Take some time to travel The Internet and eventually you will run across some of the best fiction ever created by Human Beings: Conspiracy Theories.
Don’t get me wrong because I love to read a good Conspiracy Theory and frequently use them (with a twist) as inspiration for my original stories. This article won’t go into a lot of detail on specific Conspiracy Theories, but rather how they can be used as inspiration tools. That being said, let’s define the parameters of this conversation. For this discussion, I will be using definitions provided by the friendly folks at Merriam-Webster.com.
What is a Conspiracy?
1) the act of conspiring together.
2) an agreement among conspirators.
3) a group of conspirators.
What is a Theory?
1) the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another.
2) abstract thought : speculation
3) the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art <music theory>
4) a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action <her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn>
5) an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances —often used in the phrase in theory <in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all>
6) a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena <the wave theory of light>
7) a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation
8) an unproved assumption : conjecture
9) a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject <theory of equations>
Now that we have defined what a conspiracy and a theory is, let’s put them together.
The Dictionary Definition?
Merriam-Webster.com defines a Conspiracy Theory as “a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.”
Putting it all together:
Based on what we know about conspiracies and theories, we can’t help but come to the conclusion that a Conspiracy Theory is essentially the idea that a someone or group of someones is acting in a acting in a secret manner results in something happening. Let’s break that down even further:
Bob is getting ready for work when he slips on a bar of soap in the shower and breaks his neck on the floor. Obviously, Bob wouldn’t intentionally put the soap in a place where he would slip on it and kill himself. The key words “killed himself” are important because they take this event from a simple accident (bars of soap get slippery when wet) and turn it into a targeted event involving Bob, a bar of soap, and a window of opportunity where he gets in the shower, comes into contact with the soap, and then slips and falls to an admittedly embarrassing end. By removing the word accident and substituting killed himself, a simple fall in the shower is now the origin of a Conspiracy Theory.
But wait, as the salesman would say, there’s more!
We don’t know much about Bob so that ambiguity gives room for all kinds of wild speculation.
Did Bob work for the Government or in some other industry that’s not well-liked? If yes, then boom, you have another piece of the puzzle behind Poor Bob’s demise. Who cares if it’s not real. If someone contests your “facts”, you can always claim that the lack of accurate information is the result of some diabolical redaction of facts that can never be proved. If no, then simply make something up. After all, secret conspiratorial families like the Hapsburgs or Rothchilds have been supposedly controlling the world from behind the scenes for centuries. Or…LIZARD PEOPLE! I love the Lizard Overlords because they never show themselves, never seem to be revealed, and always seem to do the crappiest job at running the planet.
Wait, maybe Bob knew how to use Heavy Water, or Deuterium, in a way other than moderating nuclear reactions in reactors or in any number of applications including enhancing the visual capabilities of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, fuel in nuclear weapons, or in certain types of drugs. Bottom line, we’ve just taken a simple and tragic slip in the shower and turned it into a major conspiracy theory complete with bad guys operating in secret, chemicals that can be bad in the wrong hands, and Lizard People. Can’t forget the Lizard People.
Now you see why I enjoy Conspiracy Theories. Where else can you take a whole lot of disparate things, tie them together with a flimsiest of conjecture, and spit out something that sounds good on the other side but has no basis in Reality and no worthwhile use except in making a really good story.
I do feel bad about poor Bob though…. 😉