Podcast May 2012: Tony Sobrado and Dr Ian Richardson on The Bilderberg Group and Elite Theory in the Social Sciences.

This discussion involves an analysis of The Bilderberg Group, made up of leading politicians and financiers, from the perspective of the social sciences as well the enigma and myths that encapsulate the group’s annual meeting.

Dr Ian Richardson is author of the book, Bilderberg People: Elite Power and Consensus in World Affairs.

His previous article can be found here on this site:

http://tonysobrado.com/2011/09/12/dr-ian-richardson-bilderberg-elite-consensus-and-themedia/

Believing the Impossible and Conspiracy Theories By Michael Wood, University of Kent

Distrust and paranoia about government has a long history, and the feeling that there is a conspiracy of elites can lead to suspicion for authorities and the claims they make. For some, the attraction of conspiracy theories is so strong that it leads them to endorse entirely contradictory beliefs, according to a study in the current Social Psychological and Personality Science (published by SAGE).

People who endorse conspiracy theories see authorities as fundamentally deceptive. The conviction that the “official story” is untrue can lead people to believe several alternative theories-despite contradictions among them. “Any conspiracy theory that stands in opposition to the official narrative will gain some degree of endorsement from someone who holds a conpiracist worldview,” according to Michael Wood, Karen Douglas and Robbie Sutton of the University of Kent.

To see if conspiracy views were strong enough to lead to inconsistencies, the researchers asked 137 college students about the death of Princess Diana. The more people thought there “was an official campaign by the intelligence service to assassinate Diana,” the more they also believed that “Diana faked her own death to retreat into isolation.” Of course, Diana cannot be simultaneously dead and alive.

The researchers wanted to know if the contradictory beliefs were due to suspicion of authorities, so they asked 102 college students about the death of Osama bin Laden (OBL). People who believed that “when the raid took place, OBL was already dead,” were significantly more likely to also believe that “OBL is still alive.” Since bin Laden is not Schrödinger’s cat, he must either be alive or dead. The researchers found that the belief that the “actions of the Obama administration indicate that they are hiding some important or damaging piece of information about the raid” was responsible for the connection between the two conspiracy theories. Conspiracy belief is so potent that it will lead to belief in completely inconsistent ideas.

“For conspiracy theorists, those in power are seen as deceptive-even malevolent-and so any official explanation is at a disadvantage, and any alternative explanation is more credible from the start,” said the authors. It is no surprise that fear, mistrust, and even paranoia can lead to muddled thinking; when distrust is engaged, careful reasoning can coast on by. “Believing Osama is still alive,” they write, ‘is no obstacle to believing that he has been dead for years.”

Tony Sobrado – Constructing a Theory about Conspiracy Theories Interview for Radio Free Thinker

http://radiofreethinker.com/tag/tony-sobrado/ /

Tony Sobrado – Multidimensional framework for understanding conspiracy theories Interview for Radio Freethinker

http://radiofreethinker.com/tag/tony-sobrado/ /

Dr Jovan Byford’s Interview on Conspiracy Theories and Social Psychology for BBC Thinking Allowed

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01b1g96

The Paradox of Conservative Political Philosophy in Contemporary America

Tony Sobrado writing for the Huffington Post

Conservatism as a political philosophy is difficult to define and locate within a philosophical spectrum. From a traditional standpoint it’s more a disposition and attitude than a fully fledged philosophy or doctrine. At an obvious first glance the disposition is about the conservation of values and ideals. This is in terms of abstract conceptions which then have ontological consequences in the political realm. This is because these values often become applied to the preservation of constitutions, political institutions, statutory rights and social values.

Instead of teleological goals, Meta universal theories and eternal truths, the doctrine of political Conservatism is best captured by the description of pragmatism. Piecemeal change where required simultaneously accompanies the philosophical mantra of “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it”. In this respect, Conservatism is the most flexible political philosophy. As where classical Liberalism will not retreat from what it sees as inalienable natural rights, Marxism on the distribution of social wealth, for conservatism, at least in theory, there is nothing in the disposition to restrict it permanently to any ideals. Change and response to social and political phenomena comes about by a concoction of necessity and adaptability. This unique perspective allows one to both look to the future and the past with regards to decision making.

