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Conspiracy Theories

June 26, 2013

These are something I have grown increasingly tired of over the years. I remember a time when I gave much credence to certain theories of this kind. The claim that man never landed on the moon, for instance. They appeared to offer an interesting alternative perspective. The truth is they are nearly always just an excuse for people to make reality more clear-cut and palatable to themselves, regardless of the facts.

Reality is a complicated thing, it does not have a human agenda. The conspiracy theorist sees an opportunity to read such a human agenda into things, as it allows him a simpler conception of reality. Many writers are full of conspiracy theories. It was where Karl Marx often went wrong in his analysis of capitalism. Recently I see it in work of the social and political theorist John Gray. He comes up with one conspiracy theory after another in straw dogs about the supposed agenda of Kant, Nietzsche, Plato, Descartes. As if they have brainwashed us into some humanistic and rational illusion, moving us away from nature and naturalism. A nice simplistic way for him to ignore what they actually said and just use it to create a seeming polar opposite between their clearly wrong and mistaken view, and his clearly right and correct view. All the time he relies heavily on a specific Darwinian interpretation of biology and life that goes unquestioned. He never stops to think that maybe it is in our nature to think humans are special somehow. Nothing to do with something factually special about humans, but simply because we are human beings ourselves.

And this is ultimately the problem I have with conspiracy theory style reasoning. It focuses so much on the supposed errors and cover ups of others, but it does this to deflect from its own simplistic view of things, that is itself open to many criticisms. The conspiracy theorist is not interested in having a discussion. He is not interested in accepting certain ambiguities are due to reality, and not due to a grand human cover up. He is only interested in obsessively going on and on about the conspiracy of other people’s making he sees in the world around him.

The true conspiracies are not out there in the world of other people, manipulating us.They are in our own heads. In our own desire to read a human agenda into things to insulate us from the underlying reality, which may well turn out to be cold and indifferent to us.

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