A student recently sent me a film titled “Plandemic.” The idea behind this film is something many of you have heard about — that Covid-19 is a biological weapon, set loose intentionally. They asked me to watch it and then let them know what I thought.
The issue of conspiracies is a difficult question to answer. The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” This means, to me, that we can know there have been conspiracies in the past. For example, there was a conspiracy to not only kill Abraham Lincoln, but also other high government officials.
My question is, can we know about conspiracies while they are happening? I have much less certainty about this. Critical thinking provides some insights.
Critical thinking is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. But it only works well when you also have the correct information. And that is exactly what the question of conspiracies addresses. Do we have the correct information?
My overall feeling about conspiracy theories is that there is some truth to them, but we can’t really know it at the time, but only later. So, when someone claims to know what is “really going on,” I immediately become suspicious.
I think when a person believes in a current conspiracy theory, it speaks more to their need for psychological security than it does to the accuracy of what they are hearing and reading. We live in a world of uncertainty that can make us feel anxious.
One way of dealing with anxiety is to feel like, even though billions of people are victims of misinformation, somehow, I am on to the “real truth.” Emotional security is not a replacement for critical thinking. So, as a philosopher, I try to keep closer to the questions than the answers.
So, is COVID-19 a biological weapon? Perhaps. But how can I really know?
In the meantime, I think we worry too much about what we don’t know, when we do not address what we do know. For example, we know we are killing ourselves with cigarettes and fast food. Far more people die of obesity and smoking each year than from this pandemic, at least so far.
We do this because we succumb to advertising and peer pressure. That, at least, is something we can fight. No one makes us smoke or eat junk food.
Having said all of that, I believe that the only thing I can really do is transform my consciousness and inspire others to do the same. That is why I have dedicated my life to helping young people think critically, creatively, and outside of the box. I believe that true education is subversive and transformational.