Current Conservatism in America takes a somewhat different tone to that espoused on the European continent. There are of course aspects of Conservatism that overlap. For instance fiscal Conservatism is an idiom applicable to both European and American parties. It is often accompanied by a monetarist economic policy with low business and tax regulation as well as minimal welfare expenditure. Outside the economic sphere the resemblances become much more difficult to detect. America, founded on the doctrine of Liberal Government emphasises the separation of the branches of Government, the separation of Church and State and open free and fair elections, is none the less a republic. A Republic in political philosophy is another ubiquitous term. This is due to the different historical and cultural terms applied to the governmental concept over its long past. Thus the American Republic should not be thought of in the same vein as Plato’s or Cicero’s Republic.

Nonetheless what we see now in America is an aggressive conservative tone propagated by certain leaders in the Republican Party. Instead of being flexible in current situations and being adaptable to the demands of a current economic and cultural context, this Conservative movement only looks to the past. Thus it is Conservative in one sense but lacks the adaptability and malleability administered by European Conservative action.

Now of course these political proposals are shaped by the current political climate. In the face of aggressive Liberal proposals advocated by the current Democratic Party, the Republicans have to play the part of a polar opposite alternative, which means going to the extremes of Conservatism. Ironically, here these Republican policies are shaped by current contexts but not in adapting to them only reacting to them – going back down the conservational path.

The paradox of current American conservative political philosophy is twofold. Firstly the Republicans value both Conservatism and Republicanism often tied to the principles of the founding fathers, the Federalist Papers and the Declaration of Independence. Here the appeal to antiquity is most apparent but its utility is somewhat erroneous. Take two controversial issues in America over the last few years: stem cell research and homosexual marriage. Instead of being flexible and adapting to change, one might think that exploring stem cell research is a practical modern day necessity that may one day produce better medical results in fighting fatal diseases, the Republicans oppose this. The paradox occurs here because the Republican’s are not just being inflexible but its authority for such a position is the recourse to the sanctity of “life”. It would be very hard to argue that an embryo is a “life” in a conventional, social manner but technically it is! But more specifically it is a collection of cells and thus a biological organism only classed as a “life” in the same context as say a plant. But the authority of this is based on the Bible in which all “life” is sacred and no entity has dominion over genetic production and its reproduction over than God. This Biblical notion then supersedes the practical approach that a collection of cells is not a conscious being with emotions and a nervous system and perhaps not a full human life. This aspect of Republican ideology is neither malleable, pragmatic or looking to the future. Instead it is stuck in the past using traditional dogma for justification. This makes it paradoxical because the Conservative disposition should be pragmatic and adaptive when looking to the future. However pragmatism is devoid in the argument as the past reigns superior. Thus, paradoxically, it is not conservatism in its full disposition. Instead “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is replaced by “even if it is broken don’t fix it because tradition says so”.

However this is not the most serious violation of the Conservative political disposition. The deftest paradox occurs in the most illogical and startling way when applied to same sex relationships and marriage. The Republican Party strongly adheres to the Federalist Papers and its emphasis on individual liberty as well as freedom from the intrusion of others in one’s own life domain and the choices this entails – and rightly so for the political works of James Madison and co are philosophical precepts that should be upheld by anyone seeking to facilitate protected Liberty in a political community. The Republicans oppose same sex marriage; and here the paradoxes and logical inconsistencies run wild.

Firstly the principle of citizen equality and equality of opportunity is not adhered to for the rule is only applicable to some not all, thus negating the very description of equality. Secondly non infringement on another’s individual Liberty is trespassed as homosexuals are dictated their relationship status by others; and if the Republicans were in control, from the State as well. The latter being a contradictory approach to “small” Government. Most prominently with such a claim towards the “unnaturalness” of same sex marriage comes the violation of another American founding principle – the separation of Church and State. This also ties into the paradox in terms of using scripture from the past to warrant validity and justification in the present. The authority is the King James Bible, so the Republicans are not being adaptable to a current situation. Moreover the use of the Bible is the intrusion in the public life by the church. The separation of church and state has vanished and the paradox of American conservative Republicans and its logical inconsistencies are ever apparent. To resolves these political paradoxes the Republicans must at least attempt to answer the questions of equality for “whom and what” and argumentative reasoning based on what grounds exactly? If not they are not being pragmatic and neglecting a fundamental axiom of what the Conservative political disposition is about.

