by John MacBeath WatkinsOn a forum I sometimes frequent, a person I had thought fairly normal recently stated as incontrovertible fact that "the federal government operatives did the Oklahoma City bombing to protect their seized power."
Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, University of Western Australia, thinks he has some answers.
"There are number of factors, but probably one of the most important ones in this instance is that, paradoxically, it gives people a sense of control. People hate randomness, they dread the sort of random occurrences that can destroy their lives, so as a mechanism against that dread, it turns out that it’s much easier to believe in a conspiracy. Then you have someone to blame, it’s not just randomness."
"Basically what’s happening in any conspiracy theory is that people have a need or a motivation to believe in this theory, and it’s psychologically different from evidence-based thinking. A conspiracy theory is immune to evidence, and that can pretty well serve as the definition of one. If you reject evidence, or reinterpret the evidence to be confirmation of your theory, or you ignore mountains of evidence to focus on just one thing, you’re probably a conspiracy theorist. We call that a self-sealing nature of reasoning."
My heavens, that sounds like religion through and through. Was religion the original conspiracy theory, a way to gain control of an irrational world by assigning blame?
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
The strangeness of being human is a series of posts about the way language makes us human, giving us abstract categories we use to think and memes that make up much of what we are.
Night of the unread: Why do we flee from meaning?
The conspiracy of god, the well-intentioned lie, and the strangeness of being human
Spiritual pluralism and the fall of those who would be angels
Judging a book by its author: "Fiction is part confession, part lie."
What to do when the gods fall silent, or, the axis of ethics
Why do we need myths?
Love, belief, and the truth we know alone
"Bohemians"-- The Journey of a Word
On being a ghost in a soft machine
On the illusion of the self