Contingency vs. Conspiracy

A recent set of studies reminds us that we use telos and conspiracy theories to control our anxiety over what really seems to rule the world: contingency. This at Miller-McCune:

A research team led by social psychologist Daniel Sullivan of the University of Kansas reports on four studies that suggest people are “motivated to create and/or perpetually maintain clear enemies to avoid psychological confrontations with an even more threatening chaotic environment.”

A “chaotic environment” is another way of saying that the world is contingent, right? But wouldn’t it be nice if the world was a cosmos and not a chaos? The devil and the Bilderbergers are cleaner targets than confronting the hell mouths of our own responsibility, of chance, and the cross of history: “I shouted out, ‘Who killed the Kennedys?’, when, afterall, it was you and me!”

Telos and conspiracy theories are akin to the longing for romance: like seeking a lover, one looks for a god or conspiratorial enemy with grand purposes “to samba through life with me,” making it feel less pointless, lonely—and contingent.

So nice. That would be so nice.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Contingency vs. Conspiracy

  1. Conspiracy theorists organize reality with the same incomplete set of facts and utter paranoia that governments do.

  2. santitafarella says:


    So that means we’re all flying blind, is that right?

    Everyone that is, except, well, who?



    Where are we?

    And how do we know it?


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