Friday, March 11, 2011

The joys of doubt

I got into a conversation tonight at work with a fellow who enjoys believing in conspiracy theories.  If you question him at all about said theories he starts to rant about how I, just want to believe everything the government tells me, and shortly after that devolves into saying that everybody else are, just sheep. Though I believe he might mean lemmings. But I'm not entirely sure.

I try to explain that there is good reason to believe that your government does not have your best interests in mind when they are legislating and executing law, but I simply don't believe they could possibly be simultaneously so incompetent and so precisely devious.

They are incapable of planting evidence of WMD's in Iraq after invading, but they are able to mastermind the taking down of The World Trade Center complex, involving timed detonations of buildings and concerted effort with Al Qaeda from top to bottom without a single whistle blower.

This is the same organization that has botched virtually ever operation they have undertaken in my lifetime.

I was alive when our helicopters crashed in the desert trying to rescue the Iranian hostages, I was alive for the Iran-Contra affair, and Somalia, the killing of Karzai's cousin, the "invasion" of Grenada, our failed military involvement in Lebanon, Three-Mile Island, our airlift retreat from Vietnam, etc., etc. etc.  Those are just off of the top of my head.  But I refuse to accept that the same people responsible for some of the most comically poor operations ever attempted, by one of the most powerful militaries in the world, could pull off such precisely controlled actions without a hitch.

Everybody has watched too many movies.  They buy into this super-efficient secret organization that controls the world, executing precise military operations globally, to the complete ignorance of most. But only they and a few others in the bong-water coalition are somehow privy to these secret goings-on, as evidenced by their advanced scholarship in youtube conspiracy theory clips.

If the world is getting screwed by an elite few then those guys are bankers, not politicians or generals.  Though the latter are doing their fair share of screwing-over, to be sure.

I've just watched my government fail at far too many simple things to believe they are capable of anything both sophisticated and successful.

One would have to be willing to believe that there were many, many American military officials who would be agreeable to attacking their own country, to kill thousands of civilians, to betray the oaths they took to themselves and their country, to watch the destruction that they themselves enacted, to watch the suffering of a nation, and not one of them would show enough remorse to turn against the horrific operation and blow the whistle.

Doubtful, especially in a society that so rewards a penitent confessor.  Perhaps Oprah should post an elaborate open reward for a governmental conspirator with strong evidence.

How much lack of evidence will it take for the conspiracy crew to let go of their dreams of disappointment?

How would it even be possible that the wiki-leaks incident wouldn't have also suggested or confirmed a WTC conspiracy?

When has anything like that ever happened before?  The whistle eventually gets blown...!!!!!

But, whatever makes you unhappy....

The fellow at work began screaming that there, is no evidence whatsoever that a plane ever hit The Pentagon..., even though there is an enormous amount of evidence that that is exactly what did happen.  He refused to listen to facts, because to his mind the only facts there can be are the ones that linger in the shadows unconfirmed.  These shadows are complicated and require a great leap of faith, or should I say a leap-of-loss-of-faith, to buy them.  These theories are intricate and require several steps of disbelief, then a skipping-along through the garden of logical fallacies to get to the payoff. Making the initiates of these theories feel mentally engaged and privy to a secret world.  Far beyond what a mere traditionally minded sheep might feel in the face of such evidence....

Conspiracy theories just seem like such a ready-made way to say that, you think it's all bullshit.  They appeal primarily to the dissatisfied but lazy mind.  They don't require that you test them the same way that they appear to have tested "the facts."  They don't hold themselves to the same standards of truth value that they accuse the official version of lacking.

It's not as if there are only two choices: either you buy into these conspiracy theories fully OR you are a lost sheep willing to believe everything you're told.  It is also possible for there to be many other strategies of belief, and more importantly: doubt.  Disbelief is a powerful tool in this brave new world, but the simple use of it does not confirm an assertion's validity, or its opposite.

To doubt their embraced conspiracy theory is profane to these people, their version of doubt is sacrosanct.  Doubt is a one-way street for them that ends in a cul-de-sac of supporting facts, impenetrable by non-believers.  They demand that everybody doubt the official telling of the story, sensibly. But they are enraged at the notion that doubt should be applied to their alternate and unnecessarily elaborate explanations of said events.

It would be like questioning The Da'Vinci Code.... Unheard of in civilized conversation....

It tires the mind to try to explain that you feel disappointed by the government also.  But that you are disappointed at their incompetence and deviousness for very different reasons, and with a different set of examples from which you draw, ones that are confirmed and agreed upon by all as documented accounts of failed policy and law, misuse of tax revenue, misguided foreign policy, coca-colonialism, etc., etc., etc.

Conspiracies are attractive, even seductive to some, and they certainly do exist.  But the proliferation of conspiracy theories coincides with a larger failing. One can't help but feel that subscribing to conspiracy theories is a retreat from action rather than a genuine attack, with the intent of positive change. Even their phony demands are primarily symbolic and self-aggrandizing. They call for information but will not accept it. They expect change but only through negation and suspicion.

Where?  What?  How?

How, indeed, can the doubt filled mind ever be satisfied?

It all just seems so patently absurd.  The contemporary and historical American misuse of the ideas of freedom and democracy seem like such a larger and more verifiable conspiracy. But defending such archaic ideas would suggest complicity to the minds of the nouveau-paranoia-cartel.  That the government has made them so suspect of the very principles that their culture will be remembered by, and ultimately criticized for, seems such a larger conspiracy as to be too diabolical to approach, and so, so uncool.

If they really wanted to show their government how mistrustful they are of them then they'd read the current tax code...