I guess all of us at one point exercise this trait about something or other. How many times have you picked up a TV remote that refused to work, likely because the battery was dead, and kept pressing buttons harder and harder in an effort to squeeze that last bit of juice out of it? (Raises hand)
How many of you in coming up to an elevator where the call light is clearly lit, and yet you’ve pressed the button anyway, confident that the extra push will get the elevator down to you more quickly? (Looks around in annoyance at all the raised hands)
I call that obstinate ignorance. The performing of an action or the verbalizing of a point of view that is completely divorced from logic, coupled with the determination to stay the course, despite any compelling arguments that might come our way.
Lately I’ve noticed a seeming plethora of such instances, on a more global scale.
Take this one:
9/11 was an action undertaken by Jews/the Pentagon.
Muslim extremists were the first to pounce on the idea that Jews deliberately set up the scenario for 9/11 and are quick to point out that Jews either didn’t show up for work that day at the Twin Towers, or else they left the buildings before they crumbled to the ground. It didn’t take long for that piece of filthy nonsense to make the rounds of the conspiracy circuit.
Others think that the warmongers in the Pentagon set it all up. They will tell you that the buildings were so structurally sound that it was impossible for them to come down the way they did, short of the prior existence of strategically placed explosives, and oh my God – the doors to the rooftops were closed AND locked as well, which just proves conclusively that it was an inside job.
I have words to say about this, but am trying my level best to keep this blog as clean as possible. I will tell you however that my digestive system is reacting quite badly right now. I think I may have broken some internal organ.
Or there’s this one:
If we just dialogued with Muslim nations, listened to what they had to say and took them seriously, they wouldn’t hate us.
Some people actually believe this. They think that no one in the Christian west will give Muslims the time of day, and that Muslims resent this and are just “acting out” by indiscriminately killing innocents, all in an effort to be heard. They really believe the problem is one of lack of dialogue.
This last one however really gets my heart racing:
If we’re not careful, we’ll end up with health care just like Canada’s, where you have to wait a year to get cancer treatment.
Usually this is first opined by a health care lobbyist, who in turn influences a senator who repeats it, whose comment then gets picked up by a newspaper or two, after which people at large will tell you their opinion of “socialized medicine”. Ultimately Sarah Palin will tell you about her worries about death panels.
So what do these conspiracy theories have in common?
1) Laziness. Those who repeat these theories have not taken the time to actually do research. Instead, they have listened to one side of the argument only, and in some cases have hoarded the “proofs” in order to seem halfway intelligent when talking about it.
2) Wrong order of argument. Any researcher or scientist will tell you that when you approach an issue, you must do your level best not to come at it with preconceptions. They will tell you to look at all the facts, gather all the evidence, form a hypothesis based upon your evidence, TEST IT, and when you’re sure your hypothesis holds true, adopt your argument as a valid theory. And you should probably hold that theory at arm’s length, in case more data comes to light that tests your theory.
Let’s go back to the first example: 9/11
The illogic here just blows me away. Yes, the doors on the rooftops may well have been closed and locked, preventing folk from escaping by helicopter. I work in a large building too, containing thousands of employees. I frigging guarantee you those rooftop doors are closed and locked. You know why? Because building management doesn’t want to pay extra insurance premiums. It’s a safety issue. Can’t let people climb to the roof where they may ultimately decided to jump off. Not in a corporate building anyway. Not in my apartment building either.
Conspiracists forget the visions of Palestinians shooting their guns off in celebration of 9/11 too. They completely ignore the fact that there are records of the terrorists who went to flight school. There are paper trails everywhere. They don’t want to know the names of Jewish people who died when the buildings collapsed. That would blow their argument wide open.
Conspiracists will point to the damage done at the Pentagon, and will opine that it’s impossible for an airplane to do that. Their illogic won’t even look at the victims of that damage – the people in the Pentagon, some of whom were killed.
Conspiracists will flip the argument around. They will start with their idea, and then they will try to accumulate observations to support their claim. It’s classic. And it stinks.
Let’s go the second example: the idea that we “just need to talk to” Muslim extremists.
Once again, there’s an issue of laziness. A close look at the dogma they espouse will inform the inquiring mind that they’re not the least bit in discussing anything with the Kaffir (which is us). They refer to us as pigs and monkeys, and really – why would anyone in their right minds talk about anything with pigs and monkeys? Also, it’s ok to kill us, because we’re not humans. We’re pigs and monkeys.
No, the only way they’ll stop hating us, is a:) we convert; or b) we die. It’s really as simple as that. And oh by the way: it’s ok for them to tell us whatever we need to hear, if it advances their cause. How is Allah going to blame them for lying to pigs and monkeys?
Don’t take my word for it though. Look it up – the information is everywhere. Keyword: Wahhabism.
And finally we come to the last example: Canadian Health Care. If you think you saw a bee in my bonnet before, just trot this one out in front of me and watch what happens.
The easiest way to learn about Canadian Health Care is to ask a Canadian. Friends of mine on another forum have done just that, and have been mildly surprised at our answers and reactions. Let me state it bluntly: the senators and other politicians who sound warnings about our health care are lying. Some are doing so knowingly but my guess is that most are doing so in obstinate ignorance. Once again, their point is made: Canadian health care is abysmal. And then the lobbyists (two guesses who forms the bulk of the lobbying majority here) will try to round up some facts to support their absurd conclusion.
They will ignore the fact that when I broke my leg recently, I saw a doctor within a half hour on the same day. That I then went to my family doctor the next morning (no waiting for three weeks to see her), received a requisition for an ultrasound and an x-ray which were done in record time.
They will also hide their faces from the facts around my mother’s cancer. The fact that she was diagnosed and received treatment in record time, despite the fact that she lived out in a rural area of the province.
They will also ignore the fact that there are U.S. hospitals where the emergency wait times are roughly five hours, and that Canadian hospitals have comparable wait times. The last time I went to the emergency department, my total stay from the time I went into the hospital to the time I left, was something like three hours.
The reasons all three of the conspiracy theories above have so much traction can be summed up in two words: obstinate ignorance. Too many people are happy to believe what they’re being told; they don’t want to change their mind, and so they have chosen to ignore all contrary data.
Thus the lies grow.