Conspiracy Theories?

“Conspiracy Theories” seem to be the concern of the moment for the people in my immediate surroundings, and predictably with such a subject people sit squarely in one corner or the other with seemingly little room for discussion. This is one of the problems with this subject, but it is not the only problem. It seems clear to me at least that the main problem surrounding this is that so many people seem so sure of themselves regarding their beliefs.

Personally I find it a little enlightening to think of things a little differently. Some time ago I wrote a post on the human brain and how it stores information and this is part of the reason why my approach is different. The way a person’s eye works is surprising in that much of what we actually see is sometimes different to what the actual world itself presents.

There is the observation that where things appear in our vision is as important as what we see. As the left eye is monitored by the right hemisphere (and vice versa) we find that where the information is processed and its proximity to other processes in the brain is as important as what we are seeing. It has been found that where visual information is processed can alter our perceptions of what we are seeing in quite surprising ways.

It is also clear that in many ways our visual acuity can be impaired in other ways that can be completely hidden by both the subject and the observer. Colour blindness is another example of this situation, and there are probably others, where what is seen and what actually exists are in conflict.

So taking this into account we cannot be completely clear on what we are actually seeing, and whether what we see is comparable to what those around us also see.

Immediately this creates doubt, but the doubt does not end there. Science often presents itself as the font of all knowledge when it is nothing of the sort. Science is re-considered and its theories are tuned almost daily. What was once fantasy becomes reality and what was once considered reality falls into misconceptions of a bygone age.

What I’m speaking about here isn’t really brain chemistry or visual disturbances but uncertainty itself. Really we are only a miniscule step further along the path of enlightenment than our ancient ancestors were thousands of years ago. We consider our harnessing of the microchip to be some evidence of our progress, and it is, but in the vastness of existence the step is still an infinitesimal one.

So if it can be taken as read that our knowledge is in reality quite modest how can we really take such a violent side in any argument?

My arguments here could be considered more fitting to those theories concerning strange lights in the skies than those of the Twin Tower tragedy, and in many ways that is true; but the uncertainty that my position reflects is what I feel is key here.

Even when we consider evidence that seems relatively cut-and-dried there are still many areas where doubt can settle in. Mass psychology and the psychology of the individual have their effects and these effects can not be over estimated.

Certainty can only be reached when there is absolutely no alternative, and absolutely no possibility that the opposing argument could be correct.

But I believe the biggest flaw in this logic is that certainty itself is the biggest “conspiracy theory” and that, in truth, it so rarely exists.

(Another interesting item that illustrates just how tenuous most peoples grip on reality is can be seen over at www.prisonexp.org. This site concerns itself with the infamous “Stanford Prison Experiment” where “truth” and “fiction” regularly switched places and “certainty” was nothing more than a myth.)

2 thoughts on “Conspiracy Theories?”

  1. Great post. My only criticism would be the statement that “Science often presents itself as the font of all knowledge”. I do agree that science is presented as the font of all knowledge but not by scientists. The problem here is that scientists are too busy doing science to do Public relations.

    The default position for any scientist on any subject is always, “I don’t know.” They will push with “maybe this” or “maybe that” but the default is always “I don’t know.”

    Experiments then take place which gather evidence. This evidence is crunched into a conclusion but that is not, and never is, the end of the matter. Again this conclusion is often sold to us as the truth but the scientific community never see it that way. It is more a “we have found this. We think this. What do you think?” The work goes out in the open is peer reviewed, retested, rethought and worked over by people all over the globe. This is to find flaws in it, think of things the original experiment didn’t think of and test it in other circumstances. To put it simply, science evolves. And this runs contrary to the picture we are often painted that “science is the font of all knowledge.” This is also contrary to the position society seem to be in where changing your mind is considered a weakness. Therefore the ever evolving science is accused of “not having all the answers” while the never changing, stuck in the ways religious beliefs are allowed to go past with very little comment.

    I do think the real issue is “belief”. Of course you get some scientists who “believe” they are right but they are pretty quickly ostracised from the community. Belief is a weakness because you cannot change it. It cannot evolve. Even if you proved, categorically, that God does not exist it will not change the mind of the religious but if you do discover and prove that the scientific community did something wrong and water actually boiled at 104 degrees then after peer review, retesting and rethought your work would be accepted as the best thing we have AT THE MOMENT.

    Our thoughts and opinions should evolve. When you believe something, they stagnate.

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