Why We Love Conspiracies

Conspiracy theories seem to be a pet pastime of many here on Newsvine. Either you love them, or you love bashing them. Maybe it’s the great, sinking flaw of the well-read that we can’t seem to get away from them. At any rate, I thought I would go ahead and step out into no-man’s land and say it: I love the conspiracy theories.

Now, I should probably mention at this point (so you can stop with the hate mail) that I don’t really believe any of them. But then, I don’t actually believe that any of you exist, either. I recognize the possibility, in both instances. It serves my interest to do so.

“Why?!” I can hear my imaginary audience screaming, “In what way does admitting to the possibility of the validity of conspiracy theories help you?” (yes, my imaginary audience speaks exactly the way I do…doesn’t yours?) Well, that is why I am writing. Those of you who already love conspiracy theories probably don’t need this explanation, though you may occasionally find yourself bewildered as your otherwise well-organized mind takes a hiatus when you start reading about incendiary devices planted in the World Trade Center. Those of you who hate the conspiracies, with an equally irrational passion, often wonder what the hell is wrong with the rest of us. I hope to shed a little light on the matter.

I like conspiracy theories because they make me feel optimistic. If there are no conspiracies, then either our government, here in the United States, is so stupid that they really don’t realize the long term ramifications of their actions, or they are so clever and yet so divergent in their belief system from mine that there is really nothing I can do to stop them. A conspiracy theory is the perfect out for this conundrum. If there is a conspiracy, then there is also the possibility that I can figure it out….and if I can figure it out, then there is the possibility of unravelling it and bringing about its demise. I’m reasonably intelligent, and I know plenty of folks more intelligent than I am. If there is a conspiracy, then we have a chance.

I like conspiracy theories because they are like a strategy game, and I like strategy games. In games, it all boils down to luck and skill. I like to think life is like that. Has my experience shown this to be true? Yeah, pretty much. You get what you get, and your skill in dealing with that is what wins or loses the game. I am still working on my psychokinetic powers to control the dice, but in the end that is just a skill I do not yet possess (though my eight-year old son does…no amount of strategy will beat him at Risk). If there’s a conspiracy, then it’s all just a matter of time before we get a lucky roll and have the skill to use it well.

I like conspiracy theories because the straight news is boring. Same old drama, day after day. Bush issues another signing statement, Congress ignores civil rights violations in favor of clamping down on video game contents, somebody murders someone else, some people get blown up somewhere else. It gets a bit repetitive. If I can tie them all together, that makes it interesting. Obviously, the President is sidestepping the law (and Congress is complicit) because he wants the best video game technology for the military so that they can infiltrate and take out future revolutionaries. It’s just more of an interesting mental exercise than sitting there, watching your country disintegrate around your ankles while you pray for a new variety of Baskin Robbins ice cream to get you through.

Finally, I like conspiracy theories because sometimes they make more sense than the official version of events. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the official version is not true. But when we are gauging probability (as we are, if we are using our brains to evaluate theories at all), then sometimes the conspiracies add up higher. And that’s o.k., as long as we don’t get so emotionally attached to them that we can’t let them go when new evidence is presented.

I can’t say I believe whole-heartedly in any conspiracy theory I have ever read, but I can’t say I completely believe in any official report I have ever read, either, and I find the conspiracy theories much more entertaining. It’s best to keep an open mind, and remember that we rarely (if ever) have all the pieces to any puzzle. There’s no harm in the conspiracy theories, as long as we remember that they are just that: theories. Subject to reevaluation at any time. In the end, we all want a more pleasant, more sensible world. We have different ideas about exactly what that is and how to get there, and that’s a good thing as it lets us act as each other’s “checks and balances”. So the next time an intelligent person starts going on about the Bilderbergers or the Illumaniti, it’s o.k. if you stop and listen. You don’t have to believe in the whole thing, but you might find some tiny piece of the puzzle that helps you put your model together. It doesn’t necessarily make you crazy.