Posts Tagged ‘conspiracy’

They Are Out To Get You

Before their recent popularity in B-movies and in video games zombies began their undead lives in religious folklore. They were the product of witch doctors skilled in the arts of voodoo. This involved a bit of trickery with either hypnotism or a victim induced into a stupor by a mild poison. While we may dismiss this as the relic of a primitive culture, a startling 31% of modern Americans actually believe in witchcraft.

This same 2007 surveyalso found that 41% believe in ghosts and 35% believe in UFOs. A 2005Gallop pollfound similar results. When asked if they believed that extraterrestrials had visited the earth 1 in 4 Americans said yes. In total 73% of respondents said they believed in some aspect of the paranormal. In contrast a Pew Research survey from 2010 found that nearly 80 percent of Americans say they do not trust their own federal government.

The “trust” question was first posed in a national survey in 1958. At the time 73% of respondents trusted their government but it has declined steadily since then. This isn’t simply a cynical opinion about bureaucratic incompetence, in many cases it goes much deeper.

In 1966 in the first survey conducted after the release of the Warren Commission’s report on the Kennedy assassination 36% took it at face value. In the most recent survey, that number was down to 13% and while a resounding 81% believed there was a conspiracy. At present 15% of the population believe that the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center is part of a government conspiracy.

I got my own taste of this government paranoia while working for the 2011 census. For starters we had to swear a lengthy oath which included among other oddities the fact that we couldn’t conduct business on a cordless phone. Forget cell phones, the government expected us to work exclusively from landlines that had a handset hard wired into the wall. I haven’t owned a phone like that in twenty years. I don’t think they are even available anymore.

The reason of course was to satisfy a ridiculous level of security. The sensitive information I was entrusted with were the answers given to 10 census questions. Five had to do with what languages were spoken and the others were basic demographics: name, age, sex & marital status. There is no penalty for lying to a census worker and they don’t verify the responses. Yet even with the threat of prosecution there were still outright refusals. I had one fellow chase me down the street screaming hysterically because his girlfriend had put their phone number on the form.

The only way to explain this kind of behaviour is with the Belief Disconfirmation Paradigm. This is an odd quirk of human nature where people, in an effort to reduce cognitive dissonance, choose to reject information that doesn’t mesh with their existing beliefs. Truth takes a back seat to finding other people who share the same illogical set of ideas thus insulating them further from distressing facts. This is how cults get started and if they get big enough, nonsense beliefs can become conventional wisdom.

My own take is that people fail to take into account Hanlon’s Razor:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

The full truth about the Kennedy assassination will never be known but its likely closer to the theory offered by ballistics expert Howard Donahue than any of the wild ones that require the cooperation of a tremendous amount of individuals.

So when you hear a bump in the night don’t conflate with the nocturnal rumblings of ghosts. If you see a strange light in the sky understand that while the explanation may beyond your limited comprehension of science its not beyond the scope of the human race. Surround yourself with people who think for themselves even if they may disagree with you. A human being without critical thinking is little more than a zombie and it’s hard to believe that anyone would want to be a zombie. A mind is a terrible thing to taste.