Blog: What is Wrong with Conspiracy Theorists? - 2018-11-29

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F0.png What is Wrong with Conspiracy Theorists? November 29, 2018, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large

"For the truth is that life on the face of it is a chaos in which one finds onself lost. The individual suspects as much, but is terrified to encounter this frightening reality face to face, and so attempts to conceal it by drawing a curtain of fantasy over it, behind which he can make believe that everything is clear." - Jose Ortega y Gasset

Conspiracy theorists can be some of the most exasperating, frustrating and annoying people you will ever encounter online and in person. A few of us even know some of them or run into them at family gatherings. After listening to them ramble on, for hours if they are allowed to, we always walk away shaking our head, wondering what kind of idiot pill they must be taking to think the way they do. And that's about all the significance they play in the day-to-day life of the average first-world citizen. We see and hear their crazy spin on such uncontroversial topics as the moon landings; the Bermuda Triangle; the spherical shape of our planet, the efficacy and safety of child vaccines; and, of course, what really happened on 9/11 and who was behind it. However, many other conspiracy theories branch off from these more weird and wild ideas which we don't find so implausible, such as the possibility of secret government operations on our own citizens, carried out by three-letter agencies and paid for by black budgets which we are told are being done for our own safety. Those we might not be so sure about because we know that these kinds of conspiracies have really happened. Or the idea that large pharmaceutical companies or major cable companies are colluding to fix prices for their goods and services, basically creating hidden monopolies which unfairly pillage the pocketbooks of consumers. Or that social media platforms are actively searching for and deleting any content which disagrees with the political beliefs of its board members. When we hear something like that, depending on our own politics and exposure to social media, we might tilt our head and think "Yeah, I think that might be true."

And that's exactly how it all starts. Because while I just said that conspiracy theorists seem like a strange kind of people we only infrequently run into, the truth is, that is only what we pretend is the real picture about them. The truth is that, unfortunately, we all have a proclivity for falling for nonsense and the demographics of conspiracy theorists is much broader than just a few crazy relatives.