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I have a theory: There's something inherent in human nature that makes people need religion. Some kind of religion. Any kind of religion. Even the most atheist people in the world still can't fight this urge to have some kind of religious conviction.
With this I don't mean that every single individual person in existence has religious convictions. Of course there are exceptions, ie. people who truly are neutral and skeptic in the proper sense of the word, who do not obsess about some conviction. However, these seem to be more the exception than the rule. What I mean is that no matter what group of people we are talking about, there will always be some fanatic individuals which obsess about something with religious conviction.
Even people with an atheist world view can still have hard time resisting this urge, and thus they will find some substitute.
One such substitute in the modern world are conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theory fanatics present all the symptoms of religious fanatics. Here are some of them:
The conspiracy theorist will say things like "there's NO WAY these photos are not faked" and "there's NO WAY this is something else than controlled demolition", etc. He is absolutely sure and certain at all possible levels that he knows the truth.
Spreading the Truth is in no way limited to the Internet. Like the most vocal religious movements, also conspiracy theorists will organize protest marches and parades, where they will disturb the peace of completely unrelated events, they will get into TV shows to spread their convictions, they will preach to individuals at their workplaces and other places, etc, etc.
Basically any scientist who opposes their views is delusional, incompetent and part of the system and thus not to be trusted, while any scientist (or anyone claiming to be a scientist) who agrees with the conspiracy theory is immediately credible and competent, and will be much quoted.
There's almost always a certain arrogance to both conspiracy theorists and people who believe in them. The firmer the belief, the more arrogant the attitude. Perhaps not in every single individual case, but in average this seems to be very true.
Even if they don't use directly these types of expressions, their attitude is nevertheless like: "Ha ha, do you really believe that we went to the Moon?" (or substitute with any conspiracy theory which is currently trendy) with a tone of voice saying "you fool, you have been deceived, I know the Truth, ha ha!"
As already stated, they are so utterly convinced that there's not even a shred of doubt or place for alternatives. They already know the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth, and anything else (especially the "official explanation") is utterly false.
I suppose that in most cases this comes from a sense of belonging to a special "elite" group of people who know the inside secrets of the government or whatever organizations, who are "in the loop", and thus superior to the average person in terms of knowledge. In the most basic sense it's a childish "I know something you don't" attitude, but escalated to "adult" proportions (while still being equally childish). It's the same kind of mentality as with gossipping, but slightly different in nature and scale.
If directly confronted with the question how they know it to be true with such certainty, they might back up a little and concede that it might not be so (but they are still convinced because of all the "irrefutable evidence"). However, that's usually only for show, and without such direct confrontation their attitude tends to be very arrogant and childish.
I find it both amusing and sad at the same time that these poor people are so convinced that they know the truth and that they know more than the rest of people, and that they are more intelligent and they cannot be deceived, while in fact they have been completely deceived into believing lies and distortions. It's both amusing and sad how arrogant they are about their "knowledge".
When confronted, they will also always claim to have studied the subject impartially, and that they have come to the conclusion by deducing from all the available evidence. Yet quite contradictorily, when they are pointed to evidence which disproves the conspiracy theory, they will always outright dismiss it without any consideration, without being able to disprove the evidence, and without giving it any thought, immediately proving that they are not being impartial and considering all the evidence.
(In some exceptional cases some believers will admit that the evidence might be valid, but they will not falter in their belief anyways. After all, as already stated, this is a religion, and doubting the premises of the religion is showing weakness, which they cannot permit.)
Conspiracy theorists really like to talk about the scientific community as if it was some kind of secret society who have secret meetings where they agree on which lies they will announce to the world. This is just absolutely ridiculous.
Just think about this: There are tens of thousands, if not even hundreds of thousands of scientists from around the world, from different cultures, from different countries, cultures and countries which have absolutely no interest in defending some possible conspiracy the United States government (or the NASA) has put up. These different people from all around the world all form the so-called scientific community. What possible interest would there be for all of them to lie in order to defend the United States government for something they might have made?
One could argue that they are not lying, they are just misled, like all the other people. This is not any less ridiculous. From hundreds of thousands (if not even millions) of critically-thinking intelligent people from all around the world, from different countries an cultures, all of them are so gullible as to believe some lies set up by the United States government or the NASA?
These scientists are not everyday people. They have measurement devices, laboratories and expertise to test and corroborate all physical facts surrounding these conspiracy theories. If there would be, for example, something wrong with, let's say, the Moon landing photographs, these hundreds of thousands of scientists from all around the world would certainly have all the means and expertise to determine that.
The conspiracy theorists also want us to believe that all scientists are actually afraid of publishing discoveries and claims which contradict what is currently established as the scientific truth. This couldn't be farther from the truth. This is certainly not how the scientific community works.
There would be nothing more exciting and rewarding for a scientist than to be able to publish a paper which presents a new discovery or scientifically credible theory. That's actually the dream of most people who work in a scientific field: To be the first one to discover something, to get one's name to be known around the world. This is the ultimate goal and dream of all scientists: To become famous, to do something earth-shaking, something which would change the world.
If there was any scientifical ground on any of these conspiracy theories, you can be absolutely sure that scientists would be rushing to publish papers about it. It would be absolutely ridiculous to think that all the scientists would actually be afraid of doing so. This is just not how science works.
The conspiracy theorists are asking us whether we choose to believe these hundreds of thousands of scientists, or some random people in the internet with dubious competence and credibility (namely the conspiracy theorists themselves).
Who are you going to believe? The hundreds of laboratories around the world (from countries which have absolutely no interest in defending a possible hoax by NASA) who have the equipment to measure whether the Apollo missions put a reflector on the surface of the Moon, or a random conspiracy theorist in the internet who claims that there's no such reflector?
Who are you going to believe? The hundreds of demolition experts from around the world who don't see any problem with the mechanics of the fall of the WTC towers, or some random conspiracy theorists in the internet who have absolutely no expertise on demolition or physics?
Conspiracy theorists like to be non-conformists, they like to be "different", they like to rebel against authority and against official explanations, they don't want to be misled by some false information, they don't want to be naive and gullible. Rather ironically, people who believe in these conspiracy theories are naive, gullible and easily misled. In their desire to rebel, they are just jumping on the bandwagon. The sad thing is that they are misled from the real truth to nothing but a bunch of lies and deceit.
What these people lack is a healthy source criticism: These gullible people will believe all the elaborate "documentaries" the conspiracy theorists have created, be convinced that there is something odd going on, and most importantly, will never do more research about the subject.
For some reason the idea that maybe there is more information about the subject, that maybe some knowledgeable people have actually debunked those "documentaries" and websites, never crosses the mind of these people who are misled by conspiracy theories, and they will never do the research to find out (even though in the internet era this is a laughably easy thing to do).
There's an odd phenomenon with conspiracy theory believers. If they say "25% of Americans doubt that the official story is true", and you respond with "that just goes to show how gullible people are", approximately 90% of these conspiracy theory believers will respond: "Exactly!"
I don't really understand what is it with these people. Either they can't understand what is being said, or they are deliberately distorting what was just said, for whatever reason I cannot grasp. The funny thing is that they end up actually agreeing with you (ie. that people who believe in conspiracy theories are gullible) while thinking they are proving some kind of point (regardless of whether they responded like that without understanding or deliberately).
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