I hate that phrase. It's one thing when it's all in fun - when it's in a filk song or a parody story or a game - those things make fun of the people who believe in them. But when folks take it seriously, there's a problem.
It's always been there - the feeling that there is *something* behind all the major events in the world. Something human - some person or organization that goes back to the beginning of time and spans all nations. Part of it is the need to blame others, and part of it comes from a disbelief in coincidence.
Coincidence happens. Random things happen at the same time and there is no reason, or need to be a reason behind them.
And, of course, if some great shadowy organization is behind it all, there's no possible way of fighting it, is there? I mean, who can fight the Girl Scouts?
But it's mostly a harmless fantasy, right? The most the people who believe in them do is lose money on books and paraphenalia, right? Wrong.
By feeding people's paranoia, you get bunkers and militias, and then government goof-ups that just cause more theories to come up and more paranoia, and more guns. And more real fires and more deaths.
So they're not just silly jokes - people are getting hurt by them. No one's gotten killed by reading "The DaVinci Code", of course, but there are more insidiuos things around.
Because, you see, conspiracy theories tend to be grossly antisemitic. It makes sense - most of these theories require a close knit but wide spread group that clearly has goals that differ from those around them and who has a stake in either the status quo or undue influence in government.
And that means Jews - that means the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, one of the bigger conspiracy theories around - and one of the most dangerous. I mean, Jews live differently, eat differently, marry differently, have different holidays. So, they're obviously, well, different. Except they're not. They can hide among the Christians - they can pretend to convert (or really convert, but not for religious purposes, and no one quite believes it anyway), they can assimilate into the culture around so that they disappear - they obviously can't be trusted. And they're all connected and they have all this cash so they can influence the King or the government, and look. When they're permitted, they infiltrate everywhere - arts, sciences, law, finance. Education.
At best, conspiracy theories are a waste of time and brain energy. At worst, they can lead to fire and death. They are not good things. Frankly, the idea terrifies me - not only do these idiots not want to think for themselves, and indeed prefer to believe the biggest lies they can found because we all know how big lies work, but it can't mean good things and if enough people believe them, it can mean very bad things for anything that resembles an international group.
And right now, with the atmosphere poisoned by our government and the borders of protectionism and the fears of immigration all tightening around us, is getting to be one of those times. It's not just a harmless hobby to some people. And there are others who are cynical enough to use it.
And that's a conspiracy to be truly frightened about.