Conspiracy theories are an almost ubiquitous feature of irrational political beliefs. (If you haven't been reading our analysis of conspiracy theories we urge you to do so now.) The degree of detachment from reality of some individuals and some entire cultures can be very scary. But what's even more scary is when such theories begin to seep into mainstream political thinking in our own culture. Some recent examples are:
- The theory that Princess Diana was murdered by the British Secret Service – believed by 27% of British people;
- The theory that Dr David Kelly was murdered – taken shamefully seriously by the BBC (see the last paragraph of that article);
- The “It's all about oil” explanation of the liberation of Iraq, including…
- “the dumbest bit of oil-based conspiracy-theory yet”: explaining the recent Mars policy announcement in terms of President Bush's being under the control of mineral-exploration companies (see also this follow-up); and…
- The theory (with heavy antisemitic overtones) of a conspiracy of “neocons” having “taken control” of the President: check out its various versions on Google if you have the stomach for it.
Are you afraid yet?