What is the draw to belief in the unseen?

Over on the Faceplantbook, I have a friend named Joe. Joe is an admin for a Facebook page called “Aliens Anonymous.”

The page’s modus operandi: “This is more than a group for UFOs. This is a group for the truth of the past, present and future. There is so much we still don’t know, and so much truth that needs to be shared. The truth is out there.”

The small group of Alienites proselytize the message that alien life exists. The government knows it. A small cabal of insiders knows about it. The proof comes in the form of blurry pictures and “eyewitness” testimony from people who claim they worked for the government; people like Phil Schneider who claimed to work for the government for 17 years building infrastructure underground that housed clandestine operations connected by a network of underground railroads circumnavigating the visible, above ground parts of the United States.

Phil Schneider is a god of the Alienite’s movement. Alienite is a word I made up. Alienites belong to a cult called Alienity (also a made-up word). Phil Schneider committed suicide in 1996 after spending 1995 proselytizing secret knowledge of government coverups about aliens on Earth. Schneider’s disciples believe he was strangled, and therefore murdered … by the GOVERNMENT!!!

The “they” had to keep him quiet. They had to shut him up. They had to take out the threat of leaks and knowledge that he might deliver as gospel to the American public.

I was invited into the group and sent a note to my brother soon after saying, “Joe sent me an invite for this conspiracy theory page discussing aliens. Holy shit.”

My brother ended up calling me and telling me a bit of backstory about Joe, including that he is laid up with a disability and that he spends his entire days on his back in bed researching aliens and UFOs. My brother followed the group for a while, but when the subject matter became political around the election, he quit the group.

Aliens and UFOs, here is another topic I’m atheist/agnostic toward. Aliens could exist. They could be living among us as reptiles. Or some weird demons. But without proof or widespread, accepted information, go fuck yourselves.

Anthony Warner, the smart guy with all the answers who blew up the AT&T building in Nashville, that guy … THAT guy … thought there is an alien race of reptilian beings dressed up in realistic human costumes walking among us.

Yet, no reasonable amount of proof can be given surrounding these ideas.

About ten years ago, a high school friend happened upon this blog and she read with utter amazement that one of her old friends who once believed in God and Jesus would have the audacity to no longer believe in the God we were taught to love as kids. Her name is/was Laura (she’s not dead, but we don’t talk). She was a pastor’s kid. Beautiful. Blonde. One day as teenagers, my brother held some kind of movie viewing in my parents’ living room and I laid in her lap and she popped blackheads in my ears.

She and I made one of those pacts that many high schoolers make: “If we’re not married by [a certain age], you and I will tie the knot.”

When she found this blog, she was dumbstruck. She found my email and sent me a long message flabbergasted by my disbelief. She wrote how her grandfather had absolute proof of God’s existence, because God showed up to him as a young man in his office. Alone. Just him. And he lived to tell about it.

I imagine that she hoped her argument that she had eyewitness testimony of God through her loved one, who surely wouldn’t be dishonest, or mistake a dream for reality, or a hallucination for real experience, surely this person wouldn’t fabricate the story.

The truth of the unseen shows up to a lot of people who are already obsessed with their existence. But singularly. And seemingly the version they have drawn up on the chalkboard of their minds.

My friend Joe is laid up for years on his back investing hours into the underground world of Alienity, the religion of UFOs. Pastors devote years to convincing the masses that something we can’t see exists. That has to take a toll on one’s brain.

Tina read an article the other day and the headline included the term “Sunk Cost.” She showed it to me and said, “Do you understand this?” The headline was: “Monkeys Playing Video Games Experience ‘Sunk Costs’ Just Like Humans.”

She and I read it over and over and until we read the article, it made not sense.

In a nutshell: Sunk Cost Theory or Fallacy is: People demonstrate “a greater tendency to continue an endeavor once an investment in money, effort, or time has been made.”

