Predictive programming

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Some dare call it
Icon conspiracy.svg
What THEY don't want
you to know!
Sheeple wakers

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[edit]

The theory is used to push implausible claims about the future. The totalitarian US government in films such as The Hunger Games series is taken as foreshadowing of such a government in reality.[1] 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.

Of course, that said government is portrayed as a VILLAIN (i.e to be resisted/defeated/destroyed/etc) is said to be irrelevant. Mere exposure to a concept is claimed to induce acquiescence to it.[1] Science fiction adds a surrealistic tinge, therefore disarming the public from experiencing it as undesirable. Conspiracist Researcher Alan Watt explains:[2]

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.

List of examples[edit]

Examples include:

  • David Icke's claim that the Sandy Hook shooting was predicted by the film The Dark Knight Rises[3]
  • Alex Jones' belief that the Mexican oil rig explosion of 2010 was predicted in the film Knowing[4]
  • 9/11 conspiracists see these everywhere.[5][6]


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.

If a shot involves computer-generated imagery, a lot of people would still need to be involved in the conspiracy. CGI is a technologically intense process, and it's usually split into different stages for division of labor. To make CGI, you need pre-visualisation artists to prepare preliminary mockups, model artists to create 3D assets, texture painters and shader developers to give those assets color, animators to make those assets move, lighting artists to ensure everything is lit up correctly, and editors to composite it all together. All these people typically work in teams, and there's usually someone around to coordinate different departments together on effects.[7] Each and every one of them would have be in on the conspiracy, because it's pretty much impossible for a lone infiltrator to insert something without somebody noticing.

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?

Going even further, wouldn't it simply be easier to not just put things in them at all? The idea of openly putting in breadcrumbs that lead to knowing what their plans are in movies, let alone ANY conspiracy, makes the supposed villains look incompetent with their secret nature.

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.

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hague, Neil. "Catching the Fire Cult - Programming the Young and ‘Predicting the Future’". Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  2. Watt, Alan (2009). "Predictive Programming: Theory and Practice". Biblioteca Pleyades. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  3. Icke, David (17 December 2012). "Predictive Programming - Sandy Hook in Batman Dark Knight Movie". 
  4. Jones, Alex (10 May 2010). "Predictive Programming? Gulf Oil Rig Explosion in “Knowing”". 
  5. "The Lone Gunmen Pilot – 9/11 Predictive Programming". 12 December 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  6. Valentini, John (2011). Imagining 9/11: A Compilation of 9/11 Synchronicities in Popular Culture Pre-September 11, 2001. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  7. What Is CGI? - Everything You Need To Know, Nashville FIlm Institute. Retrieved July 18, 2023.