As I sit here with my laptop and a frothy cup of coffee, I can't help but feel overwhelmed by the task ahead of me, and question my ability to get out everything I want to say in such a short amount of time!

In my spare time this afternoon I'm going to briefly discuss an issue I've touched on in a few of my Rubenerd Show podcast episodes but haven't given too much thought to specifically. That's right, today I'm going to discuss the Illuminati, grilled cheese sandwiches and the New World Order (NWO). I'm hoping a sniper working for the Illuminati won't take me out before I hit the Submit button.

Damn it, he's on to me!

For those like me who only realised recently that these phrases were not just titles for cheap made-for-television movies about the cold war, aliens or lightbulb technicians, the gist of this conspiracy theory is that an elite ruling class composed of bureaucrats, business executives, members of the aristocracy and various royal families are in the process of secretly reshaping the world as we know it, in an attempt to create a new world order which they can supremely control and in which the populace are merely subordinates to carry out their wishes. I'm going to argue that not only is the premise of this theory unfounded, but is in fact self-serving… and would make for a lousy plot-line for a movie anyway.

ASIDE: An extremely cute young women from Hong Kong is now sharing my table at this coffee shop because all the tables are full. She has a Dell laptop, but she’s trying out Linux and is fascinated that I’m from Singapore. Alas I can’t impress her with my knowledge of Cantonese because it’s non existant!

What is particularly concerning to some people outside the circle of this conspiracy theory is how much it resembles a cult. They point out the lack of tolerance for dissent; the baffling lack of checks or questioning of ideas; the pity such people bestow on the "duped masses" and the "sheeple" that aren't a part of their organisation. I would argue in fact that it's less of a cult and more like a religion. Aside from the inner hardened group of people I'll discuss soon, most followers of the Illuminati New World Order conspiracy theory aren't in the circle to earn money, kill people they feel threatened by or to engage in other illicit criminal activities (the primary reasons for the creation of cults), but are instead looking for answers to questions they feel aren't being answered by mainstream society and that in fact can't be explained by mainstream realms of discourse such as science or secular philosophy. Inherent in this religion as with others is the distrust of ideas which don't come from their circle, and the absolute faith that in spite of evidence to the contrary, they are the only ones who know The Truth.

I call it: The Church of The New World Order. Or the New World Order Religion. Or the Ministry for the Exposure of the Illuminati. Get it? Exposure… Illuminati? Photography and Illumination, aka: Light? Ah never mind.

I Can't Believe It's Not The Illuminati!

As with other religions, the Church of the New World Order is made up of several overlapping groups, each of which is more embroiled in the system that the previous.

Group One: The Curious
These are people outside the Church’s sphere of influence who find their ideas fascinating, but not necessarily all true. They have fun debating the motives behind some government actions and postulate the reasons why some things happen the way they do, but they do it for a good time and to engage other people in stimulating conversation, with a liberal dash of humour! I would consider myself a part of this group, and probably the fine folks over at the Conspiracast.
Group Two: The Indoctrinated
These are the people who take the Church’s teachings seriously and who begin to alter their lives in order to accommodate their newfound faith. They believe that people in power are actively secretly shaping the world as they see fit. They dismiss contradictory evidence, they distrust intellectuals, governments and educational institutions unless they agree with their own beliefs, and they ridicule those who haven’t seen The Light.
Group Three: The Obsessed
These are the people who physically disconnect themselves from mainstream society. They live in bomb shelters, attach tin foil to their hats, refuse to open accounts, travel or carry mobile phones, and who above all don’t make grilled cheese sandwiches because they know the bread is infested with artificial microbes programmed by the State to alter their minds and make them buy Super Freak Rick James CDs.
Group Four: The Entrepreneurs
These are the hardened inner group of people within the Church who make money and build their careers out of the belief system. While some surely believe what they’re writing in their books, saying at their conferences or showing through their music or movies, other more shrewd businesspeople see the Chruch from the outside as a readily accessible pool of vulnerable people they can easily exploit for their own financial gain. These are the people who anger me.