The Role of God, Religion and Morality in Contemporary Society

The amalgamation of three current events makes this question perhaps more salient than ever. Primarily it’s the Christmas period. This is a time of monotheistic spiritual inception for the western world’s faithful and one on both consumption and giving for the secular. Secondly, the conjoining in the last few weeks of two polarising politics views regarding the matter of faith.

The death of aggressive atheist writer Christopher Hitchens, who not only posited the positive ramifications of secularised society but insisted on the dangers of both organised religion and the idealistic worship of higher beings. In the same week, and at the other end of the spectrum, David Cameron announced that he felt British society needed to embrace Christian values is a more assertive manner.

In the modern technologised world, ever more dependent on the scientific method as an effective means to an end where should the future of society, the State and Church run? Should we embrace the teachings of monotheistic religions or is time to focus on what atheists see as the rational pursuit of knowledge based on evidence and practical necessity thus demoting the supernatural to the domain of pure speculation?

This question is not a contemporary one. The role of deities and their employment by society has been discussed by political philosophers since ancient times. And where politics can be self enwrapping, there is often political motivations behind political decisions and statements; the politics behind the politics if you like. Does David Cameron sincerely believe that religious values, in this case Christianity, can really benefit society; or is it an alluring and illusory trick with the aim of pandering to traditional conservative support? Why does society and politicians need God?

The Greek Philosopher Seneca said that religion is believed by the masses, refuted by the wise and useful for those in power. This analysis perhaps is nowhere more applicable today than the United States. The far right branch of the Republican Party must appease the southern Bible belt. Thus adherence to dogmatic Biblical ethos is the norm. This means same sex marriage and abortion is forbidden due to archaic canon. The religious posture enacted by American politicians is ever apparent in the fact that Congress has only one open atheist amongst their flock. Certain Republicans prefer to conspicuously ramp up the religiosity meter. Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Ron Paul either question or reject the theory of evolution. Now one cannot say whether these politicians sincerely believe their own message. Whether they practice what they preach cannot be known but one wonders how much homework has been done by the PR team.

This enigmatic religious framework and the controversy it ignites within the social world has seen a resurgence in debate over the last decade. Terrorist bombers’ self sacrifice for the higher good fueled much of the new atheistic movement that included Christopher Hitchens. Is religion useful in any way? The new atheists would say it is far more dangerous than it is benevolent. The surrender to autonomy outside our world of existence and the acceptance of paradigms based on faith is a pernicious cognitive state. The blocking of stem cell research by the Bush administration was attributable to the adherence to scripture and its preference over rational scientific research. But does society need God and Why?

This question spurned Emile Durkherim, a founding father of Sociology. Durkheim proposed that religion was the glue that held social fabric together. It was both the most profound and affective way of ensuring a social collective outside the individualistic centered political philosophy espoused by Bentham and Mill. For Durkheim religion had vast practical benefits for society.

In the contemporary world, the arguments encompassing the need or disposal of religion tend to encompass the question of morality. This is partly because the question encapsulating the existence of God itself is obviously a prominently complex one. Theologians today tend to couch out some of their arguments in the cosmological realm. They state principles of “fine tuning” in an otherwise inhospitable universe. Others, even smarter philosophers propose that the existence of time and space cannot have a singularity in terms of cause an effect for the polar opposite of everything is nothing and “nothing” cannot cause a “thing”. Thus there must be a force of creation outside the boundaries of temporal linear cause and effect that transcends time and space. These issues depend on the riddled concepts of causation and explanation in philosophy of science. However my concern here is not an ontological one. I want to question the source of morality and its necessary employment in society.

