Fearful world

 

I am curious about the fascination conspiracy theories have for some folks, including the current anti-vaccine camp.

For instance, how does the world look from within such a view?

When I explore it for myself, I find a fearful world.

Any conspiracy theory means that a group of people willfully mislead others, and a larger group of people buy into it, both of which of course happens. The more comprehensive the conspiracy theory, the more people are involved, intentionally or unintentionally.

For instance, what would it take for vaccines to unintentionally be ineffective or harmful? Or intentionally so?

If vaccines are an innocent mistake, it means that for generations, the most educated people in the world have missed the mark. All their research and dedication was misguided. All the support from many different lines of research and many different disciplines was wrong or misinterpreted. All the textbooks wrong. All this with hardly anyone noticing the mistake, or at least speaking up against it.

If scientists and doctors discovered the mistake, they didn’t speak up. Why didn’t they speak up? Out of fear? Did they censor themselves? Were their views suppressed?

And if vaccines were part of an intentional conspiracy, what would that take? What would it mean?

It would mean that millions of scientists and doctors willfully and for generations have mislead ordinary people (as if they themselves are not ordinary people). And what does that mean? Are they evil? Out to harm people? What is in it for them? Are they pressured to say and do as they do? But even if they are pressured, why don’t some speak up? Historically, we know that significant numbers of people tend to resist and speak up even if it is at great risk to themselves. Why don’t we see that here? Do they get benefits from it? But there too, we know that many will resist and speak up in those situations, because they value truth more. Are they brain-controlled in some way? How would that work? Why aren’t there times when it doesn’t work? Also, why haven’t reporters and the media picked this up? Are they in league with the scientists and doctors? All of them? What about the media that regularly do investigative reporting, exposing whatever is not in people’s interest? Why haven’t they picked this up? How likely is all of this?

If I believe comprehensive and strong conspiracy theories, I would have to believe that the world is full of – to put it bluntly – evil and/or stupid people. Is that a reasonable assumption? Is it a good assumption for me to base my life on?

There is of course a grain of truth in many of these conspiracy theories, and it is important to take a critical and level-headed look at it. For instance, there are strong money interests in the pharmaceutical industry, and this does dictate research and influence policies to some extent. Vaccines sometimes do have unfortunate effects, and more research is needed into these. And the campaign to vaccinate most people against the swine flu seem misguided and a poor use of resources. But that doesn’t negate the immense beneficial effect of vaccines for millions and perhaps billions of people, including those who live in poor countries with little resources to otherwise prevent or treat illnesses that can be prevented by vaccines. And there is a large body of varied and converging research – from labs to real-life studies to epidemiology – that shows they do work.

Exploring the consequences of adopting these conspiracy theories helps me understand better where these people come from. I get a feel for how fearful the world must seem to them. And I can also find it in myself in my own familiar worldview. I can find where I scare myself.

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In the case of the “strong” version of the vaccine conspiracy, it means that for generations, a core group of researchers and medical doctors have produced false documentation, a much wider group of medical doctors, health workers, politicians and others have bought into it, and nobody has spoken up about it.

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In an extreme case, I would have to believe that the world is full of evil and/or stupid people, which does not seam reasonable, and not a good way for me to live my life.

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initial draft….

It is easy to dismiss anti-science views, in whatever flavor they may come – such as anti-evolution and anti-medicine/vaccine.

Dismissing is convenient, but there is another approach. I can temporarily try on these views, experience the world from these perspectives, and get a better sense of the world these people are living within. (At least as much as I can, limited as I am by my own stereotypes about their position and my other habitual views.)

When I do, I find a fearful world.

What would it take for evolution to not only be wrong, but to be a conscious lie? What would it take for vaccines to not only be ineffective or harmful, but to be part of a world-wide conspiracy?

If vaccines or the theory of evolution are innocent mistakes, it means that for generations, the most educated people in the world have missed the mark. All their research and dedication was misguided. All the support from many different lines of research and many different disciplines was wrong or misinterpreted. All the textbooks wrong. All this with hardly anyone noticing the mistake, or at least speaking up against it.

If scientists and doctors discovered the mistake, they didn’t speak up. Why didn’t they speak up? Out of fear? Did they censor themselves? Were their views suppressed?

And if evolution or vaccines were part of a conspiracy, what would that take? What would it mean?

It would mean that millions of scientists and doctors willfully and for generations have mislead ordinary people (as if they themselves are not ordinary people). And what does that mean? Are they evil? Out to harm people? What is in it for them? Are they pressured to say and do as they do? But even if they are pressured, why don’t some speak up? Historically, we know that significant numbers of people tend to resist and speak up even if it is at great risk to themselves. Why don’t we see that here? Do they get benefits from it? But there too, we know that many will resist and speak up in those situations, because they value truth more. Are they brain-controlled in some way? How would that work? Why aren’t there times when it doesn’t work? Also, why haven’t reporters and the media picked this up? Are they in league with the scientists and doctors? All of them? What about the media that regularly do investigative reporting, exposing whatever is not in people’s interest? Why haven’t they picked this up? How likely is all of this?

In either case, it is a terrifying world to live in. No wonder these people tend to seem one-sided and angry. They see themselves as one of the few who understand what is going on, in a world profoundly misguided or hostile.

It is a good exercise. Not only is it easier for me to find this in myself, and how and when I do something similar in my own life. But I find empathy for these people. I understand a little better why they speak and act as they do. And that helps me relate to them with, hopefully, a little more wisdom, kindness and skill.

I may even find some grains of truth in their views. For instance, there doesn’t seem to be good reasons for massive resources going into producing, distributing and injecting the piggy-flu vaccine, mainly because the flu is milder than the regular seasonal ones. Vaccines may not always work as well or in the way we are led to believe. There are legitimate questions about the effects of vaccines over time, especially when they are given early in life and in great numbers. And there is of course money-interests in the pharmaceutical industry influencing the policies of governments, and possibly also the WHO. When it comes to evolution, there is a great deal we still don’t know, that is true. If people use science to discard or mock spirituality or religion, they are using it in a misguided way. And if people see evolution and spirituality/religion as mutually exclusive, they are missing something that could enrich both.

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outline…

  • fearful world
    • anti-science (US mainly)
      • anti-evolution
      • anti-medicine/vaccinations
    • fearful world, imagine into
    • better understanding, better chance for communication

. I have mostly encountered the anti-evolution and anti-medicine/vaccine varieties, and it seems that the US is a particularly fertile ground for such views.

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