Plandemic, conspiracies, and faith

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Heber13
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Plandemic, conspiracies, and faith

Post by Heber13 » 12 May 2020, 13:54

Recent postings on facebook and youtube and around about #Plandemic was an interesting thing to me to watch.

Link to Articel: Why People Cling to Conspiracy Theories like 'Plandemic'

I find this topic interesting to look at and to read people who are posting about it online.

The Author writes:
It discusses something called belief bias: “If a conclusion supports your existing beliefs, you'll rationalize anything that supports it.” My hypothesis is that science, personal circumstances and the economic distress of the coronavirus pandemic are so overwhelming that people seek alternative realities as some type of rationalization or “soothing balm.”
I do think that religion can be a "soothing balm" for people with hardships in life, and they will look for things to support their testimonies.

What do you think is different about the gospel truths we cling to, vs the conspiracy theories that people whole-heartedly believe?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Gerald
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Re: Plandemic, conspiracies, and faith

Post by Gerald » 12 May 2020, 14:16

There's definitely some comparisons that could be made. The one that I would make (which isn't mentioned in the article) is that many conspiracies thrive because their proponents suddenly feel like they "know" something that other people don't know. What a wonderful sense of superiority that provides! I was speaking with a relative of mine who went off for a long time on why so many "mindless" people bought toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic heavily implying that HE had an insight into the problem that others did not have. I was about to roll my eyes (figuratively) when I suddenly realized that I had said almost the same thing in the same condescending manner the week before to my wife :? (gulp!)

The gospel principles have this in common. Many members (not all though) treat the gospel principles as a truth that they have that the world doesn't and "aren't we lucky to not be as blind as the world is." The number of self-satisfied comments made in Sunday School and Priesthood that I've heard, well, if I had a dime for each one.... How we love to know something important that others don't know! Where the comparison breaks down is that fact that our gospel culture does insist that we share it with others in the interest of bringing them to the truth rather than trying to demonstrate the extent of their ignorance.
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
---Edwin Arlington Robinson---

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Plandemic, conspiracies, and faith

Post by hawkgrrrl » 18 May 2020, 16:11

Before "Plandemic" I blogged about conspiracy theories that really seemed to be bubbling up recently: https://wheatandtares.org/2020/05/06/mo ... -theories/

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Re: Plandemic, conspiracies, and faith

Post by Roy » 19 May 2020, 14:37

I enjoyed the blog post that Hawkgrrrl linked to and the discussion in the comments afterwards.

As a self described Moderate Mormon, I see it as part of my mission to make space for people like me in the church. This is achieved by pointing out that some of the more difficult church ideas and teachings are not the only acceptable ways to think about and interpret certain topics. Some people get fairly uncomfortable just with that premise alone - thinking that I am questioning the brethren or think myself smarter than the brethren etc. I have found it to be helpful if I have quotes (perhaps cherry picked) from the brethren to back me up. Then it can become a more friendly discussion of which brethren we more naturally gravitate towards, rather than suspicions of disloyalty.

Some individuals that I might identify as conspiracy theorists in the church, tend to lean pretty hard on quotes by ETB and a few others and the mantle of prophetic infallibility to make their arguments a litmus test of loyalty. IOW - if you believe that ETB was a prophet then you must believe in the conspiracy.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Heber13
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Re: Plandemic, conspiracies, and faith

Post by Heber13 » 20 May 2020, 08:17

hawkgrrrl wrote:
18 May 2020, 16:11
Before "Plandemic" I blogged about conspiracy theories that really seemed to be bubbling up recently: https://wheatandtares.org/2020/05/06/mo ... -theories/
This was an excellent post. Thanks for linking it, since I missed it, but great thoughts, along the lines of what I was reading.

Did you write that before the Plandemic video was making the rounds? Because that took off and was what spurred my thinking about how people glob on to things they want to hear, and also want to believe the conspiracy to allow them a break from facing the reality they don't like...I think as part of the desire for understanding and certainty in times of uncertainty.
Conspiracy theories can give their believers a sense of control and security. This is especially true when the alternative account feels threatening.
The other good quote from your post:
The ‘conspiracist ideation’, ‘monological belief system’ or ‘conspiracy mentality’ can be thought of as the general extent to which people see the world as governed by hidden, sinister forces.
That idea was what spurred me thinking how many times I hear people talk of the devil in church. There is this nebulous sinister force out there that can be a sacrificial lamb to take our fears away from us if we put it on them and kill it.

And yet...religion has more redeeming values to it at the same time that it isn't a complete hoax or conspiracy. Which is probably why it continues instead of dying out. But it is still based on unseen forces and theories and feelings not of this world, and a group conformity and support system to perpetuate the discussions.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Heber13
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Re: Plandemic, conspiracies, and faith

Post by Heber13 » 20 May 2020, 08:21

Roy wrote:
19 May 2020, 14:37
Some individuals that I might identify as conspiracy theorists in the church, tend to lean pretty hard on quotes by ETB and a few others and the mantle of prophetic infallibility to make their arguments a litmus test of loyalty. IOW - if you believe that ETB was a prophet then you must believe in the conspiracy.
Roy, you bring up an interesting point. If a person with keys and authority brings forth a belief...people buy into it not only by the theory itself but because "it must be right, he was a prophet when he said it."

