Anyone who has spent any amount of time surfing the Internet knows that there is no shortage of conspiracy theories out there. You can find websites, articles, books, YouTube clips, and individuals "exposing" all sorts of conspiracies - from the JFK assassination to 9-11, from Area 51 to the Committee of 300, from the Illuminati to the Tri-Lateral Commission and everything in between.
The moon landings were faked, the Earth is hollow with a Master Race living inside, the Jews control the world banking system, AIDS is a CIA plot, those trails of airplane exhaust are really secret government experiments, Procter & Gamble promotes Satanism, Bush/Cheney are going to reinstate the draft after the 2004 election, Bush is going to declare martial law instead of turning power over to Obama.
Ooopps! Those last two didn't come true despite the many claims floating around the Internet prior to the elections. Oh well, being proved wrong never bothered a good conspiracy theorist.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - 99.8% of the conspiracy theories floating around the Internet are pure BS. And the other .2% are wildly exaggerated.
Why am I so dismissive of conspiracy theories?
1- Too many people know about them. Want to know about the Committee of 300? Or the Illuminati? Or the Jews evil manipulation of the world's banking system? There are lots of people with websites, books, videos, and articles that will "expose" the deep, dark, secret conspiracies. Sorry, but it just isn't much of a secret if it is so easy to find out about.
2- People expose them for years and years. If these secret (but apparently well-known) organizations are really doing such dangerous, dastardly deeds behind closed doors, and someone managed to somehow find out about them and tried to expose them, they wouldn't last very long.
The CIA or whatever appropriate "secret police force" would shut them up long before their books, articles and websites were published. The fact that there are individuals who openly, and for decades in some cases, "expose" these conspiracies, and live to tell about it, is pretty much proof that there is nothing to them.
3- Hundreds, if not thousands, of ordinary people would have to be in on most of these conspiracies for them to actually work. Believe the moon landings were hoaxed? Think for a moment about who all would have to be in on the conspiracy - the astronauts, NASA officials, scientists and technicians, politicians and government employees, set designers, lighting crew, photographers and so forth. Even accountants and bookkeepers handling the financing of the conspiracy would have to know something was up. It would take a hell of a lot more than just a handful of people to pull it off, and the more people involved, the less likely a conspiracy is to be successful.
4- Gives too much credit to the Government and Politicians. To successfully carry out these conspiracies, our politicians and government officials must be extremely smart and extremely competent. I don't know about you, but when I look at the government I generally see incompetence, not brilliant masterminds.
Besides, I am a member of the Illuminant and the Committee of 300, so I know what is really going on. Believe me, all you conspiracy theorists out there - you are not even close to guessing the truth. Bawhahaha...
Okay, for the sake of clarity, let me emphasize that the previous paragraph was a joke (or was it?). But it does bring up...
5- If there are any real conspiracies out there, we wouldn't know about it. And we certainly wouldn't be able to read about it on the Internet.
Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?
1- It is a great cottage industry. Lots of people push conspiracy theories for a living - writing books, magazine articles, newsletters, collecting speaking fees, hosting radio shows, websites and so forth. It is a great way for some to make a buck.
2- It makes you special. Knowing the "truth" that most others don't know makes you more special, smarter, and less naive than the ignorant masses. At least in your eyes. In reality, it probably makes your friends, family and co-workers make fun of you behind your back.
3- It validates your hatred. So you hate Jews, Bush, America, Capitalism, the Pope or whatever. Believing in conspiracy theories gives you an excuse for your hatred. It is not that you are an angry, hateful, bitter person, or a bigot or a racist or something else bad. Instead, it is that you know the "truth" about the object of your hatred, therefore you don't have to feel bad about being a hater.
4- It is fun! Some conspiracy theories can be fun to believe in - alien autopsies, Area 51, and so on. Some have been turned into entertaining movies, such as National Treasure (conspiracies surrounding the free masons) and The Da Vinci Code (religious conspiracies surrounding the Holy Grail).
A Kernel of Truth
Most really good conspiracies theories do contain a kernel of truth. JFK really was assassinated. The Tri-Lateral Commission really does exist (you can write to them and they will send you a nice brochure, which is really odd behavior for such an evil secret organization. Yes, I have written them and they did send me a brochure and some other literature). Because of this, most conspiracy believers I've encountered will hold fast to that kernel and refuse to believe in reason no matter how much proof they are given. You cannot reason with someone who is unreasonable, which is why I tend to not argue conspiracy theories with people.
If this essay has upset you, please send me your name and address. I will be glad to send some special black helicopters your way to help cheer you up...