It's natural for people to concoct conspiracy theories when the truth is so often difficult to uncover. But it's also very dangerous.
Sometimes, when people look to make sense in an insane world, they concoct a conspiracy theory. It’s a natural human trait, to try and explain the inexplicable. We live in a world where government, corporations, and the media, both liberal and conservative, inform us according to their own agendas.
Again, this a natural thing for people to do. To not trust everything we hear from corporations, banks or politicians is imperative. This isn’t a new situation. We must be willing to question what we are being told. We have been blatantly manipulated on a repeated basis, so there is a precedent for all of us to question “official” stories to events.
Need an example? The Iraq war. Bank bailouts. Bernie Madoff. Iran Contra. Watergate. The list goes on and on and on. Google what the CIA gets up to, or the FBI. How about the NSA? There is seriously wonky stuff going down all the time. And most of these dubious dealings get squirreled away.
Scandals stay in the closet for a while, but they don’t stay there forever. Eventually, somebody stumbles across those skeletons. Whether it be by accident, or somebody slipping up, cover ups will always come to light. They can only stay swept under a rug for so long.
The truth almost always takes time to fully come to light. Aggravatingly, that can take more than your lifetime. But we’ve all heard how a lie can cross the world before the truth can get out of bed. A bitter truth is better than a sweet lie, but the reason people go for that lie is because it’s there, it fits at that moment, and it tastes good.
That’s the reason fast food is so popular, after all. The whole appeal of going to Burger King is because it’s ready. Now. No work. Five bucks. Done. Next!
And that’s how a conspiracy theory will become prominent. It provides an answer. It’s probably not a correct answer at all, and far from the real cause of whichever event is in question, but it’s ready. Now. No work. Plug it in and go. Done. Next!
Boy, and truth is just a pain in the butt too, isn’t it? It’s never exactly what we want to hear, takes too long to get to us, and it’s not an easy thing to swallow sometimes. Truth is hardly ever revealed immediately, neither is the whole story of it revealed all at once. Instead, it’s got to be deduced and pieced together over a long period of time. People want and demand answers, but instant gratification is not confirmed verification.
Errors are a big part of the truth finding process too, just for fun. Something gets mis-stated. Somebody mis-spoke. Corrections need to be made, clarifications need to be made clearer, and at the end of the day the truth may still be something nobody wants to hear anyway.
But does the process of drawing out the truth mean that there’s a conspiracy? If those in the media don’t tell us what we want to hear, is that a conspiracy? If facts get missed, or are hurriedly rushed out to us, does that necessarily mean that there are dark forces working to form our perceptions in a way conducive with their agenda?
We have all entertained conjecture regarding news stories. We’ve all made wild guesses as to why things happen the way they do. Sometimes we even get it right. Sometimes we take it too far.
Have there been conspiracies? Absolutely. History proves it. Humanity is rife with examples of small groups of people persuading a larger group to conform to their agenda. They find buttons to push, slogans to be chanted, and propaganda to be distributed. An easy way is to incite resentment against another group of people. The targeted population needs to show only the smallest differences, whether it be gender, race, religion, economic class, sexual orientation, or point of origin. You have your dog whistles. Your “War on Whites.”
If you don’t believe this, read some Jonathan Swift. Gulliver’s Travels is more widely recognized as a children’s story these days, but Swift was actually a brilliant satirist. His specialty was emphasizing just how little it takes for one group of people to target another. In the original story about Gulliver, wars would be fought over disagreements on how people enjoyed their boiled egg. “Big-Enders” vs “Little-Enders.”
That’s a ludicrous example of course, but now apply that to the United States. A small group of people created financial chaos. The economy crashed. An unjust war was launched thereby creating the enemy that was not there previously. But a larger group of people, for the most part conservative whites, instead blame the nation’s issues on the poor, ethnic Americans, immigrants, and so on and so forth.
And right-wing ideologies aren’t alone in falling for this. The anti-vaccine movement and the damage it caused was primarily supported by left-leaning people and spearheaded by Jenny McCarthy. And although she is desperate to distance herself from the anti-vaxxer movement now, the damage has already been done.
