Conspiracy theories the new religion

You used to be laughed at if you believed in conspiracy theories and not the truth. Now the tables are turned. You aren’t normal if you don’t believe in them. 

I am really having a hard time with the internet and humans at the moment. I have spoken a few years ago about the ridiculousness of conspiracy theories. People who have revisionistic ideas about how they view past events and some atrocities claiming certain things didn’t take place.

I want to know why people believe in conspiracy theories and can this be linked in the same way that humans attach religion to themselves by giving their lives meaning, purpose and hope.

The fact that as humans we look for an explanation of events and occurrences. We want to know why things happen. The part of our brain the amygdala is the thing that kick-starts the processes of emotion. It starts out processing fear of something so when we are confronted with that which should scare us into running eg. enormous cat with a mallet chasing after us.

Our evolutionary brain helps us decide that which is a real or false threat. Then we look for the reason why something happened. One assumes that in child-psychology and development as a young person grows constantly as the question  ‘why?’ – a characteristic that parents no doubt will attest.

Our brains are processing that all that information and it’s not to say some conspiracy theories are all false, some do in fact turn out to be true. Someone, like myself, claims to be a free-thinker we are able to process quite clearly that which is true and that which is complete bullshit.

Take for example these posts from The Daily Star I have collected over the last year. These are all headline news topics written and presented to get you to (click bate) click and read. If you were to only get your news and information from this one site you probably be a nervous wreck unsure whether to the world is coming to end by either freezing to death, nuclear war or being fried in your own juices due to a heatwave.

c9f9dc7440e8630d49efa3fe9ab579bf

30f143f902a08f8c2870b106f78df411

When I was researching this post I found it fascinating that some people have a propensity to believe in conspiracy theories and this then moves on to confirmation bias. So even if you have all the facts in front of you people will still tend to trust their own thoughts and beliefs. That which you think is true is confirmed eg. all Chinese people eat green rice. You will seek out that information which confirms your belief rather than rationally choosing to look over information provided to form a new opinion. You don’t challenge facts and information even though you are told otherwise which leads to belief perseverance.

Every time I hear or read of some spurious claim on social media I have to test the information rather than relaying it others to make sure I am not sharing blatant lies. Our connection to social media now has allowed being sucked into all sorts of conspiracies and falsehoods.

Religion tends to rely on higher powers and hierarchical structures to confirm and guide people in all situations. Lots of people will claim that they are not a slave to anyone else yet allow facebook sites, twitter accounts, fanatical leaders to provide them with their own assumptions of the world.

So for me, I think those people who dance behind the pied-pipers of conspiracy theories are just the same as those who readily make decisions about their own lives according to how their holy scriptures or priests tell them. There’s no such thing as a free-thinking follower of religion neither is there someone who subscribes to organisations who promote and encourage ridiculous conspiracies.

Advertisements

Visit my Mosque

Over 200 Mosques across the UK opened their doors on the 18th February 2018. The theme this year was Open Doors, Open Mosques, Open Communities

I certainly felt a warm welcome, not only from the people at the desk signing you in but from all people who were involved in the open day. People were willing to answer questions you had about the everyday running of the Mosque to the plans for the future of the building.

The whole area is currently undergoing a huge building project where the Mosque – which looks unlike any other I have seen – will be built. It will certainly be a fitting sight and with a modern appearance be an asset to those living in the west end of Newcastle.

10854919_458247941007641_7265474683222165426_o

I had the privilege to see the plans for the new mosque it’s to be one of the greenest and ecologically sound constructions built in modern Newcastle. Its general theme seems to coincide with nature and inspires people to connect with the rich resources that the earth provides.

img_3096.jpg

I spent some time talking to some of the women of Mosque about their appearance and dress and how it was important to their own religious belief. There are a lot of misconceptions and general ignorance when it comes to how women in Islam present themselves.

IMG_3211.jpg

My view is where do you get your information from regarding Islam? Do you read the headlines that demean and misinform? Or do you go to the people who live, breathe and work for the religion?

I wouldn’t rely on the Beano to inform me of the British way of life. I wouldn’t ask right-wing groups on their opinion of Islam and other religions. I would ask the people who represent it.

