Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Is Wikipedia dangerous to the conspiracy theory addled mind?

xkcd points out that Wikipedia can be quite a time waster as you click from interesting topic to topic when you get distracted in your search for a bit of useful information.

I used to try to do this with regular encyclopedias (on paper no less), but it is so much easier using hyperlinks on the web. Tabbed browsing doesn't suppress this behavior, it only enhances it. My particular chain took an interesting conspiracy theory/ free mason/ alternate religion path.

I started with the Infamous things that have happened on Saturday Night Live linked to from from a reddit post about the people banned from appearing on SNL, there is quite a list.

That led to looking up what 30 Rock is, because I like that TV show. In this reference though, 30 rock is a nickname for the GE building, from its address, 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

The GE building is a pretty famous landmark in New York and has a sculpture in front that is evocative of William Blake's Ancient of Days.

It turns out that Ancient of Days is another name for God but that different traditions have different meanings. This was my chance to look at all the names for God, but instead I jumped to Esotericism because it sounded interesting and that group has a different interpretation on Ancient of Days.

Esotericism, as Wikipedia reports it, largely overlaps with "hidden knowledge." There was some mention of the ancient mystery religions and a claim that Christianity was one of them and interesting comments about Gnosticism about Hermeticism.

Gnosticism and its hidden knowledge aspect seemed to be too easy a choice so I took the Hermeticism branch instead and fell right into a discussion of Hermes Trismegistus who may or may not have existed but is suggested as the founder of a whole system of beliefs of which The Order of Freemasons and Rosicrucianism are based.

Let's stop here.

My theory is that Wikipedia and the Internet it is a part of are either schizophrenic themselves or are conducive to schizophrenia. My innocent clicking of links led me deeper into an alternate world of secret religions and hidden knowledge and farther from rational discourse and reality. I am lucky that I don't hear voices in my head right now. Maybe the real secret is that there is a conspiracy to make people believe in conspiracy theories and secret societies all of which may or may not exist. I call it the meta-conspiracy theory.


NotPhil said...

If you had clicked on a few more links, you might have discovered that the esoteric Freemasons, who are mentioned in so many conspiracy theories, actually provided a cover for many Enlightenment philosophers, who were trying to resurrect rational thought and open knowledge. Makes your head spin, doesn't it?

FilmNoir23 said...

have you ever considered that wikipedia and the internet have actually allowed the TRUTH to be seen for the first time? Because search strings allow for those "hidden" threads to be connected in a way that our brains weren't able to handle until computers could do it for us?