Conspiracy theories and official misinformation

In the interest of full disclosure, let me start out by saying that I do not subscribe to any of the conspiracy theories currently floating around regarding COVID-19, 5G, politics, etc. However, I think it is important to remember that there is nothing inherently irrational about believing a conspiracy exists. After all, people do conspire from time to time. The most infamous conspiracy in history, of course, was the conspiracy to kill Jesus. A conspiracy in this sense is generally something that is kept secret by the conspirators, so the only way for an outsider to detect that it exists would be to reason from known facts. If a person becomes aware of a set of facts that reasonably lead to the conclusion that a group of people are conspiring to do something, and puts together a theory based on those facts, that person is not being irrational. 

Having said that, I also recognize that some conspiracy theories are not entirely rational. But I suggest that every conspiracy theory, no matter how wacky, has some measure of factual basis. This fits the old adage that every lie has a measure of truth. If your conspiracy theory has  no objective facts at all, then it will be difficult to get people to believe it. However, if you have a few objectively verifiable facts, the theory becomes much more persuasive. 

Now suppose someone were to come up with a conspiracy theory based on some easily verified facts, and then some very powerful people set out to suppress those facts. When this happens, those who already believed the conspiracy theory will become more convinced that it must be true – otherwise, why would the people in power be trying to hide the facts? It may also become easier to persuade others that the theory is true, when you show them the facts that the people in power have suppressed. Meanwhile, the general population will come to think that the people holding the conspiracy theory are misinformed nuts. 

This leads to one of the dangers of the current policy of our media (including both mainstream news media and social media), where they have chosen to label certain objectively verifiable facts as misinformation, while they consistently portray certain highly doubtful and widely challenged positions as if they were established fact. Honest, well-adjusted people naturally trust the news media and their fact-checkers, and therefore view the conspiracy theorists with some combination of pity, disdain, and revulsion. Meanwhile, the conspiracy theorists are even  more convinced of the truth of their theories, and view those who believe the media as unthinking sheep. Thus we have even more division and strife. We are on a bad path. 

I pray for those who have been actively promoting lies and deception, that they will come to their senses and repent. I pray for conspiracy theorists and “sheep” alike, that the truth of these matters will be made known for all to see. I pray for all of us, that there may be a return of reason, and even more critically, a return to Jesus.