Conspiracy ideation is not synonymous with the noun, “conspiracy.” It refers to the “explanations” for an event or happening that involves a conspiracy, allegedly, by smarter or more powerful forces, usually political, despite the empirical fact that other evident explanations are more probable. Conspiratorial ideations are somewhat resistant to disproof, since unfortunately, they are reinforced by circular reasoning viz., both the evidence against the conspiracy, and the absence of evidence are subjectively, interpreted, by the believer, as probative evidence of its truth. Conspiracy ideation is always harmful and is often pathological; it has, consistently, been found by sociologists and psychologists, to be correlated to lower skills in analytical thinking and their psychologically projected narratives, termed by professionals “illusionary pattern perception.”
Observably, it was the sudden terrorist attacks on 9/11, which, at first, appeared to defy explanation, occurring, simultaneously and fortuitously, at the same the time that the internet started to boom, which chance combination enabled many fringe conspiracy theories, and made them readily accessible. The 9/11 event fueled significant distrust in the American government and fears of real and perceived enemies. Feelings of lost trust and insecurity, made some citizens susceptible to conspiracy ideation, leading ultimately, and shamefully, to the bizarre acceptability by many. of Trump’s, unsupported, neurotically egocentric assertion [“the Big Lie”] that the Presidential election victory, was “stolen” from him by the Biden supporters, despite its official certifications, as accurate and properly conducted.
The phenomenon of conspiracy theories, historically, is not new; illustrations are seen in the Lincoln and JFK assassinations and in the past, world-famous Lindbergh baby kidnapping. However, the events of 9/11, as stated, accelerated, reshaped, and significantly energized the phenomenon of misinformation and conspiracy ideation; mistrust of a “dark” government operation, the FBI, the “surveillance state,” embedded communist agents, immigrants, Muslims, Israel, and Jews, the belief that that the Trade Center Buildings buildings collapsed due to controlled destruction, that the same was a military “false flag” operation, rather than an al-Qaeda mission, and others. Among the persuasive, fearful citizenry, there was a neurotic, fearful meme, of our Nation’s lost control. This acceleration of fringe conspiracy memes led to and fed neurotically inspired theories, viz., that President Obama was a foreigner, that there was a grand conspiracy involving Liberals in illegal child trading and abuse, having its official headquarters in a pizza shop, that Hillary Clinton illegally exposed secret government information, that a cabal of Satan worshippers is running the world, and that Donald J. Trump is the savior, that Israel is shooting rockets down on Earth from Outer Space, that Covid-9 [thanks to Donald Trump] is a hoax, that vaccines developed by medical science contain a sub-rosa ingredient, enabling the dark, controlling part of the federal government, to electronically, trace the movements of vaccinated citizens, that the 2020 election was stolen by the Biden people from Trump. It appears to be an empirical fact that people who are inclined to believe in one conspiratorial delusion, have been found to believe in others.
Misguided citizens who are prone to believe in conspiracy theories may create factually untenable issues and challenges for the making of policy and law, and, where possible, such skewed and delusional beliefs, should be confronted, albeit a rather difficult task. As stated in the earlier part of this piece, because, such thoughts are neurotically, reinforced by circular reasoning, i.e., they are subjectively confirmed by the misunderstanding of the true facts relevant to the skewed theory and, as well, by the absence of the relevant and determinative facts. It should be observed that such contrived theories are extremely difficult to controvert when the adherent to the fiction has a strong need and affection for a group that espouses such delusional theory [“tribal” or” group think”]. Experience has taught us that the following principles are useful:
- It is especially important to keep cool. Acrimony only strengthens the resolve as to the delusional belief
- Know all the accurate facts and the entire, accurate context of the relevant subject matter
- Politely request, of the believer, the relevant data, or facts, underlying the [false] assertion
- When strategically possible, politely demonstrate the opposing facts or evidence
- Be especially patient and sociable, but not patronizing
In the event of failure, remain friendly and invite further thought and future discussion on the topic.