As one who nurses a few conspiracy theories of his own — but only ones that fit the Seven Secret Rules of Plausibility — I actually find most of the run-of-the-mill-kneejerk stories, concocted by modern loonies (not only on the far right, but also plenty on the far-left) to be just plain dumb. They are nearly always based on several self-flattering premises:
1) that the powers who are supposedly performing the conniving-nefarious activity are nearly all-powerful, nearly all-knowing and have unlimited supplies of eager, willing, compliant, conscience-free, yet staggeringly competent henchmen, who somehow commit their acts with perfect timing, without a glitch, hiccup or anyone deciding to blab… and
2) that somehow, in a world filled with skilled scientists, cops, investigators, journalists. intelligence agents and dedicated enemies of the (purported) conspirators, somehow it is the believer and his or her close-aligned pals who are the only ones smart enough to see through the smoke and mirrors to the truth… and
3) that lots of people on this planet can be delusional crazy while vigorously denying it, yet nevertheless go on to proclaim, in serene confidence — “But I’m not one of them!”
Days after Osama bin Laden’s death, a wealth of conspiracy theories have been spun, claiming that Osama was actually a U.S. agent, that he had actually been dead for a decade, his body kept on ice in some super-secret location. Or that Osama is actually alive and well, being interrogated by U.S. officials on a remote island hideaway. Or possibly that President Obama invented Osama’s death to boost his re-election campaign, or as a distraction from Trump pushing the “birther” issue (clever use of one conspiracy to kill another…) And yet, in order to conspiracy OBL’s death, they are going to have to malign and impugn the US Navy Seals. That won’t be easy.
There are powerful psychological drivers behind conspiracies: A need to explain one’s own poverty and failure. The allure of enticing pattern recognition. Above all, the warm feeling we get from being in the know…from being part of the “elect group” that can see what’s going on! There are no richer mental drug-highs than self-righteous indignation, resentment, and contempt for fools. See my article on Conspiracies and Wishful Thinking. Self-delusion is the greatest of all human talents.
=== IS IT ALL A MATTER OF PERSONALITY? ===
This seems especially pertinent, given America’s recent swerve down Kookoo Lane. Belief in Conspiracies linked to Machiavellian Mindset – a firm belief that “they did it” is linked to the concept that “I would do it”…if I could! It’s exactly what I would have written, if they hadn’t systematically stolen my ideas. Wait, am I confusing conspiracy theorizing with paranoia? Easy to do… except when the conspiracies are real, but only a few can see them!
Or might it all be chemical? In work that gives cranky teenagers another reason to blame their parents for all life’s woes, researchers have uncovered a genetic link to happiness. The study of more than 2,500 Americans revealed two variants of a gene that influenced how satisfied – or dissatisfied – people were with their lot. Those born with two long versions of the gene (one is passed down from each parent) were more likely to declare themselves “very satisfied” with life than those who inherited two short versions.
=== MORE PARANOIA? ===
Your GPS-enabled cell phone allows your location to be tracked at all times. Even the photos you take on such a device have a location-coding attached when you upload them to the internet, pinpointing the precise coordinates of your home or where you had that weekend tryst.
Is your entire life on your cell phone? Arresting officers may be able to search the arrested person’s cellphone, downloading everything from address books, photos and websites to thousands of texts… plus everything the phone touched in the Cloud… all without a warrant, because the phone was on your immediate person, and thus “like” a pocket or a purse or a set of keys? Or is the phone something much more? A “portal” into your whole life, meriting a warrant to rummage through?
How about the Corn Conspiracy? Ethanol (made from corn) may be responsible for high food prices worldwide. Federal mandates on ethanol have helped push corn prices up from $3 to $7 a bushel. And of course, corn syrup appears in nearly every item of processed food…
From the Washington Times: How the U.S. Treasury Department froze Libyan assets. They expected $100 million, but found over $30 billion — mostly all in one bank. To put it in perspective: In 2009, Libya had a gross domestic product of $62 billion. Anybody remember the “Helvetian War” from my novel EARTH — to retrieve the money stashed by dictators or drug lords in secret Swiss bank accounts?
=== AND FINALLY, UNDERLYING REASONS FOR PARANOIA ===
“Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.” — Douglas Adams
Calm down. Remember, the thing that you are trying to defend… against those who are conspiring to bring it down… is a calm, enlightened, pragmatic civilization filled with smart problem-solvers, who appreciate knowledge, wisdom and skill… and who negotiate with one another.