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You just HAVE to watch the video below (7:00). It’s clear and to the point, and you’ll no doubt have a laugh or two – a video on how Luke Skywalker’s destruction of the Death Star was *really* an inside job. It’s very well done and has almost two million views on YouTube.

The value of the video should be obvious. Every fact presented in it is indeed a fact from the movie. And every connection drawn is “reasonable” in the context of the narrative created. But the conclusions are absolutely wrong. This is precisely how so much conspiratorial thinking works … and fails horribly. Conspiracy is all about narrative interpretation, not “facts”.  Once one part of the narrative fails, the whole thing crumbles. The beauty of the video is that the viewer already knows the narrative is wrong, but can see how that bogus narrative is created using nothing but factual data.

In short, it’s not about the data dots; it’s about how the dots are connected — and that usually (nearly always) happens in the theater of the imagination when it comes to conspiracy theory.

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7 Responses to “Why Conspiracy Thinking Can Be So Incoherent”

  • Tom says:

    Hello Mr. Heiser,

    I agree that much of conspiracy theory out there does succumb to mistakes like the above. I value your opinion as one of your readers and consider “The Facade” to be one of the best in fiction out there; it was incredibly well written and intriguing. However, I often get a sense from your posts that you almost seem to come across as completely dismissive of ALL conspiracies and classifying all those who do research them as crackpots. Is that truly the case?

    Do you really believe that conspiratorial research CAN be a viable pursuit? Do you even believe in a global, NWO conspiracy to bring about a one-world religion/monetary system/government? I truly am curious. I often have a hard time trying to pin down exactly what you do believe as the tone of your posts often comes across as beyond just a skeptic doing his due-diligence. I ask these things in all respect.

    Thank you sir,
    Tom

  • MSH says:

    I often say I am a “small c” conspiracist, not a “big C” conspiracist. What I mean by that is that I don’t believe grand conspiracies such as that are associated with 911 truth stuff, or the Masons, or the Templars, etc. are provable or even necessary to “explain” what’s going on in the world. The decline of the West, for example, is much simpler to explain and represents ideas and movements that are not new. I also think spiritual evil (Satan, demons, etc.) gets far too much credit. Christians in particular seem to assign an entity to everything that happens. That’s poor theology. All that said, I do believe in intelligent spiritual evil, but Satan has better things to do than make sure a terrorist has enough bullets. Spiritual evil operates on the macro level (as Scripture says), not with every human. People can screw up their own lives and the lives of others just fine on their own. I also believe humans can conspire (small c); it’s normal human behavior. And that ability or desire doesn’t go away when a person hold high office or has lots of money. If anything, all that makes the simple human desire easier to fulfill. You don’t need Bohemian Grove to explain human collusion among powerful people. Things like that might be taken seriously be a small number of people, but if it went away tomorrow the strategy for people getting what they want would just morph into something else. Nothing *depends* (key word) on secret societies and all that sort of thing. It’s as old as Eden (“we will be as gods”) and doesn’t need a flow chart.

    Conspiracy theories are only as good as the narrative that supports them can survive probing for coherence. That a narrative can be constructed from data points does not mean it’s a sound one. Is a global currency really necessary? One world government? Really? If I were intelligent evil, I might just use those ideas to *distract* you. They may be the last brick I’d lay instead of the first. They may be completely unnecessary to accomplishing my goals, but a nice touch after everything’s chugging along like I wanted. CONSPIRACISTS ASSUME TOO MUCH and assign to much of a need to grand, structural programs. Sometimes what looks grand looks that way because most people believe a certain thing (it reaches critical mass, so to speak), not because a mastermind or ancient cabal engineered it. Focusing on the unneeded cabal means shooting (metaphorically) at the wrong target when it comes to a solution or mounting a defense. You expend effort on the thing least likely to have a major impact.

    The Portent (Facade sequel) will try to spell out how I look at all this sort of thing while creating my own narrative for the story. My narrative will be very coherent, but only because I focus on ideas – “how would I, as intelligent evil, make people THINK a certain thought?” I might use real facts for that, I might use misdirection, I might use an entrenched belief, I might use human nature, I might use a very human longing, etc. There is no one method, and hence no one trajectory, and hence no one conspiracy theory that has exhaustive explanatory power. Various goals and various means, operating toward common ends (with or without the operators working together) are by far the most effective way to move the masses. We waste our time trying to prove any one thing is behind this or that — and can look cartoonish trying to do so.

