If nothing else, conspiracy theories are great sources of entertainment. My personal favorite — which I ignore as much as possible — is the one that says we’ve all been fooled into believing that the Earth is round.
Doesn’t matter that people have circled the Earth, both on the surface and in space, or that there are pictures of our planet taken from the moon (another conspiracy) and deep space (again), or that it can be proved mathematically. The Earth, these wackos insist, is flat.
Yes, these folks believe they have been lifted from the morass of ignorance to an enlightened state in which their minds have been opened to some hidden reality of life that few are smart enough to comprehend. They know the Earth is flat and believe they can prove it.
The attraction is understandable. To know what so many others are too blind to see gives one an intoxicating intellectual power. It happened to me a bunch of times when I was younger. We called it mescaline.
The truth is that I can’t be bothered to fret about stuff that doesn’t interest me. Say the Earth is flat. So what? As long as I’m not falling off, what difference should it make?
Likewise, I don’t care if Hitler faked his death and is now the leader of the Illuminati in Area 51 with extraterrestrial aliens as his protection detail while he and the Learned Elders of Zion figure out ways to fluoridate our water and crank up the world thermostat.
Know what else? I don’t care who shot President John F. Kennedy. Maybe it was Oswald. Could also have been the Mafia, Russians or just some guy hunting deer on the grassy knoll who was a lousy shot.
I’m not trying to make fun of conspiracy theorists. I’ve been one myself. In the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, I once swore that Santa Claus was real. So too were the Easter Bunny, a sense of fair play and the Headless Lumberjack of Bucksnort Hollow.
Plenty of people told me they were real, but eventually I stopped believing in them — either because they were lies or because they served no useful purposes.
It’s not a question of whether I believe something but rather what good it serves if I do and what harm it does if I don’t.
Sometimes a conspiracy theory can be useful. The apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, incarcerated rich guy and pervert, comes to mind because that’s all anyone is talking about now.
Yes, it’s probable that Epstein hanged himself in his cell, but what’s wrong with considering that powerful people, the mob or his co-pervs had him whacked in some insider scheme?
Digging around in this bucket of snakes could result in bits of actual — and by that I mean “provable” — truth wherein others get what they have coming.
Speaking of which, today is primary election day. Get out there and prove that your conspiracy theory is right.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.