This article (https://thebulwark.com/this-is-what-reality-looks-like-from-inside-trump-world) is great, a prime examination of conspiracy theory — super-neat, unverifiable, paranoid, and unfortunately at work at the highest levels of our government, media and corporate life. And also far beyond: I can’t begin to tell you how many of my fb friends buy into one conspiracy theory or another.
I suppose its inevitable. The world has gotten so crazy — we have elected or had foisted on us so many crazy “leaders” with their uncritical bases — that many of us have lost the ability to tell fact from fiction, a skill that our educational systems, religions, media and economic system certainly do not promote. And we have all come to suspect, rather than respect, our institutions and leaders.
I have one rule that I apply to any analysis, which may or may not be a conspiracy theory: if it is too neat it can’t be true, especially if the internal logic is too tight and too dependent on “false flags” and other leaps of logic too complex to keep secret.
So internally consistent are conspiracy theories that they stand on their own. You can replace the usual conspirators — Freemasons, papists, communists, Jews, Zionists (they are not the same), Illuminati, the Bilderburg Group, Davos, the Rothschilds, George Soros, the Mafia, Cuba/Russia/China/Israel, the military/industrial complex, the UN (& their Black Helicopters”), the “leftist” media, Fox News (well, OK, that is real), global elites, the Deep State, the New World Order, the Trilateral Commission, Yale University’s secret Skull and Bones society, Islam, the Knights Templar, the devil, the Antichrist, aliens and “they” — with each other, merely shifting motives around here or there. The point is there is always a Master Hand, a Controller, in control of everything, including the cover-up — and the fact that the conspirator is known does not have to be proven in any way as long as you can weave a plausible web of conspiracy. Indeed, the ability to keep the sinister plan hidden and undetectable (even if “exposed”) IS the conspiracy.
The most reliable way to debunk a conspiracy theory (though it takes a little effort and intellectual honesty) is to follow the facts. Though they are meant to be impenetrable, all conspiracy theories are easily falsified by mere facts — which is why conspiracy-“truthers” like Fox News and the Trump base wage war on facts. If its all “fake news” then my conspiracy is as good as your rational explanation. In fact, when I call my Facebook friends on their conspiracy thinking, they often get angry and abusive with me (sometimes, mercifully, unfriending me). I guess we get emotionally invested in our conspiracies — which, after all, reconfirm our deepest prejudices — and so no dry facts will divert me.
But this isn’t just dangerous stuff that well might affect us all. It undermines and destroys our ability to analyze and critically understand. The fight for justice and a better world system is hard enough, with enough complex issues and powerful opposing forces that I don’t need to disempower myself even more by unsupportable and WRONG theories and fake, all-powerful controllers. Psychologist would say we’re wired to accept conspiracy thinking because we love patterns and we love the sense of community and affirmation they give us. Following cold facts, being critical and therefore unpopular, going against the neat logic of conspiracy, is a much harder path. But we must stand up for critical thinking or become….rhinoceroses. Be a skeptic.
Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds, by Elizabeth Kolbert
American Conspiracy Theories by Joseph Uscinski and Joseph Parent
Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies, by Arthur Goldwag