Often when we think about conspiracy theorists, we think about people with Doc Brown hair wearing a tin foil hat and telling you not to stand next to the microwave. Perhaps we think of the flat-earthers who refuse to let go of their 12th century notion that the Earth has no curvature. But no matter where you look, there is always a conspiracy just around the corner. I believe that that’s a good thing, and that being a conspiracy theorist is just part of being human.
Conspiracy theories are more than just crackpot sentiments made by those who hate the government. They are typically just questions about events that may not add up when you really start to think about them. Perhaps a file was misplaced which would have been crucial to a murder trial. Perhaps the “aliens” of Roswell, New Mexico are real. Maybe the government is really made up of lizard people reminiscent of the characters from the TV show “V.”
While it is true that the majority of conspiracy theories are discredited due to unsubstantiated facts or sheer impossibilities, they are fun to create and to discuss. To believe in conspiracy theories is to find a sense of wonder in the world. When you have been researching whether FEMA actually has concentration camps under the Denver airport for three hours, you feel like a detective. Even if it is overwhelmingly unlikely that it’s true, you feel like a kid again.
Every new theory feels like a new episode of Scooby Doo. It’s an attempt to unmask some grand villain, only to find that it’s someone you knew all along. It’s the chance to feel like you are unearthing some great truth, even if it’s for a theory which could not be more far fetched. There are no consequences if you are wrong, as conspiracy theories are exactly that: a theory. They are unsubstantiated claims which are fun to perpetuate, and every once in a while, you just might get it right.
Conspiracy theories are nothing more than a positive form of escapism. When you live in a perpetual threat of nuclear war, it’s almost relaxing to get wrapped up in a theory which you know cannot be true. Sometimes it is easier to spend three hours reading about how Stanley Kubrick directed the moon landing than it is to read about yet another bombing in Syria, or to hear one more time about how Donald Trump is pushing another destructive bill through congress.
Conspiracy theories often just feel like a unique brand of storytelling. It takes this natural distrust and dissatisfaction with the way things are, and adds this sort of mysticism to it. Much like other forms of fiction, it’s a healthy way to channel these unsettling feelings as long as one does not allow it to take over one’s life. These beliefs can be a problem if you no longer will go outside due to the threat of chemical trails, for example. Conspiracy theories aren’t a problem as long as they don’t become harmful or all-consuming.
I believe we should all accept conspiracy theories into our lives, even if they are ones which cannot ever be proven. More than just being healthy, it’s natural to have theories about the ways the world works that may not be entirely plausible. It’s not a bad thing to take the fears we live with every day about the world around us, and channel them into something that feels safer. Without this mysticism and excitement, it just feels grim to accept the world as it is.
So continue to believe that Paul McCartney died in the ‘70s and was replaced by a doppelgänger. Don’t be afraid to voice your belief that fluoride was put in the water to give us all cancer. Wear your tin foil hat with pride, and believe whatever you want to believe. It is a free country after all, and there is little harm in believing in something, even if it is completely ridiculous.