Are conspiracy theories always wrong?
0 comment Sunday, July 27, 2014 |
Today I was watching part of a documentary on UFOs. I am usually 'multitasking' and often only watch bits and pieces of these things. But as I watched a segment of this program, with allegations of cover-ups on the part of the powers that be, my mind turned to the subject of cover-ups and conspiracies in general.
I've noticed that for a while, UFOs were a hot topic, then the reports began to dwindle away, and the media to ignore the sightings that are occasionally reported. The attitude that most people seem to adopt towards the subject is a scornful, derisive one. Why? Because the popular perception is that people who 'see UFOs' are somehow kooks, cultists, or attention-seekers, and that only ignoramuses believe that extraterrestrials are joyriding around our skies.
There are no little green men, most reasonable people agree. Here's where the mistake is made, though: many people somehow jump to the conclusion that seeing a UFO is the same as claiming to have seen a ''flying saucer' piloted by little green men. However, seeing an object you don't recognize and can't identify does not imply believing in extraterrestrial visitors or 'space aliens'. It just means you saw something unknown. Lots of credible people have seen unidentified objects in the skies; some of them were/are airline pilots, military personnel, and it's claimed that even some of our astronauts reported UFO sightings when in orbit.
Yet the popular perception is that UFO witnesses are deserving of ridicule or incredulity. Similar attitudes prevail in some quarters where subjects like the North American Union are concerned, or the North American superhighway. A couple of years ago, many 'mainstream' conservatives were harshly ridiculing any talk of such things, more or less likening those who discussed the NAU as on a par with UFO cultists and other such 'conspiracy-mongers.' Michael Medved was one of the harshest and most relentless voices accusing those who wrote about it or discussed it, of paranoia and conspiracy-mongering. Medved's arrogant attitude, like so many who take that tone, seemed to be that he knew more than the rest of us 'paranoiacs', and he knew for a fact that no such plan existed, in fact, no conspiracies or covert plans exist anywhere along these lines.
How can any human being without access to the innermost workings of the government, or of the international elites, say that categorically? Clearly our government, like most existing governments, does not divulge everything to the public, and likewise, our biased and ideologically-driven media do not report the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.
So I think most people would agree that governments are capable of concealing things from us, especially when it is deemed likely that making some things public would lead to discontent or unrest among the general public. Sometimes, also, when they are doing things that are clearly against the popular will, or against the Constitution, in the case of our country, they are less than honest and open with us. In an atmosphere of government secretiveness, it is no surprise that sometimes conspiracy theories crop up, as people try to make sense of things that are obviously not being explained credibly by official sources.
The UFO phenomenon is one such area in which the government has not been open and forthcoming, and some writers have asserted that there is government 'disinformation' being sown so as to discredit those who are writing about it and discussing it. We know that governments, including ours, practice such methods in certain situations. Skepticism is a good thing -- up to a point. To be skeptical of everything, or to immediately dismiss speculations as 'conspiracy theories' is not exactly approaching it with a willingness to follow the truth wherever it leads. If we categorically exclude certain things as being 'crazy' or 'paranoid', we are not being skeptics in a good way, but are being too quick to jump to the conclusion that ''there's nothing to see here. Move along.'' It seems to me that the preferred attitude is to remain open to various possibilities. If we too quickly rule out certain explanations of a mysterious event, or we categorically dismiss various lines of investigation, that is closed-mindedness. If it's wrong to jump to the immediate conclusion that a conspiracy and/or cover-up is behind something, it's also wrong to jump to the opposite conclusion, before all the evidence is in.
Why do many people immediately deny the possibility of a conspiracy or cover-up? It can't be because there is no such thing as a conspiracy, because clearly there is. Conspiracies have happened throughout history, and they have often succeeded in effecting great changes in the world. Cover-ups have certainly happened. So why is any mention of possible conspiracies greeted with derision so often? Some people are uncomfortable with mysteries. Appearing to have a ready and incontrovertible explanation for something is a way, perhaps, of appearing to be in complete control of a situation. Finding ourselves up against a mystery, an enigma, or an unknown is rather a frustrating feeling, and it does tend to make us doubt ourselves, and doubt our own power, if we can't explain something. It is therefore preferable to some people to invent facile explanations and pronounce the mystery solved, or to otherwise dismiss the existence of a mystery or an unknown.
And what is a conspiracy? It's nothing more than a couple (or more) people colluding in a plan to do something. My 1936 Webster's says a conspiracy is:
1. An act of conspiring. A combination for an evil purpose. A plot.
Surely in a fallen world, conspiracies happen. They have happened, they are happening, they will happen. And the very nature of conspiracies is that they are secretive and concealed. If there is a conspiracy, those involved in it will automatically deny its existence or cover it up.
We are not going to get honesty from the powers that be about the plans for the NAU, or the rumored plans for the world to be divided up into regions under a global authority. Some of the well-placed people in the media and in other positions of power are also aware of any such plans and are doing their part to deny or obfuscate or promote disinformation. So we can't really expect honest answers to any questions we might ask about such things. Still, we have to pursue the truth.
With regard to the death of Joerg Haider in Austria last week, can we peremptorily state that it was a simple drunk-driving accident? I say we have too little information to say that right off the bat. If the 'accident' involved somebody other than this very controversial man, in fact a much-hated man, described by the left-wing media as something like the second coming of Hitler, we might easily dismiss any talk of foul play in his death. If my neighbor or yours was killed in the wee hours in a car accident, we might assume, most naturally, that alcohol might be the cause, especially if the neighbor was known to be a drinker, and especially if there was nothing otherwise irregular about his life.
The ''simplest possible explanation'' might be different in each case. If a man with many known enemies, such as an organized crime figure or a drug dealer, is killed, then foul play might well be a possibility to consider. A controversial politician would be a target. And Haider certainly had many political enemies, some of whom would probably stop at nothing. Personally I am going to be skeptical of any findings about his death which are released to the public. Things are not always what they seem, and we have to balance a healthy skepticism with a willingness to at least admit of certain possibilities in cases like Haider's. Skepticism should not be closed-mindedness.
The truth is all-important and we have to admit that sometimes the true explanation is not the 'simplest' or easiest. The truth has to be followed where it leads. Seeing conspiracies in everything is not a good thing, but neither is denying that conspiracies do happen.
If we honor truth, we have to keep an open mind until we have sufficient evidence one way or the other, and it serves us well to maintain some suspicion of what 'official sources' say, in many cases, especially when the 'official sources' are European authorities. It appears to me that the powers that be in the EU are even more totalitarian and less trustworthy than our own dissimulating officialdom. Let's direct a little healthy skepticism toward them, where it rightly belongs.