A Theory of Conspir...
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A Theory of Conspiracy

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It is my hope to sketch out an intellectually respectable theory of conspiracy thinking-- not in a totally detached/faux agnostic manner of the academy, and especially not in the pejorative, polemical, dismissive sense that it is usually discussed in the "respectable" sphere. When I say respectable I mean respectable to honest, clear, critical thinking, not given the imprimatur of the dominant institutions.

To the more advanced among you, this will probably seems a pointless thing to do. And I have a suspicion that in the big picture you are correct (hence more advanced than I), but this is something I feel the need to articulate for myself at this point in my journey. If I am honest, my motivation in sharing it is a selfish impulse for self-expression, but if anyone derives benefit from it I will be happy with that result, and I can't foresee it inflicting harm.

With that apology out of the way, I proceed in working out my theory of conspiracy thinking, and argue that it is in fact when properly executed, an appropriate manner of processing the phenomena of the world, and more accurate to the reality of our situation than mainline, normative thinking.

First, what distinguishes conspiratorial thinking from other manners of processing the reality we encounter? Here, as is often the case, it is useful to look at where the word itself and how it came to by, at its etymology. Conspire--"from Latin conspirare "to agree, unite, plot," literally "to breathe together,"". The idea of conspiracy is that there is a unity, a plot, an agreement governing the given phenomena under consideration. To believe the opposite, to disbelieve in conspiracy generally, would be to believe that there is no unity in the phenomena, that it is simply the chance concatenation of specific accidents and general facts, disconnected billiard balls clanging about.

Here I would like to point out something I have noticed as I have dipped my feet into the conspiratorial world this past year or so, something which I think follows of the higherside chats will recognize -- the interesting parallel alignment between the poles of conspiratorial vs. mainline thinking in the social spheres and vitalistic vs. mechanistic understandings of our universe. It is no accident that the forces most hostile and suppressive towards "conspiracy theories" also are champions and partisans in varying degrees of the mechanistic model of our world--that we are soul-less, biological robots in a meaningless world, to paraphrase Alex Tsakiris's way of putting it-- while those lean towards a conspiratorial, alternative mindset, usually (correctly) reject this model as absurd. I believe this parallelism goes a long way towards explaining the political salience of conspiracy/paranormality in our current culture, despite the seemingly low-stakes of such topics as big-foots, UFOs, NDEs, etc. when considered in themselves. I hope to be able to return to and expand on this relationship either later in this post or in a subsequent one.

But back to the main point, a conspiracy theorist recognizes that the analogy of "motivation" can be applied to many of the social phenomena. If Tim gets, up, grabs his keys, drives to the convenience store, purchases a candy bar, and eats it-- we best explain this event by reference to Tim acting on a motive--he was hungry, and with unity of purpose Tim's body executed a plan to relieve that hunger, by going to the store to eat a candy bar. This process of using personality and motivation to explain the behavior observed in our example is the acceptable mode of explanation for such phenomena among all sane people--even those who have pretenses to theoretically reduce all phenomena to some mechanistic, reductionist explanations, for practical purposes concede that they must embrace "explanation by motivation" in day-to-day life, lest they be consigned to the loony bin.

But if we all accept the commonsense, motivational explanation for personal phenomena--the social and cultural behavior of human individuals (and to varying extent, other living creatures)--what of the sub-personal and supra-personal phenomena in our world? To believe that an analogy to motivation in persons is relevant to sub-personal phenomena is to believe in a form of animism or at least vitalism. Its opposite, to believe that analogy to motivation is wholly inappropriate in this sphere, is to believe that mechanistic reductionism, that the phenomena at this level are simple amalgamations of basic atoms and irreducible forces, possessing no real unity beyond that imposed on them by the categorical perceptions of the subject encountering them.

Now I consider this latter position ridiculous and rationally unmaintainable even for sub-personal phenomena, but the more important point for the understanding of conspiracy/mainstream thinking, is that of the supra-personal sphere. Like the ultimately disconnected billiard balls clanging about on the pool table because of the forces acting on them, the mainstream line of thinking seeks to view social and cultural events and phenomena as arising from the clanging about of human personalities, governed either by the economic forces of market relationships and/or psychological forces genetically and environmentally preponderant in the individuals. The people possess motivations, derived form their biology and psychology (just as the billiard balls possess their own masses, textures, and sizes), and these motivations express themselves on the large scale through certain necessary political, cultural, and economic relationships (just as the movement of the billiard balls is governed by there happenstance collisions, the friction of the table's felt, the slight misbalance of the table caused by the South West leg to be set two nickels to low, etc.).

