Should We Believe in Conspiracy Theories?

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There are a great number of conspiracy theories in the world and their popularity is higher than ever. For example, there are many conspiracy theories around the bombings of the world trade center; one of these theories proposes that the world trade center bombings were executed so that the United States could invade the Middle East. An important question that arises, when considering conspiracy theories, is should we believe them? Brain Keeley discusses this problem in his paper, “Of Conspiracy Theories”. But what exactly is a conspiracy theory? According to Keeley, “a conspiracy theory is a proposed explanation of some historical event (or events) in terms of the significant causal agency of a relatively small group of persons … acting in secret.” (Section III, 116) Keeley points towards something interesting about this definition, the conspirators must act in secret because if the “truth” was known their plans will fail. So in-order to stop their “evil plans” we must believe in the theory. (Section III, 116) The plan of the conspirators being evil is one characteristic of the type of conspiracy theories Keeley discusses in his paper. For example, a small group of friends acting in secret to throw their friend a birthday party is, according to the above definition, a conspiracy. So to draw a distinction between birthday-party type conspiracies and the conspiracy theories Keeley wishes to discuss he lists certain characteristics to differentiate them. These characteristics are: (i) the explanation a conspiracy theory offers clashes against the official story, (ii) conspiracy theory bring together events that are not related (iii) the secrets of a conspiracy theory are protected, and (iv) a tool called errant data, which is divi... ... middle of paper ... ...t to disprove. However, this requires an amount of skepticism, which Keeley thinks is too great. Keeley believes that there is no sure method that can distinguish true and false conspiracy theories. (Section VI, 126) What he seems to be implying in his paper is that when a conspiracy theory gets “too big” and starts to include numerous institutions it is likely that the theory is false. Furthermore, Keeley thinks that conspiracy theorists have held on to an outdated worldview where the world is ordered and can be controlled. We are now witnessing a conflict between the modern worldview and the old one. (Section V, 123) In todays technologically advanced society the world has become much more diversified with numerous organizations that have their own agendas. In this complexity it is very improbable that there is someone controlling everything. (Section V, 123)

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