In reading Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood in my science fiction class this semester, one of the topics that it raised pertains to conspiracy theories. How do we avoid the shoddy thinking that typical conspiracy theories cultivate? And if we do that, being skeptical even of those so-called skeptics, then will we be ill-prepared to spot real conspiracies – since, after all, conspiracies do sometimes occur?
This connects naturally with another topic we touched on, which is ancient aliens (looked at in connection with fiction such as Stargate, as well as people claiming that such things are factual). It is interesting that ideas which are extremely dubious if taken as factually correct are extremely interesting and powerful if explored as fiction. There is surely an interesting point in there somewhere!
Religious fundamentalists seem to particularly like conspiracy theories, and they pop up regularly in science fiction. What, if anything, can we learn from this?
For avoiding conspiracy thinking, see the recent post on the Deeps of Time on why science isn’t unique as a way of knowing.