Ask any conspiracy theorist what class of people they find most annoying and they will usually offer one, or all, of the following responses: skeptics, liars, and ignorant, closed-minded people. Now try asking a skeptic the same thing. Yep, you guessed it, they will likely include conspiracy theorists in their list, along with… wait… liars, and ignorant, closed-minded people.
That’s right folks, as you have no doubt guessed from the title, I’m here to bridge the gap and point out that skeptics and conspiracy theorists aren’t that different after all. And look at that, barely a paragraph in and we’ve already found something they have in common. So, let’s see what else we can find…
I’ll avoid the obvious, “we’re all people, blah blah,” and stick to what really matters in terms of the values each group holds dear. And if you really look closely, both skeptics and conspiracy theorists actually seem to hold the same core value. Truth. Wanting to hear it, learn it, and share it. Even if through these actions they are shunned, ridiculed and in some cases, even threatened for doing so.
Convinced yet? If not, try thinking about this…
Both groups do not just take mainstream media and government commentary on face value. Neither blindly accepts “facts” as “truth.” Both skeptics and conspiracy theorists question. They both look harder, closer. They seek the information that is not readily made available to the masses. They research, they fact check, they compare, they study. They educate themselves so they can better understand the information with which they are presented.
So, how did these two like-minded groups wind up on such different sides, working so furiously to discredit each other at every turn? My answer is this. These two groups are simply continuing to do what they do best: looking harder, questioning everything, and fighting to get to the truth. It’s nothing personal, or at least, it shouldn’t be. They really only differ in what they are willing to accept as evidence of their assertions, and wind up relentlessly challenging each other as a result.
Over the years, both terms have become almost dirty words to the mainstream public. Conspiracy theorists are viewed as nutcases, and skeptics are viewed as militant naysayers, with the conclusion often being drawn that both groups should be ignored. As a proud skeptic, I can assure you I am not a militant naysayer. Just as I am sure that if there are any conspiracy theorists reading this, that you are not all nutcases.
In life, some of the most enjoyably spirited debates are between people who hold opposing views. And both groups can learn so much from each other, as long as minds are kept open and arguments are kept impersonal.
Whatever side of the fence you sit on, remember, that by looking harder, questioning everything, and relentlessly pursuing the truth even in the face of ridicule, you are doing more for this world than those that idly sit back and accept everything the media tells them as fact. Being right or wrong doesn’t matter here. What matters is taking the time to think, wonder, and look closer before falling into automatic agreement.
Keep it up, all of you. And remember that when you do find yourself in debate with someone from the other camp, to keep it respectful. Because we really aren’t so different after all. And because healthy debates between skeptics and conspiracy theorists are not only fun, they can help push the world toward being a better place.