Culture

Majority Rules

Remember the good ol’ days when conspiracy theorists were considered the crazies? I think today’s new crazies are the ones who deny all conspiracy theories. Now, I confess, I am not a flat-earther or a fake-moon-landing believer or a 9/11 truther or an adherent of any of the other standard conspiracy theories that gave conspiracy theories a bad name with the general public. But it’s beyond deniable that there really are such things as conspiracies (even some pretty widespread ones, even some higher-up ones). A conspiracy is simply two or more people plotting to do something nefarious and hide it. So, certainly, some conspiracies are real, and some of the theories about them are onto something. But which ones?

Here are some examples of the ones I’ve bought into: Jeffrey Epstein did not kill himself. And Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are not rotting in jail or exiled to Russia because there’s no truth to what they tried to warn us about. The evidence is too strong on these “conspiracy theories” to warrant offhand dismissal.

When it comes to the present Covid crisis, anyone trying to believe everything “they” tell us (whoever “they” is: “the establishment” I guess I mean. Although I’m not even sure who that consists of) is going to have a hard time of it with the obvious inconsistencies. To anyone who has not lost all faith in the people telling us that wearing a mask into a restaurant but taking it off to eat at one’s table is any kind of effective Covid prevention (as though air is a stationary object), I have a bridge to sell you. Going cheap.

I get that no one knows what’s going on or what to do about it, but I’d feel better about the situation if this was openly admitted by the people in charge, and therefore, their attempts to do anything about it were less authoritarian. And less nonsensical. It’s not confidence-building. I’m not suggesting “they” are nefarious conspirators. I’m simply saying that we can’t believe everything we’re told. Even by “the establishment.” Even by the experts.

Covid frustration is not really the subject of this post. That subject is (surprise, surprise) epistemology. Because I’m stuck in a rut on the subject of epistemology, I thought of another bad one for my list I’m accumulating on this blog. “Majority rules.” Yes, it’s true, in a democracy, the majority does rule. But that should be the only place this rule applies. The majority may rule, but it shouldn’t tell us how to think. And this ties in to the subject of conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists. I believe it’s time we stopped shaming people who stray from the standard narrative on that basis alone. The basis that they are willing to question the majority position, I mean. “Majority rules” is not a good epistemology—the study of how we know what we know.

History should teach us this truth. Only those capable of doing a little independent thinking advance general knowledge and overturn bad, untrue ideas accepted as right and true by the majority. And without exception, they face opposition and backlash from that majority. Galileo and Copernicus were the “conspiracy theorists” of their day. Painting any questioning of our spoonfeeding by “the powers that be” with the broad “conspiracy theory” brush, as though the ideas don’t need to be explored or examined on their own merit just because they defy present conventions, is not a good strategy for discovering truth. Keep a mind as open as possible. If it’s on a matter that matters or should matter to you, look into it for yourself. Do your own research. Follow the evidence where it leads.

I have to admit I haven’t really given flat-earthing, moon-landing hoaxing, or 9/11 truthing a fair investigation. I suppose that’s because these aren’t issues that are important to me.

And this blog post isn’t about any specific issue. It’s just a call to open-mindedness and a warning against following the herd just to follow the herd. That’s all.

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