featured, latest

A Conspiracy Theorist Confesses to his Petty Crimes

Edward Curtin

Court Scene at the Old Bailey (Image source)

Our research has shown for the first time the role that conspiracy theories can play in determining an individual’s attitude to everyday crime. It demonstrates that people subscribing to the view that others have conspired might be more inclined toward unethical actions.”
Prof. Karen Douglas, University of Kent press release for the research, entitled Belief in Conspiracy Theories and Intentions to Engage in Everyday Crime (British Journal of Social Psychology)

Let me be perfectly clear from the outset.

I am not referring to the conspiracy theories of George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump and other such luminaries concerning events such as the attack of September 11, 2011, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the ongoing war on terror, Julian Assange’s alleged ties to Russia, etc. These people’s conspiracy theories have nothing to do with petty crime, for their handiwork is grand indeed. They are big people. In any case, I don’t know what small stuff they might be up to when not killing so many people all around the world.

I got to thinking about my petty crimes after reading a profound article in The New York Post how the aforementioned Professor Douglas and her comrades at two English research universities have proven – “backed up by science” as the Post’s Rob Bailey-Milado says – that little people like me who have concluded that the US national security state conspired to kill President Kennedy, to take one example, are inclined to take to the dark side and pilfer M&Ms from the candy counter and stuff like that.

“Sure,” Bailey-Milado writes in his elegant style, “we’ve been saying this about our wack-job uncle for years.” Such a nut case might be a “9/11 denier” or believe “the ancient pyramids were built by aliens” or believe “myths surrounding the Mueller report to the chilling ‘secret’ behind Disney’s ‘Frozen’.”

As we all know, all these nutty beliefs are of equal value and validity, and to even harbor the thought that Bailey-Milado might have the CIA’s 1967 secret Dispatch – Doc 1035-960, showing how to counter and discredit the claims of conspiracy theorists – pinned over his desk or in his mind is to risk further accusations of being whacked-out and in need of examining one’s proclivity toward everyday crimes. So I won’t go there. I’m guilty enough.

So bless me, folks, for I have sinned. Let me confess.

Last week, after reading the Post article and the study itself, I found myself in my local co-op market. You might wonder where I had been looking for myself when I found myself there, staring into bins of dried fruit, but let’s just say I had been around. When you’re lost and whacked-out, you never know where you are or why you believe what you believe.

I was trying to decide whether to get the dried pineapple, mango, or figs. It was a tough choice, sort of like staring at forty different tubes of toothpaste on the store shelf and wondering which to buy or if the one advertised as specially for women would work for a man since men must have different teeth. The comparison is not exactly apt, I guess, for you can’t test the toothpastes there, but the fruit looked so edible. So, when no one was looking, I first tried the pineapple, then the mango, and finally the figs. I thought I saw the store manager see me when I took the fig because I was so enjoying the fruits of my crime that I let my guard down.

When I was leaving the store, I had the odd thought that the cop car in the parking lot was there for me, so I turned and went out via the sidewalk, sighing in relief as I did. As I was walking home, I thought of my narrow escape and the brilliance of the study that connected my conspiratorial thinking to my criminal activity with the fruit. I also couldn’t help thinking how the figs had reminded me of my latest conspiracy theory, but one supported by sources as confidential as those referenced by The New York Times or The Washington Post. In addition, like those devotees of truth and confidentiality, I will never reveal my sources.

Legend has it that Isaac Newton discovered the law of gravity while sitting in a garden, watching apples fall perpendicularly to the ground. However, this is not true. I have learned from my confidential sources that his nickname was Isaac “Fig” Newton and that those who claim the Fig Newton cookie was named after Newton, Massachusetts are involved in a great cover-up.

My sources tell me that when Isaac was a child, he was so fond of figs that his mother had to warn him against eating too many, for as you probably know, figs, like prunes, are filled with fiber and possess a laxative quality. Isaac was defecating so much and so often that his mother was alarmed. But a mother’s panic at a child’s toilet habits can be a source of insight years later.

