I’ve decided to call defeat over conspiracy theories. You can’t stop ‘em or change the minds of anybody who believes them. So I’ve decided to join them. From here on, I’m a believer in every conspiracy theory around, especially the ones that contradict each other.
So yes, the moon landings were faked (six times), and 400,000 Americans working across every industry from Playtex to Boeing have kept it secret for 50 years without breathing a word. Participants in the conspiracy included the entire Soviet government – who were actively monitoring US space activity, and who kept quiet despite the fraud. Obviously. Because otherwise the fake would have been ‘blown’ long before a handful of Smart People managed to discover it.
I can prove science is wrong because dinosaurs. It has to be true because Aliens from Area 57 told me.
Oh yes, and the Earth is flat. Just Earth, of course. Every other planet is an oblate spheroid. And what’s the flat Earth sitting on? Elephants. They go all the way down.
And the Covid-19 virus was a plan by the hidden lizard-emperors to have Bill Gates personally inject everybody with tracking chips.
I could go on, but I have to go to Hartlepool to buy pencils to stick up my nose. Wibble.
There’s nothing new about conspiracy thinking – it’s actually a very medieval thing. Back then there was a general idea in western society that the world was not what it seemed. Everything had a meaning behind it, often detectable by clues intentionally left hidden ‘in plain sight’. This had very lucrative echoes for a certain Dan Brown, who used this thinking as the core of that best-seller The Of Vinci Code (I know what I said).
A lot of it came from the fact that people reacted to what they saw and didn’t think beyond it. ‘If I don’t understand it, nobody can understand it, therefore my idea is true’.
Much of this was swept aside with the ‘Enlightenment’, the early-modern wave of new thinking that swept Europe and which provides much of the basis of the way we think and behave today.
Except, of course, we don’t – the explosion of conspiracy thinking over the Covid-19 pandemic alone, facilitated and driven by social media, makes that clear. Why? Some of the papers I’ve seen indicate a link between social stress and a belief in conspiracy theories. And the reason is simple enough. In an unknown and dangerous situation the idea that all can be simply explained gives place – a sense of certainty and understanding.
The fact that this understanding is completely disconnected from anything real doesn’t reduce the psychological effect. And – as always – history offers lessons. Back in the seventeenth century Europe went through a similar significant period of crisis, and the crazies came out. Human nature, I suppose.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2021