Pithy Introduction

I’ve been interested in ‘Belief’ now for several years. As a former dualist theist turned quasi-deist materialist I’m both curious as to how people form beliefs and hold on to them. I’ve moved from believer to sympathetic believer to skeptic and I’ve come to the conclusion that people are irrational no matter which side of the fence they actually sit. Conspiracy Theories (probably likely to be known as CTs hereafter on this blog) are a good example of exactly this kind of ‘thing.’ Whether you are a believer or a skeptic, right wing or left, Penn Jillette or Lyndon LaRouche you have likely bought into at least one conspiracy theory. If you haven’t… Well, you just aren’t paying attention. Fact: conspiracies have occurred, are occurring and will occur again in the future.The question is whether it is rational to believe in them.Ontology and Epistemology is my game; ontology tells you exists, which events are occuring versus those that aren’t. Epistemology (well, theories within epistemology) explain which of these ontological facts you can be said to have warrant, or rational belief, in. Thought experiment: assume that there is a God (ontological fact in this experiment) but that this God has given us no evidence of its existence. God exists but there is no reason to believe in it. Second thought experiment (an historical one): Observing the heavens you realise that the Sun is stationary and it is the Earth that orbits it. Prior the invention of the telescope you would be hard pressed to show that this theory is better than its rival, geocentric model. Belief is contextual; without a telescope to show that the orbits of the inner planets and outer planets support the idea that the Earth is between them and orbitting around the Sun the rival theory is equally as rational. Wrong but rational.Rationality, as a philosopher will tell you, isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.I’m writing a PhD dissertation on Conspiracy Theories. I’m curious as to whether we should, or should not, believe in a) the existence of Conspiracy Theories in general and b) the existence of specfic Conspiracy Theories. My research is primarily on the philosophical material, i.e. the epistemology, but you can’t help but read about and into the pyschological and sociological aspects of Conspiracy Theories. As I can’t really deal with that material in my dissertation I’m going to blog it instead. Think of ‘All Embracing but Underwhelming’ as a series of research notes that, I hope, will be written up in a nice, easy to understand manner.So, without further ado, let the blogging commense.