Conspiracy “Theories”


Those who choose to believe in the existence of “secret” societies with global agendas often make appeals to “evidence”. They often reject any form of reasoning against such beliefs by repeated appeals to “evidence”. These appeals are never articulate and are more often then not followed not by reasoning in support of this or that “theory”, but by a link to a YouTube video or some other internet “resource” that somehow carries the weight of “proof”. Those of us who reject this pseudo-reasoning, no matter how articulate, are more often than not dismissed as “close-minded”.

What happens in this “open mind” when it chooses to believe that secret societies lurk in the shadows, plotting global domination, political assassinations and what-not?

The answer is simply: Ignorance. Profound ignorance of what it means to have a “theory“, to have a well-articulated belief, deep ignorance of what constitutes evidence, a spectacular blindness to the nuances of the idea of truth and, finally, a catastrophic misunderstanding of what it means to be in the possession of knowledge.

This is what this “open mind” does:

1. A “theory” is accepted which sounds plausible. The problem is, this is not a theory at all, for there is nothing that can falsify it. Each argument against it encounters the similar answer: “but it is secret – how do YOU know that this is not the case?”

2. A “belief” is formed without regard as to its truth. This sort of belief is assumed to be true based on the “evidence”. How is this “evidence” considered?

3. What this “open mind” considers “evidence” is actually made “evidence” by the force of the pre-accepted belief in a non-theory. The circularity alone should alert an inquiring mind that something is off here.

The path to knowledge (however tenuous) must flow only in this direction: Falsifiable theory > Verifiable Evidence > Informed Belief > Tentative Knowledge (that can grow in force only by continuously re-assessing the reasons for believing).

The weak link here is “Evidence” > Its force is pre-supposed by an already accepted belief that re-enforces itself through an apparent cohesion with pre-accepted evidence. And on and on this goes in annoyingly boring cycles of self-serving affirmations.

A good analogy here is a paranoid person who believes that everyone is out to “get” him: every behavior of everyone is then interpreted in terms of persecution. This cohesiveness gives and illusion of “truth”. But truth requires one more element for its survival: correspondence (with reality). This is always absent in conspiracy theories. This is why we call them ‘crack-pot’.