Sunday 16 February 2020

Fiction is just more fun

They say fact is stranger than fiction and at times the truth is so oddball that it wouldn’t pass through the sieve of readers’ credulity, but within its own context fiction has the power to transcend every law of existence. We can’t time travel and as entertaining and believable such science fiction tales are, the fact still remains that time travel isn’t possible. But the clay of conspiracy theory, fired in the crucible of social media, has the power to warp reality so far that some people will fall for it.

Today, I encountered the following tweet: “According to some people, HRC died Sept 2016. Today, HRC is a clone. I've seen some very strange info about this theory, it's definitely interesting.” Woah, what, Hillary Clinton is a clone? The tweeter, not to be misunderstood, doubled down with: “Apparently there could be as many as 2000 people who are influential and famous who are cloned people under control via mind control programs like MK Ultra…” Whaaaa? Milton Keynes is controlling minds now?

Once you escape the bounds of gravity’s reality there is nothing that can’t become plausible in the malleable minds of people who have the time to dwell on such things. Often, I find, it’s the same people who believe in global conspiracies to keep the poor poor and imagine that the coming of the messiah is made flesh in gnarly old liars like Jeremy Corbyn. But not always; there are some alarmingly warped minds on the right, too.

Of course, the notion of mind control is appealing, especially to governments who want a placid, pliable population, but also to those who imagine they are the Honest Joes in the fight against such regimes. And thus Project MKUltra, as wacky as it seems, was a real thing. The Cold War spawned paranoia of epic proportions and if the reds under the beds were going to be resisted the CIA needed to give itself powers to work outside the rule of law. After all, they were the good guys, right?

But if you have ever been approached by a friend or a colleague who uses, as the prelude to a revelation, the phrase, “This is just between me and you, right?” you will know how hard it is to keep a secret of even the most mundane kind, let alone one involving thousands, if not millions of willing and conscripted co-conspirators. Like gods, most conspiracy theories are reverse-engineered from observed or imagined events.

You’re broke, the car just fell apart and the landlord is raising the rent. It is far more likely that these phenomena are totally unrelated, in fact that unrelatedness is likely to an extent approaching absolute certainty. But how much more comforting to find a unifying single theory that explains all your misfortunes in one easy, somebody-else-is-to-blame package? ‘They’ are out to get you; the New World Order, The Vatican, The CIA, Richard Branson and Dominic Cummins have conspired to keep you down.

But wait, why would all these powerful entities want to get at little old me? Maybe it’s not just me? Oh my, it all seems so clear now. You’ve watched The Matrix and now you imagine you’ve been red-pilled. Wake up, everybody, you cry. And then, when your pleas hit deaf ears, it is a simple step to imagine that this proves your deranged imaginings. Are they all in on it, or are they all dupes? From then on the metaphorical tinfoil hat is always on your head to protect you from…

From what, exactly? When confronted with something that defies your immediate ability to explain it, why do people find comfort in the convolutions of conspiracy? Maybe it’s because the truth is mundane and we are not the very special creations we imagine we are? I have my own theory about this, borne out of seeing the horrific rise of so-called ‘reality’ TV, the obsessions with other-worldly nonsense and the elevation of idiots to icons. Conspiracy theories are nothing more than entertainment for the unenlightened. Or is this just what they want you to think?


  1. The human is a pattern-seeking animal. Maybe our legacy as a hunting animal, for we are not fallen angels but risen apes.' But yes, I have a friend who insists it's all a big conspiracy theory. War is all the work of the Reptilians. The Queen is one. Tony Blair another. Anthropology is explanation is the known history, and the imperatives of biology, but why not go intergalactic instead.

    1. It is just possible Tony Blair is a reptile :-)