It is noticeable – particularly in the Trump/’fake news’ era, but also further back in the case of numerable examples, not least such world-shattering events as the JFK assassination and the 9/11 attack upon the United State of America – how conspiracy theories not only spring up but proliferate.
It’s not hard to see why this should be. There’s probably a degree to which gossip and speculation has been an inevitable part of the human condition ever since Eve first handed Adam the apple.
In other words, what we today accept as ‘the truth’ of them is either complete nonsense, skewed in one direction or another, not the whole truth, only half the truth, or indeed consists of the merest brush with what actually happened.
We are all aware of the saying or theory that “the official history is always written by the victor”.
Arguably, the subjective nature of what is presented to us via newspapers, radio, the internet and all elements of what is broadly described as ‘social media’ – whilst never being openly admitted – is more and more transparent.
The fact that any semi-literate lunatic or fanatic can ‘put out there’ absolutely anything and everything (without the application of any quality or fact-checking’ filter) is – at one and the same time – a wonder of the modern age but also a significant problem.
Thus eccentric, stupid, evil, horrendously inaccurate or simply mad opinions, made-up facts and/or rallying calls – whether well-intentioned or the opposite – are taken to be just as valid as anything produced by serious organisations which are seeking to discover the real facts and broadcast genuine truths and nothing but the genuine truths.
Or, to put it the other way around, those organisations regarding themselves as genuinely in the business of supplying an impartial viewpoint upon the world and what is happening in it are now viewed by an increasingly-cynical public at large as being no better or worse than any deranged half-wit possessed of fourteen cans of lager and fifty mind-bending pills who is operating from a computer in his back bedroom down in Camden town.
Whilst we are wrestling with the complexities of Brexit and all the other urgent matters that face us in Britain at the moment – and both politician-fatigue and issue-fatigue are afflicting the sanest and most sensible groupings in society – it is sometimes worth reflecting upon the fact that – once someone believes in something/anything – whether it be that the Earth is flat and/or was built by God in seven days in 4004BC; or that Elvis is alive and living on Mars; or that the US astronauts never landed on the Moon but colluded in an elaborate hoax in a TV studio that was broadcast to the world; or that JFK was killed by the CIA, or the Blue Meanies, or by the Mafia via shots coming from the grassy knoll; or indeed that 9/11 was carried out by agencies of the US Government in order to provide an excuse for invading Iraq … it is very difficult for them to admit they’re wrong.
Instead, any evidence which contradicts their beliefs is dismissed as rubbish, or is otherwise ignored or ‘explained away’ via some new, ever more convoluted, theory which allows them to stick to their original conviction, however deluded.
Here’s a recent example I’ve come across.
Quite independently of each other, two apparently sensible and rational people I’ve come across in the past month have given me their considered opinion that the Russians had nothing whatsoever to do with the attempted assassination of the Skripals in Salisbury this summer.
Instead (they have both separately claimed) that the British secret services – or is the ‘Deep State’? – carried out the attack themselves and are using it to smear President Putin and the Russian state, for whatever reason or reasons “we do not know”.
Meanwhile, those of us who regard ourselves as straightforward onlookers upon the world (though come to think of it, what’s to say that we aren’t as deluded as everyone else?!) are rather more sanguine on the point …
See here the latest developments in the Skripal case, as reported by Oliver Carroll today upon the website of – THE INDEPENDENT