Monday, March 04, 2013

Shh! It's a Conspiracy!

I'm not big on conspiracy theory. I know people who are bright, well-educated professionals–doctors, lawyers, scientists–who roll down those roads. I include in these family and friends. 

I understand why, but I can't go there.

I am less inclined to attribute things to malice that can be more easily attributed to stupidity. And partially, while I don't think all people are stupid, I also don't think they are so smart that they can pull off some of what they are supposed to have pulled off.

A group of conspirators are only as bright as the dumbest one among them. 

I believe there are several reasons why these things abound. Because we don't have answers to everything–reality is often messy, and sometimes it doesn't get completely sorted out–there is a human tendency to supply an answer even if it's wrong. 

Kennedy was assassinated? It couldn't be some lone nut gunman, there has to be more to it!

Oswald? No, man, he was a patsy, he wasn't even there! It was  A) The CIA B) The Russians C) The Cubans D) The Mafia E) Aliens F) All of the above ...

Coupled with this is the notion that shit can't just happen; that for the universe to make sense, Somebody Must be in Charge! The puppetmaster who pulls the strings, and who is, in turn, controlled by a smarter cabal, who all dance to yet a smarter one's tune.

Hard to say how many levels there are; at the top, they'd have to be so brilliant and adept that nobody could possibly have even heard of them.

Doesn't matter if the puppetmasters are amoral or downright evil, in fact, they almost always are. That explains a lot of bad stuff that a benevolent über-lord wouldn't allow. It's that there is a reason why stuff happens; even the reason is evil? Well, that's better than chaos.

Somebody is murdered and it turns out to be random? That somehow seems so much worse than it was the spouse or the neighbor stoked on PCP.  

The inconsistencies of reality leave handles. Well, if that's how it happened, then what about this stuff over here? Didn't you see the film of the tiny puffs of something going off in the tower before the jet hit it? How do you explain those? Must be because they took it down from inside, those are mis-timed explosions, right?

Those jet contrails? The ones that look funny? Those must be more than just vapor, mustn't they? 

Area 53? (Sure you heard about Area 51, that's just a red herring, but 53? You don't know what goes on there!)

Conspiracy theory demands that every sparrow that falls be accounted for, and if you can't do that, then you must be wrong. The door is thus open for another explanation.

There are real conspiracies. Enough of them so that if you are proposing a new one, you can point to them: See? The Navy admitted it, finally! So that means there really could be something else going on they are lying about! Which must therefore mean my theory is ironclad truth!

Because a thing is possible doesn't mean that it is real, but it is amazing to what lengths a conspiracy theorist will go to nail down the tiniest detail. 

And the proof is often offered with the same sales-psychology that sells encyclopedias. Answer yes to the first question, each question that follows is part of a cascade. If you allow it might be possible that A is true, then B isn't that much of a reach. From B to C? No problem. Then a whole raft of things hop on that wagon. Each incremental step is small enough so it doesn't seem looney tunes. Until you get to Z and realize you aren't in Kansas any more.

Now and then they slip up and make the leap from one that sounds reasonable to one that goes completely bonkers. All those people who were supposed to be on that highjacked jet that crashed in Pennsylvania? They weren't there, you know. The jet landed at a secret airport, see, they were taken off, and are all in a hidden prison. Those cell phone calls they made to loved ones? All faked by actors.

Really? You don't think your spouse of forty years would know it was you if you called to say your plane was being hijacked and about to hit the ground? 

Where are Porky and Daffy? Hey, Bugs ... ?

And it is so easy to create one of these, because people want answers and will listen to almost any you can come up with. Remember, 11% of people in this country think that Elvis is still alive. 70% believe that angels exits, and many of those are sure they aren't just spiritual, but actually corporeal beings. 25% of Republicans believe Obama was born in Kenya.

Here's an easy one: Those school shootings? All engineered by a secret cabal of gunmakers. An assassin, who has a drugged, look-alike, dressed-the-same patsy waiting, does the deed,  then takes out the poor guy and makes it look like suicide. SOP.

Why would they do this? Well, it's Die Hard. Because every time there is a mass-shooting, there are congressional rumbles about gun control. And every time that happens? Gun sales go through the roof and money flows like mercury into the coffers of the gunmakers. Who think they are clever, but who are actually being run by three Jewish guys in Zurich, who control all the world's money. Who are but a small division of the Illuminati as it works to deliver the New World Order ... 

Do I believe this? No. I could make it work (sorta) in a fiction story, in the same way I could make the idea that the world's cemetery owners and undertakers would kill to keep a forever drug away from the market. Bad for business if people don't die, you know.

The problem is that there is a lot of fiction that pretends to be real. I could give you a list and my raised-eyebrow look of wonder: You really believe that? Seriously? (Because some of them make Lord of the Rings look like every-word-is-absolutely-true. But some of you believe those, and it'll just piss you off ...)

And of course, there are some of you who believe I am but a tiny cog in the grand conspiracy, and by posting this, playing my assigned role to gull people into a false sense of security.

The truth is out there?

Maybe ...


Joe said...

Mr. Perry,

I have a Conspiracy theorist relative who's matra is, "If you can't disprove my theory, it's as valid as any other."

Since the Atomic Theory seems to be working well, her theory on the Roswell crash must be every bit as valid.

Steve Perry said...

Yeah, we know how that one works ...

Burden of proof is on the affirmative. If somebody is offering a theory, they have to pony up; all the negative has to do is shake its head no.

The law says innocent until the prosecution proves you guilty, at least in this country.

There might be a fire-breathing dragon floating over the trees out back, but I don't believe it, and if somebody wants to convince me there is, they have to show it to me, or demonstrate its existence with evidence.

Al theories are not created equal ...

WillN said...

I used to think there was a POW /Vietnam conspiracy but then Henry Kissenger in 1991/92 during open Senate hearings told America we knowingly left 54 pilots captured in Laos...Paris Peace talks did not include Laos. So, no conspiracy to leave POW's Vietnam.