BOSTON (CBS) – I enjoyed my stint sitting in for Dan Rea Monday night – except for a couple of callers promoting conspiracy theories.
Skepticism – and maybe a touch of tightly-regulated paranoia once in awhile – are not necessarily bad things. Sometimes people do conspire, or even lie to us, believe it or not.
But in general, I don’t like conspiracy theories.
Far more often than not, they are false and manipulative, the work of ignorant minds swallowed mindlessly by the ignorant. And in the internet era, where too many people have lost any capacity for or interest in distinguishing fact from fiction, the conspiracy theory may be the fastest-growing stock on the market.
Just look at the two major-party presidential nominees.
Hillary Clinton coined the famous phrase about the “vast, right-wing conspiracy” back in the 1990’s as she tried to deny the truth about her husband’s infidelity. And the Democratic Party has peddled plenty of conspiracy theories over the years, mostly about the dark motives of big-money donors, although you don’t hear them talk about that as much now that some of those same donors are rallying behind their candidates.
And Donald Trump is arguably America’s leading broadcaster on the conspiracy theory network. He was a birther when few sane people were, and his campaign musings are replete with debunked conspiracy theories.
Plus, he is the undisputed king of hardcore conspiracy theorists across the internet, including a frightening number of his own paid staffers.
Once in a great while, a conspiracy theory proves true. The rest are garbage.
And if ignorance is bliss, we are on track to becoming a culture full of blissful conspiracy theorists.
Listen to Jon’s commentary: