Top Secret

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.

488 responses to “Top Secret

  1. paladin3001

    Ah, conspiracies. I love a good one that’s plausible to believe. With just enough hints of “I know a guy, that knows a guy that saw XYX”. Of course some conspiracies are just so far out there it’s even more fun to mock (Moon Landing Hoaxes…).
    Trouble is that true believers are very hard to convince that what they know isn’t so (chem trail nuts for example). I try to avoid diving deep into too many conspiracy sites because they will just suck you in if you aren’t careful.

    • But surely you must know that all those conspiracy theories (moon landing hoaxes, chemtrails, vaccinations, gov’t alien coverup, global warming, etc.) are all being created and spread by a top-secret propaganda group running out of an obscure office of the Department of Agriculture, right? It’s just the Hidden Masters trying to confuse the people, and keep them from discovering the real conspiracy by overloading their conspiracy-recognition circuitry!!!!!

      • I’ve been vaccinated against chemtrails by pseudomoondust usually kept in a pyramid. A beneficial side effect is being to travel with relative safety inside the hollow earth, without falling off the flat edge.

        • Speaking of hollow earth, in a list of strange trivia facts yesterday I saw the one that said, “if a hole was drilled through the earth it would take you X minutes to fall through to the other side.”

          I immediately thought, “the writer of that ‘fact’ doesn’t understand gravity very well.”

          • Actually, assuming you’d drilled a good, even tunnel straight through the core, and dealt with all the heat-dissipation issues inherent in having your tunnel surrounded by molten iron…

            In that case, wouldn’t a person falling into one end up having enough momentum when they reached the center to shoot past the center and, with gravity slowing them down now instead of speeding them up, eventually reach the other side with a net zero velocity? Of course, air friction would slow them down too much and they’d eventually end up “floating” at the Earth’s center of gravity, motionless relative to the planet. But in the absence of air friction (say you did this on a massive moon that hadn’t gathered an atmosphere, and the person falling through the tunnel was in a space suit), wouldn’t you just end up yo-yoing back and forth between the two ends of the tunnel, effectively using gravity as a bungee cord?

            • I seem to recall a Physics text that posed calculating the period of this oscillation as a problem. Alas, I never worked this one.

            • My understanding of all the possible factors may not be complete, but I’m pretty sure you would do so yo-yoing before you ended up coming to rest at the center of the earth, you certainly wouldn’t exit the other side at velocity.

            • Even if it was in a vacuum you’d lose velocity from friction with the sides of the tunnel. Because the Earth is rotating, you can’t drop “straight” down and back out.

            • William O. B'Livion

              You’d have to develop a friction-less surface because the coriolis effect would push you into the walls.

              Also air density would increase as you drop and hence slow you down EVEN MORE.

              Yeah, not making it back out the other side. Not even close.

      • scott2harrison

        You mean that they are STILL trying to keep us from looking into how the food pyramid was created? Aren’t all the guilty parties retired and/or dead by now?

        • Well of course they’re retired and dead; that doesn’t mean they’re not still active!!!!!

          • Just at election time. And they all vote the straight (D) ticket, no matter how they voted in life.

        • I don’t need to know how it was created, MY Food Pyramid (TM) keeps my food fresh for months!

        • Turbo Beholder (@TBeholder)

          > Aren’t all the guilty parties retired and/or dead by now?
          “guilty parties” ≠ “interested parties”.
          It takes but one to come up with a notion (which often happens by honest mistake – “discoveries” like N-Rays or Radiative Greenhouse theory v.1.0 happen now and then), a few scammers to promote it at the right place at the right time, and then an industry with millions of participants (most of whom are wilfully ignorant little helpers – they just don’t care, as long as they expect to benefits from it) may shear millions of victims for decades.

    • I find conspiracy theories entertaining for the most part. They give me some amusement, and then I have fun playing with the idea for a little while, noting things down in case they might be useful for a story snip or something.

      The thing that makes me pause though is, well, look at Sad Puppies. We were dismissed as kooky or bitter jealous conspiracy theorists, and look at what happened instead – by the reaction of the media and the establishment, we proved that not only was the conspiracy plausible, the establishment was willing to kill its’ credibility to protect it. Then the whole reaction to Trump. It annoys me that way.

      • I don’t think Sad Puppies postulated a conspiracy. Rather, it postulated that a key block of then-existing group of Hugo voters were voting more based on perceived political virtue (read leftist point of view) and/or virtue signalling than on the quality of the works in question. In other words, the basic objection is that the literary worth of a science fiction or fantasy story cannot be determined by the social relevance of the story alone. The Sad Puppies wanted to see story-telling, not politics rewarded. Given the subsequent reaction, I think Larry’s original postulates have been proven to be entirely correct.

        • I recall some of Larry’s original posts commenting on how unlikely it was that so many Hugo nominations would land within certain smallish circles (e.g., whatshisname who has had 40+ nominations to date), and basically making the accusation of “log rolling”. I have a hard time seeing the difference between: A) a group of people engaged in log rolling to help each other win votes, and B) a conspiracy. I would submit that both A and B are in the same category.

          So if you accept this view of how log rolling should be categorized, Correia and the other Sad Puppies members were alleging a conspiracy. Just because it’s a conspiracy theory doesn’t necessarily make it kooky. 🙂 After all, the subsequent events proved that Correia was absolutely right, as you and I and Shadowdancer all agree.

          • I really also hate how the word ‘conspiracy’ has been corrupted in general use to mean ‘crazy, unbelievable, fake’; as opposed to ‘a secret plan, or plot.’ “To conspire” was ‘to come together in secret in order to put together a plan or plot – usually to commit an unlawful act’. Conspiring isn’t limited to just illegal or unlawful acts – just any plan or plot that is kept secret between a group, with the machinations of said plot or plan kept away from easily accessible or public scrutiny.

            • It’s the “theory” part that usually makes it kooky or ‘fake’.
              Though, that word is corrupted, too…. *smh*

              • Speaking of “conspiracy” and “corrupt” I have long held the opinion that the Democrat Party was a corrupt conspiracy of a small cabal of interests to enrich themselves at the expense of the natiion. I don’t have any evidence to support that, of course.

            • Conspiracy is much like paranoid. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. and just because it’s a conspiracy doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

            • Patrick Chester

              The main problem with conspiracy theorists is that they see conspiracies where there is likely not a conspiracy at work.

        • Yep. You don’t need a conspiracy. You need people who all went to the same schools and virtue-signal the same way.

          • Milton Friedman’s dictum —

            “I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or it they try, they will shortly be out of office.”

            — applies in every direction.

            Incentives always matter.

        • There was very likely a conspiracy. We know because Theresa Hayden Nielsen was able to correctly tell how many nominations the Puppies had. This was either because she was told in a flat-out violation of the rules, or because she knew who was “supposed” to get it, and that they hadn’t, indicating a secret slate that was small enough that it had to be conspiracy.

          I’ve heard that she tried to claim that the guess came from how jubilant the Puppies were.

          • I think that the conspiracy part came AFTER the advent of Sad Puppies. Once the collusion (subtly different from a “conspiracy”) was pointed out, THEN they made plans to prevent those nominated by SP from winning. Before that, it was less a true conspiracy, and more an unspoken agreement.

  2. “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.'”

    That’s one of the reasons I love MHI, and any “masquerade” urban fantasy, where there’s this whole other world that most know nothing about. Men in Black’s another good example of that.

    And I don’t think we need a hadron collider to “bring demons back,” although that sounds like a fun conspiracy theory and would make a great premise for a novel. The real question is “When did the demons leave?”

    • The Gates of Hell have broken open and the hordes of demons are fleeing from the human invasion.

    • Excuse the shameless promo, but Stephanie Osborn’s new series is based on that very same premise. Secret organization keeping the knowledge from a clueless public because they just couldn’t handle it. It’s called the Division One series with Alpha and Omega the first book.

      • My copy of the third book in the series, A Very Unconventional Christmas, arrived today.

        I have commitments through this weekend, but once they are out of the way I look forward to settling down to read it.

      • I’m working on two different tales where the world is secret. Partly because I invented two different justifications for it, and wanted to use them both. 0:)

      • For some reason, your description gave me a funny idea: a secret organization (possibly a government agency) keeping a secret from a clueless public not because the public couldn’t handle it, but because the organization itself has a very hard time believing it themselves.

        (Ah, I think I understand what happened now: the “they” in “because they couldn’t handle it” is an ambiguous reference that could refer to either “Secret organization” or “clueless public”…)

        • “Do you have any idea what happens if this gets out?”
          “Me neither, other than nothing good.”
          “It’s that’s bad?”
          “It’s that unbelievable. I *deal* with this, and I don’t know what the zark is going on! I’d best against even though I know it’s real. That’s how screwy this is. It gets out… reality itself breaks – at least for too many people. Now you know why I drink.”
          “Now I wonder why you drink so little.”
          “Practice. Hangovers suck. Voice of experience, yes.”

    • The demons didn’t leave. You/we arrived. It’s been said that “the gates of Hell are locked… from the inside.” But it’s a mental, not physical lock and gate. This world? Look around. Much is Hell – or is if left to be. The locked gate. And then there The Curse. The line about “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” might be true. Or maybe it’s getting people to believe that this isn’t Hell – for the Curse of Imagination and being able to dream up things that are actually worse… and then, sometimes, even commit them?! Hell is (almost) always someplace worse than where you are, (almost) no matter how bad that ‘here’ happens to be.

      To escape Hell… well, like has been said: build. The engineering types are apt to know the joke about the engineer mistakenly sent to Hell who sets about making improvements and the supernatural spat this causes which results in the punchline, a jab at a different profession.

  3. I myself excuse myself weakly, and back away when anyone starts going on about the Bilderburgers.
    Oh, and black helicopters appearing all over the west. If I felt like it, I would ask searching questions about there those helicopters were based, since their range was sort of limited. And a support base for those helicopters had to be supplied from somewhere, since there must be a ground maintenance staff who had to be fed and housed, and even in the outback West there were people who lived there who would notice things like food supply trucks and other traffic…

    • It’s not the Bilderburgers, it’s that damned Tri-Quadrangular Commission!

    • They are based on the atomic powered airship the Air Force built as the nuclear war refuge.

      • You know all those missile sites destroyed under the START agreement?
        Are your SURE they were destroyed? Really sure?? Really, really sure??

    • kenashimame

      Black Helos fly over Tucson every day…

      They’re HH-60Gs from the 55th Rescue Squadron.

