I’ve been creatively stuck over the last few weeks. Not because I have a lack of ideas – rather, like a piece of flotsam which cannot escape the turmoil of currents at the bottom of a waterfall, there has been too much going on too quickly for me to gather and post my thoughts.
Epstein, China, Google and the 2020 election (link provided as a reminder for a later post), mass shooters and their manifestos/motives…
Taking a moment to look back at my thoughts on conspiracies and those who subscribe to such theories, I found that my ideas have never really been specified:
Where is the line between skeptic and conspiracy theorist?
Is there a difference in doubt and sensing possible disinformation?
Actually, it’s pretty genius – flood the internet with crazy talk and silver hats, and no one will believe anything ever again…
10Sep2016 (On the topic of 9/11 being a hoax):
One topic, however, which rankles me to no end is the whole “conspiracy” angle. You want to believe that, go right on ahead. Ask yourself a couple of questions, though:
1) If you are right, then what?
2) If you are wrong, then what?
15Apr2019 (While noting the uptick in possible causes for the Notre Dame fire):
Hypothetically, if the conspiracy theorists were right (and if you know me, you know how much I hate that group), what would the repercussions be?
Do you understand how much hate there is in the world (yes, the world beyond U.S. politics) towards “others”?
Do you appreciate how such theories accelerate emotions to beyond any rational level of emotion?
The contemporary and past notion is that “theory” and “fact” are much different in the arena of public opinion… and therefore, both constitute some of the oldest “soft” weapons we have used against each other. However, just like every tool in our species’ bag of tricks, there has been a rapid evolution of skepticism in the form of conspiracy theories.
Here is an interesting set of questions for the reader, and I want you to actually ponder these for a bit:
What is the oldest conspiracy theory?
Who believed the theories, and why?
Who doubted the theories and what proof did they offer?
What effect did it have on the local and wider societies?
I have ideas on the answers, but I cannot offer them at the moment out of concern that in doing so will influence your own… and that’s sort of the crux of the issue: what is fact for me due to how I see things may be more influential on your own views on a topic than I had intended.
Going back to my original idea, in a nutshell (pun most definitely intended), the best way to discredit someone or a story is to hint that it is either a direct conspiracy or to even hint along the lines of “I’m not a conspiracy theory person, but…”
It is an interestingly effective tactic: by lumping an idea into the realm of UFO’s, remote viewing, and telekinesis, there is very little that the person with the mildly unconventional perspective can offer in defense. Even the most rational person who ventures into this territory often fails to notice the fine print or subtle body language tells noting “here be dragons” as they venture off in confident doubt.
Dave Bowman’s recent podcast – “Inspirational Cat Posters” – touched on something I have been fascinated by for some time: the crafting of perception:
…[W]e as human beings in our human nature… we tend to look at things that I guess makes sense to us on the surface rather than paying attention to the reality of the situation and that’s where it goes all wrong, doesn’t it?
Indeed, we have seen a similar question of perception as either a minor or major element of movies such as “The Matrix”:
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
As well as “The Wizard of Oz”:
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”
On this blog, I have a tab labeled “Commentary.” Originally, it was “Opinion” but the more I looked at what my angles were, the more I realized that my perspective mattered less than what I was choosing to focus upon. On the controversies with unconventional possible explanations, I tend to find humor in both the scope and contributions they garner… but there is always a low-frequency buzz of discomfort in knowing that there are folks out there who think in absolutes when it comes to the concept of knowing the “truth”… or whatever version they cherish the most.
At the moment, I am working my way through three books: Hitler’s U-Boat War by Clay Blair, The Grand Scuttle by Dan van der Wat, and Public Opinion by Walter Lippmann. While all three are seemingly unrelated, the introduction of Lippmann’s 1922 book incorporates Plato’s Cave and elaborates nicely within the first few pages:
In the same way we can best understand the furies of war and politics by remembering that almost the whole of each party believes absolutely in its picture of the opposition, that it takes as fact, not what is, but what it supposes to be the fact.
History and contemporary issues are pictures of opposition… it is up to us to understand the difference between fact and convenient fabrication. Will we ever know the various aspects of “truth” in what happened long ago or a few hours ago?
No. Not really… but it makes for an interesting study of perspective and veracity.