Conspiracy Theories vs. Cultural Influence


While listening to the most curious Conspiracy Theory episode of You Are Not So Smart podcast the other day, this got me thinking — which is probably a good thing, and what Mr David McRaney is trying to get us to do.

So... what was I thinking?

Good question. I was thinking how culture can cause us to either engage in conspiracy theories or not engage in them.

In an individualistic culture, it seems to me we are more eager to try and pluck out the flaws, to try and see behind what the government, for instance, may be trying to cover up. Or what NASA are trying to fake, ala the ‘fake’ moon landing.

During the podcast, Mr McRaney (I just like calling him Mister) alluded to different groups of people — there are those who are enlightened. Who can see the truth that this is a coverup and will not stand for it, and then there are the dupes, those who’ve been fooled. Or the sheep, I would go so far to say in this case.

However, in some cultures it isn’t in the practice of people to question these things, or at least it is uncommon. In Asian cultures, there is a concept of group harmony, if you will, and therefore the peace and harmony of society is more important than what you may individually think.

My parents allude to this all the time, when they speak of how they are against gay/lesbian marriage because it would cause ‘chaos in society’ and disrupt natural order.. or something to that extent. Because these couples can’t have children naturally, they will have to adopt or find other ways to have children, and this simply disrupts the societal harmony… (so there are children becoming orphans everyday, but this is what they’re concerned about.)

Individual thought

I never understood this completely, being that I grew up in a country where individuality is celebrated, and teachers want to make you think and consider things, rather than regurgitating remembered content. However to an extent I also value group harmony for some situations, rather than taking action and necessarily fighting for something I believe in or striking out and asserting my own independence.

It was interesting to see why people are so ‘into’ conspiracy theories and how they ‘flourish and harm’, quoted from the post linked above. However although there is an exploration of culture from an American perspective, I found it interesting to conduct a little thought experiment on Asian culture. But I think Asians are learning to find their feet, particularly among the younger generations, what does this mean for us?

Of course, at the least, it means the older generations simply grumble about the ‘me-culture’ of younger generations where they care about nobody but themselves. Oh well.

In other news, now that I’ve located the post for this episode… interestingly the cookies eaten this episode with what look like circles of caramel on the top look strikingly like fried eggs! Mmm….