Organising a surprise birthday party or the Kennedy assassination, it’s still a conspiracy theory

808284 300x252 Organising a surprise birthday party or the Kennedy assassination, its still a conspiracy theory

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Like many people, I have long been fascinated by conspiracy theories. Like ghost stories, they are often the topic of atmospheric late night after dinner conversations. ‘You must have heard the truth about…’ And like ghost stories, there exists within a conspiracy theory the thrill that they might just be true; that there might be more to this world than we realise. To be offered the alleged hidden truth behind a seemingly random event lets us feel we are in on a secret shared with shadowy, clandestine figures.

For the uninitiated, a conspiracy, at its simplest, is when two people alter the perception of an event for a third. If you have ever arranged a surprise birthday party then you are the orchestrator of a conspiracy theory. It hopefully has a happy outcome for the recipient, but they have still had their world view altered by others.

One thing is certain. Conspiracy theories divide opinion. Some believe they are all true. Elvis Presley lives in Buenos Aires. The American government destroyed the twin towers. The Royal family are shape shifting lizards who secretly rule the world. Indeed some want to believe so badly that they accept the conspiracy theories regardless. For every plausible reason put forward for something not to be the case, they will provide an equally plausible counter argument. Others view them as nothing more than the musings of the paranoid. This conflict struck me as an interesting starting point for a play. And so ‘Robert Golding’ was born.

‘Robert Golding’ is a play that continues my lifelong love affair with dark stories. Exploring the themes of conspiracies and hidden secrets, the play is set in a brand new restaurant on the eve of its opening. A husband and wife arrange to meet the architect of the building, a man who ultimately changes their lives forever.

In the course of researching the topic and characters I have found myself veering from complete acceptance of conspiracy theories to a laugh out loud denial of their very existence. I, like countless others, was aware of the alternative thinking behind 911, Princess Diana, JFK, Dr David Kelly and the Moon Landings. But there were other opinions that were new to me.

Were you aware that there are people who believe that the German architect who designed the Eiffel Tower actually planned it as a way of tethering Zeppelins in the event of an invasion of France. That a cartoon of Donald Duck travelling across America to pay his voluntary tax contributions boosted America’s tax revenue from 11 per cent of the population to almost 40 per cent. Or that the communally idyllic existence of the Smurfs and their battles with Gargamel are actually fiercely pro-communist and anti-semitic propaganda. It would appear that for every major world event or cultural phenomenon, from the Arab Spring to Gangnam Style, there is a school of thought that dictates all is not as it seems. Why?

It can be seen as a way of rationalising the unexpected, adding an element of the deliberate to the accidental. The outpouring of grief that followed the death of Diana Princess of Wales was followed by a feeling that there had to be more to it than met the eye. Did Prince Phillip organise it? Was she pregnant with the Muslim half brother or sister of the future King of England? Is there any symbolism behind the fact that the Pont D’Alma was once the setting for ritual sacrifices to honour the Moon Goddess Diana? Was there a blinding flash? Was Henri Paul drunk, an MI6 hitman or a Manchurian candidate?

Or was it simply an accident, one of countless random tragic accidents that happen every single day?
And how must it feel to be the centre of a conspiracy theory? Paul McCartney, in one of his idle moments, may well Google himself and discover that a huge swath of the population believes him to be dead, the victim of a fatal car accident in 1966. The clues are all there apparently, just get a copy of ‘Abbey Road’ and study the cover carefully.

But whether you believe that Paul McCartney is Paul McCartney or Paul McCartney is Billy Shears, a sound-alike look-alike who saved Beatlemania, one thing is certain. When something happens that seems too implausible to be true, conspiracy theories will continue to thrive and divide.

  • Pete Peterson

    Water-tight case? Well, I have know i idea what water tight means to you, but the official version is far from it. In fact is full of holes. I’ll leave a list of inconsistencies of this theory:

    1) Tower 7 symmetric fall without resistance.
    2) Molten metal falling from the towers prior to their fall, and found underneath the rubble by firemen working on site. Official version said the towers burnt because of the jet fuel (really?), but is it enough to melt iron and burn for 6 weeks?
    3 )Report by witnesses (firemen, policemen, JOURNALISTS and the rest of the population) of explosions long before the towers went down, many of them clearly recorded. Official version mentioned nothing about explosions.
    4) The Pentagon’s minute hole, supposed to be the place where a large airplane hit it, after performing an extraordinary (let’s say impossible) manoeuvre and flying a few feet of the ground before hitting the building. Do you seriously believe in that?
    5) Prior to the attacks there were signs of insider trading in Wall Street. Coincidence I guess you’ll argue.
    6) Coincidence number 2: all the fighter jets were performing a training intercepting hijacked airplanes. Pilots weren’t able to tell reality from game.
    7) Buildings falling catastrophically because of fire? Only in 9/11. 8) Particles of some very reactive incendiary, used by the military in demolition, found in the dust of the PULVERISED towers.
    9) The sudden urge to get rid of the metal, without a deep forensic analysis, contravening codes of practice for this kind of catastrophes.
    I could go on and on, but why don’t you better take a look at the 2 or 3 peer review journals, still uncontested, done by a group of true scientists (around 1900 to be precise) over these tragedy? True factual independent science, no charlatanry like NIST.

