencers to be cognizant of the power of their platforms.


Treading the Fine Line: Identity, Class, and the Culture War


As our conversation with Jon Ronson dug deeper, the underlying issues of identity and class surfaced as significant catalysts in the perpetuation of the culture war. This contention isn't merely about competing ideologies; it's a struggle over the narratives that define who we are in relation to the world around us. Jon articulated how certain issues are wielded to engineer division, with potent narratives spun around topics as divisive as abortion and symptomatic of wider cultural and class conflicts.


The dialogue touched upon the pervasive influence of evangelical groups and the role of figures such as Frank Schaeffer in molding the contemporary evangelical mindset. These movements often employ a binary worldview, categorizing individuals and their beliefs into strict dichotomies, thereby exacerbating tensions. The involvement of groups like the Heritage Foundation and the often-overlooked but influential C Street Group was dissected, indicating a web of interconnectedness that underscores the complexity of the cultural battlefield we face today.


The discussion led us to tackle the roots of the culture war and the societal structures that support it, prompting a reexamination of the well-trodden ground of identity politics versus class struggle. Jon's perspective, in particular, shed light on how focusing on class could provide a more unifying and less divisive way forward. This thoughtful reflection echoes in our podcast's ethos—where we seek not to entrench divisions but to explore and understand the origins and impact of the ideologies that so powerfully shape our worldview.


The Psychopath Tour: Anticipating Jon Ronson's Upcoming Shows


Jon Ronson is well known for his work on psychopathy, and it was fascinating to hear about his upcoming tour as he shared his anticipations and aspirations with us. His effort to offer a new dimension to the understanding of psychopaths in society through storytelling and mystery guests creates a vivid tapestry of the human psyche. It's a venture that promises to delve into the minds of those who walk among us, yet experience the world quite differently.


Ronson's previous tours were met with acclaim, but what's intriguing about the upcoming shows is how they promise to thread together new narratives that haven't been explored before. The tour is a reflection of a society increasingly curious about the darker underbelly of human nature—whether it's the nuanced differences in psychopath markers between the UK and US or the treatment of psychopathic tendencies in psychiatric diagnosis, these are themes that resonate with many of our listeners who seek to understand the psychological mechanisms at play.


Sharing a sense of pride, Jon recounted how one of his past adventures has become the stuff of legend, hinting at the type of engrossing stories one can expect on his tour. With Russell's documentary work often touching upon the paranormal and macabre, such as remote viewing or the Loch Ness monster, his tour will no doubt offer a platform for the kind of critical exploration that aligns with our podcast's mission to challenge widely held beliefs and encourage a deeper understanding of the less trodden paths of human behavior.


The Evolution of Alex Jones: A Case Study in Conspiracy Culture


Alex Jones has been a towering, often incendiary figure in the world of conspiracy theories—a catalyst for significant shifts in the landscape of belief. Our conversation with Jon Ronson included reflections on Jones' transformation from a regional conspiracy theorist to a household name with widespread influence. Ronson's insights into moments like the Bohemian Grove documentary, where Jones' behavior suggested both commitment and opportunism, highlight the complexity of such figures in conspiracy culture.


It was during an encounter in an Airbnb, shared with the likes of Roger Stone and Proud Boys member Joe Biggs, that Jon observed the building blocks of Jones' media persona. This anecdote illuminated the intrigue and danger that can breed within these circles—especially when considering Biggs' later involvement in the January 6 events. As Ronson shared his experiences with the potentially hostile environments he faced, it was a sobering reminder of the personal risks that come with delving into Jones' world.


The narrative of Jones' metamorphosis continues with Josh, a member of his camera team, revealing the incongruences in Jones' public origin story—a childhood marred by violence and bullying. This kind of exposure is crucial, as it peels back the layers of a public figure whose political influence has reached monumental proportions. The financial and personal turmoil that has marked Jones' journey—such as a costly divorce and fluctuating political stances—paints a portrait of a man whose life and work have become synonymous with a movement that often blurs the line between activism and conspiracy.


