What Are Conspiracy Theories All About?

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I have had a number of requests to address conspiracy theories as there is an epidemic of them these days and some of them are proving to be quite dangerous to the national well-being. First, let’s understand what a conspiracy is and then understand what motivates people to start or follow them. Here are a couple of definitions of ‘conspiracy’ just so we are on the same page about what they are.

A conspiracy is:

1. A secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful: “He joined a conspiracy to mutiny on the high seas.”

2. A combination of persons plotting for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose: “She joined the conspiracy to overthrow the government.”

3. Regarding the law: an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act. “They planned a ponzi scheme to bilk thousands of elderly people out of their money.”

Conspiracies typically involve plans, schemes, plots, deception, secrets and intrigue.

So why do people engage in conspiracies? Undoubtedly conspiracies have been around since humans have been on the planet. People conspire to get what they want – often to take over power, control, or to dominate others, sometimes for goods and wealth, or simply to get rid of someone who they don’t like or who stands in the way of their larger plans. Conspiracies can be as small as two people planning for a bank robbery, or involve thousands of people as in drug running schemes or government takeover plots. Planning a conspiracy is also a risky act that involves adventure, adrenaline rush, companionship, and the promise of great victory so it is a rather compelling and attractive activity. In a word, planning a conspiracy can be great fun in a stressful kind of way. This is what motivates people to start conspiracies or contribute to them in some way. Then there are the people who actually promote conspiracies to discredit the people who are supposedly involved in them; for example Hillary Clinton supposedly running a pedophile organization. That is another layer of intrigue altogether.

Conspiracies actually do a lot for people who engage in them. To be ‘in the know’ about a conspiracy gives people a sense of pride that they are special, part of an elite few that know the truth, unlike all the saps that don’t know. Telling other people about the conspiracy they have uncovered makes them feel superior and powerful. This all gives them a sense of having more control over their lives and feeling not so helpless in times that are chaotic and confusing. Fighting the conspiracy gives them a sense of purpose and a mission that makes them feel like a heroine or a hero, fighting the bad guys.

The big deal today, rather than actively being involved in a conspiracy, is accusing other people of belonging to vast conspiracies in order to discredit them. This is part of the great polarization between groups of people that is a hallmark of these times. The main characteristic of this polarization is suspicion. So, let’s look at suspicion for a moment. Skepticism is part of pair of attitudes (skeptic-idealist) that are found in approximately twenty five percent of all human beings. There are about fifteen percent idealists and ten percent skeptics in the population but we have to consider that idealists can slide over to skepticism about twenty percent of the time so that adds considerably to the number of people at any given time that are highly skeptical.

Skepticism is not a negative trait. In fact, it can be quite useful. Skeptics make good detectives, investigators, journalists, mechanics, researchers, scientists, and often work in jobs that require an investigative mind. When working out of the positive pole they make sure that the facts are straight and that the truth is told. However, the negative pole of skepticism is suspicion that can come from bias or a subjective perspective. Here we are not talking about the kind of suspicion that comes from strong intuition or indications that an engine is malfunctioning and the plane should not leave the ground. The kind of suspicion we are talking about here is more likely based on racism, bigotry, and the like. Looking more closely at this type of suspicion it is evident that it is fear based, coming from prejudices and closed mindedness toward a certain group of people or a person’s heritage or even gender and sexual orientation.

When a person is highly suspicious of the motives of another or a group of people they are likely to think the worst of them. Their fear leads them to suspect the other of crimes, of secret destructive motives or of plotting or planning to harm them. This of course is the early stage of paranoia which can grow to insane proportions if allowed to progress. The problem in all this is that fear tends to beget more fear and the fear keeps growing along with the suspicions becoming stronger and more pronounced. As the fear mounts it can begin to overtake reason and the person will start to entertain wild and crazy fantasies about what the others are doing including colluding with reptilian aliens to take over the planet.  They begin a process of collecting evidence to prove their theories but in an interesting way; they do not gather real evidence but mostly hearsay coming from radio programs, podcasts, television programs, youtube videos of so called ‘experts’ saying what they think is true. They repeat these theories verbatim claiming that this is evidence that it is true. Basically what they are saying is that because others think this it must be true, especially if they are an authority of some kind or other.  The more religious-minded will tend to point to prophesies of various types, especially related to the bible and special codes that when decoded reveal the extent of the so called conspiracies.

A complication is that every so often a conspiracy turns out to be true and we know that intermittent reinforcement is the strongest kind of reinforcement. So conspiracy theorists can have their convictions strongly reinforced by the occasional incidents when a true conspiracy is revealed.

So who are the people who are most prone to believing in conspiracies? We already talked about the skeptics in the negative pole and the idealists who slide to skepticism on occasion. In addition, younger less mature souls tend to be the most fearful because they are less experienced in the art of being a human. These would fall into the category of toddler souls who are characterized by being rule oriented, more rigid in their thinking, more orthodox and traditional in their viewpoints. Because, like toddlers, they need the structure of a smaller sandbox, they tend to believe authorities without question, their ministers and priests, their politicians, and their doctors. Like children they will often spout the beliefs of these authorities verbatim. They are then very vulnerable to manipulation by unscrupulous dictators, tyrants, cult leaders, and power mad authorities of different types. They are too often cannon fodder for gurus, cult leaders, and especially politicians who use them in various unfortunate ways but who often do not have respect for them. If, for example, a politician finds it beneficial to spread a conspiracy (lie) about their opposition, they can count on these followers to spread it like wildfire because they are vulnerable to that which causes them to feel afraid. Some cult leaders and politicians cynically manipulate these absolutely faithful followers through fear mongering, warning them that their enemies are everywhere, especially immigrants and people that do not look like them, etc. The toddler souls will then believe everything they are told and further will take action to protect themselves usually through violence and force.

