Friday, April 1, 2011

The Why of Conspiracy Theories

It struck me this morning that conspiracy theorists exist for one solid reason: they want their own existence to have some relevance in the world.  That's not an ignoble goal, just one that has probably taken a course that deviated from reality at some point.  A lot of things are not untrue because they're not testable and falsifiable in a scientific way, but that doesn't also simply make them true as a result.  We live in world with multiple interlocking systems that don't always interact in a way that is predictable.  At times, the sum of all parts involved is greater than the number of parts involved, like our brains!  But the issue with conspiracy theories is that we won't know the truth, and we'll likely never know the truth.  Instead, their practical implication is to elevate people with the highest level of detail and most "relevance" to a cultish status--i.e. high status within a very specific group, and to mark those people as crusaders for some form of truth.  There's always value in truth seeking, depending on how you frame it.  Of course, conspiracy theorists more often than not believe what they're talking about, or they collect fat checks for promulgating drivel, which makes them opportunists with low ethical standards--the point remains that there are indirect benefits to getting very good at believing all sorts of bullshit.

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