This morning I intended to get an early start, including heading over to Sears to get a new car battery installed. (Ah, auto malfunction woes. Joy!) But Sean unintentionally waylaid me by turning on a DVD his dad had sent him, a conspiracy theory-themed documentary called Zeitgeist. I immediately got sucked into the doc and lost an hour and 45 minutes.
This particular documentary is not content to focus on one conspiracy theory -- no, it's chock-full of accusations. Part one deals with "astrotheology," the notion that many religions, including Christianity, are based on astrology. Part two is full of 9/11 conspiracy theories. Part three is about the cabal(s) controlling world finance. JFK's assassination is mentioned in passing, too. The conclusion sort of attempts to tie these ideas together, although it does an especially poor job linking part one to anything. It's not a new documentary; I guess it's been floating around the internets since 2007, and if you poke around online, you'll find people both passionately for and passionately against Zeitgeist. While I found it fascinating, I thought it was a little short on citing sources. It also had really cheap, lousy production values. It probably says something (although I'm not sure what) that Sean's dad mailed it to him along with a copy of the book MAD about the Seventies.
Conspiracy theories drive me crazy. Not crazy as in I get angry when I hear about them, but crazy in that they send my mind racing. They truly make me feel nuts: what am I to believe, that life is more or less what it appears to be, or that power- and/or money-mad individuals or secret organizations are controlling the destinies of everyone on the planet? The problem with a well-argued conspiracy theory is that it can make me accept the most outlandish stuff. Suddenly, I'll start to believe that the Federal Reserve is some creepy, shadowy organization that can cause depressions and world wars on a whim, or that the American military is reverse engineering captured alien technology to develop new weapons and flight vehicles. I mean, I don't devote my life to trying to spread the word about these conspiracies, but when I hear a reasoned, thoughtful, and supposedly well-documented argument in favor of such things, I can't help thinking, "Yeah, it could happen."
I do believe, truly, that there was a conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy. I have no idea who did it or how it was carried out, but after reading and hearing about the many, many plots people have come up with over the years, it seems far more unreasonable to me to argue that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone than to acknowledge that two or more people must have planned and carried out the execution. After I saw the movie JFK, I read both Jim Garrison's account of the case Oliver Stone presents in the movie and the book Crossfire by Jim Marrs. Actually, I only read about half of Crossfire, which could be subtitled The Big Book of JFK Conspiracy Theories, because I was completely overwhelmed: every chapter presented another take on what may have happened, and after every chapter I found myself thinking that yes, yes, this is what really occurred! It was exhausting. Add to it The Men Who Killed Kennedy, a fascinating British documentary first released 25 years after the assassination, and the notion that Oswald was the only guy involved starts to seem ludicrous. Sorry, Vincent Bugliosi, but your fat book refuting everything I've just said ain't gonna change my mind.
On the other hand, I do not believe that the moon landing was faked. That really happened, although the moon itself may be an alien satellite! So there.