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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I always thought that some conspiracy theories were fun because it is always more fun to believe that something clandestine is going on as opposed to things just happening. But as I got older and actually started to look at facts, I realized that not all conspiracy theories have merit. For example, Lee Harvey Oswald really did shoot JFK. Sorry America, but the King was taken down by a court jester and no one else. I used to believe the grassy knoll theory, but then I saw facts and realized the more likely answer. Then I started to realize that conspiracy theories are not fun at all. They are actually quite dangerous.

Recently, a conspiracy theory has been floating around that the United States government and “Big Oil” are blocking Volkswagen from showing off their latest innovation which is a car that can supposedly get 261 MPG. The car was supposedly banned from coming to the United States because the government, working on behalf of “Big Oil,” said it was too efficient. It is a fun theory that keeps the masses angry at oil companies, but it all changes when you look at the facts.

Volkswagen is only making 250 of these vehicles and they sell for around $150,000 each. Even if these vehicles did get 261 MPG, which is still being debated by engineers around the world, you and I are not going to be able to buy one ever. So it wasn’t “Big Oil” that kept Volkswagen’s car out of America, it was Volkswagen itself.

Conspiracy theories exist because people refuse to believe that the truth is as simple as it is. The grassy knoll theory exists because people find it impossible to accept the fact that some lone nut was able to take down one of the most popular presidents in modern times. The “Big Oil” theory exists because people refuse to believe that the maker of the “Punch Bug” would be so inconsiderate as to create something wonderful and then put an inflated price tag on it. But the truth, in most cases, is usually very simple and difficult to accept.

Some conspiracy theories make my blood boil. The idea that secret government planes packed with explosives were used on 9/11 becomes especially offensive when conspiracy theorists decide to shout that idea into the faces of people who lost family members on those flights. Just because you don’t trust the government doesn’t mean that you can be a jerk to the people who were victims of a national tragedy.

Some conspiracy theories have merit. Everyone knows that we never landed on the moon, but few people know why that little charade was created. It was done to one-up the Soviets in the space race during the height of the Cold War. The Soviets put a monkey into orbit, so we made it look like we put men on the moon.

See, now your blood is boiling. I mention a conspiracy theory surrounding a great American accomplishment and now you are angry. Relax. I have no problem with the fake moon landing. The space program was much more advanced in the 1960’s than it is now and today’s NASA scientists say that it would be extremely difficult for us to fly to the moon and back safely. So, don’t worry, it really happened.

But that is the point of conspiracy theories. They are outlandish claims made by people who are trying to exploit the fact that the masses buy into conspiracy theories. The theory that Sandy Hook was a covert government operation makes me completely sick, and the people who perpetuate that notion should be forced to go to a memorial ceremony for those lost children.

Conspiracy theories are sometimes fun, but they are usually just in bad taste. In a tragedy, there are always real victims and there are always grieving families. If your version of comforting these grieving families is to tell them that their loved ones died as part of a government plot to start a war or further gun control, then you probably need counseling.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that conspiracy theorists feel that it is necessary to scream their theories in high-pitched voices over megaphones to get them heard. If your theory has merit, then a well-written explanation on the Internet would be all you need to make your point. But if your theory is a self-fulfilling agenda, then keep it to yourself.

I am not na├»ve enough to think that covert things don’t happen. I know they do and I know they happen every day. But conspiracy theories tend to cross the line between fantasy and reality on an intermittent basis, and that is incredibly dangerous. Especially when you consider that most people would rather believe a whacked-out conspiracy theory than the truth.

Nick Oliver is a Niagara County resident and member of the Grassy Knoll Gang. His column appears every Wednesday, or does it? He can be reached at nickoliver@writeme.com, or can he?



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