I consider myself a very inquisitive person. When I come across a word I don’t recognize, I immediately look up its definition. When a song or a movie is popular, I look it up to determine if it’s something I may enjoy. I don’t let public opinion have much bearing on my own decisions, opinions, tastes, etc. I like to do my own research and decide for myself.
One area of popular culture I enjoy learning about and researching is conspiracy theories. I’ve passively investigated such conspiracies as the assassination of JFK, the possibility that 9/11 was an inside job perpetrated perhaps by the CIA, the FBI, the United Nations, or some combination of these and others, that the Sandy Hook massacre was a propaganda event meant to criminalize the National Rifle Association.
There’s also the issue of climate change, which some argue is a conspiracy theory perpetrated by the big-oil companies in order to increase oil prices and to sell carbon credits to allow corporations and rich individuals to use higher-priced oil without public shame or punishment by the government–which seems to suggest carbon credits are modern-day indulgences, which were sold by the Catholic Church prior to the Protestant Reformation and allowed people to sin with prior forgiveness.
Do I believe any of these conspiracy theories? I’m not sure. I haven’t researched them enough. I know what one side says but I’m not as knowledgeable as to what the other side says. Beliefs should be fluid. What you believe in today may not be what you believe in tomorrow. If you find a good argument and solid evidence, there is no shame, I believe, in changing your belief.
Neither side is unequivocally right, I believe. The truth is always somewhere in the middle, it’s never black or white, it’s always gray.
I’ve recently become re-interested in conspiracy theories because the book I’m currently writing–a true-crime story–I believe, from my intensive research, involves a conspiracy theory.
When I started writing it, I had no intention nor expectation of uncovering such evidence that would lead me to this belief. But the evidence, for me, is so overwhelming–not that a conspiracy unequivocally took place but that a conspiracy is certainly a possibility, as probable as, maybe even more than, what the official story was.
I realized then that I felt embarrassed that I would have such suspicions. No doubt this shame was the result of the negative connotations associated with conspiracy theories, with their perpetuators termed ‘conspiracy theorists,’ usually with a snarl or a dismissive shake of the head.
But the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ should, objectively, have no negative or positive connotations, just as the words ‘Jew’ or ‘Negro’ or ‘Mexican’ shouldn’t.
But they all do, don’t they?
Let’s break down the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’: What is a conspiracy? It’s a clandestine plan organized by a group of people to do something illegal, harmful, shameful, or popularly disagreed upon.
Legitimate historical conspiracies include: the American Revolution, Nat Turner’s recruiting of other black slaves to steal guns and horses in order to rebel against slavery and destroy towns in Virginia, and black people and other oppressed individuals organizing sit-ins in diners during the Civil Rights Movement.
Conspiracies can be non-violent. All they require is secretive planning in order to achieve a goal.
And what is a theory? It’s speculation, a structured explanation as to how and why something happens. It’s not concrete, it’s not a fact, it’s not a universal certainty, it’s merely speculation.
Relativity, which explains the law of gravity, is a theory. Evolution is a theory. Of course scientific theories are generally different from social theories but the word remains the same. These theories are the closest things to scientific facts–until, if, other theories come about with as much empirical evidence to back them up.
It’s not so much that I believe in relativity or evolution but I have no better explanation myself as to why gravity exists or how humans came to be. Granted, I haven’t done that much research into these areas, but scientific research is not my strong suit.
I’ve never felt any shame for ‘believing’ in relativity or evolution, based on the evidence that I remain on the ground unless I actively force myself against it in jumping (which I rarely do) and that primates and humans have similar anatomy and physiology, but I have when it comes to conspiracy theories.
I don’t necessarily believe in conspiracy theories but I certainly give them credence–consider the possibility that certain conspiracy theories could be truthful, as much as anything in this world, where there are no actual ‘facts,’ as science says, only ‘theories’ and ‘laws’ that can possibly be refuted, can be truthful or ‘factual.’
Conspiracy theories are not and should not be treated any differently than scientific theories. They both require intensive research, consideration of all sides, and a plethora of objective evidence.
Some theories are easy to refute because of their lack of evidence or because of the overwhelming presence of contrary evidence: That God is creating the hurricanes that are destroying the Gulf Coast and that the earth is only a couple thousand years old. Technically, these are theories that have been posited and then massively refuted due to the presence of compelling evidence, which proposes stronger, more scientific theories.
Others are more difficult to refute out of hand: That there was more than one gunman involved in the assassination of JFK and Newton’s three laws of motion. Both are open to reconsideration and any evidence presented that contradicts these theories should be considered for validity–it’s just unlikely that enough compelling contradictory evidence will ever come up.
So I encourage you to do your own research into conspiracy theories. Don’t believe the face value of anything–dig deep and find the truth, that gray kernel deep in the darkness.