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Elvia Wilk is a writer and editor living in Berlin, covering art, architecture, urbanism, and emerging technologies. She contributes to publications like Frieze, Artforum, e-flux, die Zeit, the Architectural Review, and Metropolis. Currently she's a contributing editor at Rhizome and publications editor for transmediale festival for arts and digital culture.
The line between skepticism and paranoia sometimes seems shaky in the internet age. How do you know if your suspicion is warranted with so much crazy news around?
Julian Baggini argues that suspecting the “hidden power of elites” is not at all irrational in our time. He suggests, only half-joking, that even believing in the illuminati makes senese—but that the real illuminati might look more like big pharma or totalitarian governments.
Humans, says Baggini, are “constantly on the lookout for both patterns and agency”, which are matters of survival. But they can become outsized needs leading to what we call pathologies when they tip over the edge of rationality—such as seeing patterns where there are none, or believing in plots against oneself when there is little evidence.
Although many of us are quick to condemn the conspiracy-seekers of the world as nutcases, Baggini writes:
“We would do better to see how much of our thinking displays the same weaknesses ... When we dig for the truth, we flirt with madness. But in a world where hidden power is all too real, it’s the only sane thing to do.”