    • Except that the black helicopters were commonly seen in Northern Idaho during the early 1990s. There were no shortage of witnesses. I lived in the area at the time, and knew a bunch of them. Virtually all of them credible.

      The conspiracy theory mostly comes from the mockery that took place when our Representative at the time (Helen Chenowith) publicly asked about them. We mostly figured they were either a joint US-Canadian border enforcement or DEA. But somehow asking the question meant that we backwoods yokels believed the aliens/Illuminati/newworldorder were coming to get us.
      To note the obvious, there were no such claims being made. We were just seeing a whole lot of unmarked helicopters, and wanted to know why.
      Of course, those of us that were there are pretty sure that something was being covered up, because why else would an innocuous question cause such a response? But no one I know has a clue as to what that might have been.

    • Well, as Bob put it — all helicopters are black after midnight.

    • Black helicopters are based out of one central location. They use a 5th dimensional tunneling device to get to their task area and then proceed with normal physical transportation.

  4. ” 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.”
    And thus we have Trump Derangement Syndrome.
    We campaigned poorly, spend a buttload of money unwisely, fielded a thoroughly unlikable candidate with tremendous baggage, and lost to someone all our fellow travelers in the echo chamber said was a joke.
    He cannot possibly have won fair and square, it had to be collusion with the Russians.
    The thing is, they are never going to give up the fantasy. It is the only thing that validates their very reason to exist, their infallibility. Should they somehow ever again seize power the history books will of course tell the story of how Trump stole the election.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Trump is the last person on Earth I’d include in a conspiracy.

      • I would point out people believe a document called “The Secret Document” in French archives is an accurate representation of who really rules the world and did at least a decade before Dan Brown wrote a bad book using them.

        • It wasn’t all that bad, it just wasn’t anywhere near as good as it was made out to be. Decent pulp, of the Doc Savage grade. I didn’t take to it because I overdosed on those in the 1970’s when they were reprinting them by the cartload.

          The Shadow was decent. Doc and crew were entertaining if a little predictable. The Spider…eh. And The Avenger was Doc with most of the bubbles out, though I are it up when I was 12.

          Dan Brown had (has, I suppose) bounce and energy, and his Conspiracies weren’t any sillier than anyone else’s.

          Now, GREAT pulp is something else. Aaron Allston’s two Doc Sidhe books were terrific. And don’t forget where Sam Spade and Phillip Marlow came from. No, Brown didn’t reach that level.

          • Because I had long had an affection for weird esoterica (my favorite web column of all time was Ken Hite’s Suppressed Transmissions) people recommended The Davinci Code to me all the time.

            My stock response was, “I liked it better the first time when it was called Holy Blood, Holy Grail“.

          • Doc Savage reprints. Loved them. Doc made the ideal modern human maximum hero. And predictability wasn’t a problem for those.

      • Why? I mean, yeah, he’s going to spill the beans, he can’t help that, but given his Twitter feed, he’ll probably do so in such a way that everyone will say he’s lying.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          But maybe he is just pretending to be stupidly impulsive…

          Pretty good act if so.

          • Remember, he’s just dangerously ignorant, incompetent, and impulsive when trying to govern. But he’s fiendishly capable, controlled, and always on-message when conspiring against the Only People Who Really matter to steal an election.

            You need to attend one of their in-group Ivy League schools to acquire the mental ability to hold both these ideas simultaneously without your head exploding.

            • Christopher M. Chupik

              Same with Bush. Bush was the world’s dumbest man, yet capable of outsmarting the best and brightest.

              The best and brightest don’t seem to realize what this says about them.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Thing is, I can hold two or more conflicting models of the world in my head at the same time. It makes it easier to test a bunch of them against the same piece of evidence.

              I’ve not become conclusively convinced of a single Trump model. However, I think I may have never formally disproved to my satisfaction the possibility that Obama was good and competent. So I may simply be lazy about finishing the analysis once I get enough of a guesstimate make the decisions I need to make.

              (I may want to have an opinion on Trump, but right now I don’t really need to.)

            • Trump’s uncle was the first guy in the family to go to college…and he went to MIT and became a physics prof. But Trump’ s dad, who had to stay home and support the family, was the smart one. Ponder that.

              Trump is Odd. He is an artistic, intuitive, perceptive type guy, but he backs up his feelings and instincts by doing very shrewd calculation. But he keeps his calculations and goals and reasons to himself (and his close confidants), so everybody else is kept guessing until he gets things done or gets rid of things he does not want.

              Not a conspiracy, though. Just business secrets.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                Or personal secrets rather than LOL!Shadow Government.

                Makes it difficult to read the entrails and forecast. That’s not entirely a bad thing, but it is not entirely a good thing either.

                • One way to identify the smartest person in any gathering is to look for anyone not trying to make people aware they’re the smartest there.

                  A great deal of what Trump does is razzle-dazzle to distract from what is really going on.

                  Then there are things like his tax returns which I guarantee are so complex (because multiple real-estate holdings and corporate entities shuffling money about) that a) nobody can understand them and b) anybody can make them seem as if the returns prove anything they want.

                • I am now pondering a world where the end of a Presidential term is done by reading the entrails of said President for divination purposes. Well done, sir, for planting that image in my head.

              • SheSellsSeashells

                I have been saying to family for some time that I can’t tell if Trump is just plain crazy, or crazy like a fox. I am not entirely certain that *he* can tell. But he upsets the right people, so I don’t much care.

                • Remember, if the Schadenboner persists for more than four hours, call your liberal friends and cackle at them over the phone.

                • A long time ago, one of the richest people I knew was from Houston. He was VERY Texan. Accent, hat, attitude.

                  He always loved doing business with people from the Ivy League, especially the New York and Boston varieties.

                  “They come into my office, see me, see the hat, see the boots, and hear my accent. And then I make an extra ten percent offa them. Cause I’m stupid, you see…”

                  When you meet a very rich man who seems dumb, you might try a little introspection – and skepticism.

                  • Progressives can’t afford skepticism; it would undermine their self-image … and that’s all they’ve got.

                  • Ooh. thank you. I have a character I’m building who weaponizes that. “I’m a farmboy, you see. They hear the accent and then they stop thinking, and forget I’m also a… (insert career here.)”

                    • Sadly, Chuck Yaeger has single-handedly demolished the ability of smart people to talk with a hillbilly accent in order to camouflage their intellects.

                    • Indeed. There is now at least one highly-paid, highly-trained, high-status profession where talking like a hillbilly is a sign of experience and professionalism.

                    • SheSellsSeashells

                      I always scoffed at the people scoffing at W. because he said “nukular”. My high school BFF’s father also said “nukular”. NASA, on the other hand, said “please please please can we hire you NOW?” approximately once per year.

                    • I had two physics professors in college who previously worked at Oak Ridge on nuclear stuff. One of them did pronounce the word “nucular”, but then he did come from West Virginia.

                  • It can pay to be misunderestimated.

                • You can’t be crazy and be successful. Crazy people basically random-walk down the decision tree and there are far more ways to screw up than succeed. If you meet a successful person who’s acting crazy, they’re almost certainly pretending for some specific reason. Trump has won too many times, even on Twitter, for it to be pure chance.

                  Even the random shock tweets serve his purposes: Trump says something outrageous, the media completely freak out about it, regular people see the tweet and the gross overreaction by the media and decide that the media are just out to get Trump, the media lose a bit more credibility, Trump moves that much closer to reelection.

                  • BobtheRegisterredFool

                    Thing is, a) the presidential decision space may be sufficiently different from his previous environment that past history isn’t conclusive b) sometimes senility comes with age c) I don’t understand his history well enough to know success from a series of minor screw ups recovered from just well enough not to permanently destroy him, yet.

                    All I really can know is that I don’t know.

                    Maybe I’ll have a clue in twenty years.

                    • Just looking at his Twitter “scandals” shows a success rate that is far too high to be random chance.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      I do not fully understand the twitter matters and do not fully understand what real world impact they have.

                      I have been pleasantly surprised with the new SecState, and probably will be forming an opinion based on foreign policy over the next few years.

                    • The key transgression of which Trump is guilty (aside from winning) is not paying sufficient heed to the “nattering nabobs” of conventional wisdom. In the same way, critics of George W Bush decreed him arrogant for not heeding their advice.

                      As it is they who are born to rule best suited by talent, education and experience to govern, attention must be paid else they will continue their tantrum.

                    • Re: How Twitter matters. Do what the enemy does, but to them, better, and harder. So… I would not be at all surprised if one of the books Trump read was that thing written by that Alinsky ratfink.

                    • In fairness to W’s critics, some of their advice was pretty good. Such as “Don’t send only 150,000 troops to Iraq.”

                    • As I recall, he wanted to send more but was armor-blocked by our “ally” in Turkey. In any event, the troops sent were entirely sufficient to topple Saddam, the operational failure was in the aftermath, setting up a replacement without tackling Iran. (Not saying we ought have invaded Iran, but allowing them to meddle endlessly by financing Muqtada al-Sadr and providing training, supplies and expertise to the insurrection was, in retrospect, not a good idea.)

                    • Most people who’ve known him seem to agree that Trump hasn’t changed in 4 decades. Which means his behavior pattern in public is deliberate. As since his personal wealth is secure, as opposed to his various businesses, some of which fail spectacularly, some of which succeed quite well, he’s an extremely successful business man.

                  • Not quite. The Turks messed us up, but the Saudis and Kuwaitis weren’t averse to us basing even more troops there than we already had.
                    And yes, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was a success, but that was practically a given. Everyone knew that the question would be whether we would be able to set up a functional government in Iraq.

                • Thus far he has succeeded very well at the single most important criterion for which I voted: he was not, is not and never will be Hillary.

                  All else is bonus play.

                  • I didn’t vote for Trump because I was afraid he *would* be Hillary. I have been *very* pleasantly surprised on this front. (For the most part, at least. His position on health care still angers me…but then, so do a good portion of Republicans in Congress. Repeal ObominationCare already, darn it! Just doing that would go a long way towards, well, not exactly fixing things, but at least it will make things less bad than they are now!)

                    • I actually don’t get angry at his position on healthcare, he was actually one of the only repulblicans to run on replacing Obamacare rather than repealing it (one of quite a few reasons he was not my first choice in the primaries). So he is actually attempting to follow through on a campaign promise when he attempts to replace Obamacare, it just is a campaign promise I strongly disagree with.

                      All those Republicans in Congress and the Senate however, who did run on repealing Obamacare? And now won’t do so, wanting to replace it with some other national healthcare? Yeah, those make me livid. And they wonder why congressional approval ratings are in the single digits.

