Monday, March 8, 2021

The Nature and Purpose of Political Conspiracy Theories

The excerpts in this blog post are quoted from the following web page:

Political conspiracy theories are usually the most intricate.  They arise most often when the "official version” of events seems inadequate, flawed, or incomplete, and these situations present an opportunity for all sorts of bizarre and facile "explanations"

However, the entire purpose of most political conspiracy theories is NOT to carefully present evidence and then use reason and logic to arrive at sound, verifiable conclusions.  Instead, most political conspiracy theories are primarily an intellectual device by which individuals and organizations identify and demonize their perceived enemies whom they propose to vanquish.

The substantive content of a political conspiracy theory is often completely irrelevant to the underlying purpose of the theory and, in any event, there is no possible way to refute or disprove most such theories to the satisfaction of their authors or adherents because most political conspiracy theories are constructed to be self-sealing so that contradictory data can be instantly dismissed, ignored, or de-valued.  The reason is because the theory functions as a problem-solving device but the actual “problem” has virtually nothing to do with the details regarding people and events which are part of the conspiratorial narrative.

The actual “problem” which political conspiracy theories seek to address is explaining one’s sense of impotence, i.e. providing plausible reasons for why one’s values, ideas, policy preferences, and political candidates seem to be repeatedly ignored, disparaged, violated, or defeated, particularly over long periods of time.   Consequently, the conspiracy theory expresses the rage felt when a person perceives himself or his group as persistent “losers” in all matters of importance.

Therefore, the conspiracy theory functions as a “rolodex” of people and organizations who should not be permitted to have a place at the table, because “they” despoil our country, “they” defile its true values, and “they” plan to rob us of our heritage and “they” seek to make impotence a permanent feature of our lives.

That’s the reason why a political conspiracy theory can never be refuted, because it does not rely upon the individual facts, assertions, or conclusions which make up the literal text of the theory.  Instead, it is a primal scream against perceived villains whom are thought to have ruined our society or whom are working toward destroying our individual sovereignty.

Conspiracy theories are usually authored by persistent losers in public policy debates to account for why those persons are frustrated and seemingly impotent to affect public policy decisions and elections over long periods of time.

Anger and frustration is a normal human response to feelings of endless impotence.  Conspiracy theories "solve" the underlying problem by explaining WHY one perceives oneself as powerless, disrespected, unappreciated, and ignored.  It’s really very simple, malevolent powerful beings, working in secret, are responsible.

Conspiracy authors almost never concede even the hypothetical possibility that their paradigm might be flawed in some fundamental respect.  Furthermore, conspiracy authors/researchers don't simply allege that a critic or skeptic is mistaken in their viewpoint.  Instead, they almost always assert that critics or skeptics facilitate the success of evil cabals who consciously are working to destroy our way of life. 

In short, conspiracy believers proclaim that their interpretation is not just intellectually superior to other interpretations, but theirs is the ONLY interpretation possible and any disagreements are the result of morally and intellectually defective beings, who are, perhaps, even agents of the conspiracy! 

Similarly, conspiracy believers usually declare that every issue or controversy is susceptible to only one correct interpretation and, furthermore, our public policy options are limited to only one correct position, which “coincidentally” always conforms to the conspiracy believer’s personal political preferences.

Typically, conspiracy adherents will entertain questions and comments about their theory only so long as their fundamental premises and conclusions are not challenged.  Rigorous critiques are instantly perceived as hostile attacks by hopelessly naïve, ignorant, or “brainwashed” individuals, or perhaps, “smears” initiated by “agents” of the conspiracy who are seeking to “divert” attention away from themselves and thus "waste" time and resources in “pointless” intellectual debates or “disinformation” campaigns. 

Furthermore, conspiracy believers are pre-disposed to believing the worst possible motives regarding their adversaries.  Consequently, conspiracy proponents often arrive at conclusions without asking their perceived adversaries a single question.

Conspiracy advocates often assert that their fellow countrymen cannot be relied upon to understand events and make correct decisions. Why not? Because they believe that vast numbers of their countrymen have been “brainwashed” and “cannot think for themselves”.  In their scheme of things, only conspiracy believers are able to recognize and escape from the clever mind-tricks and ulterior motives of their adversaries.

Further reading:

1 comment:

  1. Good info to pass on. With social media exposing people to more conspiracy theories, there is a greater need for people to use critical reasoning skills to identify points of view as suspect basis on criteria listed here. Hopefully these critical reasoning skills will be incorporated into the school curriculum. Sadly though, "critical reasoning" is notoriously difficult to teach. Students tested before and after four years of college show no change in ability to reason critically. 😐