One of the driving forces behind writing TERMINAL CONNECTION, a novel, rather than releasing a text book on consulting is the fact that the most important lessons are emotional and absorbed through experience. While a text book can convey the facts, it cannot make the reader re-live the experience and understand the subtle nuances. Only a novel, much like hypnosis, can transport the reader into a virtual world and replace all they see, hear, smell, and otherwise sense to the point that they forget they are laying on a couch reading a book. They experience, react, and feel which leads to a deeper understanding.
One of the more important consulting lessons I teach is the concept of “headless conspiracies.” Understanding the nature of headless conspiracies starts by showing the fallacy behind believing in conscious conspiracies, especially where the government is concerned. The two biggest problems with conscious conspiracies are:
1) The assumption that government is largely competent
2) The belief that government notices, much less cares about, the conspiracist.
Government is largely non-effective. Anyone who has watched congress attempting to pass legislation (or a budget for that matter) knows the inability to manage from the top. Anyone who has gone through the airport TSA checks has experienced (sometime very intimately) the idiocy of government at the bottom. (The last trip I was on had the TSA confiscated my nail clippers, but let me keep a solid, metal pen as well as my 15 pound laptop – both of which could inflict significantly more damage. And a few rows up from where I sat I saw a woman knit with two twelve inch knitting needles.) The best and the brightest practices DO NOT find their way into government at any level. Worse, these practices rarely get updated until the damage has already been done. In fact, often this lack of “care and feeding” of the agency’s business processes is exactly how headless conspiracies are born and evolve teeth over time.
The second point is government, for the most part, views the majority of us as inconsequential. The dynamic between Southern California (SC) and Northern California (NC) mirrors this relationship. If you ask an NC what they think about SC, they will ramble on about how NC is deeper, more spiritual, and connected to the environment. If you ask SC what they think about NC, they say – we don’t. Replace SC with government and NC with conspiracy theorist and pretty much the same dynamic goes on. Conspiracist are obsessed with Government, while government never really thinks about the conspiracist until they blow up something big. And then they only think about the conspiracist because they have to.
I am not saying conspiracies don’t exist, rather that they are, in practice, much more dangerous and difficult to manage. You see, most conspiracies are not conscious. That is, you cannot simply go in and crush the leadership and get control of the conspiracy. No, most conspiracies are created by well meaning people that set rules in place which other people follow long after the rules are effective until you find yourself stuck in a pack of lemmings all heading over an obvious cliff looming ahead.
Why then do so many people believe in conscious conspiracies? The two reasons conscious conspiracies don’t exist illuminate why many people are motivated to believe in them.
First, people want to feel special. Much like within a dysfunctional family after the hero role, the scapegoat role is the next to be taken. The conspiracist unconsciously realizes that being the critic garners as much attention as the doer and usually for a lot less work and self doubt. Much like the victim in the drama triangle you can never be “bad” when you are the underdog and declare yourself the victim. The victim can never do anything wrong in their own eyes as they are locked into all or nothing thinking. Every bad act they do is forgiven and excused by the true scapegoat – the hero, the one with the power. Further, the average person can relate to the “average” conspiracist much better than the larger-than-life hero – in this case the government.
Second, people want someone or something in control that is conscious – even if that someone or something is evil. Deep down people understand that if you crush a snake’s head, the threat is removed. Conversely if attacked by a flesh eating bacterium, only by killing each and every cell of the bacterium can a person be safe. If a conspiracy is conscious it is even easier to control the evil force. Not only is there a central weak point but that weak point is influenced by thought alone. Consciousness can be reasoned with or at least bribed. Conversely, an unconscious conspiracy has no one at the helm, no easy way to influence the evil force, much less control it.
Thus it is the combination of the need to be special along with the need for something conscious to be in control even if it is evil that results in the allure of the conscious conspiracy.
What does a headless conspiracy look like and what kicks them off you ask? Well, that is the topic of the next article.
This post originally appeared on NMS Guru. Daniel Needles is a friend of Lou Aronica. His novel Terminal Connection was published on Jan. 24, 2014.