I grew up in a house that believed in many conspiracy theories. The JFK assassination, the first walk on the moon, the Pearl Harbor bombing; these things came along with the idea that somehow the government had created or facilitated each incident in order to progress their own agenda.
It is easy to fall into this pattern of thought. After all, our government doesn’t seem to inspire much confidence. Rather than prioritize what is best for the citizens, politicians make getting re-elected their top goal. After the disheartening gun control vote in the senate, it is easy to reach the conclusion that the citizen’s views don’t
“Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”This quote by 19th century historian, Lord Maxim, is well known; certainly, I grew up reciting it. But more recent research has shown that there is a connection between someone’s moral identity (how strongly they feel it is for them to be fair, generous, caring, etc.) and how they use
power (more in this article at Smithsonian.com)
And I would take this full circle. My hypothesis is that the lower a person’s moral identity, the more likely they are to believe in conspiracy theories under the assumption that if they were to gain power that is how they would act.
As a parent this begs the question of how to build strong moral identity in our kids. But as a citizen it makes me wonder whether there could be an objective test we could give to politicians before we elect them. It could become part of their running platform; Nominee xyz scored a 99% on the moral identity scale: Paid for by friend of xyz. But
would there be a conspiracy to fix the results so the ‘right’candidate would be elected?
Phew! To be honest, I’m not sure what my moral identity score would be, but I know my laziness score is high... and conspiracy theories are simply too much work for me.