Recently, I was criticized for defending Alex Jones by pointing out that the alternative to his “conspiratorial mindset” is far too often the narcissistic fallacy of believing in a just world with good leaders who unfortunately happen to be misinformed or simply more stupid than these oh-so-clever guys in the comment section. We could call it the “If only the Führer knew”-fallacy. The narcissism of this fallacy not only lies in the belief that the ruling class consists out of people who are far less intelligent than oneself (in my experience, these people often like to point to their STEM degree or their experience as a small business owner), but also in the belief that mere words (“facts” and statistics) can cause a fundamental change in the world. It is probably rooted in childhood, since children experience that their utterances can change the behavior of their parents who comfort crying children, bring them something to eat, etc.
In contrast, the root of all mature and critical thinking is a concept of interests and a recognition of The Other not necessarily being ‘benevolent but misinformed’, but simply having other interests than oneself. It is the root of critical thinking since the very first peasant realized that His Graciousness The God Emperor isn’t simply misinformed about poor folk’s plight and the way his aristocracy behaved, but simply had other interests; it is the root of all critical thinking since the first Christian slave realized that winning a theological debate and winning his freedom were two very different things. (Talking about slaves, this is also something white people could learn from “people of color”, because only very seldomly do the latter believe that the ruling class has their very best interests in mind but, alas, is only misinformed.)
Of course, the ruling class wasn’t simply misinformed when they, for example, “accidentally” murdered and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Syrians, was not simply misinformed and incompetent when they “accidentally” destroyed these countries and now put millions of dollars into groups and media outlets that promote open borders, in order to import cheap labor, to drive down the wages and to drive up rents. One can point to witty Churchill quotes about democracy and remarks about not attributing to malice what you can to incompetence, till the cows come home, but they won’t change that their is a) a ruling class, that b) all political power grows out of the barrel of a gun that needs to be payed and that c) this class has interests that are probably not the same as yours. (If you want a catchy little quote try something along the lines of, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”)
Richard Dawkins once had the genius idea of describing memes (e.g. ideas, religious and cultural norms, etc.) as cultural analogues to genes; both replicating, mutating and responding to selective pressures. Some having an advantage to replicate, some having a disadvantage to replicate. I don’t know his exact wording anymore but he says something along the lines of “turned up speakers.” Teachers, college professors, journalists, “activists” and artists are essentially the “meme replicators” of the ruling class; the latter handing the former “turned up speakers” so they replicate those (and only those!) memes the ruling class likes.
“Conspiracy theory” simply is a pejorative term for statements that claim to explain the relationship between important events and unknown or only partly known arrangements between people with power. Theories are supposed to bring order into chaos, to offer a comprehensive view and a generalized explanation of related phenomenons. But the good little servant is supposed to immediately associate such statements with a low-status man with a tinfoil hat rambling about the lizard people. He is only supposed to think that everything is terribly complicated and that no one really has an answer, except maybe these experts on TV, and that we’re ruled by good people who are just trying to figure out ways how they could create the best of all possible worlds for us.
These stereotypical “tinfoil hats” who believe in lizard theories obviously exist (just like disagreements about the relevance of, say, racial or class interests exist) and you can get lost on your path to discover the truth. But while it might not be guaranteed that you discover the truth once you take the trip, it is guaranteed that you will not discover it if you never try to see how deep the rabbit hole goes. Only if you follow the rivulets of interests can you discover the spring of truth itself.