Jewish bankers rule the world. A cabal of Illuminati pull the strings that govern global events, with puppet-like politicians dancing to their every tune. The rich and powerful meet at a private camp in northern California to conjure mystical powers, hatch evil schemes, and manipulate markets.
Maybe they do. Probably they don’t.
The closer truth about our world is that it is a hot mess of competing agendas, uneven progress, many well-intentioned people, some very bad actors, few absolutes and many shades of grey. This is true of politics, religion, culture, economics, and social ills.
As established and even dusty institutions vie to hold their power, position, and perspective, young people whose ideas, concerns, and vision for the future is completely antithetical to the sacred cows of a previous generation push forward into the workforce…and the voting booth.
As emerging countries embrace democracy, tyrannical monoliths like Russia and China reach out to those same young, vulnerable economies, offering ‘aid’…at a price that could prove truly expensive–financially and politically–at a later date.
As environmentalists protest and persuade, energy companies quietly pursue their precious commodities in every corner of the globe, often ignoring their impact on the planet, and focusing on the still very real need of consumers to have fuel for their cars and homes.
Arguments for and against both have their merits and shortcomings. Contradictions abound. Easy answers rarely hold water. Frustration can set in. Followed by despair and a feeling of hopelessness and powerlessness.
Which can lead us to search for someone to blame…and absolve ourselves of responsibility.
Conveniently, we have conspiracy theories, points of view that explain, thoroughly or haphazardly, why things are the way they are in our world today.
The internet, of course, has incubated, hatched, and nourished a veritable swarm of conspiracy theories. Some benign and amusing ‘urban legends’. Some much more dangerous misinformation campaigns that intentionally confuse straightforward issues, distort reality, and pose a real threat to people…and to democracy.
It’s deceptively easy to go down a rabbit hole and become consumed by tales of clandestine agreements between the very rich and secretly powerful. It’s an even easier sidestep to assign blame: these formidable, well-funded and long-established interests are hogging all of the opportunities, sucking up all the resources, and, of course, ‘keeping us down.’
The truth is that power and money do barter with each other on a regular basis. They do treasure their resources, abilities, talents, and privileges. They often exclude outsiders unfairly.
The other truth is that more than a few of their number have come from humble beginnings and were once outsiders themselves. They dreamed, learned, fought, and succeeded with a combination of drive, talent, and luck. The establishment is, when viewed in the cold light of day, a dynamic class, not a stagnant one.
A final truth is that our lives are defined most clearly by the choice we make: to be agents of change rather than victims of the status quo.
So let’s put aside the conspiracy theories, attractive as they may be.
There’s life to be lived, here and now, with the real challenge: harnessing our own abilities to improve our own lot in life.
10 thoughts on “The False Comfort of Conspiracy Theories”
I find this to be the type of nuanced take that has the highest chance of being mostly correct. It seems that the majority of the time when people have a simple/ easy/ one size fits all answers for the ills of society they’re functioning from a place of dogma. It’s difficult to come to sizable actions that result in only good. And acknowledging that competing agendas are human can go a long way in creating the kind of environment where folks come together rather than hiding in their own virtual corners getting further riled up.
I read every post and I don’t comment as much as I would like to! Thank you much for your perspective!
Thanks, Kathleen! Hope all’s well. – BGT
Once upon a time, conspiracy theories (and theorists) used to amuse me, and it was a kind of a hobby of mine to “debate” them online.
Now that conspiracy theorists seem to be in power and have a death grip on our public discourse and on both sides of our political structure, they terrify me.
The solution is education.
I wish it was that simple!
Unfortunately, to those who want to believe or already do believe in the conspiracy theories, education merely offers “proof” either by reading between the lines or by “proving” how vast the cover-up must be.
I was recently in a frustrating argument with someone I once considered a close friend. She went to the same (very good) college I did for undergrad, and she went on to a professional career in a line of work that I thought would make her less vulnerable to that sort of thing. Sadly, no. I don’t understand how she can believe that stuff, but nonetheless she does.
Try asking ChatGPT “How do old money families manage to hold onto their wealth over multiple generations?”
That induced a chuckle from me. Do you think it might source much of its answer from Byron’s books?
It definitely references this site for some of its answers. It combines info from multiple sources in its responses. Ask “what are the core values of old money“ and it will reference this site with respect to health and privacy.
Thank you for this, Byron.
Well said, Byron. I’ve lost a couple of friends to some wild conspiracy theories. It seems like this is the new cancer of misinformation.