Sunday, May 03, 2009

The conspirators

I overheard a passenger on a plane telling his friend seated next to him that the swine flu was just a conspiracy hatched by drug companies. According to him, whenever they find their revenues dipping, these companies let loose some new mutant of bacteria or virus and thus create the need for their products. Somewhat like Charlie Chaplin and the Kid, with the latter going around breaking glass windows, and Charlie materializing as a repairer, a few minutes later.

So, when I got back home, I googled for ‘conspiracy theories’ and found some interesting links. Here are some snippets.

Because we live in a world where some ‘conspiracies’ do take place, we tend to look for some diabolical motive in every event. Even in the face of enormous evidence that the 9/11 attacks were caused by terrorists hijacking and ramming the planes into the towers (which one would have thought was as big a conspiracy as you can get), an alternate theory that the collapse of the buildings was caused by explosives planted by the US Government, gained momentum. According to a Sep 2006 article in Time magazine, in a poll, a full 36% of Americans responded that it was ‘likely’ or ‘possible’ that govt officials carried out the attacks.

The Time article explains why conspiracy theories gain currency quickly.

"There are psychological explanations for why conspiracy theories are so seductive. Academics who study them argue that they meet a basic human need: to have the magnitude of any given effect be balanced by the magnitude of the cause behind it.

A world in which tiny causes can have huge consequences feels scary and unreliable. Therefore a grand disaster like Sept. 11 needs a grand conspiracy behind it. "We tend to associate major events--a President or princess dying--with major causes," says Patrick Leman, a lecturer in psychology at Royal Holloway University of London, who has conducted studies on conspiracy belief. "If we think big events like a President being assassinated can happen at the hands of a minor individual that points to the unpredictability and randomness of life and unsettles us." In that sense, the idea that there is a malevolent controlling force orchestrating global events is, in a perverse way, comforting.

You would have thought the age of conspiracy theories might have declined with the rise of digital media. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a private, intimate affair compared with the attack on the World Trade Center, which was witnessed by millions of bystanders and television viewers and documented by hundreds of Zapruders. You would think there was enough footage and enough forensics to get us past the grassy knoll and the magic bullet, to create a consensus reality, a single version of the truth, a single world we can all live in together.

But there is no event so plain and clear that a determined human being can't find ambiguity in it. And as divisive as they are, conspiracy theories are part of the process by which Americans deal with traumatic public events like Sept. 11. Conspiracy theories form around them like scar tissue. In a curious way, they're an American form of national mourning. They'll be with us as long as we fear lone gunmen, and feel the pain of losses like the one we suffered on Sept. 11, and as long as the past, even the immediate past, is ultimately unknowable. That is to say, forever."

Hmmm. I am now fairly convinced that a consortium of manufacturers of repellents and nets and liquid dispensers go around breeding mosquitoes and we, unwittingly, head to the stores to buy more of their stuff. And, do you think that global warming has been engineered by the A/C manufacturers? And the generation of energy consumed by these devices would, in turn, let our more CO2 and cause more warming, making us buy more A/Cs and refrigerators.


Balajisblog said...


What kind of conspiracy could be engineered by condom manufacturers and / or publishers of pornography?! My imaginations runs wild !!!...Balaji

amish - CFO - WIN (future) said...

one more conspiracy theory - power shortages are created & ensured by marketing whiz kids of captive power plant companies

Raj said...

Balaji: You, naughty boy.

Amish : Reply in mail