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What’s So Funny ’bout Peace, Love, and Conspiracy Theories?

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Conspiracy theories have a bad rep. Why is it that the phrase seems to immediately conjure up a sinister image of misinformed misfits, crackpots, weirdos, and loonies?

Examine, if you will, the term itself. Conspiracy simply implies more than one person, or entity, is involved. Theory merely means, well, a theory, such as the theory of relativity or the theory of evolution. One of these theories, based on empirical “science,” is seen by most folks as “fact.” The other is seen by many as fiction.

But theory, by definition, is not the same as fact…though theories may become facts, aka scientific or proven facts or common knowledge. In the latter sense, theories can be converted to facts, if you will, if democratically accepted as sufficiently believable even in the absence of immediate empirical evidence. And how, pray tell, can one fault democracy (even if it results in the majority electing a corrupt dictator or president?) But, and there's the rub, what if the majority of voters are misinformed about the facts? Is it still democratic? Or is it a — conspiracy? See what I’m getting at?

Some theories cost proponents their lives. Take the Middle Ages, also known as the Dark Ages. The theory that the world was round, not flat; that the earth revolved around the sun, these theories were dangerous because the (conspiratorial?) powers that be considered them a threat and/or blasphemy.

Which leads us to religion. Folks who would never consider the notion of extraterrestrial life may nonetheless believe that Jesus rose from the dead, had the power to revive others from the dead at will, was born to a virgin via, um, extraterrestrial means, and turned water into wine, among other unverifiable phenomena. Millions of folks believe that when they take the consecrated host they are ingesting the body and blood of Christ. Is this theory or fact? Depends on whom you ask. One man’s theory is another man’s blasphemy. And vice versa.

Facts can also be defined by language, available information, and subjective reasoning. If Middle Eastern internet sites tell millions of individuals that non-Muslims are the Devil incarnate and the Holocaust never happened, does this make it a fact? It does to millions of people. If some believe, in the face of all available evidence, that our current president was not born in this country, does it make it a fact? It does, to some people. If our government chose to invade a country where the "evidence showed" that our arch enemy was hiding there, amassing weapons of mass destruction, was that a fact? For many, it was a fact until later evidence proved it somewhat dubious.

Our current political climate is lousy with conspiracy theories on both sides of the spectrum. There is nothing secretive about many of them, especially since the media now has the wherewithal to overturn every political or societal rock to reveal the ugly underbelly beneath. But what if the rocks uncovered are selected with a certain bias? What if certain rocks, if overturned, result in a loss of advertising revenue due to the disapproval or disgust of our democracy of media consumers — or a loss of votes for a favored party?

Could naming something a conspiracy theory automatically serve to reduce it to something not worth examining?

To paraphrase Jesus, let he who is without conspiracy theories lift the first slimy stone.

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About Elvira Black

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Barga

    For starters, you do not seem to understand what a scientific theory is. There is no such thing as scientific fact, as that assumes that all variables are accounted for. Scientific theories (evolution, gravity, oxygen reaction during breathing, etc.) are all 99.9999% provable, we can’t call them facts though

    Then you repeat the standard stuff. Sure, some conspiracy theories end up being correct, but the vast majority are not. You are what you surround yourself with

  • Elvira Black

    And how, pray tell, can you prove your “theory” that the vast majority of “conspiracy theories” are not correct?

    There is no such thing as scientific fact?

    I’m well aware of your agenda, which seems far from “factual” in nature; much more personal, I’d say.

    Bah.

  • Elvira Black

    You might consider graduating from college before you start talking down to the world at large. You are what you surround yourself with…indeed. Books would be a good start. If everyone was an, er, “skeptic” like you, we would be in a worse place than we are now. A closed mind sees nothing but its own ignorant reflection, and that’s a scary thought indeed.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    (Hi Elvira Black,

    I loved your Pomo for Dummies. Very well-written. entertaining, and helpful.)

  • Mark

    Is there a useful distinction to be made between conspiracy theories and conspiratorial fantasies?

  • Elvira Black

    Cindy:

    Thank you so much…That’s quite an old BC piece; I appreciate your comment.

