I know that it might be unwise to bring this up, given the crank comments that the topic tends to generate, but I thought it might be a good example of the fact that I really am not ignorant of various claims.
My kids and I were poking around Netflix last night and came across a pro-conspiracy flick about the September 11 attacks titled 911: In Plane Sight — not a misspelling, by the way, but apparently a play on words. It was created by a particular radio host for a program I won’t honor with free advertising (though I mention the movie title because I want It to be clear it was a real “documentary”).
I selected it (it was free), and two of the boys and I watched it with the other two joining in later. And I have to say that watching it with the boys was interesting.
And it was rewarding. The boys began to pick through what was said and to take apart the host’s “analysis” just as easily as I could. The leaps of “logic” were many, and the unjustified conclusions were legion. To my delight, the boys saw through much of what was said without my help at all, and — perhaps, needless to say at this point — we finished the documentary absolutely unconvinced that anything the host said was true in any way. I think we all believed he was sincere, but not a single conclusion he drew was credible to any of us sitting there. And it was a great opportunity to explain to the boys how such ill-formed theories can arise and how a chaotic mess of data can often be assembled in a number of different ways, especially when cherry-picked and pieced together by someone with an ideological motive.
It was a lesson, too, in how all of us — me and the kids, too — can become horrible interpreters of facts when our desires and human will begin to cloud our judgment. At one point, Boy #3 exclaimed, “How can he say that?!? Is he watching the same video footage we are?” Indeed, what was obvious to us was not even a possibility to the narrator. But, again, we didn’t doubt the guy’s sincerity — just his good judgment.
Jeremiah 17:9 works on all of us, without exception. And while it is easy (frankly, was easy) to sit back and be snarky after a while when you see how oblivious someone can be, the lesson shouldn’t be lost on us that all of us are capable of the same obliviousness — all of us are very capable of failing to see the obvious in favor of our own preferred view or conclusion. Perhaps it doesn’t involve an unreasonable conspiracy theory, but it may involve our opinion about a difficulty with our spouse, or about an argument we had with a friend, or even larger issues. Fill in the blank yourself. And be imaginative.
I know our politicians are capable of lying (like we all are). I know they can make cold, heartless decisions in pursuit of purposes they deem significant that would seem horrific to others. No doubt. And I know that truly abominable decisions have been made throughout time by people in power to gain more power — whether in the form of money or influence or land or whatever. Certainly so.
But last night my kids and I we unified in the same point I have tried to make before: When it comes to certain conspiracy theories, the reason I don’t think them credible is not because of the high regard I have for human government or mankind in general — rather, it is because the “evidence” and arguments presented for the theories, in light of all the evidence and reasonable explanations available, is simply not credible.
(And BTW: Including “all the evidence and reasonable explanations available” is important. As has been demonstrated, programs like Jesse Ventura’s “Conspiracy Theory” show sometimes edit out information that would make one reasonably doubt their conclusions. Check out their misleading editing concerning “super thermite paint” as an example. Part of what sustains some conspiracy theories — not all, but part — is the self-filtering of information, only accepting “evidence” that fits the theory. Anyone who thinks such programs as those represent real investigative work as opposed to entertainment with an investigative-ish flavor show a severe lack of discernment.)
So, to those who disagree with my stands on most of those matters, feel free. (Please don’t clog the comments on this post with more theory junk, though. I will likely not approve such comments.) but please don’t say it’s because I am too trusting of the government, or because I haven’t seen the “evidence,” or because I won’t give such arguments a fair consideration. I really have looked at many claims. I — and, I am happy to report, my sons — simply find them not credible: merely less credible than more reasonable theories in the kindest of circumstances, and completely ludicrous in the worst.
For a post linking to a good commentary from the Living Church of God on the topic of conspiracy theories and a biblical, Christian perspective, click here: “Living Church of God: ‘Is it a conspiracy?'”