Who cares about anything? NSA spying on us all, who cares? Aliens in Area 51, nobody cares? Engineers blew up the World Trade Centre towers… see that’s when it started. That’s when conspiracy theory went too far and everyone switched off. Conspiracy theory was no longer fascinating, it was the haunting ground of the nutcase.


There was a time when conspiracy theory dabbled in pseudo-science and all us thickos who weren’t geologists and archeologists and historians looked at the Bermuda Triangle and the Nazca lines and pyramids built by aliens and thought ‘you know, this Erik von Daniken might have a point.’

During the Cold War years, provoked by films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, people shifted their attention away from ancient astronauts to an unfortunate few closer to home and housed at Area 51 and other secret bases. Pre-internet, we satisfied out greedy appetite for weirdness by reading the Fortean Times and watching the X-Files.

Occasionally, conspiracy theory wandered into politics. The assassination of Kennedy being the most high-profile case: the wandering bullets, the grassy knoll, and a line up of suspects as long as a fanboy queue outside an Apple store. But somehow political conspiracy always seemed to be contained within the pages of novels rather than seeping into public consciousness in the way little green men and disappearing supertankers managed to do.

But then it all changed. The day was Tuesday, the date September 11th, 2001. The World Trade Centre towers and the attacks that struck them were so audacious, so unmissable, so enormous it makes you wonder how the US military and US intelligence services didn’t see it coming. How could a major tactical strike on a modern superpower happen without anyone in a position of control or authority not know it was going to happen? No wonder George W Bush looked so surprised when he received the news.

It’s a big question, and the families of the three thousand victims deserve an honest answer. But what followed, in the days and weeks and months of the information vacuum, was an incredible outpouring of fantasy that covered the entire spectrum from plausible (the US government knew the attackers) to the deranged (the US government did it).

Since 9/11, every news story from a man falling in the street to the outbreak of Ebola in west Africa is now a conspiracy. Behind every unfortunate trip, murder, supernova, there’s a shadowy organisation with a silly name or a false flag department squirreling away, marshalling ‘crisis actors’ and Hollywood directors to stage manage artificial atrocities.

The result of all this tin foil madness is public disinterest. Years ago I asked a friend of mine what she thought would be the most shocking conspiracy theory turning out to be true. She said governments monitoring everything we do: watching us, listening to us, reading our text messages and emails. And lo, Edward Snowden revealed that very scenario to be true… and no one cares.

No one is listening, except GCHQ and the rest of the Five Eyes programme. And the reason no one cares is because we’ve heard it all before, a long heritage of mad boggle-eyed nonsense spewed up by one raving lunatic after another.

To dream up a hoax that fools a generation, such as the Prieuré de Sion and its Merovingian fraud, would be quite an achievement, but to find that hoax, a conspiracy theory that actually snags people’s attention is nigh on impossible. Conspiracy theory has been dragged down in a race to the bottom with each theorist in competition to become more extreme, more ridiculous, more unbelievable.

So, I’ll leave you to consider this thought. Could these conspiracy theorists actually be patsies working for the CIA, or perhaps some shadowy Russian spin-off from the KGB, or maybe as Umberto Eco suggested in The Prague Cemetery, it’s all the result of one man?

Maybe modern-day conspiracy theorists are part of a bigger conspiracy to distract people away from conspiracy theories. . . . Now who would be behind all that? Please write your answers in lemon juice on recycled paper and leave them in the bin marked dog crap.

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14 thoughts on “Conspiracy Theory Is Dead

  1. Great post. My older brother mentioned to me not long ago how much randomness and the stochastic properties of society make it so hard for “Big Brother” and other mysterious all-power, invisible entities to do things in a secretive manner for any length of time. They can certainly DO them, that’s for sure, like monitor us, torture POWs, etc, but they can’t really prevent the general public from KNOWING about it — at least not for long.

    I think a big part of this and the subsequent death of conspiracy theories’ “respectability” (if there is such a thing) is the rise of the internet, social media, and the general secularization of the developed world. Though misinformation travels faster, so does every other kind as well, and moreover it’s just harder to hide anything from anyone anymore, whether you’re a government entity, a corporation, or just some random kid on Facebook. Everything’s online, and will likely stay there for the rest civilization.

    Additionally, I think most of us have just admitted that 1984 is essentially here and it’s here to stay, and we’re all mostly OK with that. It’s not ideal, but what the hell else are we gonna do? Governments and corporations and law enforcement are always watching it, everything’s so tightly controlled and recorded and monitored. But then again, so is Big Brother himself, and we all have the options in the world to make fun of the situation itself and exercise free speech, which is more likely than anything else to remain free.

    Eh, that’s good enough for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Certainly, the casual acceptance of everything that’s wrong is depressing and has the potential to encourage the powers that be to go even further. There are murmurings of dissent, but the days of revolution are over.

      But I’ll still be working on the possibility of a new conspiracy theory to see if it’s still possible to hide stuff from people. I mean, does anyone know who Wasch really were?

      Like

  2. I used to love conspiracy theories, even made up a few of my own. But now there’s just Too Much — too much speculation, opinions, and endless chat. Sept. 11th 2001 was just before the explosion of sharing via the internet. I suspect it was the latter, creating the flood of information, ideas, speculation, notions and wild theories that cheapened the conspiracy theory as a phenomenon. From relatively rare and interesting they became way too common and therefore boring. (It occurs to me that this is analogous to what some say about all the people writing and self-publishing these days).

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is a correlation between the rise of the internet and the proliferation of bad conspiracy theory. For me, it all seems so clumsy and lazy (and disrespectful to victims of tragedies).

      My point about 9/11 is that there didn’t seem to be so much political conspiracy before it, except in fiction. Now everything is the result of secret government. Maybe a non-political conspiracy might be the thing to revive the phenomenon.

      The cucumbers are out to get us…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This isn’t lemon juice, but it should suffice. When I was a kid, I loved reading about the Bermuda Triangle. There were so many disappearances over that area that I’d gone to the library almost every day to try to get my hands on everything I could find on the subject matter. This was way before the internet and before we could talk in chat rooms across the country.

    With so many conspiracy theories abound, no wonder the two-tower incident became one itself.

    Did you know The X-Files will be returning to TV? I wonder if its because the media is ready for another bout of conspiracies. Who knows…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I heard the X-Files is coming back for six shows. It’ll be interesting to see which subjects they cover and whether they have the same fascination as the subjects in the original run.

      I came across the Bermuda Triangle mystery through Arthur C Clarke’s Mysterious World on tv. It was creepy and weird and when the whole thing was debunked somehow a part of my childhood innocence went with it. All those tales, along with the Loch Ness Monster and ghosts, were what made childhood so fascinating.

      Liked by 1 person

    • See, a “proper” conspiracy theorist would say it’s coming back so they can take all the new theories and relegate them to TV-Land – and thus make them “safe” and fictional. Kind of like how Deep Impact and Armageddon were supposed to “prepare” us for the truth that an asteroid was due to hit New York “any day now(TM).” XD

      Liked by 2 people

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