The Daily Telegraph

What if the conspiracy theories are all a conspiracy?

- MICHAEL DEACON on Saturday

You won’t read this in the mainstream media. The establishm­ent don’t want you to know about it. They don’t want you to question the accepted narrative. But, just for a moment, dare to ask yourself this. What if all conspiracy theories… are actually an establishm­ent conspiracy?

Think about it. You’ve probably read about Infowars, the American organisati­on that was banned this week from Facebook and Youtube. Infowars is notorious for spreading outrageous conspiracy theories: for example, that the school shooting at Sandy Hook in 2012 was a hoax, and that the victims’ grieving classmates were actually child actors.

Infowars claims that it’s publishing the truth – the truth that the establishm­ent doesn’t want you to hear. But what if Infowars itself is a puppet of the establishm­ent? What if its conspiracy theories are actually concocted by the establishm­ent? What if the establishm­ent actually wants you to believe conspiracy theories?

It all makes perfect sense. The establishm­ent feeds you conspiracy theories – any old conspiracy theories, about any old subject – in order to undermine your trust both in facts and in reputable sources of facts. In so doing, it fosters a culture where emotion matters more than knowledge, belief trumps science, and the man in the street knows better than the experts.

A culture, in other words, where it’s impossible for the public to be certain of what’s true and what isn’t. Where everything is simply a matter of opinion – and so, instead of trusting the news, you trust your gut, or your prejudices. Which means that when (say) an American president benefits the rich at the expense of the poor, or engages in corruption, or persecutes a minority, there’s a good chance that you’ll refuse to believe the reports in the media – and instead shout: “Fake news! MSM lies!” Cui bono, hmm? Of course, now that it’s been banned from Facebook and Youtube, the influence of Infowars should in theory be diminished. But think again. What if the secret aim of the ban is to gain Infowars more publicity, while whipping up anger about threats to freedom of speech – thus making the public not only more likely to visit Infowars’ own website, but more susceptibl­e to its conspiracy theories?

It’s a funny thing. I meant this piece to be a spoof of conspiracy theorists. But I’m beginning to think it might actually be true.

Staying with Infowars: one site that hasn’t banned it is Twitter. Twitter’s boss, Jack Dorsey, says that while Infowars has “spread unsubstant­iated rumours”, it has not “violated Twitter’s rules”. Rather than ban such a controvers­ial account, said Mr Dorsey, it was better to let people “form their own opinions” of its output. Which is interestin­g. Because I seem to recall that just before Christmas last year, one Twitter user was suspended after tweeting that he didn’t like roast potatoes. Well, I suppose you’ve got to draw the line somewhere. It was a proud tradition. A venerable institutio­n. An ageold custom that brought innocent pleasure to millions of ordinary British people, year after year. Yet now, it seems, it’s gone forever.

I’m talking about the silly season. Remember the silly season? Every August, politician­s would leave us all in peace and we’d have a blissful month of light-hearted, meaningles­s non-news. We’d read about runaway cows (2011), or killer chipmunks (2009), or the woman who planned to give birth in the sea with a dolphin for a midwife (2015). One glorious day in August 2005, the front page of the Sun proclaimed that astronomer­s had discovered a constellat­ion which vaguely resembled the face of Victor Meldrew.

Today, however, the silly season is no more. The misery never ends. Politics no longer takes a holiday. Instead, we’ve got one side furiously denouncing the other for antisemiti­sm, while being furiously denounced itself for Islamophob­ia. And when the two sides aren’t furiously denouncing each other over race and religion, they’re furiously denouncing each other over Brexit. The poor public doesn’t get a break.

It’s not as if silly things don’t happen any more. It’s just that, because of the endless deluge of horrible politics, they don’t get noticed. A couple of days ago, reported the Press Associatio­n in its consummate­ly straight-faced style, a man was charged with “taking an untethered pig into Norwich city centre”.

In a healthy society, that story would have led every news bulletin.

Usually I think it’s unfair when people accuse Londoners of being pretentiou­s and out of touch with the real world. But perhaps I’ve got it wrong.

At St Pancras station the other day, I saw a stern-looking sign. It listed four things that were forbidden on the escalator. The first was “No running”. Fair enough. The second was “No heavy luggage”. Sure. The third was “No pushchairs”. Fine.

But the fourth was… “No yoga”. Seriously. That’s what it said. Nowhere else in Britain have I seen a sign, an official sign, telling people not to do yoga on the escalator. It’s simply taken for granted that people aren’t going to do yoga on the escalator. Hence there’s no sign telling them not to. For the same reason that there are no signs telling people not to do ballet on a building site, or a handstand while using a chainsaw.

In today’s London, however, it seems that so many people do yoga on the escalator, the authoritie­s have had to go to the trouble of putting up a sign to tell them to stop.

After the UK voted to leave the EU, some disgruntle­d Remainers suggested that London should leave the UK. I don’t think they really meant it, but maybe we should look at that idea again.

FOLLOW Michael Deacon on Twitter @Michaelpde­acon; READ MORE at telegraph.co.uk/opinion

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 ??  ?? Get serious: in the silly season of 2005, a new constellat­ion was discovered
Get serious: in the silly season of 2005, a new constellat­ion was discovered

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