by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In an era of apocalyptic environmentalism, revived Marxism, and goop, mythology and magic are finding dismayingly large audiences among those given the benefit of, at least nominally, a rationalist education.
Which brings us to the conspiracy theories surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are, as would be expected, the product of conventional propaganda operations. Chinese officials, doing what they can to obscure their regime’s responsibility, have suggested that the U.S. military may have something to do with it. …
… Conspiracy theories are a particularly powerful form of mythology, and it is that power that makes them so useful to charlatans looking for the next sucker. Like most mythologies, they serve a series of overlapping functions, but beneath them all is their action as a device to satisfy humanity’s hard-wired need to find structure in apparent disorder, a result of the fact that Homo sapiens would not have evolved in the way it did without developing an increasingly sophisticated ability to identify connections between the seemingly unconnected. It’s difficult to solve a problem without having a reasonable idea what lies behind it. This talent came, however, with a less obviously helpful side-effect — a susceptibility to finding patterns where none exist. This was a relatively modest price to pay for leaving the other great apes in the dust, but its consequences can be tricky nonetheless. Susceptibility can degenerate into a compulsion, especially when random disaster strikes.
And rarely more so when it involves a new pandemic, an onslaught that is as impersonal as it is intimate. That its deadliness may come from the way an infection may turn the body against itself adds to the existential terror of the afflicted or those waiting for the attack to come their way.
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