It’s an interesting phenomenon: the conspiracy theory.
Interesting not because of the specific conspiracy – these have always existed, filling the unsettling gaps in knowledge of the world with comfortably inclusive explanation – but because of the influence this type of thinking now has on the real politics and real power structures defining society as a whole.
Social media has enabled two marginal minorities – the egocentric dumbass and the egomaniac troll – that’d previously been too fragmented to be heard, to coalesce into support groups of like-minded individuals that quickly grew in confidence, distilled their messaging and reasserted their opinions, amplified.
By working as a dunce confederation, the conspiracy theory and the mischievous trolling are propelled into the mainstream, given airtime in the media-feeds of all demographics. No longer marginal.
Conspiracy theory is the research and learning for lazy thinkers who don’t know how to study a subject, don’t care to be an apprentice but wants to claim expertise, having given in to the vanity of “knowing the answer”.
Vanity is a fragile thing and intellectual vanity – as opposed to trained intellect – is characterized by fear of contradiction and an avoidance of scientific method. It amounts to Dunning-Kruger certainty, more stubborn than susceptive, like a castle in the air without solid foundations. Any perceived challenge must be countered with defensive aggression for fear the hollow interior might be exposed.
Conspiracy theory advocates are forever talking about persecution. Playing the oppression card lets the ‘victim‘ occupy the moral higher ground (in their own mind) and, by fighting straw man principles like an attack one’s very freedom of self-expression, self-examination can be dodged indefinitely.
Victimhood is, ironically, built on real vulnerability – the fragility of the conspiracy theory if properly scrutinized, for instance – cleverly conflating the genuine weakness of substantiating detail and questions threatening to expose it into an aggressive resistance to anything remotely touching on subject.
“The popularity of conspiracy theory in a society increases as its faith in authority and trust in political class goes down.” – Dharmapuri Thirumala Venkata Manoj Anantharam.
“Conspiracy theory is an unexpected corollary of consumerism.” – Umberto Eco
Consumerism trains a population to parse the world in terms of sentiment, slogan and superstition. Consumer egoism – being at the eye of the goods and services storm – puts the individual consumer on a pedestal, the most important customer in the world, while at the same time conditioning a resistance to having that importance undermine. By facts, in particular.
“Consider the tagline about a washing powder brand that “gets your whites whiter than white”. We know this isn’t possible and anyone who’s used the product will know it does what any washing powder does: cleans. It doesn’t restore lost color. Whites don’t even get restored to their original whiteness. You’d have to be a moron to believe the tagline is truth. In a world where facts are as flexible as an advertising slogan, “I feel it is…” eclipses any other method for determining truth.
Conspiracy theory is consumerism of sociocultural and historical phenomenon. It’s worth noting that consumerism superseded religious doctrine as the best responsive, robust society and even the authoritarian world-view has had to include consumerism as its primary social modus operandi.
Conspiracy theory is a good fit with the information overload 21st century as the Ptolemaic egoism, where the universe revolves around the individual human being, informs the selection (and interpretation) of popular contemporary and past events that remain familiar to the collective unconscious.
Conspiracy theory goes a step further than material consumerism, which has to validate the Ptolemaic self-love relative to other human beings. Conspiracy theory feeds the ego with “knowledge” as the individual consumer consumes “I’m right where so many are wrong” exceptionalism. It’s a thrill and a prop.
BELIEF + “I am right” > FACT + “I don’t know”
In response to being asked many times about “flat Earth” and how it can be proven or disproven by a regular person without having to rely on “NASA says X” or “go circumnavigate the globe”, here’s a method any of us can do on our own.
- Take a telescope.
- Focus your telescope on the planet Jupiter (fake or real, doesn’t matter).
- Make sure Jupiter is in sharp relief. Perfect picture of the planet.
- Without any change to how the telescope is focused, swing it onto something on Earth like plane in the sky or the Moon.
- If Jupiter is a similar distance away to, say, the Moon, then the Moon will stay sharply focused (or close to focused) in your telescope. Similar distance away.
- If Jupiter is a lot further away, the Moon will not be in focus at all.
Want to check further? Bring a little mathematics to the party.
- If you have time to check the telescope focus to distance ratio, you should be able to figure out how far away is Jupiter than the Moon.
- You can repeat this process once focused on the Moon by focusing on a plane in the sky.
- Since we know planes fly at 40,000 to 60,000 feet, this gives you enough info to work out how much further away is the Moon than the plane; and how much further away is Jupiter than the Moon.
- If Jupiter and the Moon are on the sky (surface) of a dome that encloses a flat Earth, the distances will work out similar to one another.
Or, if you have someone you trust a few thousand (or more) miles away from your telescope location…
- With Jupiter in the telescope focus, find someone a few timezones distant e.g. if you’re in Los Angeles, somebody in New York would be a good choice.
- On a flat Earth, everyone should see Jupiter a certain angle and a measurable similar distance.
- You can use this angle and distance to make a triangle with You, Your Friend and Jupiter at the three points.
- If the Earth is flat, the triangle should be accurate. You should find its measurements using simple trigonometry match observation and the known distance between you and your friend in a straight line.
- If the Earth is curved, the triangle won’t be accurate and you’ll find the measurements observed only work if you take the curve into account.
“Jingoism and nationalist pride are crutches for paralyzed individualism.” – The Tin Horn Patriot
The real world metaphysics of “India” “France” “China” “America” “Britain” is way, way too complex to be subordinated to silly ‘better than’ or ‘richer than’ arguments.
If you define yourself by the mob fantasy of a nation-state or connect your self-worth to a presumed connection with the happenstance of arbitrary local history, you’re corroding what’s left of your individual personality (and birthright). You’re another degraded sucker at the table of life, toiling for entrenched power structures to whom your life means less than nothing.
Nationalism, at the top, is the plaything of billionaires and born aristocracies. Nationalism, at the bottom, is the reliable opiate of a billion self-deluded servants. Add pride to the mix and regular citizens turn into asses, braying about how much they love their country and would die for their flag. Meanwhile, languid ruling classes mock you behind your back and play dice over your abdicated future.