The Seduction of Reason: Conspiracies both Real and Imagined

Some government conspiracies are real. They tend to align with openly stated policies; the US government was hostile to the civil rights movement; in secret, they did many terrible things to discredit it. While there are false flags here, logic chains are not completely tortured. Cointel pro is understandable. A 911 missile strike on the Pentagon covered up by a plane-full of people mysteriously disposed of off camera isn’t.

The most seductive aspect of the conspiracy theory is that once freed from the bonds of available, impeccable information sources, you are free to build logic chains that lead, literally, from anything to anything else you want to believe in.

Something about breaking that first logical chain, throwing out traditional media sources completely as corrupt, empowers the conspiracy theory to break the next logic chain. And the next. And so on.

As an example, New World Order conspiracists who saw 911 as an attack by the NWO on American ‘sovereignty’ (keep an eye on that word, always, it’s very slippery, like the word ‘freedom’) had no problem seeing GW Bush’s flouting of the United Nations as a conspiracy by globalists who were behind… greater United Nation control of national government.

Wut? You say.

I had a conspiracist explain it to me. Bush was so obviously insane, so obviously corrupt, and the process by which we went to war was so obviously illegal, that it damaged the reputation of the US, leading us down the road to greater United Nations control.

In the long game, ignoring the UN was a plot by UN lovers to create an all powerful UN. Obviously.

This is idiotic.

This is an example of the If X-then-Y reasoning, where X and Y are non-causal, that conspiracy theory abounds in. False flags! Deep, long games!

Pro tip: the reason the world stands on the brink of climate change disaster? Nobody, not even the rich elites, ever plays a long game. EVER!


The only people playing long games do it in the open with think tanks and white papers trying to create a policy consensus around a given world view. Communitarian values on the left; libertarian values on the right.

Now, does this mean I don’t believe in conspiracies? No. The US government spends hundreds of billions annually on agencies whose only job it is to uncover conspiracies! If they didn’t exist, we wouldn’t stand for this.

Do false flags never happen? No. Look at the COINTELPRO portfolio from the sixties.

But prematurly embracing conspiracy of any sort is a slippery slope into the world of electing Donald Trump. In the Trumper’s world view, all expertise is seen as corruption and collusion. All graphs are fake. All data is suspect. Anecdotes and gut feelings replace data and research and academic opinions.

And while academics aren’t always right, gut reactions are more often wrong. Because we think with our brains, not our guts. A gut reaction is a deep, primitive brain response from reptilian brain centers responsible for fight or flight, panic, fear, mating, death and hatred.

Those emotions are not a great foundation for good policy choices.

Posted in Conspiracy Theory

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