Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Fallacy of Intelligent Design in Conspiracy Theories

It appears that good-to-do people are spreading misinformation via the accessibility of the internet, perpetuated by paranoid conspiracy theorists and others supposedly out in search of ‘the truth’, albeit one that confirms their beliefs in the best way possible.

I imagine that some of these people must have a chip in their shoulder, and feel that they are getting less than they deserve.  Such a belief might make it easier to spot corresponding theories, such as the idea that some ‘higher power’ (your parents, the police, the government, God) is pulling all the strings, and swinging things constantly out of your favour.  And when confirming your biases feels so good, all this information seems to come together to form some kind of clear image, like faces in rocks.

Just as it is easy to see intention and purpose where there is none, as in the case of intelligent design, the same mistakes in thinking may also be the basis for believing in conspiracy theories.  Instead of seeing a hand as something we simply use to pick up objects, purpose is wrongly attributed to it, and so we say (and think) that the purpose of hands is to pick up objects.  The difference may seem small, and some may see no difference at all, but it is a significant one. 

A system that results in discrimination against specific groups is very different from one that was actively designed to discriminate.  This is even more apparent when you consider that systems and organisations are inherently composed of individual parts and individuals, who are logically supposed to achieve the same ends.  A conspiracy on such a scale requires you to see an organisation as a well-defined whole, whose intended ends are malevolent.  If instead, you break a system down into its many parts, upon inspecting each individually it becomes increasingly difficult to find the intention.  The group or at least the majority of the group, must work collectively for the same purpose in order for there to be any tangible unified goal.  A few individuals out of hundreds or even thousands, who ‘conspire’ among themselves cannot be said to affect the overall purpose of the group, even though they may have considerable impact on the measurable outcomes of their collective.

In order to see a conspiracy it becomes necessary for you to view things in black and white, and to ignore or leave out any negative cases when looking for and summing up your ‘evidence’.  Instead of seeing honest people for example, as evidence that there is no conspiracy, they will be counted as rare exceptions, regardless of how many instances are found.

Scepticism is seen as belief system, like Christianity for example, whereby upon announcing your scepticism you have also unknowingly chosen a team, donned their colours, and separated yourself from the ‘opposition’. 

Being a sceptic is different from being a religious follower in that religion is mostly a system of beliefs, whereas scepticism is more the act of suspending belief.  In order to be a true sceptic you must have good reason for your disbelief, otherwise you are most likely just being contrary, and are in no better a position than someone who blindly believes.  Although there may be potential benefits to automatic contraryism, over the tendency to believe almost anything if it’s presented in a professional-style video, complete with well-chosen soundtrack and end credits.

Scepticism threatens to take the fun out of life and the mysteries people hold dear, by actually challenging those ideas, instead of worshipping them and rejoicing in the unknown.


SimoneAmbrogio said...

Really good thinker. How are you? Still vegetarian? Simon (from Italy, btw when are you planning to come and visit Italy?)

F1 Humour said...

thinking will not get you out of this world nor set you free! thinking is the loop of suppressed souls! feel and escape! good luck!