More Conspiracy Theories

Just to set the record straight and as a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I am not so naive as to take everything in this world at face value. I realize even paranoids can have enemies.

However, I am not going to lose sleep worrying about vast global conspiracies and shadowy cabals who aim to control the world’s money supply and political power. Those theories tend to be a refuge for the small-minded.

Do I believe that there are forces of good and evil arrayed against each other on this planet? Most definitely. That warfare is primarily a spiritual one, with frequent physical manifestations. Our culture has become more rationalistic in recent centuries, making the obvious less so. Our leaders are reluctant to make value judgements and will choke before they say the word “evil.”

It is too easy for conspiracy theorists to fall into the trap of misreading the signs. Or misinterpreting them. Too many people embrace a victim mentality. Whatever bad that has happened to them is because of circumstances out of their control. They are victims of the conspiracy.

In those cases, it seems logic flies out the window. For exampled, I have been told that the never-ending conflict between Shi’a and Sunni in the Middle East is orchestrated by Western capitalists who want to keep the region from fulfilling its potential. Really? Capitalism thrives in such uncertainty? Not that I have seen. Yes, weapons sales are profitable, but killing off your customers is bad business practice. Could there be religious and local political possibilities in a very tribal region? Of course not. That would make the theory invalid, and the theory is everything.

Just because most conspiracy theories are complete fantasy doesn’t mean businesses and politicians don’t sometimes conspire against the public. A major Canadian grocery store chain has just paid out millions of dollars to consumers after it was caught in a price-fixing scandal. (At least I think they paid out millions – I know I received a $25 gift card, and the chain has lots of customers.)

Most conspiracy theories though don’t hold up under scrutiny. I may be convinced that gasoline retailers in Canada are colluding to keep the prices at the pumps high, but more than one investigation has failed to find any evidence of collusion. Given the number of people who would have to know about such cooperation, and the human ability to keep a secret, I guess Ottawa gas prices are just an example of the free market working as it is supposed to.

As a matter of faith, conspiracy theorists refuse to budge from their beliefs, no matter how convincing the facts. Whether it is the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, or whether Neil Armstrong really did walk on the moon, there is always someone willing to accept unreasonable doubt.

But I don’t have to. And neither do you. We may live in a post-modern, post-truth world, but facts remain important. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

 

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I had a different graphic chosen to illustrate this post and decided against using it. It was classic conspiracy theory – suggesting those liking things as diverse as Starbucks to jazz music were involved in witchcraft. I decided it was just too offensive, even if it did provide a perfect illustration of small minds at work.

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