Hugo Talks – a lot: the prominent conspiracy theorist channel that recently found religion Mark Horne The Skeptic

A lot of conspiracy theorists either appeared or became very much more visible in the early days of the pandemic, including Hugo Talks, a prolific video content creator whose long-standing post-rock YouTube channel transformed in summer 2020 into a news commentary channel. 

The videos started out as typical newspaper comments-section complaints about lockdown rules, and turned very quickly into videos decrying “MSM [mainstream media] propaganda” and worrying about the New World Order. 

Hugo makes a lot of videos – sometimes more than one per day – so he has inevitably covered a very wide range of topics, from COVID-19 vaccines and the British Royal Family, to UFOs and insects-as-meat products for kids. There’s quite a lot of “won’t somebody think of the children”, and an increasing amount of religious aspects, as Hugo seems to have become an active Christian during the course of his “research” and videos. 

Although Hugo started on YouTube, where he has 143k subscribers, he is increasingly posting videos exclusively to his website over concerns about them being taken down on YouTube, and he also has substantial followings on other social media sites, including Telegram, alternative video host Odysee and far-right- and conspiracy-theorist-friendly video host BitChute

This also has the knock-on effect of making it harder to write an article covering every one of Hugo’s frequent, varied and interlinked theories, as the YouTube auto-generated transcript function is, obviously, not present on his own website-hosted videos. 

A typical video – like this recent one on smart devices – will take a real news story or issue, in this case the monitoring and privacy concerns that internet-connected devices pose, and run with it –positing a shadowy alternative explanation for the news story. In this particular video, as in many others, he claims that the “fakestream media” like the Daily Mail are part of planned propaganda intended to control and mislead the public. Hugo’s claim is that it isn’t Chinese spying we should worry about, but that of our own government, as these devices are a way for the UK (and the US) government to control their own population. He also throws in some doubt on the claim that Russian criminals were behind the technical problems recently experienced by Royal Mail.

The evidence he presents for his alternative explanation does not rise above the level of insinuation, but mere insinuation can be effective to a casual audience, as there are genuine concerns here: we do know that Amazon does have recordings of chats you had around the house; UK energy companies do find it easier to switch you to prepayment if you are on a smart meter; newspapers do often publish press releases uncritically; and western intelligence agencies do have a far-from-unblemished record. 

None of this, however, is evidence that the Royal Mail cyber-attacked themselves, or that a meta-government is orchestrating the promotion of pointless smart devices as part of some nefarious plot. It’s the 2023 equivalent of some bloke down the pub telling you he reckons there’s something fishy going on, except instead of a table of very tolerant friends, he has an audience that can be as large as the population of Preston. 

Even with such a large audience, it may not be so bad if a few thousand people are convinced not to buy an internet-connected egg counter, but other videos delve into more unpleasant territory, from speculation about media coverage of the disappearance of dog-walker Nicola Bulley, to a claim that climate change science is “gobbledygook” and part of a secret plan to form the basis of a one-world religion

Which leads us to the people who Hugo seems to think run the world: Satanists – seriously – and the World Economic Forum. 

In one recent video on the World Economic Forum, Hugo describes the United Nations as “Luciferian” (over images of Baphomet!) and says that world leaders’ enthusiasm at forums like the World Economic Forum for a “New World Order” and a “new international rules based order” are intended as a replacement for the old rules, which they want to throw away. What old rules is Hugo referring to? 

The moral and ethical blueprint that we have all lived under is the Ten Commandments. It is God’s moral law and our rules stem from that.

Obviously not everything that is often considered immoral is also illegal (and vice-versa), but accepting that law and morality do obviously intersect, what are we to make of Hugo’s claims?

It isn’t clear whether Hugo believes that the law stemming from the Ten Commandments is true of, for example, China, which is one of the five permanent security council members of the UN, and home to almost 20% of the entire world population. China, a country where just 3% of people follow an Abrahamic faith, is unlikely to have the Ten Commandments as the basis of most people’s moral code. 

However, and surprisingly (for your non-legally-trained author at least), like most countries in the world, China does in fact use a European/Roman Empire-inspired legal code, with additional influences including both the Confucian-influenced Great Qing Legal Code and a socialist legal system. Obviously neither Confucian nor socialist ethics and laws are dependent on the Ten Commandments.

So, while it is obvious that the Ten Commandments are not the basis for the morals, ethics and laws we have all lived under – to repeat, there are really rather a lot of Buddhists, Hindus and non-Abrahamic groups in the world – if we are to be as fair as possible to Hugo, we should at least consider the civil law and common law influence on the majority of legal systems of the world. How far have these systems been influenced by Christianity, and more specifically the Ten Commandments?

Countless books and articles have been written on the influence and origins of law, including opinions that argue for and against the influence of Christianity, Mosaic Law and the Ten Commandments, but it seems uncontroversial to say that modern civil law is based on Roman Law. This was codified by Christian emperors like Justinian and Theodosius, but these codes also incorporated plenty of pre-Christian Roman law, and also later developments in European civil law such as the Napoleonic Code, which explicitly sought to remove any vestiges of religion or superstition from the law. 

