I love a good story, and I delight in complex plots, but conspiracy theories? They’ve just never really clicked for me. Government conspiracies, secret agencies controlling the world, flat-Earth-ism – the idea that there’s some big secret that the world is keeping from me, or some big lie that the entire world is agreeing to tell me, has just never really clicked.
Recently, I suddenly realized why.
Here’s the thing: I do have things in my life that I could easily believe that the entire world is lying to me about, but it wouldn’t make my life easier at all to believe so.
For example, I was born without a sense of smell. I have never smelled anything. My nose breathes, runs, itches, and sneezes, and that’s about it. I have no reason to believe that sense of smell is real, except that literally everyone I’ve ever met claims that it exists.
But if I decided to believe that everyone I’ve ever met is lying to me about this, it wouldn’t make the world any easier for me to understand. It would mean that everyone else was able to randomly guess what was for dinner even though they hadn’t seen or tasted it yet, while I cannot, which makes no sense. It would mean that everyone brings up the topic of smell, or covers their nose in response to a smell, for no other reason than to mess with me. And I’m not conceited enough to think that that would be true.
As another example, I am on the asexuality spectrum. I have never been sexually attracted to someone I didn’t know, by sight or by imagined connection. If I’m not in love, I don’t want sex – and even when I am, often I don’t. As such, I have no reason to believe that people go around often feeling sexual attraction towards other people, except that most other people I’ve ever known – in person, in movies, and on the internet – claim that they do.
For a while, I did believe that everyone around me was exaggerating their feelings. But the world started to make a lot more sense when I learned that asexuality and allosexuality were two different things. Suddenly I understood why so many romance stories include people cheating on their partners and acting like they couldn’t help it – because they experienced the world in a fundamentally different way than my own.
Believing on conspiracy theories requires a particular kind of self-centeredness. It requires thinking that my perspective is the only one, and that there are no alternate explanations than the one that I most clearly see. It requires the belief that the world is cruel enough to be out to get me, or that I am important enough for the entire world to be out to get me.
If I thought like that, I would be very, very confused, and probably angry all the time, and that’s really no way to live.