IMG_3210.jpg

As I said to the people in the Mosque religious education in the UK has been abysmal for decades. Once people were schooled in religion and the knowledge of Christianity. Even that seems to be pitiful and lacking in certain parts of the education system. Always maligned and ridiculed as unnecessary for future life beyond the walls of school. I think its probably one of the most important subjects, especially for these times where lies have been planted into people.

Logic vs Feelings

“Insufficient facts always invite danger, Captain.”

“Space Seed,” Season 1, Episode 22

A quote from Mr. Spock in an episode of Star Trek where he chooses to see all the facts before making a decision. You have to look at facts before you can come to any conclusion.

How many stories over the past few weeks have we heard about the ‘absence of facts and evidence’. Taking, for example, the criminal court cases of rape against a number of young men. The cases have collapsed due to more evidence and facts being produced.

Unknown

Another instance where a family has taken their court challenge against medical experts whether or not a child has their life support withdrawn, echoing the heart-breaking case of Charlie Gard, I wrote about last year.

I looked on twitter after the National Television Awards to see a certain programme who had won an award for drama. Some complained and said that another fact-based drama should have taken its place “after all it was based on a true story”.

Our ability to objectively see life is driven by our feelings and not logic. I think this has become a real problem in 21st-century society. We should do and act based on our feelings, rather than the facts that are presented before us. It’s a dangerous path to follow as consequences occur after our feelings have been enacted.

feelings

Take for example the terrorist Darren Osborne his thoughts and feelings had been catastrophic in events that took place in June last year. His intent was murder. He had been reading far-right material that changed his mindset and turned him into a serious criminal. His feelings towards Muslims had been radicalised and those thoughts turned to what he perceived to be revenge.

We all make decisions in life from the morning we wake until the time we sleep. We can choose to act on feelings but most of the time it is governed by logic. I feel like staying in bed all day (like a lot of people) but we know we have to get up and deal with tasks during the day to function correctly.

We chose to make decisions about life and beliefs in all walks of life. Click on an ordinary video on youtube. Say for example The Beatles – Yesterday everyone knows the song. A simple inoffensive song about love from the most famous band in the world written and released in 1965. Most people would say ‘yes it’s a nice song’ or ‘its okay’ and others might not like it. So you have a thousand people disliking this song. My attitude is to think if I dislike something not to totally dismiss it and press the dislike button but realise to others that this song has meaning and it’s not hurting anyone. Why press the dislike button but rather allow others to have an enjoyment of the song?

You could say the same for other people’s beliefs in life. Take for example Jacob Rees-Mogg. I don’t agree with his views on gay rights and find his opinions on abortion abhorrent and small-minded. But he has the right to say them as he is entitled to his opinion.

My mother didn’t like a Marc Chagall painting I used to hang over my fireplace. Saying rather that it should be in my bedroom than the living room. But the fireplace was mine and the painting stayed. Just because she didn’t like the painting was inconsequential, the fireplace was mine not hers.

Decisions in life have to her governed by thoughts, opinions and logic rather purely how we feel about things. I am not saying I am perfect certainly far from it. If it was all logical decisions about my life I would like a greek god rather than the size of a greek temple. I make bad choices for most of the time but I would like to think I was able to exercise right in allowing others to speak and sometimes I do listen. I don’t automatically press the dislike button just because that type of music (rave) is total garbage. I don’t react to others opinion on art just because they feel it is good.

Hopefully we can all think a little more like Spock.

chagall

Chester Bennington

What do we do when someone we know commits suicide? How do we handle it? Do we mock them for being weak and ‘taking the easy way out’? Do we simply brand the person selfish? If only the answers to those questions were that simple.

I have tried to commit suicide. There I said it. I’ve wanted to. I don’t feel ashamed of saying it, but I am not proud of it. I don’t wear as a badge in a ‘feel sorry for me’ statement. My mental health has reached crisis point and it’s acknowledging that it’s got so serious.

Others have mocked people who have tried to take their own lives. A simple disruption to someones travel plans of a few minutes is met with derision on social media if they have found out that it was due to someone’s action at that critical point. It was someone on the lines or someone at the top of a building; cue the insults.

I don’t wish my worst enemy the thoughts of suicide. Believe me. If you have been there you know what it is like. Nothing that you could ever put into words or have a go at describing.

