Friday, August 11, 2006

Conspiracy Theory

I was on the phone last night with a good friend of ours for over two hours. It wasn't unpleasant, but my ear was VERY grateful when I unstuck it from the phone! The major topic of conversation was various and sundry conspiracy theories. Everything from September 11th to healthcare to smoking. In the age of the Internet, especially blogs, this sort of information, or published conjecture, is rampant.

I am certain that the concept of conspiracy theory is as old as humanity itself. It is the nature of the human mind to question, and to have those questions answered. Equally necessary is the need to feel comfortable or satisfied with those answers. Where answers are viewed as insufficient, uncomfortable or incomplete, people fill in the blanks any way they can. And now, with the click of a mouse, anyone can publish their views, giving other questioning minds validation of their own conclusions.

One of the things that outrages my friend the most is the medical profession, specifically managed care and drug manufacturers. It is his view, and he has researched it extensively, that there is a vast conspiracy to keep Americans feeding at the pharmaceutical trough. This is why certain alternative treatments are not widely available, why our government banned publicly funded stem cell research, and why we as a nation are sicker than other developed nations. Maybe. But it may be something else all together: Maybe it isn't a pharmaceutical conspiracy, but yet another religion based control on human behavior. Stem cells can be obtained from spontaneously or medically induced aborted fetuses, as well as the umbilical cords of full term, healthy babies. The religious right is terrified that women will run out and have safe, legal abortions feeling good that at least they are contributing to medical advancement. Can't have that!! But maybe there is something else at play. I don't know.

And then there is the matter of September 11th. Flight 800. Weapons of mass destruction. Tobacco companies. Oil companies. Here's another one: The Homeland Defense Department issued an announcement on August 10th stating that everyone should download the latest security patches available from Microsoft, especially if they are running XP. Am I alone in thinking that the government and Microsoft could be in bed together to produce a "patch" for one of the most deeply penetrated Operating Systems on the planet in order to have PCs open to scrutiny by Big Brother? August 10th is the same day a so called plot to blow planes out of the sky over the Atlantic was broken up. The perpetrators are thought to be linked to Al Qaeda. But it is a rehash of a plot exposed in 1995. I could be wrong, but I don't think it likely that they would resurrect an idea that failed.

Questioning is not a bad thing. It is healthy. It is our civic responsibility, in some cases. But I think as un-omniscient beings, we at some point, must accept that we may never know the actual answers. And some of the ones we have come up with might be completely wrong. If you consider the fact that no one can ever know another person's core motivations on any given matter, it becomes an almost infinite array of who has what to gain by doing anything. Like statistics, you can make conspiracy theory fit whatever your given agenda is. Spend any time questioning "facts" and the possible "conspiracy" behind them, and you can easily loose your mind. Of course we should not bury our heads in the proverbial sand, but we should not forget to just live life. Awareness and intellectual exercise is great. Obsession is not.

r.

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