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Conspiracy theories are making the world go round (and flat)

Conspiracy theories are on the rise – and David Baddiel can point to why

Conspiracy theory, I have said before, is how idiots get to feel like intellectuals. It’s just a way for people to use their collection of assumptions, generalisations, straw men and false inferences to assuage their default status anxiety through crap one-upmanship – through being able to say, ‘Ah, the wool may have been pulled over your eyes, my friend, but not mine.’

There was a time when the idiots seemed harmless enough, quarantined off from the rest of us in their Internet basements, swapping incorrect evidence of how Stanley Kubrick filmed the Moon Landings. At the time of writing, however, with Russia claiming that a chemical attack on a Damascus suburb was staged to provide a false justification for Western missile strikes on Syria, and an American President, the inside of whose head clearly could double as a forum on 4chan, conspiracy theory appears to have taken over the world. The idiots have taken over the asylum, and we’re all going down, propelled by Alex Jones of infowars.com’s voice bellowing about how chemicals in the water are turning frogs gay.

‘We’re all going down, propelled by Alex Jones of infowars.com’s voice bellowing about how chemicals in the water are turning frogs gay’

But, putting aside how fragile a world that has dispensed with truth is, there is one group of conspiracy theorists that I can’t help feeling a fondness for: Flat-Earthers. It feels so old school – pre-17th century school, to be exact – by today’s standards. I also like the fact that 9-11 Truthers and Holocaust Deniers, with all their pseudo-academic research, are still associated with people who think that if you sail past the Galapagos Islands, you fall off the edge.

But mainly I like, as regards this theory, the cui bono? discussion. It’s a basic principle of conspiracy theorists to always ask: who benefits? They really think that’s clever, doing that: Nick Griffin, ex-leader of the BNP, Tweeted exactly that question following the Syrian chemical attacks. That’s how clever it is. So let me ask – as regards the hidden flatness of the Earth: cui bono? Who exactly benefits from promoting the lie that the world is round?

Normally, of course, with conspiracy theories, the answer is ‘The Jews’. It can take a while to get there, but once you’re past the lizards, and ISIS, it’s practically always us Hebrews who organised the whole deception and raked in the cash. But this is another reason to like Flat-Earthers, as this one, at least, seems a hard one to pin on a small ethnic group, many of whom live in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Although I reckoned without flatearthscienceandbible.com, who claim that the myth of the round Earth began in the Kabbalah, as a way of destabilising Christian belief. Of course! I wasn’t actually at the global (by which I mean ‘round’) conspiracy meeting where we decided that, but obviously I was sent the minutes.

But still, every time I thought about this, it continued to puzzle me. We Round-Earthers, we lack a motive for our centuries-old lie. So eventually, I asked the question on what used to be a communications posting site, but now, of course, is the main breeding ground for conspiracy theory: Twitter. I got back all the answers I had already thought of, and one brilliant one that I hadn’t – someone called @Mexico86 suggested ‘Lisa Stansfield’. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t spotted it before. Yes, the Manchester chanteuse, she couldn’t find her baby, but crucially, she’d have to re-record her biggest hit as All Along The World. It’s clearly her, possibly in league with Kander and Ebb, who wrote Money Makes The World Go Round. And – aha! – Kander and Ebb: both Jewish. You see, it’s all starting to make sense…

David Baddiel is currently touring the UK with his Olivier Award-nominated show My Family: Not the Sitcom