    My goal in The Portent is to leave the reader thinking, “If all those things really happened — and they could, or something like them could — and the desired thought-process / worldview shifts gain momentum, a lot of people, especially people of faith, are going to be in serious trouble — both in this life and the one to come.”

    Probably longer than you cared for! Sorry for the teaser, but I can’t answer questions like these without some reference to where my head’s at now.

  • Tom says:

    No, that was excellent, thank you. I can appreciate that you have such a well thought out worldview and counter to the big “C” Conspiracy movement out there. I wish most of the Christian Church would at least hold such a position as opposed to the cognitive dissonance that most cling to.

    I can agree with a lot of that, but from the evidence I’ve researched I personally do subscribe to a larger Conspiracy I guess than you do. I certainly don’t believe there is a “devil behind every bush”. And I object to the David Icke’s/Ancient Alien theorists of the world and that line of New Age thinking, but do believe there are many valid researchers such as Dr. Stan Montieth, for example. His “Brotherhood of Darkness” work lays out all of the quotes from the globalists themselves in their own words. The Rockefellers of the world who admit in their own memoirs that they’ve been orchestrating a NWO and yes, I believe with the help of the Fallen One. All of these details are there for the masses to consider for themselves if they weren’t too busy with American Idol and acting cool.

    But thanks again for your position, Mr. Heiser. I look forward to the Portent when it comes out!

  • MSH says:

    This was a good reply, as it affords me the opportunity to again draw some distinctions. I don’t think you need a brotherhood of darkness – there’s just darkness, and it works pretty well, the world over – independently if that is the case. In other words, does evil really need a brotherhood holding it together to be evil? No. But let’s say there is this brotherhood. So what? Is evil that lies outside the brotherhood (their membership applications got rejected) all of a sudden going to quit the evil business? No. Evil is what evil is, and does what it does, union card or not. So who cares. Same for the Rockefellers. Yes, I know a lot about them, and what Stan and others say about them is pretty easily documentable (the eugenics stuff, for example). And of course, beginning with the industrial revolution in the 19th century and the amazing wealth it created – and the context of Darwin’s revolution (1859) – lots of wealthy people really believed (and still do) that they are the elite – that they ought to control the mechanism of social Darwinism. Fine. Now what? Would there be no eugenics thinking today (or then) if there was no money? No – some people would still be drawn to it as part of a utopian impulse that, again, goes back to Genesis. The notion that some folks are better (racially, biologically) than others actually predates Darwin by a long time. In other words, you’d have people who saw themselves as “ruling elites” without the Rockefellers ever being born. But the real point of bringing them up is that they have financed a lot of things in this direction. But in today’s world, that is obsolete. Governments (who have more money than the Rockefellers) fund research that does and could move in a eugenic direction (even though they don’t call it that). So, my focus would be the IDEA, not a cabal of Rockefellers.

    In the sense of living in a post-Christian world, we’re already in a NWO. Christians are running around writing prophecy and conspiracy books when they should be becoming students of postmodernism and its intellectual arguments and taking it to task, being salt and light at all levels of the culture. Instead we get World Net Daily hawking bogus “research” like the Harbinger (and I could name a dozen more I put in the intellectually irrelevant or insipid bin). The Church is, frankly, an easy target.

    http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/2012/10/harbinger-ode-exegetical-illiteracy/

  • Fallacy Dominion says:

    I think a common biased conclusion can be made by anyone at any time depending on how information is presented and if such a person lacks critical thinkin g and reasoning.
    In a lot of these theories especially those by Alex Jones and other various popular films like Loose change ,Zeitgeist etc , I have come to see that great use of certain presentations of the narrative are used, whether deliberate or not.And people who do not have any such knowledge(Dunning-kruger effect) of these fallacies won`t know they are being taken for a ride : Pareidolia ,Illogical fallacies (the way certain theories are reasoned as “facts”) ,confirmation biases.
    The greatest lie is the one, borderlining the truth.However Truth transcends time.

