Conspiracy theories

We love conspiracy theories for three reasons.

One, we just can’t stand it when we can’t understand something. So we make up explanations. When we can’t understand why something is the way it is or how things are connected, conspiracy theories fill the gaps. And if the theory is unprovable that is far less important than the comfort brought by the “possible explanation.”

Two, we love to think of ourselves as far more capable than we really are; that a group of humans could actually design and pull off some dramatic outcome from behind the scenes, from under the radar, as if to play god. We love to think that one of us — someone one just like me — could actually mastermind and orchestrate a great mystery.

Three, when bad things happen we want someone to blame. For some reason it helps me to let go of my anger if I have a specific place to send it. And if I have already existing reasons for wanting to dislike or discredit someone, that acts as a vacuum into which conspiracies rush to fill the void. I am dying to confirm, in my own head, the suspected badness of someone.

Fertile ground for conspiracy theory is a series of events that look like they might be connected but we can’t see the connections. Yet this is life: all things are connected but we are never sure exactly how. There is no need to rush in with an explanation that surely someone, or a group of someones, is pulling the strings.

Although not nearly as entertaining or satisfying, it is much more practical to simply accept that things are connected but we’re not sure how. Humans are not as smart as we think we are. Fine. Move on.


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