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How To Create a Conspiracy Theory  

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CONSPIRACY THEORIES have been popular down the ages and creating one is generally quite easy. All you need is a major event to occur (generally involving the government) and then you say that it was a set-up, or didn't happen really, thus annoying the government and discrediting it.

One of the earliest occurred when, in the year 64 AD, the city of Rome (Roman Empire) caught fire. Two thirds of the city was destroyed. Popular opinion began to spread that Nero, Roman Emperor of the time, had started the fire. "Proof" was offered by the fact that Nero promptly started building himself a lovely new extra-large palace in the city centre. Nero promptly came up with a counter conspiracy - it was the fault of the Christians. So the Romans duly punished the Christians for it and one of the first conspiracy theories began.

Creating a conspiracy theory is quite easy. Wait until something happens which the authorities are going to benefit from (like putting someone on the moon and bringing them back). Preferably this thing should be vaguely unlikely - technology seems to have advanced too quickly, or this particular thing should be impossible. Then start a rumour that "they didn't have to do it at all" and "it was done in a spray painted desert/ on a Hollywood sound stage" with a quick dash of "you can tell, the backdrops are the same for some of the shots" and maybe "Would you jump around like that astronaut is jumping around if you were on an alien world?" which cannot go without the side comment of "They filmed them getting onto the moon - where did the camera come from?"

We are focusing on the conspiracy theory (not why some boring old prawn says said theory is wrong) so we won't explain how all these things are refuted scientifically with proper figures and statistics, which leads us nicely onto:

"There are three types of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics" (Benjamin Disraeli, former UK Prime Minister)

Which means that a government can prove that something has happened with films and statistics, and you can murmur about "computer imagery" and "statistics can prove anything" before going on to quote your own statistics about why such an event was impossible and the government is lying. Governments are notorious for lying, so when they do tell the truth nobody believes them anyway.

Statisitics can be used on both sides of a conspiracy theory. You can use them to prove a conspiracy theory, or the other side can use them to disprove things. The average length of the arm of a 6 ft high man can be very useful, but there are three ways of working it out, and all three of them (also known as the mean, the median and the mode) can produce perfectly valid results which can be used in statistics. The fairest thing to do then is to get an average of the three results which you get that way, but... err... that will give you at least two and possibly three more results, depending on whether two of the results are sufficiently similar for them to be called the "mode" or not. And those results will be just as fair, clear, concise and appropriate as the previous three, thus allowing for six different arguments using the same set of figures, which were probably inaccurate anyway.

Conspiracy theories sometimes claim to uncover the truth, though it is rare that they are taken seriously (there are a lot of conspiracy theories, none of them are proven, and most are clearly false with some even being dropped). This means that the conspiracy theorists have probably managed to seriously damage the argument that people could never have landed on the moon, although the rage that they work pro-moon landing people up into by mentioning the idea that the Moon remains untouched (best situation for it really) could be said to prove that they have something to hide with no better argument than shouting and screaming - although the fact that the conspiracy theorists have never really suggested this idea casts doubt on their argument because they're obviously idiots, thereby proving... err... something.

When creating conspiracy theories, try something like the sinking of the Titanic for an easy start. Point out that the facts don't fit together properly (because we don't really know what happened). Suggest some new theories based on the same set of events, but in a very slightly different order, and with different links and a completely different theory of what really went wrong. Finally blame it all on the White Star Line, as it shows that you can't trust these naughty high-class people. Ensure that the differences between your theory and the old rubbish one are clearly stated. Publish a book explaining exactly what happened and wait for the first royalty cheque.

Sadly conspiracy theories tend not to last as long as general public opinion. There are two possible reasons:

1) The public opinion is true.

2) The public has no intention of listening to your hair-brained theory when they have a perfectly good one already.

You may be interested to know that Mr Joe Public normally just wants a quiet life, and isn't interested in finding out the Real Truth if it involves lots of trouble and seems wild and exaggerated. So if you must post a conspiracy theory make sure that you are perfectly happy to have it ignored.

In order to spread your theory you need an outlet. There are a large number available, but this selection will probably get you the most hits:

  • BBC "Have Your Say" columns
  • The Sun letters page (where they will probably publish anything which will encourage conversation)
  • Speakers Corner (where you can stand on a soapbox and pontificate at anyone who wishes to listen)
  • Live TV phone-ins where you can apruptly put across your extreamist opinion
  • YouTube with carefully done tags for maximum hits
  • Put it online and provide a link from a popular web forum
  • Publish it in a book - a popular one rather than a specialist one is best, particularly as the proof for the theory you are refuting will be in specialist books which nobody will read, unlike your popular one which some bored director will make a rubbish film about.

Do not publish specialist books. You will not make the specialists change their mind, and nobody else will read it, as it will be an inch thick and priced at £59.99. If you do a popular book then lots of people will read it (because people like reading about conspiracy theories even if they can't be bothered keeping them going into another generation). And it will cost less so it will be more likely that people will read it, with a maximum price of £14.99.

As a warning, just having a blog will not guarantee success in putting across a conspiracy theory. It is not very likely that anyone will read it. And as lots of people have blogs nowadays, you could be any old looney. So the blog is not advised. Nor is a website like this one, as half the time they fail to cover modern important themes.

Last modified 18/03/11

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