Morality is undoubtedly a required protocol in society. And often is not because we do not want to be left by ourselves in a dog-eat-dog world where the winner takes all, by any means necessary. The majority of the time is that we cannot but help feel sympathy for, and empahtise, with others. The ramifications of guilt, sadness or sympathy in the conscious being are as perplexing as they are mysterious. Here we come to the source of morality in society and an area where religious champions believe they have a coup de gras.

Proponents of religion and its necessary integration with society propose a moral virtue grown out of religion. In effect without God there can be no morality. But do we need God and religion to be moral in society? Research from within the social and natural sciences says no. And if you think you need religion to be moral this raises the question of what you would behave like if you did not think morality was based on God and its consequences!

The source, role and function of morality have been the focus of much debate lately. Concrete definitions of right and wrong feature as arguments proposing the objectivity of morality, which can only have its source in God. This strays way from the relativist perception of morality and the “good life” proposed by Aristotle. For the religious, there are objective forms of morality that one innately knows to be wrong through life’s participation as a conscious being.

For the subscribers to a naturalistic perspective of morality, born out of evolutionary theory, they can be no objective framework from which to stand outside social life and classify behaviour as objectively right or wrong as these are cultural and social values dependent on contextual factors. For instance western contemporary societies no longer feel the need to publicly execute adulterers as where in certain societies this activity is seen as being morally depraved and worthy of execution.

Whether morality is subjective or objective one cannot dispute its existence, so where lies the source? I have already outlined the religious arguments for this but what about the alternative? Why is it that humans developed the need to be compassionate and thoughtful towards others especially in the face of survival of the fittest? Well known arguments consist of the ability and need for early nomadic tribes to coexist together. This then entails two primal functions of empathy and moral engagement. Primarily men need the assistance of others to survive and secondly it is in your own interest not to overtly engage in conflict with others. Disputes over ideals and decision making would have always existed and this is part of human disagreement. However acts such as stealing the food or children of others, murder and rape carry with them severe penalties and consequences due to the mental and physical well being of their effects. This gives an evolutionary basis for the development of morality as a functional role, bringing specific attention to why certain acts and ideas over others produce abomination from the collective society in question and your own conscience as a member of the same human species. However this does not justify a framework for objective morality only a series of learned and evolved processes over time that have enabled societies to coexist together by favouring certain acts an ideals whilst simaltaneously stigmatizing and chastising others.

Without the need to use God and religion to justify morality in society, an area in which all agree that ethical codes need to be enacted to protect members in society, what is the need and role of religion in society? Some say religion is comforting so it has its benefits even if it is fallacious. I believe that these claims of fantastical yet erroneous belief are dangerous. They seem to be an over glamorised version of eating chocolate as comfort food, which may be good in the short term but has health effects in the long term. Then there is the pluralist perspective in politics that freedom of speech and ideas are welcome in an open and free society. This is a view that most ascribe to; the ability and possibility to let others believe in something that you do not. On this politically philosophical account alone religion warrants its place in society as a belief system.

However on face value it appears as if religion is not needed for fully functioning societies. People can live fulfilled, responsible and inter-collective lives based around ethics that need not be cited by, or attributed to, an omnipotent creator. To a certain extent this was the goal of some of the enlightenment thinkers; that the exercising of reason and rationality embedded in an evidence based account of epistemology would eventually render belief in deities extinct. We have clearly not reached that stage yet and is it even desirable?

Part on the problem regarding the God hypothesis lies in epistemology. What evidence would warrant the existence of God? Conversely what evidence would disprove the existence of God? The question itself is not even a scientific one, for Karl Popper, as it is not falsifiable. What is apparent is humanity’s obsession with the metaphysical. By pushing the limits of known and unknown forms existence, humans in the 21st century have continued with their beliefs concerning multiple realities and other worlds. With religious dogma and scripture losing favour with the masses we have seen a spike in spiritualism and new age philosophy. This is the adherence to souls and the afterlife not necessarily connected to the concept God. Perhaps this poses the greatest problem and question for those divided on the God hypothesis: Is the continuous metaphysical adherence proof of God’s spiritual existence or does it illustrate, in profound terms, the obsession with God and the afterlife as being a naturally occurring phenomenon in the human psyche?

