How do you spot a conspiracy theory/theorist? I’ve been thinking about this over the past few day as I’ve done a bit of digging into the anatomy of conspiracy theories. You will have seen on my YouTube videos and my articles here that my view is there is primarily one conspiracy theory, a spine running throughout history if you like.
In fact, we can kind of divide people between those who believe that this is a good and ordered world which we can make sense of as we observe it and those who believe we live in a chaotic world which we cannot make sense of because true reality is hidden from us and goes on in secret. The latter view has its tentacles in many religious beliefs including Gnosticism and its roots in the lie that Satan told Adam and Eve, Throughout history this lie shows up from time to time in the belief that there is some shadowy cabal of religious leaders, politicians or wealthy men who control everything in secret. The world is divided between those who know and those who remain uninitiated. The theory is expressed in various forms including a suspicion of financiers and big tech as well as having racial overtones when it spills out as antisemitism. In fact the latter is often there, lurking in the background even when not expressed overtly.
Clues that you are talking with a conspiracy theorist include when they start to use phrases like:
“If you had seen what I’ve seen/knew what I know”
“Of course I didn’t get it until I started to investigate things recently”
“Well if you cannot see it, I cannot help you.”
The last is important because notice the crushing finale. You are now beyond help. Those words also seem to indicate the end of a conversation and of relationship. Conspiracy Theories are about building unhealthy relationships. They are shared so that we will become dependent upon the Conspiracy Theorists. They are there to help us by initiating us into their special, secret knowledge. We are meant to identify with and seek help with saviour figures. Notice how Qanon is meant to encourage us to see Donald Trump as such a saviour figure.
This means also that the aim of the Conspiracy Theory is to cause fear. There is the big clue. I am reminded that “Perfect Love casts out fear.” Real truth sets you free from fear, draws you into the perfect love of Christ and gives you hope.