4/25/15: Conspiracy, Anyone?

As a rule of thumb, I’m not a believer in conspiracy theories. I guess they could technically all be true, and I can’t disprove them, but it’s easier to live life believing what the majority of people believe if it seems factual and logical and correct.

However, lately (as a product of my age’s skepticism towards authority, probably), I’ve been thinking about conspiracies more often. Not so much the Stanley Kubrick Moon Landing or Hitler in Argentina type of conspiracies; more the fact that a whole lot of what we believe to be true are things we’ve never seen with our own eyes.

As a society, we take science to be “factual” and “what we see with our own eyes”. Now, tell me, have you ever seen real dinosaur bones to prove evolution? I mean, have you actually tested them using machines you created to make sure they were real, not just plastic molds or faulty machines? Technically, no. Technically none of us common, non-archaeologists know that the dinosaur bones we’ve seen in museums are real or not. By the same token, none of us can technically prove evolution because we don’t have any eye-witness evidence.

Another example: prove to me that Africa exists. Well, Avery, here are a million videos and books about Africa, with pictures of African people and land. How do I know it wasn’t all just staged? We all know how good special effects are these days. What if the government is trying to teach us all that a continent exists, but really doesn’t?

Yes, I know this isn’t the case. I don’t walk around preaching my non-belief of Africa (because I do believe it exists). However, I’ve never been there. I personally can’t actually prove its existence. My own consciousness cannot prove Africa one way or another, just like it can’t prove evolution one way or another.

Where am I going with this, you ask? I’m not completely sure. It just sort of dawned on me recently that I can’t prove the majority of the things I “know”.

Conspiracies about Africa and evolution aside, this does prove one point: our understanding of the world is based on stories we hear from ourselves and others. So much of what we understand to be true, from geography to historical events to religion to science are things we’ve never actually seen and figured out for ourselves, but have been told time and time again by others who seem to know what they’re talking about (and usually do). In order for humankind to amass all the knowledge it has, we have to trust each other to relay true information.

When people say they don’t trust anyone, I have to disagree now. We all trust almost everything we hear, because we have to. Humans are abstract thinkers, and we feed on the knowledge of others, and this is a good thing. Without it, we would barely know anything at all.

However, the one cautionary tale from this is to remember that not every human idea, no matter how widely accepted, is necessarily true. And it’s certainly not always true in reference toΒ you. If everyone in the world thought you were, for example, fat, and you were 5’8 and 120 pounds, would you consider yourself fat? Probably. Because that is what the world tells you, and since you get most information from the world, you probably believe it.

Lots of information like this that we receive is subjective. One culture’s definition of fat or smart or hairy or crazy or weird or beautiful or any other things may differ a whole lot from another culture. While the people around you might find you plain, another community somewhere in Asia might see you as the most stunning person alive. Remember that the way we describe and see people is overwhelmingly a subjective stance based on information we’ve received, and how certain words correspond to certain thresholds (i.e. fat corresponds to a certain number of pounds per inch of height, etc).

The truth in the statement above is that you are 5’8 and 120 pounds. That does not necessarily make you “skinny” or “fat” objectively. It just means you stand that many arbitrary units up from the ground, and are pulled down by gravity with that amount of force. There’s no adjective to describe it, necessarily. It’s just fact.

This is pretty much a ramble, I know. I could go on and on about this, I really could, but I will leave you with this:

No matter how many people believe a subjective thing, it’s still subjective and not necessarily truth. Truth is the way things are, without adjectives or descriptions or judgements attached. May you see the truth of yourself, your loved ones, your culture, your town, your world. That is where the goodness and peace lies.

8 thoughts on “4/25/15: Conspiracy, Anyone?

  1. Pretty deep there and interesting in itself.. I can positively confirm to you that “Australia” is real haha πŸ™‚ or at least what we label as “Australia” is and I’d be happy to confirm that Africa is once I go there!

    What you’ve hit upon here is the subjectivity of most things, which you allude to.. While yes I agree it’s important to question and revisit assumptions we’ve made about ourselves and the world, sometimes I’d say using instinct and habit to answer the questions that may not matter free us up with willpower to solve the bigger or more tangible problems in the world i.e. climate change or inequality.. These again could be considered labels but I feel with things like Earthquakes and storms happening more regularly this is getting less subjective and more concrete quicker than what we think

    Interesting though and keep up the thinking! πŸ™‚

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  2. In response to your comment about climate change and inequality: I most definitely think both are real. The conspiracy part of this entry was mostly just to make people think. And, as you said, the facts of climate change are real. There are statistics and atmospheric occurrences that lead to the conclusion that there are, in fact, changes in the climate. Likewise, with inequality, there are very obvious and striking differences among the way people live and are treated. These are factual occurrences which we call inequality. I was mostly trying to say that words like “fat”, “beautiful”, “rich”, “poor”, “smart”, etc are subjective and can be interpreted differently by different people. It is most important to look at the facts (i.e. the facts of climate change and inequality) as truth.

    Thanks for the comment, as always!

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  3. What an interesting post! It’s so difficult to not become too unreasonably sceptical when trying make sense of the world, while at the same time making sure you are believing reputable sources…
    I love the note on which you ended πŸ™‚

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  4. Avery, this makes me think of a class I took once long ago that spoke about different categories of knowledge- lets see if I can remember correctly: things you know you know, things you know you don’t know, and things you don’t know that you don’t know. It kind of adds another dimension to your thoughts. Enjoy your exploration!

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    1. Just reading that gets me wondering about what I don’t know that I don’t know- which I’m sure is a lot. Thanks for commenting! I will definitely be thinking about that concept tonight.

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    Like

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