Alan Keyes
In defense of 'conspiracy thinking'
By Alan Keyes
March 18, 2013

"How do we know that there are planets around other stars? Most of the detected exoplanets have revealed their presence by small effects that they have on their own star."

This is how the folks at NASA begin their discussion of the science involved in the search for solar systems other than our own. Apparently, they think that when we observe effects that correspond to what our experience leads us to expect from the activity of a certain cause, it is rational to infer that a similar cause is producing the effects we observe, even when we cannot yet confirm that fact by more direct observation.

Though as individuals human beings have proven more ornery than most other natural objects, on the whole and over time human experience has confirmed that certain motives (love, hate, greed, jealousy, pride, the instinct for survival) consistently produce certain effects. The operation of the criminal justice system in most societies very largely depends on investigations and verdicts based on inferences drawn on this experience, even when no one was actually present to witness the criminal act under scrutiny. As in the search for distant planets, so in the search for justice such inferences are considered sane and reasonable.

In the American Declaration of Independence, America's founders specifically allude to the critical role this type of thinking must have in securing the liberty of a free people. Speaking of the evils associated with unjust government, they conclude that "when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government...." Of particular importance in their statement of this conclusion is the reference to a "design," which suggests a plan intelligently conceived and carried out in order to achieve a given effect, in this case the subjugation of the people "under absolute despotism."

A number of individuals are required to carry out such a plan, individuals who wittingly or unwittingly cooperate to achieve the goal. Because their actions are the visible manifestation of an otherwise invisible coordination, their activities may aptly be characterized as a "conspiracy," a word that suggests that they are analogous to things, like breath or wind, imperceptible until we apply the right faculty of perception. Thus people unwilling or unable rationally to think through the information they obtain from sense perception are unlikely to recognize a conspiracy until they feel its effects, and in many cases not even then. In this respect, their condition appears to be like that of animals with little or no self-conscious intellect, which makes them susceptible to traps designed to take advantage of their lack of foresight.

It is a sign of the times that what I call the elitist faction media, in all its aspects (news, education, entertainment), has for several decades now taken pains to make the word "conspiracy" into a byword for irrational or insane thinking. In fact, what is irrational is to assert that it is insane to apply to human affairs a way of thinking routinely accepted as sane and necessary in the physical sciences, especially given the fact that human beings appear to be far more capable of deliberate deception than stones or fig trees. It's as if a salesperson should adamantly insist that it's insane to apply to the ingredients used in her product the same measures routinely employed to verify the presence of, let's say, mercury or lead in other products. Our common sense would respond, like the queen in Shakespeare's "Hamlet": "Methinks this lady doth protest too much."

Evident and proliferating signs of a design for despotism now litter the political landscape of our country. Even if America's founders had not warned Americans to guard against it, the effort being made to discourage us from seeing these signs for what they are ought to make us suspicious. Over the past several years, I have done my best to rouse this suspicion. I have especially encouraged conservatives to think through the consistent pattern of actions and results the GOP has produced for the past 25 years or so. During most of my lifetime, the Democrats have been so openly committed to despotic government that anyone who claims to value liberty, and yet still supports them, deserves only pity or contempt. But in its platform, and in the rhetoric of many of its political figures, the GOP professes to oppose the ruinous socialist despotism Democrats have inflicted upon some of our major urban areas and which they now seek to impose upon the nation.

At some point, though, it makes no sense for people who have trusted the GOP to go on acting as if results that contradict the beliefs and convictions stated in the party's platform come from incompetence, bad messaging, media bias, and so forth. Trusting an institution that has repeatedly failed you is, beyond a certain point, so irrational that it becomes suspect. Yet all too many GOP apologists and pundits adamantly refuse to consider the explanation that directly conforms with the lessons of human experience, to wit: that a consistent pattern of lies and betrayals is evidence of a systematic effort to deceive and betray.

Most politically conservative Americans profess respect for America's founders. They seek to preserve, protect, and defend the constitutional republic the founders worked to establish. They claim to uphold the principles of God-endowed right and representative government proclaimed in the American Declaration of Independence. Yet altogether too many of them refuse to respect and apply the "conspiracy thinking" the founders counted on to assure that Americans would recognize and react against the design for despotism. Why is this so? I attempt to answer that question in my latest blog posting, entitled "The spiritual import of conspiracy thinking."

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


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