Now in common usage the term "conspiracy theory" refers to two ways (or more appropriately levels) of approaching reality, each difference somewhat from the mainline described immediately above. The first, basically accepts at least for the purpose of theorizing the "billiard" theory of supra-personal/social phenomena, but says that motivations are acting to drive the phenomena by means of certain individuals or united groups of people, who are in essence either striking the balls or modifying the table in a unifed manner to accomplish their purposes. That what we observe is not the natural collision of the balls churning about of their own accord, but is influenced or directed by these individuals and groups. To a large extent, everyone accepts this notion of personal/group motivation influencing social events and phenomena with regard to the explicitly political spheres of life, but the conspiracy theorist at this level take it a step further and hypothesizes or claims other phenomena, not considered as explicitly political by the mainstream, are better explained by such a process than by happenstance and accident.

Most people readily accept that the push for say a specific change to the capital gains tax rate is motivated by some interest groups unified plan, it didn't just spontaneously emerge out of the social hustle and bustle of day-to-day life, but that say, the push for more and more additions to the childhood vaccine schedule, or the calls for more military aid and intervention in some hereto unheard of Middle-eastern country, are likewise the result of concerted, unified and organized actors--now one is dipping their toes into the waters of "conspiracy".

Now, I think that much has already been explained or made clear here, but I do want to add that this is still a "crude" or "naive" level of conspiracy thinking. Yes, there are interest groups of varying degrees of power who attempt to influence our society and culture, but it is not limited to explicitly organized groups--covert or overt-- but that classes themselves possess what can best be describe in analogy to personal, individual, motivation. It is not only or primarily the actions of organized interest groups (the WEF, Gates foundation, Governments) which are effecting all the events we see unfolding around us, but the expression of the motivations of the "ruling elite" class for its own self-preservation and gain against competing classes of people. This "ruling elite" is not discrete, it is not limited to the Gates and Bezos and Clintons, but the motivational unity is diffused down the hierarchy--so that in varying degrees probably most of the top 90th percentile in income and cultural prestige (i.e. academics, journalists, etc.) have a strong concord with the ruling elite's motivations and feel themselves aligned to it.

In this manner "locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks" or, like the ant, they have "no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet


provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest." The concerted action of the "elite" class does not require a commander, or an explicit shadowy cabal, in order for them to act in unison

. Thus large swaths of the population, critically placed in our institutions will act in concert on the motivations expressed by certain self-conscious and organized groups of the elites, all the while feeling as though they are doing nothing of the sort.

The understanding of this process, how this happens and why, is critical for a respectable theory of conspiracy, but right now I'm exausted from thinking/typing and will have to take a break.


Posted : June 12, 2021 4:04 PM
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Yes! The "conspiracy" is actually the system itself. The system is born from an idea or belief. If that idea or belief is false (or "bad story", as Tyson Yunkaporta would call it), the system cannot hold. Those who grasp the belief the most - whether good or bad - gain the most within the system while it lasts; but they are not necessarily "running" it.

Posted : June 13, 2021 1:56 PM
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orchid20 wrote:
Yes! The "conspiracy" is actually the system itself. The system is born from an idea or belief. If that idea or belief is false (or "bad story", as Tyson Yunkaporta would call it), the system cannot hold. Those who grasp the belief the most - whether good or bad - gain the most within the system while it lasts; but they are not necessarily "running" it.

Yes, the crude/maladaptive conspiracy theorizers often err in that they basically concede the "billiard ball" model and focus on those who they think are wielding the pool cues, but that model is inherently flawed to begin with. The truth is that the world works on multiple levels of motivations, and those who understand that, either explicitly or implicitly, opportunistically use that to their advantage, producing the organized phenomena which we see. All the while these same people propagate and encourage a flawed model of the universe which would preclude the influence of actions like their own, consciously and unconsciously, to cover their actions.

Posted : June 13, 2021 3:20 PM