I have a Facebook friend, S. G. Collins, who is a videographer. About 8 or 9 years ago he made a little 13 minute video called “Moon Hoax Not.” The film became justly famous. Stephen Fry saw it and praised it to, well, the moon. Collins proved that in 1969 America had the technology to go to the moon. What America didn’t have was the technology to fake it. “The later you were born,” Collins puts it, “the more all-powerful movie magic seems.”
Video technology of the time was hopelessly primitive. Most of us have video cameras in our phones that are several orders of magnitude more sophisticated than the most powerful video studios of the time. Could those primitive TV studios of the past have faked the lunar landings? No.
That seems to me to be an underlying problem with virtually all conspiracy theories, from 9/11 “Truther” conspiracies to “chemtrails” to microchips in vaccines to faking elections. It isn’t a question of whether or not your government did all these things to you, it’s a question of whether or not it was possible for them to do it in the first place. Every conspiracy theory I know about contains within it the seed of its own destruction, and that seed is the near certainty that that the conspiracy was simply impossible to pull off for one or more reasons.
I actually think most (if not all) conspiracy theorists know this. It’s why, for example, they never ask the most obvious questions about their own conspiracy theories. One question is, if the conspiracy theory is true, how on earth did all those people who were in on the conspiracy keep silent? The reason conspiracy theorists never ask that question is because they’re afraid to. That’s a rabbit hole down which any rational inquiry can never return. The fact of the matter is that nobody keeps secrets, and every single conspiracy of any size in human history leaked like a sieve.
The good news for conspiracy theorists is they don’t have to worry about such things any more. There was a time when it was necessary to come up with fancy explanations for obvious holes in their theories. More often than not the explanations were even more preposterous than the original conspiracies themselves.
As I say, that is no longer necessary. Welcome to the wonderful brave new world of direct contradiction. For example, before the “Cyber Ninjas” Maricopa County, Arizona, audit folded up its tent and stole away in the night, they admitted what we already knew: Biden won the election. But that didn’t stop Donald Trump from insisting that they had proven just the opposite. With the same brazen contradiction of reality Trump employed in denying the findings of the Mueller Report, Trump claimed that the Arizona audit proved that he won. Not only that, he now says there should be more audits just like the Maricopa audit to “prove” he won in other states as well.
As I say, welcome to the new world of conspiracy theories where long, tedious and absurd explanations to justify them are no longer required. All you need is a simple, direct denial of reality. We have reached the point in the Pavlovian experiment where it is no longer necessary to provide food for the dogs. All that’s needed is a bell to set the masses to drooling, and someone as audaciously sociopathic as Donald Trump to ring it . And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.