So it was that years later it was Isaac’s experience on the potty that gave him his great insight into gravity. Reflecting back on his childhood, he realized that shit always went down, never up (there were no electric fans in those days, so no one would say that it went up when “shit hit the fan”). He remembered his mother’s loving words when as a boy he would tell his mom he had to “take a shit,” she would always remind him that it was always better to give than take, so he should “give a shit.”

Also, it was Isaac’s chore to take the family potty out behind the house where it was emptied down into a deep hole about six feet under. Thus, the adult Isaac came to call his discovery gravity, after the grave. He scientifically proved what everyone already knew: that everything and everyone goes down, eventually. Not the most uplifting news, I grant you, but I have sources for that also.

So I readily admit I am guilty of this inclination toward low-level “crime,” as Douglas and her colleagues explicate so brilliantly. No doubt, it is connected to my conspiratorial mindset. I hope that much is clear. Sometimes I just can’t resist the forbidden fruit. Although not an apple, it seems to give me insight into the knowledge of good and evil.

For some reason, I suspect Douglas will not be studying the elite criminals who conspire to invade countries, kill millions, and blame it on others. Those are crimes against humanity, and are beyond the purview of research aimed at showing how sick everyday people are who suspect that their leaders are big-time criminals.

Edward Curtin teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His writing on varied topics has appeared widely over many years. He writes as a public intellectual for the general public, not as a specialist for a narrow readership. He believes a non-committal sociology is an impossibility and therefore sees all his work as an effort to enhance human freedom through understanding. His website is edwardcurtin.com


  1. Edwige says

    “I am not referring to the conspiracy theories of George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump and other such luminaries concerning events such as the attack of September 11, 2011, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the ongoing war on terror, Julian Assange’s alleged ties to Russia, etc”

    Add the climate strike movement being the handiwork of Vladimir Putin to the “etc” if you’re Angela Merkel:

    “In Germany children are now protesting for climate protection, which is important, but that all children suddenly think of climate change without foreign interference is difficult to imagine… Europe has enemies and Russia’s hybrid digital warfare can be felt daily across European countries,”

  2. Antonym says

    One big conspiracy theory is being propagated by all MSM today: climate change.

    As if climates never changed before – the hockey stick with the straight shaft. No Little Ice age, no Medieval or Roman warming periods, not even Ice ages or interglacials. Deny them at your own peril.
    Ignoring the biggest greenhouse gas H2O and ignoring the biggest cold reservoir – the oceans – for a long time. Don’t be a sceptical scientist; follow the con census; didn’t all great discoverers (like Newton) do that?
    The culprit has been singled out: the trace gas CO2 (the same which you breath out), from those rich but bad oil MNCs, the villains (not use driving cars etc!). They have loads of cash and are therefore a perfect club to extort. Politicians rejoice!
    Who cares that dozens of other factors went up in parallel with temperate since 1800 as? they are not rich sources to be mine-d. Who cares that man made CO2 is only 3.7% compared to 96.3% natural CO2 output to the atmo? (Figure 7.3, IPCC AR4). 97% of people only read headlines.

    • Fair dinkum says

      Lots of (not so) pretty pictures from NASA (those nasty Socialists) confirming the looming catastrophe>>https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4168
      Yearly average temperatures also increasing worldwide.

      • Antonym says

        West Antarctica is a mini part sticking out in the oceans: the con census is not interested in huge (continental) Antarctic ice as they only sift for confirming data.

    • crank says

      More strraw men than a scarecrow factory in that comment.

      • Antonym says

        Argument free reaction. Boilerplate emotions.

        • crank says

          Argument free reaction. Boilerplate emotions.
          Really terrible of me, shocking, I know. But I don’t want to feed your need for ‘an argument’.

