Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Critical Look at those Curious Hand Signs

     In public writings, I like to stay away from conspiracy theories.
     It’s not that I don’t believe that there are political conspiracies. Oh, far from it. To doubt it means accepting the view that politicians and bureaucrats always tell the truth and never have ulterior motives. It means that bills before Congress are always intended to do what their sponsors say they’re designed to do. It means that Nixon didn’t know a thing about Watergate. It means a lot of other things that no reasonable person can accept as fact.
     I prefer to stay away from them because, in most arguments, the theory has a way of becoming the issue. Any limitation in the theory—and all theories have limitations—will be taken as an excuse to reject the facts.
     If you’re going to espouse conspiracy theories, you should at least try to limit your theory's limitations. That is, adjust your theories to fit the facts and not the other way around.
     Let’s take the theory that a Great Conspiracy blankets the whole world and that its participants signal to one another via Satanist hand signs. There’s one problem with seeing a conspiracy every time we see one of these hand signs: Each of those hand signs has multiple meanings.

     One of these signs—the index and middle fingers raised together—can mean “peace,” “victory,” “I have marijuana,” or “I’m Taiwanese.” (When Taiwanese see a camera, they immediately grin and hold up two fingers for no apparent reason. By that gesture, you can tell to that their nationality is Taiwanese and not Chinese.)
     Inverted peace signs can signify the number two in America or an insulting gesture in Britain.
     Another sign can be a clumsy way of waving “hello.”
     Yet another is commonly used to mean, “I love you.” Some conspiracy theorists argue that Helen Keller, an alleged Satanist, was a proponent of sign language. Linking misconception unto fancy, they conclude that the "I love you" sign must signify service to Satan.  Well, I don’t know about the Satanist part, but Helen Keller was opposed to sign language—notwithstanding that a form of sign language was used to teach her to communicate.
     What about the corona—that is, the sign that involves holding up your index finger and pinky, and holding your middle and ring fingers down with your thumb? That one can mean, “Go to hell,” “Go, Longhorns (a football team in Texas), or it can be a Satanist sign. In certain European countries, it means, “Your wife is cheating on you.”
     So you see, ascribing the same meaning to all of these signs under all conditions means twisting facts to suit theories rather than the other way around. It’s not just a loophole in the conspiracy theory; it’s a gap so large that and eighteen wheeler could turn around in it.
     Let’s tighten it up a bit, shall we? For the purpose of this article, let’s ignore all the hand signs that are commonly used for various purposes throughout the world. “Peace” signs and inverted peace signs are out, and so is the American Sign Language sign for “I love you.”
     Let’s narrow our examination to two signs: the inverted “I love you” sign and the corona. Taking this further, let’s exclude the photos in which the corona obviously refers to the Texas Longhorns sports team. Since the corona is also said to be used as a Buddhist and Hindu sign, (though I've never seen an example of this) let’s exclude any photos that depict Buddhists and Hindus giving anything that may resemble this sign.
     What do we have left after all this narrowing down and exclusion? We have a few photos in which the corona might—I stress might—refer to Buddhism, Hinduism, or the Texas Longhorns; but we also have photos that beg explanation. We also have the inverted “I love you” sign under circumstances that couldn’t possibly mean, “I love you.”
     Trusting as I do the ability of each person to decide for himself, I offer only a minimum of personal comment in the following clip:
video
Or check it out on You Tube: Those Curious Hand Signs
     A lot of professing Christians reject the conspiracy theory that the world’s opinion molders and other powers and principalities are under Satan’s control. After all, isn’t the Lord of Heaven also the Lord of All?
     Is that what the Bible says? At least eleven New Testament verses address that question. A useful site called gotQuestions.org quotes all eleven of them here.
     Of course, the religious question raised in the previous paragraph may be unrelated to the questions concerning hand signs, or they may be inseparably intertwined. I won’t try to make up your mind for you. You’ll have to do that for yourself.
     As I said in the beginning of this article, I like to avoid conspiracy theories in my public discourse. I offer facts and trust people to form their own conclusions.

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