                • Lt. Col. Charles R. Codman: You know General, sometimes the men don’t know when you’re acting.

                  Patton: It’s not important for them to know. It’s only important for me to know.

                • I was just wondering, what if the whole kerfuffle between Trump and Sessions is just an act, a sideshow put on to distract attention from other matters … and a way of getting Democrat Senators who ripped Sessions a new one during the confirmation hearings (or tried to) to go on the record defending Sessions now?

                  I can just imagine the two of them kicking back and cracking up over how easily played their foes are.

                  • I had thought about that; a way to get Sessions back in ‘good odor’ so to speak, with the noisy.

                    Trump: “They want reality TV drama? Let’s give it to them so they have something to gossip about while we continue the REAL work in the background. I mean, they don’t expect anything else from me.”

                    Sessions: “I wonder when they’ll figure it out?”

                    Trump: “Never. These are the guys who operate on the idea that the American people live on nothing more than bread and circuses. Even after I got elected. So, like the usual WWF script, this is where I start ‘turning against you…’ “

            • Actually to an extent I do believe both of those (not that he is always on message).

              Trump is capable, intelligent, impulsive, egotistical, charismatic, antagonistic, divisive, and keeps his own counsel.

              That last is truly important and is a large portion of the “secret” to his success. He knows he is impulsive, egotistical, and likely to go off on tangents due to his emotions or a gut feeling/hunch. By keeping his own counsel he uses that to his advantage, people often don’t know if his actions or statements are part of a well thought out intelligent plan, or an off-the-cuff emotional response. By keeping his own counsel he keeps them wondering and off balance, later it is often difficult to decipher whether it was a lucky chance that he took credit for or whether he truly did plan things to work out the way they did. Likewise, if the results or unfavorable it is hard to tell whether he truly screwed the pooch, or whether he was never really interested in the results in the first place and was just flapping his jaws.

              Depending on who is telling the narrative he is either a blundering moron who takes credit for stuff he had nothing to do with, or a genius who pretends to be a buffoon. That uncertainty has worked well for him in the business sector, and while he certainly isn’t an unmitigated success in the poltical sector he seems to be making it work for him there as well.

        • Cassandra Truthing it …does work.

          (because my son is watching BBC’s Merlin on DVD)

          Merlin: *runs into the throne room yelling he is a wizard to save a friend’s life*

          *everybody laughs at him. Prince Arthur drags him out to keep him from being thrown in the dungeon.*

          • I saw the pilot episode and warned my husband (Arthurian nut and history major) well away from it, despite the presence of Anthony Stuart Head. Sooo many problems with the setup. (He couldn’t even get through the Mary Stewart versions…)

            • It’s fun though; once I got it into my head that this is pretty much just a ‘very loosely based’ non-adaptation meant to provide family wholesome entertainment. Something the family could watch together without having to do the gore-porn, or porn; and I’d say they succeeded very much in that, because I was like “OH YAAAAY I CAN GIVE MY KIDS SOMETHING TO WATCH AND NOT WORRY ABOUT A SHOEHORNED IN SEX SCENE OUT OF NOWHERE!!!”

      • But it would be a great conspiracy. The best.

      • There’s a section in TVTropes (using the Joker as the example): Most supervillains won’t invite the Joker to join their villain team because “he’s so flat fucking crazy he scares even the villains”. Except for Lex Luthor, apparently on the theory that when the Joker finds out he wasn’t invited, he’ll destroy the plan for pure spite, so it’s better to have him where you can keep an eye on him.

        Something to consider when deciding whether or not to include Trump in your conspiracy…..

  5. Christopher M. Chupik

    Subject S is aware of monitoring. Switch to Code Vermillion. Word of the day is broadsword. Reply using Whisper.

  6. Funny, I was just thinking the other evening about how wonderful humans’ abilities to find patterns in things is (was reading forensic anthropology). And how we turn around and find patterns and connections where none ever existed.

    Some years back, when Bill Whittle still had his EjectEjectEject blog, he had a wonderful three-part essay about conspiracy theories, and how he got pulled into one for a while when he was young. It was a “moon landing was a hoax” thing, IIRC, and the author had built an amazingly complicated and solid argument. Bill said he felt like he had a sort of power that this new, secret special knowledge gave him, because he was now part of a special, informed elite. It also gave him a mild feeling of paranoia. I suspect we underestimate the appeal of that “I belong to a small group with special knowledge” feeling. (And yes, that made me think of the early Christian groups commonly called Gnostics. Because I’m Odd.)

    • For me, it was the whole Bermuda Triangle/Aliens Built Ancient Civilizations craze of the ’70s (hey, I was in junior high school and a sci-fi geek). Fortunately a bunch of debunking books and documentaries came out and took care of that.

      • Erich Van Danneken has a museum in Switzerland. Part of me wanted to go visit, the rest of me said, “Nope. No, no, nope, no way, nopity nope.”

      • Jacques Bergier, old civilizations. It was when i realized all this secret knowledge was hippie dippie sh*t with socialist assumptions that I realized it couldn’t be true.
        Then I checked the facts. Oy.

    • That’s not Odd to make the connection to Gnostics, that was what they were entirely based in, extrapolating the Mystery Cult aspects of early Christianity out to a heretical degree.

      it’s why a lot of Gnostic thought and interpretation of Christian theology is so persistently stubborn and recurs continually to this day. It was tempting back them, and just as tempting now.

    • That is one of the appeals of Gnosticism. Not sure why that would make you an Odd (except for being intelligent).

      • Creative people see what is not as if it is. When you tell a story it never existed until your mind created it. What if Sadam doesn’t attack Kuwait? What if the 1960 election isn’t stolen? What if Stonewall Jackson isn’t killed before Gettysburg?

        Our latest part of our brain is the storytelling part. We see patterns, ones that are there and are not there. I wonder if that is the reason we were successful? With story comes the ability to make sense of the universe, and the knowledge of good and evil.

        This is the attraction of “secret” knowledge. The more you know the more tempting to eat the fruit. Remember the devil gives you what you want. God gives what we need.

        We love to know secrets. This is the secret of Hubbard’s baby. You too can know the secrets of the universe, we take both Visa and Mastercharge….

        • This is the secret of Hubbard’s baby.
          Ya know…. If the alien super-beings were so great, how did they do something as silly as forget you’re playing in a virtual world? Of course, they were also smart enough to evidently build one that doesn’t require you to reboot every so often, nor does it crash. So……

    • Tim Nichols

      Being one of the People In The Know is a huge temptation. It’s one of the things that makes cults work. C. S. Lewis wrote a great essay about it called “The Inner Ring” — really good commentary on this aspect of human nature.

  7. I realized this morning, as I had to fight myself into not buying a book about how CERN

    And with this you made my year…

    Back in the early 90s I tried to sell some people I knew (BBS mostly but some fellow sailors) on the idea that the Superconductive Supercollider then being built by the US government was a summoning circle to summon Satan into this reality during the end days. I posited the reason it was surrounding the Dallas metroplex was to use the population as human sacrifices.

    Once Clinton (Bill) was elected I added the over the top element of Bill being elected so the Evil High Priest Hillary could do the summoning.

    Now I see my idea did have legs…I don’t think the CERN conspiracy guys ever heard of me or my idea but…well, not great minds but minds of a certain type clearly think alike 🙂

    • Well of course it would have to be in CERN; the SSC is in too religious of an area, and the psychic aura from all those prayers would have kept the summoning circle from succeeding. It’s obvious!!!

      • I am reliably informed that the purer the soul, the tastier it is.

        Not that I would know – I can’t even afford the ones that show up in the Manager’s Specials.

      • Hence why SSC was canceled and LHC wasn’t.

      • For the edification of all who haven’t already see this, I would like to submit the opening ceremonies for the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland.

        Just watch the whole thing, and when you get done with it all, take a minute and think about why the claims of bizarre crap for CERN are so credible to a bunch of the population.

        Seriously–This was a tunnel opening ceremony. Most normal polities will have a ribbon across the track/road, cut it, and be on to the next thing. This deal? LOL… Just observe it all, and look through whatever other related videos strike your interest. When done, if you’re still having difficulty with why the conspiracy theory nutters are so prevalent… Well, I can’t help you.

        I suppose this could be grand, government-level trolling, but… I think this was actually a serious event, staged by serious people. Who are all basically nucking futs.

        • That was… disturbing. The capper, for me, was how so many of them looked like zombies while they were performing.

        • Ok, my first thought while watching that was, “what was the BAC of the fellow that choreographed that dance?”

          Then we got to the people dancing on flatcars in their underwear, and I really didn’t have any thoughts any more, my brain just locked up.

          From there it went into bad acid trip territory.

        • What the hell did I just watch?

          Was one of the people involved someone who had frustrated dreams of becoming a theatre director?

          I’m going to …share… this to my housemate.

          • Yes, that is five minutes of your life you’ll never get back, so be sure and share the misery.

            It does have some entertainment value, for certain values of entertainment.

          • “We need some entertainment for our opening ceremony.”

            “I can call my cousin Freddie – he was a theater major in college until he dropped out.”

            “Okay, great. He’s not going to do anything weird, is he?”

            “This is Europe, theater is supposed to be weird and annoying.”

            “Right.”

        • Would watching the whole thing instead of an edited version make more sense, or make it seem even weirder?

          (Rolling multi-colored haystacks? Really?)

          • Oddly, having seen a person dressed somewhat similarly when at LibertyCon a few years ago (outside, with a pumpkin head, going around like an early Halloween decoration), that was one of the less odd portions for me.

    • Speaking of end of days, just to ratchet down your gears another notch, did you see the news about the company that’s offering to microchip all their employees. Cross another one off the list, enabling technology that is.

  8. Made a pact with a friend in high school. We’d both be on the lookout for the group that secretly controls the world. And when we found it, we’d tell the other and both apply for a job with them.

    I’m 62 and we’re both still looking….

  9. If you add in Russians for the present day, you start understanding how pervasive this stuff is.

    The Democratic Party turned into the John Birch Society so slowly I hardly noticed.

  10. Turns out one of my reletives is a flat earther. Boy, that was a fun conversation. Despite all the *research* he has done, he was not aware of things like Doppler shift, radio direction finding, great circle routes, the science behind sat nav, ect.
    Then again, research for these types involves a lot of carefully cherry picked facts, “unexplained phenomenon” that has long been explained, and a generous helping of covering the holes with conspiracy theories. Because if you can’t find the proof, it’s just all part of some evil plan.

    • What was his explanation for the horizon? That’s the biggest, simplest refutation, it seems. Oy vey.

