• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Conspiracy On the Buses

Just a further thought on the idiotic hysteria over the “evacuation bus” which is being fanned by WorldNetDaily and Janet Porter, and which has been decisively debunked by RightWingWatch. Here’s the video that set it off:

This sums up quite nicely the vacuous vanity which leads so many people to jump on the most absurd conspiracy bandwagons. The driver sees an unusual vehicle. He hasn’t seen such a thing before. But for some reason he doesn’t feel any need to find out what it is or what it’s for – instead, he thinks that he can simply deduce what it must be for by running it through the limited information in his head already; in this case, probably culled from fringe crank websites.  There’s no need for any actual research or to consider the evidence – indeed, any explanation which subsequently comes to light can be dismissed as fodder for the “sheeple”.

Some say that conspiracy theories are attractive because they put an end to uncertainty, but I think there’s another factor: the smug sense of superiority that embracing  a conspiracy can endow. As Candide observes,

“is there not a pleasure…in criticising everything, in pointing out faults where others see nothing but beauties?”

Most people might think that a large ambulance capable of carrying up to 40 people in wheelchairs is a potentially useful thing to have around, and that Americans can be proud to have developed such an item. But that’s because most people are stupid: in fact, it’s a sign that the usurper Kenyan Muslim president of the USA is planning to transport conservatives into special camps on the pretext that they won’t accept a killer vaccine.

And the cheap glow of lazy self-satisfaction doubtless grows brighter with the increasing grandiosity of any conspiracy theory accepted.  Imagine: billions of people think that something is true – be it the Apollo moon landings, Islamic extremist responsibility for 9/11, the theory of evolution, or whatever – but I know better. Does this not mean that I enjoy sharper critical skills than almost everyone else on the planet? Does this not mean that when I come across subject I don’t really understand I can just dismiss most of the serious literature in favour of some crank pseudo-interpretation?

(PS: how exactly is that clown safely driving a car while waving a camera around?)

One Response

  1. At 1:02, he says something like “This just keeps getting weirder.” I think that he misses the irony.

    I agree with your post script. I suppose if he was pulled over, he’d claim that it was political persecution, rather than the fact that he’s not watching where he’s driving.

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