Months ago, while watching a Richard Dolan video, he declared, “In any debate, the first person to mention the term ‘conspiracy theory’ is the loser.” I chuckled. Many of us, like Dolan, have grown so accustomed to being labeled “conspiracy theorists” for things that turn out to be true we have learned to suspect anyone using the term is probably uninformed, irrational, or both.
In some ways, we can use how often someone dismisses things as conspiracies to gauge their socio-political awareness. However, we can also use it to measure people’s self-awareness.
Despite any “official” definitions, simple observation of how people use the term “conspiracy theory” shows that no definitive class of theories fit. Often theories about conspiracies don’t even earn the label. It’s used as a derogatory term like “quack,” “kook,” “crackpot,” etc. People classify something as a conspiracy theory if they want to project animosity toward the narrative.
But many people often put their lack of clarity on display as a status symbol when gregariously presupposing conspiracy theories are an intellectually distinguishable class of theory instead of an emotionally charged judgment. Just yesterday, I heard someone suggesting one can accurately estimate the validity of a narrative based on the severity of conspiracy theory-ness. Reading through his intellectual confusion, the assertion translates to, “I decide what’s true based on what feels true.” That’s not a rational approach.
At Universal Principle, we pride ourselves on the drills we endure to ensure we adequately distinguish observation from evaluation – or objective and measurable from subjective judgements. Both are important, but discerning them from each other is required to be a critical thinker.
You do not have an internal sensor that identifies correct ideas; you have an intuition (often wrong) about what seems right. Critical thinking isn’t intuition; it’s a boots-on-the-ground mathematical word-problem type of grind. If you think you have an intuition about what ideas are “conspiracy theories” and you believe yourself to be an intellectual, think again. You probably need to be made aware of how much the state erroneously crafted your intuition for you.
Your intuition will only guide you straight if you drill it to conform to reality. Carefully paying attention to the minor distinctions between observation and evaluation and courageously owning what you witnessed and what you assumed, felt, or insinuated for a month will make you feel like you see dimensions deeper than most around you.
Face it. We’re all conspiracy theorists, snowflake extremists, and superstitious hairless apes in someone’s judgment, but none of those judgments/labels are informative or objectively verifiable. It’s worthless information. They’re just mindless noises humans make when they’re incredulous.
Thanks for reading.