Thought I might take a few minutes to comment on the now extremely popular topic of conspiracy theories.

In real life, conspiracies do happen. But not in the way that conspiracy theorists think they happen.

We encounter genuine conspiracies from time to time in business, in politics, in sport. It’s usually an attempt to gain a competitive advantage or achieve a particular reward. To succeed, it must be fairly narrow in scope. Here’s a good overview:

How to spot a conspiracy theory when you see one

Conspiracy theories are at the opposite end of a spectrum from scientific investigation: They begin with the assumption that a conspiracy lies at the root of most major events. Then work backwards from there, collecting and assembling unrelated incidents and occurrences to form a pattern that supports their theory. Few if any verifiable facts are required; speculation is the rule. Where evidence is not found, the conspiracy theorist simply assumes it’s out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered. No doubt because of a cover-up on the part of (you guessed it) evil conspirators.

The article explains that genuine conspiracies are usually uncovered when new evidence comes to light– possibly from an investigation into some other matter. Or based on inside information from a whistleblower. The source is checked out and appears reliable. But what does it mean? somebody asks themselves. They follow up on it. At some point, they find the real live conspiracy.

With false theories, that can never happen. There’s no genuine conspiracy to be uncovered. The theory just drags along, unverified.

There are few endeavors more difficult to orchestrate than a true, large-scale, secret conspiracy. Too many people involved, too great an opportunity for leaks. It isn’t long before somebody jumps ship and goes public (just ask Donald Trump). People in possession of a juicy secret are prone to hinting at its existence to friends and acquaintances. It makes them feel special.

Soon afterwards the conspiracy falls apart.

By the way, arguing with believers about the merits of their pet conspiracy theory is ordinarily a waste of time. It’s just too easy for them to ignore or discount any evidence that contradicts their beliefs. Such as the senior White House official who responded to a question about why, in spite of multiple attempts by various interested parties, nobody had yet found evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Aha, he replied. That still doesn’t prove that massive voter fraud doesn’t exist.

Well, it certainly doesn’t support the idea that it does. Shouldn’t it have turned up by now?

Soon the conspiracy theorist is questioning your motives. After all, you could be part of the conspiracy.

Anyway, on a humorous note, here’s a brief conspiracy-related video that I picked because it has a recovery theme: