Conspiracy Theories are 'Animistic Fallacies'

story © Michael Betancourt, September 10, 2020 all rights reserved.


A vast, evil conspiracy is comforting. The paranoid belief in the capacity of authority to maintain itself and secretly dominate events provides an explanation—hidden power acting without oversight—that is easy to understand.

While what any conspiracy theory explains—the actual details of the conspiracy—are often not comforting, the proposition that the government (or any organization) is and can be in control over the chaotic and disruptive events of the world is a proposition that makes the capacity to contain and restrain the excesses and terrors of contemporary social life means that those events are not random and uncontrolled. Thus, the conspiracy theory acts as a mechanism to deny the randomness and lack of control. It provides an explanation of events (an animistic fallacy) where there is always someone responsible for making and allowing things to occur, rather than the more terrifying alternative where things happen without oversight and are neither containable nor planned. For something to be planned, however negative or frightening it may be, is to render it a product of human will and thus make it something that can be prevented—if only the “right” people were in control. This is a juvenile fantasy rooted in the childish belief that one’s parents are all-knowing and all-powerful, seemingly supernatural figures transferred in adulthood to the authority granted to government and quasi-governmental organizations, or conversely, to those groups challenging the established authorities. It is such a simple set of relationships and beliefs at its foundation that the basis of both the paranoid belief and conspiracy theory in the animistic fallacy as an outgrowth of parental authority seems overly reductive.

Copyright © Michael Betancourt  September 10, 2020  all rights reserved.

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