Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Conspiracy Theories are Useless

The proper epistemic reaction to many conspiracy theories is (at best) a studied agnosticism. Typically we are not in any position to seriously credit or discredit these conspiratorial possibilities…[But] a more solid ground for the rejection of conspiracy theories is simply pragmatic. There is nothing you can do…The futile pursuit of malevolent conspiracy theory sours or at least distracts us from what is good and valuable in life. Squinting at the increasingly imperial edifice of global civilization and wondering what’s really behind all this? gets us nowhere.

--Lee Basham


Thomas said...

What always strikes me in most conspiracy theories is that they require usually a huge number of people who are both extremely evil and extremely competent. I'm not sure about evil, but I haven't met that many people who are that competent.

Thomas said...

Hmm, should always edit my comments before posting. "always... most." Sigh.

John said...

I liked this passage because I agree that conspiracy theories are intellectual dead ends. If you believe the Illuminati are behind everything, what then? If they are as clever and powerful as your theory demands, there is nothing you can do about it.

So I think people believe in these theories for emotional reasons, because at some level they find them comforting. Some people just prefer a malevolent, all-embracing conspiracy to a random world driven largely by incompetence.