Conspiracy theories are insidious and powerful. They often come from the people we trust the most: our friends, our families, our spiritual leaders, even our government leaders.
These are the people with whom we tend to have our guards down because we trust them inherently. We believe that they would never – could never – do anything to harm us.
And most of them wouldn’t dream of harming us.
But conspiracy theories slip into our worlds so subtly that we often do not even notice.
Further, the emotional response these conspiracy theories require of us work to turn off that part of the brain that would normally be asking questions.
When you hear that there is a massive pedophile ring operated by Hollywood and/or a specific political party, your brain responds with emotions.
You are horrified. You’re activated. Your kind and compassionate heart wants to act in some way to save those babies. But the only tool at your disposal is to pass the information on to the next soul who will be just as horrified and activated as you.
Your rational brain never had a chance to step in and ask “Where is the evidence?”
When you hear that a national election has been rigged and stolen, you respond (understandably) with rage and anger. You want to fight to protect your country from those you were told stole the election. So to pull in support from your people, you pass on the information.
Your rational brain didn’t get the opportunity to acknowledge that the losing party has been setting the stage for months or years to respond with allegations of voter fraud before campaigns for this election cycle ever even started.
When you hear that Big Pharma is out to harm people with vaccines or withholding the cure for cancer, your response is going to be anxiety and fear. You will want to protect yourself and your family.
Your rational brain doesn’t have room to ask, “does the data support this? Do respected professionals back this up or am I only hearing from problematic outsiders who claim expertise?”
But they are slick. They know how to groom you to fall down the rabbit hole they created for you; complete with their own “experts” who share assertions, lies, and bad logic that you are no longer prepared to question. The deeper you go, the more invested you become, and the more you feel the need to believe what they tell you.
They sell you on a story that you are one of the select few privileged enough to see beneath the surface to know what’s really going on. They speak to your ego. They give you a sense of importance you never knew you needed.
They suck you in, mind, heart, and soul until you are fully theirs. You are now their willing servant, evangelist, and soldier. You are ready to do whatever they tell you.
You are now preaching the gospel that once seemed so crazy to you, but now it’s as real as the clothes on your back. Now, in your mind, the crazy people are the ones who can’t see it like you can.
None of us are truly immune to the seductive powers of the conspiracy theory.
Once our emotions are hooked, it gets hard to reason ourselves out of that space. This is particularly true if people who appear to be authorities come along and nurture these new ideas in our heads.
How could someone who once had a Dr.’s license lie to us? They have nothing to gain, right?
How could our political leaders lie to us? They only have our best interests at heart, right?
We have to be careful out there.
Conspiracy theories start with the conclusion and then look for the facts to support it.
Truth starts by looking at the facts first (without agenda) and letting them lead where they might.
Truth also leaves room for doubt and the possibility of being wrong and allowing for correction.
Conspiracy theories never open the door to doubt. Because once doubt is invited into the room? All the power is lost.