Conspiracy Theories and Rationality By Professor David Coady

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=6005

 

I have been interviewed by the media several times since my edited collection Conspiracy Theories: The Philosophical Debate came out. On each occasion the questions I was asked presupposed that conspiracy theories are invariably false and that the people who believe them (i.e., conspiracy theorists) are irrational. Every interviewer has expressed the hope that I could explain why people persist in this form of irrationality.

In retrospect this should not have been surprising. The expression “conspiracy theory” has strongly negative connotations; it is almost invariably used in a way which implies that the theory in question is not to be taken seriously. However careful consideration of what a conspiracy theory is reveals that this dismissive attitude is not justified.

A “conspiracy” is simply a secret plan on the part of a group of people to bring about some shared goal, and a “conspiracy theory” is simply a theory according to which such a plan has occurred or is occurring. Most people can cite numerous examples of conspiracies from history, current affairs, or their own personal experience. Hence most people are conspiracy theorists.

The problem is that when people think of particular examples of conspiracy theories they tend to think of theories that are clearly irrational.

When asked to cite examples of typical conspiracy theories, many people will refer to theories involving conspirators who are virtually all-powerful or virtually omniscient.

Others will mention theories involving alleged conspiracies that have been going on for so long or which involve so many people, that it implausible to suppose that it could have remained undetected (by anyone other than the conspiracy theorists).

Still others refer to theories involving conspirators who appear to have no motive to conspire (unless perhaps the desire to do evil for its own sake can be thought of as a motive).

Such theories are conspiracy theories and they are irrational, but it does not follow, nor is it true, that they are irrational because they are conspiracy theories. Thinking of such irrational conspiracy theories as paradigms of conspiracy theories is like thinking of numerology as a paradigm of number theory, or astrology as a paradigm of a theory of planetary motion. The subject matter of a theory does not in general determine whether belief in it is rational or not.

People do conspire. Indeed almost everyone conspires some of the time (think of surprise birthday parties) and some people conspire almost all the time (think of CIA agents). Many things (for example, September 11) cannot be explained without reference to a conspiracy. The only question in such cases is “Which conspiracy theory is true?”.

The official version of events (which in this case I accept) is that the conspirators were members of al-Qaida. This explanation is, however, unlikely to attract the label “conspiracy theory”. Why not? Because it is also the “official story”.

Although it is common to contrast conspiracy theories with the official non-conspiratorial version of events, quite often the official version of events is just as conspiratorial as its rivals. When this is the case, it is the rivals to the official version of events that will inevitably be labelled “conspiracy theories” with all the associated negative connotations. So, “conspiracy theory” has become, in effect, a synonym for a belief which conflicts with an official story.

This should make it clear how dangerous the expressions “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorist” have become. These expressions are regularly used by politicians and other officials, and more generally by defenders of officialdom in the media, as terms of abuse and ridicule.

Yet it is vital to any open society that there are respected sources of information which are independent of official sources of information, and which can contradict them without fear. The widespread view that conspiracy theories are always, or even typically, irrational is not only wrongheaded, it is a threat to our freedom.

Of course, no one should deny that there are people who have an irrational tendency to see conspiracies everywhere, and it would, of course, be possible to restrict the expression “conspiracy theorist” in such a way that it only referred to such people. But if we do this, we should also remember that there is another form of irrationality, namely the failure to see conspiracy, even when one is confronted with clear evidence of it, which is at least as widespread, and which is far more insidious.

We need a name for people who irrationally reject evidence of conspiracy, to give our political discourse some much needed balance.

think the expression “coincidence theorist”, which has gained a certain currency on the Internet, is a suitable candidate. A coincidence theorist fails to connect the dots, no matter how suggestive of an underlying pattern, they are.

A hardened coincidence theorist may watch a plane crash into the second tower of the World Trade Centre without thinking that there is any connection between this event and the plane which crashed into the other tower of the World Trade Centre less than an hour earlier.

Similarly, a coincidence theorist can observe the current American administration’s policies in oil rich countries from Iraq and Iran to Venezuela, and see no connection between those policies and oil.