English common law – based on customs and precedents – came together after the Norman conquest, and gradually overturned the existing Anglo-Saxon law, which was itself influenced by, but not wholly based upon Christian teachings, having arisen at a time when – of course – plenty of Anglo-Saxons were pagans

Indeed, the general direction of religious influence on law moves from a clearer separation of church and secular matters in mediaeval times and earlier, to greater religious influence in the early modern era. In Sweden, for example, the Ten Commandments was actually incorporated into criminal law in 1608, but that was pretty much the high watermark. Even in Reformation England, where witchcraft and sodomy were criminalised in the 1500s, such a wholesale incorporation of Mosaic Law was rejected as going too far. A lot happened in the next 400 years, but we all know that the influence of religion on law then waned significantly as we get closer to the present day. 

If we focus more specifically on the Ten Commandments, it is hard to see exactly which of these Hugo thinks are about to be overturned by this satanic conspiracy. Let’s consider the Church of England’s version of the list: 

I am the Lord your God: you shall have no other gods but me.

That ship has long-since sailed; virtually all countries theoretically permit freedom of religion by law, although there are of course a number of states which have a pretty unpleasant record regarding religious freedom. 

You shall not make for yourself any idol.

I’m sure there have been rules banning idolatry in the past, but modern culture, for better or worse, has no problem at all with idolatry. 

You shall not dishonour the name of the Lord your God.

Sadly, this is still an issue with many countries maintaining laws against blasphemy, some of which involve the execution of the offender. I’m curious as to whether Hugo wants this to be once more illegal in England and Wales (it still technically remains on the books in Scotland and Northern Ireland).

While there have been several resolutions where member countries at the UN sought to create what was effectively an international blasphemy law, the UN Human Rights Committee more recently adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and says that countries with blasphemy laws are in breach of their obligations. Hugo therefore gets a full point here, as the UN is trying to stop this being illegal, albeit a pretty hefty caveat I’ll come to later.  

Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

Again, there’s no need for a satanic plot as this commandment is already a goner – if we take Sunday opening of shops as a loose proxy indicator, most countries either never had laws about this, or have repealed them.

Honour your father and mother.

Sure, generally speaking this is good, with some obvious exceptions; some people do have really awful parents. I’m unclear on exactly how this relates to the law, in Hugo’s theory. The UN is in favour of the rights of the child, which some people do see as threatening to parents, so perhaps we can give Hugo half a point here (only half though, as the UN is not specifically against honouring your parents!).

You shall not commit murder.

Murder was, unsurprisingly, illegal in codes prior to the Ten Commandments, such as that of Ur-Nammu, more than 4,000 years ago. Even if every current believer was to abandon Christianity tomorrow, my money’s on murder remaining a bit of a taboo. 

You shall not commit adultery.

This was also illegal prior to Moses. Thankfully, such laws, which were historically used to primarily target women, are not in place in a majority of countries. The UN is publicly against laws banning adultery, but as this law did not arise because of the Ten Commandments, Hugo gets another zero here. 

You shall not steal.         

Laws against theft are found as early as Hammurabi, thereby predating Moses by perhaps 400 years. Much like murder it seems hard to imagine this prohibition changing. 

You shall not be a false witness.

Also illegal under the Code of Hammurabi, and while we no longer execute perjurers, this is a law that’s quite obviously staying. 

You shall not covet anything which belongs to your neighbour.

This isn’t a crime, as we can’t see into people’s minds. Even believers point out that coveting is a sin, not a crime to be punished by earthly judges. 

From a possible ten, Hugo gets a point and a half. 

Beyond the list, and I’m aware that I’m far from the first to point this, out: many laws and morals which we all consider of extremely high importance in 2023, from slavery to sexual assault, are nowhere to be found in the Ten Commandments. 

I said I’d come back to that full point I gave Hugo, as the UN is arguably seeking to remove the prohibition on dishonouring the name of God. Blasphemy is a law that exists in many jurisdictions, and it does seem somewhat attributable to the Ten Commandments. As mentioned earlier, in the same video, Hugo says: 

They want a one-world religion so they can get away with things that would not be allowed under the Ten Commandments.

The UNHRC call for an end to blasphemy laws is specifically demanding that people have the freedom to worship and believe as their conscience dictates: the precise opposite of a one-world religion. 

Hugo does talk, a lot, to a fairly sizeable audience, but little of what he says makes much sense under the lightest scrutiny.

The post Hugo Talks – a lot: the prominent conspiracy theorist channel that recently found religion appeared first on The Skeptic.

Popular conspiracy channel Hugo Talks has taken a hard pivot into Christianity, but the supposed ‘one-world religion’ isn’t about to be imposed by the UN any time soon
The post Hugo Talks – a lot: the prominent conspiracy theorist channel that recently found religion appeared first on The Skeptic.