If you haven't guessed by now, I am fascinated by human behaviour. I have been my entire life. Even as a very young child I would often sit quietly listening to adults, while other children would fidget or wander off bored. It gave the impression I was well-behaved and attentive - they never realised they were being studied.
One of my friends as a child was a boy named Andrew. We were the two clever ones in the class, and we sometimes did our people watching together, comparing notes. He grew up to be a psychiatrist. I write instead.
I am still learning, because there's no end to this. One of the phenomena that really interests me is what people believe and why, but especially when what they believe is almost certainly not true.
This morning my attention was drawn to a rather curious character who thinks the Nepal earthquake was a hoax. Or does he? Is he just stirring it up for entertainment, or does he really believe this, and many other events, are hoaxes?
My friend Bill pointed out to him, on You Tube comments, that he felt the earthquake himself. When you have personally experienced something, and you are being told you are lying, well......
Read this if you can withstand it:
As far as I can tell, this person's "evidence" that the earthquake is a hoax is based on one photo where a man's arm is at an awkward angle. Apparently all of the photos, videos, and reports from Nepal are lies and hoaxes. Is he simply mad?
There have been formal studies on the psychology of both internet trolls and conspiracy theorists, with suggestions that at least those who are deeply involved in these activities do have some sort of disorder ranging from simple low self-esteem issues to psychoses. In other words, they're not all mad, some are just bored and craving attention, but some could get a formal diagnosis. Some probably need locking up.
But what do they do as part of their method? They accuse everyone who doesn't believe them of being delusional.
And we're back to this:
Now, I love a mystery. A puzzle. I have been known to waste my own time proving some of these weird claims wrong. I don't mean just the easy ones, like snake oil panaceas. I mean those where a wild claim requires some solid science to demonstrate it cannot be right. So, perhaps I have some sort of disorder in insisting on valid evidence, the scientific method and so on.
But I ask, as I have asked many times before, why people would rather believe sensational ravings from a socially challenged total stranger online, rather than hundreds or possibly thousands of reputable academics, researchers, and eyewitnesses.
It has been pointed out that every so often a large organization (usually military or some other government agency) does pull a stunt. They certainly behave very badly sometimes. And, shocking as it is, they don't always tell the truth. However, the truth has a tendency to out........which is how we know about them. And they aren't outed by drooling internet loonies either. The relevant experts and/or authorities do it. That is to say, those with actual access to data.
When people go to the trouble to create videos claiming that something is a hoax, what we have effectively is hoaxes about hoaxes. And once the accusations start to fly it can get quite hard to know who is supporting what.
No, I don't think you should simply trust governments. Most politicians and their advisers (especially their advisers) have vested interests in the status quo and their own pensions, rather than improving the world we live in, and most of them would sell their grandmothers into slavery to win enough votes, but every so often there's an honourable man, or at least somebody with an acute bout of scruples, who stops the old boy network from working, and there are enough journalists, disgruntled ex-advisers and other tattle-tales, who get a kick out of releasing the truth to keep the old boys on their toes. And there are whistle-blowers, bless 'em.
IF it turns out that I am wrong, and we really are being misled by an international cabal of lizard men, you can all laugh at me. But I've done too much research of my own on some of the woo-woo and I've seen the men behind THAT curtain. And they all want your money.
And, if you think I'm simply in denial, I know someone, who knows someone, who has proof of absolutely everything, but he's in prison in Spain, so just send me $10,000 to get him released, and he'll tell you everything.