An old friend of mine from school (thanks, Pete!) sent me last week a long and sophisticated post about one of the great conspiracy theories of our age – the anti-vax one: that covid was started by Bill Gates as a way of inveigling people into accepting a vaccination which will then control their minds in some obscure way.
The main thing I felt after reading it was surprise at how unconvincing it was. The only evidence I could see was the number of the great and good who had predicted a covid-style pandemic. That is really not evidence of anything much – I think I may have predicted one myself.
The truth about most conspiracy theories, including this one, is that the world is too complicated for successful conspiracies. Conspiracies on a global scale have too many moving parts to work. They certainly would leave more traces in the sand than this so-called conspiracy seems to have done.
The other problem is that the post was highly sophisticated but still showed some signs of having been drafted by someone whose first language isn’t English. See what you make of the phrase here “renown investigative journalist”.
Perhaps that gives some credence to the counter-conspiracy theory – that these ideas are being manufactured in Russia to destabilise the American election (although Trump appears to be doing this all by himself).
On the other hand, the backhand swipe at the Rockefeller Foundation is horribly typical of the American right, which normally features Rockefellers as typical globalist conspirators.
What is different these days is that these conspiracy theories appear to be coming from the right when, not so many years ago, they were the stock-in-trade of left. Unfortunately, this means that he left is turned in on itself, and is busily disapproving of every conspiracy theory you have ever thought of.
This is a pity. Because sometime the theories have enough of a grain of truth in them that they allow us to take evasive action. So, for the record, this is where I stand:
- Bill Gates is attempting to control us via a covid vaccination? – No: even if he wants to, he can’t…
- Trump is waging a secret war against powerful paedophiles? – But where’s the evidence?
- Covid was caused by new 5G networks? – This isn’t, strictly speaking, a conspiracy: caused, no – but weakening immunity, possibly?
- The moon landings were faked? – What? I don’t think so!
The only one worth looking further at, it seems to me, is the one about 5G. Because if we had always dismissed stories like that, then we would probably still wondering why so many people were dying of lung cancer, or ‘asbestosis’, or why some children were being born with missing limbs because their mothers were taking thalidomide pills.
If we become so pompous that we dismiss every new scare story – as I say, the 5G story is not a conspiracy, strictly speaking – then we will simply become cheerleaders for the richest and most powerful people in the world. And that isn’t radical or centrist.
So, yes, by all means dismiss the conspiracy theories. But don’t let’s throw every scare out with the bathwater…