The difference between a conspiracy and a conspiracy theory? EVIDENCE.
Calling out conspiracy theories isn’t gaslighting or bullying some vulnerable believer. It isn’t being ignorant: unaware or unable to face the horrors of reality and how greed, incompetence and complacency breed corruption. It isn’t taking away anyone’s fictional right to some ultimate sovereignty or unaccountable free speech.
It’s asking for adequate credible evidence for the theory.
Without evidence – or a critically reasoned argument based in existing evidence for how to find more to prove or disprove the theory – it can and should be dismissed without further consideration. Because it is unreliable, and therefore, not useful.
When actual evidence is taken out of context, using sampled quotes linked together by creative misinterpretation, with correlation and not causation as its coherent logic, then it is woefully mistaken, worse perhaps delusional, or worst, intentionally deceptive.
Fiction at best. Consume it as such if you wish, but know it is nothing more.
People promoting conspiracy theories as truth when they are demonstrably false, defamatory, inciting violence, ignorantly promoting harm to wellbeing, and/or otherwise are morally repugnant in their corrosion of our social capital – in being able to relate, debate and cooperate collectively – do deserve to be called out and shut down, to even be censored at times.
To believe otherwise is where the narcissism in this dynamic actually resides.
Conspiracy theories often simplify complexity, collapsing both/and situations into black and white, us and them, good and bad. The narrative logic is usually that we’re victims, being abused, deceived, and need to fight for our rights, to take back our power, to set things right.
And in many ways this is our plight under the extremes of neoliberalism, fed since birth the myths of individualism, competitive authoritarianism and consumption-as-meaning while being subject to perverse structural forces that see us spending our lives largely serving to create rewards for a tiny few, the 1%.
Yet we have more individual power, personal freedom and means to comfort, enjoy and express ourselves than at any point in history. And we are still, inescapably, part of a society. And in that society we have the best of history’s worst systems of collective decision making: our free market democracies.
Freedom only comes balanced with responsibility.
This isn’t some made up rule; it’s a concise conceptual reflection of the nature of our reality. How well we embody that balance individually and collectively directly determines the quality of our lives; determines the balance in our experience between chaos and order, conflict and peace, a punishing experience v’s a meaningful existence.
And there are plenty of ways this balance needs to be rapidly improved if we’re to address growing corruption, political incompetence, environmental destruction, and lessen human suffering…. to sure up the chances of humanity’s survival, and hopefully retain at least some of the hard won wisdom and quality of life we’ve inherited.
And this is why we must stand up and call out conspiracy theories. To help people look and find evidence of what’s more likely true, proving as reliable, and ultimately literally trustable with our lives. Because not only are ungrounded conspiracy theories actively damaging our lives, they are also a massive distraction at a time when we really can not afford it.
Letting people in our communities tear down what’s good and useful, without sound reason and championing something better, is to not only let them drive down the quality of our lives today, but to risk the lives of those that could come tomorrow. It is to let them rob us all of the limited chance we have to get focused, organised and proactive with dealing with the real, clear and present dangers of our current collective system’s creation of the climate emergency and species and habitat extinction catastrophe.
So please, pitch in, call out the rubbish, focus on finding grounded truths, and lets get on with this calling of our generation to evolve humanity beyond its self annihilating tendencies. Life is a brief, precarious, confounding affair; equally brutal and beautiful, often in breathtakingly and heartbreakingly random and systematic ways. As we each dance with the mystery of existence, let us do our best to nudge things towards a better experience for all of life now and in the future.