Are conspiracy theorists wrong about almost everything?

#1
Long time listener and occasional forum lurker here. Feeling the need to share my personal concerns about the direction that this podcast and forum seems to have been moving for the past few years now, not only because I love the show but also because I’m open to the idea that I’m missing out on important info here.

It seems the focus of the show has gradually shifted from inquiries into the nature of consciousness, exploration of radical scientific theories, NDEs, etc. to the entertaining of (what appears to me to be) increasingly dubious conspiracy theories. And actually, “entertaining” is probably the wrong word here; many times I hear Alex refer to such theories as if their validity were self-evident (e.g. climate change hoax, covid-19 plandemic, 911 inside job, materialist/physicalist agenda of the scientific elite). I think I’ve even heard Alex lend credence to pizzagate at one point.

Before I proceed, I want to acknowledge that
  1. I haven’t deeply investigated any of these theories
  2. Some conspiracy theories have been validated (e.g. mk-ultra, watergate)
  3. I’m open to the idea that I might be wrong about a lot of this
  4. I’m probably wrong about a lot of this
Lately I’ve heard Alex come down on Bernardo Kastrup, implying that his idealist arguments are weakened by not getting the conspiracy thing right. I’m sure I’m in the minority here but I think he’s actually got it exactly right. Occam’s Razor is the first tool that should be employed when looking at any theory and I don’t see many of these theories surviving the cut.

I get it, the allure of conspiracy theories is pretty obvious:
  1. Epistemic: It feels good to know more than your peers; the mysteries of the world seem less opaque; presents a clear target on which to focus outrage
  2. Existential: you believe your knowledge about the underlying and largely secret machinations of society or the world in general will better equip you to survive and thrive in it
  3. Transcendental: This special knowledge gives you a sense of community with others who share it, sense of belonging (e.g. this forum)
The thing is, conspiracies of any magnitude are incredibly hard to pull off. Any conspiracy is predicated on secrecy, and secrecy on such a massive scale requires an equally massive coordinated effort to keep the truth hidden. And, as we know, people are notoriously bad at keeping secrets. We see whistleblowing at all levels of government, victims of all types of abuse eventually come forward to accuse their wrongdoers, the truth tends to come out. Taking the 1968 moon landing hoax as an example, a study by Dr David Grimes of Oxford determined that there would have to be 411,000 people involved with maintaining the conspiracy and, based on his equations, it would have been revealed in about 3.7 years. Of course this is just his estimate and I can’t speak to the quality of this work but common sense would indicate that this is eminently plausible. Applying this logic to the 911 conspiracy theory, if it were true could it really have remained intact for the past 19+ years?

As Mitch Horowitz put it on a recent podcast (paraphrased) “Conspiracy theories satisfy man’s perpetual search for an enemy”. To me the conspiratorial mindset is overwhelmingly gloomy, tends to breed cynicism, paranoia and extreme mistrust of others, an “us vs. them” attitude...definitely not a fun way to live life. Obviously conspiracy theories shouldn’t be discarded just because we don’t like the world they describe, I’d just like to see more skepticism and diligence employed in their assessment, here and on the podcast.

Sorry this got so long, but all this said, many people much smarter and more educated on the subject (including Alex and Gordon White of Rune soup) see it very differently so my mind is open. What am I missing?
 
#2
I get it, the allure of conspiracy theories is pretty obvious:
  1. Epistemic: It feels good to know more than your peers; the mysteries of the world seem less opaque; presents a clear target on which to focus outrage
  2. Existential: you believe your knowledge about the underlying and largely secret machinations of society or the world in general will better equip you to survive and thrive in it
  3. Transcendental: This special knowledge gives you a sense of community with others who share it, sense of belonging (e.g. this forum)
What am I missing?
You forgot to include an itemised list of drawbacks.
 
#3
Long time listener and occasional forum lurker here. Feeling the need to share my personal concerns about the direction that this podcast and forum seems to have been moving for the past few years now, not only because I love the show but also because I’m open to the idea that I’m missing out on important info here.

It seems the focus of the show has gradually shifted from inquiries into the nature of consciousness, exploration of radical scientific theories, NDEs, etc. to the entertaining of (what appears to me to be) increasingly dubious conspiracy theories. And actually, “entertaining” is probably the wrong word here; many times I hear Alex refer to such theories as if their validity were self-evident (e.g. climate change hoax, covid-19 plandemic, 911 inside job, materialist/physicalist agenda of the scientific elite). I think I’ve even heard Alex lend credence to pizzagate at one point.

