By Benjamin Radford | May 11, 2014 |
Ever since the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, wild conspiracies have circulated claiming that the massacre was a hoax and a fraud. Twenty children and six adults were shot, and grieving families of the dead children have been accused of being paid actors in a scripted drama.
In the weeks and months following the Newtown shooting a loosely formed group of conspiracy theorists called the Sandy Hook Truther movement formed to promote evidence of what it claimed was a cover-up. The specific claims vary from person to person but typically suggest that the school shooting never happened — or if it did happen, it didn’t happen as described in the government’s “official story.”
In a “quest for truth” at a public board of education meeting earlier this week, conspiracy theorists took the opportunity to air their questions and complaints. According to an article in the Connecticut Post, “A dozen or so self-described skeptics of official accounts of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting appeared Tuesday night at the Board of Education meeting, each taking the allotted three minutes to address pointed questions to board members. Wolfgang Halbig, the most prominent member of the group, raised questions about everything from the scale of police response that day to their refusal to accept his expert help in analyzing the event. He suggested that his legitimate efforts to get answers have been thwarted, and accused board members of toeing an official line.”
The Board of Education, to their credit, refused to take the bait and completely ignored the conspiracy theorists. This is often an effective way to deal with conspiracy theories, since any response will be assumed to part of the “cover up” and thus a waste of time. Any contradictory evidence — no matter how conclusive or compelling — can be dismissed by claiming that it’s part of the cover-up. There is ultimately no evidence that would satisfy most conspiracy theorists, and responding to their claims merely gives them publicity and legitimacy.