Rick James Super Freak
Rick James!

There is a certain degree of arrogance felt amongst people of the Church of the New World Order in that they alone know The Truth and everyone outside doesn't. As with other religions though, this arrogance is misplaced and can be exposed by showing how they come to the conclusions they do.

Unlike science (an institution that religions universally distrust) which attempts to hypothesise, find evidence and then alter their hypothesis to form a theory based on that evidence, people looking to expose the Illuminati and their plan for a New World Order make life easy for themselves by starting with The Truth and finding evidence to support it: instead of God, they say Illuminati. Why is there inflation? The Illuminati. Why are CEOs paid so much? The Illuminati. Why are grilled cheese sandwiches yellow and brown, and not purple and green? The Illuminati.

An Appeal to Logic

Using the Illuminati as the reason for why so many bad things happen does make life easier, but it leaves the rational mind unsatisfied. It's an insufficient explanation that grossly oversimplifies all the problems in the world, not to mention the fact that an Illuminati exists is far too convenient an explanation. It's the philosophical equivalent to wearing blinkers: they see only a limited part of the world and therefore they assume the problems and causes of said problems are the same everywhere else. It also reeks of insensitivity to issues that plague people other than themselves; a trait often exhibited by people who intentionally don't research other cultures and societies before labeling the whole world. It's a bit selfish.

Unlike science where contradictory evidence is accounted for and the theory revised, the Church merely ignores this evidence, and instead attacks the integrity of the evidence's source. This is particularly ironic given that if the same institutions they mock were to come out and support the ideas of the Church of the New World Order instead of discredit them, we know the Chruch would seize upon it and proudly proclaim that science, medicine or economics supports what they're saying. This is selective reasoning, and it's extremely telling.

ASIDE: I asked my father what he thought about this conspiracy theory. He replied that he has worked on business and government projects across the world and has seen how poorly they get along within their own countries let alone across the world!

Perhaps even more telling though is that members of the Church of the New World Order, specifically in the Second, Third and Forth groups I discussed above, don't even follow their own rules! I find it particularly ironic that many people who claim they're fighting the New World Order use the Internet to spread their message; a device that many other conspiracy theorists claim is being used by the Illuminati to dupe the masses! If they believe that other people can't be trusted, why can't they understand why others treat them with similar skepticism? This is another reason why I think this particular conspiracy theory resembles a religious organisation: alternative ideas from other people in this case won't send you to Hell, but they're still Simply Wrong.

Rick James Super Freak
Bloodlines of the Illuminati, proudly DNA evidence free! Don't trust DNA!

A common defense against this argument is often made that science does the same thing: scientists unanimously agree upon something, but when other scientists question it, they're Simply Wrong. In the infamous words of Christopher Hitchens, let us assist in the suicide of this fatuous proposition: the debate and discussion surrounding various issues such as global warming are taking place not only in cheap magazines and discussion forums sponsored by oil companies and car manufacturers (my own attempt at a conspiracy theory!), but they're also playing out in the realm of peer reviewed discourse at universities and throughout the global scientific community that transcends cultural and national boundaries, the result of which will be a better understanding of how our planet's climate system works and what technologies and methods we can create and employ to help us. If it turns out global warming isn't true, we'll take this into account and move on; but in the meantime we've progressed and learned more about how the world works. People in the Church of the New World Order can't claim they're doing any of this, nor can they claim they have equally rigorous testing of some of their less than reputable theories.

"Hypocrisy" sounds like a brand of adhesive

As someone who has directly benefited from science and medical technology, and who is studying science at a university, not only do I feel angry when someone dismisses science, medicine and the intellectual geniuses behind them that I could only imagine comparing myself to in dreams, I feel personally insulted. Not only are they insulting my family, they are cheapening the contributions of every doctor and scientist throughout history, and in a rich ironic twist, they're doing it by using the fruits born of the scientific and medical research systems they mock! Rather than contributing to society, they choose instead to concoct stories that the very people they're benefiting from are evil, satanic members of an underground organisation, because in the end they're not doing it to help humanity, they're doing it to advance Their Illuminati Cause. They're questioning the motives of honest, decent people who are contributing more to society and advancing humanity in a way that these dismissive people wound never be able to do. I won't even bother addressing the hypocrisy of people who don't believe in evolution but take vaccinations, or those who mock grills while eating grilled cheese sandwiches.