A colleague has repeatedly pointed out the conspiracy theory cornucopia found on the website The Mind Unleashed and it’s enormously popular Facebook page. Content forwarded by MU is targeted for a progressive audience. But hidden amongst the liberal-friendly links are stories about chemtrails and, yes, anti-vaxxer nonsense.
The common factor in both cases, liberal and conservative, is that they are both large groups continuing to believe in blatant fallacies. A conspiracy theory about the President being a Muslim Nazi Terrorist leads to one about microchips getting inserted into populations, while others go on about chem trails or any number of tin foil hat lunacies until both groups are talking about lizard people. None are true or beneficial to anyone. Yet people with opposed ideological views can find commonality in conspiracy theories, even when they can’t agree on anything else.
Left unchecked, these groups can become cult-like in mentality, using their nonsense to bend laws, religions, even reality itself to fit their specific view of the world. That way lies madness, that does nobody any good, including, ultimately, conspiracy theorists themselves.
The important thing to note here, is that although there have been conspiracies, not everything is a conspiracy theory. This is the detail that is constantly overlooked in these situations.
The good news is that actual conspiracies unravel, usually quicker than you’d expect. The reason is because cover ups involve real people, not perfect machines. That’s why we found out about Watergate, Iran-Contra, and Wall Street malfeasance. Somebody runs their mouth. Somebody doesn’t cross a T or dot an I. Next thing you know, it’s leading the news.
The bad news is that, again, the truth is usually not quickly forthcoming. And as a species, humanity is wont to jump to conclusions and take action based upon a false precedent. This in turn can lead to cover ups as perhaps an electorate will feel lied to when the truth is revealed at last. And away we go again. Do you see the pattern? Kind of circular, if you need a hint.
Yes, there are secrets in this world. No, most of us are not now, nor will we ever be, privy to the upper echelons of power on this planet. Is it a fact of life that we will never know the entire truth behind the workings of this world? Yes. Does this mean everything is a conspiracy? Only sometimes, and then, not for long.
Honestly, it would be comforting to believe that somebody or a group of somebodies is pulling the strings of the world. That would lead to the conclusion that there’s somebody in charge after all, and maybe they have some idea of what they’re doing.
But the truth is simply that those who would be the Illuminati are more likely to fumble any huge cover ups. It all comes to light sooner or later. It’s just that humanity isn’t very patient.
The world is not a transparent place. Neither is it unreadable. Sometimes it’s one or the other and sometimes it’s both. Corporations, media, governments, your family, or even yourself, all of us, we can be forthcoming or secretive. It’s human nature.
Therefore, it’s wise to take a grain of salt along with States of Unions, Official Opposition Responses, press releases, advertising, media, what your kids told you happened in school, and blog sites. Yes, including this one too.
The best approach is to expand your avenues of information. Different newspapers will tell you different things about the same situation. Depending upon which cable news network you are tuned into, you will get completely different stories about the same event.
This is not a new phenomenon. The Japanese film Rashomon shows an event from different people’s points of view. Each is a unique tale. The film coined the term The Rashomon Effect to label these circumstances.
A conspiracy theory is born out of the natural human need for immediate answers. They become dangerous when people subscribe to them zealously enough to ignore truth. A lie can be comforting. It can tell you what you want to hear, and if someone intrudes upon that comfort, as false at it is, there can be terrible consequences. Conspiracy theorists don’t see themselves as liars because to them, they aren’t, they see themselves as serving a higher purpose.
The truth is, simply, that incompetence, greed, and unfortunate happenstance are to blame for most of the world’s problems. There’s no comfort in that. It certainly isn’t fair by any means. The world is a chaotic place, filled with individuals creating unique situations and issues that are difficult to perceive objectively.
That conspiracy theory you cling to won’t hold water after a while. It can’t shield you from something you don’t want to face. Not for long, anyway. Once it’s shattered, you will have to deal with the truth anyway, so you may as well just save yourself that step.
“Conspiracy theory is the ultimate refuge of the powerless. If you cannot change your own life, it must be that some greater force controls the world.” ~ Roger Cohen