Conspiracy theories 101
We seem to be aware of so many conspiracy theories in the world - the 9/11 attacks were an inside job, the moon landing was fake, Tupac was killed by the government and lately, the earth is flat and that NASA is an organisation whose sole intent is to keep the world brainwashed. I’ve been doing quite some reading into the whole conspiracy theory phenomenon and I think what’s interesting in all of these is a common denominator of mistrust and speculation. Also, funnily enough, most of these theories are based on the affairs and politics of USA. I am unsure of whether I see it this way because:
a. A lot of what happens on the internet tends to be what happens in USA
b. The conspiracy theorists in this country are louder than the others and hence, drown out the theories arising from other places
c. Theirs is the only evil government
d. They are the only ones who aren’t misled by the powers operating above them and controlling their lives and beliefs
e. Any other explanation that I cannot currently think of
But what is most interesting about these theories is that they are extremely hard to disprove. Take the whole flat earth brouhaha doing the rounds at the moment. I genuinely gave it a thought. I went through their forums with an open mind, trying to find out, as receptively as I could, whether I have been lied to all my life and that the earth is indeed flat and accelerating upwards through space due to the push of aetheric winds (https://wiki.tfes.org/Frequently_Asked_Questions#Why_doesn.27t_gravity_pull_the_earth_into_a_spherical_shape.3F). I found out that the claims of flat earthers (as they call themselves) are as irrefutable as the claims of the model of a heliocentric solar system. This is simply because it is hard to go out into space yourself and find out whether it really is just fish-eye lenses or if the earth is round (well not exactly spherical but that it’s not flat).
And the vicious circle of denials and argumentation will continue because if you did manage to become an astronaut and go out into space and bring back pictures of a round earth, you would become part of the system that is being fought against and tagged as “evil and mind-controlling”. And conveniently enough, flat earthers claim that one can never go into space because the earth is covered by a dome and that satellites do not exist. So even if you really did go to space, you cannot prove it because all you get in return is that you’re lying.
Another thing I noticed about conspiracy theorists, and flat earthers in particular, is that their line of argumentation is deliberately circular. I “infiltrated” one of their Facebook groups a couple of weeks ago just to see what their arguments sounded like and I was utterly disappointed. When asked, “where’s the edge of the flat earth?” a typical response was, “where’s the centre of the earth you moron?” That’s not the point.
In stark contrast to this however, the website at tfes.org had some interesting points about the edge of earth and about the whole theory as such (still irrefutable and unprovable but better than the Facebook group). The website steers clear of any religious affiliations and does not resort to circular retorts nor ad hominem methods of argumentation. However, they are also quite clear about what they believe in - they’ve been lied to all their lives and they are undergoing a new awakening, dubbing themselves revolutionaries and new-age thinkers.
So where does this stop? Is there no way of obtaining information that is absolutely true without first investigating the source? It is certainly true that we live in the age of “fake news” and false media reports but where does the skepticism stop? Am I to end up doubting my own existence and throw up new theories about humankind being abducted and kept in gooey tanks to live out their lives as virtual beings in a machine that is controlled by a supercomputer AI program? (Thank you Wachowski brothers!) Because the way I see it, The Matrix is as much a reality as the flat earth theory.
Now I could be the guy that’s part of the system and doesn’t want to exercise his own sense of intellect and see through the lies that are being told to him but I am also not the guy who will invent words like “aetheric wind” to explain the law of gravitation. If that makes me a sheep then I guess I just like the taste of grass.