Why are so many people drawn to conspiracy theories in times of crisis?
Verified by Psychology Today
It seems to me that the author uses a circular definition: if we don't empathize with others, then we are lacking in empathy. If we don't have the skills of perspective-taking, then we are unable to take the perspective of others. The solution is to start taking the perspective of others. Then we won't become mass-murderers.
These are clichés known as *truisms*, which are statements that are *logically* true, but which say nothing new or interesting. This way of thinking builds on a misinterpretation of man, which dominates our culture. It is believed that mankind is inherently good, and we only need to clean away the dirt that has accumulated. But reading a history book, it is easy to see that evil is deeply entrenched in our nature. Read, for instance, Jonathan Glover: "Humanity: a moral history of the twentieth century".
The apostle Paul discusses this problem as original sin: "For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me" (Romans 7:22-23). It is necessary to acquire a better understanding of human nature, and to abandon the view that we are like Kindergarten children that only need a little moral education. It is not that easy. Very many people are affected by grave personality disorders, which involve asociality and aggressiveness. Such people aren't healed by listening to a TED talk.
In the modern era, we have again and again created social systems according to ideological premises, incommensurable with human nature. The consequence is an upsurge of evil nature. Mao's China, for instance, was merely an ideological product of thought. It resulted in volcanic eruptions of evil, in the Great Leap Forward, and in the Cultural Revolution. They even resorted to mass-murder of sparrows and finches. This left free rein to the pests, which destroyed the crops.
In the Western world, we are today making the same mistake: we are building societies that are at odds with human nature. Politicians do not understand how human beings function, nor do they want to know. Whereas the rulers of China had recourse to Mao's Little Red Book, today's Western politicians have recourse to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The consequences are horrendous. Omar Mateen killed these people because they were different than himself. They belonged to a different ethnic group, a different religion, and a different sexual category. By murdering them, he succeeded in promoting his own kind, by creating Lebensraum.
The principle of Lebensraum was not invented by Hitler. Mother Nature invented it. Ants wage wars to acquire Lebensraum. So do chimpanzees, who attack and sometimes kill other chimpanzees to conquer territory. In my country, today, there is a call among certain immigrant groups that "we shall take over Sweden". A young man phones in to Al Jazeera and declares that "all Swedes must die!" From a genetic point of view, this is quite logical. It is dark nature manifesting its own truth, which is original sin. Prof. J. Philippe Rushton sheds light on this problem in 'Ethnic nationalism, evolutionary psychology and Genetic Similarity Theory'. Nations and Nationalism 11 (4), 2005, 489–507.
Get the help you need from a therapist near you–a FREE service from Psychology Today.