Some scientists consider our conspiracy antenna as leftovers of our early ancestors’ defense mechanisms against predators. I prefer to think they are the leftovers of superstition in a defiantly unsusperstitious world. Back in the good old days when Socrates had a daemon, the household its lares or brownie, and the rivers their naiads—or, if you are going to be insistently correct about it, when angels and demons hung around—people could take coincidences as they came, as oddities, but oddities with a rationale behind them. Now that modern unbelief has placed supernatural explanations culturally out of bounds, we are left with human superstitions. The weather you see? It’s the United Nations, or the CIA, or that weird group you read about on that guy’s website that really makes sense if you think about …
No, actually. The brownies made much more sense.
We mock these conspiracy theories, and rightly so; but they fill what seems to be a necessary psychological gap that the acceptance of the supernatural fitted much more naturally and less harmfully. That is no argument, to be sure, for the reality of the supernatural; but it does point out a weakness inherent in the modern thought system. Exile the invisible? Nice thought if you can think it.
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