By Enza Ferreri
This time I wish to talk about the so-called “conspiracy theories”.
What Is the Link between Conspiracy Theories and a Site of Travel to Italy?
You may wonder what an Italian travel website has got to do with this subject.
But the world is round, and many things which seem prima facie unconnected reveal to have unsuspected links.
“Conspiracy theories” is a moniker given to many, if not all, views that are discordant with the dominant thinking. There is an ideological or political presupposition behind this choice of appellative, which is not necessarily based on facts, reality, truth or science, but just on a desire to castigate anti-conformist, or simply non-conformist, opinions.
It’s the voice of power exercising its privilege to silence the opponents.
Now, many of the ideas in the “conspiracy theories” category nowadays are related to coronavirus and Covid-19.
And coronavirus has for over a year been considered a huge obstacle to travel, especially international travel.
Here is the connection with this site, and here is the end of my premise. Now let’s explore the topic.
What Is Science Made of? Theories
There is a current, rather widespread misconception about the meaning of the word “theory”, to which a derogatory connotation has been attached.
But such negative element is out of place.
Some may think, for example, that science is made up of “facts”.
Instead, science is made of theories, complex systems which include several hypotheses and principles of a lower level.
Science is language. It is formed of propositions, or sentences, and concepts.
Such propositions (hypotheses) are interconnected to each other through logic relationships: this forms a system called “theory”, examples of which are, in physics, relativity theory, quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, and so on.
If what the theory says is true (i.e. confirmed – but never definitively demonstrated – by empirical means like observations and experiments), the theory is temporarily considered right (until proof to the contrary); if the theory makes predictions that are empirically disproven, the theory, in the best scientific practise, should be considered false and dismissed, at least after an adequate series of such similar falsifications.
The noun “theory” does not have a connotation of falsity or groundless, far-fetched speculation.
Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton created theories that gave birth to the science of physics.
A theory can turn out to be false but can also turn out to be true.
This is the way every theory should be treated, and not just in the realm of physics, because science is a method that can be applied to any object, and is not defined by a particular field. Physics is simply the discipline with the longest scientific pedigree, the one in which the scientific method is more rigorous.
What are today called “conspiracy theories” should be treated like all theories: they could be right or wrong, true or false.
It should also be remembered that those who talk disparagingly about this or that “conspiracy theory” also support a theory, different but still subject to being investigated and refuted exactly in the same way as the view or position that they attack. I say “attack” because name-calling is not a criticism.
History and Conspiracies
History is full of conspiracies, real conspiracies, some of enormous importance.
Let’s mention just a couple of the best known, from the plot in Ancient Rome to kill Julius Caesar to the 1478 Pazzi Conspiracy to crush the hegemony of the Medici family by a rival Florentine banking dynasty.
Revolutions have always been the result of conspiracies.
Without conspiracies, the history that we know wouldn’t exist, as history would have taken a different course.
This is just a reminder that conspiracies did, do and will exist.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that every time someone describes a conspiracy yet to be discovered such a description is necessarily accurate and factual, but likewise it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is not so.
What To Do in the Face of What the Media Call “Conspiracy Theories”?
Treat them as science, and more in general reason, indicates: assess them on the basis of arguments and evidence in their support before deciding if they have merit or not.
To call something a “conspiracy theory” is not an argument against it, it’s more akin to an insult (similar to the behaviour of calling one’s interlocutor names, particularly politically incorrect ones like “fascist”, when one has run out of answers), and should make you suspicious that the source using that expression is short of “real” arguments.
As the author Philip Giraldi recently wrote: “What is the best way to debunk a conspiracy theory? Call it a conspiracy theory.”