      • Distance. If you have a strong enough camera, they say, you could see forever.
        This is where his lack of knowledge in radio direction finding came into play. My experience in setting up a VSat dish south of the equator was used at this point.

        • So, his excuse was “lack of understanding of physics”. Got it. *eyeroll*

          • He was utterly floored by the idea that one can track a radio emitter, and find out how far away it is, how fast it is moving, if it’s moving to or away, ect. It never occurred to him, and was utterly outside his experience.
            Note- he is a college grad.

    • More of the Flat Earthers you run into are ordinary nutters.

      Some of the Flat Earthers do it as a hobby and they network. Before there was an internet for trolls to live in, the Flat Earthers would run their con on the hapless just for the lulz. Over the decades some of their schticks have become *very* slick and sophisticated.

      Many of their victims, not quite remembering elementary school science class, are hooked.

      If you can see a good Flat Earther running the con, it’s instructive to watch. And their marks are still amenable to logical persuasion, even when they could take out their smartphone and google a refutation for each point.

      • Sadly, one of Younger Brother’s teachers in…Middle School, I think? Was a Flat Earther. And taught it in class.

        Yeah, it was Colorado. ‘Nuff said regarding their schools…

        (This was the same school where the (white, male) principle informed my mother, when she expressed mild displeasure that the Christmas program had only one actual (secular) Christmas song in it, and all the others were Hannukah/Kwanzaa, that as she was white, she had no culture.)

    • I’ve got one that’s a real chem trail believer (with a sideline of “Monsanto is going to kill the environment”).

      He can be counted to post links to sites expounding both almost every day.

      He’s a nice guy – real salt-of-the-earth type, lots of fun to be around, a genuinely warm person. But everyone has learned to totally avoid those topics whenever we attend family gatherings.

    • Personally I would think the first research to do as a flat earther in the modern day is to circumnavigate the earth. If you are really serious about proving the earth isn’t round, getting a pilots license wouldn’t be that hard and flying to the edge of the earth would conclusively prove your theory; at least to yourself.

      • I wish. But on the occasions that I’ve found myself in the Flat Earth section of pinterest (I sometimes end up there while reading Humans Are Weird before bedtime as part of my ‘cycle down to sleep’), they’ve convinced themselves that if you fly from north to south and back again, you’re just flying in a circle and will never, ever see the edge that THEY JUST KNOW IS THERE. And flying in a circle to East-West is also doable but because of how the countries ARE REALLY ARRANGED AROUND THE EDGES you’ll NEVER SEE THE EDGE THAT THEY KNOW EXISTS.

        I closed Pinterest and told myself “That’s enough idiocy for today.”

        • Basic geometry and trig escape them. A person on a boat with basic 17th century navigational tools can tell you how far Tierra del Fuego is from the Cape of Good Hope to Tasmania and back to Tierra del Fuego again. One thinks they would notice the extra few thousand miles if the world was flat.

          • Why are there Flat Earthers? As far as I know it doesn’t contradict any religious teachings.

          • Terry Sanders

            And how do you know what direction you’re going? With a compass. And why do you know the earth’s magnetic field is linear over long distances? Because They told you…

            Or you look at the stars. Let’s start on Atmospheric Distortion…

            • And the explanation for gyro-compasses?

              • Terry Sanders

                Which are calibrated with magnetic compasses. And unless you build it yourself, you don’t know which little add ons do what.

                I was just tossing off the first few. I remember one guy (on paper) who “explained” how the moon launches really worked. (Ballistic trajectories are distorted by the magnetic and super-magnetic layers surrounding the earth. They landed way the heck out near the rim, where there’s no atmosphere to speak of…

          • In fairness to the Flat Earth crowd, there probably is some number of dimensions, n, in which Earth is flat. For certain values of “flat.”

            • The Earth is locally “flat”, depending on how close you zoom in to look at the surface. At least, until you get to mountains.

              (Ah, the fun things you can learn in differential geometry and topology!)

  11. I’ve concluded that the most successful modern conspiracies are hidden, not secret; camouflaged, not invisible; shadowy, not black; mundane, not sensational. They persist, not because no one knows about them, but because they have good PR and no one in power much cares.

    • Like the Southern Poverty Law Center!!!!!! Dang! You nailed it!

      • So that’s why it felt so creepy when I passed by when I was living in Montgomery!

      • Prezackly. I could name three or four like it off the top of my head, and three or four dozen with a little research, but since naming the Dark Ones tends to draw their negative attention and either flames or hoots from their loyal minions, and my flameproof armor is in the shop, I’m not ready to do combat.

    • 😀 Come on, the best, absolutely best way to hide a conspiracy IS to keep it all in the open. Just debunk the parts which would make it dangerous or something that needs to be interfered with regularly.

      Especially debunk them in a way which makes anybody who claims to take them seriously look like a loon completely out of touch with reality because that will also push anybody who doesn’t want his sanity questioned from even trying to look into it. 3:)

      Think of it. If the aliens had actually already landed and taken over most of our governing bodies, how could they rule easier, by trying to keep it all in the dark by killing witnesses and trying to squish any hint of their existence – but no three people can keep their mouths shut for any length of time, it will always come out in the open – or putting up all these outrageous conspiracy sites and youtube videos and whatnot with nutty looking and sounding humans spouting both obvious nonsense and actual facts and everything in between… 😀

  12. Professor Badness

    I work in a public library. The amount and variety of conspiracy theories I deal with are more than a little disconcerting.
    The obvious crazies are easy to dismiss. Some seem reasonable until you start talking to them.
    And it’s like they don’t apply any logic. Yes, conspiracies have and do exist. But anything involving more than a handful of people can’t be kept secret for long.

    • If it’s a secret conspiracy that everyone in the world is in on except you, what does that say?

      • “They all hate me, and they won’t let me into the club! Just like in kindergarten…”

    • After an otherwise uneventful medical flight, one of the crew informed me that the family member needed to be in a hospital as well as the patient. Apparently the family member suffered from paranoid delusions, and give the RN and ‘medic an hour long dissertation on chem-trails and why the World Government and space aliens were out to get said family member.

      • Professor Badness

        Yeah, one patron, who seems otherwise normal, goes on about chem trails.
        But more, he will tell you about how he can’t stay in place for long, or the spy planes track him down and spray him with low level microwaves; making him uncomfortably hot.
        I do not point out how such an operation would cost millions of dollars and involve thousands of people; just to ruin his little life?

      • A friend of mine, who I’d known since high school to be an intelligent and skeptical sort, abruptly bought into one of the “Elders of Zion” conspiracies. Hook, line, and menorah. He had the Truth, and nothing was going to persuade him otherwise.

        It wore off after a couple of years. I expected he’d latch on to something else eventually, but if so, he didn’t mention it to me.

    • The one who told me that AIDS could be manufactured by the government because they could do anything, but when I pointed out that it was a very stupidly designed disease then, tried to claim that they couldn’t contain it, and they couldn’t cure it.

      • They might be able to manufacture AIDS, at least nowadays, but probably not back when it was first diagnosed. The real question is, why would they?

    • Ever had any kids want to research the ‘Santa is real’ conspiracy that EVERY adult is somehow in on?

      • I researched that one as a child. We always went to Aunt Mary’s house for Christmas and Santa was always there. The year I was told Santa didn’t exist (6? 7?), I counted everyone in the house. When Santa showed up, I did it again. Same number. I was a believer for another year!

        • Eh. I announced that Santa didn’t bring the presents, Mommy and Daddy did, when I was two. I was relieved. No strange man barging into my home in the middle of the night.

  13. I am already starting to think getting this crowd playing with conspiracy theories out in the open and with each other might not be the wisest choice.

    • Heh. Heh. Heh.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I think there’s a distinct flavor to the folks who do this sort of stuff because they are ill. I also think their stuff is often boring, probably because decisions driven by illness give little leeway for creativity.

      Can anyone point me in the direction of some good sources on the elements of the crime of conspiracy? I’ve got a theory of a crime, and would like to find out what portions are actually illegal, and what could be proven.

    • Somewhere in his archives, the Lawdog had a conspiracy about how Elvis and the space aliens assassinated JFK to keep him from revealing Santa Clause’s secret. Oh. My. Stars-and-garters it was side-splittingly funny.

    • First thought – that will give us more books. Second thought – most of the people here are behind on their current writing. Third thought – if people start dropping off, I’d better start for the hills.

      Checking… yes, I do have plenty of the big disposable pans in the pantry to make proper hats out of.

      • kenashimame

        I would line the inside of a stetson with foil, that way they don’t know you’re on to them.

        • I don’t wear the Stetson any more; it just looks ridiculous with carpenter-cut Levis and sneakers.

          (The feet cannot handle proper boots these days. Any boots have to be laced so I can ease them when the ankles swell up.)

        • Remember, it takes a dozen layers of aluminum foil to provide the same protection as one layer of real tin foil, which is almost impossible to buy anywhere nowadays.

          [thoughtful look] Not that I’m paranoid or anything…

          • kenashimame

            Go to a theatrical supply place and get blackwrap. It’s heavier duty than anything destined for the kitchen.

            • “blackwrap”. Now that’s an interesting product I didn’t know about … 2 mil black matte aluminum foil. Versus household aluminum foil which is about 0.6 to 0.9 mil. And you can get it wider than 12 in. Hmm … I’ll have to see how it works for camp stove heat shields.

              • Since it’s primary function is to block light leakage from 1000 and 2000 watt stage lights, it’ll probably work fine on a camp stove.

                If you have a audiophile quality speaker, you can also wrap the front of it with black wrap and it’ll sound like an old, tinny 1920s jukebox. Especially after you kill all the bass in the channel.

            • Ooh… that will be a great component in creating a portable solar oven…

          • You’ve been misinformed. Aluminum foil actually amplifies the signals, that’s why They had it replace proper tin foil.

            • Feather Blade

              Okay, but could you reduce the amplification or create destructive interference by layering it shiny-side to shiny-side and dull-side to dull-side?

    • Or maybe we could create a new conspiracy theory and turn it into a cash cow. Maybe by writing books with conflicting theories about the same thing, and then getting into arguments with each other on daytime talk shows, and convince celebrities that we have secret knowledge…

      Nah, it’d never work. 🙂

  14. Meh. I hate to be a Negative Nigel here, but the “evil conspiracy behind it all” trope in fiction has worn sooo thin for me over the past several years you could hold it up to a window and trace thru it. It shows up *everywhere*: T.V., movies, comic books, web comics. (Especially web comics. *sigh* We know X Files was big in your formative years, kids. Find some new inspiration maybe.)

