| Some dare call it|
|What THEY don't want|
you to know!
Predictive programming is a recurring element across many conspiracy theories. The claim is that when conspirators plan a false flag operation, they hide references to it in the popular media before the atrocity takes place; when the event occurs, the public has softened up, and therefore passively accepts it rather than offering resistance or opposition.
The idea originates in conspiracist pareidolia, seeing the real world as a slightly surreal literary construct complete with foreshadowing; the theory is invoked to try to explain why anyone would even do such a thing in the real world.
The main problems with the concept are the ridiculous infeasibility of the conspiracies that would be required, and the contrived nature of the theory itself, where the less realistic an example is, the stronger it is supposed to be. The logical fallacies involved are cherry picking and special pleading.
How it supposedly works
- David Icke's claim that the Sandy Hook shooting was predicted by the film The Dark Knight Rises
- Alex Jones' belief that the Mexican oil rig explosion of 2010 was predicted in the film Knowing
- 9/11 conspiracists see these everywhere.
The theory is used to push implausible claims about the future. The totalitarian US government in films such as The Hunger Games is taken as foreshadowing of such a government in reality. In fact, pretty much any totalitarian government in fiction: predictive programming predicts that people would be more likely to accept the idea based on exposure to the concept in fiction.
That the government is portrayed as a villain to be resisted is said to be irrelevant; mere exposure to a concept is claimed to induce acquiescence to it. Science fiction adds a surrealistic tinge, therefore disarming the public from experiencing it as undesirable.
Conspiracist Researcher Alan Watt explains:
Things or ideas which would otherwise be seen as bizarre, vulgar, undesirable or impossible are inserted into films in the realm of fantasy. When the viewer watches these films, his/her mind is left open to suggestion and the conditioning process begins.
The first problem is the question of why nobody in the entertainment industry has leaked this information out. According to the example from Icke mentioned above, the shot in The Dark Knight Rises showing a close-up of a map with the name "Sandy Hook" visible is deliberate predictive programming. If that were the case, then logically several people involved in the shot would have been in on the conspiracy: the director, the cameraman, whoever obtained a map showing Sandy Hook as a prop, and the stage hand who positioned the map on the table in the right position. Or only 1 person using CGI; just the editor himself, an editorial underling or a single infiltrator.
If plans to commit mass murders are regularly being revealed to the entertainment industry, and the information is apparently reaching low-level workers such as cameramen and stage hands, then surely one of them would have blown the whistle by now?
Unless, that is, they believe that they are just making a film. Quart and Auster point out in American Film and Society Since 1945, Second Edition, pp. 2-3, "The industry is not a mirror of public feelings and habits, nor can one make the vulgar, mechanistic connection that implies that the industry is some evil empire conspiratorially shaping the social values and political opinions of a supine public. There is no question, however, that Hollywood's genius for manufacturing and publicizing seductive images like John Wayne's World War II heroes—icons who had a profound effect on the lives of countless young Vietnam enlistees—should not be minimized. These images often become a substitute for reality for their audiences."
The second problem is the heads-I-win-tails-you-lose nature of the claims: that the less plausible the claims, and the more contrived the link, the more powerful it must be.
- Icke, David (17 December 2012). "Predictive Programming - Sandy Hook in Batman Dark Knight Movie". DavidIcke.com.
- Jones, Alex (10 May 2010). "Predictive Programming? Gulf Oil Rig Explosion in “Knowing”". InfoWars.com.
- "The Lone Gunmen Pilot – 9/11 Predictive Programming". WhatTheProblemIs.com. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- Valentini, John (2011). Imagining 9/11: A Compilation of 9/11 Synchronicities in Popular Culture Pre-September 11, 2001. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
- Hague, Neil. "Catching the Fire Cult - Programming the Young and ‘Predicting the Future’". Retrieved 18 June 2014.
- Watt, Alan (2009). "Predictive Programming: Theory and Practice". Biblioteca Pleyades. Retrieved 9 January 2013.