  • Elvira Black

    Mark:
    I don’t know…what do you think?

  • Mark

    Not sure. It does seem to me that there is a difference between the conspiracy theory that rich people get together to plan how to shape the future (duh) and the lizard fantasy.

  • Elvira Black

    What’s the lizard fantasy?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    A lot of stuff that get called “conspiracy” theories are not conspiracies at all.

    The CFR, Council on Foreign Relations, for example, is no conspiracy. It is a think tank, the first ever founded – with the goal of protecting the biggest businessmen in the States AND THEIR INVESTMENTS after WWI. And it has done an admirable job. Its members are all over the American government, and you do not get anywhere in American politics unless you toe their line.

    I enjoyed your article, though, and it’s nice to see you writing again.

    What happened to your blog? Did a big nasty cat do in the Shithouse Rat?

  • Mark

    Lizard shape shifter thriving on pain and suffering control the power centers of the world. See David Icke.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Oh, and a thought for you. If there is Has v’Halíla a nuclear war, cockroaches will NOT inherit the earth. A few hearty roundworms will. The radiation will kill off the cockroaches.

    When I see the giants of their kind crawling in streets in J-lem, that thought is consolation….

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Elvira, Barga is quite correct. In science, no idea is ever promoted beyond the status of a theory; even though some theories – evolution and gravity, for example – are so well-proven that for all practical purposes they may be regarded as facts.

    Facts, in the non-scientific world, are simply bits of data. They may be true or they may not be, but they do have evidence to support them. Your hypothetical Middle Eastern paradigm that all non-Muslims are Satan’s minions is therefore not a fact – it is a belief.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    I agree with Robert and Dr.D on the theory/law side however, I agree with Elvira on the facts side.

    Scientific fact: Humans have 46 chromosomes. Anteaters eat ants.

    (at least I think that is what scientists call facts, observable things)

    [BTW, Dr.D, friends and family alike agree that our new favorite be called ‘Dr. Dreadful’s Infamous Salmon’.]

  • Cannonshop

    The problem with Van Jones’ belief in the 9/11 “Conspiracy” Truther crap, is that even the most plausible versions require too many low-probability minority statistical outcomes to fall into place at exactly the right times and places to be believeable.

    Occam’s razor basically says that in any given experiment, the explanation that carries the fewest un-proveable or un-testable variables while turning out the observed result is likely the closest to being true.

    Basically, the more “Faith” (untestable or unproveable elements accepted as facts without (or with very little, and often contradictory) supporting evidence) your explanation relies on, the less probable it becomes.

    Explanations that require (or DEMAND) large-scale conspiracies tend to be less credible than explanations that rely on more mundane, but frequently-demonstrated explanations, for instance, the allegation that the Administration “Knew” 9.11 was coming and even set it up, ignores the documented problems of Illegal immigration and lax security in our travel infrastructure prior to the incident (and after it!), ignores the fact that GW was walking into a presidency after eight years of a very partisan (though not Ideological) predecessor who’d done considerable manpower-reorganization over that time to put his supporters into positions of responsibility necessary for this to work. (it also presupposes ultra-level competence in the Bush team-supernatural levels of access and knowledge not available to mere mortals no matter their wealth or position.)

    The loonier versions, of course, REQUIRE even greater levels of ultracompetence and access at ALL levels-not just policy-making, but policy execution levels. In a government that runs on paper, that has accounting procedures right down to the last bullet and screw, it requires enough things off-the-books to be HIGHLY improbable, even with the ultra-hyper-competence of supernatural levels at the policy-making end.

    REally, it makes Van Jones about as credible as Pat Buchanan. Noting that he was hired to do a job made especially FOR him to do, involving large amounts of statistical analysis and prediction, and he’s a Troother? well…that probably explains some of why our unemployment rates didn’t drop as Obama predicted…the guy makes decisions and predictions based on bullshit, he’s not going to be able to handle economics.

