May 07

Conspiracy Theories: A New Religion?

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In recent times conspiracy theories have become increasingly popular. We’ve heard a torrent of theories surrounding bin Laden’s death and questions over president Obamas birth.

As our society becomes increasingly secular, people are struggling to find the meaning religion previously provided. Some people are turning to the church of celebrity, others to virtual online games and some to the world of conspiracy theories.

The rise of the internet and poor communication from our governments is also to blame.
Are any conspiracy theories true? Are they a good or a bad thing?

Well first off there are some fools out there who instantly slam anything labeled a conspiracy theory. That is certainly not my philosophy. I believe in questioning anything and everything. It is only by doubting things that we can reveal the truth. People should never blindly accept what they are told, particularly by governments, most of whom have a history of lying.

This said there has been a worrying trend for conspiracy theories to become ever more wild and extreme. It is fine to question things but what worries me is when theories are presented as facts.

Part of the problem is that conspiracy theories have now become a multi-billion dollar industry led by the likes of Alex Jones. America still remains obsessed over the JFK killings for example. Too keep the industry going, Jones and others have to keep coming up with new and increasingly wild stories. Jones’s latest is that bin Laden has been ‘literally frozen’ for years to be rolled out by the US at a later date, this despite any evidence.

Fox news host Glenn Beck has also joined in. His latest that bin Laden was captured to stop him revealing the location of an al-Qaeda nuclear bomb. Why the US government would do this is anyone’s guess, Beck didn’t offer an explanation.

If we’re not careful we get into the realm of wild speculation and this is very dangerous. Firstly the more conspiracy theories, and ‘noise’ there is, the less credibility any of them have. If there ever was or is a real conspiracy theory it would be lost in the plethora of fake ones. It has been said bin Laden was given up by Pakistan to get the US out of Afghanistan and also that he was killed as a pretext for a war in Pakistan, it certainly can’t be both.

Secondly conspiracy theories have become a religion for some. Rather than questioning and doubting things rationally people are becoming obsessed with their ideas. Instead of critically evaluating their theories they obsessively defend them, much like in many religions. This is unhealthy and damages our democracy and freedoms.

‘Studies in psychology have demonstrated, among other things, a consistent pattern of avoiding evidence that contradicts an initial hypothesis; irrepressible overconfidence in one’s own judgment’. (http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture/why-bin-laden-death-photos-wont-change-minds-30966/)

Why? For many a conspiracy theory can be a means of giving one’s life meaning. It gives people something to fight against, an evil to be stopped. Sometimes, even unconsciously, we will fight against that thing being taken away.

Keep questioning and doubting. NEVER STOP. Don’t let your own theories enslave you. Conspiracy theories should never become a religion.