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Passions in Poetry

Conspiracy Theories: What Causes Them?

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fractal007
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0 posted 03-29-2010 12:53 AM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Hey all:
Recently I was talking with someone in the US who sincerely believes that the Obama administration is somehow attempting to put America under the power of a socialist/communist state and to unify all of North America as one hegemonic power.

I was wondering, is this kind of talk more common in America?  If so is there something about America that would make it more common there?  If not, is there something in humanity that would make people talk like this?



JenniferMaxwell
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1 posted 03-29-2010 01:13 AM       View Profile for JenniferMaxwell   Email JenniferMaxwell   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for JenniferMaxwell

"Conspiracy Theories: What Causes Them?"
Great question!
Perhaps a willingness to believe or desire to look for the worst in those whose political, religious, philosophical beliefs or lifestyles and values differ from ours?
Balladeer
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2 posted 03-29-2010 09:27 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Actually, this type of rhetoric is very UNCOMMON in America....until Obama has assumed command. Now it is impossible to not consider. His videos over the past years have advocated such thoughts, his "redistribution of wealth" comments have endorsed it. His surrounding himself with people who are on record as advocating a socialist, anti-capitalism government give more credence to it and his actions since taking office have driven the point home. One would have to be blind - or a dyed-in-the-wool democrat - not to see it.
Essorant
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3 posted 03-29-2010 10:04 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Basically, blind faith or obstinancy causes them.  People become too fond of their own way of approaching something, so fixed on their pessimism and suspicions about something, that the facts soon become irrelevent to the religious and sentimental attatchment they have to their notions.

United States may indeed be the leader in conspiracy theories and other similar movements.  What other civilized country has a Creationist-Museum, where you may go and see how humans coexisted with the dinosaurs?        

[This message has been edited by Essorant (03-29-2010 10:36 PM).]

Stephanos
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4 posted 03-30-2010 12:11 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Gosh Essorant, sounds like you're describing a creationist conspiracy.    
serenity blaze
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5 posted 03-30-2010 02:38 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I think that it stems from a need to make sense of a nonsensical world.

Take the ingredients of an intelligent mind and a sensitive spirit, toss in the blender that same logic and spirituality, with the hope that one can cope with the outcome of the juice of "facts" that resound in the realm of personal experience, and you've got yourself one of the following:

A. A paranoid delusional conspiracy theorist

B. A detective/scientist/diagnostician

C. A Street corner prophet or a power-mongering fascist.

Why do you ask?

Grinch
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As an outside observer I’d have to say that in my opinion yes, Americans are more prone to believing conspiracy theories.

How do they start?

Here’s a good paper on the subject, it contains some flaws in my opinion but also some very valid points - it’s well worth a read:
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1084585

Ironically one of the authors was at the centre of his very own conspiracy theory not too long ago.
http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum6/HTML/001914.html#000012

.
Essorant
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7 posted 03-30-2010 11:35 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos

No, not a Creationist "conspiracy", although the way some creationists treat Evolution-science is very similar to creating a conspiracy theory.   There is a similar denial of facts and attempt to explain them away in order to uphold beliefs such as the earth only being a few thousand years old or that humans coexisted with dinosaurs.   Both conspiracy theories, denial of the holocaust, denial of the age of earth and evolutionary facts, et cetera are all similar in that respect: they generally focus and exaggerate on the facts that may be presented as if they support, but deny a heap of other facts that contradict, their "theories".

Falling rain
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8 posted 04-01-2010 01:04 PM       View Profile for Falling rain   Email Falling rain   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Falling rain's Home Page   View IP for Falling rain

I was just about to say something along the lines of what Serenity said. >.< lol.

The world is too full of questions that we try to answer with either logical reasoning or senseless theories that seem plausible.

I say I like a good mystery
Stephanos
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9 posted 04-05-2010 10:41 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant, the scientific data surrounding the age of the Earth is far different than the "proofs" for Evolution (which in my opinion is more like a philosophy), which are not demonstrable.  But for now, we can simply agree to disagree about that since I wouldn't want to turn this into another debate about it (we just did that, so why do it again ... you know we'll get to it again one day, but I figure we should allow breathing).  

But more to the heart of this thread, I would ask whether we should view either conspiracy theories, or things assumed to be no more credible than conspiracy theories, as wholly negative.  I think we should rather ask what in the American spirit gives rise to this tendency.  We are in many ways an anti-authoritarian people.  Our inception and unique history demonstrates this time and again.  We don't like hegemony (either in government or ideology), honestly, whether those in power be right or wrong.  So perhaps this feeling gets the better of us at times and makes us believe outlandish things.  But it also makes us capable of valid criticism where other national mindsets would be more passive or even apathetic.  It give us the ability to doubt as well as believe, for good or for ill.

