I had intended on writing this week’s blog on the status of the COVID-19 vaccine, the latest science, what we now know, and what I think will happen next. This is taking more time than I thought, and I want to get it right, so I decided to hold off on that for now.
As I was reflecting on the craziness that has ensued these past two years, one of the most baffling mysteries to me was how our country was split in two. And not just the divisiveness, but the intensity of that divisiveness. Co-workers, close friends, and family members broke long-held bonds of love, trust, and respect because of the points of view each had taken. It was, and still is, absolutely baffling.
Before I continue, I must say that most of my thoughts start as analytical as they pertain to myself. I want to better understand what I think, why I think this way, and how it is serving or hindering me. I caught myself thinking a lot these past few weeks about how thinking one way, about one thing, can put a person in a huge group or category, simply by thinking that one thing. With regard to the pandemic, you were either on one side of an issue or the other. You either believed something to be true or false. There was no middle ground. I knew that my thoughts, perspectives, and philosophies early on in this pandemic were squeezing me into one side. And it wasn’t just me, as I watched many high-level scientists, researchers, doctors, and professors get vilified for simply asking questions or sharing valid concerns.
The word conspiracy theorist seemed to be pretty prevalent these past couple of years. I have spent time thinking about these words lately as well. When I would hear those words, I associated them with other words, such as crazy, tinfoil-hatter, or flat-earther. The word conspiracy is defined as “a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.” A theorist is defined as “someone who considers given facts and comes up with a possible explanation.” Because we have seen numerous conspiracies, it is reasonable to consider that new conspiracies could, and likely will, take place. And dedicating time to thinking about possible conspiracies, consider all the facts you have access to, and ponder possible explanations, doesn’t seem to me to be whacky, goofy, or dangerous. Maybe there should be a differentiation made between one who ponders conspiracies and one who believes all conspiracies. My guess is conspiracy theorists have done wonders throughout history to protect their families, communities, and countries.
Despite the actual definition of conspiracy theorist, we know it carries a negative connotation. And, of course, people can become paranoid, over-analytical, and take things too far. But what about the words devil’s advocate? This is defined as “a person who expresses a contentious (controversial) opinion in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments.” This I like! Carries a more acceptable, less suspicious tone. I play devil’s advocate a lot, and not just about external, social issues, but internally, with my own thinking and decision making.
Whatever you want to call it, it makes sense to question most things. We live in a world with people, organizations, and governmental entities that are selfish, controlling, and have been known to make big mistakes at our expense. To not question would be foolish. We MUST consider given facts… provoke debate.. and test the strength of opposing arguments. Especially when we are dealing with groups like the pharmaceutical industry who have a strong history of having secret plans… to do something unlawful or harmful.
If you’ve been called a conspiracy theorist or if you play devil’s advocate often when analyzing issues, I would check in with yourself from time to time to make sure you aren’t going too far. But for now, I would hold your head high and be proud, because right now, it is these people that are being vindicated as the truth surrounding the pandemic continues to emerge. As things continue to unravel, data continue to roll out, and more facts get uncovered, remember that it is the truth that we are after. And often the only way to get to the truth is by being a conspiracy theorist… or at least by playing devil’s advocate.