Conspiracy theories, by definition, are unfalsifiable and, therefore, cannot be tested. This is because conspiracies are based on the assumption that the commonly understood facts are wrong and that what is considered by most to be the truth is a lie. This being said, it is nearly impossible to argue with a conspiracy theorist because they are in possession of a “special knowledge” that you are not and the facts that you know are lies. This sounds a lot like arguing with an insane person. And sometimes it may feel that way. Conspiracy theorists have the ability to make up stories in their head, reinforce them with literature from other conspirators, and then relay these stories to other people.
Conspiracy theories are dangerous because they defame the lives and reputations of people who are don’t deserve it. Just look back at how Michelle Bachmann attempted to shred the reputation of former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Bachmann, in her witch hunt for the Muslim Brotherhood in the federal government, singled out the innocent Abedin just because she had relatives in the middle east. Abedin herself was born in Michigan but lived her childhood in Saudi Arabia. Her parents both achieved doctorates from American universities. Abedin was named one of TIME’s “40 under 40” in terms of rising political leaders. She was a star on the rise until Bachmann decided to target her with her conspiracy that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the State Department. Bachmann and friend’s actions feel a lot like the tactics of the McCarthyists of over fifty years ago.
The craziest part of this conspiracy which stated that Huma Abedin and her family had close connections with operatives in the Muslim Brotherhood is that she is not alone. A number of other politicians, bloggers, and citizens follow Bachmann’s fairy tale. Conservative Talking head Rush Limbaugh even gave the theory more media coverage by saying “Bachmann’s inquiry is justified — and there is no reason to tar and feather her. It is a legitimate question to know if one of Hillary Clinton’s top aides poses a national security threat because of her parents ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Another example of a conspiracy theory that wasn’t based on any facts but caught on in the idea that Barack Obama is a Muslim. Recent polls have shown that 17% of Americans believe that our Christian president Barack Obama is a Muslim. 30% of republicans surveyed believe the same conspiracy. This is just plain sad.
These examples are just some of the many conspiracies which are based on “secret knowledge” that catch fire and possibly ruin a person’s reputation. We as a people need to use reason and not give these kinds of baseless conspiracies any legitimacy. Because of the conspiracy Abedin had her life threatened and was under police protection for some time.
On the upside, the future for Huma Abedin is bright. She has been a trusted advisor to Hilary Clinton for five years and, given the possible 2016 presidential run for Hilary Clinton, she may find her self very close to the white house. I hope Bachmann’s baseless attacks don’t hamper her in the future.