  • Baronius

    There’s a difference between a theory that’s 100% supported by fact (gravity) and one that’s 100% unsupported by fact (Obama’s Kenyan birth).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Is “gravity” a fact? It would seem a theoretical explanation (a concept) to explain the behavior of physical bodies.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Correct, Roger. Newton’s predictions are borne out by the observed behaviour of celestial bodies, but the theoretical ‘graviton’ – the particle which conveys gravity – remains elusive.

    There is actually far less evidence to support the theory of gravitation (a no-brainer for just about everybody) than there is to support the theory of evolution (hotly disputed in some circles).

  • Baronius

    The theory of gravity is 100% supported by fact; the theory that Obama was born in Kenya is 100% unsupported by fact. There is no evidence indicating that the theory of gravity is wrong, or that the theory of Obama’s Kenyan birth is right. I’m sorry if I phrased that unclearly.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I got your meaning, B-man. Only that clarification was in order.

  • Elvira Black

    Thank you Ruvy…as it happens, I meant to mention to you that I’m in the middle of reading “The Rise of the Fourth Reich” which is chock full of revelations such as the one you mentioned.

    As for that other blog, the dog ate it…

    Always thought the cucharachas would inherit the earth, but interesting to know…guess they can burrow really deep into, er, bunkers and such…

  • Elvira Black

    Mark:

    Re #11: Thanks…I never heard of David Icke til you mentioned him and I did a Wikipedia search. But to be fair, I always did think there was a certain…reptilian quality to some of our fearless leaders; or at least simian…and “snakes” fits the bill nicely.

  • Elvira Black

    Dr. Dreadful:

    Re: #13:

    Well, in my “defense,” some of my terms were in quotes, but were removed in editorial. Not that I’m complaining, since if everything is in quotes, nothing is in quotes…I just saw it the postmodern/pomo way, i.e., “everything” can be put into “quotes” lol…hence, in the article, it went something like “theories” can morph into “facts”–the key point being that if enough people believe it to be so, it “becomes” so. And when you think about it, as human beings if we didn’t have any belief systems, all would be madness (or more than it already is).

    And of course, even with DNA the odds are something like 99.999999 that the person is the person (unless they’re the evil twin), and juries must try to ferret out the “truth” from witnesses and defendants and lawyers who may play fast and loose with the “facts.” Thus the best we can do, in law and in life, is reasonable doubt, I suppose?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/elvira-black Elvira Black

    Cannonshop:
    Re #15:
    I have to disagree with you on that one. It’s not a matter of individual competence in all cases; in our day and age, many “facts” have been uncovered about events, past and present, that can lend more credence and probability to events that were heretofore somewhat of a mystery.

    In most cases, folks have preconceived notions, especially in their political leanings, and are inconsistent in their logic. They may believe that there was no deliberate attempt to deceive the public re: Iraq, in the face of much evidence of what apparently happened in the Administration. These same people may believe, despite all provided evidence, that Obama was not born in the US.

    I don’t think you can equate political or social science with “hard” science, which is also not infallible, though in our more secular age we tend to take it as “gospel” truth.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/elvira-black Elvira Black

    As for evolution, many seem to feel that evolution and religious belief are mutually exclusive. To me, the idea of “intelligent design” does not necessarily discount evolutionary theory, or vice versa.

    The thing is, so much depends on semantics. Again, the “truth” is subjective, and though Dr. Dreadful did have a good point about beliefs versus facts, we still live within a belief system that colors and affects our tendencies to favor some theories or “facts” over others.

    There was a time, for example, when most folks believed without question that the Kennedy assassination was not conspiratorial. Although it’s still controversial, I daresay more people are open to a number of “theories” thanks to additional evidence.

    Just as many in previous generations did not consider blacks as equal, or gays as “normal,” different groups will sustain their fervent beliefs and support them with evidence that may be flawed, incomplete, or otherwise “fashionable.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    For anyone really interested in the complexity of such a seemingly simple English word as “fact,” may I suggest J. L. Austin’s “Unfair To Facts” in Philosophical Papers.

  • http://www.mypassionisbooks.com Fran

    Elvira, I enjoyed your article, and I also enjoyed all the discussion regarding the article as well.

