They are popular. Whether you are talking about theories around COVID-19, climate change, secret societies, the Deep State, who killed JFK, and more.
Why do we like them? I think the answer to that question is quite simple – Conspiracy theories offer answers all wrapped up nice and neatly. There are good guys and bad guys – and they are obvious as to who they are. There are scapegoats as to who to blame. Conspiracy theories help us identify with a tribe – a group of people that we can have a common identity with. These theories sound factual or based on some sort of data – it’s just that some of the holes in the data are filled in with concrete statements that “must” be true, even though there is nothing to point to the truthfulness of the statements.
Conspiracy theories don’t actually help anyone though. No conspiracy theory has even offered actual comfort to anyone. It has not treated anyone. It has not brought calm. Conspiracy theories don’t save lives. And they don’t help.
In many ways, conspiracy theories are about as helpful as many of the sayings people use at funerals when talking with a loved one who lost someone to death.
And here’s another piece of truth – this isn’t new. If you participated in the Holy Week worship services, you would find conspiracy theories in the Scriptures – the temple authorities throwing around conspiracy theories around Jesus, to the point that he was killed to satisfy a conspiracy theory. In the Gospel of Matthew, the temple authorities convince Pilot to post guards at Jesus’ tomb, because they have a theory that if Jesus isn’t found at the tomb, then his followers must have stolen the body in order to claim resurrection.
Conspiracy theories aren’t new. They aren’t going away.