Why Conspiracy Theory is An Advanced Form of Gossip
There is something about human reasoning. If you take time to observe how people reason, you will see that human reasoning CANNOT be left hanging on nothing. Our reasoning often hold on to something even if that something is false especially when adequate information is not provided or when the information provided is not well understood.
This is why we have fake news, this is why we have gossipers convinced of the lies they peddle, and indeed, this is why we have conspiracy theorists.
Everyday as we experience things, we are making a decision or taking a position. Even our "no-decision" is in itself a decision. Our reasoning must "land" on something, it might be temporary or permanent, but it can't be left hanging on the air.
I will give you a personal example. . .
I once carried a girl in my car. I met her standing on the road and I decided to help since she was going my way. I remembered that in the car, she once waved at a friend. As we drove, we never had any conversation except asking her where she was going to alight. I was shocked to get back to the parish and the story was everywhere that I took a girl in my car to a hotel and that we are dating.
The example above is what I can call MERE GOSSIPING. I do not know who originated it and I don't care. But my concern here and why I am sharing it is that the one who started it after seeing the girl in my car could only "hang" his or her reasoning on: "they are dating".
This brings me back to my earlier point. Human reasoning cannot be left hanging on nothing, it must hold on to something, even if that something is not true.
Now, if a conspiracy theorist wants to take up this mere gossip and develop it to a full blown conspiracy theory, this is how it may go.
They will find out that the name of the girl I carried in my car is Sandra. They will remember a post I made a year before I came to Malawi where I praise a certain Sandra for her beauty. They will use that to draw inference that my coming to Malawi was all my plans to be united with her and that we have known each other before.
They will also state that her standing on the road that day was not a coincidence. That I planned it so that the people in the parish won't know. Even her wave to her friend was because the friend saw us and it was to cover up. . .they will call it a psychological defence mechanism.
They will analyse that her name "Sandra" starts with the letter "S" and ends with "A". They will remember that I have been writing on Shock Absorber. "Shock" starts with S, "Absorber" starts with A. And they will conclude that it was not a coincidence.
They will ask, did she tell me something or did she do something that shocked me? If not, how could a priest write about relationship perfectly if he is not into one?
We can go on and on. . . But you see ehn. . .the way the argument is usually packaged, it can even convince the devil, yet it is the most foolish of all arguments.
Conspiracy theory is advanced gossip because unlike mere gossip, people say them hiding their identity knowing that what they may be saying might be false. But conspiracy theory legitimizes the gossip, it gives the gossip a face and a logical outlook. Those spreading it are often proud to say them loud. And worst still, when you mix any conspiracy theory with religion, what you will get is the reason why some churches in Africa have pictures of Trump on their Altars as their new Jesus.