As Mike Rothschild explains in the Daily Dot, like many conspiracy theories, this is a mixture of key fact sheets twisted together with fantastic assumptions. Fires and other accidents (including a couple of plane crashes at food factories that did not affect the plants themselves) are actually real.
In fact, industrial / agricultural fires are quite common in the United States, with the latest statistics showing that there are around 38,000 fires each year, and people who monitor them say there has been no significant increase. Furthermore, there is no evidence that any of the incidents were anything other than an ordinary accident.
However, as Rothschild notes, the recent fires attracted people who saw a conspiracy pattern and began to create lists that spread on social media. “Google Trends data shows that search traffic for related items rose almost from April 19 to a big trend on April 20,” he said.
This date seems to have been a kind of watershed for the spread of the theory, and that may explain why it attracted Carlson’s interest. Rothschild found that the earliest food plant record that became truly viral was published early that day using the account “Dr. Benjamin Bradok, who observed: “Several very large food processing plants have been blown up / burned in the United States in the last few days.”
It then spread to the telegram, where a post later published by Thuletide on April 20 said: “There’s nothing to see here, just every food processing plant, pantry and distribution center in America” accidentally “igniting and exploding. Within a few weeks. “Thuletide’s biography states that the account covers” anti-white hatred “and” racial realism, “both of which are common in the tropics of white nationalists.
The news captured nearly a quarter of a million views on Telegram, and over the next few days it was shared with key QAnon influencers such as Patrick Child, Giovanni Pulitzer, QAnon John and Jordan Setter.
The following evening, April 21, Carlson introduced the theory to his evening Fox News show. With Seattle’s radio presenter Jason Rantz, who promoted the theory on his KTTH-AM show, Carlson began the story by focusing on a plane crash near a Georgia food factory (which didn’t actually affect production at all).
“What’s going on here?” Carlson asked. “The story is getting weirder. Food processing plants across the country seem to be on fire. He then cited other incidents as examples: a fire at an Azure Standard food distribution facility, an explosion at a potato chip factory and an onion packing site in southern Texas.
“So, of course, there are industrial accidents, but there are many industrial accidents in food processing plants. At the same time, the president is warning us about food shortages. They are hit by planes and caught fire. What’s going on here? “
Rant then proved that a conspiracy could take place:
Accidents happen. However, if more than a dozen processing plants and warehouses are destroyed or seriously damaged in the last few weeks, when the food supply is already vulnerable, this is clearly suspicious. This can lead to severe food shortages. So people wonder, well, number one, what’s going on? And people think it could be a deliberate way to disrupt the food supply.
Rant acknowledged that there was a common explanation for all the incidents, but that red flags had been raised due to the rash of such incidents: “To be clear, time is very suspicious. It’s obviously alarming, “he said, but then admitted,” Police say the fires are due to equipment failures, so they don’t claim it was intentional. In any case, it will have a significant impact on our food supply.
Carlson thought the fact that happened in Georgia just before his program was a coincidence: “An hour ago, a plane crashed into a General Mills facility. We have already planned this segment. Sorry, it’s the duty of people who think this is a conspiracy theory to explain what’s going on? I have no clue.”
Two days later, Carlson told the audience about himself Takers Carlson today Streaming an application on Fox Nation:
Dozens of food processing companies across the country have disabilities. Maybe it’s perfectly normal, maybe not, we don’t know. Some of them have caught fire, some have crashed. We have no idea why this is happening. But what you need to know is that it highlights the vulnerability of our food supply, and it is vulnerable for many reasons, not just plane crashes and fires.
And then on Thursday he returned to the subject in the context of the death of a Kansas cattle:
If your country has a food supply problem, your country has a real problem. We do. No one in the administration seems to even notice it, because it has nothing to do with transit rights. But a lot of very strange things have happened lately. Food processing plants have been set on fire, one has been hit by a plane, and the number seems to be unlikely in the wild. More than 10,000 cattle have now died in some way in Kansas.
He invited reporter Matt Fin to the scene in Kansas, who explained that the consensus among livestock farmers and veterinarians was that the state’s 100-degree heat wave was to blame. He interviewed a farmer who explained that the cattle could not cool down at night, but still closed his report with a conspiracy note.
“Now the farmer says there are theories that cattle are being poisoned, and he said all options need to be explored,” Fins said.
Carlson added: “This is, of course, after the mass killing of poultry, which was not reported in many places, but it was huge.”
As with all conspiracy lists, there was a perfectly common explanation: 37 million animals that died on poultry farms this year are victims of an outbreak of bird flu; it is the worst outbreak in the United States, but it is caused by the spread of the virus from wild populations to domesticated pens. A similar outbreak occurred in 2015.
