1. Scott Berman
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    Scott Berman Member

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    Being Honest with Conspiracies

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Scott Berman, Jul 21, 2012.

    Someone I know likes to post conspiracy things on his facebook, and we got into a discussion on how he shouldn't be posting other people's writings if he's trying to convey a message that he's thinking outside the box, and how he can argue his points while not looking out of his mind. After awhile I'm pretty sure I convinced him to start a blog and get practice with researching and writing his conspiracies.

    Now, I'm not a big conspiracy theorist, just because I'm an anarchist doesn't mean I believe the government is secretly poisoning us through vaccinations, but I do find them interesting and at times having valid arguments. I told my friend that I would write a sample article for him, showing him how to back up his theories. My plan, sort of as a joke to him to show how you can really just argue anything is to make a completely original conspiracy and write an article proving it.

    This idea, which comes with a lot of other ideas has me wondering, is it ok for someone to write about conspiracies that they don't truly believe in, or do they have a responsibility to their readers to be honest. Is it wrong for me to make up a conspiracy and publish just for the sake of getting some readers and maybe a reaction? This sort of also applies to politics and religion in general. Would it be ok if someone like Rush Limbaugh (not that much of what he says is ok) didn't actually believe what he was saying, or if your priest or rabbi didn't actually believe in God?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Okay or not, it happens all the time. For example, many politicians parrot the party line so they get the party's support when re-election looms.

    Hell, you won't even find much candor in a confessional or in a therapy session.

    You want complete honesty, get a dog.
     
  3. adampjr
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    adampjr Member

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    I'm inclined to feel hostile towards a preist or rabbi who doesn't believe what he says, and I'm not quite as inclined to feel that way about a conspiracy blogger. I mean, in general, I prefer candor - but I'm not sure why I feel more strongly about the one than the other. My guess is that more harm can come from the former than the latter. Ultimately, I see very little harm in conspiracy theories.

    To me, it depends on intentions in this case. Consider this website: The Moon Hoax
    ^That's obviously a joke, but the writer never breaks character to say as much.

    But, if you as a writer/blogger, establish a reputation for honesty (or if you make it abundantly clear that you are intending to communicate truth) then I consider such dishonesty to be unethical.
     
  4. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    More to the point, should your audience learn somehow that you don't buy into what you purvey, your credibility -- and following on that, your business -- can take a big hit. It's pretty hard to sell possession of the secret truth once you're caught faking it.
     
  5. Scott Berman
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    Scott Berman Member

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    My solution was to just state from the beginning that I do not necessarily believe the conspiracy, yet in the interest of finding truth and informing readers I would try my best to do an unbiased analysis of the theory.

    As for the priests being worst, I think it really depends on the reason behind the lie. What if a priest were to suffer a tragedy and lose faith in his God. Should he than quit his career, and thus lose his livelihood? What if he doesn't want to necessarily harm the faith of others by expressing his sudden loss in faith? It may be "worse" than a conspiracy like the moon conspiracy hoax, but than you can also have conspiracies with malicious intentions. A racist person with the desire to gather people to his racist beliefs might make up a conspiracy knowing its not true just to get people to support their racist ideas. (Think Michelle Bachman and her recent Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy)

    What about a politician that sells out on something they don't believe in, but do so in order to get the support to hold office and support a policy that they do truly believe in and believe more important than the one they've lied about? Is that truly terrible?
     
  6. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    That would undermine his credibility, once you consider that part of his doctrine that he would be preaching is the directive to not lie. Not only would his failure to lead by example damage the followership of his flock, even if he didn't want to harm the faith of others, that could be exactly the upshot. How many atheists do you know who point to the human foibles of the priests as a justification for apostasy? (I'm not saying that that argument is logical -- it isn't -- but rather, that anyone in the congregation who is on the fence in his own faith could well be pushed away by the priest's misdeeds.)

    These things do happen in real life, it's true. But even so, discovering the truth is a corrosive thing to the beliefs of the followers who have been misled, because no one likes the thought that they've been hoodwinked.

    That depends on the policy they "truly" believe in, I think. If that policy is rainbows and unicorns for all, the lie is a little more forgivable. If the policy he truly desires is "the death penalty for shoplifting!", then that puts a slightly different spin on the matter.
     
  7. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    As one who was somewhat in the priest situation (my husband was a pastor and I his right hand...woman for 11 years. We both hold theology degrees, even though mine is church music). When we both had a crisis of faith we felt it was wrong to stay in that venue. For many reasons actually. The situation we were in was toxic. But on top of that, how can we look ourselves in the mirror at night and be content with who we are if we are living a lie for the sake of a paycheck. Let's also remember, that most ministers get sub poverty level pay checks. To stay in an abusive situation with not enough money to care for your family is insanity. So we left. We re-examined our world view. We re-read our Bibles to see if it really said what we were taught in Bible college. We removed all presuppositions of our faith. Ultimately we both came to the same conclusion and walked away. We have many pastoral friends who had similar situations that did not. We accept them, and they accept us. However, what we did not walk away from was honesty. It is too deep set within our character to ignore. Neither of us could stand before a congregation and preach like that, and still feel content in who we were.
     
  8. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Honestly...I would be more worried about conspiracy theories if I didn't know three people who genuinely believed in zombies. It doesn't take logic to get someone to believe in the stuff you make up.
     
  9. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    I am currently finishing a conspiracy thriller with manipulation of the financial system as leading theme. Actually, I truly believe in it but packaged it into a fiction novel. By connecting to real events I think the story gains in credibility, thus engaging the readers into a "it might be true" mode.
     
  10. ThievingSix
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    ThievingSix Member

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    I think conspiracy theories are important as they make us question what is around us, from the mundane to the mystical. Regardless if we ultimately believe them or not, we end up learning a lot in the process. I think the point when your parking your home-made surveillance truck outside your local WalMart because you believe the manager is providing safe house for aliens after-hours, is going too far.
     
  11. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I think the point where you represent it as true when you're aware that it most likely isn't is the line for me.
     

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