I am compelled to write this post after reading a particular article written by Joan Coastan for the media outlet Vox. https://www.vox.com/2018/12/31/18144710/conspiracy-theories-trump-2018-qanon-soros-false-flags
For some reason, this article really struck a nerve. The title of the article is ” Why Conspiracy Theories Matter” so it caught my eye. However, as I began to read this it became quickly apparent that the story angle was not what I anticipated. My summation of the article is that the writer is trying to sound an alarm that conspiracy theories undermine all the giant systems of our nation and are in fact quite dangerous. She alleges that our political, judicial, scientific, and medical institutions suffer greatly from the rampant conspiracy theories spread through our country; and that we the people are all somehow harmed because of this. She further claims that under the current Trump administration, the danger has become even more pronounced. A direct quote from her article..
“Perhaps the reason conspiracy theories seem more powerful than ever is that a conspiracy theorist is now in the White House — a president who is a birther, an occasional vaccine truther, a climate change hoax believer who argued in 2016 that Ted Cruz’s father somehow assisted the assassin of John F. Kennedy.
In the Trump era, when long-held facts seem to matter less, conspiracy theories — theories that create not just, in Kellyanne Conway’s terminology, “alternative facts,” but an entirely new reality — are more threatening, and more critical to understand, than ever before.”
Well gee whiz everyone, we better all rush to put an end to this conspiracy nonsense straight away! My gosh, we have to find a way to get those free thinking people to conform with our indoctrinated brainwashing that we have worked so hard to instill in the public’s minds for so many years. Free thinkers and the average person using their own discernment and questioning what we tell them will be the downfall of our nation! NOT!!! Sarcasm alert.
Is it just me or does this go against everything a free and open society is supposed to stand for? Don’t we all have the right to decide for ourselves what we feel is the truth and don’t we have the right to change our minds as when we get more information? There is a word for zombie like blind belief in what you are told from those who are in positions of power and influence. And that word is not FAITH! Philosophers and sages throughout recorded history have always advocated that a person should seek the truth for themselves, research on their own, and use critical thinking to verify the veracity of what they are told.
Well, let’s examine some evidence. In our country’s recent history, have there ever been so called conspiracy theories that the passage of time has ultimately exonerated? As a matter of fact there have been many. Here is a link to just one of the most recent articles showing evidence of once crazy theories now proven to be factual. https://themindunleashed.com/2018/10/10-conspiracy-theories-true.html
There is so much that I could write to debate the article mentioned above on Vox that it could easily comprise a book. But I want to touch on just one specific conspiracy theory that this article mentions….. vaccines. As a direct quote from the article, “the anti-vaccination movement, led by conspiracy theorists who wrongly believe that vaccines cause health problems.” Not exactly a fair and balanced statement. In fact, the CDC just updated its own website this past February regarding the MMR vaccine with information on that directly contradicts her quote. The CDC now lists nine categories of people who SHOULD NOT receive the MMR vaccine. Also listed are mild, moderate, and severe risks of vaccination reactions along with a link to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program! The link can be found here https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mmr.html
So can we reasonably demonize conspiracy theories? And why are these theories really so prevalent in our lives today? Could it be that more people in our society are viewing the world as an unjust and unfair place full of hypocrisy? Could people be awakening to the fact that the last majority of wealth and power is concentrated in a few while the many have to toil twice as hard to achieve half of what their ancestors did? Could it be that the seemingly endless cases of corruption have made people question how this is all happening? Are these same people trying to understand the root cause of what most feel is misery on a national scale in an effort to figure out how to make their own lives better?
Perhaps instead of calling 2018 the year of conspiracies we should call it the year of the rise of free thinkers! Nobody has all the answers, nobody is going to magically save us from our disenchantment with the state of the world. We have to learn to question everything, yes even authority, in a conscious and respectful way. We need to do our own due diligence and come to conclusions for ourselves while still honoring the right of others to have their own views. We need to keep on going.
Maybe we should stop calling these conspiracy theories and start calling it THE CRITICAL THINKING MOVEMENT. Hmm.