We have all heard of conspiracy theories of all kinds. Though some get more airtime then others (such as the 9/11 “Truther” movement, which is still going strong to my amazement 13 years later), there is no lack of other “little” ones. And like there sibling that is theism, there are new forms of it popping up all the time.
Like religion, conspiracy theory thrives on absence, on voids in human knowledge and perception. Religion for the most part, thrives on ones primal fear of the unknown. Conspiracy theory is the same, but also with the addition of thriving on peoples distrust of governments, corporations or any other entity. Some, even work off of inherent bias’s within people (such as racism).
And like conspiracy theory’s closest parallel (many forms of theism), conspiracy theory thrives in the the uneducated. Although I have to say, we have to watch how we use the term “uneducated” in this case.
Because in terms of religion, uneducated usually means a lack of proper schooling. Or a sad new reality (mainly in many US states), no exposure to anything CONTRARY to theistic stances, even in public school.
When it comes to conspiracy theory however, “uneducated” could just mean, uneducated in the sciences/physics/other applicable information to the situation. For example, one could be a well educated person, but may be unfamilier with architectural engineering, which comes into play when it comes to the 9/11 theories of the twin towers. Or to use one familiar to me, I consider myself fairly knowledgeable of many things. But when it comes to marine saltwater biology, deep water drilling and offshore oil cleanup and affects, I am uneducated. All come to play when considering the BP leak of 2010, and all the conspiracies that go along with it (my entry on my bout with conspiracy theory).
Though conspiracy theory and religion are a lot alike, there is a bit of difference. Religion tends to thrive on ones primal fear of death and what lies beyond. Conspiracy theory on the other hand, works more on peoples distrust. Though the biggest entity of distrust tends to be the governments, there are many others as well.
But unlike religion, most conspiracy theories are based around events of modern times. And also unlike religion, some theories can be dis-proven (we come back to the term “educated” here).
But they all have something in common. The common thread in them all, is a void of information (a big reason why government involved theories are the most common). Like religion, often times its impossible to prove it either way, its impossible to prove the theorist wrong.
Unfortunately, many take this information at face value, never questioning any of it. Ive come across many of those, as im guessing you have. The most irritating are those that place themselves on a proverbial pedestal, talking down on you for not seeing something that they do (I admit, I was guilty of this, during my BP oil spill freakout of 2010. Though I kept the thoughts in my head, and didn’t voice them. In hindsight, im very glad of this LOL).
Which is why, whenever I hear something I am unsure about, I try to google information about it, and moreover, I try and correct the misinformation that these conspiracy theorist sheep are feeding me. Like recently, I was told by a theorist that Israel “Nuked” Syria. Finding that VERY hard to believe, I search and searched, and didn’t find a damn thing. Some will say that it was covered up. But whats more plausible:
a.) every single news organization, blogger and tweeter in the world either missed this (or was silenced).
b.) some guy seen the explosion and thought “NUKE!”, and made a youtube video, which was then spread around by hundreds more like-minded folks.
Which brings me to my last part, anonymity of the modern world.
For years, if we consider the 9/11 truther movement ALONE, there are hundreds of theories abound. Theories involving pretty much every government level imaginable. Hell, there are theories involving pretty much every organization you can THINK of that was even REMOTELY connected to the incident. The Federal/state/city government, building owners, airlines, the list is endless. And the more complex the theory gets, the more people that will have to know about it, and keep silent.
The reason I point this out, is because of the shape of anonymity in today’s world. There are many, MANY ways to release information without giving up your identity. Yet, to date, 13 years later, wiki leaks (or any other organization) has NEVER released a single document/transcript/email relating to the subject. Hell, not even a one on one interview with someone who “seen” what happened, has come out.
Though this does not exactly dispel the idea of any of the theories, it should make a person think. Out of everything that wiki leaks released, NOTHING about 9/11, from ANYWHERE.
The lesson here being, be careful with the information you are given, especially if it initially strikes you as hard to believe, or “a stretch”. And a big pet peeve of mine, do not pass information on if you have to say “I heard . . .” before sharing it. You have NO idea how much that annoys me, ESPECIALLY when the words are within an internet forum or group (aka, the person COULD look it up online if they wanted to, but chose to not).
I consider most theories the way I do religion and theism. I often can not prove it either way, but one can not assume fact from an informational vacuum (or void). Being agnostic to a theory that is unprovable is not unreasonable.
Another thing that comes into play quite often, the super connections of our society, the entirety of the globe being connected to everywhere else in real time. Minor and major events happen all over the world all the time, and have always happened throughout history. But until recently, knowledge of those has for the most part, only been localized.
But now in the age of global 24/7 news channels, twitter and the internet, these previously “localized” events are now common knowledge. And one may find themselves “connecting the dots”.
The primary point to this post, is be careful with what you “hear”. Never be afraid to fact check something “hard to believe” that you hear, no matter how trusting the source. And most importantly, if someone hits you with something you know (or are pretty sure, since the line can be blurry) is false, call them on it.
You do not have to automatically take the “wow YOUR A MORON” route, but politely correct them, give them a dose of “reality”. Some may not want to hear it (then you can regard them as morons), but others may find such information useful.
The most important thing, is to educate yourself. Even if others are just in it to be a sheep, YOU don’t have to be!