The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections have some peeves.* One of them is ‘repeats’. This morning The Muses (or somebody like them) delivered onto me an inchoate entry about security and uncertainty. TBDHSR quickly sent an email reminding me I already did this and recently  too. They suggested I write about conspiracy; they had checked and couldn’t find that. 

I would sooner eat rats at Tewkesbury than follow conspiracies. The only thing worthwhile about them is the psychology, the ’why’ people believe them rather than the heinous contents. 

Conspiracy theories have at their creepy centers an iota of truth. They have a point. This, combined with our desire for certainty (and our love to be ‘in the know’) makes them successful. They start with good questions which frankly I applaud:

How can I trust information I haven’t verified ? 

What if the sources are wrong ? 

What if the source is lying to me ? 

Where these questions lead often goes to delusional rubbish, but the questions themselves are worth asking. Since we cannot verify everything we read and hear, we have to have trust in the sources.  

I am supposedly an expert in my field (hey! I have several fancy diplomas on my wall to prove it!) I too have to rely on trust teachers and predecessors and researchers that they have been trustworthy; I am not going to test every new articles’ conclusion. This is a big deal. If knowledge is really all about trust, how do we know whom to trust?  Which ones are valid and which ones are bogus? 

I cannot speak to the specifics of certain conspiracy theories that are currently in the headlines. What I see before I run away looks too incredible for anyone in their right mind to believe. Alas, human psychology is wired we want to be in the ‘in crowd’ with secret and superior knowledge that no one else has and that others are trying to suppress. This is not a new phenomena; history is full of examples; only the contents change. Thanks to the internet they spread faster and to more people. Dame Rumor, not Google, controls the keys.

Sometimes when a patient tells me they know something they know is true (say, all you doctors know the cure for cancer but you are sworn to secrecy so you can make money from treating the sick)** I know through experience not to apply those three questions as this gets nowhere. I ask “Does your belief in this give you comfort?” which is sometimes just enough to shake them a bit into better self-reflection perhaps towards a more likely (albeit less glamorous) belief.  

After the patient leaves the office I take off my rubber face mask to reveal my lizard features and I call the AMA on the secret phone in my desk to assure them our secrets remains safe.  

TBDHSR doesn’t believe in conspiracies but they adore tinfoil hats.

*Their biggest peeves: warm mead, misuse of the word ‘mid’, and the Gauls. 

**Yes, people believe this. I hear this one from time to time.