Query

I’m still overly fixated on the cock. Well, cock-ups, but the previous sentence is far more interesting as a intro. Conspiracy Theories are (usually) stories that provide reasons for an event having obtained (explanations, if you will) (in some cases the theory presents reasons for particular kinds of events obtaining, such as NWO conspiracies that claim that every act of the UN is designed to subvert the sovereignty of the USA). These theories are (usually) detailed and bring together a lot of data, errant or otherwise.

The Cock-up Theory, on the other hand, seems rather vague in re content. It posits a simple theory (most events do not obtain by design, or if they do they are only partial successes) and all the data is then said to fit it because, well, each bit of data is the result of a process and the cock-up theory tells us that these processes are even more complex than we thought, which is why they result in strange occurrences (which resulted due to cocking-up).

Does that seem just a little too trite?

Answer One: Yes, but only because, dear writer, you have mischaracterised the Cock-up Theory of History.

Answer Two: Yes. Yes it does.

Answer Three: No. Although the Conspiracy Theory looks ‘better’ (i.e. seems to do much more work towards in supporting its explanandum) it still rests upon faulty assumptions, et cetera. The Cock-up Theory is still preferable.

Answer Four: Well, that’s your job.

So, gentle readers, which way do you lean? I’m honestly curious about this. I don’t find conspiracy theories compelling but I also don’t find the cock-up competing theory much good either. I’m a ‘Find out why they think X and then show that X isn’t likely after all’ kind of guy.

Thoughts?


About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.

4 comments:

  1. Gahhh, two many of these “(” and these “)” and wine result in a severe brain pain in the first paragraph.

  2. Nonsense. They aren’t even nested. I’ve been known to nest five parenthetical statements before breakfast with nary an affect on the rest of my day.

  3. Cock-up Theory = Chaos Theory for conspiracies? What is the state of Chaos Theory these days anyway – did it just disappear after Michael Crichton started wittering on about it in Jurassic Park?

    And remember, you can’t have “conspiracy” without “piracy”. Arr…

  4. The ‘street cred’ that Chaos Theory had after Jurassic Park quickly disappeared after lay people began to reaslise that they had no idea what they meant by Chaos Theory; it’s still a growing sub-discipline in Math.

    The problem with Chaos Theory is that the theory isn’t really about chaos but the appearance of chaos. Chaos Theory is a deterministic picture of apparent randomness; a process might look haphazard but the underlying mechanisms, when understood properly, aren’t random or chaotic at all. So I suppose that Chaos and Cock really aren’t all that related, unless there is a special underlying mechanic in the Cock-up Theory…

    As for piracy… Well, you can’t have Cock-ups without cock, which just goes to show that the world’s troubles can be scientiifcally blamed on men after all.

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