Offbeat 29 January 2016

The X-Files is back again. It has featured strongly on my social media, especially as I have figured out how to get rid of the Christian Bible verses, the dumb quizzes and the more popular motivational quotes that actually demotivate me through boredom and the irritation of seeing the same thing again and again.
For those of you who are fans of the series, and I know there are many of you, the show is not a reboot. It features Scully and Mulder, albeit slightly aged. I haven’t had a chance to take a look at the first episode, which is available online, but it features high on my list of things to do for the weekend. I believe the season is short, so hopefully it will be available in a boxed set, preferably yesterday. I also hope it won’t be on one of the local series channels because rights issues always delay things.
For those of you who don’t know the X-Files, it is the granddaddy progenitor of geekdom, and it opened the door to widespread discussion of conspiracy theories.
The main story arc spanning seasons one to seven featured a very shadowy consortium of influential villains who attempted to deal with an impending alien invasion of earth. The rest of it was an interestingly mixed bag of monsters, ghosts, freaks and dangerous objects, all the sort of stuff that we instinctively believe in, but suspect is being hidden from us.
In the days before Facebook, that sort of thing was really interesting. Now it’s visible every day. David Icke, one of the best-known conspiracy theorists is now well-known. Before Facebook, anyone would dismiss out of hand, the idea that humanity is ruled by a bunch of reptilian beings masquerading as humans.
Nowadays it seems that if it appears on Facebook, it has to be the truth, so before voting or taking a loan or anything, you need to check that the person you are dealing with isn’t too scaly.
There are other interesting conspiracy theories ‘out there’ for the taking. One of the most noticeable is the marijuana conspiracy theory, which posits that extracts of the weed can cure cancer in a week or two, but that this knowledge has been suppressed by big pharmaceutical companies who want to profit from toxic medication. The research unfortunately seems very undecided on the thing, and no doubt the fact that researchers aren’t convinced fuels the whole theory.
The marijuana lobby is also quick to point out that hemp plants can be used to make clothes, cars, just about anything. However the fact that it is driven by smokers of the weed casts it in doubt. The image of smokeable clothing springs to mind, and I have a picture of a person with no shirt, but a goofy smile, in my mind.
Obviously there is the conspiracy theory about currency manipulation, but how can that be described as a conspiracy when it was openly discussed in chat rooms. There are other banking conspiracy theories, but I am numbed to them now. I am not sure if any conspiracy can be based on derivatives, anyway. Even the ‘quants’, people who engineer financial systems and products struggle to understand them.
Perhaps as a matter of synchronicity, or a conspiracy to market the X-Files, on item appeared in the press on the likelihood of a conspiracy remaining a secret. The mathematical study factored in the number of people who are in on the secret, and showed that the lower range of the duration of secrecy is a couple of years.
I think that was overoptimistic. When two people share a secret, third party disclosure can only be a couple of hours away. Going from the point of view that information has value, it seems that testing the value of that information seems only moments away. To verify this, test it with kids on a playground or in a circle of gossips.
Maybe there is collusion and there are conspiracies, but I believe that a ‘conspiracy’ is not much more than information that we are not party to. Thanks to the reappearance of the X-Files however, and that study, I am convinced that ‘the truth is out there’. It just takes time to appear.


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