    There is so much in this world that is in flux. Facts and theories can in time be expanded on, or overturned in favor of new facts or theories, or even be disproved over time.

    I remember a certain Jedi Knight saying to Luke (in Star Wars) something about finding that most of what we believe to be true is often from our own point of view (paraphrase).

    One person doesn’t have to believe the same things as another person to gain respect, but we all do have a right to believe what as we will — “as long as it doesn’t hurt others or destroy property,” as I heard many times growing up. ;-)

    So, in my mind, given the above, I would not want others’ opinions forced on me, nor would I force my opinions on others. I may state my opinion, but I don’t expect others to necessarily be swayed by them.

    I would not want anyone’s rights to free speech, religion, etc., to be infringed on, even if I don’t believe what they believe. I would hope others would pay me the same respect.

    It’s a careful balance but one that I think is very important to the survival of us all.

    It is only when opinions become so polarized that things like the Inquisition, or The Third Reich, or any type of extremism can take root. When one person’s or group’s opinion is considered ‘absolutely’ right and someone else’s or group’s is considered ‘absolutely’ wrong, especially if those people have any real power, that is when life becomes truly dangerous.

    There are very few if any absolutes in life … except death and taxes, right? ;-)

    There has to be an understanding that life has many more facets than any of us — as humans — can fully see. None of us has all the answers. We all see from our own point of view and that doesn’t necessarily make it fact.

  • Baronius

    It seems like Elvira and Fran are confusing conspiracy theories with open-mindedness. Really, the opposite is true. Conspiracy theories were big in Germany between the wars, and they’re big in the Middle East these days. Look at the US – does anyone think that the birthers and truthers and Diebold recount crowd are creating a new era of moderation? When societies stop pursuing truth, they focus in on power. Humans are very consistent in that way.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “we still live within a belief system that colors and affects our tendencies to favor some theories or “facts” over others.”

    I don’t,but, it is now evident that you do. Science has far more stages than Religion does for a theory to be accepted as an accurate guide to what takes place in our Universe. These accepted theories also get challenged and changed as we get smarter and progress with technology. For example, The Newtonian laws of gravity are now being questioned as we are finding out new information about Quantum Physics and a mesh-like theory is replacing the “String Theory”. Usually, with enough mathematical proof and years of testing then the science community will accept a new theory and change the way it views the world.

    My problem with Religion is that none of this ever occurs. You have a book that never revises its edition. A book that has no proof to support its claims and the Religious community doesn’t peer review anything. Plus, to get people to follow, Religion uses Fear & Guilt tactics based,ultimately, on fiction. [Ex.“And when you think about it, as human beings if we didn’t have any belief systems, all would be madness (or more than it already is).”]. On top of that, you cannot challenge a religious person’s beliefs. It is fact for them because they are emotionally connected. They perceive it as an insult because they have been programmed since a young age to accept it as truth, no matter how ridiculous it may seem.

    So, NO, I don’t let “beliefs” color my view. I let a little thing that can be tested in front of my eyes called Science change my, quite often inaccurate, view.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    *Oops* So, that leads to my major problem with Conspiracy Theories… There is never any proof or peer reviewed evidence to back up these “beliefs” which are usually fueled by some sort of mental health issues and inability to cope with the truth.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/elvira-black Elvira Black

    Thank you Fran, I couldn’t agree more!

    Maybe it has something to do with the female brain (lol)…but yes, we are “only” human, not gods, so to speak. Many people (including those who treat science as the be all and end all of provable reality) are very rigid in their beliefs.

    Every field, including science, depends on a certain openness to new data. Bias in science is not scientific, IMO.

    The zietgiest of the time colors our values intrinsically. The Dark Ages were replaced by the Age of Reason, and IMO to deny the fact that we too can be “unreasonable” despite our desire to consider ourselves rational, reasoned beings is one of the conundrums of being human.

    Science can help explain our emotional selves, but cannot change the fact that human beings are a combination of “animal” and “human” (or, divine, if you prefer.) And again, even an adherence to “pure” science can become as rigid as any religious belief.

    Merely because some phenomena cannot yet be fully explained does not mean they should be dismissed. That is hubris…another trait that humankind (esp mankind lol) is heir to.

