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Pass me my tinfoil hat

Photo: Tom Hilton (CC 2.0)

Conspiracy theories are, by and large, total guff. But with the state of politics as dysfunctional as it is, I find myself drawn to the comfortable surety of the conspiracist. Take Donald Trump. He is such a terrifying parody of the narcissistic megalomaniac that the idea he might be a lizard or a hologram is at very least an explanation. Besides, even if he is human, that hair has definitely been styled by the same alien that pioneered the crop circle.

It would be hard to say anything more ludicrous than Trump says already; if he were a lizard, I’m confident it wouldn’t make much difference. It also helps the conspiracy that he looks like he spends a good few hours a day under an ultraviolet lamp.

Conspiracy theories gain purchase when traditional explanations of the world cease to add up; and face it, we don’t have enough fingers between us to work out our current global conundrum. Once the President of the United States is suggesting arming teachers to solve the problem of school shootings, you’re entering a realm where you have to leave your critical faculties in a little tray at the door.

Things are so utterly, utterly broken, simply not buying into the mainstream’s narrow propaganda can make you seem like part of the enlightened, even if that rejection of received wisdom is replaced with a belief that Barack Obama was born in Glasgow and the Twin Towers were made of papier mâché. There has been a meltdown at the rationality reactor and it’s every man, woman and lizard for themselves.

Conspiracy theorists are not after real solutions, they want easy answers to complex material problems that require real engagement, not cynical, defeatist, pseudo-intellectual codswallop. Yet, as the old news outlets crumble, crackpot websites are filling the gap with titillating, fact-free clickbait and making a bloody fortune.

‘If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,’ I say. If there’s good money in the conspiracy industry, then I’m in. You see, I’ve come up with a thesis that could make me a fortune and turn me into a kind of cosmic Che Guevara figure.

My conspiracy relates to a unique power. A power I almost certainly acquired when abducted by aliens. Whenever I visit a new country, my mere presence causes political earthquakes. I first noticed it on holiday in Barcelona last year where I was, in many ways, instrumental to Basque separatists, ETA, decommissioning their weapons. I don’t like to make a fuss but would it really have happened without me drinking at a tapas bar off Las Ramblas at the time? It’s not for me to say…

You might call this coincidence, a mere fluke. Indeed, I’d be with you were it not for a recent work trip to South Africa during which President Jacob Zuma resigned. If that’s not proof of a potent political magnetism then I don’t know what is.

So I’m going for it: down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole, where a future of lucrative keynote speeches and vanity publishing awaits. If any readers wish to test my incredible abilities I will gladly oblige in exchange for return flights, hotel reservations and a modest fee. Please bear in mind that my psychic skills work best in sunnier climes.

Steve Parry is a comedy writer and broadcaster. He’s from south Wales and lives in north London. Twitter: @Stevejparry

New Internationalist issue 512 magazine cover This article is from the May 2018 issue of New Internationalist.
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