Opinions != Science: a meditation on a dilemma of responsibility

This morning I saw Sept. 11 conspiracy theories in my Facebook feed.

There is so much wrong with this that I don't even know where to begin.

Can we start with gravity? It's not a speed. It's an accelerative force.

Actually, I changed my mind. I shouldn't begin at all because it's not going to make a shred of difference.

The situation is hopeless. People will continue to believe the lies they choose and criticise others for doing the same in the opposite direction.

Maybe we can adapt Newton's third law into a means of accepting that people will find a way to justify their opinions:

For every truth, there is an equal and opposite lie.

At least then it's out of our hands. It's a law of nature.

If I can accept that there's nothing I can do to stop people spouting hateful bullshit that helps no one, then I don't get dragged into an argument about it. Then there is a bit more peace in the world.

On the other hand, if I don't fight ignorance at every turn, am I letting it win? Will it grow and take over?

Maybe, instead of looking at the argument, I need to look behind the argument. Maybe I need to ask why someone is more willing to believe that a secret cabal coordinated a massive lie and cover-up operation after murdering thousands of humans.

I need to find out what is causing them to think that's a more plausible theory than the one we witnessed.

If I can work out how it helps them live, maybe I can provide an alternative source of that same mental or emotional sustanance that won't lead them to cause other people harm.

Because this is what stabs me in the gut whenever I see these conspiracy theories: the people spreading them might not even know how hurtful they are. They don't take into consideration the families who look for closure in their mourning. They don't consider that their accusations can snowball into a lynch-mob looking for an outsider to blame. They don't take into account any of the consequences of their own actions.

They've probably never seen "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street". 

So maybe the solution is sitting them down, making them watch it, and then opening a dialogue about their actions rather than their beliefs.

Because it's not the difference in belief that matters; it's how we act in respect to that belief that impacts our society's stability.

Cool. I have that on DVD. This is going to be easy.