Saturday, October 2, 2010

Conspiracy theories...

...are mostly bullshit. There, I said it. Here's the thing about conspiracy theories: once you amass a certain amount of facts and data, there's bound to be correlations and convergences. However, as every statistician will tell you, correlation does not mean causation. One would be hard pressed not to find correlations when one is dealing with that much data. This doesn't mean one should be drawing lines from one phenomena to another.

Somebody slipped a pamphlet under our apartment door the other day. Once I had muddled my way through its almost incomprehensible grammar, I realized the intent of the publication. I was being warned that the Canadian government has been installing sub-dermal microchips into the infants of the poor, with the intention of tracking them. The government was actively targeting Native peoples. This alarming "fact" was substantiated by the author advising the reader to do a "Google search" and see for themselves.

Well, sir, you anonymous visionary, that's pure and simple bullshit, and I can show that with some extremely quick and elementary logic.

Cui bono? Who benefits?

Why in the world would the government want to track poor people? What possible financial benefit could be made off such a tactic? None, of course. There's no reason to track anybody, especially through such an expensive and labour-intensive proposition as sub-dermal microchips. The vastness and intricacy of this conspiracy completely derails its plausibility. First of all, who in their right mind thinks that the government is well-organized enough to pull this off without letting something slip? Secondly, wouldn't the chips show up in any X-ray or MRI? And suppose it did, every single doctor in Canada would have to be in on it so as to keep a lid on things.

The problem with conspiracy theories, this one included, is that for every step required to sustain the conspiracy, there are more people and more chances of screw-ups. In reality, government programs and plans take years to implement, and often take years to iron out details. With a conspiracy, everybody from the top down must be able to keep their mouths shut and be constantly aware of the plot. But this wouldn't work. Try keeping a secret in an office, and see how long it stays secret.

It's more realistic to think that any real "conspiracies" in the world are simply business deals between businesses and government from the civic level all the way to the national level. There's too much money to be made in legitimate business for corporations and governments to be messing around with secret societies.

Conspiracy theories tend to speak to the lonely and disenfranchised, but in our highly technological and connected world, everybody with access to Google thinks they're cracking the secret of the Kennedy assassination.

Occam's Razor demands that the simplest explanation is always the correct explanation. Is it too much to believe that the government is just too inept to pull off something on this scale?

EDIT: Okay, so I was wrong about Occam's Razor. In fact, I misinterpreted wildly. If you'd like to read a very simple explanation about Occam's Razor, click here. What I should have said in the post was that Occam's Razor asks us not to invent unnecessary explanations for a hypothesis. At least I think that's it.

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