Though this blog is meant to be about evil, I’ll stray here into how to grasp what is real in the world, and what is not. This is relevant to the blog, since seeing enemies that do not exist will prompt evil behavior, and not seeing enemies where they do exist will allow evil to win.
In the book, A God Who Hates, Wafa Sultan says the following about her home country, Syria, and Arabs in general. “Ninety percent of Americans do not think much about where Syria is on the map of the world, while 90 percent of Arabs believe that Americans spend most of their time spying on them and plotting to destroy Islam, so as to seize control of their oil and their resources.”
A question arises – how did this big illusion arise, among so many people?
We can see that if you are brought up in a dictatorship that has total control of the media, and where a religion that Wafa Sultan says is also a “political doctrine that imposes itself by force” is dominant, that you will believe things that are not true. But what about a democracy where there is a free media?
Would most of us see the world as it is in such a country?
Given that the United States is about evenly divided between conservatives and liberals, with a rather wide chasm between them, we can see that at about half must be wrong on political issues (or maybe both groups are wrong on some things). And that’s just politics. What about human nature?
Our understanding of human nature governs our understanding of history, and whether we believe conspiracy theories, or utopian ideas, and more.
Lets look at conspiracy theories. In his book The Believing Brain, Michael Shermer asks why there are so many conspiracy theories about the destruction of the twin-towers in September 11, 2011. Instead of believing that Moslem terrorists flew airplanes full of passengers into skyscrapers, some believed it was really the U.S. government that planted explosives to blow them up, or some variation of this. An expert told Michael Shermer that perhaps the depressing and alarming environment after the disaster led to the theories, but Michael points out that you don’t need to invent new conspiracy theories, since indeed there was a conspiracy: a group of Arabs called Al Queda conspired, and their conspiracy was successful.
The world is full of false conspiracy theories, but conspiracies do exist. As another example, in the 1890’s a French Jewish officer named Dreyfus was accused of treason, and there was a conspiracy by some in the French military to hide evidence that would exonerate him. That conspiracy was eventually exposed.
In fact, we might get the idea that all conspiracies are eventually exposed, but we have a biased sample. We only know about the conspiracies that come to light. By definition, a really successful conspiracy would not come to light, at least until it’s too late.
There is also a gray area. There have been reports on China executing Falun Gong practitioners and harvesting their organs for transplants, and in fact Canadian MP David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas produced an investigative report that claims this is true. But the Chinese deny it, and the report has mixed reviews in the West. So is this harvesting a “conspiracy”? If it is true, the Chinese don’t want it known, which is one of the prerequisites of a conspiracy. But many Westerners have a fairly benign view of China, and hope that trade will mellow it out. I knew a woman whose adventurous sister learned Chinese, and traveled around China, and now works for a Chinese outfit. Does she believe these horrors are going on? Probably not. Does the average businessman who works with the Chinese, or the average Western tourist visiting the Wall of China believe such things? Probably not.
There are some who believe that both China and Russia plan to destroy the United States. They quote defectors, mainly from Russia, and they point to frightening military buildups, arms sales, Russians building nuclear reactors in the Islamic theocracy of Iran, and general trouble making. But if they are right, chances are both China and Russia don’t want the West to be alarmed and to take defensive action. So most people in the West would not believe this.
Is there a huge Chinese/Russian conspiracy? Or is there nothing to be worried about?
Obviously understanding human nature in all these cases is important.
In the case of Iran, some think that when acquires nuclear bombs it will not be a threat, since it would never use them. Others think very differently.
Here’s an example of a conspiracy in our government. John Merline, writing in Investor’s Business Daily, tells a tale of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) using taxpayer money to encourage environmentalist groups to sue … the EPA. This has continued for decades.
Among other things, the EPA has paid one of these groups to produce a do-it-yourself guide to suing the EPA.
This is basically because there are environmental extremists in the EPA who feel a kinship with the extremists in some of these organizations.
I personally used to have the view that most of my countrymen were good, except for the criminal element, and except for a few fringe groups like the Aryan nations in Idaho or some left-wing Communists. The Criminal element might include the Italian Mafia, and the Russian Mafia, and muggers in the inner cities and some bribe-taking politicians.
But none of these affected me directly, as far as I could see. I thought I could live my life without any contact with these people – I’d just stay away from “bad areas” of town and I’d live an anonymous life earning money at some software company and going on two-week vacations once a year.
To my great surprise – I became notorious. Good people who should have known better participated in spreading the notoriety.
The notoriety in turn attracted a bad element in society – a very bad element.
So what have I learned?
I’ve encountered pure malevolence among people who could pass as normal, when they chose to. They chose isolated roads or times and places when they wouldn’t be spotted to express the malevolence, or it just came out of them momentarily for lack of self-control.
The clever person with an agenda that most of us would not accept has a choice. He can join an unpopular fringe group and mark himself as a fanatic, or he can hide his agenda. Bad people generally do what they can get away with. They may not regard what they do as bad, but they are aware that the society around them thinks it is. So our “bad guy” can pass as moderate or normal, but can lead a double life. He can hide his real beliefs and his inner scheming. His life will be one of deceit – a bit like a spy in an enemy country. In the case that I’ve encountered – he will find like-minded souls that don’t like the way things are and he will pursue the means of changing the way things are with their help, by methods that would outrage the rest of us. But in the case I was a voice in the wilderness about: the rest of us don’t know about the methods, the technology, and the agenda.
I know that some warnings in life are fringe, and rightly so, but others are what you might call “the tip of the iceberg”, and indeed should be taken seriously. People have died en-masse or failed to protect others when they did not believe warnings (see some of the posts in http://unheededwarnings.wordpress.com).
The point was sort of made by Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” The problem arises when you can fool enough of the people enough of the time. There are times to mock the conspiracy theorists, but there are times to leap out of your armchair and to be very, very afraid.