Why is it that otherwise perfectly intelligent, thoughtful and rationally minded people baulk at the suggestion that sociopaths are conspiring to manipulate and deceive them? And why will they defend this ill-founded position with such vehemence?
History catalogues the machinations of liars, thieves, bullies and narcissists and their devastating effects. In modern times too, evidence of corruption and extraordinary deceptions abound. We know, without question, that politicians lie and hide their connections and that corporations routinely display utter contempt for moral norms – that corruption surrounds us. We know that revolving doors between the corporate and political spheres, the lobbying system, corrupt regulators, the media and judiciary mean that wrongdoing is practically never brought to any semblance of genuine justice. We know that the press makes noise about these matters occasionally but never pursues them with true vigour. We know that in the intelligence services and law enforcement wrongdoing on a breathtaking scale is commonplace and that, again, justice is never forthcoming. We know that governments repeatedly ignore or trample on the rights of the people, and actively abuse and mistreat the people. None of this is controversial.
So exactly what is it that conspiracy deniers refuse to acknowledge with such fervour, righteousness and condescension? Why, against all the evidence, do they sneeringly and contemptuously defend the crumbling illusion that ‘the great and good’ are up there somewhere, have everything in hand, have only our best interests at heart, and are scrupulous, wise and sincere? That the press serves the people and truth rather than the crooks? That injustice after injustice result from mistakes and oversights, and never from that dread word: conspiracy? What reasonable person would continue to inhabit such a fantasy world? The point of disagreement here is only on the matter of scale. Someone who is genuinely curious about the plans of powerful sociopaths won’t limit the scope of their curiosity to, for example, one corporation, or one nation. Why would they? Such a person assumes that the same patterns on display locally are likely to be found all the way up the power food chain. But the conspiracy denier insists this is preposterous. Why?