We usually dismiss conspiracy theorists as crazy people; but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
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Today we’re going to descend into the darkest depths of the human mind to learn what makes a conspiracy theorist tick; or, as some would put it, to learn why his tick seems just a bit off. Is there anything we can learn from the conspiratorial mind, and is there a method to its apparent madness?
The human brain evolved in such a way as to keep itself alive to the best of its ability. For the past few million years, our ancestors faced a relatively straightforward daily life. Their job was simply to stay alive. Like us, they had different personalities, different aptitudes, different attitudes. This was borne out in many ways, but the classic example that’s often used is that something would rustle in the tall grass. Some of our ancestors weren’t too concerned, and figured it was merely the wind; but others were more cautious, suspected a panther, and jumped for the nearest tree. Over the eons, and hundreds of thousands of generations, the nonchalant ancestors were wrong (and got eaten) just often enough that eventually, more survivors were those who tended toward caution, and even paranoia. In evolution, it pays to err on the side of caution. The brains most likely to survive were those who saw a panther in every breath of wind, an angry god in every storm cloud, a malevolent purpose in every piece of random noise. We are alive today as a race, in part, because our brains piece random events together into a pattern that adds up to a threat that may or may not be real. As a result, we are afraid of the dark even though there’s rarely a monster; thunder frightens us even though lightning is scarcely a credible threat; and we perceive the menace of malevolent conspiracies in the acts of others, despite the individual unlikelihood of any one given example.
Conspiratorial thinking is not a brain malfunction. It’s our brain working properly, and doing exactly what it evolved to do.
So then, why aren’t we all conspiracy theorists? Why don’t we all see conspiracies all day long? It’s because we also have an intellect, and enough experience with living in our world that we are usually able to correctly analyze the facts and fit them into the way we have learned things really work. It is, exactly as it sounds, a competition between two forces in our head. One is the native, instinctive impulse to see everything as a threat, and the other is our rational, conscious thought that takes that input and judges it.
Let’s look at two examples that illustrate the ends of the spectrum. David Icke is a British conspiracy theorist best known for his claim that most world leaders are actually reptilian aliens wearing electronic disguises. When you pause a video, he points to the compression artifacting and asserts that it’s a glitch in the electronic disguise. However, he’s out in the world, he tours, he writes books, he has a family and is a member of his community. He’s not locked in an asylum as we might expect from hearing his theory.
MORE . . .
- Confessions of a Disinformation Agent, Chapter III: Debunking in the Heyday of 9/11 Truth. (illuminutti.com)
- Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Radical Conspiracy Theorist = Dis-information Agent (illuminutti.com)
- 6 Ways to tell if a Conspiracy Theorist posting on the Internet is Mentally Disturbed (illuminutti.com)
- Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – Trapwire (illuminutti.com)
- Homeland Security Buying Ammunition (Again) (illuminutti.com)
- Homeland Security Buying Ammunition Again!! Oh No!!! (rubinoworld.com)