But how valid is the popular narrative about Jonestown that has left such an indelible mark on society? There is much missing from the official Jonestown story in typical media coverage and popular understandings. If the popular perceptions of this issue were not so selective – leaving out disturbing information that does not fit the accepted narrative – Jonestown’s legacy might have been quite different. At the very least it would be more nuanced, not the simplistic caricature it became that fuelled a moral panic.
If you look a little deeper, there are a lot of anomalies in what happened, which makes what unfolded much more complex, and raises more question marks than certainties. It also raises the spectre of influence or involvement by outside forces. Due to the profound impact this event had on alternative spirituality, it is important to examine it further.
MK-ULTRA AND COINTELPRO
Before going further into what happened at Jonestown, it’s important to give some background on two covert and illegal US government programs which feature in alternative understandings of what may have transpired.