At some point ignorance must betray the lie which exploits it. Mass delusions are a natural outcome of a specific recipe of commonplace cultural norms. All that is required to deploy a large scale deception, is a critical mass of ignorance and chronic angst, ignited by small repetitive prodding sourced from a position of authority. One does not have to conspire – rather only understand the malleable nature of duress inside complex social systems.
As it turns out, there is no need for a micro cause of this macro phenomena of complexity.
In order to create an exothermic nuclear decay acceleration from gamma rays, fission materials, and fast and thermal neutrons, one requires several physical components to effect such a reaction. Nuclear fuel along with a reactor core, neutron moderator, neutron poison (absorber), steady source of ignition neutrons, coolant, control rods and a reactor pressure vessel.1 Save for the mitigating features of a coolant, neutron poison, control rods and a neutron moderator – the process which foments the real social vulnerability which social skeptics falsely spin as ‘conspiracy theory’, is a natural outcome stemming from exploitation of several commonplace and naturally occurring social norms. It does not take a conspiracy after all, rather merely a pinch of chronically induced social anxiety, along with some gentle prodding in the right places, and in the right direction.
In 1990 a company called LA Gear introduced a footwear line into the high school aged buyer demographic, featuring a light emitting diode which flashed each time that the footwear user stepped on the ground. Called ‘LA Gear Lights’, these sneakers propelled this little known company to over $1 billion in sales revenue in just two short years of product maturation. Every high school socialite in California, and then the broader US demographic, desired these symbols of approved conformity.2 In similar fashion (pardon the pun), Kevin Planck at Under Armour was able to build a powerhouse brand through exploiting the tribal psychology example of college and professional athletes, upon a population thirsting for social acceptance. A momentum of such magnitude that it challenged and surmounted the pinnacle of brand strength (apologies to Coca-Cola) in the consumer goods industry, Nike. Kevin had listened to a small consumer goods advisory firm who taught that value in product strengthened brand and pricing better than did a roll of the dice on style, and creation of a margin-resilient value chain was paramount over mere purchase and operating cost minimization. Under Armour’s apparel cost them more to produce, message and deliver than did Nike’s, but they were also able to value their items at a higher price point than did Nike. They had solved a problem of tribal duress.3
Fashion science as it turns out is a very informative field of study, eliciting principles which are very useful to those seeking to exploit its elements to direct and control thought.
The essence of human interaction called a fad – elicits a principal with regard to social vulnerability, which bears dynamics similar to that of an unconstrained atomic pile (reactor core). In both of the case studies cited above, the momentum of personal statement and tribal example, was a neutron ignition source into a pile of compressed and anxious young adults (the fuel), exploiting the kinetic energy of their desire to be accepted. Starlings in group flight do not have to exhibit a specific pattern desired, all they have to do is not exhibit the pattern which is forbidden. And in order to reduce their likelihood of exhibiting the embargoed hypothesis – all we have to do is keep them under constant angst. Even an image bearing truth can be quickly dissipated through chaos and duress.
This social vulnerability does not simply end at age 25 of course. It continues to ferment and mature into less obvious forms of control-ability and fanaticism, in the average adult member of society. Nazi Germany did not proliferate its message simply through means of the concerted effort of broadscale conspiracy, rather an exploiting of the common social norms fermenting in the aftermath of World War I. Germans struggled to understand their country’s uncertain future. Citizens faced poor economic conditions, skyrocketing unemployment, political instability, and profound social change. While downplaying more extreme goals, Adolf Hitler and just a few individuals inside the Nazi Party offered simple solutions to Germany’s problems, exploiting people’s fears and frustrations.4 There existed a common nutrient solution of duress upon the general population (see The Ten Pillars of Social Skepticism). A study published in June of 2017, elicits and supports this notion that populations under duress are vulnerable to being exploited by control-minded influences. Highlighting that even our official authorized stories themselves, may yet be the result of this vulnerability, moreso than either an enormous effort of influencing or a prevailing realization of the truth inside a matter.
Evidence suggests that the aversive feelings that people experience when in crisis—fear, uncertainty, and the feeling of being out of control—stimulate a motivation to make sense of the situation, increasing the likelihood of perceiving conspiracies in social situations. We then explain that after being formed, conspiracy theories can become historical narratives that may spread through cultural transmission. We conclude that conspiracy theories originate particularly in crisis situations and may form the basis for how people subsequently remember and mentally represent a historical event.
