Saturday, July 13, 2019

Quickies: What You Want To See

     Ace posts a quick dismissal of conspiracy theories:

     First of all, I am on guard against them because they are always something constructed to suit a purpose or reinforce an already-held belief. but even though they are backwards-created from an already-held belief, they are then used to justify that belief.

     The conspiracy theory generates the "evidence," and then the evidence is used to prove the conspiracy theory.

     And the already-believed idea suggest the conspiracy theory, and then the conspiracy theory is used as "independent evidence" to support the already-believed idea.

     This is circular logic, which is to say: Not logic.

     Conspiracy theories are just a form of wishcasting, a term I use instead of "forecasting." Wishcasting doesn't involve forecasting the future from evidence, but from working backwards from the worldview you'd like to see vindicated.

     That said, it's a blurry line where "informed speculation" shifts into "pure speculation" and then shifts into "conspiracy theory."

     This is largely accurate – yet conspiracies, in the sense of persons with a common motivation who plan and collaborate in secret, have existed, will exist, and probably exist today. The problem with conspiracy theories is almost entirely a problem with conspiracy theorists. In brief, they’re excessively determined to see what they want to see. They want you to see it, too.

     Conspiracy theories are almost always devil theories. The desire to associate a devil with a despised evil is incredibly strong. It provides a target to be attacked and destroyed, after which the evil will presumably vanish:

     People prefer conspiratorial explanations over the more depersonalized sort. It gives them hope that the evils they see can be traced to specific evildoers, who can then be eliminated, solving the problem for all time (or until the next batch of conspirators gets its engine running).

     But a monocausal explanation for a persistent condition is usually almost completely wrong. Note the ‘almost.’ The cited influence might play a part, but it’s seldom determinative in and of itself. Quoth Arthur Herzog on "the rotten apple theory of police corruption:"

     ...a few bad cops cause the trouble; get rid of the bad cops and you’ve “eliminated the source of corruption.” What accounts for the bad cops? It must be human nature and/or general conditions, in which case the bad cops you fire will be replaced by other bad cops.

     That a spot of corruption can act as a seed crystal for more is indisputable...but it does not account for the existence of the original spot, nor for why, despite many previous and vigorous attempts to cleanse police agencies, corruption among law enforcers persists.

     Beware any explanation – for anything — that shows you what you want to see, especially if it carefully selects its “evidence” from the great basket of human behavior and experience.


Reg T said...

Forgive my ignorance, Fran, but this does not seem to address a pertinent issue: the claims, by those of the Left, that statements made concerning corruption or wrongdoing by those who would force us to their will are "conspiracy theories". They use these claims as a blunt sword to beat down those statements of corruption and/or wrongdoing, making light of them or condemning them, as if they had no value, no truth to them.

I understand there are indeed actual conspiracy theories which meet the criteria Ace speaks of, but can we rule out statements - even if only theoretical - simply because they are so described, especially by those who benefit by calling them false? To leave this matter of true conspiracies out of the conversation seems like a mistake to me.

Pascal said...

Reg T, James Corbett covers your point quite well.

Corporate media is gaslighting us to believe that the worst part of the Jeffrey Epstein case is not how child trafficking can and has been used to blackmail powerful people, but that it will make more people into conspiracy theorists.