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Barga

    @2
    I simply look at the historical record and notice that most are not true and never came true.

    As for an agenda, I don’t have one

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Barga

    @3
    my dear, I am not that close minded
    You have no idea what I believe

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Barga

    @28
    exactly, being open minded means accepting the theories at face value, then judging them

    most conspiracy theorists that I know think that the theory is 100% true, no matter what else is shown – closed mind

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Barga

    @31
    I don’t think that any scientist adhears to straight science, merely that we defult to it when needed

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/elvira-black Elvira Black

    Baronius #28:
    I see your point, however I think that the First Amendment is key here. Everyone gets their say, no matter how “ridiculous,” and hopefully people can make up their own minds. That’s why I watch CNN, MSNBC, and FOX. That’s why I respect the politics editors, though I may not agree with them. That’s why I love to write politics pieces.

    The gist of my article was that people use the term “conspiracy theory” on either side of the political spectrum as an ad hominem attack and dismissal, as if that alone is enough to “settle” the matter.

    The truth–and the neverending search for it, and knowledge–as much as you can get of it–and dialogue–as respectfully as you can manage it. If it could all be settled so simply, the world would be a boring place indeed.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/elvira-black Elvira Black

    Brian:

    Many scientific “proven” phenom or theories cannot be seen with the naked eye, though many more can now. On the other hand, we can’t always believe what we see; hence, identity theft, fraud, etc etc.

    The problem I have with the fact that science seems to be our “gospel” now is that there are things in the universe that are ineffible; there are mysteries to life that will never be completely solved. We are mortal; we all die. Hence philosophy and art and music and, yes, religion. All cultures, as far as I know, seem to “need” some explanation to the basic questions about life, death, existence etc.

    If you lived in a different country, or were a different color, spoke a different language, had a different education, were a different sex–all these will influence your world view.

    I guess the point is: what makes life worthwhile? Is it all about reducing everything in life to a black and white “fact?”

    There’s a reason we have two brain halves (one more reasoning, one more intuitive) as well as the limbic system (primitive) and the cerebellum (if memory serves). We are animal and we are also reasoning and self aware.

    But that doesn’t make us a god. And religion can also be seen in a non-linear (scientific) way. Fundamentalists forget the poetry of the bible, for starters. They are just as reductive and soulless in their approach as someone who refuses to address the “spritual” nature of life (or the unexplained, ineffable, what have you).

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/elvira-black Elvira Black

    Oh and scientific research has shown that men’s and women’s brains (whether via nature, nurture or both) “work” differently in many ways. Including, I believe, a higher ability to “bridge” the left brain/right brain divide (which results in more flexibility and a combination of intuitive/feeling as well as reasoning).

    Pooh pooh that all you want, but most wars are still a man’s game.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/elvira-black Elvira Black

    Barga:

    I must give credit where credit is due. You inspired my article, and left comments. I appreciate both.

    But smoking a pipe does not turn you into William F. Buckley. The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.

    Twenty somethings today want instant gratification, and the thing is that even though the internet now makes it so much easier to find things out, check spelling, definitions, etc–the world at one’s fingertips– even that seems to be too much for them to handle.

    Scholars, scientists, et al can spend a lifetime pursuing knowledge. Likewise, it takes some time and effort to research a topic enough to back up one’s claims with some sort of evidence.

    One must consider the source or one’s information as well. I don’t automatically jump on some one for typos, but it does tend to indicate a certain carelessness. The devil is in the details–and this goes quadruple for anything so precise as “scientific” “proof.”

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Elvira,

    Although I agree with your lust for life and envy your passion for having an “open mind”, the fact that us Human beings are an imperfect & flawed species doesn’t give Religion any more merit.

    All the things you’ve mentioned,imho, are just more evidence that we are not some sort of being made from a “perfect” creator. A being with a path laid out for us. We are just a species in a long line of evolution & progress, and YES, we may never figure out all the answers but what fun would it be if we did?!

