My mother loved conspiracy theories.
Love might be the wrong word, though. They fascinated her. She believed in them. In a way, they explained the inexplicable in her universe. Just as she was convinced that the communists were conquering America from within (the “Red Scare” of the 1950s and ’60s), she would feel right at home with some current conspiracy theories.
Mom also liked to say, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” I don’t think she had conspiracy theories in mind, but that’s true enough when it comes to the suspension of disbelief that makes such ideas spread like wildfire, particularly when fueled and spurred by governments and elites.
I, certainly, had first-hand experience with the latter.
One time, years back, a pair of covert action warriors worked in an office adjoining mine. We called them the Bobbsey Twins. Why? I don’t know. One was tall with red hair. He liked to paint rocks and give them away as paperweights. The other was short, dark and intense and would go on to become one of the Agency’s top covert action experts. Anyway, they tutored me in the value of using conspiracy theories in furtherance of U.S. interests.
This was during the Cold War, mind you.
“The thing is, Pat,” the tall one said, as best I can remember. He sat behind a standard government-issue desk – one piled high with his rocks.
“The thing is, a good conspiracy explains something that confuses people. No one likes not knowing. So, if you craft a theory that helps people make sense of a situation, they’ll believe it every time.”
He went on to talk about the necessary elements being public confusion, an overload of conflicting information, just enough fact to make your theory believable, plus you include any potential nay-sayers in the conspiracy so that their efforts to dispute you actually reinforce the existence of the conspiracy.
“Fake news,” anyone?
Conspiracy theories have abounded recently. Like right now there’s a conspiracy circulating that FEMA has been building concentration camps in the U.S. which will be used, according to the conspiracy theorists, when the government declares martial law and begins a pogrom. Really?
The “deep state” conspiracy theory is another one. Pollsters guess that close to half of all Americans believe some sort of powerful, secret group exists to manipulate the Federal Government and are convinced that it is responsible for just about everything they don’t like or can’t otherwise easily explain.
It’s a great story line ... used regularly in fiction ... but good for conspiracy theorists too.
Here’s another. This began with a false allegation in the European press that the coronavirus was being spread through 5G towers. So many people found this reasonable that there have been some 30 incidents of sabotage of 5G towers. The Russian covert action mill saw an opportunity and repeated the theory over and over via RT America, apparently hoping for more sabotage and to slow the spread of 5G in the western world in order to give Russia time to catch up. But, maybe, that’s just a conspiracy theory too.
As the tall covert action warrior said, you can’t disprove a good conspiracy theory.