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Good Actors, Bad Actors

January 2, 2009

When we think inside the box of a conspiracy theory, we gain a binary predisposition toward people:

Good Will.  With good will, we give the benefit of the doubt to people’s statements and actions. "They had good intentions" we will say in explanation and forgiveness. We will overlook unintended consequences resulting from the actions of a good actor without changing our overall opinion.  In terms of CTs, We have good will toward Outside Actors (see Conspiracy Theory Requirements post), but a little more disdain for Ignorant Outsiders than for Helpless Outsiders.

Bad Will. Fundamental known: bad actors are bad.  They have better understanding, more complete foresight, and more consistent and rational behavior than good actors. Bad actors are consistent and comprehensive in their bad actions.  A seemingly good action is just part of a poorly understand plan for a bad outcome. Regarding CTs, we harbor bad will for suspected Inside Actors.

This is a simple and powerful for classifying people.  But it also kills opportunity. It is arrogant to assume you know the internal state of another free agent and that it is temporally consistent (while you are sure you can change for the better). The error of fundamentalism is that the first and last items in the chain

(actor’s internal state)–>Action–>Outcomes–>(new state of the world)

are morally equivalent without regard for Actions and Outcomes (i.e. the actual events in the chain!).  Bad Will is a fundamentalist assumption that removes any space for good actions from presumed Bad Actors.  And so it assures their perpetual status as Bad Actors.

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