A Nice Example of How Conspiracy Theories (and Religions) Work

The below video is a perfect deconstruction of conspiracy theories and religious stories (in my view).

Lay before the world an engaging and logically possible narrative, highlighting along the way anything that might lend it plausibility. Then wait for people who want to believe it (for reasons other than the ones you’ve actually given for believing it) to believe it.

Never mind that the logically possible narrative may not be how things actually are or even probably are.

Oh, and hope you net some smart people over time (such as Thomas Aquinas). They’ll think of yet more reasons to buy the preferred narrative. The story can then take on a mutating viral life of its own.

Conspiracy theories and religious stories are shell games for the conscious mind that allow underlying psychological dynamics to play themselves out. They give a person permission to feel emotions he or she would otherwise find hard to justify (such as that you might be happy when you learn of presidents shot, towers collapsing, or rich unbelievers getting their comeuppance).

Don’t you know I’m telling the truth?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to A Nice Example of How Conspiracy Theories (and Religions) Work

  1. I just blogged describing a mechanism by which this kind of thinking is possible: http://myatheistlife.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/my-world-view-free-will-a-revisit-part-3/
    The simulation in our heads doesn’t have to operate by commonsense rules, so being happy at the misfortune of others as you described can actually look and feel like it would make the world better. Because such people have constructed a skewed simulation of the real world, they can become elated when bad stuff happens that they would not ordinarily condone. Generally when it happens to someone close to them they are forced to modify their simulation and ethics kicks in, just as we see high profile legislators changing their minds about homosexuality when their children come out of the closet.

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