The Last Word on conspiracy theories

August 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

The Last Word: on conspiracy theories   16 August, 2013 Dr Andrew Gunn

My patient quietly said: “Well, you already know of course, being a doctor.” She looked at me quizzically while rocking gently, the legacy of decades of anti-psychotics.

The weathered face and long dark hair made her look like a Native American tribal elder. I felt as if her real name was surely something like ‘Wise Owl’.

I confessed ignorance. Wise Owl smiled toothlessly and leaned convivially toward me.

“Tomatoes would have been better but they’re too expensive, so instead I used the juice of grated carrots ¬ It’s fixed my angina.”

I hesitated before speaking the truth: “The hospital didn’t think you had angina.” In fact, last week’s hospital letter gave a diagnosis of mental illness: unspecified — but I don’t tell everybody everything. Paternalism has its place.

Wise Owl’s feathers were ruffled, but her voice then softened.

“You know, there’s a conspiracy,” she said conspiratorially, “and you do know, being a doctor.”

Wise Owl isn’t my only patient who believes in conspiracies. Lots do. Some even think the US National Security Agency runs a massive, secret, global electronic surveillance program called PRISM. Pretty wacky, huh?

Until recently, PRISM stood for Psychedelic Research in Science & Medicine, an Australian group researching the use of ecstasy to improve PTSD.

Please note that this is in no way related to Project MKUltra, which was a CIA group researching the use of LSD to improve hippies.

In March, US voters were surveyed on 20 conspiracy beliefs. The results confirm that it’s comforting to think that someone somewhere knows what they’re doing.

The survey demonstrated high confidence in fluoridated water but rather less in vaccines. The slimmest majority, 51%, think global warming is no hoax.

Just 46% rejected the proposition that “a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order”.

Thirteen per cent think Barack Obama is the Antichrist, and another 13% aren’t sure he isn’t. Four per cent think the world is controlled by reptilian shapeshifters who take on human forms.

Three questions put me into the conspiracy camp.

First, like 44% of respondents, I believe GW Bush knowingly lied a decade ago about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As did Curveball (see the mother and seed of all conspiracy theorists: Google).

As did, I think, our then-Foreign Minister while parroting the phrase “Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction”. You might act the fool, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Some will twig you’re actually a liar.

Second, I agree with the 29% who think aliens exist. The universe is apparently teeming with untold gazillions of exoplanets, so this is surely a no-brainer.

In fact, when the Large Hadron Collider failed on activation in 2008, I briefly wondered if pan-galactic aliens had used spooky action at a distance to stop it destroying the universe.

And then that mysterious time-traveller guy got arrested at the collider, saying: “The discovery of the Higgs boson led to limitless power, the elimination of poverty and Kit Kats for everyone. It is a communist chocolate hellhole and I’m here to stop it from ever happening.”

Third, I’m one of the lonely 15% who think the pharmaceutical industry “invents” diseases to make money. One day I might reveal the truth about this. But first I have to clear it with the shapeshifting reptiles.

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