Did Elvis really shoot JFK and bomb Twin Towers?
Published 12/02/2013 | 04:20
Let's face it – everybody loves a good conspiracy. In a world where daily events push the little guy down all the time, it's easy to believe that some opaque cabal of economic and political overlords is rigging the game for the few at the expense of the many.
From dirty tricks that politicians play, to the deadly covert assassination plots of governments, to the price-fixing and backroom scheming of banks and oil cartels, there seems no end to the deception.
In January, my 14-year-old son spent a month at school in an intercession class that focused solely on conspiracy theories. All the biggies were there – the assassinations of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, alien abductions, Roswell & Area 51, and last but not least, 9/11. It turns out that one of the teachers of the class, who doubles as a math teacher, claims to have been abducted by aliens a few times himself. Maybe they just needed tutoring.
I admit, I'm a serial sceptic. But, in fairness, you'd be hard-pressed to find an American who believes that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing JFK, or that lone gunman killed King and RFK.
In fact, a new poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey found that 63% of registered voters believe in at least one of the following conspiracies – that the government had advanced knowledge of 9/11; that Obama is hiding details of his early life; and that George Bush's 2004 re-election, and Barack Obama's 2012 re-election, were both fraudulent.
America is home to some of the world's best conspiracy theories these days. And the highest profile ones relate to one of the most emotive policy issues in the country today – gun control.
It seemed that no sooner had the horror of December's massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut, occurred, than the secret-plot-posse were in full gallop, spreading the news of fresh government conspiracy to take away gun ownership rights.
Give the ages and number of the victims, and the fact that it was the most recent, it's natural that the Newtown massacre dominates much of the gun debate.
But conspiracy theorists haven't forgotten Aurora, Colorado either.
Last July's cinema massacre by alleged gunman James Holmes was quickly glommed on to by the gun rights conspiracy theorists who've alleged that none other Obama himself orchestrated that massacre in order to take away gun ownership rights.
Conspiracy theories have been around for ever, and will be with us twice as long as that in the future.
And the birth of the internet has been a godsend to those with the most furtive imaginations.
The fact that some theories may seem preposterous doesn't mean that they all are. And we'll probably never even have a clue about the most successful ones, because the participants expertly covered their tracks.
But, at the end of the day, only one thing is for certain: Elvis is behind them all.