    Every time I see a sinister figure smirking from the shadows (cigarette smoking is optional) and gloating about the Kafkaesque wringer they’re gonna put the protagonists thru I roll my eyes and buckle in to ride the same tired rodeo that the mainstream’s been serving us since Watergate, if not earlier.

    One old school exception: I do have a sentimental fondness for Doc Smith’s wacky onion layers of galactic evil in his Lensmen books. But that was more beating up a series of puppets until you finally get to the hand, instead of the typical “villains are ten steps ahead of the good guys ‘cos everybody’s in their pocket and our heroes will keep losing until the last chapter/final 10 minutes of the show when the plot timer goes off.” I’d just like to see a different driver for conflict, that’s all.

    Sorry, I don’t mean to come here and be a crankypants.

    (Or maybe that’s just what THEY want you to think.)

    • The problem with the X-Files (and I suspect many of the conspiracy shows following in its footsteps) is that there was no actual conspiracy behind the X-Files: the writers were making it up as they went along and had no clue what any of these vague hints they were tossing out referred to. Thus, all the “myth arc” episodes were eternally setting up something they didn’t have any intention of paying off.

      Of course, that is probably how a real government conspiracy would operate:

      “Okay, we have successfully hidden our clones among a colony of killer bees. What was that supposed to accomplish again?”

      “I don’t know. I thought you did.”

      “You’re the one who told me to do it.”

      “That was just passing on a message from Bob down in the Treasury department.”

      “Bob?”

      “Don’t look at me. Agriculture is the one who provided the bees, and HHS wanted the clones. I just figured it would be more efficient to store them together. I have no clue what either of them are for…”

      (Okay, I know this is unrealistic. In reality, government officials from various departments would never talk to each other long enough to realize that none of them had a clue what they were doing, but you have to allow me SOME dramatic licence.)

      • I really began to dislike The X-Files after a couple of seasons, especially with the Cigarette-Smoking Man, the Aliens and the black oil stuff. I had the feeling that it was encouraging a very dangerous kind of paranoia among the susceptible.

        • The X-Files and Twin Peaks both had writing teams who set up grand conspiracies the details of which they never actually bothered to figure out, so both shows just wandered off aimlessly into nowhere story-wise.

          • But the monster-of-the-week ones, especially the funny ones (Trailer Park Vampires) made up for it.

            • But those non-conspiracy eps got lower ratings, so they went away over time.

              The audience wanted that conspiracy mystery solved. Since there was no work done to think through the details, the writers ended up throwing stuff like the bees thing at the wall, so in the end it just didn’t make any sense.

            • richardmcenroe

              The autopsy scenes had me laughing out loud: flop*flop*flop*flop*flop*…

          • Eureka did that too. I did actually shell out money to own a few of the episodes – mostly the hilarious Christmas ones. Think I have the Warehouse 13 cross-overs, too, somewhere on the backup drive.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Concur in that the evil shadow government conspiracy has been badly overdone, and like many other over done things is often dull.

      Differ in that there is a rich vein of actual historical conspiracies and such that relatively few people are touching. My hobby horse is Democrats and Communists, but history is very wide.

      Differ in that I currently am interested in merging a jianghu type parallel martial society with a more traditional western UF masquerade. In a Jianghu, you might have a bunch of martial artists who generally hide their skills and who refrain from using them on mundanes because it is a tremendous loss of dignity.

      I’ve been reading a lot of stories where the plot/driver for conflict is very often: 1. MC is a weakling of the lowest level of status. 2. Stronger higher status people prey on MC. 3. MC grows stronger and gains status. With the whole thing repeating over and over, because that is the kind of society in the worldbuilding. As needed, add another hierarchy or send them to another world where they are again a low level nobody.

    • Nah. I’m looking at it as “elements for the deep history of the world”. the story is NOT about a big conspiracy. Though being science fiction, set in present day, with portals between parallel Earths, there are things “going on wut we don’t know” but it’s not one big conspiracy.
      Sorry for not being clear.

      • Thousands of years ago our world was the home of the god-born, humans with great super-powers.

        The god-born built a great civilization which was destroyed when a Great Evil invaded the world.

        The god-born managed to drive the Great Evil away at the cost of their lives and only a few normal humans survived.

        Five hundred years ago, a young Mind-Mage arrived on Earth after escaping the destruction of his alternate Earth by the Great Evil.

        He discovers one of the last fortresses of the god-born and also learns that the Great Evil is going to return to our world after our world again has beings with super-powers.

        ::Note, this is part of the back-story of my super-hero universe.::

      • “Forces that we don’t know about or understand” is a *heck* of a lot more believable than “some cabal of smug bastards is pulling ALL the strings” ‘cos it’s pretty much true to life in all aspects. Hanlon’s razor is our shaving grace. 🙂

        (And I wasn’t speaking to whatever you might be planning that would be edified by the CERN book so much as an over abundance of infallible interlinked bad guys in soo much of media these days. As you say conspiracy theories have mass appeal, but I’m bored of it as a trope.)

  15. A lemma to any conspiracy theory is that aliens exist among us.

    Consider: any good conspiracy theory posits a group of people who are all highly competent, agreed on their goal and how to achieve it, and never gossip, show off and say too much, or make careless errors.

    Who are these people? Certainly not human beings.

    • And sure as hell not gov’t workers.

    • Face it. If they were actually that competent and effective, they wouldn’t have to operate in secret.

      Of course peace, prosperity, and happiness might not be parts of their plans…

  16. Of course, there is the kind of conspiracy that appeals to my vindictive side *cough* pizza *cough*, but that’s entirely too gross and ugly even for novel research, unless it’s only vaguely hinted at.

    Yeah on conspiracies not really existing, but I can be convinced of collaborations, which I guess aren’t the same thing? Like Apple and the publishing industry colluding on prices. Or Silicon Valley colluding to not hire each other’s workers to keep the wages down (haven’t heard anything on that lately, but I thought there was a lawsuit going). Or just about any government/business entity collusion.

    John Connolly wrote a rather charming book, The Gates, where Hadron opens the gates of Hell resulting in demons descending on a small English village. A cute read (the demons who happened to be near the gate were low-level and mostly justa-buncha-guys who head to the pub, while the not-so-nice ones are handily taken care of by the villagers – no superheroes needed. He throws in some boring kids to tie in with Harry Potter, but they aren’t on-stage much.)

  17. Well now you’ve gone and piqued my interest. I want to read this book on demonology-from-micro-black-holes.

    I love a good textual conspiracy that leads to interesting headcanon theories that attempt to connected decades of fiction in shared universes. (It’s one of the reasons why I love DC comics so much. Have you heard about the good news of the Hypercrisis, neighbor?) But there comes a time when keeping the conspiracy going also requires more mental gymnastics than necessary, and it stops becoming fun to participate in. At this point, the ones who hold onto that conspiracy are the ones with something to prove, or a personal projection on that specific worldview. The text becomes scripture to appeal to a truth no higher than their own emotional gut-check reaction, and everything must be interpreted through that perspective.

  18. A secret cannot be kept. The minute it is shared, either the sharer or the sharee must be eliminated before either passes it on again. People are such blabbermouths.

    My villainess tells NO ONE.

  19. In one of my story worlds, I have a character that people believe is part of a grand conspiracy working in that world.

    The “fun part” is that while most of the talk about him is kooky, he really is the head of a secret group working toward a specific end.

    Oh, he is one of the Good Guys. 😉

  20. “It’s all true”? No, it’s all a lie, we can’t handle the truth. We think in three, perhaps three and a half dimensions and reality requires far far more. Everything is a lie, including this.

  21. Eamon J. Cole

    Now if I can find a way the people tracking searches, and the Amazon algorithm won’t peg me under too crazy to live.

    No worries. I checked the database. Everybody’s got you down as “too crazy to confront.”

    Well, there was the one group, but I let it be known how much trouble we had keeping you away from the time machines.

    They’ve amended their file. In red. With large stamps.

  22. Patrick Chester

    Anyone remember the South Park episode where it turned out the 9/11 Conspiracy theories were themselves conspiracy theories because government officials wanted to feel like they were all-powerful and stuff?

    • I’ve seen variants on that idea in serious media as well. 9/11 conspiracy theories are a form of comfort for those who don’t want to believe that we just f-ed up so badly that less than two dozen guys with boxcutters managed to kill over three thousand.

      • That’s one of the appeals of the early JFK conspiracy theories.

        “The most important man in America couldn’t have been killed by a lone nut-case”. 😦

        • Yeah, but you don’t have to do much reading on the subject before the WTF becomes overwhelming. Just the abridged Warren Commission report (quite a hefty volume; the full Report was encyclopedia-sized), Gerald Ford’s account, and other primary sources quickly do a triple-axel and dive down the rabbit hole.

          Just with the primary sources, there’s so much WTF that a conspiracy theorist has an embarrassingly rich array of weirdness to assemble his story from.

          • Oswald acted alone.

            And no, I don’t want to argue about it.

            See: Case Closed – Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by Gerald Posner

          • kenashimame

            Every time I put the JFK conspiracies to bed in my head, Jack Ruby goes and shoots Oswald again for no logical reason.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              JFK’s fans weren’t necessarily rational people. Some of them!

              I don’t really care.

              I’ve seen the assertions about the Mexico City embassy meeting, and if they were true there would have been good and sound reasons for the government to want to avoid pursuing the matter in public. But the people I heard the suggestive evidence from are people who I’m pretty sure can lie better than I can detect.

              That said, by modern standards, Jackie and LBJ were Russian spies.

              • Not to mention the fact that the “JFK” they’re usual fans of bears very little resemblance to the actual man named John Kennedy.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          Haven’t you heard? It was the whole city of Dallas that killed him. The atmosphere of right-wing hatred made a leftist kill the liberal president.

          (eyeroll smiley needed)

          • My grandfather made a fortune selling hotdogs and renting rifles behind the grassy knoll by the way.

        • I didn’t care for Quantum Leap, but the Lee Harvey Oswald episode was interesting. It had no conspiracy, only a single nut job acting alone. Turns out either the director or the producer had known Lee Harvey Oswald in the army, and that may have made the difference.

          • My personal favorite treatment of the JFK assassination in television was the one where Red Dwarf’s crew went back, saved him, and he wound up being popped for all the prostitutes and so forth in the White House when Jackie finally snapped and dropped the dime on him.

            They “fixed” the timeline by taking JFK back and having him assassinate himself to save his reputation and put things back the way they were.