A coincidence theorist is just as irrational as a conspiracy theorist (in the sense of someone excessively prone to conspiracy theorising). They are equally prone to error, though their errors are of different and opposing kinds. The errors of the conspiracy theorist, however, are much less dangerous than the errors of the coincidence theorist. The conspiracy theorist usually only harms himself. The coincidence theorist may harm us all by making it easier for conspirators to get away with it.

The subculture of Conspiracy Theory: The logic behind the thinking and its social operation

Excerpt from the book, Who rules the World? An Analysis of Conspiracy Theory By Tony Sobrado

 

Conspiracy theory is like any other world view. It takes the ontology of the social-political world, and often metaphysical world, and postulates theories with regards to the world that the theorists themselves live in. It is an alternative philosophical position to espouse that is controversial and radically challenges conventional conceptions of government, society and existence itself.

Conspiracy Theory is a discourse. The key theoretical element behind this discourse is that what appears to be unequivocal categorical phenomena, liable to intellectual and analytical scrutiny from within the social and natural sciences is anything but under the conspiracy schools. Conspiracy Theory provides some distorted and perverted alternative explanations for “goings on” and phenomena observed. The popularity of conspiracy theories, and their penetration of contemporary society, has even produced academic programmes in the subject matter. Jim Marrs, a prominent conspiracy theorist, has even taught classes in the Assassination of Kennedy at the University of Texas.

However Conspiracy Theory, itself, is severely defective as a credible discourse and theoretical discipline. This is with regards to the subject matter it attempts to engage. This is because it is disjointed, contradictory and often illogical. Furthermore it is rendered inept by complete paradoxes. Conspiracy Theory is deprived of annexing unifying principles or arguments. It is incoherent and various conspiracy theories do not, in any way, support other tenets in other conspiracy theories that engage the same subject matter. This problem becomes even more apparent in recognising the analytical difference between historically continuing conspiracy theories, modern conspiracy theories and meta-conspiracy theories

For a comparison, take quantum physics. As a modern discipline there are radically different positions to adopt in quantum physics. Yet at fundamental levels, there are mathematical principles and theoretical paradigms that are completely adhered to by its scholars. There is variation, but it is variation in one general direction. This also applies to the paradigm of evolutionary theory in the natural and social sciences. This, however, is not the case for Conspiracy Theory regarding the same subject matter whether it is 911, the Kennedy assassination or the Illuminati and freemasons. Here the conspiracy theory regarding one event or orgnaisation is scattered and contradictory. It has no overarching or unified principle. You probably could not get more than three conspiracy theorists to agree on the nature of the particular conspiracy theory in question and what it entails. As where in quantum physics, despite the diversity, scholars adhere to widely accepted theoretical and mathematical principles.

Moreover, the Conspiracy Theory culture is an industry field and genre itself; where people verily disagree and attempt to desecrate one another’s conspiracy theories and principles. Consequently, because of the nature of the subject matter, fellow conspiracy theorists, in their own proposed conspiracy theory, accuse their rival conspiracy theorists of being in collusion with the “powers that be”. This makes both individual conspiracy theories and overarching conspiracy theories, simultaneously, seem untenable and nonsensical. For instance Eric Phelps and others accuse Alex Jones of being a shiel. You would not get a historian or a quantum physicist accusing another fellow scholar, even if in disagreement, of not being a historian or a quantum physicist. However the broad paranoid nature and the theoretical, abstract and subjective fantasy of many conspiracy theories breed these radically accusative philosophical positions.

Conspiracy theorists, however, depend and hide behind circular logic in order to discredit their rival’s opinion in certain fields of Conspiracy Theory. This is because conspiracy theorists start with the presupposition, and thus incipient principle, that what they are observing is a conspiracy. From this schema, it logically follows that every other phenomena and actor must also be part of that particular conspiracy theory. This even includes rival conspiracy theorists that do not agree with their own proposed conspiracy theory.