As Rothschild notes, as Carlson popularized the theory, the topic became very common on social media, especially the main right. But he has only been the most visible source of its spread.
Founder of Turning Point USA Charlie Kirk recently joined Twitter to spark fear:
Our food supply is under attack in America. The question is – who?
Right-wing Tim Poole has also joined his popular YouTube show and podcast, which features stories such as “Strange food processing plant fires are emerging in the United States.”
The Alex Jones conspiracy mill with the Alex Jones conspiracy mill has also sparked paranoia with a discussion called “The Food Crisis? Dozens of food processing plants have been destroyed in fires and accidents in recent weeks, “and” the FBI warns of targeted cyber-attacks on food plants following mysterious fires. “
Of course, the conspiratorial congressman Marjorie Taylor Greene was also involved. She took part in the Infowars program with Jones, claiming that Democrats are deliberately highlighting fires so that they can deprive the nation of food that she thinks would be good for them: “The Biden administration and Democrats our farmers, “said Green. “They do it on purpose. They want to be a global economy. They want to be fully involved. And here we have these ‘accidental’, as if accidental fires in food processing plants.
Probably the most productive has been Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit, who has been publishing fears about food delivery almost every day for the past month. He also compiled a list of all “suspicious” recent incidents – about 97 of them so far – describing them as “food factories destroyed during the Baiden administration”.
The theory, of course, has been thoroughly exposed and discredited. Snops tested the theory and found it completely unfounded:
Almost all the fires on the mute lists were for explanatory reasons, and we did not find any suspicious arson. One example concerned an abandoned building, while the other concerned a butcher shop (rather than a large food processing plant). Most importantly, this “trend” is not new. When we looked at the fires in food processing plants in 2021, 2020 and 2019, we found that such fires were quite common and that there had been no conspicuous increases.
US News carefully examined each of Carlson’s and the other incidents and found that each had a common explanation. FactCheck.org came up with identical results and noted that many of the reports exaggerated the actual circumstances, particularly the plane crash incidents, none of which involved aircraft that would have actually seriously damaged the equipment.
A spokeswoman for the National Fire Protection Association, which tracks industrial fires, told FactCheck.org that national figures show more than 5,000 fires a year at manufacturing and processing facilities (not just food plants, from 2015 to 2019). She estimated that there have been about 20 fires in U.S. food processing plants in the first 4 months of 2022, which is by no means extreme and does not indicate anything unusual.
“Recent investigations into these fires seem to be times when people suddenly turn their attention to them and are amazed at how often they happen,” she told FactCheck.org.
Flammable dust research team Dust Safety Science reported that in 2021 alone, there were 163 dust fires and 53 dust explosions at U.S. facilities.
Nor do food experts see cause for concern about the food supply chain in the United States, where there is a consensus that there is no imminent food shortage here for the foreseeable future, although the war in Ukraine will affect it. problem elsewhere in the world.
As for the Baiden administration’s alleged inaction, it seems that Carlson and his anti-Baiden cohorts did not notice that the administration had in fact announced a system for strengthening the country’s food supply chain in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. month.
It seems that the driving force behind the conspiracy theory is not only the right wing’s desire to find any stick to beat the Baiden administration, but also the conspirators’ tendency to see models where they do not exist, especially in the midst of being accidentally and otherwise completely explained. events and phenomena.
The same trend applies to conspiracy theories, such as the chemtrail mythology, which claims that rogue government elements distribute chemicals that infect the population and affect the weather through the ordinary jets that flow into the sky behind air traffic: When people begin to make connections accidental and unrelated phenomena, it helps them create a narrative to match their prejudices about the world as a hostile place to harm and oppress them.
dr. Jan Willem van Prooyen, Associate Professor of Social Psychology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in Amsterdam and author of the book Psychology of conspiracy theoriescalling this trend an “illusory pattern perception”: “It’s about making connections in your mind that combine random stimuli. That’s what pattern perception is,” she told the BBC.
She says “negative emotions” make people start looking for connections that may not exist. “Our brain’s natural tendency to look for patterns intensifies when we are scared and feel out of control,” she said. “We could start to see illusory patterns or connections that don’t exist. So it makes sense that conspiracy theories emerge when these big, frightening events happen, like a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.
Van Prooiijen explains that everyone is involved in making such connections, but conspiracy-minded personalities are often unable to distinguish between models that are real and those that are illusory.
“It’s true that many of these conspiracy theorists are actually quite analytical,” she added. “But I think they’re really starting with emotions, with the feeling that something is wrong. Then they start streamlining it and looking for evidence to support those emotions.