Why conspiracty theorists love to theorize about conspiracies

Yesterday morning I promoted (via the Elephant Journal Facebook page) Harris Mercer’s article ‘Why it’s wrong to doubt the news about Osama’. In case you haven’t read it, it’s an opinion piece.
Within minutes of the post the FB page received dozens of angry comments.
I realized two things: not only do conspiracy theorists love to theorize about conspiracies (which was the provocative title of my facebook post), but they don’t like to be called out on it...
I’ve thought a lot about this before, because I have a friend who loves to think (fantasize?) about this stuff. He spent many, many hours ‘researching’ over the Internet, and is firmly convinced that the world will end in 2012. He has invested not only a lot of time, but also a lot of money, into what he sees as precautionary measures to ensure his survival thereafter.
This is the conclusion I have reached:

It’s just another kind of addiction…

…up there along with shopping, pornography, video games, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, etc. Most people are addicted to something. We like to fuel our addictions to distract ourselves from the real issues that would otherwise (we fear) burn a hole in our mind – why am I not deeply happy? Why do I not do what I love? Why do I not relish this life, and live the life of my dreams?
For the record, I personally believe that there was something a bit ‘fishy’ about 9/11. I also believe that Osama probably isn’t dead! The greatest intelligence asset in the world, ever? Shoot him in the eye!
But hey, I don’t want to fuel any more conspiracy theories because I don’t want you to waste (too much) of your precious time thinking about them.
What I’d really like you to do is address the deeper questions. Are you deeply happy? Do you feel successful? Are you living the life you dreamt of when you were a child?

This is important.

It’s not important whether Osama planned 9/11; it’s not important whether he lived in a cave in Bora Bora or a mansion in Pakistan; it’s not important whether he’s alive or dead. It’s not important, compared to the simple question “Am I happy?”
You see, the world is full of unhappy people who pretend to be happy whilst pulling on their cigarettes; or plugging into the ‘net to research conspiracy theories; or going out at the weekend to get drunk, trying to forget about Monday looming up ahead, and the job that they dread.
So forget about Osama. If he’s not dead he soon will be, and we’ll never know the truth anyway.
Focus on yourself. “Be a light unto thyself”. You have the potential to be and do exactly what you would most love to be and do. When you get there, you’ll be a beacon of light in this dark world, and the more light we all bring, the more shadows we disperse.
Deep down we all want truth, justice, freedom, and peace. The only way is to find them within.


Neil Ringrose said...

Thank you Ben. I went through a period of time when I read all that I could find on the net about 'the bad stuff'...after delving deeper into my yoga practice, and focusing on my 4 gorgeous kids and wife, I now do it no longer...I'm free! :) Love all your writings, keep going, you are an inspiration.
Have a great day!

Ben Ralston said...

Thank you Neil! I think we all have it in us, this fascination with 'bad stuff'... I guess it's why horror movies are so popular! And also why people love to gossip about each other... Glad to hear you're free! Wow, sounds great :)

Anonymous said...

Nice article! Good to see you are back with blogging.

I was thinking about this "conspiracy tendency" recently. I noticed that there is something "spiritual" about it as well. I mean, someone starts to intuit/guess that there is a unified intelligence behind all apparently random phenomena around him. Suddenly this "discovery" starts to order whole world around. Resulting in characteristic to religious experience division of people into believers and not-believers (ignorant ones). So I was thinking, maybe such tendencies are sort of mis-develop spiritual needs/tendencies?


Anonymous said...

If facts exist, then one can not be imagining the truth!

Anonymous said...

To dream all is perfect in the world is unrealistic. Life is not perfect and one has to be real and accept that. To accept the reality of life is what to be grounded means. It's a strength to know one can face one's own errors in life and learn from them. To wrap in cotton wool, pretend or hide away is irresponsible. Facing and dealing with the truth is of significant moral value and respectable!
A pretence of "spiritual" flowers and roses in life, is just that and is idealistic, in which there are no lessons learnt of which to pass on to our ancestors; our future!  

Anonymous said...