        • The most interesting take that I’ve seen is that JFK *was* killed by one of the Secret Service agents… by accident, while returning fire. IOW, Oswald hit, but not a fatal wound, while the back brace kept JFK upright and a wild shot hit him from his own side. I don’t care enough to research the ballistics to see if the idea has any merit, but at least it’s inventive, and keeps the blame on Oswald.

      • I have friends who go into the 9-11 stuff, including people who worked in government for many years, and thus would know that nothing done by the .gov can be that well coordinated and managed.

        I’ve concluded the thought that there are smart people from over there who have workable plans to come over here and kill us in job lots is so scary to these individuals that they are compelled to conclude that cannot be true, those people over there are not smart enough to have done what they did. Lacking any explanation then for what everyone saw on 9-11 given what they are compelled to believe, they arrive at some vast conspiracy among us smart people over here, which these individuals are smart enough to have uncovered, and since they’ve arrived at the truth they have the knowledge to be safe.

        The only alternative would be to exit their fill-in-the-blank comfort zone and embrace the real world. Yeah, not gonna happen.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          The theory that plays well with my political prejudices is that people are attracted to flavors of conspiracy theory that match and are compatible with their political prejudices.

          9/11 trootherism was compatible with a political agenda strongly opposing Bush. The Democrats wanted to oppose Bush, in part because of irritation at Gore’s loss. Also, the alternative model to trootherism pointed directly at Clinton administration policies, policies the Democrats still liked, as a partial cause. So we would expect the nutbars aligned with the Democratic party to more strongly align troother than nutbars aligned with the Republican party.

          Of course, under this 1) ‘Trump is a 9/11 troother’ 2) ‘thus a secret or unreconstructed Democrat’ brings us back to my prejudices.

        • … those people over there are not smart enough to have done what they did

          That’s racisssssss!

        • Someone I knew from college (in the Honors Program, even!) started making trutherism comments. I offered to let my rocket scientist brother explain the physics of the event to her, but she’s a Berkley baby, and the concept that the government did it overpowers such mundane considerations as gravity + damage + warping steel.

    • A novel whose title I’ve unfortunately forgotten had the line, “Most people assume the government makes it its business to spy on everyone. Actually, it’s more of a hobby.”

  23. If you really want to hear some crazy conspiracy theories, check out the Middle Ease Research Institute (MEMRI.ORG). You wouldn’t believe some of the things people in the Middle East believe.

    • When I was in college, I had some Iranian roommates who were actually Palestinians from Kuwait. Every now and then I’d come home to find them huddled around the TV, which was turned up very loud, reading some newsletter they’d picked up somewhere and whispering about what the CIA was up to.

      • There are times I have thought that it would be nice if our intelligence agencies were half as capable as the various conspiracy theories claim they are.

        • Professor Badness

          I know! Right?

          • I used to tell people that I believed that the CIA was itself a CIA front. That in back of those feckless, bumbling fools was a small hard corps of magnificently competent geniuses going about their business while everyone in the world was distracted by the front CIA organization…

              • My father’s friend from boot camp ended up in the OSS during the war. He once said that there were two organizations there – one with the obvious Americans that worked with people like the Partisans – and the other with people that could be inserted as “natives.”

                He was apparently one of the latter – he was from the German ethnicity around that part of Kansas and spoke fluent German, as well as Swedish. (He told us that there were some things he could never talk about – not because of the Germans, but the Swedes…)

                • I have had zero interest in buying Ikea since learning of their use of slave labor during WWII; unlike Schindler, they did nothing to help their workers.

            • Weber already used that one when he made Manpower a front for the Mesan Alignment.

        • “What’s the difference between an American and a foreigner?”
          “The foreigner believes the CIA to be competent.”

      • … whispering about what the CIA was up to.

        The CIA? That’s the Cars International A, right? The dealership owned by Debbie Wassername-Schultz’s IT department?

      • You want conspiracies, the Arabs/Iranians/Muslims are pikers–Credulous children who, when presented with contradictory evidence, merely double-down on the conspiracy theory and increase the volume, ignoring your evidence.

        Now, you want real verisimilitude with the conspiracy theories? Go find yourself a genuine, traditional old-school Serbian. Sweet Jeebus, but those folks can work some magic. Let’s say that you are discussing a conspiracy theory that they’ve thrown at you, and you somehow manage to throw up enough evidence to put the whole thing into doubt. What will your Serbian interlocutor do?

        LOL… They’ll take your evidence, agree with you, and within the span of moments, they’ll have woven it into the theory they’ve been telling you all about as just more evidence for it being true. Nine times out of ten, by the time you get done talking to them, you’re going to be so damn confused about what’s what, and which way is up that you’re going to be wondering if it really is true that Columbus was actually an agent for the Pope, and that he sailed west with full knowledge of what he’d find, having had access to the secret files from beneath the Vatican, and that he’d done the whole thing as a part of a plot to reduce the Eastern Orthodox church to irrelevance and destroy the one true Christian leader, the Tsar…

        I’m telling you, the Arabs ain’t got spit on the Serbians. I’ve listened to them all, and the average Middle Eastern conspiracy theorist is a child-like simpleton with infantile ideas. The Serb? Dear God, but those bastards are straight-up amazing, when it comes to the sheer verisimilitude of it all.

    • I peek now and again if they are cited in news bits, but I’ve had to stop visiting MEMRI regularly because I just could not handle the sheer amount of stupid the people in the Middle East believe… and are willing to kill for so that reality doesn’t intrude on them.

      I think part of the reason why the West hasn’t turned all that desert into glass is because they can’t accept that amount of cognitive dissonance.

      Well, rather that type of cognitive dissonance. The left is quite comfortable with their own.

  24. Turbo Beholder (@TBeholder)

    IMO people try too hard to read between the lines mostly when they fail to read what’s IN the lines.
    Covert activity on the level of an average secret service obviously requires comparable amount of resources (vetting and training included). On a small scale – sure, but how much can it achieve?
    On a larger scale – not even funny. But since anything big enough to matter is too big to hide for long, not often anyone even tries to, beyond inventing an euphemism or a dozen.
    Most really worrisome things are mostly in the plain sight.
    For example: who needs masons when there’s UN?
    http://en.kalitribune.com/agenda-21-an-introduction/

  25. Everything’s (Fnord) OK. There’s nothing to (Fnord) see here. Move along. (Fnord)

    But seriously, sometimes there *are* conspiracies, and sometimes they’re even successful (mostly) in achieving their aims. Viz. the linked article yesterday on the communist overthrow of Portugal.

    • The linked article is largely whooey. i was there. it was more complicated than that. WAY more complicated. And it took 4 years for the communists to get control after the revolution. (though they had some control before.) And it didn’t last long. Though socialism is not much better.

  26. Somehow I am reminded of a Get Smart episode, where 99 and 86 infiltrated a Kaos meeting, at which it turned out that everyone at that meeting was an infiltrator from a different organization (it was an international meeting) fighting Kaos.

    • I understand that’s actually a pretty accurate representation of the current make-up of the Klan – when you take out the law organizations or the JDL reps, there’s not actually that many actual Klan people left. Or so I’ve read somewhere.

    • Wasn’t that pretty much the plot of Chesterton’s “The Man Who Was Thursday”?

    • By the early 1960s, it was only the dues-paying FBI members who were keeping the CPUSA afloat.

      Years later, there was a cartoon with a guy on a podium saying, “Okay, is there anyone here who *isn’t* an FBI agent?”

  27. Feeling left out.

    Nonody yet has mentioned THE JOOOOS

  28. I think conspiracy theories are mostly ridiculous and I pay them no mind but the assassination of JFK is something I’ve been interested in for over tjhirty years. Can’t recall title but I remember reading a book my step father gave me when I was teenager and it completely dismantled Warren commission.

    I have decided to believe Bill James theory on who shot JFK is most likely but I don’t see myself as one who believes fanciful tales. Who killed JFK is crazy making, even if you’re not a conspiracy theorist normally.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Oswald did it because he was a commie nut in contact with soviet networks. Soviet disinformation push blaming someone, anyone, else coincided with Jackie and LBJ’s interest in other avenues being pursued. Jackie because she wanted to marry another wealthy man, LBJ because he didn’t want to get locked into the anti-communist crusade which would have resulted from him blaming the USSR.

      Thus we got racist Dallas, Camelot and the Warren report.

      • And the Crazy Right-wingers. You left them out. In the cake in the rain in MacArthur Park.

    • JFK killed JFK, by going back in time, to stop JFK from starting a nuclear war. There was a story about it. Anyone? Name? Title?

      • That sounds like a John C. Wright Metachronopolis story. But while JFK does appear in, I think, “The Plural of Helen of Troy,” that wasn’t a plot that I remember.

          • Yeah. I have the niggling thought that I have also read that exact story, but cannot pin it down either, even enough to look for it in the stacks. Analog? F & SF? Anthology?

            Gah. Even Wikipedia is no help – I didn’t know there were that many JFK alternate stories out there. Although I probably should have realized.

            • kenashimame

              Somewhere in a box I have an entire anthology of alternate JFK timeline shorts stories, including one where Joe Jr. survives the war and the four brothers eschew politics and form a folk quartet.

      • Ah ha! But you don’t watch television. Anyhoo…

        3. JFK assassinates himself, Red Dwarf (1997)
        While the so-called “magic bullet theory” has been used for comedic purposes in the past, most notably on Seinfeld, the actual assassination of JFK is, perhaps understandably, rarely viewed as a laugh riot. The premiere of Red Dwarf’s seventh series, however, approached the killing with an eye on the absurdity of various “Who shot JFK?” theories. Lister, Kryten, Rimmer, and the Cat travel back in time to the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963, only to accidentally knock Lee Harvey Oswald out of the window, thereby preventing JFK’s assassination. When it’s discovered how much damage has been caused by Kennedy’s survival, the group tries and fails to fix the problem they’ve caused, ultimately inspiring Lister to visit the still-alive JFK in 1965, where he convinces the now-impeached president to come back with them to 1963 and assassinate himself. (“It’ll drive the conspiracy nuts crazy,” admits Lister, “but they’ll never figure it out.”) Although Kennedy hesitates at first, he’s finally sold on the idea when Lister assures him that it’s the only way to ensure that he’ll be remembered as a liberal icon. After delivering the kill shot, Kennedy thanks the Starbug crew “for giving me the opportunity to be reborn” before fading out of existence.

