Conspiracy Theories: The Overview

Posted by courage On December - 27 - 2010

Recently I have been privy to more than a couple discussions, both virtual and in real life about government detention camps.  Much of this speculation and chatter surrounds the canceling of an encore performance (otherwise known as rerun) of a Jesse Ventura, Conspiracy Theory episode entitled “Police State.”

First let me say outright, this type of discussion gives me a wrenching headache.  Theories by their very nature can be void of facts; their sole purpose is to explain a circumstance or occurrence typically based on generally accepted principles independent of the thing being explained.   The connections advocated in theories may be legitimate or they may be based in fallacies of logic.   The fallacies are normally based on a predetermined position by the theorist.  Often times with conspiracy theories, the creator of the logic train places enough factual and verifiable information in its conceptualization to create the appearance of logic and truth.

The creators of conspiracy theories manipulate the fundamental psychological need we have as human beings to make sense of our environment in what is often an unpredictable world.  The inserted aspects of truth add creditability to everything contained in the theory; individuals seldom look below the surface of a conspiracy theory, who has the time?  So when a stated fact appears, individuals tend to assume that everything which follows is also factual.  In order for a theory, even ones with conspiratorial foundations, to be considered viable the facts contained within them must equal logic conclusions.  For the entire theory to be deemed reliable there can be NO aspects of the stated theory which are deliberately misleading or false.

The believers of the theories never attempt to verify facts or for that matter look for potential reasons as to why the theorist makes the claim.  What advantage or benefit does the theorist gain in playing foot loose and fancy free with the truth?  Is there notoriety gained from making claims which only contain a sliver of truth?  Does the theorist benefit financially from the proposed theory or in some way?   It seems that verifying facts or considering potential gains of the theorist never stands in the way of the conspiracy believers.  They are quick jump headlong championing the theorists whether the conclusions made are verified or not.  Believers will defend the theory perhaps because they feel distrustful of the world around them, so everything must involve deception.

There is no doubt that evil exists in the world, as do men with evil intent. Individuals should be on alert for those with evil intent.  The pursuit of truth and knowledge is an ever expanding endeavor and I would suggest one of the cornerstones to our humanity.   Yet everything which happens does not involve a dark shadowed puppet master which seeks to destroy the nation.  Those who continually look under every rock for hidden conspiracies, I would suggest, do so at the detriment of the nation.  Advancing the agenda of weakly constructed conspiracy theories removes the focus from verifiable concerns regarding the nation.

These are a distraction in the pursuit of maintaining our freedom and liberty; instead of utilizing the system for change believers would rather point out the boogey man.  What good does this do in safeguarding the country?  If the claims are entirely true, this is one thing but to run amok yelling the sky is falling when the claims have never been verified is counterproductive to anything meaningful.  Oh yes, I know verifying the claims can become tiresome and time consuming, as well as in my case, head splitting yet to not do so is dishonest each time to further perpetuate the misinformation.

This is a recent statement on a forum board where I participate, it was offered in regards to conspiracy theories:

“Benjamin Franklin said: “There is no idea so dangerous that it cannot be discussed.” Think this over.

Well I have thought this over and have an answer to the unstated question.  Ideas by their nature typically lack a verifiable basis.  Ideas can be whimsical or the very start of some concrete thought or concept; the idea of a representative republic evolved in to the actions which created this country.  Ideas by themselves are not knowledge or for that matter even true, but they can be a starting point to base additional education.  An idea expressed is no more than a bubble blown through a wand inevitably to burst under external pressure.  The idea itself is not the point or end game, the idea is only the most basic of beginnings which lead to further thought, planning, education and action.

When a conspiracy theory is equated with an idea, the premise of the question reeks of intellectual dishonesty. The two concepts are unrelated.. conspiracy theories are often stated as facts which while presented as truth may indeed hold only small slivers of verifiable knowledge, they may manipulate small pieces of truth to reach an end point which the originators of the theory seek.  Ideas on the other hand are loose thoughts which may or may not grow.  Ideas may stimulate the individual to additional thought and eventually action; they are the seeds of all past and future knowledge and advancement.  Conspiracy theories offer nothing in the way of intellectual curiosity, they purpose no action or furtherance and do nothing than distract for the intellectual lazy.  Because seldom do I see believers delve in to the conspiracy theory to see if the premise is based on truth.  On second thought unverified conspiracy theories do have one thing in common, they play on our fears.

Now lets take a look at “Police State.”

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