Letter to the Editor: My theory of your theory 

Democracy requires facts, proof, and communication of those.

Autocracy requires believing the leader.

The reason people believe such alarming theories, is that something was missing in their lives. And along comes an alluring, seductive theory, and it makes them feel hopeful. It fills a void, a hole, that had ached to be filled. They then found they belonged to a group and the group supported them, and the part of themselves that wasn’t whole, now was. The leader might say he’s removing white disenfranchisement, or that a vote was rigged, or that an epidemic is not real, all without proof, but none is needed for his followers.

This has happened with spiritual groups, it happened in Germany, and in Cuba. It has spawned wars. And once someone agrees to believe in a theory, they must begin defending it. They will reject any proof that their belief is misguided by citing another theory, without proof, that the facts supporting their beliefs are being hidden and or covered up by those who oppose their beliefs. It becomes a self-fulfilling belief and there can be no external intervention.

I was talking with my UPS driver the other day, knowing he is a believer in the popular theory that the election was rigged, and he looked up at the sky, smiled, and said, “Ah, but what if it’s true!”  That was when I saw  how people can believe in such outlandish theories. They believe because of the allure, because of the seductive possibility.  It’s like believing there might be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The reality is there is no end to any rainbow. If you don’t believe me try driving or walking to a rainbow’s end. It’s the same with conspiracy theories. Try getting to their core, to the basis for the theory, and guess what? It won’t exist. All that exists is the theory and the seductive hope that it’s true. Or, as my UPS driver says with his large, friendly smile, “Ah, but what if it’s true!”

Peter Skeels

Lake Almanor

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