        The source for this has some other really funny theories that have been dramatized: http://www.avclub.com/article/back-and-to-the-right-17-alternate-retellings-of-t-105801

      • There was a Red Dwarf episode where they rescued JFK, somehow. (I have it on VHS, somewhere in storage, in the 33rd sub-level… Clip here:

      • Red Dwarf
        Season 7, Episode 1

    • Terry Sanders

      My favorite said it was an accident. One of the Secret Service rifles went off in the confusion. They covered it up so the poor guy wouldn’t suffer any *worse*…

  29. Story Idea, Free to anybody how wants it.

    A US President has annoyed too many people in the US government and they want to get rid of him.

    It seems that this President has a habit of secretly leaving the White House to spend the night with his girl friends.

    The conspirators know which of his girl friends he’s planning to visit and drug the drinks she’ll be serving.

    After the President & his girl friend are unconscious, they inject the President with a drug that causes a fatal heart attack.

    She awakes and finds him dead. She panics but calls the Secret Service instead of the police/hospitals.

    Because of the scandal even government people not involved in the conspiracy cover up where he was when the heart attack happens.

    While some News Media folks learn about the scandal, they liked the late President so are willing to keep quiet. After all, they had already knew about his girl friends and said nothing.

    End Story Idea.

    Now doesn’t this sound better or more likely than a complex government/CIA plot to kill JFK in Dallas? 😈 😈 😈 😈

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Secret service might not be in the room watching, but they would know who had entered and left. Unless they were super incompetent. Which could happen, apparently the last administration let things severely decline.

      Secret service incompetence or shadow government mole strikes me as a bad conceit to hang a long story on. Not because staggering incompetence is impossible, but because in fiction, especially if the screw ups ‘just happen’ to line up with the villain’s plan, bizarre accident can test the reader’s willing suspension of disbelief.

      • No real argument with your thoughts as that’s my thoughts about “the CIA killed JFK” nonsense.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Only if Oswald had been recruited by a Soviet mole in the CIA. The Soviets may have done some pretty stupid things, but they wouldn’t have compromised a good mole by bringing someone back to the Soviet union, then sending them back to the US to end up as a high profile loose cannon.

      • From stories I heard, the Secret Service was just waiting for Congress to call them up during the Clinton impeachment trial.Apparently they kept an unofficial logbook of times when they couldn’t find either POTUS or FLOTUS (or both) in the White House. One of the sources I heard it from also told me about Hillary throwing an ashtray at Bill, years before the story made into the press, which it finally did. The second part of that story is why she had (has) very icy relations with the Secret Service, and I haven’t read it in the media yet. Apparently they took her aside and explained that their job was to protect the president from any assailant, and that included her.

        Stories, just stories. Believe them or don’t believe them.

      • That’s almost how the movie “Dave” starts, except the title character impersonates the president for a time, longer than he wanted to, except it was just a heart attack in the movie w/o adulterated drinks.

        • I got out of that movie and tried to slash the tires of volvos and cars with liberal bumperstickers in the parking lot. let’s say Dan never lets me have any fun.
          I thought it was Double Star with Hollywood’s ideas of politics.

          • I had a former co-worker, a few jobs back, who told me that she and a friend stole a tire off another car at the movies or maybe that was the time she stole a license renewal sticker (the year in the corner of the plate) off another car. Their car had flat and they didn’t have a spare; I think they put the flat on the other car.

            Yes, to your unasked question, she did go to prison for something else where she found God or let God find her, I suppose.

    • kenashimame

      Except the girlfriend hits the poisoned drinks a little too hard before he gets there and ODs on the knockout drugs.

    • richardmcenroe

      “I like it.”– Mrs. Wilson

    • That isn’t a theory! Anybody in the know, knows that is how FDR was killed.

  30. My little brother opines as a joke that the staged lunar landing conspiracy theory was actually a sour grapes disinformation plot, spread about by the USSR. But maybe it is not a joke.

    • See, that ties in a lot better as Very Plausible. I really wish I had that Socialist German encyclopedia where they claimed that Russia was the one who had space travel, and everything else in the world was just capitalist lies and conspiracy theories.

      I really wish I’d kept that book, but I don’t know what my dad did with it. I think he got rid of it, because he didn’t want it to accidentally be taken seriously. On reflection I wish we’d kept it, as a historical artifact of ‘Shit they really did believe.”

  31. The best innoculation against Conspiracy Theory thinking was written by Robert Anton Wilson (and Robert Shea): ILLUMINATUS plus, if you have the stamina THE SCHRODINGER’S CAT trilogy.

    They were written because the authors (they say) were letters-to-the-editor editors for Playboy Magazine for some time (not dealing with the amature gynecology letters), and collected shoeboxes full of Conspiracy letters. Somthey wrote a thre volume (or six, if you go on) novel that assumed that ALL of the Conspiracies were true, even the mutually exclusive ones. I remember amscene in which John Dillinger (who faked his death) is looking down on the assassination of JFK, at all the shooters, and saying “Goddamn it, we should have sold tickets!”

    It is a mark of the weirdness of the books, btw, that I can’t find that passage…

    They are written in amstyle that can only be called ‘stream of acid trip’, and are VERY hard to follow. But worth reading at least once.

    They are why, although I could see its quality, X-FILES lost me almost immediately. It made me giggle.

    • Now the Illuminatus books make sense! Thanks.

    • There’s a SEQUEL?!? The first trilogy is bad enough. Although I do like the sign replacements. I feel like I’m living that some days. 23 Skidoo!

  32. Oh. c’mon, folks! Nearly 150 comments posted without one mention of Philip José Farmer? Or his theory that all pulp heroes derive from a single event, the Wold Cottage meteorite, falling near Wold Newton*, Yorkshire, England, on December 13, 1795?


    Just look at his Wikipedia photo and tell me you don’t find that man utterly credible!

    *Plug “Wold Newton family” into your search engine of choice.

    • Feather Blade

      … are we sure that his eyes aren’t just painted onto the lenses of his glasses?

  33. richardmcenroe

    ” I once read a description of the human mind as an instrument for bringing order out of Chaos. ”
    Thus graphically illustrating the risks of using unskilled labor…

  34. Captain Comic

    Okay, I didn’t want to do this, but seeing you all flail around the issue, I’m left with no choice.

    I know who killed Kennedy. Not just “the government”, I know the guy’s name. Figured it out a couple decades ago.

    See, it was a government assassin, but that raises questions:

    How could they be sure he’d pull the trigger? How could they be sure he’d stay loyal and not tell anyone?

    Simple: they raised the assassin from childhood to be completely attached and developed as a sociopath.

    But that raises the question how could they be sure he’d develop the skills? Intelligence, stamina, hand-eye coordination? Simple, they chose someone who’d have the genetic predisposition to have these traits. (This would have been before WWII and those dang Teutonics gave eugenics a bad name.)

    So, who might have the possibility to develop this way? Well, the child of pilots, perhaps.

    And there you have it.

    John F. Kennedy was killed by Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr.

    Keep that on the QT, okay?

  35. Know people who sincerely believe in chem trails. Also believe in Niburu (sp?) and the Christian Bible at the same time; somehow also believe in any and all government conspiracies against native-born Americans. Have given up trying to have any logical conversation with them. (For some reason, they don’t like SF…) Are there more of them out there that I just haven’t been aware of?

  36. “Forward this email and BannanaSoft will pay and your friends $100!”

  37. My favorite conspiracy nut I’ve ever met was while I was serving a mission for my church in Romania. It was in Cluj-Napoca, and his name was Andre (never learned his last name). He frequently came to our free English classes. He spoke (and wrote, as it turned out) excellent English, was clearly quite well educated…and completely nuts. Harmless and sweet, but nuts. He always claimed to have been in the Romanian military in the 80s, and that they experimented on him. (I was more than inclined to believe that bit, actually.)

    He would, from time to time, become fixated on a particular missionary (not in any creepy way just…they were his Favorite Person in the Whole World for a few days or weeks), and he would give them ‘gifts.’ Sometimes it was a detailed, minute by minute written out account of his day (including the fact that They were still following him, and their suspiciously mundane activities). Sometimes it was a painting (one ‘lucky’ missionary got a fairly horrifying picture of the Twin Towers collapsing with a scary giant dude in a head-cloth behind it, shortly after 9/11). In my case, during the couple of weeks I was his Favorite Person, he gave me a tightly folded, densely written wad of paper. I thanked him for it (sincerely, because I was relieved it wasn’t an awful painting), but opted to read it after he’d left, because he was a nice man and I didn’t want to laugh/run away screaming/whatever as a result of the contents of this wad of paper.

    What it turned out to be was a well-written, very detailed (in English, and with diagrams!!) account of a secret US military installation in Andalusia, Spain. It was a dome, and it was made invisible by means of mirrors/reflection/refraction technology, which was likewise well explained and detailed–no idea if it would work, but it struck me as plausible enough I wouldn’t have blinked if I’d encountered it in fiction. (Also imagine the expression on my face when, eleven years later, I was watching The Avengers and saw how they turned the giant flying ship invisible…)

    At the time, I remember turning to my companion, who had listened to me read it, and looked over my shoulder at the various illustrations, and saying “Wow. What if he *isn’t* crazy? Because this totally makes a kind of sense.” Wide-eyed, she nodded and said “Yeah, I know…”

    He gave me another wad of papers a week or so later that was much less coherent and plausible, and was something to do with experiments on cows and milk. I kept both, and have them in a box somewhere, which I really need to locate again.

    (He also once ran into my companion and I on the street, and asked to walk with us. We agreed, and as we were nearing the parting of our ways, he pointed to two very dirty bums walking towards us and hissed “You see them? They’re government *spies*!” At which point one of the men, drawing even with us, suddenly waved his arms in the air and shouted a sort of “Ooga-booga!” at us.

    I have never had to fight so hard in my life not to bust out laughing. Thankfully, Andre took himself off immediately after, so we could laugh ourselves into tears without hurting his feelings.)

  38. I’ve known more then my fair share of conspiracy theorists. And most of them believe in ore then one conspiracy. And if you listen to them, you realize that some of the conspiracies they believe in are mutually contradictory. And they can’t see that and still believe in total all the ones they believe in

    Used to get a book catalog at the house that had a bunch of useful how to stuff, and also a huger selection of conspiracy stuff. Flat earth, hollow earth,,, Nazis at the South Pole, 100 MPG carburetor and other energy devices suppressed by 1. Big Oil 2. Government 3. Trilateralists 4. Someone else. My kids would go through the catalog and realize that there are some really severely screwed up people out there. And let’s not forget the evil Masons. Actually, Masons is a subject my kids and I don’t bring up in my house, and that’s all I’ll say about that. I’ve been happily married for 38 years not talking about Masons….

