Massive End-Of-The-World Conspiracies

Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Thoughts | 7 comments

What is it about conspiracies? What is it about the unknowable that makes otherwise intelligent people believe the most far-fetched ideas regardless of the amount of information to the contrary? I have had my fair share of contact with people who believe that there is a “higher power” of some sort (human or supernatural) that is either plotting for the demise of humanity, or knows of the inevitable doom waiting for us just around the corner. They all have one thing in common; they are all “in the know” and “the rest of the world has been duped”.

Does anyone but me see something wrong with this idea?

Let’s leave the religious conspirators alone for a minute and talk about government, political or societal conspiracies.

Firstly, the fact is that any conspiracy involving “people in the know” is bound to get out into the public sphere of knowledge, for one simple reason; people can’t keep their mouths shut. The more people you involve the more likely someone will slip up and tell of the conspiracy. Conspiracies against the masses are difficult to keep because humans are fallible, and someone, somewhere will tell the secret. So massive government conspiracies, involving the leaders and corporations are unlikely because there are too many cogs in the machine for one not to give in to the lure of “cash for comment”. This is especially true of any conspiracy where the government may be keeping under wraps something like the inevitable doom of 99% of the planet’s human population. My bullshit detectors beep furiously whenever I hear I tales like this. Conspiracies against the masses where we are not told of such things as a huge asteroid which is bound to hit the earth on a certain date, or of cataclysmic polar magnetic shifts on another date are the stuff of too much pot or science fiction.

The second reason I think massive conspiracies of this sort are closer to impossible than just improbable is that we are not that organised. We can scarcely keep peace with our allies at a country level, and we sure as hell can’t organize a global economy, so what’s to make anyone think that a conspiracy of this magnitude could be orchestrated by these same people? Again, there are too many parts in the conspiracy machine for this to be the case. Unless every person in the conspiracy keeps the secret or is wiped out when they are about to tell, then the secret is out, pronto! Look at what WikiLeaks has uncovered; small scale corruption all the way to high level corruption. If there were a secret, for instance, about the indisputable end of the world from a cataclysmic event, this information would probably be uncovered. The wheels of the machine are too slow to adapt to the changes in our communications, therefore any conspiracy of this kind is also very unlikely. Do you think a government that can’t even work out a budgetary system that can’t keep itself out of debt, or that spends 10 years looking for a known terrorist leader is capable of organizing something like this?
Which brings me to my next point. Thirdly, there are too many well connected and intelligent people who are actually “in the know” that are studying these things for the government or the corporations to have discovered these potentially cataclysmic events on their own. The amount of people that are out in the field bringing back information and broadcasting it uncensored is huge, and their audience is even bigger. The usual answer to this is:

“Either the scientists know and are lying, or are being fed bad information by the ‘Powers That Be’ to keep them out of the know.”

Okay, just imagine this were true. There’s a lot of scientists out there who would have information about asteroids and magnetic fields. They teach the facts about it in universities. They know a lot about this stuff. So either the conspiracy is so big, and so widespread that they’ve been stifling the information in universities forever and a day, and the equipment used to measure things such as this has been either removed, destroyed or sabotaged so these results never show up again. Our education system and all the information freely available for the past 20 or more years has been altered to change what is commonly accepted as truth, and for what reason? Because if the masses found out, imagine what would happen! Even worse would be a conspiracy involving a preventable outcome, such as a disease or where technology would be able to help the people. Would this really not get out?

Right okay…

And religious conspiracies? Well I guess most of them wouldn’t be called conspiracies outright, but think about it. A select few have been told of the date of the demise of humanity and have been told to spread the word. Well it’s not exactly a conspiracy, but if it were to be true, god would be conspiring against us to prove his omnipotence. I guess the reason I mention religion here is the similarities between an overarching government or corporate conspiracy and the idea that god is planning our inevitable demise. Both are only known by few. In both cases those who preach it claim to be “in the know”. In both cases people claim knowledge that is unknowable, an claim that it is the masses who are being lied to (by Satan in one case, government and corporations in the other).

To be completely fair, conspiracies do happen, for instance the assassination of President Lincoln, was a big conspiracy which aimed to kill several people. They were caught only after the fact, but very quickly. On the scale of things though this was a minor conspiracy in a time where communication was mostly word of mouth, and dare I say, in times where people were more naive than today. And there are many other conspiracies which have taken place, and are taking place as we speak. But to think that a conspiracy can be orchestrated on a global level where information about natural science and knowledge that for all intents and purposes should be publicly available, is ludicrous.

The bottom line is this. Any conspiracy theory where there are a lot of people involved or where information that any scientist in the field could gather the data needed to make a prediction is likely to be false. Note I said “likely”, because we are in the realm of “likelihoods” versus “unlikelihoods” here. Occam’s Razor and all that, “selecting from among competing hypotheses the one that makes the fewest new assumptions.” And one cannot discount the fact that some people cling too tightly to ideas that may have multiple points of reference, but which points of reference are either wrong, manufactured or are the stuff of urban myth. The only way we’ll ever know if a conspiracy IS true is if it turns out to BE true, just like the biblical predictions of Harold Camping. We all know how that has panned out.

If a conspiracy of withholding information turns out to be true, for the sake of the peacefulness of humanity in the short term, then so be it, we all die. If not, then why stress yourself over it when there’s nothing that can be done about it anyhow. I guess the message is one I have said before. When someone tells you something that seems unbelievable, it probably is. If the case seems compelling, then ask why they are telling you. Failing that, research research research…

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