“The Truthers” & You

I have been mulling over several articles regarding morality that I have read in the last few days before the great day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is all about personal stock-taking. It is a calling to account for individual Jews, as a community, under G-d’s sovereignty – all of us together, mulling over the Kantian question, how would an ideal person and a society as a whole behave if such things were possible.

I, also, have been working on launching my website and continuing with my daily activities, which this week included attending the UN Women‘s Committee Luncheon in Ottawa honouring Joy Smith, an MP who has worked long and hard on female and child trafficking and the launch of Jonathon Kay’s new book, “The Truthers” at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal.

Both the luncheon and the book launch focus on how we, as individuals and groups, take on the profound moral responsibilities of this world.

Jonathon Kay, in his book “The Truthers,” has a chapter (chapter 5) where he analyzes the psychological make-up of “truthers” – people like you and me who are convinced that the collapse of the towers on 9/11 was an inside job by the US and Mossad or Holocaust deniers or believers in alien abductions, past lives et. In other words, truthers are people who cling to a view of reality that is usually some form of a minority consensus regarding a hidden conspiracy.

According to his research, those who fall in the mental illness category are not a huge proportion and are easily distinguished because although they begin talking about these issues like ordinary people they soon lapse into some self-referential proof for example that the Mossad or the FBI is tracking them personally or some variation of that is very close to home.

The larger, roughly 95% mainly fall into the category of hubris, relying more and more on their own scientific and cognitive powers coupled usually with an elementary and predetermined mistrust (sometimes due to personal trauma) of any authority represented by journalists, politicians, or historians, to name but a few.

Many are very intelligent, but also very suspicious of majority opinions and proofs. Due to their suspicions, they become vulnerable to becoming followers of minority opinions that conform to their doubts. They become highly impenetrable to facts that do not fit their suspicions. At this juncture that Jonathon says, the “truthers” share characteristics with those followers of religion who take on the ideology of their religion with 100% faith in the dogma represented, and are not open to dialogue or discussion regarding their beliefs or belief system.”

These obsessive personal conceptions of those believing in specific conspiracy theories and religious dogmas can then come to border on full-fledged delusions.

We do live in a complex world, and becoming a “truther” may be one of the pitfalls of not keeping up. If this subject interests you, I refer you to a Canadian film that I happened to catch while on an Air Canada flight yesterday.

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