Sunday, 6 March 2016

Thought 148: Where does Conspiracy Culture End?

The problem with conspiracy culture - and I myself am well-versed in and partial to many conspiracies - may be summed up in one question: where does it end?

Conspiratorial thinking as a lens with which to view the world is, for all intents and purposes, a combination of fact gathering and political motivation suffering as it can do from confirmation bias, i.e. seeking out information that confirms rather than disproves one's worldview.

Taking myself as an example, I regard myself as an anarchist of sorts in that I distrust the system of political representation and would wish to see people becoming their own government rather than ruled from on high. Does this mean that I am more likely to accept conspiracies in government and supranational institutions?

Put differently, fact searching - facts being the raw stuff of political truth as I noted in my post Factual Truth - be it historical or contemporary politics, tends to have a political impetus and a political motivation. As Liam Neeson laconically tells a young Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
"Your focus determines your reality." 
Moreover, how facts are selected and cohered into a narrative also tends to be subject to political temperament, preferences, colourings, interpretations, understandings, perhaps even maliciousness and agenda building.

Further still, facts may turn out to be false, either fabricated or genuine errors, so that what makes a fact a fact, i.e. its occurring as a historical event, is itself up for grabs and requires careful examination.

A good example of this is the spurious fact that J.F.K. initiated an Executive Order that brought upon him the ire of the Federal Reserve which duly had him killed; careful examination has shown that there was no such Executive Order, i.e. the Executive Order's contents were in no way inimical to the Federal Reserve's supremacy. 

A living proof that nature as will to power - and human thought is nature working through us - is 
"that which overcomes itself again and again"
- to use Nietzsche's expression - are the following revisionist examples that question all the received wisdom on the events and ethics of the Second World War: 
  • Was Hitler a German messiah as the 'documentary' Adolf Hitler: The Greatest Story Never Told claims he was, a messiah thwarted by perfidious English and Zionist interests? Is his bad standing in posterity's view the fruit of a historical cover up by those who defeated him?
  • Were the Jews really exterminated en masse by the National Socialists or was there a conspiracy to exaggerate the holocaust after the war ended to suit these same so-called zionist and Anglo-American agendas?
  • But wait! Was the Reichstag building being burnt down not itself a conspiracy by the National Socialists to discredit and shame the communists? Or is that conspiracy fact itself a conspiracy and therefore not a fact? 

Conspiratorial thinking à outrance leads to ridiculous results. David Icke, for example, renowned for his theorising on reptilian shape-shifters dominating planet earth in human form, claims in one of his works that Mesopotamian researcher Zacharia Sitchin was such a shape shifting reptilian, even though Sitchin was one of the foremost voices in favour of non-terrestrial intervention theory in human origins, which would à priori support alien co-existence claims by David Icke.

Yet David Icke too is the subject of conspiratorial thinking. Several YouTube videos make the case - based on shoddy televised footage - that David Icke is himself a reptilian shape-shifter! 

Similarly conspiracy overlord Alex Jones of Infowars fame is accused by some of being in the pay of the C.I.A. and representing, at best, an example of controlled opposition, at worst, a shill to misinform a certain demographic.

It would seem that conspiratorial thinking has come full circle painting two figures who've made their living from conspiracy theorising as being conspirators in league with the global conspiracy! 

As Mark Passio states in his podcast series, the key skill that prevents bad Natural Law consequences is the ability to discern truth from falsehood. But there are no short cuts in order to achieve this skill. 

One has to not only train one's mind to think critically, just like building a body muscle at the gym, but one must then use that critical thinking to evaluate competing and often discordant sources of information which one has done the due diligence to absorb and integrate. 

A solution in this light was perhaps best put by Aristotle
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without immediately accepting (or rejecting) it." 
Thus, suspending judgement might help the life-long task of discerning truth from falsehood, until such a time when a balanced, well and consciously informed judgement is possible, rooted as it should be in active research of alternate and competing sources of information combined with critical evaluation. 

Few are those who are prepared to carry out such a task systematically and indeed we are but human, all too human. We cannot at all times exercise caution and discrimination, we often need to accept things at face value trusting our intuition, our reason and our experience.

Thus, to conclude, conspiratorial thought, like most human phenomena and modes of discourse, is not un-negotiable - despite its attacking the institutions and discourses of power - and needs to be critically evaluated like all other forms of discourse including those that belong to philosophy, science and cultural criticism.