  39. For me the most likely successful conspiracy is that FDR knew about Pearl Harbor. I know FDR worked very hard to help Britain. But in 1940 the US would not support attacking Germany without reason.

    So he slaps the oil embargo on Japan, knowing they have to attack, or give up China. He knows about the planned attack, but is sure the forces at Pearl are good enough to keep damage to a minimum.

    When the full extent of the damage happens, anyone who knows cannot reveal they knew. Prison or impeachment their least problem. Any evidence is sanitized, because if it comes out there goes our anger at Hitler and Japan, and all the work to get America into the war is lost. No one has any reason to let the “truth” out.

    • Well, Heinlein came to believe that. I’m not sure it’s true, but…

      • I have a diary entry from my Nana and a letter from her mom at the time of Pearl Harbor; the diary entry mentions that she first thought of that “men from Mars” scare (the radio version of “The War of the Worlds”), and the letter says “I can’t understand how we were surprised like this.” I’m sure that contemporary folk were primed to believe that the spies were better than they were.

        • Well, the spies would have us believe they’re competent, and their movies certainly play up that illusion (although, now I think upon it, James Bond mostly seems to stumble into affairs and somehow escapes destruction through luck as much as pluck … and one other word which rhymes with those two.)

          One of the charms of collecting baseball cards is that the players are generally only as good as the stats on the cards’ backs.

      • I recall someone going over intercepted (and decrypted) transmissions after the war.. opinion was that the light had to be just so to see any direct forewarning.

        The thing that gets me is that the RADAR picked things up… but was not believed. That much I understand. Even took the thing down/apart and such to double check.. but that echo was Too Big To Be Real. But…. nobody thought, “Hey, maybe we should send a few planes to go take a look, just to be sure.”?

        The other corker was that the Japanese left the huge fuel tanks alone. The USA, after all, was oil-rich, right? And that left nearly the entire Pacific supply untouched.

        • That had to with the fact that the second wave the Japanese threw at Pearl Harbor took twice as many casualties as the first one–despite the fact that it struck not long after the first one–and Nagumo was worried that if he sent in another strike they would suffer even heavier casualties.
          Also, he had no idea where the US Pacific Fleet’s carriers were–for all he knew, they were on their way to find his ships.

          • Patrick Chester

            Didn’t one of the US Navy’s battleships get underway and a bunch of Japanese planes aborted their planned runs to try to sink it in the harbor opening or similar?

            • Yes – the Nevada. The young officer of the deck that day had planned to switch from one boiler to another for power while in port, and it was also moored by itself. They had enough steam up and space to maneuver – but once they got moving, the ship was targeted – and ordered to ground, lest it be sunk in deep water or block the channel opening.
              The Nevada left without it’s captain – who was on shore that morning. I think it’s in Walter Lord’s book – how the captain and senior officers in a taxi-cab chased the ship, trying to get back on board.

        • The first wave strike leader, Fuchida, pressed hard for a third strike, in large part because the knew the POL facilities hadn’t been hit. Nagumo overruled him.

          • Abandoning the third wave also left the sub pens untouched. Something else that’d bite the Japanese in the but, especially once we had decent torpedoes.

    • kenashimame

      The only really compelling part of the Pearl conspiracies is that none of the carriers were present for the attack.

      But that was as much luck as anything, as Enterprise arrived the evening of the attack. It also implied that the Naval staff understood the importance of the carrier, instead of believing (like the bulk of the IJN Staff outside of Yamamoto) that battleships were still the main punch of the fleet.

    • I doubt anyone had advance knowledge of Pearl Harbor – from all of my reading and research – there was nothing from which to draw that knowledge – it wasn’t discussed on the radio and was only wargammed in secret and the pilots weren’t told until the ships were on the way. And the force steamed without radios working and avoided all shipping lines. I have never seen anyone explain HOW Roosevelt would have found out.

      What I CAN believe is that Roosevelt expected the Japanese to attack SOMEWHERE – but expected it would be the Philippines or some other outpost.

      My biggest personal issue with these attacks is what happened in the Philippines. Pearl Harbor had been attacked already – so instead of having a Combat Air Patrol up and planes ready to take off – most were still parked nicely on the ramp – giving the Japanese an excellent target. WTF? That big failure I think was covered up to protect MacArthur’s aura (I harbor strong doubts about how good he was versus how good he was at politics – but I need to read some more about him).

      -John

      • The fleet’s usual radio operators were left in Japan when the strike fleet sailed, sending bogus normal-sounding traffic.

        Given that every code sender develops a recognizable “fist”, they were picked by normal intercept tracking, assuring U.S. naval intelligence that the IJN fleet was still stooging around in home waters.

      • MacArthur was undoubtedly good at politics, and didn’t get along well with the politicos in charge at home (which considering who those were, gives him bonus points in my opinion). He was undoubtedly highhanded and egotistical, but he is the reason that Japan and South Korea aren’t communist these days.

  40. Sorry Sarah: All I could think of after ‘life isn’t fair’ was that the conservative/libertarian mindset says “Life isn’t fair, find another way to make a go of it and make your mark” while the progressive SJW mindset is “Life isn’t fair, so we need to cripple those who have things and give their goods to those who don’t have the things.” I think I’ve had too much politics lately.

  41. I stopped poking fun at the conspiracy theory ‘nut’ at work sometime after James Comey admitted that he also covered up the lens on his laptop cameras to keep Them from watching him and Sharryl Attkisson’s computer got infected with high quality spyware while she was investigating if the US Gov’t had a secret program to smuggle guns to Mexican cartels to create a pretext for the next step in disarming American civilians.

    • US Gov’t had a secret program to smuggle guns to Mexican cartels to create a pretext for the next step in disarming American civilians.

      Funny, that one proved to be true. Fast n’ Furious under Obama and his homeland security lapdog, anyone?

      • Yes, that’s why I stopped poking fun at him. That was even BEFORE I found out that modern art was a communist memetic weapon.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Thing is, they install the stupid things by default. You can maybe trust that you have the thing really turned off if you are a software guy who is current on security and you vendor isn’t secretly screwing you over. Silicon valley isn’t entirely trustworthy on the software end, and China isn’t entirely trustworthy on the hardware end.

      Comey was probably more of an intelligence target than you or I, handled documents he needed to secure, and may well have been doing things on the side he couldn’t afford to have widely disseminated in government.

      • I’m honestly not too worried about things like that. I figure that if THEY are so bored that they want to watch me sit at the computer and debug graph theory algorithms, It would be churlish of me to deny THEM that small bit of entertainment.

        • Ox sings (fsvo ‘sing’) when alone. And microphonic spying is.. those poor bastards. Ox taste in music is… decidedly non-standard, so even pre-recorded stuff is… well, storytime.

          Grandma had given me an LP of stuff she figured I’d like (she was right). I couldn’t properly transfer that to tape at the time, so ask a friend. Friend agreed.. until encountering the content. “NEVER ask me to do something like again!”

        • Maybe the watchers are seeking a better solution to the traveling salesman problem.

          • I am recollecting a Piers Anthony novel, Steppe, in which Earth is a RPG for aliens and the MC nearly busts out and spends his last remaining credits for a half-orphaned (father murdered) slave kid name of Temujin.

          • I am pretty sure the traveling salesman problem has been solved since I was in high school. I was beaten one year in the International Science and Engineering Fair* by a cute little girl from Memphis who had written a computer program that could solve large traveling salesmen problems on an IBM PC XT. If I recall correctly she first generated a non-optimum solution and then went through looking for intersecting paths, then adjusted the stops associated with those paths. There may have been more steps, but the key I think was that instead of trying to calculate an optimum solution from scratch (which was well beyond her available computing power) she generated a not optimum solution and then found and fixed the areas where it was non-optimum, which proved a much easier computation to do. The next year she did it for 3 dimensional problems.

            *If she hadn’t beaten me, someone else would have… I wasn’t in the running for the top slots at that level.

  42. Nobody has mentioned Francis Bacon’s 1st Idol of the Mind yet? (“Idols of the Tribe”: the tendency to look for greater order in Nature than there really is.)

  43. One of the worst bits about the Obama years was having to stop every now and again to make sure I wasn’t wandering into tinfoil hat land. There was so much stuff that happened during those eight years that it sure felt like I was at times.

  44. “I once read a description of the human mind as an instrument for bringing order out of Chaos.” – Upon reading this line, I must admit my mind jumped immediately to the latest Briggs’ novel in which she gave her narrator the following line: “my real superpower is chaos” – by which she meant the character’s ability to generate chaos and successfully operate in the ensuing chaos. I think we all know people like that who are the opposite of the quoted statement – folks who tend to bring chaos out of order. They can be infuriating, entertaining (from a safe distance), and/or a train wreck from time to time – but never boring. They also tend to make decent protagonists in novels.

    • I had a student like that. I suspect he will either go to the Marines and provide the chaos, or become a lawyer. Or possibly both.

  45. A set of books that were full of fun “conspiracies” was the Aliens series by Gini Koch. I don’t know where she sits on the Puppies issue, but part of the fun is the when-conspiracies-involve-blowing-up-DC-it’s-gonna-get-out transition. Her conspiracies sound plausible.

  46. Not entirely irrelevant here, let us pause to note the passing of June Foray, voice of Natasha Fatale, Rocket J Squirrel and many others:

    RIP, June Foray: ‘First lady’ of animation acting voiced ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’ and ‘Tweety’ roles
    THE QUEEN of American voice acting died Wednesday, just weeks short of her centennial. We mourn her life even as we smile because she gifted the world with seven decades of animation-sprung laughter.

    Comedically, could anyone say a Russian-inflected “Dahlink” quite like June Foray, who not only voiced Natasha Fatale on Jay Ward’s “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” in the ’60s, but also Rocky the flying squirrel himself, who always cheerfully hoped to give us something we’d really like?

    Her roles numbered in the hundreds. She was Granny from a treasure-trove of Looney Tunes’ Tweety and Sylvester cartoons and “Space Jam.” She was Grandmother Fa in Disney’s “Mulan.” And she was Cindy Lou Who in the ’60s Dr. Seuss classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”

    [END EXCERPT]

  47. Rockport Conservative

    I’ve come to think of conspiracies in the same way as the old paranoria saw – Sometimes, someone is out to get you.
    But I do think that usually there is no reason for a stated conspiracy because of the great minds think alike syndrome. We all know that in our case great minds think alike, right? No need to have a thought out conspiracy if we are all striving for the same goals.

  48. We also like knowing things that others can’t know– hence security field and security clearances. 🙂