~ Van Prooijen, Douglas; Sage – Memory Studies : “Conspiracy theories as part of history”5
Establishing Isolation and Chronic Duress is All that is Required
There is no micro cause of conspiracy. There is safety in the herd however. One does not have to conspire – rather only understand the malleable nature of social duress and establish separations between groups of people. The public does not only invent creative alternatives under chronic applications of such duress, but they are vulnerable to adopting an official version more easily as well, and spreading it predictably and habitually. This as much as anything, may be the reason behind why all our news is negatively charged. It allows for control and exploits human regularity and tribal habits. Consider for instance, the work of Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT and the director of the Collective Learning group at The MIT Media Lab, Cesar Hidalgo, and his associates.6
We find that in contrast with the random trajectories predicted by the prevailing Levy flight and random walk models, human trajectories show a high degree of temporal and spatial regularity, each individual being characterized by a time independent characteristic length scale and a significant probability to return to a few highly frequented locations. After correcting for differences in travel distances and the inherent anisotropy of each trajectory, the individual travel patterns collapse into a single spatial probability distribution, indicating that despite the diversity of their travel history, humans follow simple reproducible patterns.
~ Understanding individual human mobility patterns, Marta C. Gonzalez, Cesar A. Hidalgo, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi
Conspiracy theory accusation therefore, goes both ways. Both the dissenting minority and the conforming majority are vulnerable, and a conspiracy is not required at all in either case. Humans are creatures of habit, whether to their advantage or detriment – producing fixed patterns which become exothermic when placed under a negative vibrating energy.
- fear of outsiders,
- desire to regain power,
- habit/history of religious-styled fervor,
- emotional damage from traumatic past events,
- overcompensation for secret doubts,
- fear of the new and unknown,
- cultural addiction to confrontation & denial,
- emotional rush derived from control and deception,
- cathartic joy of belittling those who are different
- the need to belong, and
- the need to communicate and story-tell.
In this combination of factors, an interesting troop dynamic occurs in which humans naturally seek to reinforce, protect and promote a dogmatic message; and they will do so without much prodding. When taken inside a complex social system, this set of micro traits can serve to create disconnected, but reliable, social phenomena. It is not that we can ascribe a single mirco event or influence to be the cause of conspiracy or conspiracy thinking itself. We have to understand the nature of complex social systems and how they can be manipulated towards specific ends – and it does not take a conspiracy itself, in order to make this happen. It is a naturally exothermic process.
Conspiracy is hidden. Agency is manifest.
In the case of agency however, it is the individual’s commitment to it, which is the hidden element.
Our problem is the latter, not the former; along with the pundits who conflate the two.
Agency is a conspiracy of one.
This combination of social factors causes a proliferation of dogmatic ignorance and compliance, which is similar in nature to an exothermic nuclear reaction. A principle called exoagnoia:
/philosophy : rhetoric : exploitation : fad : ignorance/ : conspiracy which is generated naturally through the accelerative interaction of several commonplace social factors. A critical mass of uninformed, misinformed, disinformed and/or compartmentalized population under chronic duress (the ignorance fuel), ignited by an input of repetitive authoritative propaganda (the ignition source). Such a phenomenon enacts falsehood through its own inertia/dynamic and does not necessarily require a continuous intervention on the part of an influencing group.
Critical Elements of a ‘Conspiracy’ (Fad)
- a compressed and interactive population
- a conformance compelling and persistent angst (the duress)
- identification of the unacceptable (bad)
- compartmentalized organizations whose apparatchiks do not fully understand the big picture
- introduction of an easily observable ‘acceptability’ influence from a tribe or very small sliver of the population
- social celebrity backing and praise for the influence
- media sources who will craft ingoratio elenchi, ingens vanitatum and verum mendacium filled publications (see The Art of the Professional Lie)
- silence about or disincentive towards considering any alternatives
There exist three flavors of this mechanism:
- Popular confirmation (promotion of the preferred idea)
- Popular inverse negation (condemnation of the full set of unsanctioned ideas)
- Popular rejection of 1 and 2 above, under the notion of conspiratorial planning and purpose.
That is all it takes folks. As it turns out, it does not take a conspiracy after all, rather merely a gentle prodding in the right places, and in the right direction, at the right time.
The Ethical Skeptic, “It Does Not Take a Conspiracy” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 30 March 2018, Web; https://wp.me/p17q0e-7p8
- Wikipedia: Nuclear reactor; extracted 30 Mar 2018; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_reactor
- Kimberly Gamble; Dash of Wellness: Throwback Thursday: LA Gear Light-Up Sneakers; https://dashofwellness.com/throwback-thursday-la-gear-light-up-sneakers/
- David Aaker; American Marketing Association: “Under Armour Wills Itself to Success”; https://www.ama.org/publications/MarketingNews/Pages/under-armour-wills-itself-to-success.aspx
- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Chapter 1 – Aftermath of World War I and the Rise of Nazism, 1918–1933; https://www.ushmm.org/learn/introduction-to-the-holocaust/path-to-nazi-genocide/chapter-1/aftermath-of-world-war-i-and-the-rise-of-nazism-1918-1933
- Van Prooijen, Douglas; Sage – Memory Studies : “Conspiracy theories as part of history”; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5646574/
- Marta C. Gonzalez, Cesar A. Hidalgo, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi; “Understanding individual human mobility patterns”; Center for Complex Network Research and Department of Physics and Computer Science, University of Notre Dame, June 7 2008; https://arxiv.org/pdf/0806.1256.pdf