    I never said that people shouldn’t live their lives the way they want to. That’s usually what a lot of religious nuts say to spin the conversation in their favor. I’m saying the exact opposite!! I don’t think we should be a slave to any kind of oppressive control. Science is there for the people who want to really figure things out. To have the answers to the basic questions in life and not be in some sort of denial or belief that someone will take care of everything from above.

    Yes, life can be mysterious but only to those who don’t want to challenge their own perceptions….

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/elvira-black Elvira Black

    OK, to be scrupulously fair (as I try to be):

    You didn’t have too many typos here, and I’m sure you could spot typos here and there in my writing. I’m referring more to intellectual integrity and mutual respect; ie. not taking quotes out of context, making broad generalizations without backing them up with viable examples; cheap, meaningless dismissals of others’ assertions based primarily on trying to be “right,” etc.

    As far as agendas, or worldviews for that matter, everyone has one. As a species, we all have certain built in needs and requirements which are necessary for survival, and nurture as well as nature play a major role in what we “are.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/elvira-black Elvira Black

    Oy vey;

    Comment 41 was directed at my young friend Barga, not Brian.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/elvira-black Elvira Black

    Brian:

    One can be “spiritual” without being “religious.” Organized religion has many flaws, but my point is that even if one believes in evolution, there are things that we will never be able to get to the “bottom” of–or even begin to scratch the surface of.

    I’m not saying that there is necessarily some omniscent, omnipresent “being” (which we usually envision in our own humanoid or matter-based image), but the universe is vast indeed, and we are merely a speck. I do believe that what we do matters, but I also think that hubris is one of our “fatal” flaws.

    We’ve been here a drop in the bucket evoution-wise. We still have a long ways to go, if we even survive our own tendencies to self destruct. So all the knowledge we have attained won’t mean a lot if we don’t pursue a “higher” knowlege or wisdom as well.

    We battle against ourselves which is one of the reasons religions operate on a mythical or methaphorical level…it is our attempt as a species to try to gain some meaning since we are aware of our mortality.

    Even an agnostic or athiest can take some comfort in the Hebrew edict: plant a tree, write a book, bear a child. All of these acts (and others) leave something behind and give us a sense of metaphysical immortality or continuity with our species. It is part of the survival mechanism that keeps us “caring” about consequences.

    In previous ages, religion provided this “check” on our “animal instincts.” In more enlightened times, we can proceed with both reason as well as the “spritual” or “emotional” and less abstract notion of something beyond ourselves individually.

    Thus the concern with environmental issues, global poverty, etc etc etc.

    Just my two cents.

  • http://www.assemblagist.org Val MacEwan

    Congratulations, Elvira. You’ve got all the inmates rattling the asylum doors. Excellent beginning — discuss, discuss, discuss.

  • Baronius

    Brian, interesting comments.

    Science is about the natural. Philosophically, “nature” means that which always or almost always happens. So science has the obligation to explain things that are repeatable, and it’s very testable.

    Religion often deals with meaning-of-life stuff and the supernatural. We can’t test a supernatural claim, because it by definition is something outside the rules of nature.

    It’s back to the old bit about a professor tossing a piece of chalk in the air, and saying that if God exists, he could suspend the chalk in the air. The chalk hitting the ground doesn’t prove anything except that a supernatural event didn’t happen at that moment. If the chalk floated every time a professor tried that experiment, that would be nature, and we’d try to explain it scientifically.

    There’s one semi-disputable point I’ve made so far, and that’s whether nature is what always happens, or what almost always happens. If it’s what always happens, you’ve defined the supernatural as impossible. If it’s what almost always happens, you leave the possibility of the supernatural. I prefer the “almost” definition because I believe in the supernatural, but also out of respect for Occam’s Razor.

