Conspiracy theories. I've been interested in them for decades, and I've learned a thing or two. Let me explain the conclusions I've reached.
Know this: There are right-wing conspiracy theories and left-wing conspiracy theories.
Know this: Any theorist who claims to be "neither right nor left" or "beyond right and left" is right-wing, even if said theorist doesn't know it or can't admit it.
Know this: Many -- perhaps most -- left-wing theories turn out to be wrong. This is true even of my own little contributions to the genre. (Although I've been depressingly correct, lately -- as when I predicted that the Trumpers would engineer a win.)
Know this: All
conspiracy theories concocted by right-wingers are BULLSHIT
And when I say "all" I mean ALL ALL !!ALL!!
All right-wing conspiracy theories are BULLSHIT.
Read this early Cannonfire post
for a list of fun examples. Allow me to repeat here a few words from the conclusion of that 2004 essay...
The left-wing theorists have a far from perfect batting average, but they often hit at least a double, while their reactionary counterparts rarely manage to get on base. More importantly, the left-wing theorists usually try to construct an argument based on evidence, while their rightist analogs tend to eschew footnotes in favor of high decibel levels and appeals to emotion.
Although the left-leaning theorists have proven all too capable of wild leaps and foolish presumptions (my own fallibilities remain on humiliating display in previous postings to this column), they have nevertheless amassed the better track record. They don’t ask for immediate credence – just a hearing.
Know this: Nazis have always relied on conspiracy theory as a tool to reshape reality. That
, my friends, is what the phrase "Triumph of the Will" really means.
Remember when the press first reported that Melania Trump worked in this country illegally? According to the Trumpers, those reports were all examples of The Conspiracy: The Lügenpresse
was engaged in a plot to besmirch Trump, and the Orange Messiah had to counter that plot through threats of legal action. Of course, we later learned that Melania really did
work here illegally. But what of it? In Conspiracy Nation, mere reality doesn't matter.
Tomorrow, Donald Trump may suddenly decide that he is 45 years old again. If you say "No, Donnie, you're in your 70s," he will declare you to be part of the Great Conspiracy Against Trump. If Trump decides that he can fly by flapping his arms, you dare not tell him "Sorry, Donnie; you are not a bird." He will declare you to be part of the Great Conspiracy Against Trump.
Conspiracy theory is the mechanism by which right-wingers transform Reality itself into Silly Putty.
You think I exaggerate? Then know this
): Yesterday, Donald Trump tweeted these words...
In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally
MILLIONS OF PEOPLE VOTED ILLEGALLY?
Think about it. Our next president believes that millions of people committed a crime which carries a five-year sentence.
Number of arrests: Zero.
Are we really supposed to believe that millions
committed this crime without one single arrest? Without one single proven instance? Without one named criminal? Without one single "talker"? Without one single confidante willing to squeal to the cops?
Such a crime would require a massive amount of planning and mobilization. After all, one cannot simply show up at a poll and vote; voters must pre-register and arrive at the assigned polling station. Each registered voter learns about that location via an official government notice which arrives in the mail. How can any person or group co-ordinate millions
of people in this enormous criminal endeavor without one single incriminating communication?
How can any conspiracy encompass millions
of people without one slip-up? How can anyone hope to pay off millions without leaving any kind of trail?
And why would this conspiracy of millions inflate Hillary's vote in California (which is where much of her popular vote advantage occurred), as opposed to, say, Florida or North Carolina?
This may be the stupidest conspiracy theory I've ever encountered, and I've been tracking this crap since the 1970s. It's stupider than the one about Queen Elizabeth being a space lizard. Stupider than the one about the plot to invent the Dark Ages. Stupider than the one about Stephen King killing John Lennon. Stupider than the one about "crisis actors" at Sandy Hook.
And yet both Donald Trump and his insane supporters actually believe
in this delusional nonsense.
I’ve noticed a lot of people on Twitter seem to think Trump’s tweet is scary because it’s false, but the actually scary interpretation is that he believes it’s true, which he probably does. It seems likely that Trump got his “information” from conspiracy theorist site InfoWars.com, or someone else retweeting or rewriting InfoWars — a lot of weird things Trump says later prove to emerged in the pro-Trump, conspiracy theory-corners of the internet. The problem with Trump isn’t the lies he tells as much as it’s the information he chooses to believe.
If you're a liberal, God help
you if you argue that hackers might have affected our computerized election. The scoffers demand proof, and the standards of proof keep rising.
Despite those ever-elevating standards -- or, if you prefer, the ever-receding goal posts -- we have
proven the existence of an otherwise-inexplicable "red shift" which has beset every election since the year 2000. Nay-sayers simply refuse to read the evidence
When a liberal posits a conspiracy, no amount of evidence is ever sufficient -- even if said liberal presents a highly-detailed argument in a tentative, cautious, reasonable fashion, and even if said liberal makes a good faith effort to take contrary data into account.
By contrast: When a right-wing conspiracy theorist (such as Donald Trump) posits a conspiracy theory, no evidence is necessary. The theorist need merely declare "It is so!" If he wants
it to be true, then it is