These people say we can't trust these peer reviewed publications, doctors, scientists or higher learning institutions for the same reason as Young Earth creationists claim you can't trust carbon dating, or that the Flat Earth Society claims you can't trust telescopes, or that Episcopalians say you can't trust Baptists: these people, technologies and ideas threaten their position, and cognitive dissonance is a very hard condition to cope with… plus it's more convenient to say so. The apparent evidence for an Illuminati and a New World Order is simply insufficient to believe what they're claiming. Full stop, put the book down, walk outside, have a cup of tea. Do a Google search for New World Order, read the articles, listen to the speeches. Take note of how very few of them contain references, how many contain blatantly made up material, and how many make factual mistakes that someone with even a basic understanding of the field they're discussing would cringe after reading.

I hear the members of the Illuminati all wear little hats, especially if they're a Freemason.

Members of the Church of the New World Order use a variety of techniques to generate support for their positions including fear mongering (the Illuminati control everything, wise up!), intentional vagueness (don't trust people in education because they're all controlled by the Illuminati), making blatant logic errors (the Illuminati desire power, and so do electrical appliances, therefore appliances are part of the Illuminati), blatantly cherry picking facts while intentionally ignoring others (Hitler murdered Jews because he believed in evolution) and assuming correlation equals causality. Perhaps the most commonly used one though is what I call the Nostradamus technique: take an event that has happened or is happening, fit The Truth about the Illuminati into it, and draw the inevitable conclusion that they were responsible, again with either insufficient evidence or none whatsoever. Next time you read such a piece, do what I like to call the Doctor test: simply replace the author with a doctor in your mind and the ideas they're presenting and the evidence for such ideas for a medical treatment. Would you like a doctor to treat a life threatening condition you have based on insufficient evidence? Why should your view of the world be any different?

So we come to the final point: I sincerely believe much of the reason why people participate in conspiracy theories surrounding an Illuminati and a New World Order is fear. Some people are simply afraid of change, or anything that goes against the status quo. This is a perfectly normal human trait: it only becomes a problem when the fear becomes irrational and halts our progress. I don't need to give examples here!

Never attribute to malice what can easily be explained by rampant paranoia!

A conclusion is best put at the end somewhere

None of what I'm saying here should be construed to mean that I completely trust governments, businesses and researchers. Far from it, I believe there is room – and there should be – for legitimate questioning and review of what's going on around us; this is what makes a vibrant, stable and productive society. I am the first to admit there are corrupt governments, businesses with little ethical integrity, and people who call themselves scientists who cherry pick evidence, and part of me even believes that there are secret societies out there. We get absolutely nowhere though individually and as a global society by kidding ourselves and believing in things which haven't been proved at the least, or at worst are blatantly not true. I guess you could call me a Church of the New World Order Atheist. As with other atheists, I assert that they're incorrect due to insufficient and incorrect evidence: if they can prove to me that what they're saying is true, I'll believe it. In the meantime, I'm not going to be a "sheeple", because I am an independent person with my own thoughts.

Rick James Super Freak
Did you know that the Illuminati is just a con by people working for reptiles? David Icke conclusively proves with no biological or DNA evidence that all the people in power in the world are actually reptilian! You read it here first!

As I said on the Rubenerd Show (and as I found out later the infamous Penn Jilette and Teller said on their fantastic show Bullshit), humans are extremely social creatures: we all crave human attention. We shouldn't have to come up with reasons such as we believe the world is on the verge of being changed forever or that there are mind control devices in grilled cheese sandwiches to get a moment of someone's time. Let's part with all the nonsense, and engage each other in constructive discussion. We're all in this together, religious conspiracy theories only serve to get in the way!

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