Perhaps that is a bit different than a conspiracy theory, more leadership worship, but it breeds conspiracies or secret knowledge and "elect individuals" it seems.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Heber13
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Re: Plandemic, conspiracies, and faith

Post by Heber13 » 20 May 2020, 09:09

Here is another quote I happened to stumble across today, and I wasn't even searching for it...it just appeared in my news summary links...
[Conspiracy theory: Is there someone pushing ideas to me to read and understand this information through covert means? Are unseen forces pointing me in a direction where I can figure this out like Tom Hanks did in Angels and Demons? Is the devil tempting me...or are angels guiding me with promptings? ....or is it randomly happening because people are thinking about this stuff right now? :think: ...or are cookies in my browser bringing about what look like coincidence? ...I joke...but still... :eh: ...isn't that kinda what happens when we peek down the rabbit holes looking for answers that catch our eye?]

But here is what one person stated as they were going through a personal crisis and started reading medical stuff online to search for answers to their predicament:
...in the context of ambiguous and terrible events like 9/11 or the Sandy Hook shooting, conspiracy theories increase perceptions of control. Such narratives typically point to the existence of secret plots by powerful actors working behind the scenes, either to cause the horrible chaos or to fabricate it. The anger we then feel toward these “powerful actors” is accompanied by a feeling of efficacy (confidence in one’s ability to effectively navigate the world), hence increasing the likelihood that we will take action — by engaging in political participation, protest, or, in the case of a loved one’s medical situation, maybe filing a lawsuit.
That's kind of an interesting point to me...right, wrong..misguided or not...people seek meaning during times of crisis so they know what action to take. Sometimes the conspiracy theory in the face of so much unknown is a better alternative than just sitting and wallowing in doubt and fear that no action is taken. Blaming and taking anger out on things seems to follow.

If we blame the devil for things...maybe we think about what we need to do in order to not be caught in his snares, and to be more righteous, and to do God's will...and we then have a path forward to do some good actions. Even if grounded in fabricated assumptions.

Is that necessarily a bad thing?

I found the author makes a very good point:
Today, when I look at social media, sure, I see a few people sharing Covid-19 conspiracy theories, but what I see more of is people creating feelings of control and peace in more functional ways: sewing masks, helping neighbors get food, scheduling Zoom happy hours, gardening, and expressing gratitude for health care workers. These actions signal a healthier approach to chaos and trauma — not one anchored in either anger or fear but rooted in presence and gratitude, and echoing a profound tolerance for ambiguity.
In our religion...I think this would translate to having a more functional way to motivate people to do good...ministering visits because you care and serve instead of because you fear for your eternal worthiness in front of a God who will judge. Or taking a calling to serve others and grow individually, instead of receiving keys of authority to an organization so you can thwart the evil sinister plans of the devil in your family or community.

I guess whatever moves us to good action can be better than nothing, but if we do it blaming evil unseen forces the results may be short term and unfulfilling, and also eventually become something that leads to cognitive dissonance.

There are positive and functional ways to practice religion, without so much secrecy and conspiracy behind the plan of salvation.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: Plandemic, conspiracies, and faith

Post by nibbler » 20 May 2020, 11:27

Heber13 wrote:
20 May 2020, 09:09
If we blame the devil for things...maybe we think about what we need to do in order to not be caught in his snares, and to be more righteous, and to do God's will...and we then have a path forward to do some good actions. Even if grounded in fabricated assumptions.

Is that necessarily a bad thing?
Yes and no.

Sometimes it works out for good. Sometimes it doesn't.

After reading the thread it sounds like our conceptualization an afterlife follows a similar model to how conspiracy theories spin up. God, the afterlife, the atonement, the prosperity gospel, etc. can give their believers a sense of control and security. This is especially true when the alternative account feels threatening.
Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
― Jesus

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Re: Plandemic, conspiracies, and faith

Post by Roy » 20 May 2020, 11:45

nibbler wrote:
20 May 2020, 11:27
God, the afterlife, the atonement, the prosperity gospel, etc. can give their believers a sense of control and security. This is especially true when the alternative account feels threatening.
This was my primary motivation for living the gospel. In a nutshell, I thought it gave me some limited ability to control the incontrollable.
Heber13 wrote:
20 May 2020, 08:21
Roy wrote:
19 May 2020, 14:37
Some individuals that I might identify as conspiracy theorists in the church, tend to lean pretty hard on quotes by ETB and a few others and the mantle of prophetic infallibility to make their arguments a litmus test of loyalty. IOW - if you believe that ETB was a prophet then you must believe in the conspiracy.
Roy, you bring up an interesting point. If a person with keys and authority brings forth a belief...people buy into it not only by the theory itself but because "it must be right, he was a prophet when he said it."

Perhaps that is a bit different than a conspiracy theory, more leadership worship, but it breeds conspiracies or secret knowledge and "elect individuals" it seems.
ETB recommended a book from the pulpit (maybe in GC) that seemed to be about secret combinations. A book can go far more in depth about how all the plots, conspiracies, and secret combinations tie together than a 10 minute talk could. Thus it can go a lot further in setting up a whole world view. I can think of multiple reason why it would not be appropriate for speakers to recommend books from GC in our modern times.

I tend to attempt to diffuse my conspiracy minded LDS friends with a soft landing. Something like, "That sounds interesting. I haven't heard about those sorts of things in GC in recent memory. I wonder if the brethren of today are trying to get us to focus on other, more personal, issues."
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: Plandemic, conspiracies, and faith

Post by Roy » 20 May 2020, 11:50

Every once in a while I will hear something really conspiracy theory hardcore like, "RMN doesn't talk much about it for PR reasons. If RMN ever came out explicitly against [the theory] then that would be proof that he has become a fallen prophet." :o :o :o
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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