Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Keeping an open mind ...

In an article in Al Messa, Egypt, the author struggles to present his conspiracy-inclined thinking as a mind open to possibilities.

"There is ambiguity surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaida. The U.S. president announced the news himself, and many factions have accepted it as truth, while many other factions have denied it, especially after the announcement that the corpse was buried at sea. If the assassination is not true, claiming that it is will be political suicide for Obama. If it is true, Obama’s popularity will increase and he will secure another presidential win.

The various reactions to bin Laden’s death — that is, if he truly was killed — are now visible. There were people saddened by bin Laden’s death; they have described him as the “Lion of Islam.” There were also those who were pleased, who gloated about bin Laden’s death and called him the “Killer of History” and the “Arab Hitler.” Between the grief and contentment a third group was dedicated to silence.

The operation to assassinate bin Laden, as viewed by Western media, was massive; it ended a 10-year chase. The question is now what? If the assassination did occur, expect actions of revenge against American interests in many countries of the world. This is widely known. If the assassination did not occur, then America has taken its right from bin Laden, who was accused of masterminding 9/11, which took the lives of 3,000 innocent people. Still, the accusations about 9/11 are strongly doubted. A century could pass without the publication of the facts — a situation similar to what happened after President John F. Kennedy's assassination 47 years ago.

The whole world doubts the official 9/11 story and still doubts that a single man like bin Laden could commit 9/11. He could very well be an instrument, but the planning and logistics extended beyond his skill and knowledge. Our thoughts take us to the CIA, which already announced its involvement with bin Laden at the time of 9/11.

We will consider that bin Laden killed 3,000 in the World Trade Center in New York and we will consider that his assassination yesterday was a service to justice and retribution. We also want our rights from George W .Bush and Tony Blair, who have killed a million Iraqis in an unjustified and illegitimate war. We also want our rights from Sharon, Obama, Peres, Olmert and Netanyahu, who killed thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese. I demand our rights from every Israeli leader starting from Levi Eshkol, Ben Gurion even Golda Meir and Menachem Begin, who have committed innumerable massacres and stole an entire country. Isn’t that justice, Mr. Obama, if your own goal in hunting bin Laden was to serve of justice? We are waiting for the truth on bin Laden’s death and how justice will be achieved by the righteous."

Why are conspiracy theories so quick to spread in the Middle East?

One possible answer:

"Conspiracy theories are also a natural response when you live in an authoritarian state: you're powerless, and in many ways the government really is conspiring against you. [...]

...Unfortunately, if you've been cast in a conspiracy theory, there's not much you can do about it. Counterargument is exactly what the conspiracy theorists expect from you -- in fact, it may make the theorizing more intense. The best thing to do, Gray concludes, is ignore the conspiracy theorists: "Most anti-Catholic and anti-Mason conspiracies in the United States have atrophied this way."

My own speculation is that cultures and societies that are prone to superstitions provide fertile ground for conspiracy theories.

This research, done by t
he University of Texas at Austin and published in Science, proposes that:

"Individuals who lack control seek to find and impose order in the world through superstition, rituals and conspiratorial explanations ...

The research was done by lead author Jennifer Whitson, an assistant professor at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, in collaboration with Adam Galinsky, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Through a series of six experiments, the researchers showed individuals who lacked control were more likely to see images that did not exist, perceive conspiracies and develop superstitions.

“The less control people have over their lives, the more likely they are to try and regain control through mental gymnastics,” said Galinsky. “Feelings of control are so important to people that a lack of control is inherently threatening. While some misperceptions can be bad or lead one astray, they’re extremely common and most likely satisfy a deep and enduring psychological need.”

According to Whitson and Galinsky, that psychological need is for control, and the ability to minimize uncertainty and predict beneficial courses of action. In situations where one has little control, the researchers proposed that an individual may believe that mysterious, unseen mechanisms are secretly at work. "

So, with the liberation of Egypt from Mubarak's yoke and people gaining more control over their life and systems of governance, can we look forward to a time when an article such as the one quoted about will be laughed at by the Egyptian public?

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