The conspiracy is impossible.
By the principle that two people can keep a secret only if one of them is dead, it follows that a conspiracy with enough power to change something would be known by so many people that it would eventually come to light. Two people hold a secret, but have little power; ten properly placed people can change a lot, but you will know. People change. They get divorced. They have depressions. They go through religious conversions. They suffer from cancer. When a conspirator goes through one of these life-changing phases, the probability that they will drop everything they know (in book form, if possible) is not negligible. That is why the conspiracies end up being known. The successful and secret conspiracy is a contradiction in terms.
Another defining feature of any conspiracy theory is that it gives the enemy an inhuman omnipotence of facts and an incredible speed of execution unperturbed by error. They are inhuman: they know everything, they understand everything, they plan everything, and they know with certainty all the reactions of their actions. There is never in conspiracy theories place for error, doubt, failure, incompetence: all participants in it know what to do, when and how. And they execute it with robotic efficiency, without the inconvenient traffic jam, the damaged alarm clock, the battery-free flashlight or the lost wallet ever interfering in their actions. When the truth is just the opposite: never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity — the only constant is failure; the only certainty is error.
The conspiracy is desirable
The conspiranoia is a sweet consolation that replaces religion, providing meaning to the absurdity of existence. Attributing catastrophes, setbacks of fortune, evilness and products of luck to an evil intelligence can at least comfort us by thinking what happens is logical and has a purpose, even if it is evil. What is truly unthinkable is that atrocities are just happening without reason, random plays of a deck that obeys no rule whatsoever. Our brain, designed by evolution to extract meaning (to create laws from chaos), abhors the logical vacuum, especially before a huge human drama. How to contemplate the death of a loved one as a result of cold chance? Blaming someone comforts the survivors in a twisted way by turning the victims into heroes of an undeclared war; in martyrs of a mysterious but vital cause. If, by the way, we can blame our bad luck on the enemy of our predilection, we will not only increase our stature, by recreating theirs, but we will defame them, thus justifying our preexisting hatred. The enemy is powerful, almost omnipotent, and he hates me. Paranoia is only a form of egotism: they come for ME (so I am a threat to an omnipotent enemy). The conspiranoia explains the universe, justifies our manias and exalts us, providing comfort, reason and vanity. Strange that it is irresistible?
The conspiracy is inevitable
From a certain point of view, planning to meet some friends to go to the movies is a conspiracy. Adam Smith said that when two businessmen stay for dinner, a conspiracy against the public is brewing; July 18, 1936 was a conspiracy, as it was the assault on the Watergate Building. The political and economic world can be considered as a foam of conspiracies that bubble up in institutions and companies, sometimes bursting at the surface, sometimes remaining dormant. Our tribal tendencies toward cliques, factions and sects (me against my brother; my brother and me against my cousins; my cousins, my brother and me against the world), our ambition and our vanity conspire against us by making us participate in thousands of daily conspiracies. Social life is nothing more than a struggle between conspiracies. Some, like the OPEC, the Trilateral, the political parties or the lobbies, are public and notorious. Others, such as political factions or religious sects, live in the gray area between the public and the secret. Many governments' screw-ups remain in or near this limbo (Ustica). Then there are the mysterious ones, of which only whispers are spoken (Skull & Bones, the Bilderberg Group, Bohemian Grove, the Illuminati). The Internet is full of the most peculiar conspiranoias of an extreme variety, some of which (Majestic) began as a game, but now they are perhaps something more. According to a certain cosmological school based on the denominated Strong Anthropic Principle, the universe itself has been created specifically so we can live in it; a cosmic conspiracy.
The conspiracy is indestructible
The last characteristic of conspiranoic thought is that its reasonings are irrefutable. Making use of an intuitive knowledge of logic, which says that it is impossible to prove a negative, and an infinite deposit of ad hoc explanations, suspicious absences of information and common-sense reasoning almost always based on ignorance, it is impossible to convince a conspiranoian that his favorite theory is meaningless. Anyone who wishes to devote himself to the ungrateful office of scrapping conspiracies would do well to remember that by taking his toy from a convinced one, we are attacking his own sense of importance. In some cases, it may be sufficient to provoke even violent reactions. And if the universe itself is a conspiracy: what gives?
Copyright © 2005 José Cervera
Translation: Jesús Pérez Rey
CC BY 2.1, Some rights reserved