    Also as much as the true Narrative of Star wars ,Conspiracy theories always have a Dark and light sight and the minority(dark side)always seem to win.
    We believe the events and cause should be on equal signifcant balance,nothing is left to randomness,and we seek patterns to ,secret knowledge unknown to others.I think the world has become more self-projective.We feel small amongst so much fame and power and things like free opinions on social networks and many other factors made us more narcissistic, illusory superiority makes us see and simultaneously weave the Emporer`s cloths.It`s just one big pyramid scheme,A machine that can never be reconstructed only repainted.

    As for Christian`s who don`t know of man`s very first conspiracy and what God told them in turn of obtaining knowledge ,which by many scriptures warned that we cannot enter Paradise on our own merits or by any knowledge ,carefully re-consider the position these people like Alex Jones want you to have ; self-empowerment, open eyes,KNOWLEDGE TO HELP YOURSELF,Infowars.
    Laying in your face.Sorry but the real world isn`t the Matrix as much as we want it to be.

  • jcdenton says:

    Mike,

    This is all very intriguing. I guess I’m a CT because it’s fun. I can tell from your lectures, that even you like to speculate. Agreed, most of this stuff we cannot prove. When one tries to, because evil exits in this world, you could end up dead.

    I do believe, however, that there is a big “C.” How do we know? Answer, we have proof. There are documents that admits this.

    Technically, for my part, the NWO is not the problem. The NWO was instituted at Christ’s incarnation, and sealed at his resurrection. The problem is the OWO trying to re-institute itself. The OWO beginning at the fall in Eden, or even the rebellion in the Heavens.

    In light of what Col. Fletcher Prouty (USAF) describes a “Jesuit Square” in terms of African real estate (about 15,000 square miles), the following simply cannot be ignored and counted as trivial:

    “To the extent that the papacy continues to claim as official dogma the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent which expressly anathematizes, for instance, the doctrine “that justifying faith is nothing else than trust in divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that trust alone by which we are justified,” the judgment of the Lutheran confessional writings that the papacy is the Antichrist holds. At the same time, of course, we must recognize the possibility, under God’s guidance, that contemporary discussions and statements (e.g., 1983 U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue statement on “Justification by Faith”) could lead to a revision of the Roman Catholic position regarding Tridentine
    dogma.”

    and..

    “From this room, Your Grace, I govern not only Paris, but China; not only China, but the whole world –and all without anyone knowing how it is done.” – Society of Jesus Superior General Tambourini to the Duke de Brissac, Constitutions of the Jesuits, edited by Paulin, Paris (1843)

    Tom Horn and Chris Putnam have come with some very interesting research on the Vatican of late. Luther and the reformers knew it all the time.

    Agreed, the Rothschilds, the Rocket-fellas, and even 9/11 is all noise comparatively. What I find even more interesting is “frog men” persuading “kings of the earth” to wage war. Was John the Apostle a conspiracy theorist writer, or just out of his mind? Grant it, we have a conspiracy precipitated not by men, but men being participants.

    Still, the big “C” in the temporal world, has been established…

  • MSH says:

    The NWO is simply the utopian impulse (again – it echoes in every generation). The idea is a distraction, as are a focus on the Vatican, Freemasons, Illuminati, etc. People have always considered themselves elite and deserving to rule everyone else. It’s nothing new and therefore is no key to unlocking prophecy or anything else. The idea just changes clothes. I would ask readers to not get distracted by this or any generation’s “players” in this game, because doing so produces the marginalization (into crazy town) of the really significant ideas behind the impulse.

    Put another way, if we really believe in intelligent evil, we’d acknowledge the fact that it’s a whole lot smarter than any of these elitist-driven conspiracies. Is the goal of cosmic evil really no bigger than being the boss of humanity? Is intelligent evil really so dim-witted as to believe people can’t just read the NT and know what it’s up to? Would intelligent evil really have only as its goal the death of Christians? The Romans and many others across the globe were pretty effective at that, but it didn’t work very well (in fact, it was counter-productive). If all you get when you win is more money, or more power over other people, your goals aren’t at all unique – and frankly don’t solve the “Christianity problem.”

    I see little deceptive power in this approach, and nothing unique to biblical prophecy. For sure, global elitists want the sort of world conspiracists describe, and lots of little cabal groups want their share of the pie. But pointing that out would miss my point — I’m asking if the cosmic intelligent evil Christians say they believe exists might not have a bigger plan. If I were that evil intelligence, I would. Subverting thought is more significant (and effective) than subverting freedom.

    I’m just saying.

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