MIDWAY : Conspiracy theories

The fifth anniversary of 9/11, unsurprisingly, galvanised media attention early September. What was befuddling though was that much of it was directed either at propping up or shouting down the Conspiracy Theorists, the rather infamous group peddling its make-believe version of that fateful day’s events five years ago. This oddball consortium alleges the US government’s complicity in carrying out the “well-orchestrated” plans of Al Qaeda terrorists on Sept 11, 2001. This, we are told, the government consented to, in order to gain support for future assaults on Afghanistan and Iraq.

No laymen, they. The Plan B proponents include tenured professors and philosophers. Even in the face of ample evidence to support the official version, they continue to hold court against the old-theory explicators. It was not a jetliner that rammed into the Pentagon, but a satellite-guided-missile (SGM); the WTC was brought down not by the meltdown resulting from the crashes, but by explosives inside the twin towers; the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, they say, was an SGM too... Humbug? Nearly a third of the Americans give them the benefit of the doubt.

Some psychologists, too. But the consensus among shrinks: conspiracy theories emanate from the all-too-human tendency to couple big causes with big events. To this lot, it seems incredible that a gaggle of greenhorn terrorists can penetrate the defence of the sole superpower with such ease.

When Lee Harvey Oswald “gunned down” John F Kennedy in 1963, umpteen conspiracy theories made rounds of the US media networks. Surely, a Louisiana Luddite couldn’t do in the leader of the free world - all by himself! Similar shady theories gained currency when Nathuram Godse shot dead Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. The jury is still out if The Hindu Mahashabha, the nationalist group Godse was affiliated with, was behind the incident.

Closer home, people continue to conjure up their versions of Madan Bhandari’s demise at Dasdhunga in 1993 and the Royal massacre in 2001. These theories, though not necessarily untrue, are picked as befits individual mind map; often making that leap of faith that renders an informed judgment moot.