There is another process that we can see in the conspiracy theory phenomenon that helps to explain some of the more outrageous beliefs out there on the internet and social media sites.

This is the classic psychological phenomena of projection and reaction formation. Because of their lack of experience and therefore lack of wisdom, many toddler souls keep to themselves and socialize only with people who behave like they do. Among these groups unfortunately there is a high incidence of incest, pedophilia, domestic and child abuse and other in-house dysfunction. Remember – toddler souls are frightened of everything and so the men are frightened of women, the women are frightened of men, and the children often become the victims of this fear. Often these dysfunctional homes are the ones with the strictest religious views. All you have to do is look at the Catholic church these days to see a very high incidence of sexual dysfunction and pedophilia in the ranks of their priesthood, obviously not practicing what they preach.

Young souls are often perpetrators too because they are like latency-age children, and tend to bully those younger than they are in biological age. They often use children for their own satisfaction as can readily be seen in the Jeffery Epstein scandal involving hundreds of young girls and the Olympics gymnastics scandal involving a predator doctor. About 12 years ago there was a big scandal when it was discovered how many images of pedophilia were available on the web. At that time checkers had discovered tens of thousands of child pornography images and they tried to get the attention of the authorities to do something about this but despite some self-righteous denouncements nothing was done at all. Recently the count of images has surpassed many millions of images having grown exponentially in the intervening years. How could this happen? The truth is that many people – including ones in authority such as judges, police, ministers, military officers, and politicians are active pedophiles and they all have each other’s backs. Nothing was done because they are the wolves in the henhouse. What better way to draw off the attention than to create conspiracy theories about movie stars and certain more liberal political leaders being involved in pedophile rings knowing that unsophisticated and ignorant people would spread the rumors? Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and a host of others have been accused with absolutely no evidence whatsoever.  Very interesting indeed! Perhaps it would be fruitful to investigate the conspiracy theory creators and some of their followers.

Remember that it is a child’s strategy to point the finger at others when they are caught in a lie or a misdeed. “I didn’t do it, Johnny did.” Is this so hard to see? We tend to believe adults but many of them are no more than children themselves psychologically. Some have the means to make the proper payoffs and bribes to keep out of jail and get their sentences reduced or cancelled. We have already seen this blatantly in recent scandals.

So, the phenomenon of conspiracy theories is an interesting and highly dysfunctional aspect of American society at this time. As long as money buys protection and a good old boy system works to protect the backs of the perps, they will continue. Sometimes mature souls get caught up in the gameplaying without realizing they have been hoodwinked. This is often true about vaccination conspiracies and areas where people suspect that huge profits are being made at the cost of public health. This greed practice of the economy has fueled peoples’ suspicions about medical practices and corporate marketing schemes that are not in the public’s interest. These are situations where there is an aspect of truth but also much distortion.

No, Bill Gates is not a warlock attempting to kill off the elderly to shrink the population through vaccinations. However, too many vaccines have been bungled and given to children much too young and this has exacted a terrible toll on many children whose immune systems have been harmed by this practice. Children need some time to develop neurologically before being subjected to sometimes fifty disease antibodies.  Before they are three months old, this practice is also a form of insanity. So, people don’t know any more what is a conspiracy theory and what is true or false. Looking out into society does not bring clarity. In the end this forces people to use their intuition more to determine what to do about their children’s vaccines or even their own. Perhaps vaccines are not inherently bad but it is the way they are handled that is. Personally, I am glad I was vaccinated for smallpox when I was young. That disease was a real scourge. On the other hand I did manage to survive chicken pox, measles, and mumps without vaccinations, I have never had a flu shot and so far, I am still going strong.


José Stevens

José Luis Stevens, PhD is the president and co-founder (with wife Lena) of Power Path Seminars, an international school and consulting firm dedicated to the study and application of shamanism and indigenous wisdom to business and everyday life. José completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol (Wixarika) Maracame (Huichol shaman) in the Sierras of Central Mexico. In addition, he is studying with Shipibo shamans in the Peruvian Amazon and with Paqos (shamans) in the Andes in Peru. In 1983 he completed his doctoral dissertation at the California Institute of Integral Studies focusing on the interface between shamanism and western psychological counseling. Since then, he has studied cross-cultural shamanism around the world to distill the core elements of shamanic healing and practice. He is the author of twenty books and numerous articles including Encounters With Power, Awaken The Inner Shaman, The Power Path, Secrets of Shamanism, Transforming Your Dragons and How To Pray The Shaman’s Way.

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You may make copies of this writing and distribute it in any media you wish, so long as you do not charge for it or alter it in any way. You must credit the author and include this entire copyright notice. While the text may be shared, no audio files, including lectures, music and/or sound meditations, may be posted on any site for any reason without written permission from the Power Path.

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