    That addresses the supernatural side of religion. There’s also the meaning-of-life side. You say that people don’t change religion, and that you can’t challenge a person’s religion, but that’s not true. People change their religious thinking over their lives. People may not like it at the time when you question their religion, but over time people consider many different beliefs and understandings of religion. It’s not as rigorous as peer review, but it happens.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    One can’t define “supernatural” as impossible, if only from logical standpoint. Any such definition does away with the concept.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Baronius,

    You make some interesting points and seem to understand where I’m going with this. Or, you just know how to more accurately get your point across with typing. (No offense, Elvira)

    BUT, with that being said…

    Sure, I believe that Science can be about what naturally occurs,BUT,Science can also provide answers to what can be created which isn’t necessarily perceived as natural. I mean,look at what science did to prove a 30 year old Theory. The “supernatural” is only that way because we haven’t the knowledge to explain these occurrences or “shine a light” on where they occur all the time(speaking of a subject that still boggles my mind,yes,”Light”). Yet, that does not make them spiritual or proof of a creator. IMHO, that doesn’t make them beyond natural with respect to Quantum Physics and how we are now perceiving the universe.

    I can appreciate your tale about the professor,but, it is always the scientist or investigator to provide evidence to support his/her theory. That responsibility does not fall on the skeptic’s shoulders. I believe the Professor in your tale was merely making a mockery.

    “People change their religious thinking over their lives. … but over time people consider many different beliefs and understandings of religion.”

    I think this only happens when they feel they haven’t seen any substantial results from their belief system. I think it is, ultimately, a complex system of denial,because, it’s obvious that there aren’t any theories or tested science to support these changes in their belief pattern. I’m sorry,but, to go by this excuse of “feeling” or an emotional connection is rather immature. Feelings aren’t always accurate…

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    *Oops* it’s obvious that there aren’t any theories or tested science to support these changes in their belief pattern never mind their respective Religions alone.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    One can be “spiritual” without being “religious.”

    Yes I agree,but, to imply that spirituality wasn’t created from Religion or ancient beliefs is false.

    Beyond that statement, a lot of what you say makes plenty of sense and I agree for the most part but that still doesn’t prove anything beyond our own capabilities. I firmly believe that we must remove the spiritual or religious mist from our eyes to see the truth, to find the real answers, how good or bad they might be. Does that mean that people can’t live their lives the way they want, again, NO. But, I don’t feel that this non evident creator & our supposed beginning should be the defining rules for which we live our lives.

    Sure, there could possibly be some sort of “creator”, I just don’t think it is anything like what you find in all these books nor do I want to waste my energy & life trying to figure it out. I mean, it’s not necessarily a waste,but I do think people put way too much emphasis on these things. Maybe to make them feel bigger then what they really are, especially as a species.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/elvira-black Elvira Black

    Thanks Val, and please do join in: the boyz are busy dissecting the metaphorical frogs again…yuck! (lol)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    the boyz are busy dissecting the metaphorical frogs again…yuck!

    I love it, Elvira, I just love it! I ain’t one of the “boyz” who needs to dissect metaphorical frogs. aní ma’amín ben ma’amínim – I’m a believer, the child of believers….

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/elvira-black Elvira Black

    Many thanks, Ruvy:

    I feel like I’m trying to wade my way through a discussion that is, er, Talmudic in its hair-splitting reductionism, but my particular passions lie more in the realms of the social “sciences” (if that isn’t an oxymoron). These, by the way, include political science and economics.

    It’s exciting to see that the brain sciences have become a bit more “verifiable” via MRI imagery, but I doubt that it will ever become “exact”: in part because humans studying human behavior are inherently biased (lol), and bias is the bane of scientific research.

    I do appreciate and enjoy all the comments, but my feeling (am I allowed those?) is that just as the premise of my piece was the knee jerk, even “irrational” reaction to the term “conspiracy theory,” certain responders are making assumptions about religion, spirituality etc. based in part on Western perceptions and also, frankly, a rather “religious” zeal in our current cultural bias in scorning the ephemeral, the unprovable, the supernatural, etc. etc.

    We rely so much on machines and computers that I sometimes wonder if we realize how much we have become truly dependent on them for our existence, and perhaps our collective demise.

    I reviewed a book a long time ago entitled “Are We Unique?” in which, if memory serves, a scientist whose specialty was computers/robotics proposed the question of whether we are any different in essence from artificial intelligence (or potentially so.)In other words, what can we “do” that machines can’t?

