Conspiracies are simply the stories we tell ourselves (or latch onto) when the factual narrative doesn't fit our world-view or feels too uncomfortable. We all have things that we believe about ourselves or that fit into our ethical code - and, most importantly, we are all willing to fight to hold onto them.
There is a difference between those personal stories, which may be detrimental to our individual well-being but are not connected to others and are not widely recognized conspiracy theories.
The dangerous piece about the latter is that outside (wealthy or powerful) "influencers" build stories around a microscopic grain of truth (without truly believing) as a means to control a group of people who are already receptive to endorsing them, even if they seem from the outside to be against their best interest. You might also recognize it as the same M.O. of cults. They target the (emotionally or economically) vulnerable folks who have already bought the narrative of fringe groups or are looking for "easy" solutions and someone to blame, as well as acceptance, connections, and a community that will welcome them.
These "authorities" frequently provide plausible explanations for why the facts or actual science behind something is a hoax. One of the most common tools is to say that scientists are "always changing their minds." Or that "the science is always changing" because they understand that "change" is a scary, triggering word.
I am here to point out that the basic definition of science includes the understanding that what we know as truth, right now, is susceptible to change as we experiment and learn more.
I don't need to tell you that conspiracy theories are dangerous. Not only are they devised to control and manipulate the way people think about particular phenomena or events, but they also provide the impetus for this group to become violent because they fully believe that their way of life is threatened. And that is, exactly, where we are now.
Thus far, I seem to have outlined this significant problem without offering any viable solutions.
When I think of those folks who embrace conspiracy theories, hook, line, and sinker - first I consider why they are susceptible to being reeled in. In most cases, it is not, as often claimed, a lack of education or science curriculum. As I comprehend the situation, it comes down to the lack of meaningful connection to a caring community.
As educators, it is our obligation to take the time to listen to and understand each person in our care. If we don't, we are partially responsible for fostering another closed mind - a person who generates (or accepts) negative stories and becomes afraid of change.
When folks can't see beyond that personal narrative that each of us lives within, it directly influences their ability to take on new challenges and invite change. They will continuously look at the world from a narrow space of defeatism or victim-hood and see everything new as a menace to their very existence.
In direct contrast, people with positive view-points are wide open to fresh ideas and are more willing to research the validity of proposed conspiracies. They also sincerely welcome adaptation to their internal stories.
This, right here, is why mentor-ship is proven to be one of the most effective tools in transforming lives and communities.
While only tangentially related to DRC, my second middle-reader book, Noah's Experiment, written over a decade ago, is edited and ready to be self-published. Except, it is missing illustrations. I was fortunate to have a "willing" artist (Ian) still living at home when I published the first book, Hawk's Surprise.
This is a call for or drawings or photographs of animals (sheep, cows, chickens, Border Collies, and cats), farm buildings (inside or outside - including barns, haylofts, equipment sheds, etc.), and hilly, forested, and farmland winter landscapes. Ideally, I need at least 14 illustrations. One will be chosen as cover art.
I will acknowledge all of those artists, with work chosen for the book, as contributors. Their names will appear on the cover of the book, as well as the title page. They will also receive a copy of the published book.
There are no age limits or other requirements. All media (drawing, painting, charcoal, colored pencil, photographs, etc.) will be considered.
Please share this opportunity within your network. Send questions and submissions (as high res .jpg) to me here. Thank you!