This speaks nothing of the validity of specific "theories", either those believed or those disputed, either those bolstered by the establishment or believed by a relative minority.  Regarding specifics, it is case by case.


Stephen    
Bob K
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10 posted 04-06-2010 04:24 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


quote:

conspiracy theory 
–noun
1.
a theory that explains an event as being the result of a plot by a covert group or organization; a belief that a particular unexplained event was caused by such a group.
2.
the idea that many important political events or economic and social trends are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.

—Related forms
conspiracy theorist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010.
Cite This Source




     A definition of the thing itself is frequently a good start.

     The thing about the nature of the conspiracy theory that jumps out right away for the observer is the question of their reality.  Conspiracy theories exist in the realm of the questionable, the possible and the rumored, and they live a sort of half-life in which they struggle to become real.  The drama of conspiracy theories is the drama of the almost, because as proof of the conspiracy theory seems to gather substance and weight for some, simultaneously, for others, it grows more and more tenuous and seems to evaporate into vapors and mists.

     It is not a perculiarly American thing, though we Americans certainly love our conspiracy theories.  We have them around the Lincoln Assassination and the Kennedy Assassination.  We have them around 9/11 and we have them around the elections of 2000 and 2004 and now 2008.  We have them around the Trilateral Commission and Iran/Contra.  We have them around Vietnam and we have them around Iraq.  We have them everywhere.  Mike is wrong when he says they are peculiar to President Obama's administration, but he tends to see all evil as stemming from President Obama from time to time, so he can be understood for his bias.

     I believe that it is not a good idea to dismiss Conspiracy Theories completely.  They are a sort of paranoid thinking, and paranoid thinking never simply pops into existence without some reality behind it.  There is always some truth in it some place.  The challenge is to find it and account for it.  The truth needs to be honored.

     This may, in fact, be the cause of a lot of conspiracy theories in the first place:  Honest observation of odd behavior that is discounted by folks in authority.  Failure to offer explanations for odd behavior on the part of authorities, gives rise to wild speculations that grow more wild the longer the denials go on.

     Authority likes to look monolithic and perfect.  Acknowledging any error or fumbling makes authority fear for its grip on power; it's more comfortable issuing a denial that acknowleging  goof-up.  The more complicated the cover-up becomes, the more mistakes are made in maintaining it, and the less skillfully it is done.  Therefore the more wild the speculation grows to cover the contradictions in the various versions of the cover story.

     By the end, with some of the more elaborate cover-ups, the conspiracy theories used to make sense of them include flying saucers and alien abductions.  These sorts of conspiracy theories take on a life of their own.  I would be surprised if, at this point, anybody knows what the original cover-ups were actually about, but at some point they appear to have grown large enough to have dragged in a legitimate weapons testing and development site in Nevada, which required addition cover-ups to conceal the development of stealth aircraft.

     One of the features of Conspiracy Theories is that they may grow large enough to create what are called pseudo-communities.  The stories become convoluted enough to require narritive bridges, in other words, to make sense of the Theory.  The bridges make sense of theory but may make little or no sense in real life, requiring people who believe in these theories to believe in connections that are logically unreasonable.  Sometimes you can see these plotted as if they were true in horror movies, where your wife is an alien monster who sucks brains from french poodles, or some such.

     Whole cultures can subscribe to Conspiracy Theories, and even hold matching Conspiracy Theories that put their mutual existence in danger.  The Soviets believed that the West was looking for an excuse to invade them and wipe them from the earth (based in part on the 1919 invasion of the Soviet Union by the Allied Powers after WWI), while The United States believed that a hoarde of Soviets would come pouring through the Fulda Gap into Western Europe.  Bothj sides believed that the other was waiting the Nuke them into oblivion.  The reality was that it was a close thing, in part because of mutually held conspiracy theories based in part on reality.

     There is always some reality.

     There are loads of Muslims who believe that Zionists bombed The World Trade Center.  This makes perfect sense to them.  Loads of Egyptians believe that the British SIS assassinated Princess Diana, and, as I understand it, a fair number of Brits have that in their heads as well.  The reasoning for why may be different.

     There are and have been loads of Conspiracy Theories directed at the Jews by just about everyone.  The Brits have had Centuries of of experience with Conspiracies against Catholics.  Any number can play.

     Anyhow, that's my thinking on the matter, Mr Bond.
 
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