If I told you I thought the Earth was flat, you’d probably think I was off my rocker. What if I told you that we never landed on the Moon? Probably a similar reaction. What if I told you for decades the government ran a medical experiment on black men and denied them the proper treatment for their disease, a treatment that once discovered basically had a 100% success rate in curing the disease? If you’ve correctly guessed that I’m referring to the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, you’d be right. But what if I told you this in 1952? You’d probably think I was nuts.
And yet.. that was the truth. The US Government knowingly withheld proper treatment to see what would happen. And didn’t really tell anyone.
If you think about it, this has all the hallmarks of a typical conspiracy theory. And at the time, most likely it would have been dismissed as one.
Now, to be clear, I’m convinced that the Earth is roughly an oblate spheroid, that we did land on the Moon and that vaccines do not cause autism. I also believe that there are over 1 billion people living in China.
But the truth is… how does any of us really know any of that? At some point we have to make a decision to believe certain facts. Yes, we can say, “but there’s overwhelming evidence” but even then, much of the evidence is something we end up having to place faith in. Someone can show us the multitude of studies that show no correlation between vaccines and autism, but ultimately, we have to believe THOSE studies.
Some things we can verify for ourselves, or hopefully we can build enough of a logical framework that it makes sense to believe what we’re told. For example, a good question to ask about the Moon landings is, “if they were a hoax, why didn’t the Soviet Union expose it?” (And by the way, I did once get talking to a moon hoaxer who simply and calmly explained that in exchange for them not revealing it we agreed to lose Vietnam.)
But even then, logic may fail us or steer us in the wrong direction. For millennia geometry was based on Euclid’s original 5 axioms. Until someone tossed out the one on parallel lines and we suddenly had various forms of non-Euclidean geometry.
For millennia we believed that we had an absolute reference frame. Until Einstein (and others) tossed out that idea.
Ultimately, even with logic, we have to make some assumptions, and occasionally question them.
For example, you have to believe that I’m really Greg Moore and I’m writing this. Perhaps even that is a lie.
But it’s not. 🙂
So my takeway here is: don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but sometimes it’s worth questioning assumptions and sometimes some conspiracy theories MIGHT actually have a grain of truth to them. You decide.