Conspiracy Theories 102: It’s Always Fun Until Someone Goes Bonkers

Conspiracy theories can be funny, kind of looney or frightening but still humorous in a “wouldn’t it be weird if that urban legend were really true” sort of way. Bigfoot, the moon landing hoax, Elvis and JFK were aliens, our president was not born in the U.S. but rather hails from the lost continent of Atlantis–that kind of thing. But sometimes, they can morph into self-perpetuating vortexes of fantastic paranoia birthed out of too may late nights spent on fringe websites, a lack of critical thinking or good sense, or, for that matter, a dip in blood sugar.

“I’m not saying it’s true,” the conspiracy theorist says, “But isn’t it interesting…”

The beauty of the conspiracy theory–much like that of the dogma of the religious cult–is that the burden of proof rests not on the person who espouses the theory. Rather, with a maneuver of rhetorical judo worthy of the most jaded politico, that person deftly flips the focus back onto the skeptic, who is promptly branded as a pawn of the conspiracy, too shallow, naive or uninformed to know the true score.

Now that I think about it, it’s probably a good gig if you can get it.

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