  • Jill from Bolton

    Quote – ‘For the uninitiated, a conspiracy, at its simplest, is when two people alter the perception of an event for a third.’

    That sounds more like the definition of ‘propaganda’, which is to spread information with the intent to influence public opinion, either with honourable intentions (a road safety advert) or not (a movie full of war propaganda or racist undertones).

    A ‘conspiracy’ means to plot and/ or carry out an act in secret, typically one which is criminal or harmful. Most crimes involving two or more people are conspiracies because most criminals prefer to hide their criminal activities…. obviously.

    A clear distinction needs to be made between a ‘conspiracy’ and a ‘theory’. The crimes committed on 9/11 for instance were a conspiracy, regardless of who committed them. The question “Do you think 9/11 was a conspiracy?” makes no logical sense (that is unless you think the towers might have come apart by themselves or been accidentally destroyed).

    A ‘theory’ just means we don’t yet have enough evidence (or the free time) to do much more than speculate. To date nobody has been formally charged, tried or convicted of crimes related to 9/11 in a court of law and so even the government version of events remains a conspiracy theory, by definition.

    Historically and factually speaking the most dangerous ‘conspiracy theories’ have always been those promoted by governments and their complicit media. Hitler promoted various conspiracy theories to the German people and used them to justify aggressive wars and the persecution of specific groups. Millions died as a result.

    More recently Bush and Blair promoted a THEORY about Saddam Hussein CONSPIRING with his military to manufacture and hide WMD’s for use against the west. Belief in, and support for, this particular conspiracy theory resulted in millions of deaths as well as catastrophic environmental, economic and social destruction across much of the planet. Last year in Malaysia (and elsewhere too, I believe) Blair and Bush were convicted of war crimes under the terms of the Geneva Convention for promoting this particular conspiracy theory which, as we all know, turned out to be untrue.

    By stark contrast, I know of no death, injury or damage that has resulted from any of the ‘people’s conspiracy theories’ floating about on the web – not even the more outlandish ones. Yet they always seem to attract much more ridicule, hatred and condemnation than governments’ destructive conspiracy theories.

    Also it must be pointed out that to question or challenge an EXISTING conspiracy theory does not make one a conspiracy theorist. To question or challenge, for example, the official government conspiracy theories relating to Saddam Hussein, or 9/11, or some other event and to point out overlooked or dismissed evidence is in fact the very opposite of being a conspiracy theorist.

    I think the true distinction which needs to be made is not between the various competing conspiracy theories, but between ALL conspiracy theories vs empirical evidence (and we might throw in historical precedent too). The real distinction should be between THEORY vs EVIDENCE and not THEORY A vs THEORY B.

    It seems the whole world has gone conspiracy theory mad, and as a result nobody cares to look at the evidence anymore. It’s as if people have forgotten such a thing is even possible.

    Ask any forensic investigator (or just watch an episode of Aircrash Investigations) and you’ll soon learn that after some terrible crime has been committed one does NOT start off with a theory and then try to prove it by cherry picking evidence….. instead you forget all about theories and instead you start off by collecting evidence and you let the evidence tell YOU what happened. A good crime scene investigator will not even listen to the media speculation regarding a crime, in case it subconsciously biases their collection and analysis of the evidence.

    This is particularly important if the crime is very emotionally/ politically loaded – as all acts of terrorism always are.

    ‘Conspiracy theories’ are really a red herring. What matters is the evidence. Ask any of the 9/11 conspiracy theory believers (official or alternative) to provide a quick run down of the key evidence relating to the events in New York on that terrible day and they will struggle to even describe the basics. Most couldn’t even tell you how many buildings were destroyed. That says it all.

    I’m afraid conspiracy theorists as a rule aren’t interested in the truth, they’re usually just interested in furthering some agenda off the back of their chosen conspiracy theory…. whether that agenda is ‘winning an argument’ in a forum debate, ranting about ‘the government’ or invading a country and committing genocide.

  • plumplum

    I am reasonably confident that what you wrote was interesting.
    But have you never heard of paragraphs??

  • Pete Peterson

    Never pay attention to small details :)

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