You might have to go back a few years to recall the movie Conspiracy Theory. It aired in 1997, well before Mel Gibson’s epic meltdown and was therefore still watchable. Julia Roberts also starred, and although it had a happy ending–someday–promised, it never quite worked for me as a romance. Throughout, Gibson played a paranoid obsessive compulsive who doesn’t appear to be quite right. He sees conspiracies in every event so he warns Roberts’ character of the conspiracy that killed her father. It turns out that Gibson is on the run from a government agency run amuk who seeks to reprogram him to keep their secrets. This same agency was indeed behind the assassination of the heroine’s father.
It was an entertaining enough movie, because who doesn’t like a good conspiracy now and again? I still remember playing the Beatles’ white album backwards and listening to the hidden messages hinting that Paul was dead. But I outgrew that sort of thing at approximately the same time I outgrew Ouiji boards and seances.
Others, it seems, did not. They embrace conspiracies. They see them everywhere, shadows in the sunlight. It doesn’t seem to matter that their conspiracies require illogical thinking and an unhealthy dose of paranoia. And you get the full gamut of current conspiracy theories if you spend any time on Facebook.
There are still people, for example, who believe the US never went to the moon. The whole thing was a movie set, they argue, to convince people of…ok, I never quite figured out the why but there are still those clinging to this particular deception.
Global warning is considered by some to be a vast conspiracy put forth by scientists and governments for the purpose of misdirecting research funding and political power. Again, the reason for perpetuating this sort of massive fraud is difficult to understand unless you also ascribe to the theory of clandestine governments out to enslave and deceive their citizens.
There are even those who believe that the switch to digital TV programming is the enactment of Big Brother. They claim that mini cameras and mini-recorders are built into the new TVs to spy on people. Frankly anyone who has ridden on a bus would find it unfathomable that anyone would want to watch live feed on 300,000,000 people in the hopes of seeing anything remotely interesting.
But the bemusing and mildly entertaining theories become something else when they inevitably propagate after a tragedy. Like the current one claiming that the Sandy Hook massacre was ‘staged’ in a clandestine effort to bring about gun control. Reading about the idiots espousing that belief first infuriated me. Then it just made me sad. If we gather up all these kooks and relegate them to Krazytown, I’m beginning to believe it’d be the largest city in the world.
It’s hard to understand why some would rather believe in the intrinsically evil ‘they’ who would so casually perpetuate atrocities than to recognize that meaning can’t always be found in senseless events. That not everything is connected. Are they simply trying to find meaning in a random world? Or does it make them feel significant to have this ‘hidden knowledge’ about a vast secret that most of humanity remains ignorant of?
What’s the most outrageous conspiracy theory you’ve heard? Why do you think they continue to rage, even as our access to information and facts have increased?