I am a proud Christian and for me personally, I see Religion as people uniting in hopes and desires (prayers)  in which strength is also attained to believe in oneself , keep check of one's standards, values and morals. To  pretend all is perfect in life or in the world is not giving due consideration to others and is a selfish attitude. It's a valuable lesson to accept one has made mistakes and to learn from such. It's an important teaching not to run away, but to be responsible and face up to and learn from! 

Anonymous said...

"Am I happy?" is a selfish question in life! The most appropriate questions throughout one's life are "Am i behaving appropriatly, giving appropriate consideration to others, am I behaving morally? If so i know i will be happy, because I can also learn from any mistakes along the way and therefore will have no unresolved regrets. To be truly spiritual would mean being selfless, to give due consideration to one's own actions and be rewarded by the strength of joy around. Being idealistic is isolating oneself from reality of life and by believing one only has to think about oneself is avoiding consequences of inappropriate actions in the belief that all that matters is am i happy, irrespective of right or wrong...

Anonymous said...

A life of dreams for some may include disrespect of others by their actions, because they know no better. That is why family must set examples, so that regard is given to conscience, morels and values. One can not just do as one pleases in life, being disrespectful in reckless abundance . i.e an immoral person may only know deep joy by such immoral activity because of their upbringing , and in  "preaching" to / persuading others that such behaviour is good and that it will bring great joy to a person of moral standard would ultimately only bring unhappiness! One can only hide from personal values temporary , they can not be permanently extinguished by any amount of cohesion , and on their realisation with pricked conscious , it will leave them feeling empty, regretful and extremely unhappy. Therefore, I disagree with the belief that one should ensure deep happiness regardless and irrespective of laws and morels, because i know  it would ultimately lead to regret then despair, as one can not turn the clock back on illegal behaviour!

Anonymous said...

Re. your quote: “Be a light unto thyself”. You have the potential to be and do exactly what you would most love to be and do. When you get there, you’ll be a beacon of light in this dark world, and the more light we all bring, the more shadows we disperse.
>>>> I interpret this to mean follow your conscience, morels and values and you will reach the goals of your dream and desires with dignity and pride in tact, and by leading by example in seeking to do the right thing you will shine a spot light on to your valued life of being a moral compass of achievement, values in tact, which brings extreme joy, deep  happiness (not superficial and selfish happiness, which you will live to regret and will make you ultimately unhappy, but instead rounded, mindful and wholesome happiness born of morels and values) and harmony. 
>>>>Realistically we all make mistakes in life, and nobody is perfect, so one can not be idealistic, but with due consideration and lessons learnt from mistakes, we can live a magnificent joyous  life by being respectable, and not selfish and disruptive, which ultimately brings discord and regret.

April Burrows said...

As a conspiracy theorist who randomly came across this thread (you must have a keen understanding of Google search engine), I clicked on this just to enjoy rolling my eyes at mainstream fear of conspiracy theorists' unconventional ideas. I was intrigued to find that you had a grasp on a few common theories and did not dismiss them but simply advocate elevating a meaningful life pursuit of happiness above them. Although your tone jumps from somewhat condescending to moralistic (ahem, bible quotes?) I had to just turn off the screen for a moment and think: is my endless theorizing a distraction tactic?
That's a conspiracy theory within itself. The powerful people in this world subjugate its people with the contentment of entertainment and food--in our society, TV and welfare. Could exploiting conspiracy theorists' neurotic web surfing and Zeitgeist-watching be yet another ploy?
After analyzing your argument and particularly powerful closing statement, I ended up refreshed by the idea of a higher pursuit of a more meaningful state of existence. Although I maintain that theorists' investigation is not necessarily to anyone's detriment and CTs should be hailed as the average Joe's reporter, preacher, and unbiased politician, in reality most people are tuning them out and their lives could be more uplifting if every news story and political tactic weren't yet another ploy. But while some cross their legs and say their Ohms to search within their soul for the Nirvana of which you speak, someone needs to search the soul of the world for the off-the-records truth.

Ben Ralston said...

Hi April,
I think we're very much on the same page. I actually believe in a lot of conspiracy theories! Can't for the life of me imagine how two towers fell straight down into the ground after being hit by planes. Let alone a third that wasn't hit by a plane.
Thanks for a v interesting comment. I'm too tired to make a v intelligent response so I'll just leave it at that.

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