About a year ago, my wife and I struck up a conversation at a bar with a young man who seemed like a pretty nice guy.
The first thing he asked me was “You’re not a damn Freemason, though, are you? Or a member of CSICOP?”
I am among the latter, though not the former, but we got on anyway. Apparently, the skeptics and the Freemasons, not to mention the Illuminati and their evil cohorts, were all colluding and conspiring to bring about the end of mankind. I tactfully avoided the Jews and the Muslims, since I feared they would receive short shrift. Perhaps prejudiced of me, but I have kept abreast of conspiracy trends on the Internet for some time.
He loathed these groups on general principle, although he couldn’t quite figure out what to do about me. Maybe he thought I was the devil in disguise.
I still wonder exactly what drives people to believe in unparsimonious explanations for human tragedy, but I’ve always had a hunch that it was Weltschmerz. When the world is so scary and horrifying that you see a boogeyman-shaped hole in it, it becomes vitally necessary to fill in the blanks. Otherwise you are left adrift in a world where bad things can happen for no reason at all, and where justice is in the hands of those who act.
Some turn to their god for comfort. Others, terrified they are being fooled, watch “Zeitgeist” over and over until the only thing they believe is the voice-over.
In a world where average life expectancy reaches well into eight decades and most diseases can be easily cured, doesn’t it seem a little odd to put our current state of affairs at the feet of an evil cabal of politicians, business tycoons and media moguls? Like they would benefit from keeping us alive, productive, healthy and fulfilled for so many years, especially with so many conspiracy theorists running around.
If any conspiracy theorists read this, they will probably comment with a link to a site, a video or some sort of exposé, and protest that they are Just Asking Questions. It’s not true. It’s a determined effort to put the blame for bad events at the feet of a global malefactor of nefarious purposes.
And although I love fairy tales, I stopped treating them as literal truth a long time ago.
The evils of this world lie not in the evil that bad men do, but in the fact that good men do nothing. Sometimes bad things just happen. It hurts when they do. But that doesn’t create a malefactor.
It’s a good thing to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.