Now that the Republicans are a handful of delegates away from nominating an ostensible conspiracy theorist* to be their candidate to lead the free world, it’s worth recalling this insightful post by Carl Trueman from a few years ago:
Conspiracy theories have an aesthetic appeal: they make us feel more important in the grand scheme of things than we are. If someone is going to all this trouble to con us into believing in something, then we have to be worth conning; and the impotence we all feel in the face of massive impersonal bureaucracies and economies driven not by democratic institutions so much as multinational corporations is not really the result of our intrinsic smallness and insignificance so much of our potential power which needs to be smothered. Such views play to our vanity; and, to be brutally frank, the kind of virtual solitary vice which so much solipsistic internet activity represents.
Conspiracy theories don’t hold up, though. Nobody is that competent and powerful to pull them off. Even giant bureaucracies are made up of lots of small, incompetent units fighting petty turf wars, a fragmentation which undermine the possibility of the kind of co-ordinated efforts required to pull off, say, the fabrication of the Holocaust. History, humanly speaking, is a tale of incompetence and thoughtlessness, not of elaborate and sophisticated cabals. Evil, catastrophic evil, is not exceptional and brilliant; it is humdrum and banal; it does not involve thinking too much; it involves thinking too little.
For more, see Trueman’s excellent book, Histories and Fallacies: Problems Faced in the Writing of History, especially his chapter on Holocaust denial.
* To be a bona fide conspiracy theorist is to believe said conspiracy theories. And while there is no doubt that Donald Trump persistently traffics in spreading or entertaining conspiracy theories and cover-ups—from Barack Obama being a Muslim who was born in a foreign country to George Bush intentionally deceiving the world about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to Ted Cruz’s father helping to kill JFK to Hillary Clinton causing the suicide of Vince Foster to Justice Scalia being murdered by means of a pillow to discredited urban legends about Muslim terrorists being executed with bullets dipped in pig’s blood—it is virtually impossible to know whether Donald Trump actually believes any of the things he says or if he is saying them just to garner attention and create disruption. Hence, I refer to him as an ostensible conspiracy theorist—one who at the very least enjoys spreading and entertaining them, even if he doesn’t believe what comes out of his own mouth.
I should also mention that Hillary Clinton has promised, if President, to investigate and reveal what the US government knows and may be hiding about aliens and UFOs.