Humans are curious things. I once read a description of the human mind as an instrument for bringing order out of Chaos. (Which puts the story of the creation in a whole different light, but never mind that.)
It might very well be the mechanism responsible for our success in becoming the dominant species on Earth. We can take hints and signs, and weave them into a complete whole, so that grandma G’u’g who can no longer see very well can add up almost unheard rustle in the bushes, a certain smell and the way the birds went quiet to: Predator is after me, and end up saving herself and grandchildren just in time.
This sort of thing is great for individual survival, but it puts an odd kick in our gallop. We also add up rustles and intimations and whispers and make up conspiracy theories (supernatural or not) that would make your head spin. What’s more, we LIKE them.
I realized this morning, as I had to fight myself into not buying a book about how CERN will bring back demons (with notes, and proof!) that all of us like that kind of thing, and I’m just LUCKY I can buy such things for research (it fits rather neatly into the background of a novel I’m noodling. Though I didn’t buy it. I think I can find most of it for free on the net.)
Other people, who aren’t writers, end up believing in grand, arching conspiracies that “explain everything.”
It used to be I hied away from any site at one of these words: tri-lateral commission, masons (unless a history of masonry), Rockfellers (unless an history ditto) and others that won’t come to mind now. If you add in Russians for the present day, you start understanding how pervasive this stuff is.
The reason it satisfies an old human craving is because we know the world isn’t fair. We can deal with that. But the world also isn’t logic, and things happen in reality that no novelist would dare write about. To explain it, our brains try to forge these immense, convoluted conspiracies, involving centuries and thousands of people.
The sanest among us realize those are nonsense. Yes, there are unified “pushes” across the world, but mostly they’re the result of people raised in the same few institutions, believing the same thing, and all of them trying to do what they think is right.
You don’t need a conspiracy to predict what a fourth generation red diaper president will do, because you know what he believes, and you can extrapolate from there: he’ll hate America, because he inherited his ancestors’ inchoate resentment that America won the cold war, never bowed to communism, and by our very existence proved communism wrong; he’ll try to import as many immigrants from third world countries as possible, because the Marxist idea of the proletariat never dies, it just goes to other countries and becomes exotic; he’ll think that if he depresses American economy the world will get richer, because to him economics is a fixed pie and it’s all a matter of sharing it out. Etc.
In the same way you can predict what the progressive-infested institutions like publishing, the arts and the news will do. It doesn’t take a conspiracy. It takes all their heads running the same malware, and communism having become a sign of “high class” in the west. Which happened because the people with money thought they had to convert to escape the massacre, when “inevitably” communism won.
But we LIKE conspiracies. And in my case, at least I admit, the more loony the better. Partly of course, I like the loony ones, because they keep me from swallowing them whole. Partly because the larger and more encompassing they are the more they activate the “wow” feel.
It’s a great part of what makes MHI so much fun. And it’s encapsulated in the moment in Galaxy quest when the pseudo space captain says “It’s all true” and the kid says “I knew it.”
We all want it “all” to be true because a grand conspiracy controlling everything absolves us of personal responsibility, allows us to dismiss our failures and the way in which the world disappoints us, and is just… neat.
The point is to remember that that feeling of neat is deceptive. It’s very hard for more than three people to keep a secret. And keeping a secret — a real one, that matters, not a secret handshake — through generations is almost impossible. If you work on the idea that it’s all a grand conspiracy your actions won’t match with reality and you’ll often act crazy.
But if you keep that in mind, and particularly if you write, a good conspiracy theory read or two can lend that much more depth and strangeness to your world, and readers will probably like it.
Now if I can find a way the people tracking searches, and the Amazon algorithm won’t peg me under too crazy to live.