Today I saw a tweet about another food facility fire, at a Perdue Farms facility in VA: Chesapeake Fire responds to industrial fire at Perdue Farms facility. The last line in this report is important, but it’s doubtful that part will play any part in how this story feeds alarm among the people invested in the belief there’s some grand conspiracy behind these fires. Here’s the last line in that news report:
“According to a plant manager, the damage from the fire will have minimum impact on their operations.”
This post is going to elaborate on something I wrote in a blog post last week and it’s about latching onto conclusions about events that fit what we already believe, without any real facts to support the conclusions. Here’s what I wrote:
“With all the economic bad news and worries, a lot of people rush into believing any conspiracy theory that gets passed around online, with no real evidence that events are even connected. For instance, last week the headquarters of Azure Standard, a popular distributor of organic and health food, used and promoted by many YouTube homesteading and prepper channels, burned down. Within hours there were people on YouTube and other social media running wild with a conspiracy theory linking the Azure Standard fire to other food company fires. It was all innuendo about “a lot of fires with food places happening” and rumors run amok.
It seems there are lots of people who want to buy into grand conspiracy theories without any evidence or waiting for an investigation.”
Yes, it’s possible that Azure Standard fire was connected to other fires at food supply facilities and yes it could be part of some nefarious effort to harm the American food supply, but there are some things it’s worth considering before leaping to those two conclusions and in the second case assigning blame to either hostile foreign actors or domestic entities you distrust.
First, it’s worth waiting to allow some time for an investigation into the cause of the fire and then determine whether it was an accidental cause, a result of some mechanical problem, a human error mistake that created the conditions for the fire or a criminal act. And if it was a criminal act, well, then that requires more investigation.
Just a news report of a fire does not give anyone enough information to determine the cause and it’s certainly not enough information to state it’s part of a larger conspiracy.
I refer to this way of leaping to conclusions as the Glenn Beck circles of conspiracy theory-building. I was fascinated by Beck’s FOX show chalkboard diagrams, adding more and more pieces to an ever growing conspiracy theory that was built on making specious and often absurd connections between his “pieces” on his conspiracy puzzle. In the center of most Beck conspiracy theories was Barack Obama, who was the face of American subversion to many on the American right for 8 years.
Before continuing, I absolutely disapproved of most Obama policies and I do believe many of the people, including Obama hold views and support policies that are antithetical to American constitutional principles and disastrous for American personal liberty and prosperity. I also believe plenty of people in the Obama circle do embrace a far-left ideology that pushed using crisis (real or manufactured crises) to propel their policies forward. However, the Beck diagrams drew endless tenuous connections between people and events that were often absurd and ridiculous, while pushing a conclusion that none of these connections actually supported or proved.
A whole lot of people on the right bought into the Beck chalkboard antics and here’s the thing, some of Beck’s conclusions fit my political views and beliefs, so I didn’t say, “Whoa, that’s stupid or that doesn’t make any sense,” until long after Beck left Fox and started his online show, which I subscribed to for a while. It took until 2013, when Beck had a total con artist, with a criminal record for fraud, on his show, selling setting up a community of like-minded people in Idaho called The Citadel, that did not even exist yet – the con artist was recruiting people via a Skype interview process, where prospective residents were interviewed to see if they were a good fit and then these people would be required to start sending monthly payments to raise money to purchase the land for this oasis of “freedom.” That Beck gave this con artist a platform on his show and legitimacy was the end of my Beck subscription or listening to anything Beck says.
With the Azure Standard fire and other recent food production-related fires, I’ve seen a US map presented by some people online, with locations of recent fires of food facilities dotted out and their conclusion is a mass conspiracy attacking our food supply. The problem with a map like this is I don’t know how many fires at food facilities usually happen in that timeframe. I don’t know what the fire investigation reports of each of those fires concludes. I don’t know if there’s any evidence of connections between the fires, let alone blaming some bad group – hostile foreign entities or domestic entities.
I saw this report on the Azure Standard fire this morning:
“The Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal has determined the cause of the Azure Standard headquarters building fire to be an accident, rather than an act of arson. According to a press release from Azure Standard, the fire was related to a tote of rolled corn being temporarily stored in a cooler due to oversupply at the company’s warehouse.