Imagine. I make a claim that I am the absolute best painter of all time. Trust in me when I say it. Show you my portfolio? No. I will spend years telling you that my paintings are the most amazing, detailed and out of this world gorgeous. I’ll research great art from all time and even become well versed in teaching about what constitutes great art. I claim objectivity and sound knowledge. My charisma convinces you over time. The painting will seem alive, invigorating and life-giving. It’ll change your life and everyone who sees it. And finally you say, “Okay, I’ll commission you. You’ve convinced me. $1,000,000 is yours.”

What I deliver is a stick figure holding a stick on a canvas the size of a Times Square billboard. Signed with my scribbled name in the bottom right corner.

Now imagine that I pay no taxes on that $1,000,000.

I’m a demonstrable fraud. A fraud who has invested so much time into something I can only describe in words, but cannot produce with any level of tangibility. I sunk so much time into convincing you, and you spent so much time listening to me, $1,000,000 seemed like a reasonable trade to shut me the F up.

I know a lot of people who have invested their entire lives, sixty to seventy plus years, believing in something they’ve never seen. And their level of convinced is eye-popping.

On the flip side, maybe I’ve now reached a level of conspiracy theory nutter butter by claiming that I do not believe. I accept that possibility and I guess I have to own it. Just because a person lies on his back all day and generates messaging to other Alienites that aliens exist, doesn’t mean he’s not right. It means I’m not accepting of his so-called “truth.”

There’s a good argument going around that this uptick in conspiracy nuttery is the result of a poor education system. And there’s part of me that accepts that. There is a sort of malaise among many to eek by with as little effort as possible.

There’s also the argument that the decline of human minds is the absence of God in our public schools and government. I argue that argument is unfounded, because the same people who make that argument claim that God is everywhere, all the time, whether we believe it or not. So he either is everywhere, all knowing and all good or he’s not. Make up your minds, kids.

I’ll end with this parable.

There’s an old king overseeing a great land. He promised greatness, but only for a fraction of his kingdom. “Everyone doesn’t deserve the greatness I have to offer,” He shouts from his throne. “Only those who worship me with unyielding servitude will be bestowed my blessings.”

In his younger years, he raped and pillaged. He slept with many a prostitute and grabbed many vaginas. Because when you’re king, they let you.

He hired help, but did not pay them. He cherished slavery over the values of fairness. He went through wives like war machines and spawned many children.

Eventually the fraction that he opposed became angry. They found a man to replace him as king, and to make matters worse, he was older and disabled with a stutter. This would certainly seal the fate of the king by embarrassing him. The revolution was quick and decisive. The older man was to be crowned supreme. No court can prove otherwise. No questions arose from the majority. The minority cried powerlessly.

But the defeated king sat outside the castle gates, near a moat, in a puddle of mud, slapping his hands down in the water and saying, “No! No! No! I am the king. I will always be the king.” But there he sits, in a puddle with a crown of sweat beaded on his brow.

Eventually, lepers and the destitute will surround him and become convinced. One morning, a beam of sunlight passes through an opening in the clouds and covers him in golden light. And rumors of godlikeness will erupt like wildfire. And for four years, rumors of sunlighted greatness propagates through the minority.

The former king promised a return to the throne. He promised that he would be restored and he would reward those who followed him with wealth and abundance. The best farms they could imagine producing the greatest, bigliest crops.

Outside the gates, the minority and their leader spent so much time bemoaning the end of their greatness that they established a new kingdom. The moat people lived and swam in the moat, infecting themselves with disease, because they hadn’t a speck of knowledge regarding the elimination of their own feces.

To become great again, they could denounce this man, this failure of a king, but they choose disease and turmoil.

Because the sunk cost fallacy prevented them from abandoning their time investment and commitment to uncleanliness and a hope unseen.

Don’t be one of these people.

And don’t forget: “There is so much we still don’t know, and so much truth that needs to be shared. The truth is out there.”


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