Interestingly enough, so many people still believe that no one conspires.
Hollywood has taught us that conspiracy theorists are either:
a. people who live in basements and wear interesting headgear
b. villans who meet in dark rooms, and with plenty of hand rubbing and outrageous laughs, plot the end of the world
c. those who spread outrageous theories and are only proved right (or wrong, depending on the plot) when it is too late
And yet, so few people want to believe that in real life, conspiracies do exist. We just refuse to understand what the word actually means.
The dictionary tells us it is “a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is harmful or illegal.” It is also “the act of secretly planning to do something that is harmful or illegal.” Of course, not all conspiracies are illegal – you conspire with your siblings when you don’t tell your dad about the secret birthday party you planned for him. Or when you conspired with your friends about how to make Bobby notice you and the last person who knew was Bobby.
It is a fallacy in our thinking that people do not conspire. They do. And when they do it in front of our eyes does not make it less of a plot. Not everyone owns a lair on an isolated island or for that matter, a basement.
It is up to us to then, to decide what we actually want to believe. Let’s take this as an example:
Someone tells you there is a plot to spike certain foods with sugars designed to make you fat
Someone else tells you that would be impossible to do because no one would be so evil and besides, the time and effort to make it happen would make it impossible
Then the argument goes back – the medical industry would profit from your obesity when you get diabetes, the food manufacturers would profit because they could drop their costs for production by incorporating a cheaper sugar alternative
Then it goes back again – but who would be so evil?
Now, if you listen to all sides of the discussion, you can either
a. research it for yourself
b.read food labels and then make yourself aware of what you are actually eating
c. do nothing at all and tell your friends they are all insane
d. simply listen to whatever the media has to say on the subject
The problem is most people take option d. Not because they are stupid or gullible but because it is the easily accessible option and because they have the inherent belief no one would lie to them. After all, the president is there because he is smarter than you, isn’t he? And your doctor wouldn’t lie to you because he took the Hippocratic Oath. Multi-billion-dollar food concerns wouldn’t lie to you because you are their customer – why would they want to alienate their own consumers? The media can’t lie to you because they are sworn to tell the truth.
The thing is, it depends on whose truth.
“The problem of truth is in a way easy to state: what truths are, and what (if anything) makes them true. But this simple statement masks a great deal of controversy. Whether there is a metaphysical problem of truth at all, and if there is, what kind of theory might address it, are all standing issues in the theory of truth.” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
The media are interpreting a version of the truth. Unfortunately, they also lie – blatant, open lies, the ugly kind that cost people their lives, force generations into pointless wars that bring general misery to everyone. They then come back with “but we thought it was true at the time.” We don’t accept such lame excuses from our children, why do we accept from people who should know better? An honest mistake happens once, anything after that is carelessness.
What is worse, we make excuses for them. The president misspoke, the doctor accidentally prescribed you a medication with addictive properties, the food industry changed the formula after millions suffered adverse health effects proven only after decades of research and the media, well they tell you what they think is true, now. And the people who warned of this conspiracy against your health for years have been vilified, run out of town, ostracised, publically tarred, and feathered. Because we are so inclined to believe no one conspires. (And if you think I made it up about sugars in your food, look up high fructose corn syrup – I will however let you draw your own conclusions).
I believe in reincarnation – that is true in my philosophy. You believe we turn into worm food – that is true in your philosophy. According to our individual philosophies, we are both telling the truth but we have no way to prove we are right. In principle neither of us is wrong. Of course, I could kill you and then you would know if I was right or not but I still wouldn’t know anything so that would be a very bad plan. This is a question then of faith and what you believe. You do not have to believe everything you are told but you should be clever enough to not believe everything you are told. Unfortunately, that falls into critical thinking and that of course is something you are not supposed to do.
“The ability to think critically calls for a higher-order thinking than simply the ability to recall information”. (https://louisville.edu/ideastoaction/about/criticalthinking/what)
Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it?
“Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.” (https://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766)
So, in order to think critically, you must have a higher intellectual capability than other mere mortals, and it seems, to have the ability to use so many words in one sentence that essentially mean the same thing.
In fact, we can all think critically. You do not need to master philosophy or for that matter, have any degree at all. All you need to do is stop allowing others to think for you. You are told day in and day out – believe us, we are telling you the truth, don’t question, we know the answers because we are doctors, politicians, teachers. your boss. We give you all the answers you need. In fact, you never need to think for yourself. Ever. Not once. Listen to what your betters say, and never ask anything. If you follow the “listen to everything, question nothing” way of life, then please stop reading now. I don’t want to upset your tranquility. Just make sure you never question your parents again either. They are after all, older and wiser than you.
The fact of the matter is, we should not live in a world that can tolerate people who don’t question, Human beings are not designed to live in a vacuum. We have only made it this far because we have brains that set us apart from apes. If our ancestors had never asked the questions and become aware of their world, we probably would have died off a long time ago. Just because we have everything served to us on a plate now, does not mean we have earned the righ to stop thinking. Sloth is not a virtue.
This does not make you a “conspiracy theorist.”
It shows you can think.
Questions are there to be asked. Answers are given to promote a discussion. Differences are an avenue for learning and open up more questions to be asked. It is how we learn to think, and above all, how we can learn from each other. Intolerance starts when we stop listening and simply scream out our opinions to anyone who might or might not want to listen. An opinon is nothing more than the middle ground between knowledge and ignorance. We all have them, unfortunately we are lead to believe they are worth more than they actually are.
To understand the world we live in, we have to realise there are shades of grey. By blindly complying you are serving no greater cause. You become part of the problem.
“You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.”Jiddu Krishnamurti
To be a human is to be a conspiracy.