Chester Bennington’s death seems to some a natural consequence of a rock star lifestyle.

“He struggled for years with alcohol and drugs addiction” as is often reported in these cases. So do a lot of people, despite their wealth or fame, but suicide isn’t inevitable. It is the treatable manageable disease of depression which causes it. Depression and mental health problems aren’t helped by substance abuse although people seek short-term fixes to alleviate the suffering.

I have come to terms with my suicidal thoughts, I acknowledge them. If they get bigger than I can handle I know I have to seek help. Recognising they are serious is the first step. Stopping yourself getting to that crisis point by telling someone else you are feeling this way. I have done it numerous times. People will be happy enough to stick with you if they are good friends. It’s the pain of not reaching out to someone at that point that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Tim Farron – God before politics

Tim Farron (the leader of the Liberal Democrats) resigned today stating that he couldn’t reconcile his faith with his party’s politics, which begs to differ why he entered into the party in the first place, know their views on abortion and gay rights.

He became a committed Christian in 1988 and has held evangelical views for a number of years. But after all this time, why does he feel the need to ditch politics? Does he feel now he has reached a tipping point? Or was it really the fact that the LDs need a leader who represents the whole of society, rather than restrictive views which aren’t reflective of 21st century Britain.

Regardless of what you believe in a religious context the great good has to precede your idea of what should be happening in society. This is more apparent with the DUPs belief that all abortion should be made illegal. It comes from religion rather than a rational viewpoint which takes into consideration the life and the circumstances of the mother. Black and white thinking and relative morality has its past in 18th-century beliefs the majority has moved on.

 

 

Easter as a Humanist

My religious past is there for all to see. Majority of the friends I have were met at church and youth events related to the church. I have known some for over thirty years and count them as closer than my actual family. But when it comes to religious events during the year it’s a different thing.

During the 80s and some of the 90s, I used to take part in a walk of a witness on Good Friday which was a silent walk from the Catholic Church in the town to the bottom of the front street to the marketplace. I took part in music and drama during this time as a witness to my Christian beliefs.

Easter-1a-1024x512.jpg

As a humanist, I see these religious events in a different light. I don’t think someone should be ridiculed for any religious belief that they hold but I myself have no belief in them. I still like to listen to music of The Sixteen as it has beautiful, calming, relaxing feel and much like reading a book provides escapism.

Ricky Dillon

I had to write this post basically because the minute I started to type anything that resembled words on someone else’s site I am immediately accused of things I am not.

I make it my policy not to argue with people on the internet as it’s entirely pointless. You’re shouted down before you can type the full stop on the keyboard

Yes the missing . is intentional. I have had to explain statements or jokes. You can’t leave a little quip without being questioned or having to explain what something is funny.

I come to my subject of a YouTuber who hasn’t a clue who he wants to be or what he had done or how he actually wants to live his life. This guy isn’t 12 or even 18 he is a man of 24 years which means he’s allowed to shape the political sphere with his vote or mortgage a house and get married. He’s a grown up.

That’s where reality seems to end and fantasy seems to begin. He recently “came out” (good for him!) “as an asexual” (oh okay). Not something that I have had too much experience. So I will dig around a bit and see what comes up.

Asexuality according to some definitions seems to be the lack of attraction to either sex. There is neither desire or want of physical need. A person will not seek out intimacy from another person. Nothing wrong with that I thought. There are millions of people around the world who are like this.

Then we come to Ricky Dillon. To me he is anathema. Someone who I think gives a bad name to the LGBT community. What he says in his videos is riddled with contradictions and sometimes outright lies. I find honesty, stability and articulation an attractive quality. Ricky doesn’t bring this to the table. His confusing ramblings seem to suggest a man who is unable to determine his life.

Someone’s sexuality is usually determined by the end of their teenage years. I know it can take some time to truly understand your sexual identity and people do have a lifelong struggle even to come to terms with it. Some don’t even fully accept who they are choosing instead to live a life trying to change who they are.

In my opinion, he is confusing not only himself and giving out the wrong message that gender identity is somehow fluid and come and goes like the tide. It doesn’t. You know if you are a puff or not if you then accept it.