Usually, I just ignore bad TV shows, otherwise I'd spend my whole life complaining about them. But there's a new show that is actually harmful to society, because it perpetuates ignorance and carelessness.
The new series, Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura, debuted last week on truTV, the network formerly known as Court TV. It tackles a different topic each episode, with the former Navy SEAL, pro wrestler and Minnesota governor leading a half-baked investigation of a phenomenon.
The series' debut investigated HAARP, the scientific research facility in Alaska that uses a giant array of antennas to conduct research on the ionosphere. According to the government, that is.
In Ventura's world, the facility is used to change the weather, induce earthquakes and tsunamis and to control the minds of people. Never mind that there's never been any credible evidence that this can happen. In fact, most scientists agree that altering the ionosphere, the uppermost part of the atmosphere, would do nothing more than perhaps disrupt some radio transmissions.
Ventura requested access to the HAARP compound, was denied, and then showed up at the gate demanding admission while the cameras rolled. A poor manager was summoned out there to politely tell him to go away.
"An operation that's run by the Navy doesn't shut out a former Navy SEAL unless they've got something to hide," he barked at the manager.
Well, actually, when the former Navy SEAL in question is a freakin' lunatic, they do.
Future episodes of the series will tackle the 2012 apocalyptic theories, 9/11 conspiracies and "Big Brother."
It's actually not a bad idea for a TV show, and the low-budget ambiance and over-the-top narration by Ventura actually make the program halfway watchable. But if you believe anything that the show tells you, then you need to know that Webster's has removed the word "gullible" from the dictionary.
I enjoy hearing about any and every conspiracy theory, from the chupacabra to the reptilian humanoids who rule the planet to the idea that George Bush personally ordered 9/11. The trouble is that there isn't any evidence to back up any of them.
Let's take the JFK assassination, a subject which I've studied since Jimmy Carter was president. I've read the Warren Commission report as well as its 26 volumes of supporting evidence. I've been to the site of the crime.
After all those years of study, the only possible conclusion to reach is the same one reached by every governmental investigation since 1964: Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK and he did it alone. This is backed up by eyewitness reports, scientific analysis and plain old common sense.
The Mafia didn't do it, Lyndon Johnson didn't do it, nor did the Cubans, Russians or Masons. A mentally disturbed former Marine did it because the president happened to be passing by the office building where he worked.
The only "evidence" proven to be forged in this case are phony documents pointing towards a conspiracy. If there was any conspiracy in the JFK case, it was by individuals in the government trying to conceal the fact they should have known Oswald was unstable.
More recent, and more appalling, is the 9/11 conspiracy movement. Unburdened by any actual evidence, these armchair detectives allege the World Trade Center towers were toppled by explosives and that the Pentagon was hit by a cruise missile instead of a jet.
Some of them even claim that former President Bush ordered the attacks to justify the ensuing war on terror.
Few people despise Bush as much as I do. He bankrupted the economy, provoked an unnecessary war in Iraq and destroyed America's image across the globe. But to suggest he willingly killed nearly 3,000 Americans borders on treason.
Ignore the YouTube videos and Internet manifestos and look at the scientific investigations. They unanimously agree that the events of 9/11 happened more or less the way the government says it did.
The danger with conspiracy theories is that innocent parties are accused of murder, inconsistencies become proof of massive cover-ups and that facts get shoved aside in favor of fantasy.
It's fun to think that there's chupacabras killing livestock or that an alien race controls the fate of humankind. But when these notions are presented as indisputable facts, as they are on Ventura's TV show, it serves only to degrade us all.
That's why I'm tired of conspiracy theories. They keep us from finding out the truth. And that's very, very unfortunate.