Before I proceed, I want to acknowledge that
  1. I haven’t deeply investigated any of these theories
  2. Some conspiracy theories have been validated (e.g. mk-ultra, watergate)
  3. I’m open to the idea that I might be wrong about a lot of this
  4. I’m probably wrong about a lot of this
Lately I’ve heard Alex come down on Bernardo Kastrup, implying that his idealist arguments are weakened by not getting the conspiracy thing right. I’m sure I’m in the minority here but I think he’s actually got it exactly right. Occam’s Razor is the first tool that should be employed when looking at any theory and I don’t see many of these theories surviving the cut.

I get it, the allure of conspiracy theories is pretty obvious:
  1. Epistemic: It feels good to know more than your peers; the mysteries of the world seem less opaque; presents a clear target on which to focus outrage
  2. Existential: you believe your knowledge about the underlying and largely secret machinations of society or the world in general will better equip you to survive and thrive in it
  3. Transcendental: This special knowledge gives you a sense of community with others who share it, sense of belonging (e.g. this forum)
The thing is, conspiracies of any magnitude are incredibly hard to pull off. Any conspiracy is predicated on secrecy, and secrecy on such a massive scale requires an equally massive coordinated effort to keep the truth hidden. And, as we know, people are notoriously bad at keeping secrets. We see whistleblowing at all levels of government, victims of all types of abuse eventually come forward to accuse their wrongdoers, the truth tends to come out. Taking the 1968 moon landing hoax as an example, a study by Dr David Grimes of Oxford determined that there would have to be 411,000 people involved with maintaining the conspiracy and, based on his equations, it would have been revealed in about 3.7 years. Of course this is just his estimate and I can’t speak to the quality of this work but common sense would indicate that this is eminently plausible. Applying this logic to the 911 conspiracy theory, if it were true could it really have remained intact for the past 19+ years?

As Mitch Horowitz put it on a recent podcast (paraphrased) “Conspiracy theories satisfy man’s perpetual search for an enemy”. To me the conspiratorial mindset is overwhelmingly gloomy, tends to breed cynicism, paranoia and extreme mistrust of others, an “us vs. them” attitude...definitely not a fun way to live life. Obviously conspiracy theories shouldn’t be discarded just because we don’t like the world they describe, I’d just like to see more skepticism and diligence employed in their assessment, here and on the podcast.

Sorry this got so long, but all this said, many people much smarter and more educated on the subject (including Alex and Gordon White of Rune soup) see it very differently so my mind is open. What am I missing?
IMO the COVID-19 is clearly a self-evident 'plandemic'. By that I mean exploited and used to curb the civil liberties of humans around the globe, and the evidence for this is absolutely overwhelming, and denial of such is indicative of a mind that refuses to see or understand what freedom means.

The moon landing was not a hoax in my opinion. There is plenty of evidence to convince me of that fact. It's a red herring and a strawman, along with Flat Earth B.S.

Your opinion is good to hear. But I think you are conflating ''conspiracy theories'' with human nature and the ability to put ones head in the sand for an imaginary reality. Moon landing denial is NOT equivalent to COVID-19 restrictions of human freedom.
 
#4
And obviously just my opinion, but I believe that you shouldn't be "concerned" about the 'direction' that skeptiko, or anything else that you haven't put effort into yourself, has gone.

I don't mean that in a presumptuous and superior manner. Simply that you should trust in yourself what to pursue and what not to pursue. Telling others that you don't like the direction something has gone in seems to suggest that you don't have faith and ability in yourself to separate what works for you and what doesn't.

Perhaps I'm missing something from your post? Perhaps you just want to share and engage, which I can understand totally.
 
