Are conspiracy theories really that surprising?

This first part might diverge from the readings this week to some degree, but it is still related, and it’s been something I’ve been wrestling with in the last year or so. I find a lot of it is frustration of being lied to and manipulated in so many ways by the people they should be trusting have led it them to not trusting anyone. Once you can’t trust anyone and have no reference points for valid truth in your life you end up suspicious about everyone. This results in these kinds of thoughts and impressions of the world around them. People still want truth, even if we live in a world where everyone seemingly makes their own. Once that trust in the truth is breeched though it’s very hard to get back. Also, it’s really not surprising in a world with the way governments and politicians have lied about and misconstrued so many of the major events of our lives that there’s little faith in our systems (as we have seen in this course). This is fairly cynical I will grant that. I am by no means associated or believe in any of these ideas. I just don’t think they actually came out of nowhere. There is a clear association in my mind.

Now, to the readings this week. One part that stood out to me in the Politico article concerning Q-anon and the Vice interview were this idea that people who feel not in control of their lives or that they’re losing the “familiar” around them are typically adherents or susceptible to these conspiracy theories. I found this interesting…but also a bit like they were gaslighting people as well. My main idea concerning this was the fact that they target out of work people due to the coronavirus. I feel like the fact that these people question the government (and fairly extremely I will admit) makes sense. Also, they take it to the extreme, way farther than I am comfortable with, but how else can they respond to this? People have lost their livelihoods, homes etc. all in the name of public safety but then have to watch government officials keep collecting their paychecks and big businesses having their most profitable year to date. The wealth gap this year has grown enormously. How else can you see that if not a conspiracy at the very top? And then for these wealthy academics to say they’re “far-fetched” or “People FEEL like they’re losing control over their lives”. There is nobody FEELING like they lost control over their lives, they ARE losing control over their lives.

One Reply to “Are conspiracy theories really that surprising?”

  1. I feel like you made some fair points. Sometimes I get the sense that academics and politicians downplay people’s intelligence to make their questions and concerns seem unreasonable or uneducated. To be sure, there are conspiracy theorists who do take measures to the extreme, completely rejecting reality and substituting their own, so to speak (I’m looking at you flat earthers), but is it really unreasonable for people to question the word around them? (Ironically questioning reality is what academics are most renowned for). In terms of the present, you correctly question, “…how else can they respond to this?” In the absence of conclusive data and certainty about the future, all we can do is speculate. And thus conspiracy theories are born.

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