Why it’s not surprising Hong Kong is overrun by conspiracy theories
Believing ideas that are far from reality has been a hallmark of human cognition since time immemorial, as evidenced by the widespread faith in organised religion, feng shui and Chinese medicine.
I refer to Alex Lo’s column (November 16) on how Hong Kong is at present particularly susceptible to conspiracy theories (“Why there are ‘conspiracies’ everywhere in Hong Kong”). He claimed that the extreme polarisation in Hong Kong society today has been a key contributor to the ostensible increase in what appears to be belief in ideas that are simply untrue. Further, he claims that once a conspiracy takes hold, counter-evidence based on fact has little traction among the believers with misinformed beliefs.
Lo goes on to quote an expert who says those who believe conspiracy theories “need to understand the world; to feel safe; and to belong and feel good about oneself and one’s social groups”.
I have no argument with Lo over these points, and I commend him for bringing the views of experts on conspiracy theories to our attention, which certainly are compelling and no doubt accurate.
What is notable about Lo’s explanation, however, is that it should come as a surprise and even need explaining because belief in ideas that are far from reality has been a hallmark of human cognition since time immemorial. In fact, conspiracy theories are no different from the beliefs many of us hold as unyielding truths and which govern the lives of a majority of the population.
I do not speak of the fringe beliefs held by some, such as horoscopes and fortune telling, that many of us treat as a kind of entertainment. Rather, I am referring to the belief systems that have become institutionalised and taken deadly seriously – established religions, feng shui and Chinese medicine, whose dogma is largely based on magical thinking.
Naming these three together and putting them in the same category as conspiracy theories is bound to upset some people. However, the phenomena espoused by all three, such as the virgin birth and energy flows, are not at all based on anything associated with science or how the world really works.
And yet, all three are firmly entrenched in our societies, and many of our schoolseven have established religions as their sponsors.
So as much as Lo’s explanation for the recent growth and spread of conspiracy theories is helpful, we should also understand that some of these theories have been hiding in plain sight for millennia.
We should not be surprised.
THE Scottish and British governments have been urged to commit to ending fossil fuel extraction after Denmark announced a ban on North Sea drilling this week.
Simple and cowardly short-termism is a major reason for the UK’s dismal performance.
The Government stunned world-leading businesses in September with its plan to end VAT-free shopping for tourists in the new year.
A parliamentary committee found about 50 billion pounds worth of cash in circulation is not being spent, and blasted the bank for...
Charissa Ball and Yan Li have recently published the article “Regulation of Virtual Asset Service Providers in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Bermuda”.
The first doses of the newly approved coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer arrived in Britain on Thursday night, the shipment packed...
A better-looking home screen, Do Not Disturb, longer battery life and more reliable unlocking are all instantly achievable on your...
Fauci also confirmed that he accepted Biden’s offer to become the president-elect’s chief medical adviser.
City’s education chief acknowledges the possibility of increased oversight in Legislative Council meeting.
Preliminary talks are underway to begin testing the e-CNY in the special administrative region of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong social enterprise restaurant trains disabled and disadvantaged
Hong Kong’s Legislative Council approved on Friday engineering and infrastructure studies for a government plan to build vast artificial...
The Christmas display and festive atmosphere in Hong Kong is one of best in Asia. Harbour City is the largest and most diverse...
Get a taste of Hong Kong without leaving home.
Officials are calling off the pyrotechnics over Victoria Harbour, as well as the annual Lunar New Year parade in February, due to the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections.
Fixed penalty of HK$5,000 takes effect next Friday and targets those who violate rules on public gatherings, mask wearing and testing.
The U.K. is granting the most special travel documents to Hong Kong residents since the 1997 handover, bolstering predictions of...
China has seized the global lead in tackling Big Tech lending which threatens to destabilise finance in multiple jurisdictions.
Airline did not consult unions on restructuring, lay-offs, saying changes are vital to ensure survival.
Judge rules 31-year-old Lam Yik-sing ‘completely abandoned’ his duty as an officer when he failed to intervene in the assault.
Female genital mutilation is considered a violation of human rights by the UN, and is illegal in many countries. The procedure...
First came Zhaxi Dingzhen, a Tibetan herder from southwest China whose rugged looks wowed internet users. Now comes a horse rider...
Inquest unearths previously unseen footage that appears to show Alex Chow’s final moments, and student’s father welcomes ‘huge step towards truth’.
China’s top body overseeing Hong Kong says sentences handed to Wong and others do not compensate for their crimes against the nation.