This again illustrates that Conspiracy Theory is just another world view and philosophy to adopt, with controversial elements of ontology and epistemology. The issue that conspiracy theorists argue amongst themselves, with regards to which conspiracy theory is correct, and accuse each other of being conspirators themselves; is reinforced by the analysing of group formation within social psychology. This is “in groups” and “out groups” and what groups and individuals are perceived as threats to a particular ethos or ideal; regarding a certain philosophy. Conspiracy Theory is a political opinion that is contended in its own circles like any other opinion regarding the social world.

Many academic works have analysed Conspiracy Theory in the format of social phenomena and socio-cultural opinions. In an article by Anita M. Waters, published in 1997 in the Journal of Black Studies, Vol 28 No.1 entitled Conspiracy Theories as Ethosociologies she writes “attributing social maladies to deliberate plots by hostile conspirators is an American tradition dating back to the 1760s, beginning with the rumours of a British plan to remove colonists’ rights and continuing through to the John F. Kennedy assassination theories”.

Undoubtedly, at the turn of the millennium, the Bush Administration, 9/11 and the Iraq war increased the propagations, popularity and success of conspiratorial publications and ideas. One of the biggest successes is the documentary Loose Change, which is internationally acclaimed as was even released as a full length motion picture at cinemas. In light of new evidence and changing social circumstances and phenomena, old conspiracy theories of secret societies and “secret world control” become adapted. As Obama is the first President of the United States that is not fully white and mixed race, new conspiracy theorists have come to involve the black Freemasons: a branch of Freemasons for black successful people. This includes politicians, lawyers and musicians. The first black man in the White House must have been pre planned by some conspirators! Or else conspiracy paradigms begin to fall apart.

The schema and ideological belief system of Meta conspiracy theorists

Excerpt from the book, Who rules the world? An analysis of Conspiracy Theory By Tony Sobrado

 

Meta conspiracy theories are a form of ideology. They posit alternative political and social explanations to Governmental and social theory akin to the political philosophy of Liberalism or Socialism for at their very root they postulate an ontological framework for how society, politics and the economy operate. But what is it about this form of political ideology that makes Meta conspiracy theories untenable in the light of other political ideologies. With fantastical claims comes the need for rigorous evidence, which Meta conspiracy theorists dramatically fail to produce. Meta conspiracy theories of secret Governmental world rule function in a haphazard and non systematic manner. They amalgamate disparate sources of information and convolute them in desirable ways to felicitate conspiratorial paradigms. To invoke their conspiracy theories, conspiracy theorists pick and choose what they will with regards to information.

However the use of data and inference of evidence and what constitutes “proof” is far more difficult, if not impossible, to assimilate in the social world, due to the unpredictability of social agents and events. For it is men that make their social world and their choices, behavior, and motivations cannot be predicatively pinned down like particles and atoms can be in natural science, for the latter do not posses reflexive cognition. One can look at social phenomena through many lenses, be it Marxism, Liberalism, Anarchism, Postmodernism or Structuralism. The fact that conspiracy theorists play the analytical card of Meta conspiracy theory to explain a range of seemingly unrelated events from the death of JFK, to alien abduction, to the faked moon landings and 911 simply illustrates that they operate with their own schema and belief system.

In this respect we are all the same as cognitive thinking creatures. From the internal position of Meta conspiracy theory, logic and rationale operates in concordance with beliefs that connect the dots and answers conundrums to social phenomena. You have to ascribe to the belief system of Meta conspiracy theory for it to be rationally acceptable and applicably consistent just as religious people play the game of rationality when justifying the belief in a deity – a term often described as “reasonable faith”.

This analysis of belief systems, world views and psychological schemas are the focus of much study in Social Psychology. A schema can be loosely described as a mental structure that represents some aspect of the world. Schemata are an effective tool for understanding the world. Through the use of schemata, most everyday situations do not require effortful thought – automatic thought is all that is required. People can quickly organise new perceptions into schemata and act effectively without strenuous conscious labour. The social world can be understood and represented via internal rationale and self sustaining logic. This produces a disposition to perceive phenomena in a particular way through a particular perspective.