    His most cogent arguement came when he described meeting his future wife, and realized that no algorythm could explain the certainty of his feelings of love for her. That was the crux of the matter for him.

    So just as “conspiracy theory” produces an automatic, and dare I say, unreasoned response in others, so does any mention of religion, or spirituality, or the supernatural, etc etc….a very biased, unscientific response, I maintain…precisely because we are “all too” human.

    But yes, boyz will be boyz…most women know that if you have a problem and just want to kvetch or get emotional support, the last thing you should do is talk to a man about it. They will just try to “solve” it the same way they take apart the engine of a car lol.

    Speaking of which, political correctness is starting to be challenged in the realm of science as well. There do appear to be differences in the male and female brain, and the burgeoning field of evolutionary psychology has proposed theories that some may find uncomfortable.

    I maintain that everything is politicized. It’s in the air we breathe. And for men especially (who would rather be lost for hours than ask directions), the fact that we are shaped by our culture, our experiences, our “inner” consciousness, may be anathema to them, but “science” is “science,”–even if it refutes one’s conscious or subconscous world view (or collective unconscious) and hopefully makes one realize that many things are beyond our individual control.

  • Baronius

    Elvira, I’m no fan of the term “conspiracy theory” either. As the truther love to point out, the conventional theory about 9/11 is a conspiracy of 19 hijackers. And the birther thing really isn’t a conspiracy theory. But truther and birther theories have a lot in common.

    I think the key thing is that the theories are unsubstantiated. Historical conspiracy theories can be proven or disproven, but ongoing conspiracy theories are impossible to disprove.

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Barga

    @38 what research showed this (I am interested, want to read)

    @39 I hate that people use age to dismiss. That said, I am dyslexic, so please excuse my spelling

    @41 of course I have an agenda, but not a real one concerning this site except using it eventually to help me get a later writing career.

  • http://losthearandbeyond.blogspot.com/ Walker

    Hmmmm so much here.
    We could write volumes on the subjects here
    The way I see it and this is my opinion and armed with seeing things from both sides of the fence somewhat, I’d have to say everyone is right and wrong.

    Democracy is when people have the chance to support a leader through his vision and promises.
    That person is democratically elected even if that person was elected on a mountain of lies.
    That’s not relevant to the democratic process.
    The voters were honest and sincere in how they voted.
    We can democratically hang the bastard after, if we so choose too.
    .
    Conspiracy theory.
    I heard one the other day.
    Rich Canadians living in Toronto are supposedly conspiring to pay off the owners of all the NHL teams to let the Leafs win the cup this year.

    As with everything in life there are countless possibilities and scenarios to the unanswered questions in, scientific or not and until a question is answered then the best we could do is speculate to a close possibility of what an answer might be, a theory and it remains a theory until it become fact.
    Be it scientific or not.
    You can argue that point all you want but the facts are the facts.
    I just had to say that.

    Ignorance of fact creates a lot of fiction.
    Combine fiction with ignorance then you get a false reality.
    It’s still real to the people who were brought up under this system.
    Look at the Middle East and any other country in the world that controls the media going in and out of there.
    The people, general population are subjected to what their leaders allow them to hear.
    Their news agencies, as ours, pick and choose what to show the public.
    We live is a fractured world of different societies who are quickly growing and slowly impeding on another’s space.
    As we slowly become one big melting pot, cultures will clash but people will learn.
    They will learn on their own from what they see more than what they hear.

    Conspiracy, it has such and evil feel about it.
    Theory, an idea.

    The two together in the right hands or wrong can create a powerful weapon.
    Conspiracy theories work on peoples minds causing them to think and when fueled with information, be it true or false, they will form an opinion.
    An honest one mostly based on the information they got.
    We can sit and say are you nuts to these people, by the way they are saying the same on the other side, but until we both live the same way we will never see eye to eye 100% because we don’t understand first hand how the other lives.

    Do you get the feeling that someone is watching?

    We are all pawns in a big game of Risk.

    Conspiracy theories to unanswered questions should always be explored but when they go against fact, backed with corroborating evidence, then they only insult the truth.
    Like the Holocaust.

    Nice to see you back Elvira