Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Conspiratorial misunderstandings

A couple years ago, I was on a site I don’t think is around anymore where you could post articles and have discussions with the other members.  I posted a few articles about space exploration – which I’m a big supporter of – and there was this one lady – who wasn’t a supporter – made some comments.  We went back and forth a few times and at one point she said that she knew a guy who had worked for NASA and he had told her their dark secret, but it had been told in confidence and she couldn’t repeat it. 

Not having any evidence, I wondered what could be an explanation for this “dark secret.” Was her friend fired for being drunk on the job and he was just angry and made something up?  Did he have dementia?  Or, since this lady didn’t have any interest in space and wouldn’t know an STS from an SLS (Space Transportation System, or the Space Shuttle and the Space Launch System, the big rocket NASA is currently building) is it possible that she just misunderstood whatever non-dark secret thing he told her?  Without any evidence one way or the other, why should I just take her word that there’s a dark, NASA conspiracy?

Recent events reminded me of this, and it got me wondering what percentage of conspiracy theories exist because of a simple misunderstanding?  My first thought was maybe 90%, but the more I thought about it the more complex it became.  Years ago I saw a video of a woman standing on a hill outside of London videotaping UFOs flying around Heathrow.  A UFO debunker pointed out that these UFOs had anti-collision lights as well as the faint rumble of jet engines.  Should this woman’s conspiracy theory about why the British government said nothing about these “UFOs” fit in the misunderstanding category?  Also, with the recent 9-11 anniversary, I saw an article about how some people were posing as conspiracy theorists on websites to pass on these complete bullshit stories which the real conspiracy theorists accepted as truth.  Should that be counted as a misunderstanding?

Given the bazillion conspiracy theories coming from the conspiracy theory cottage industry of the internet, you have to wonder how many are serious.  How many result from simple misunderstandings, how many are pranks gotten out of control, how many are malicious for whatever reason, etc.

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