#5
You forgot to include an itemised list of drawbacks.
I think the main drawback to the conspiratorial mindset is the cynicism and distrust it tends to engender in the individual and in society as a whole, leading in part to the extreme polarization we're experiencing now. I would think anxiety and depression could be another side-effect of such a worldview
 
#6
IMO the COVID-19 is clearly a self-evident 'plandemic'. By that I mean exploited and used to curb the civil liberties of humans around the globe, and the evidence for this is absolutely overwhelming, and denial of such is indicative of a mind that refuses to see or understand what freedom means.
If by this you mean that some people have tried to control the narrative to satisfy a particular agenda or just profit in general, I'm completely on board. I just think it's a big leap from there to saying that covid-19 was created and unleashed upon society with these nefarious goals in mind
 
#7
If by this you mean that some people have tried to control the narrative to satisfy a particular agenda or just profit in general, I'm completely on board. I just think it's a big leap from there to saying that covid-19 was created and unleashed upon society with these nefarious goals in mind
Well does it matter if it was the less crazy one Rambutan? The effects on society and the human species is still the same. Oppression and Tyranny. Extreme division and hatred between people. Easily controlled. Easily swayed. Asleep as per usual. The hijacking and manipulation of simple minds wrought large on a world wide scale. Makes for a great TV show. Unfortunately, we are living in it.

I'm sure we've all seen examples of hysterical people. Dare say it, on both sides. What is it that we can all look forward to in the future, from all of this?
 
#8
And obviously just my opinion, but I believe that you shouldn't be "concerned" about the 'direction' that skeptiko, or anything else that you haven't put effort into yourself, has gone.
Yeah I'm only "concerned" in sense that I'm not happy when a favorite character is killed off from a series I'm watching on netflix. At worst I'll stop watching (but I probably won't). So yeah, this is mostly me whining but I am legitimately curious to know if I'm truly in the minority here. I used to be a hardcore materialist and I've completely flip-flopped there...maybe I just haven't been exposed to enough data
 
#9
Long time listener and occasional forum lurker here. Feeling the need to share my personal concerns about the direction that this podcast and forum seems to have been moving for the past few years now, not only because I love the show but also because I’m open to the idea that I’m missing out on important info here.

It seems the focus of the show has gradually shifted from inquiries into the nature of consciousness, exploration of radical scientific theories, NDEs, etc. to the entertaining of (what appears to me to be) increasingly dubious conspiracy theories. And actually, “entertaining” is probably the wrong word here; many times I hear Alex refer to such theories as if their validity were self-evident (e.g. climate change hoax, covid-19 plandemic, 911 inside job, materialist/physicalist agenda of the scientific elite). I think I’ve even heard Alex lend credence to pizzagate at one point.

Before I proceed, I want to acknowledge that
  1. I haven’t deeply investigated any of these theories
  2. Some conspiracy theories have been validated (e.g. mk-ultra, watergate)
  3. I’m open to the idea that I might be wrong about a lot of this
  4. I’m probably wrong about a lot of this
Lately I’ve heard Alex come down on Bernardo Kastrup, implying that his idealist arguments are weakened by not getting the conspiracy thing right. I’m sure I’m in the minority here but I think he’s actually got it exactly right. Occam’s Razor is the first tool that should be employed when looking at any theory and I don’t see many of these theories surviving the cut.

I get it, the allure of conspiracy theories is pretty obvious:
  1. Epistemic: It feels good to know more than your peers; the mysteries of the world seem less opaque; presents a clear target on which to focus outrage
  2. Existential: you believe your knowledge about the underlying and largely secret machinations of society or the world in general will better equip you to survive and thrive in it
  3. Transcendental: This special knowledge gives you a sense of community with others who share it, sense of belonging (e.g. this forum)
The thing is, conspiracies of any magnitude are incredibly hard to pull off. Any conspiracy is predicated on secrecy, and secrecy on such a massive scale requires an equally massive coordinated effort to keep the truth hidden. And, as we know, people are notoriously bad at keeping secrets. We see whistleblowing at all levels of government, victims of all types of abuse eventually come forward to accuse their wrongdoers, the truth tends to come out. Taking the 1968 moon landing hoax as an example, a study by Dr David Grimes of Oxford determined that there would have to be 411,000 people involved with maintaining the conspiracy and, based on his equations, it would have been revealed in about 3.7 years. Of course this is just his estimate and I can’t speak to the quality of this work but common sense would indicate that this is eminently plausible. Applying this logic to the 911 conspiracy theory, if it were true could it really have remained intact for the past 19+ years?

As Mitch Horowitz put it on a recent podcast (paraphrased) “Conspiracy theories satisfy man’s perpetual search for an enemy”. To me the conspiratorial mindset is overwhelmingly gloomy, tends to breed cynicism, paranoia and extreme mistrust of others, an “us vs. them” attitude...definitely not a fun way to live life. Obviously conspiracy theories shouldn’t be discarded just because we don’t like the world they describe, I’d just like to see more skepticism and diligence employed in their assessment, here and on the podcast.

