Common sense tells us that when a country’s leaders tell lie after lie, people stop believing them and look to other sources of information.
A new social science study comes to the same conclusion, finding that “people living in countries with a highly corrupt public sector seem to be more likely to endorse conspiracy theories.” Corruption is defined as the “misuse of public power for private benefit.”
The term “conspiracy theory” has been weaponized by the Left to censor and delegitimize anything that cuts against their agenda. From COVID’s origins to 2020 election interference, anything that undermines progressive orthodoxy will be viciously attacked.
That is the only way the ruling left-wing elite can ensure their hegemony. Public institutions are happy to play along if it solidifies their position under the status quo. (RELATED: 9 ‘Conspiracy Theories’ That Were Proven True In The Last Year)
Since so many of the “conspiracy theories” have turned out to be true, or at least highly debatable, it is no surprise that many Americans no longer trust the public institutions that helped create the false narratives in the first place. From the Centers for Disease Control lying about masks, to the Department of the Treasury changing the accepted definition of a recession, to the Environmental Projection Agency’s hysterical focus on “climate equity,” our public institutions have shown the only thing they can be trusted to do is help Democrats remain in power.
Biden’s budget is completely WOKE!
“Equity” was mentioned 63 times.
“Climate” 148 times.
“Environmental justice” 25 times.
“Transgender” 8 times.
“Intersex” 7 times. pic.twitter.com/ErrSIfpkcE
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) March 10, 2023
Thus, the study’s findings are not at all surprising, even though the researchers appear to be squarely on the left. For example, they purposefully excluded the now proven conspiracy theory that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election, since “epistemic authorities” do not agree on its veracity. Instead, they argued that conspiracy theories are mostly found among the “far-right.” Despite their bias, the science doesn’t lie.
When looking at conspiracy theories that anyone reasonable can agree are absurd — like “the moon landings were faked” or “the Holocaust is a lie” — the researchers confirmed that public sector corruption does in fact lead to greater conspiratorial credulity. More people are likely to believe in ridiculous fabrications from questionable sources when they know the “trustworthy” sources have a record of lying to them. This was consistent across the 26 countries examined.
The researchers also found that conspiracy theories “reduce trust in authorities and institutions.” It’s tempting to think this is a good thing. Of course authorities and institutions that falsely brand their constituents as conspiracy theorists no longer deserve trust. However, is that really a world we want to live in? It shouldn’t be.
Institutional trust is a prerequisite for a functioning, stable society. When the laws and norms that govern society are anchored and predictable, institutions foster social cohesion and cooperation conducive to ordered liberty. Without such security, social instability and unrest between factions — particularly in a pluralistic society like ours — is much more likely.
Furthermore, when people trust their public institutions, they are much more likely to view those institutions as legitimate and accept their judgments. When people come to view those judgments as illegitimate or biased, then they are likely to revolt. (RELATED: ‘Conspiracy Theory’: Censors Flag Former Ambassador For Referencing Political Term Used By George H.W. Bush, Joe Biden)
Without institutional legitimacy and stability, leaders cannot effectively govern their people. As the people withdraw from the democratic process or revert to extra-legal means to enact their preferences, leaders are pushed deeper into authoritarian tactics in order to hold onto power.
This is likely to lead to greater distrust, and the cycle continues until it reaches critical mass. While America has been spiraling down this path for a while, we have not yet reached that breaking point. The researchers’ findings suggest some reasons to hope, noting that “high levels of democracy and freedom of the press … are associated with lower levels of conspiracy beliefs.”
Framing this in the inverse is much more representative of where we are today. The press in America is only free by the letter but not the spirit of the law. Progressive dogma keeps reporters in line. If they deviate, they will be hard pressed to ever find another job in the corporate media. Even their peers will likely turn on them. Through their institutional authority, large outlets like The New York Times and CNN impose the agenda on smaller outlets that want to mimic their respectability.
This, of course, makes conspiracy theories even more prevalent. When public institutions lie, and corporate media knowingly helps to spread those lies, the public will come to view them as one and the same. Indeed, there is little daylight between the Biden administration and the MSNBC studio. The public is then forced to tune into other outlets and authorities, many of which should be viewed as equally untrustworthy. (RELATED: Why The Corporate Press Depends On Trump Now More Than Ever)
While the researchers focus on counterproductive instances, there are in fact beneficial alternatives. The rise of independent media has been a major boon to American civil society. Millions of Americans turn to podcasts or non-corporate outlets to get trustworthy news that official sources won’t discuss. Commentators, intellectuals and scientists are now able to disperse their expertise to the public without the corporate media bottleneck.
As legacy outlets continue to beclown themselves and independent media takes up an increasing market share, there is hope that a more trustworthy American media ecosystem is on the horizon. This may encourage Americans across the political spectrum to take a deeper interest in the democratic process and their duties as citizens. After all, an engaged citizenry is the worst enemy of lying elites.
Yet for now, while it is tempting to believe anything that the left says you shouldn’t, conservatives need to rise above this instinct and become skeptical consumers of information — from all sources. Don’t fall into the trap of believing just anything. Always wonder why someone might want you to believe a certain claim. The answer might not always be so noble.