Trump to the left of me, conspiracists to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with.. you?
Like most Europeans, I watched the events in the US unfold with in a passive stance. Left eyebrow raised in quizzical amusement and tongue bouncing against my cheek.
I try hard not to stay in my own echo chamber. I like to open the door, walk down the hall, and sit with whoever I find in the next chamber along. To this end my Facebook feed is full with wildly varying items from an eclectic mix of voices.
Just recently I’ve become utterly baffled. I can no longer make any sense of 90% of what I’m reading. And I read a lot. Everyone is screaming “fake news!” on anything that doesn’t match with their world view.
While the Trump administration’s love of ”alternative facts” is deeply worrying, the conspiracy lobby also had some pretty impressive terms of their own. I’ve yet to understand why, but the rise of Trump seems to have spurred the conspiracy lobby forward.
While they hold no obvious power, it seems that the conspiracist mindset is growing and producing worrying trends. The need to find ways to blame “the man” is leading to retrograde thinking, producing (among other wrong thinking) anti feminist themes.
Let me be clear. I don’t use terms like “wrong thinking” lightly. I try hard to see the wisdom and worth of personal philosophies whenever I encounter them. Here I am lost.
Talking to someone who is “awake” is like pulling at a lose thread, pretty soon the entire jumper is lying at your feet in ribbons, you have no idea how or why, but rather wish you hadn’t starting tugging.
The conversation might start sensibly enough, “The Rothschild family created the modern debt based banking system and are now the richest family on the planet.” This is verifiably true. Pretty quickly, however, you will notice a hole opening up. Warning, the hole is full of rabbits. Suddenly it’s actually a world plot to keep people compliant and to keep them using the broken banking system. This involves ever more complex subplots that take in sinister control of education, media, police and, of course, the government.
The basic tactic is this. Find something that is variably true and a little shocking (see Rothschild, above). Now add on something utterly fictitious that sounds plausible and has a few bits of circumstantial evidence to back it up. Example, “Education is being redesigned to make kids less able to think clearly” (arguably true for most of the western world), then add on; “And they are using chemicals in plane emissions and vaccination programmes to make us all more compliant.” There you have it, if A is true, well then, it stands to reason that B is true as well.
The second standard tactic is to add in some memes about “critical thinking” and “research” or “reasoning”. While stuck down one particularly cavernous (not to mention vacuous) rabbit hole I came across Anna Veith. She is not particularly notable but she does see the feminist movement as utter rubbish. She has come to the conclusion that the feminist movement is “them” using divide and conquer techniques to create division in society so we fight each other and not the terrible “them” (she doesn’t actually specify an enemy). She feels that womanhood has been conditioned out of their powers, such as intuition, connection and creativity. She bemoans the lack of “critical thinking” in solving these issues. She might have a point if it wasn’t for the fact, she reveals in a later post, that she recently had her chakras cleared and feels much better. Critical thinking and chakras, a classic combo.
The faith defence
Ask most religious people why they have faith and you won’t get very far. Religion is, by definition, irrational. If they could explain it, it would be rational.
I don’t beat on people for thinking differently to me but I do beat on people for thinking stupidly. Ask a conspiracist why they think we’re being mind controlled by plane vapor and you get a dossier of quasi-scientific quackery in response. If you spend the time to disprove that, you’ll get told “you’re one of the blind” or “sheep” or some other, effectively ad hominem, put-down. Worse, you’ll be diagnosed with a calcified perineum (or pineal gland I can’t remember which).
This adds up simply to a movement that is utterly lost at sea. I’m not saying there aren't some good ideas, even quality thinking, floating around but it’s a rare find.
This is, I feel, a response to a “world gone mad”. A lack of faith in the established order, a lack of trust in those in control, and a feeling of disenfranchised powerlessness have created the perfect storm for a new world order. The order of the conspiracist.