The Seven Orders of a Conspiracy Theory


The Seven Orders of a Conspiracy Theory

By George A. Boyd © 2020

Q: How do conspiracy theories start? How are they different than a realistic view of the world?

A: There appear to be seven orders of a conspiracy theory. The layers that make up these seven orders appear to reify the belief systems of both conspiracy and reality based frames; conspiracy theory deviate from sound logic and facts, or interpret them through a distorted filter. These layers are as follows:

Order

Content

False view
(conspiracy theory)

Correct view
(reality based frame)

1

Supporting Data

Selects data to confirm false premises

Selects data to confirm verifiable and correct data

2

Emotionalized Idea

Creates negative fascination with an idea, which motivates action based on fear, guilt, hatred, or prejudice

Creates sober realization, activates actions based on thoughtful judgment and clear thinking

3

Coherent synthesis

Premises and data construct a false narrative, and puts together a conspiracy theory as an explanation of the selected facts

Premises and data construct an accurate narrative, and a consensual worldview based on verified facts and validated inferences

4

Worldview or mindset

Those who believe the conspiracy theory hold that they access to hidden or secret knowledge that makes them aware of sinister activities that only they are privy to; they ignore data that conflicts with their core beliefs that make up the conspiracy theory

Those who adopt an accurate narrative do not perceive any sinister activities and can find no evidence for them; they rely upon consensually validated knowledge to inform their world view, which changes as new data becomes available

5

Identity

Those who believe in the conspiracy theory identify as a member of a secret group that is dedicated to exposing and defeating perceived evil actors; they may separate themselves from groups or individuals they perceive as evil; more radical groups among believers may attack these individuals or groups that are perceived as evil

Identifies as a member of a diverse society, with people who have many different ways of perceiving the world and who hold different values; the world is not perceived as evil

6

Psychological matrix

As the conspiracy theory becomes integrated into character, it becomes a paranoid system expressed as behavior (paranoid personality disorder), belief (delusional disorder), and ultimately contaminates core identity, giving rise to paranoid schizophrenia

Integrated personality functioning; there is coherence between behavior, belief, and core identity (integrity)

7

Karmic matrix

Accretions of karmic impressions of ignorance, negative passions, and delusion; feelings of upset and rage mark the emergence of these impressions

Accretion of impressions of understanding, integrated knowledge, and wisdom

Q: How could someone realize they are ensnared with a conspiracy theory, and extricate themselves?

A: It is a matter of recognizing the errors in belief and reasoning that lock the conspiracy theory in place. It is hard to be objective when the conspiracy theory mindset has taken over your rational faculties. Usually, someone outside the conspiracy theory group has to point out to you the logical inconsistencies and implications of continuing to hold the conspiracy theory.

If you are capable of objective self-analysis, you may be able to recognize the signs of layers four and five—whether the group you belong to contends it is privy to secret knowledge or if you identify with a secret group whose mission is to combat perceived evil, for which there is no objective evidence. That is a clue you might have gotten yourself involved in a conspiracy theory.

Many people in the USA are under the thrall of a variety of conspiracy theories; we suspect that if they could emerge from these delusional world views, much of the animosity for those who hold different political views would dissipate, and we would see enhanced cooperation between the members of both parties.

Q: Are members of right wing and left wing extremist groups under the sway of conspiracy theories?

A: You could use this schema as a framework to analyze their beliefs and mindsets. We suspect that a central conspiracy might indeed play a role in the hateful and paranoid behavior, beliefs, and identification seen in these groups.

We invite you to reflect on these layers, and see if you can recognize any of these patterns operating in you, or in other people. Awareness of these patterns is the first step to eradicating them; it will take some courage and discipline to willingly uproot them and admit that you were wrong.

Given the right circumstances, almost anyone could succumb to these subtle delusional beliefs and perspectives. If you know what to look for, you can often stop yourself from getting involved before you travel down the rabbit hole into Wonderland.

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