As it happens I agree that theories of conspiracy can be entirely ludicrous and, indeed, harmful: the Protocols is a dark example from history, and the odd fantasies that Nick Harding details, which have Starbucks at the centre of a plot of Machiavellian proportions, are modern ones. (And, no, not the true one about them forcing cafés out of business – made-up, anti-semitic ones.) But if you’re to educate people you need an understanding of whether and why a theory is mistaken. And I’m not sure Harding does…

According to one new theory, Muammar Gaddafi was not overthrown because he was a crazed brutal dictator; he was ousted and killed because he was plotting to introduce a new Africa-wide trading currency to threaten the dollar.

Well, I doubt Gaddafi’s green inspired the war in Libya but is Harding implying that to avoid being a conspiraloon you have to accept the state’s rationale for war? That he was “ousted and killed” for being a “crazed brutal dictator”? Well, gee, I’m not entirely sure why they invaded Libya but if we believed our governments’ justifications Iraq was invaded for its WMDs; Grenada was liberated from the incoming Communists; the mujaheddin were freedom fighters who deserved support; Cambodia was never bombed and Vietnam had to be fought because the Maddox was attacked. (A brief note for those who’ve never liked the whole “sarcasm” thing: none of those were true.)

My point – again – is that opponents of supposed conspiracy theorising tend to understate the evident duplicity of institutions. (Never mind the more, er – disputable duplicity!) Thus, from such unreasonably trusting premises they’ll never educate the folk who’ve drawn irrationally grave conclusions. And, besides, they’ll let those institutions get away with it.

I’ll admit that Harding’s done some research, though. I’ve never experienced this corker…

…according to studies, belief in one theory suggests believers will accept other unrelated theories. So if you believe Disney planted subliminal messages about sex in the movie The Lion King, you are also likely to believe mobile phone GPS technology is used by the government to monitor citizens, or that the Wingdings font included with Windows has been used to send hidden messages.

I’ve sung the opening vocals from The Lion King since I was 3 and never worked out the lyrics. On hearing this theory, though, it struck me that they could be “arse and wanger”. No, I’ve not gone mad, I know they’re not, but I’ll still hear that every time it’s sung. Ah, there’s another section of my childhood spoiled.

About these ads