Demon-Haunted History (Part 2)

The delusions of which I have written so far are, unfortunately, not a thing of the past alone. They continue to evolve into new idiocy, such as young-world creationism or world-conspiracy theories. As it tends to appear as backwards evolution, I am tempted to call it devolution. Ironically, while there are more sources of knowledge and manners of obtaining knowledge than there have ever been before, large parts of humankind appear to get more ignorant by the decades. The saddest thing about this is that ignorance goes along not only with stupidity but also with confidence. Ignorant and stupid people are usually the most outspoken ones, and, even worse, they appear to be immune to doubt. Both politics and religion (I tend to think that the latter is only a variant of the former) teach people not to question the authority of that which they are told and of those who tell them so – a strategy that has been successful for as long as we can trace it back in human history.
Let me introduce you to a case of which I have not been fully aware till recently. You know how it works when you look something up on the internet and click yourself from one link to the next till you end up somewhere that has more or less nothing to do with that which you were origially trying to look up – and you cannot even remember how you actually got there. Well, this recently happened to me, so that I cannot even provide you with any reason for which I came to the website, but here is the link nonetheless: Occult Symbolism in the Music Industry that is Hidden in Plain Site. (By ‘Plain Site’ they most probably mean ‘Plain Sight’.) What this article says in a nutshell is that at the Video Music Awards 2009, the songwriter Taylor Alison Swift became part of the Illuminati, a secret order of a select few who secretly rule the world – or, on a side note, not so secretly any longer according to this website: http://www.illuminatiofficial.org/.
While it may be true that there are agendas to entertainment – such as selling products and making profits –, people who believe as the article linked says got extremely carried away. Ironically, the Bavarian Illuminati, an organization which was founded in the Age of Enlightenment, opposed, inter alia, superstition and religious influence over public life. Apparently, interpretors have got carried away into extremely different directions since then. They see hidden symbols and signs everywhere, and there can be nothing to disconfirm their hypothesis because everything necessarily confirms it. Behold a classic case of selective perception. How intriguing it can be to imagine secret orders behind everything is demonstrated by the sheer amount of conspiracy theories (in the broadest sense) that has been formulated over time. There are quite a few people who sincerely believe that the Bible contains hidden code, for example, when the world is going to end. A case in point is this website: http://www.understanding-the-bible.com/hidden-codes-in-the-bible.html. At least this site admits that ‘[t]o some extent it comes back to faith: you will try to prove what you want to believe.’ Unfortunately, the author appears not to take this possibility too seriously in their own case.
All of these cases share a common fault. None of them actually gives us good reasons to believe them, nor does any supporter of those would-be theories provide us with actual evidence. Instead, in order to be convinced of those systems of beliefs, you need to be in a preconditioned set of mind, which means nothing more than that you already believe in them (at least partially). For instance, the author of http://www.understanding-the bible.com/ writes, ‘Firstly as we examine these codes, we will see that they are from a supernatural source and could not have been devised by any human, as they require knowledge not available to us.’ This statement alone is at best problematic as to several aspects. Both this statement and everything that follows draws conclusions at which you can only arrive by ignoring several facts.
First of all, the Bible is a conglomerate of stories originating from several different cultural backgrounds which used to be handed down from generation to generation orally before they were even so much as written down. And even when those stories were finally written down, the texts changed significantly over time. Not only were words exchanged for other words, but entire stories were added, removed, added to, removed from, and so forth. Even today, there are several versions of the Bible, and the authority of the texts has remained as arbitrary as ever.
Second, if a supernatural being with the ability of foretelling the future would want us to know about said future, why would it go to such lengths as hiding the information in religious texts, that is to say, texts the truth of which is allegedly a matter of faith rather than knowledge? And if the hidden code refers to the future, why hide it in texts that refer to the past and are basically inaccessible to most people in their original language? A supernatural being of such enormous power would certainly be able to communicate this vital information in a more convenient and more easily accessible manner.
Third, randomly or arbitrarily starting at a word, then skipping several words, may or may not lead to something which may appear meaningful in its own right. It does not prove anything, however, especially not that it actually was put there on purpose and with the meaning ascribed to it. Consider the following example:

You of all people should know better. Are you not the one I trusted? Most beautiful are the stars tonight, behold!

I make this up as I go. There is no hidden message or code in the text above, but if you try hard enough, if you look hard enough, you may find something. For instance, each of the three sentences consists of exactly seven words, and the number seven has been deemed a lucky number for ages. And if you connect the first word of the first two sentences, respectively, with the first two words of the third sentence, you get the following: ‘You are most beautiful’. Yet even though all of this is true, it neither proves that today is your lucky day or that you will be lucky henceforth, nor that I intend to tell you that you are (most) beautiful.
Besides, it is nothing more than an historical accident that it takes as many letters and words to say or write something as it does. Furthermore, many aspects are simply the result of errors and grammatical constructions that faded away over the course of time.
But as I said, nothing is ever going to convince someone that their system of beliefs is not only unsubstantiated but also incoherent and implausible, if not absurd, if everything counts as a confirmation. If you try to point out to someone that the world is most likely not ruled by the Illuminati or any other secret order, they are going to take that as a confirmation of their hypothesis, just as much as they would if you were to tell them that the world indeed is ruled by the Illuminati or any other secret order.

[To be continued.]

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