The Responsibility of Podcasters and Influencers


The conversation with Jon Ronson inevitably brought us to the pivotal and often contentious topic of responsibility. As podcasters, we straddle the line between engaging our audience with thought-provoking material and ensuring the veracity of the content we share. Influencers like Joe Rogan come into the spotlight, noted for their sway in public discourse, often touching upon controversial subjects like COVID vaccines and ivermectin. It's a delicate balance to maintain, where the freedom to discuss and question must be weighed against the potential spread of harmful misinformation.


Our podcast, like many others, has the power to shape perceptions and beliefs. We reflected on Brent Lee's own shift from being entrenched in conspiracy theories to adopting a more critical and discerning approach. This personal transformation is mirrored in the broader dynamics of our listener community, emphasizing the importance of remaining open to new perspectives and continually questioning our conclusions. It is within this spirit of inquiry and reflection that we embrace our platform's potential to enlighten and challenge.


Towards the end of our discussion, the importance of challenging individuals with harmful intentions became evident, regardless of their varying viewpoints. Conclusions drawn on the show are not meant to alienate or polarize, but to invite a reexamination of the narratives we consume. It's about harnessing the power of our platform responsibly—to inform, engage, and sometimes, to recalibrate the compass of public thought. Our mission remains steadfast: to kindle a culture of critical analysis and foster discourse that transcends the seductive simplicity of conspiratorial thinking.




In reflecting upon the myriad topics we've touched on in our conversation with Jon Ronson, a few things become clear. The landscape of conspiracy is neither black nor white but filled with shades of complexity that demand thoughtful navigation. From Jon's insightful contributions on belief systems to Brent Lee's personal transformation, we are reminded of the importance of examining the sources and implications of the theories we entertain.


This episode of "Some Dare, Call it Conspiracy" captures the essence of what our podcast aspires to be—a conduit for genuine inquiry and a space that embraces a plurality of perspectives without descending into the quagmire of unchallenged belief. Whether it's through examining the culture war, dissecting the evolution of figures like Alex Jones, or pondering the influence of psychopathic behaviors, our dedication to critical thinking and constructive dialogue is unwavering.


As we conclude this deep dive, we hope that our listeners are left with a renewed sense of curiosity and the tools to disentangle fact from fiction. The journey through the labyrinth of conspiracies is fraught with twist and turns, but it's a path worth navigating with an open mind and a skeptic's eye. Thank you, Jon Ronson, and thank you to our listeners, for joining us in peeling back the layers of mystery that shroud our complex world. We march onward, together, in the quest for understanding, connection, and perhaps, the truth that lies buried beneath the tales we weave.

Contact Jon Ronson


Jon Ronson, conspiracy culture, COVID-19, blood clot, Alex Jones, Judy Mikovits, XMRV, chronic fatigue syndrome, Plandemic documentary, David Icke, HIV denial, evangelical groups, abortion, Whittemore Peterson Institute, Frank Schaeffer, C Street group, Douglas Coe, Heritage foundation, John Birch Society, live shows in England, Secret Rulers of the World, Bohemian Grove, Roger Stone, Proud Boys, Joe Biggs, Great Reset, World Economic Forum, ivermectin, Joe Rogan, psychopath tour.



00:00 Challenging experience at Bohemian Grove documentary viewing.

09:44 Josh revealed Alex's childhood bullying at party.

16:19 Cult mindset in consumerism and identity formation.

18:35 Show about Judy Mikovits, discover Joseph Campbell's hero's journey.

26:38 Evangelical teen makes powerful anti-abortion documentaries.

31:50 Theory of chronic fatigue syndrome linked to virus.

34:19 Surgeon hears about "Plandemic" during lockdown.

40:12 Excited adventure to uncover a secret society.

45:04 Unfamiliar person gives threatening stare to storyteller.

52:50 Joe Rogan's impact on the world debated.

55:38 Optimism about culture wars and politics fading.

01:02:04 TV researcher used medication to select guests.

01:08:13 Denying reality, withdrawing from community, political events.

01:14:48 Proud of making it upheaving into folklore.