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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Why do people invent nonsensical conspiracy theories?

A new conspiracy theory about why conspirators conspire to invent conspiracy theories

W e've all heard the wacky conspiracy theories: vaccinations will give you cancer. Radio waves predispose you to virus infection. America was founded in 1619 to promote slavery. Racism is ubiquitous and systemic. Sex is a continuum and there is no difference between males and females.* Those big white fluffy cloud-like things in the sky are actually chemicals that the government is spraying us with.

Others supposedly believe that the coronavirus doesn't really exist** or that the deep state consists of child-worshiping Satan molesters. These ideas don't belong to the left or right. What they have in common is a claim that science has proven their case, and they all claim to have facts to back it up.

There's an argument that the purpose of these stories is to signal one's supposed good intentions or superior insight. Whether you call it virtue signaling or attention-seeking, the idea is that they don't really believe what they're saying; they say it because they think it makes them look good.

No thinking person could believe that everybody on the other side is a virulent racist. Nor could anyone seriously believe there are an infinite number of sexes or that a man can change into a woman just by clicking his heels and filling out a government form. So what is the purpose of these professed beliefs?

One explanation is that they're designed to trick people into wasting their time arguing with counter­factual theories as if they were real. By doing so, people will expend all their resources in refuting your crazy conspiracy theory and have no energy left to invent a crazy conspiracy theory of their own. But it seems to me there's a better explanation.

What we have here is postmodernism put into practice. Postmodernism is the idea that what we call “truth” is simply a narrative created by the ruling class to maintain their power. It is the ultimate conspiracy theory. Moreover, our reptilian warlords, or whatever they are, somehow tricked us into believing that po-mo is dead or maybe replaced by post-structuralism or whatever the latest academic ideological fad may be.

Conspiracy theories are a form of magical thinking. Like PC, they are attempts to change reality. GW Bush's insistence that Islam is a religion of peace was a perfect example. The idea is that if you get everyone to believe it, it will become true. Terrorists will smack their foreheads, saying “Gosh, we're a religion of peace! What were we thinking?” and become peaceful. Likewise, if you keep nattering about racism long enough, people will think it must be everywhere. Some will go out and riot against it and others, thinking it must be the popular new transgressive thing, will form a Nazi party. It doesn't matter which; you've created polarization and produced an opposition movement on your own terms and staked out the moral high ground.

Defining oneself by one's alliances and opponents is how humans establish an identity. The conspiracy theorist succeeds in creating a cause to tar his or her opponents and to demand that the theorist's preferred policies, whatever they may be, are the solution. Those policies would have no appeal if the theorist's opponents are merely sitting around watching Sons of Anarchy and munching Cheetos. They must be goaded into taking action. If they still won't turn off their TV, evidence must be manufactured.

A variation on the theme is to misrepresent the conspiracy theories and exaggerate them beyond all recognition. The purpose is the same: to convince you that the other side is composed of crazy people.

The idea is if you can get people to act as if these things are real, then people will do what you want. Truth doesn't enter into it, and indeed calm discussion of the supposed issue would interfere with the goal, so it must be censored and suppressed at all costs.

In a nutshell, postmodernism is a way of getting what you want by lying. There's nothing new about it, but its effect is clear: to make everyone on all sides hate what America has become. If you want a conspiracy theory, you can start from there.

* This is the zero-sex theory, where everybody is the same sex, which in practice means there are no sexes. Also, there are an infinite number of sexes because sex is a continuum. According to the conspiracy theorists, this is not a contradiction because math is a heteropatriarchal construct.

** This is the plandemic theory. Nobody knows what the plandemic theory is, because all web pages, tweets, and Facebook pages that discuss it have been censored. This means it's impossible to see the evidence as to whether it is true, and that's undoubtedly why it was censored.

nov 28 2020, 7:26 am

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