In literature and movies there’s an archetype, a certain type of character, that I enjoy; the antihero.
An antihero or antiheroine is a protagonist who lacks conventional heroic qualities such as idealism, courage, and morality. (Wikipedia)
The antihero usually portrays how a slightly more realistic person would react in situations in need of heroism.
These days conspiracy theories are both abundant and constantly heckled. Something about great mysterious behind-the-curtain players who try to mastermind humanity into their evil machinations speak to us. It probably makes us feel like the underdogs, or heroes, of our daily situations.
The anti-conspiracy theory would, like the antihero, explain all the same facts and results as the conspiracy theory. But instead of grand masterminds hiding in the shadows, the antagonists world be plodding middle managers doing a series of dumb things to further their immediate, and often political, claims. With little or no thought about the actual results their actions have.
Basically, the road to hell paved with good intentions.
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
A perfect example of this story arc would be Ayn Rands much debated Atlas Shrugged. The story is often ridiculed for over-the-top heroes and a utopian view of rationalism. While most of those criticisms are pot shots at an author that never really mastered the English language, they completely miss the main plot of the story; in Atlas Shrugged the world is ruined by a series of bumbling idiots trying to pursue their own political power and ideals. To effects all to common in our own world. It’s an alternative narrative to why things are so messed up, taken to an extreme.
It doesn’t really matter if you think Atlas Shrugged is a good book or a terrible one (I love the book for it’s contrarian world view, but the author was not a very good writer). But the way the story is built up, the narrative, is a perfect anti-conspiracy theory.
The next time you hear a conspiracy theory, try turning it into an anti-conspiracy theory and see if that story doesn’t work a little bit better.