The dictionary describes conspiracy theory as:
1.a theory that explains an event as being the result of a plot by a covert group or organization; a belief that a particular unexplained event was caused by such a group.
2. the idea that many important political events or economic and social trends are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.
I am not much of a conspiracy theorist but I sure do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time amongst those who are and as a result I have formed my own definition.
To me, a conspiracy theorist is a person who has the unique ability to read minds and therefore knows, with absolute certainty, precisely the motives which drive others to take actions that he/she disapproves of.
Not only do they arrive at these conclusions without any supporting facts, but even when presented with information to suggest they may be wrong, cling fiercely to their beliefs because “they know for a fact …”
The thought of even entertaining the possibility of a contrary position seems to cause them some form of physical pain to the point that they are completely oblivious to their own blind spots.
Cognitive dissonance at its finest.
Allow me to offer a few examples.
I shared an elevator ride with a lady who works in the same office building as I do. Clearly agitated, she spent the few seconds we were together telling me that she had just returned a take-out meal to a local restaurant because it was “ice cold.”
She “knew” they deliberately provided her with a cold meal because she had complained about a poorly prepared meal several months earlier and this was their way of getting back at her.
She knew this for a fact.
A client of mine shared with me his disgust at his son’s boss.
The boss had recently made a spontaneous decision to take his staff out for a drink after work. My client’s son had not been included simply because “his boss doesn’t like him.”
He knew this for a fact.
An acquaintance of mine had recently been competing for the CEO position in the company he has worked for the past 20 years. He was competing against two long-term colleagues and he was convinced he would be awarded the position by virtue of his superior experience, education and job performance.
Earlier this week the company’s Board of Directors announced that they had retained the services of a head-hunter to conduct a North America wide search for a CEO as it was felt that the company would best be served by a CEO who could bring “outside” experience into the organization.
My acquaintance was outraged. He’d had a run-in with the board chairman several years ago over a difference of opinion and was convinced that this decision was made solely for the purpose of denying him this promotion. It had nothing to do with bringing in a person with outside experience.
It was simply an act of vengeance.
He knew this for a fact.
I serve on the condominium board in the building in which I live. A few weeks ago one of our residents knocked on my door to complain that her neighbor’s son had “deliberately” parked his car in her assigned stall and would I please go and tell him to move it.
She “knew” why he had parked there.
She had knocked on their door several weeks earlier and asked him to turn the music down and so this was done simply to annoy her.
She knew this for a fact.
It has never failed to amaze me how adroit so many of us are at arriving at irrefutable conclusions when our data – the source of our conclusions – is extremely long on opinion and short on facts.
I think it is safe to say that many of us have done this. Events have occurred in our lives that have led us to believe, with absolute certainty, that we have the skill and ability to read other people’s minds and thereby know their motives for actions they have taken.
I have occasionally asked the conspiracy theorist “how do you know that?” Invariably the answer is the same, “I just know,” or, “it’s obvious.”
The truth is we don’t know. We are absolutely free to think and believe whatever we wish but the moment we believe that doing so qualifies us to truly and accurately read the mind of another we are setting the foundation upon which we lay permanently damaged relationships and the judgments we form of those people at those times may well prevent us from ever repairing, or setting aside, that damage.
Of course there is also additional damage. It is the damage to ourselves caused by the negative energy we expend in thinking about, and talking about, our conspiracy theories.
I am convinced that the only reason why each of you have chosen not to send me vast amounts of money each week for the privilege of reading my magnificent blogs is because you “know” that I write these blogs only for the sheer joy of doing so and would be embarrassed by accepting the money.
Let me assure that I am more than willing to endure great gobs of embarrassment if it will help you feel better about sending money.
I know that for a fact.
All major credit cards accepted.
Till we read again.
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