The biggest problem we face today is where to get the accurate information to help us make the right informed decision. We’ve become familiar with the term ‘Fake News’ over the recent years. This has also given rise to a host of ‘Fact Checkers’. However, it has become a minefield to navigate the sources of information, both unsolicited and when we seek out information.
When one does come across any article which contains a narrative not totally in agreement, or even entirely in disagreement, with that of the mainstream sources, the warning about ‘conspiracy theorists’ is not far from one’s mind. The tendency may be to dismiss the information out of hand. But perhaps we ought to ask who really is a conspiracy theorist?
It would seem such terms as conspiracy theorist or anti-vaxxer have become psychological tools to discourage asking questions and suppress scrutiny, evaluation, or challenge failure to adhere to due process.
When children are growing up, asking questions is a key part of the development process. We try our best to answer their questions, while taking care to form the response to suit their comprehension ability. Similarly adults should be allowed to ask questions and doors should not be shut on free rational debate.
In fact, the attempt to suppress alternative opinion, knowledge, or discussion of evidence is the chief cause of ‘conspiracies’.
Wikipedia defines conspiracy theory as an explanation for an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy by sinister and powerful groups, often political in motivation, when other explanations are more probable. The term has a negative connotation, implying that the appeal to a conspiracy is based on prejudice or insufficient evidence.
The term conspiracy theory was coined by the CIA to discourage questioning of hidden activities
Based on this definition, it is clear that it is an overused term and seems to be applied to anybody who presents alternative view point. However, these people have no ulterior motive or sinister intentions. They are mostly ordinary people who read between the lines. They are trusting but not gullible. It’s possible to be both.
Questions are raised when things don’t add up. In the absense of satisfying official reponse, especially when the attitude is a dismissive one, people will get heads together and try to work out the likely answer.
So conspiracy theory is not the evil thing we should all be protected from. In fact, it is likely that the one we should be protected from is really the one trying to hide/bury the truth.
In a worst case scenario, the opposite of a conspiracy theorist could be a complicity theorist. These ones are simply those who believe anything coming from the bigger machine, such as the government or the body of scientists/experts hired by the government. Is this without danger? Absolutely not. Throughout history, ordinary folks have been manipulated into believing the government which ended up costing innocent lives.
Rational adults should research and examine all things and use their own intellect and experience to judge what they read or hear. Of course we should always be open to realignment of our position whenever new information comes to light.
Psychologically, for some, the scarier the information they recieve is, the less interested they are and the more likely they dismiss it as conspiracy theory.
We have trusted sources of information, who we’ve perhaps relied on for decades. It becomes unimaginable that such a trusted source could or would deliberately mislead or misinform us. How wrong we would be.
We just have to look back in history and ask if it’s ever happened before. If it has, then chances are it can happen again.
We must trust our trusted sources of information, but we should never put all our eggs (trust) in one basket. Imagine people listening to their national radio where they were incited to murder their neighbours.
Imagine the media which was used to persuade the country to go to war based on false evidence of weapons of mass distruction.
Imagine the trusted media which was used to scare the population about a deadly disease, the only solution of which was vaccination. Imagine this was later found out to be a totally false panic, which the trusted media was used to spread.
So we should be mindful not to become a complicity theorist by resolutely shutting down differing opinions.
Back in April, a doctor cautioned that whatever was causing deaths was not covid and that patients were being misdiagnosed and being given the wrong treatment. One of the damaging treatments was the use of ventilators. In fact he concluded that ventilators was killing patients, and he supported his claim with scientific explanation.
Fast forward to September and a mainstream newspaper carried the news that doctors were increasingly rejecting the use of ventiators and seeing improvement in survival rate.
BBC banned Johnny Rotten in 1978 for outing Jimmy Saville. How interesting. He must have been branded a conspiracy theorist and a ‘nut job’, and an ‘anti-saville’ etc. Look what we later found out about Jimmy Saville. Imagine if you had been part of those defending Jimmy Saville as a national hero.
To help determine who to listen to, we should consider THE MOTIVE. If we can give this serious consideration, then we’ll be better able to give balanced attention to the topic at hand. In our world, a key driver of motive is what one stands to gain by taking a particular stance.
Will you trust someone who stands to benefit from one side of the argument over another who stands to gain nothing?
Never allow irrational emotion of fear to determine your decision perpetually. We all understand the human nature of fight or flight response to sense of imminent danger. However, with time, the relfex action wanes and rational thought should return.
For instance, when a rational adult hears the sound of a single gun shot, in the absence of additional detail about the source of the shot, the instant reaction is to run. However, after a short distance, rational behaviour is to start to try and ascertain the direction/source of the sound.
To continue to run may actually cause one to run towards the source of the gun shot.
Finally, we must all recognise that there are good religious preachers and there are bad ones. Many preachers only preach what will cause their followers to donate money for their personal gain. Many use fear to make their followers obey orders or make donations.
Similarly, we must realise that there are good scientists and bad scientists.
Bad scientists will use bad science to make themselves famous or to enrich themselves. We must realise this.
So how do we discern the truth? This is down to us. We must make research and scrutinise the information we receive with an open mind. This is not difficult in the age of information explosion. It’s both a challenge and an advantage. But we’re not short of information. All we need is time and interest in the truth.
Exposure to true information does not matter anymore. One who is demoralized/afraid is unable to assess true information. The facts tell him nothing. Even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents, with pictures…he will refuse to believe – Yuri Bezmenov
Conspiracy theory is the name given to outcome of research which does not favour those suspected as the culprit. After all, no conspiracy will be made public by the culprits. So those who accuse those who dig deeper are really saying if it’s not published, then it doesn’t exist. How wrong.
The actors in a conspiracy must work overtime with all the tools available to them and more in order to conceal details of their conspiracy. So how would anyone think such details will be detected casually without even trying to dig deeper? Or perhaps they expect a member of the group of actors to come forward on mainstream media, who can themselves be complicit, to reveal all. Of course this can happen, but only on very rare ocassions.
So what causes people to label others conspiracy theorists?
- They are implicitely trusting of the bigger information machine
- They are fearful of the implications of the alternative information
- They are on the ‘inside’, protecting their livelihood
- They are lazy to do their own research, or the topic is beyond their comprehension
- They are arrogant and hate to accept to be wrong in their position/understanding
Where do you stand?
How could we view ‘a conspiracy theory’? How about view it like a product review. When you want to purchase a product, do you read the reviews with 5 stars only? Given that reviews are often falsified to persuade the buyer to make a purchase, I suggest that you go straight for the lowest star reviews. That way, you know the worst that can happen and you’re not leaving yourself open to falsified information. Only make that purchase if you’re prepared to live with the worst case scenario.
There is no smoke without fire
Perhaps not every detail of a ‘conspiracy theory’ is accurate, but not everything about it will be false either. Rather than dismiss a ‘conspiracy theory’, take it as a prompt to investigate and look deeper into an issue.
Written by Emmanuel Olu