Sorry this got so long, but all this said, many people much smarter and more educated on the subject (including Alex and Gordon White of Rune soup) see it very differently so my mind is open. What am I missing?
I'm with you on that and have expressed as much on these forums; quite vociferously for a period of time. My criticism wasn't well received. I am particularly against the 9/11 conspiracy nonsense and Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories.

I find that conspiracy theories are based on incomplete facts, false facts, over-complication of events that can be completely explained far more simply, connecting dots that shouldn't be connected and only exist because it's a small world and the subset of movers shakers is even smaller (everyone is connected by three degrees of separation at most) and, the biggest factor, mistaking cause and effect (e.g. I see vultures on the side the road eating animals that have been hit by cars. Ergo vultures are organized and directing drivers to kill animals. Furthermore, a vulture was seen roosting in a tree on Henry Ford's estate! What does that tell you!).

A more concrete example is that I used to believe that the Kennedy assassination had to be a conspiracy because, having shot a lot of different things with a lot of different types of firearms, I couldn't understand how Kennedy's blood and brains only blew backwards toward Oswald's location. Then I saw a digitally cleaned-up frame by frame stop motion of the Zapruder film. In that it is clear that there is substantial "pink mist" blowing forward at the moment the bullet hits Kennedy's head. That caused me to re-assess.

Then I further realized that there is no "magic bullet". It is clear from his position in the car that the bullet that exited Kennedy's throat would have hit Conally exactly as it did; same trajectory that the Warren Commission stated. It is also clear that the first shot that Oswald fired missed entirely because, most likely, it was deflected by a street light pole that was exactly positioned where Oswald would have, logically, taken his first shot. Oswald was trained to follow and lead a moving target. He would not have noticed his rifle sweeping onto the pole as he did that because, looking through the scope, he literally had tunnel vision. The allegations that the "magic bullet" should have been more deformed are based on ignorance. That particular round, though relatively underpowered, used to be deployed in elephant hunting. Its unusually heavy for caliber and thickly jacketed bullet + light recoil and relatively low volume report made it ideal for poachers who didn't want to scare the herd or tip off game wardens in the distance. The bullet's nature and composition allowed for deeply penetrating head shots into the elephants brain. The tendency to not deform due to the thick jacket is one of the factors that made that application possible.

Oswald was clearly a man with anti-social tendencies. He had a screw loose. He was USMC trained and would have had no problem making the two shots that hit their mark from less than one hundred yards. He was seeking a twisted "glory" as his personality type often does.

What about all the connections to the Cost Nostra, Cuba, CIA,etc, etc, etc. Like I said, small world. Kennedy wanted to win Illinois so he needed to win Chicago so he needed union votes so he needed Cosa Nostra help, as did every politician back then (and probably even today). It means nothing. The Cuba stuff is meaningless speculation. Ruby? You can't run a strip club without some connection to the Cost Nostra. Always been that way and still is. Patriots can run strip clubs. Patriots can get angry when jerks attack the country (witness anti-muslim attacks after 9/11 in the US). Ruby also wanted to be recognized as tough guy, etc, He had personal motives. So he shot Oswald. No need for all of the conspiracy conjecture.

Anyhow, once we clear up the ballistics issues, then Oswald explains the whole event. This to me is a fine example of how conspiracy theories operate.

OTOH, sometimes there is a conspiracy. But declaring that one really does exist requires complete and accurate info and the simpler explanation cannot cover all of the known facts of the event. Even then we need to be careful to distinguish between an organically self-organizing set of phenomena and a deliberately organized one.
 
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#10
I'm sure we've all seen examples of hysterical people. Dare say it, on both sides. What is it that we can all look forward to in the future, from all of this?
I think this is absolutely right, we certainly can point to obvious delusion on both sides (e.g. moon landing hoax, mk-ultra deniers). My point is that, all things being equal, because the cost of buying into conspiracy theories is so high, we should be heavily biased towards the null hypothesis. Unfortunately that doesn't always seem to be the case here
 
#11
I think this is absolutely right, we certainly can point to obvious delusion on both sides (e.g. moon landing hoax, mk-ultra deniers). My point is that, all things being equal, because the cost of buying into conspiracy theories is so high, we should be heavily biased towards the null hypothesis. Unfortunately that doesn't always seem to be the case here

Perhaps we should. But the mind that can go deeply into many subjects, yet still be able to retain a part of their self that can back out when it becomes clear to them that what they studied was not the truth, will come alright in the end.


