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 to 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.