As it happens, I was thinking about this yesterday, or something close to it.
I was remembering a party I went to back in the mid-Eighties, and the tail end when those of us who were left began to help the hostess gather up the empty glasses and so forth.
She started telling us about her husband's discovery of evidence that Elvis had not died in 1977 but had faked his death in order to live a quiet, anonymous life.
Well, that's one way to get everyone to go home in a hurry.
Specifically, I was thinking that the people who believed that cockamamie theory had to really work to find each other, and how much easier it is today.
And a quote from My Man Godfrey, "All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people."
It's so much easier to fill the room these days.
I suppose what got me thinking along those lines was the fact that I had recently borrowed the title of Charles Mackay's 1852 classic, "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," (and that's a free Kindle edition which you ought not to pass up), though Mackay writes more about foolish fads than ridiculous theories.
And I'm not sure how far back Lemont/Darrin considers "our era" to stretch, given that he includes the Kennedy assassination which I know he/they were not around for, but he does specify "centuries ago," so we can skip the theory that Kennedy survived the shooting and was living a vegetative existence on a Greek island watched over by Jackie and Aristotle Onasis, to whom she wasn't really married after all.
It would also eliminate "FDR is a Jew," which is one of those odd theories that stipulates that being a Jew is, in itself, a bad thing, but of course is based on the age-old moneylender conspiracy theory which gained significant traction in 1903 with the publication of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, still in the 20th century but more than 100 years ago.
Back a little further, we have the theory among pro-slavery people that Lincoln was black, the "conspiracy" aspect again being the cover-up and similarly relying on the premise that being a Negro is, in itself, a bad thing.
However, it also provides the motive for wanting to free slaves, and it's important for conspiracy theorists to come up with these motives -- FDR wanted to help the poor as part of a massive conspiracy by a cabal of his fellow Jews, Lincoln favored emancipation because he was himself black -- since they assume that nobody does anything out of common, human decency.
Whatever they may actually know about Jews and Africans, conspiracy theorists are utterly clueless on the topic of common, human decency.
And if these deranged lunatics are not a majority, neither are they insignificant and they are most certainly not harmless.
For instance, in 1834, the Ursuline convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts, was ransacked and burned by a mob incited by false rumors that were both anti-Catholic and anti-Irish, a powerful combination among the people who would eventually form the Know-Nothing Party, so called because it began as a secret society whose members would feign ignorance of, themselves, being part of a conspiracy.
However, knowing very little was key, and, as with today's Tea Party movement, you have to wonder to what extent their simple-minded bigotry and paranoia rose up upon its own and what part purposeful deception, such as "The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk" -- a false autobiography of sexual slavery in a Montreal convent -- played in things.
The Know-Nothing's "American Party" didn't last long, but they had some significant regional victories and, in 1856, nominated ex-President Millard Fillmore for that office, and he got 900,000 out of four million votes cast, nearly a quarter of the vote.
In any case, that was long ago and nothing to worry about today.
In fact, the Daily Caller reports that the leader of the Tea Party doesn't even know the guy who shot up that theater in Louisiana, and dismisses him as "a lunatic," saying "I mean, we’ve got 55,000 people who are on the website, who have signed up as members."
He adds, “Wouldn’t know the guy if I met him.”
Well, sure you would: He'd be the delusional maniac screaming incoherently and waving a loaded gun around.
Or wouldn't that make him stand out?
Meanwhile, out among the general population
He seems relatively sane.
Send all fondue sets c/o Jan Eliot
They finally tied the knot today at Stone Soup.
Jan's got some history of the relationship on her blog and promises a little retrospective coming up in the strip.
If you have any more questions, I suggest you come out to Kenosha and ask her yourself.
Come to think of it, you can also talk to Darrin about your favorite conspiracy theories.
In fact, if you're a follower of this blog, you'll see all sorts of familiar names there.
It's all free: Just, y'know ...