What’s Wrong with Conspiracy Theories? by Jim Fetzer

Almost any story that challenges the officially approved explanation will be rightfully labeled a conspiracy theory, which doesn’t mean the story is wrong, but technically means only that the story alleges two or more people conspiring to commit an illicit act. From Jim Fetzer at unz.com:

The public has been fed an endless stream of attacks upon conspiracy theories, which, we are told, are supposed to be very bad for human beings and other living things. But precisely why is almost never explained. And when you consider that our political parties and the mainstream media indulge themselves in conspiracy theories, such as the claim that Russia interfered with the 2016 election (otherwise Donald Trump could never have been elected) or, alternatively, that Dominion voting machines were used to steal the election of 2020 (and otherwise could not have been defeated) are, in the first instance, promoted by the media (in spite of virtually no evidence at all) and, in the second, denied thereby (in spite of massive supporting proof). Both are conspiracy theories, where one appears to be true and the other appears to be false.

Since at least some conspiracy theories thus appear to be true, we need to be able to tell the difference. Even university professors have shown a decided aversion to conspiracy theories, buying into the stereotypical conception that the key characteristic of conspiracy theories is that they are unfalsifiable. A “tip sheet” for one college, for example, makes the declaration that “The main problem with any particular conspiracy theory is not that it’s wrong, but that it’s inarguable; not that it’s false, but that it is unfalsifiable. Because it is unfalsifiable, a conspiracy theory is not provable or disprovable.” If that were true, it would certainly count against them, making them akin to theoretical affirmations about the existence of God (as a classic case) or the existence of a universal “Force” a la Star Wars (more contemporary). But is it actually true?

A study published in Frontiers of Psychology, “’What about Building 7?’ A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories” (8 July 2013), for example, suggests that those often characterized as “conspiracy theorists” are more skeptical of what they are told by the government (“official accounts”) than they are enamored of specific alternatives and are more open-minded in the interpretation of evidence. They are less inclined to defer to officials as authorities and more inclined to look at the evidence, which even hints that the study of alternative theories of events like 9/11 might be an effective method to teach critical thinking.

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