Logic is fundamental and sometimes it gets in the way, in the journey of understanding. Such paradoxes are par the norm for this, 'reality'. And yet the paradoxes themselves get in the way too, sometimes.


Remaining grounded, yet exploring, in extremes of both, is my philosophy. It's just a bumpy ride usually. You will have enemies and friends, and they can swap. But what remains is yourself, in the end.

Maybe I'm just insane. But hell, the world has gone a bit insane too. Both sides of the current zeitgeist can see that. Isn't that interesting by itself?
 
#12
This to me is a fine example of how conspiracy theories operate.... Even then we need to be careful to distinguish between an organically self-organizing set of phenomena and a deliberately organized one. ...
Totally agree, viewed through a particular lens organically emergent behavior can appear incredibly deliberate. I think the "physicalist agenda of the scientific elite" theory is another example. That there is some organized cabal or massive secret society working to maintain the status quo is as fun to entertain as is it is far-fetched...much more likely that most members of the establishment are average people that are
  • lazy, tend to go with the flow
  • lack imagination and creativity (related to above)
  • would rather fit in and not rock the boat (related to both of the above)
 
#13
Perhaps we should. But the mind that can go deeply into many subjects, yet still be able to retain a part of their self that can back out when it becomes clear to them that what they studied was not the truth, will come alright in the end. ...Maybe I'm just insane. But hell, the world has gone a bit insane too. Both sides of the current zeitgeist can see that. Isn't that interesting by itself?
That's a great point, strong opinions held lightly is probably a healthy approach here. The world is indeed a crazy place, with strong realism a proven fantasy, we could all be "right" I suppose
 
#14
T I think the "physicalist agenda of the scientific elite" theory is another example.
Agree - it doesn't explain all of the facts - or at least its attempts to cover all of the facts becomes extremely strained to the point of wandering into weak speculations and other proposals.

The more parsimonious explanation is that there is a mental/spiritual world that we are a part of, yet can't fully describe or explain, but that we experience and witness operate. The physical is merely one facet of the total or, perhaps, a shadow of the more complete world.

IMO, it is ok to say, "I don't know everything about the alternative, I just know that there must be an alternative that, broadly, works as I describe, in order to account for all of the facts". Materialists don't like that and conspiracy theorists will fill in the gaps with stated certainties that are really speculations and figments of their imagination.
 
#15
The more parsimonious explanation is that there is a mental/spiritual world that we are a part of, yet can't fully describe or explain, but that we experience and witness operate. The physical is merely one facet of the total or, perhaps, a shadow of the more complete world.
Yeah, I wasn't very clear in my post but I was more referring to the idea that there is a large scale and deliberate offensive perpetrated by the scientific establishment at large to suppress non-materialist-conforming science (e.g. psi research, idealist metaphysics, etc). When it comes to metaphysics, Kastrup's formulation of idealism is still the clear front-runner for me, based on parsimony, internal consistency and explanatory power
 
#16
Yeah, I wasn't very clear in my post but I was more referring to the idea that there is a large scale and deliberate offensive perpetrated by the scientific establishment at large to suppress non-materialist-conforming science (e.g. psi research, idealist metaphysics, etc). When it comes to metaphysics, Kastrup's formulation of idealism is still the clear front-runner for me, based on parsimony, internal consistency and explanatory power
Ah, I see. I think that is an example of an organically self-organizing "conspiracy". I do not think it is deliberate in most cases. There are a few ideologues who are deliberate, but they are the outliers. Otherwise, it's just people doing what they know and staying in their lane. Then the vultures take advantage of the opportunities. Much of human behavior and attitude can be explained by that outlook.
 
#17
I think the main drawback to the conspiratorial mindset is the cynicism and distrust it tends to engender in the individual and in society as a whole, leading in part to the extreme polarization we're experiencing now. I would think anxiety and depression could be another side-effect of such a worldview
Thanks for the reply. This area of thought is a path I went down myself many years ago. It reminds me of the time I spent exploring other avenues of thought. All I would say here is that it is not an end destination, just one more room to enter and then leave, before resuming one's travels.
 
#19
You are missing the desire to understand how the world works.

Perhaps you don't fully appreciate the benefits of that, or don't need them.
It seems to me that this is leaping to conclusions. Understanding the desires of another person is no easy task. In any case, there are many viewpoints on "how the world works", many roads to understanding rather than a single path.
 
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