A conspiracy theory is defined as the explanation given to any situation or event that intrigues the public but lacks any credible evidence. One of the major forms of conspiracy theories that have taken root in the world today is the operations and hand of secret societies and Inner Sanctum in various events that occur in the society; as they seek to manipulate the course of history and events to attain new world order. The Illuminati is one of the secret societies that have been the subject of many conspiracy theories with various events being attributed to their doing.
In the murder of JFK, the Illuminati was theorized to be behind it with conspirators claiming that President JFK came into their cross hairs because he was set on ending the war in Vietnam which was against their desires; as the conflict propelled their interest by depositing funds into certain shadowy bankers.
It was further claimed that JFK rubbed this secret society wrongly with his move to rein in the US Federal Reserve powers and the outcome was a backlash (The Week, 2018).
The propensity that people have towards conspiracy theories despite the fact that they lack any credible evidence has been the subject of interest for psychologist and scholars who propose various explanations ranging from the wiring of the human brain which causes it to find a certain appeal in conspiracy theories. This paper aims to look at the reasons why people find it necessary to invest themselves in conspiracy theories regarding secret societies and inner sanctum with the intent of understanding their causes, motives or the reasons.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition given to a conspiracy theory is a generalized thinking that certain phenomenon or events which are unexplained occur because of secret plotting by certain interested parties with the intent to oppress or for some political gains. Another definition given to a conspiracy theory and which this study will adopt is that it’s the explanation given to any situation or event that intrigues the public but lacks any credible evidence. These theories although quite prominent in some circles and involving various high profile occurrences often lack consensus and scientific or historical methodologies cannot be used to prove them.
Scholars argue that conspiracy theories have their basis on the premises that the universe as it is; is governed by a certain design. As such there are three basic principles which are applied when coming with conspiracy theories in view of this design. This include the assertions that there are no accidents and nothing just happens by chance, nothing that happens or that we see is just as it is and everything is interconnected (Barkun, 2003). Further in order to be incapable of falsification, conspiracy theories continuously evolve and incorporate all the evidence that has been presented against them making it a close system and acquiring the label that they are based on faith rather than any proof presented.
There are many varied reasons, factors or motives that are given to explain why people greatly invest in conspiratorial thinking. One of the major reasons of investing in conspiracy theories is that these theories have a certain appeal that the human brain is susceptible to. The argument is that although the human brain has the capacity to use observation and sensory data to reason and draw conclusion on certain matters while at the same time predicting what consequences lay therein; through cognitive bias, the brain can oversimplify issues and come up with misconceptions (Cummings, 2018). Psychologist believe that there forms of cognitive biases makes conspiracy theories appealing namely confirmation bias where the people involved accept any explanation given as long as it fits into the believes they already have. The next is proportionality bias where individuals are inclined to believe that every big event that occurs must have a big underlying cause. Lastly is the illusory pattern perception where individuals believe that there must be a course behind everything that occurs even though in actual sense a cause could be there or there could be none.
For example, in the JFK murder conspiracy, people with conspiracy theory mentality would rather believe that a secret society such as the Illuminati is behind the killing of such a prominent personality because to them every big event that occurs must have another big force behind it. Therefore, other explanation such as the official story which claims that the killing was the work of a lone gunman looks like a cover up for them and they have to come up with an explanation that conforms to their biases.
Scholars van Prooijen and Douglas argue that conspiracy theories are appealing especially in times of crisis which have a great impact on the society because they help the people to question other entities such as secret societies and call them out as they seek to deal with their own fears. They further argued that the feeling of lack of control, fear, uncertainty and so forth drive these parties to try and make sense of a situation by coming up with conspiracy theories and bringing the issue to a society level.
Another explanation given as to why people invest in secret society conspiracy theories is that these theories provide a coping mechanism. This is especially necessary when events of large magnitude occur, and which induces individual stress. As a result, and in order to cope with the excessive amounts of stress that people experience, they look for groups of people to blame such as a secret society. The theories therefore imply that a certain secret society planned and executed a certain action in order to reach certain goals they have, and which are not always for the public good. For example, in the same case of John F. Kennedy’s murder, conspiracy theorist made several arguments which were meant to prove that the secret society referred to as the Illuminati conspired to have him killed so s to propel their agenda. The illuminati is said to be working behind the scene in order to bring about the new world order, in the case of JFK, this argument is supported by the fact that it is claimed that they saw him as an impediment to their agenda (The Week, 2018). Other events attributed to the illuminati in their pursuit to establish the new world order include the Battle of Waterloo and the French Revolution.
