Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Conspiracy Theories

While I haven't finished my thesis, I do feel things are under control so I'll try to get back to short, twice weekly additions to this blog.

In today's Independent, the columnist Johann Hari (link to a free version of the article) wonders why we have so many conspiracy theories milling around. Of course, the Jesus Myth is a conspiracy theory as far as I'm concerned, although Hari doesn't mention that one. However, he does bring up the idea, recently dramatised by the BBC, that the Prime Minister Harold Wilson was subject to coup attempt by rightwingers. This is a classic conspiracy and no real evidence for it exists that I know of, beyond the recollections of a couple of journalists about Wilson's paranoia. But Hari seems to believe it is true. He also implies that the invasion of Iraq was a conspiracy rather than a mistake made in good faith. Thus, Hari ends up looking like the pot commenting on the kettle's poor complexion.

Of course, the main drift of his article is that conspiracy theorists are like religious people and thus mad and deluded. Rational argument is of no avail against either the religious bigot or the conspiracy aficionado. Somehow, you have to admire the way that almost any subject can be used to attack religion if you put your mind to it.

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