In this age of dumb conspiracy theories, I have a few little ones of my own

We are now living in the age of conspiracy theories. It’s probably no coincidence that we’re also living in the age of dwindling journalism staffs, attacks on books, surging artificial intelligence capabilities and addiction to social media, where people believe headlines they see fly by on their phones whether they are from a conspiracy nut like Alex Jones or a serious source of investigative journalism like The Onion. 

The latest fellow to come out as ignorant — though I do commend him for his bravery — is Tyler Owens, a defensive back from Texas Tech who recently made comments at the NFL Combine that he doesn’t believe in space or other planets and thinks the Earth is flat. I assume he also believes thunder is just the sound of clouds bumping into each other and when your nose is itching somebody’s coming to visit.

(Granted, as silly as that second one is, when my nose itches, I usually turn off the lights and lock the door … you know, just in case.)

Some people might say it’s not nice of me to make fun of ignorant people, but I believe that is one of the few great joys that remain in my life. You can coddle the ignorant if you’d like, but I’ll stick to the Southern acknowledgment of ignorance better known to most as “Well, bless your heart.” And the ignorant may even be very nice folks or useful, especially if they can run the 40 in 4.3 seconds as Tyler Owens can. I may believe in Jupiter, but it takes me a good 43 seconds to run the 40 myself, so NFL teams are likely to find him far more useful than they find me.

Tyler is hardly alone. Conspiracy theories are everywhere these days, and facts are considered sooooo 20th century. There are BIG conspiracy theories such as the Earth is flat, the moon landing was staged, Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift’s relationship is a CIA plot to re-elect Joe Biden, the 2020 election was rigged, or that Donald Trump colluded with Russia even though anyone can see that Donald Trump couldn’t collude with a toaster and bread to make toast.

I maintain that it’s perfectly acceptable and appropriate to call out conspiracy theorists like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who once thought “Jewish space lasers” were starting wildfires in California to promote the climate change “hoax.” When she gets reminded today that she’s not just currently dumb but has been ignorant for a long period of time, she gets pretty upset about it. Recently, she even told a BBC reporter to “F off” when it was brought up in a conversation about why so many right-wingers love conspiracy theories. Sorry, but you believed in Jewish space lasers as a (chronologically) full-grown adult. At least Tyler Owens has the excuse of being a young college kid.

But, hey, I suspect we’ve all got some conspiracy theories. I know I’ve got a few little conspiracy theories myself, such as:

  • I believe many manufacturers of appliances, HVAC systems and such now purposefully build them not to last so that you will have to buy them more often. Meanwhile, Granny’s refrigerator from 1966 is still running in that old shack down the street.
  • I believe that certain folks who profit off of treating diseases like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and others have no interest in actual cures — unless they could find a way to make cures profitable, of course. When I was a newspaper copy editor, I read a gazillion stories on the wires — that’s an exact number, by the way — about breakthroughs that just might cure cancer. Those hopes would then disappear into thin air.
  • I believe that the drug “war” has become too profitable to win. It keeps prices high for the dealers, and it keeps many people employed in the fight.
  • I believe that if Biden beats Trump again in November that extremists in Congress will finish the coup they started last time. They will not let a Biden win be certified again. American Democracy’s days are numbered.
  • And I believe the sun is more like 92,999,992 miles from Earth. We’ve been indoctrinated by scientists with the notion that it is 93 million miles from Earth, but that just seems like way too round a number to believe. Besides, according to Tyler Owens, there is no sun; it’s merely an orange dot floating across the dome that shields our flat Earth from all the nothing out there.

Unfortunately, we live in an age where propaganda is repeated and parroted until masses believe it. People believe everything they read on social media, especially if it’s from one of the sources in their bubble. Newsrooms are understaffed, and watchdog journalism is suffering from a lack of resources — allowing local governments, officials, corporations and others to get away with far more than they could have 30 years ago. Books are under assault. Higher learning is frowned upon. Some politicians love the poorly educated and want more of them. And the rapid development of artificial intelligence is dumping gasoline on all of the burning blazes of ignorance.

This is an environment ripe for conspiracy theories to flourish, and they are doing just that.

At least folks like Tyler Owens still have something to offer, such as being able to shut down an NFL wide receiver in man-to-man coverage and bat away a potential touchdown — so long as the sun doesn’t get in his eyes, of course.

Sorry, I meant not the sun.

What do you think about this?