Why do we embrace conspiracy theories? Farid Zakaria’s perspective

In face of Osama bin Laden’s death and reacction to it in the Muslim world, and even by many open minded in USA and Europe, here is what Farid Zakaria wrote in CNN.  Farid Zakaria hosts a political program on CNN every week.  I share this as another perspective to think about, of those who are always with those in power, no matter what the ground reality may suggest.  Nevertheless, whenever we read something, we should follow Francis Bacon’s  advice, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”  Here is what Zakaria wrote:

There must be something deep in the human psyche that makes us believe there are patterns to events – order, purpose and meaning.

The simplest alternate explanation to a conspiracy theory is usually incompetence. When people say, “Why did these things happen?” and then point to a series of seemingly implausible events, it’s usually because the government messed up. The right arm didn’t know what the left arm was doing. Government is made of human beings. They are remarkably ordinary in their ability to make mistakes.

There is also a certain amount of life which is luck, chance, coincidence and happenstance. You can’t always divine some larger pattern from the fact that two events seem related or happened in the same month. Often it is just chance.

As you see, I’m not particularly partial to conspiracy theories.

I can’t tell you how many times people ask me about the conspiracy of the Bilderberg Group. It is a conference I’ve occasionally been invited to and have attended once or twice.

If only the people who wrote the alarmist treatises on the Bilderberg Group were allowed in. They would be so utterly disappointed. It’s just a conference like dozens of others around the world. And anyway, the idea that a finance minister or a banker would say something with a group of 150 people that is any different than what he would say in public is crazy in today’s world where everything leaks instantly. In my experience, they say the same fairly banal platitudes inside as they say outside.

So on the few occasions in my life when I’ve been inside centers of the conspiracy, I’ve been disappointed and relieved to find they were pretty much like the world on the outside.

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1 reply

  1. Why do we embrace conspiracy theories? A part-answer may surely be ‘because we are often not told the truth’. In Iraq and Afghanistan the US war machinery for instance is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on ‘(war) information and public relations’. In Iraq one such contractor was caught paying Iraqi journalists 2 – 5000 $ per ‘US-favorable’ newspaper article. The emphasis was on ‘US-friendly’ not on ‘truthful’.

    Once I was in a waiting room at the Baghdad ‘International Zone’ (armored bus transport to the airport). A silly video was playing (monsters and such). It was a very silly movie and nobody seemed to enjoy it particularly, however, when one guy said: “This News is true, it comes from the Government” all Americans whether military or civilian contractors, laughed out loud.

    No one now-a-days even expects to be told the truth by any politician. They think that politics (democracy) and lies are absolutely normal.

    What else then but ‘conspiracy theories’???

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