Further, the reason why people invest in conspiracy theories as a coping mechanism is that it creates an enemy that people can prepare for instead of accepting that things are simply random. Scholars also argue that people invest in conspiracy theories because they induce the feeling of uniqueness and play into people’s desire to feel special. This is because, the conspiracy theories gives them a sense of importance since they have information that is secret in nature and not privy to everyone. This is illustrated by scholars Lantian, Muller, Nurra, and Douglas (2017) whose study showed that people had the tendency to believe in conspiracy theories because they believed they possessed very exclusive information concerning various situations. This brought with it a feeling of uniqueness and met the desire of people who wanted to feel special. Further Lantian, Muller, Nurra, and Douglas Karen argued that people who had a high desire to feel unique were more prone to conspiracy theories and that this desire was one of the greatest motivational underpinnings.
Another reason given for what drive people to conspiracy theories is faith. This is because even though there is no evidence supporting the claims and arguments that have been made by conspiracy theorist, people would still believe it. its further being argued that even though facts were brought in concerning a certain event that disapproves the claims made by conspiracy theorist, those that believe in them would still hold on to their belief regardless. For example, in the murder of president Kennedy’s murder conspiracy theories still hold various theories including an illuminati assassination even though commissions investigating the murder and law enforcement agencies both came to the same conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald a former marine was the lone gunman who took out the president. Further the secret service has also undertaken a review of the tapes and found that there was no other gunman apart from Lee making him solely responsible for the murder of Kennedy. However, even with all these evidences, conspiracy theorists continue to spin their theories and see any information and explanation given as an attempt at cover up.
Conspiracy theories have been labeled as psycho-religious beliefs because believer in these theories hold that they are true even though they personally cannot prove them. van Prooijen van and Douglas (2017) agree with the assertion that conspiracy theorist see any evidence and explanations given as an attempt at cover up and assert that this inclination makes conspiracy theories very hard to disapprove. Other scholar Oliver and Wood (2014) asserts that people who have a high propensity towards accepting and reinforcing conspiracy theories have an over analytical personality and tend to rely heavily on their intuition. The fact that they tend to place premium value on their gut feelings places them as candidates who are likely to become susceptible to metaphors and symbols they see and reaching their conclusions which are laced with conspiracy.
An example is in the music and entertainment industry where the hand of illuminant has been theorized to be recruiting talented members and having them as part of their membership. As a result, people who are susceptible to conspiracy theories looking at various symbols and terms in music videos and label certain artist as members of this secret society. Numerous artists have been labeled as members of these secret society; some of the huge artists in the entertainment industry who have been labeled as members of the illuminati are Beyoncé’, Jay-Z, Madonna, Katy Perry among many more others especially those with great success. In Beyoncé’s case she has been labeled a member of this secret society because of her fame, choreography, dressing, signals she make such as circle over her eye, her ring which is claimed to have satanic imagery related to the Illuminati and out to bring about the New World Order
One of the greatest counter arguments to conspiracy theories having an appeal is that susceptibility to these theories is caused by ignorance. Scholars argue that although there are numerous biases some factors make a person either less inclined or more inclined to believe in various conspiracy theories. In their study, Craft, Ashley, and Maksl, (2017) found that people who have a greater knowledge on what is reported on the news media have a low likelihood of being taken by conspiracy theories. They credit news media with clearing the misinformation that is spread in the public and which informs most of these conspiracy theories. Spinner (2017) echoes the same thing by asserting that more understanding of the news media by consumers and the journalism role would lead to less susceptibility to conspiracy theories irrespective of how politically tempting they are. However, this argument has been disapproved by various scholars who assert that fact conspiracy theorist lack faith in media and believes that everything said and evidence presented is an attempt at covering up the truth van (Prooijen van and Douglas, 2017. Further, conspiracy theories have been presented as evolutionary, changing and incorporating very information and evidence present in attempt to remain (Barkun, 2003).
As alluring and fascinating as they are, conspiracy theories can have a very negative impact on the society. some of the impact include persuading people not to have their children vaccinated leading to preventable deaths; they can also dissuade people from paying attention to and accepting scientific revelations backed with evidences such as climate change or even the dangers that lack in society as people engaging in rampage shooting which are dismissed as government conspiracies.
Further these conspiracies which sometime tend to wildly irrational can put the lives of people involved in danger. An example is the Hillary Clinton’s case where she was accused of being involved in a child-sex ring operated from a restaurant and one consumer of such information choose to show their disdain by shooting at the restaurant. Further there are numerous organizations which are out to do good for the society, but theories developed and projected by conspiracy theorists paint them out to be fronts for such secret societies as illuminati that are only out to destroy democracy and install a one world order. These theories plant seeds of distrust for organizations, governments and leads to wrong perceptions.
Therefore even conspiracy theories continue to represent an alluring outlook that appeal to their believers, provide coping mechanism, make them feel special and unique and all their other factors that drive people to them, theorist should take caution and consider carefully before coming up with one of these theories since even though they might seem quite a sport, they bear great weight in the society.