So what can be said about the schema of Meta conspiracy theory? Does the cynical disposition in adhering to Meta conspiracy theory say something psychological about the believer or the social and cultural values of a specific community in anthropological, sociological and social psychological terms? Research conducted at the University of Virginia concluded that people who believe in one conspiracy theory are more likely to believe in others. Unsurprisingly there is a good chance that someone who believes the moon landings were faked will also believe that JFK was killed by a second gunman upon that infamous grassy knoll. Dr Karen Douglas at the University of Kent goes one step further. In her article entitled Does it take one to know one? Published in The British Journal of Psychology she explains how belief and endorsement of conspiracy theories is influenced by a personal willingness to conspire.

How endemic are Meta conspiracy theories and belief in general Conspiracy Theory? Meta Conspiracy theories themselves have a long and distinguished history. This was made evident by books propagating conspiracy theories, with regards to Government, in the nineteenth and twentieth century. One book of notoriety is Nesta Webster’s Secret Societies and Subversive Movements. In it Webster argued that the secret society of the Illuminati were occultists, plotting communist world domination whilst simultaneously using the idea of a Jewish cabal, the Masons and Jesuits as a smokescreen. The 1920’s also saw the publication of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This was a fraudulent anti-Semitic text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for achieving global domination and naturally propagated by the Nazis and Stalin for political reasons decades later.

Conspiracy theories also have historical veracity in claiming metaphysical and transcendental elements. For instance, in medieval times social randomness, mishaps and unexplained events, both natural and political, were often explained, and accounted for, as being the direct work of the devil. This, in analytical and definitive terms, is a pre-ordained transcendental Meta conspiracy theory. Before the advent of scientific methodology, both social and natural phenomena were explained via supernatural elements and this applied to conspiracy theories as well, with unmarried women often the scapegoat for witch hunters.

Conspiracy theories have been around as long as man has been a social animal. The tenets of psychology, sociology and anthropology academically account for groups or individuals in society adhering to, and depending on, conspiracy theories. A study carried out in 2002 by Bruce Scheiner explored a way of thinking called “major event – major cause” reasoning. Essentially, people often assume that an event with substantial, significant or wide-ranging consequences is likely to have been caused by something substantial, significant or wide-ranging itself. Social structures, intentions, causes and meaning can have greater saliency, in terms of order and purpose, when aligned with conspiratorial explanations than they do when they merely presented as social randomness and ad hoc events. Conspiracy theories give socio phenomena some additional meaning that would otherwise be a product of socio randomness, in terms of actor/situation dynamics and thus eventually meaning and intention. No matter how perverse or fantastical the explanatory conspiracy theory is, for its adherents, it is often more comprehendible than random and spontaneous occurrences. In a dappled and unpredictable social world conspiracy theory is often better than no theory

As well as certain anti-government conspiracy theories having a historical presence and vicissitude themselves, there are also dividing and distinguishing conspiracy theories across the political spectrum – reinforcing the overlap between Meta conspiracy theories and political ideology. This is with regards to conspiracy theories of the State, individual liberty within society, and certain religious and transcendental elements that pertain to conspiracy theory. For instance, with regards to the One World Government conspiracy theories, generally speaking, those on the left on the political spectrum see the conspiracy as a globalist, fascist and authoritative State conspiracy. In this context, the One World Government conspiracy is the antithesis of the natural rights of man as a social being and animal. This is the philosophy of political liberalism expanded to realm of conspiracy theory. Those on the right of the political spectrum perceive the same conspiracy of world domination and authoritative State control as being a threat to America’s Republicanism and constitutional liberties. They often employ dogmatic Christina values in defending their conspiracy theories. This includes the much popularised idea that the Freemasons and Illuminati as devil worshippers. They also see those on the left of the political spectrum as their foes, often believing that that there is a Marxist conspiracy to “rule the world” in the form of totalitarian State control.

These two radically different positions, with regards to the conspiracy to “rule the world”, adds to the confusion regarding this Meta conspiracy theory paradigm. One is left with no clarity as to what the One World Government conspiracy is; and who or what is responsible for it, or how it is draconian to individual liberties and the rights of man as a being. Both schools in the political spectrum are suspicious of one another and blame one another for the One World Government conspiracy. This not only demonstrates the ideology of Meta conspiracy theory but highlights what happens when world views and belief systems collide in the political-conspiratorial realm.