So much has been made about the unimaginable dangers of "conspiracy theories" lately, mostly by the Left. I think this clip of the, uhhh, comedian Sasha Baron Cohen whining about how conspiracy theories are a threat to democracy sums up the hysteria pretty neatly:
OK, so here's my critique.
Does democracy actually depend on shared truths? I think authoritarianism depends on a "shared" truth in fact. And demands to censor social media sound fairly authoritarian to me as well.
There are three problems with this. 1) Free speech (not the First Amendment specifically, but the principal. 2) What is a "conspiracy theory" exactly? Why does Russiagate or Iraq has WMD or Saddam is throwing babies out of incubators not qualify? It would seem the most dangerous conspiracy theories come from official channels (most notably the WMD lie). Further, this will likely get worse if no "conspiracy theories are allowed. For example, this made-for-TV film was released in the middle of the Waco siege regurgitating the government's line about it. Jump to 1:16:40 of the film to see how they portray it.
Note, the screenwriter later apologized, recanted and blamed the government for pretty much the entire debacle.
3) Sometimes "conspiracy theories" are true or at least party so; obviously some of the "conspiracies" regarding Waco are true, some not (for example, the Branch Davidians probably started the fire). Something about some guy named Epstein (by the way, do the theories about Trump and Epstein count as "conspiracy theories" or just the ones with Clinton and Epstein?) Assad almost certainly didn't gas his own people while on the edge of victory as the OPCW leaks showed. The WMD thing was a lie. There was at least some bullshit going on with Crossfire Hurricane (like Clinesmith's forged email to the FISA court), the USS Maine was not blown up by the Spanish, the Lusitania was carrying weapons, etc. etc. etc.
I would leave with one parting thought. I doubt Kennedy assassination theories would have taken hold had we not invaded Vietnam soon thereafter. Which leads to an interesting thought; while I do not believe 9/11 was an inside job or anything like that. It's hard for me to disagree with the sentiment that if the vast majority of Americans had in 2002, the world would be a better place today.
"Every day is a new life to the wise man."
The Righteous Mind
Star Slate Codex
Consulting by RPM