According to the fire marshal, the fire could’ve started one of two ways: The corn could’ve started smoldering on its own due to moisture content, causing it to combust, or the tote or dust from the corn could’ve come into contact with an electrical outlet, causing it to short and igniting the corn.”https://www.columbiagorgenews.com/news/azure-headquarters-fire-ruled-an-accident-caused-by-tote-of-corn/article_0943e3de-c5ab-11ec-83c5-4f58cbbaafa6.html
I seriously doubt many of the people online selling the “lots of fires” conspiracy theory have done some searching into the aftermath of investigations into the causes of these fires, because they’re already sure it’s a big conspiracy attacking our food supply. I just prefer to gather more information, before deciding, because that’s my contrarian nature. I’m like this about a lot things, especially when “experts” conclude things, I tend to go digging around and reading reports and stuff, to see if the evidence really backs their certainties. And yes, the possibility of a big conspiracy to attack our food supply is possible, especially in light of the economic warfare playing out around the world. The massive sanctions against Russia by the West and Russian and China stockpiling grain and trying to wage economic war against the West could lead to attacks on our food supply, but I still prefer evidence that’s behind this spate of food facility fires
Conspiracy theories flourish with people believing in some omnipotent evil powers that be. And sure, there are plenty of powerful people and groups, who do things or promote things or push public policy that I think are bad, but that doesn’t automatically make a case that these fires are the work of any of these people or groups.
If you leap to sweeping conclusions devoid of any real evidence or even much in the way of specific information and then run around in fear and panic, even making rash personal decisions based on these conclusions, you lose your most precious freedom too. You’ve allowed fear to rob you of control over your mind.
It’s easy to get swept up in emotion with so many serious political and economic problems swirling about. It’s hard to calmly sift through the information overload and constant chorus of people shouting, “Fire!” in an already overcrowded theater filled with flame-throwing partisans on social media and on the news. I’m still working on not overreacting to the constant inferno of bad news, innuendo or buying into conspiratorial-thinking scorching the media landscape daily (phew, a flaming pile of bad puns in this paragraph, sorry, I got carried away).
Asking more questions helps me sort things out. I also stopped relying on “so and so” said to sway me, because “so and so” lives in the same information wasteland I do and I know I’ve bought into news stories that turned out to be bs and it can happen to anyone.
After the 4 years of non-stop media hysteria about President Trump/Russia Collusion insanity and the almost daily breaking news that turned out to be false stories by the mainstream media, I try now to wait at least 24 hours to see what other information shakes out. It wasn’t only Trump news though. ABC ran a video of a firing range in KY with a story they were reporting on about fighting in Syria. How that mistake happened, they never said. The most upsetting false reporting to me was Dem and liberal media hacks on Twitter blaming the US military for Iran shooting down a civilian Ukrainian airliner in January of 2020. I was on Twitter that night and wrote a blog post about what happened. Iran had lobbed missiles into Iraq that night, targeting US soldiers and then Dem mouthpieces started blaming the US military (and Trump) for creating a “fog of war” and some were tweeting about the “crossfire” caused the Iranians to mistakenly target that civilian airliner. The thing was US soldiers were attacked in Iraq and the US fired no missile at Iran that night, ZERO. There was no “crossfire” or “fog of war.” Those Dem spin hacks chose to spread spin blaming the US and making excuses for Iran – that disturbs me to this day.
The deterioration of our news reliability and the constant deluge of online information can distort reality more than clarify anything. I’ve found taking some screen breaks helps. It’s hard to break free of that, especially with so many serious events unfolding around the world right now, but it’s worth the effort to keep working to free our minds of the daily information overload.
My parents used to admonish me for rushing around in the house, “Slow down, are you on the way to a fire?” They were right about slowing down. With the always online world we live in, it’s our minds that do all that racing around now, not our legs. I had a bad habit of trying to rush up and down the stairs and tripping myself up. I either banged my shins rushing up or tripped and fell down some steps. I never gained a single thing for all that rushing.
Slow down a bit.
Note: Had some glitches using the editing program, so I’ve been making changes, sorry about that.