Conspiracy theories surrounding the Newtown, Conn., shooting reached a new level this week after a viral video exploded online. But is there anything to it?
According to experts, the much-hyped Sandy Hook conspiracy video, entitled The Sandy Hook Shooting - Fully Exposed, offers little but questions and what-ifs.
The video, posted on YouTube channel ThinkOutsideTheTV nine days ago, primarily uses news clips to expose "inconsistencies" in Sandy Hook coverage.
It has been viewed 8.6 million times and counting.
The video opens with a disclaimer, stating it is not claiming Newtown didn't happen, claiming "This is a simple, logical video" created with "just facts."
The only problem? Its "facts" are hard to come by.
"It begins with something everybody can accept, 'We're just raising questions,'" Benjamin Radford, author of "Media Mythmakers," told The Huffington Post.
"The [video] is framed like, 'Don't look at us, we're not saying this crazy stuff, we're just asking questions.' But all they offer are tantalizing 'could be's.'"
He notes that, as with many such theories, "The classic conspiracy theorist sees the hidden hand in everything," yet offers little in the way of actual evidence.
David Mikkelson, founder of myth-debunking site Snopes (dot) com, agrees.
"In any kind of disaster or tragedy like this, if you go through things with a fine-toothed comb, you will find a number of contradictory statements," he said.
"Of course, most of them are cleared up within a few days of the initial reporting, but that's not something you're going to see in these [conspiracy] videos."
Some questions posited by the Sandy Hook conspiracy video above:
- How Adam Lanza's AR-15 rifle got locked in his trunk (later proven to be an extra gun).
- If grieving Newtown citizens are "crisis actors" (Gene Rosen gave a lot of interviews).
- Why memorial sites were seemingly set up beforehand (Google isn't always accurate).
- Victims' parents didn't express the proper level of grief (unsubstantiated conjecture).
Yet simply excerpting certain portions of certain clips, many of which stemmed from the chaotic hours just after the shooting, doesn't tell you much.
In fact, saying there's merit to such claims is "beneath worthless and misleading," Robert Blaskiewicz, co-editor of the blog Skeptical Humanities, said.
Doing so means ignoring (or just rejecting, for no reason other than it doesn't help their cause) "vast quantities of evidence that doesn't support their conclusion."