          One thing though. The theory of Anthropogenic Climate Change is not a conspiracy theory – it doesn’t presuppose a conspiracy anywhere. It is a theory about the climatic system of the planet and how that is affected by carbon gases in the atmosphere (amongst other things), and these are regarded in light of a mechanistic model with no elements conspiring to cause changes claimed – e.g. to the frequency of extreme or unseasonal weather patterns.
          You could argue that the theory of AGW is a giant conspiracy of deception, i.e.. you could argue that there is a conspiracy to promote AGW beyond its described ‘consensus’. But that would be you putting forward a conspiracy theory, not the climate scientists who spend their lives researching temperature gradients or forest fire records etc.
          There is a conspiracy theory which points to evidence that some of the early scientific research around AGW was conducted by fossil fuel companies trying to defefnd their interests, and which was buried by them when they started to employ disinsformation operatives to seed doubt in the public consciousness around the issue. Likewise, you could argue that there is a conspiracy theory that claims that the MSM is deliberately downplaying the urgency of the messages coming from scientific institutions and nobel laureates etc. on the matter of climate change- because the MSM are compromised as part of a system that depends on the fossil fuel economy.
          But these are a separate arguments.

          • Antonym says

            Led by the IPCC (a club of scientists AND bureaucrats) anything not supporting man made CO2 causing warming was neglected or completely ignored. The goal was defined before hand. Cherry picking, post-ante screening, home made statistics, hiding raw data, anything was allowed by a cabal of gate keepers: pear shaped – review, not Science. A new Religion to attract funding, careers and limelight build around CO2. Guilt is a also fertile ground in the West for using fossil fuels – sinners!
            Warming after a Little Ice Age is not surprising and better for Humanity than cooling into a big one. Exaggerated graphs with straight up ward or even bend up lines became the visuals for Fake science. Climate doesn’t do straight lines.

            Meanwhile (air) pollution was vastly neglected (Volkswagen / diesels) , a real Green issue.

        • different frank says

          You’d know.
          You seem to be the expert on that.

    • Makropulos says

      Your “argument” seems to boil down to this:

      1. There has always been climate change anyway (notwithstanding the fact that different changes have been wrought by different causes).

      2. Talk of climate change only aims to attack the rich. (I feel there is an argument about the resentful unworthy poor hovering the background.)

      3. Other things (unspecified) have gone up too.

      4. CO2 output by humans is small compared to CO2 output from elsewhere. And as we all know small changes can never effect anything. (?)

      Seems to me you’ve given nothing but “headlines”.

    • Makropulos says

      Seems to me your “argument” boils down to the following:

      1. Change has been happening all the time (notwithstanding the fact that different changes have different causes).

      2. Talk of climate change only aims to attack the rich. (I feel there is an argument about the resentful unworthy poor hovering in the background.)

      3. Other things (unspecified) have gone up too.

      4. CO2 produced by humans is small compared to CO2 produced by other things. And as we all know small changes cannot affect anything. (?)

      Seems to me you have offered nothing but “headlines”.

      • Antonym says

        The Climate Change industry thrives on government subsidies and big donations of gullible and guilt-ridden rich (like some Rockefellers).
        The poor in the West can’t afford fossil fuel free transport or heating and the poor in the East and South would never get interrupted electricity (if any) if the CO2 warriors get their ways.

        Any super rich don’t care about transport or electricity costs as it is a neglectable part of their income. Yes, you got me wrong (quelle surpise).

        • BigB says


          Forget AGW: entropy is a much bigger threat …one that precludes CAGW (unless it is already past the resilience of planetary sinks to cope with – which no one knows).

          But it also precludes the continuance of capitalistic modernity. Which some people seem to think is a bad thing. The poor in the West can’t afford fossil fuel free transport because of maximum inequality in distribution of burnable carbon. So how about, as I proposed to you months ago – advocating carbon redistribution? Growth is entropically and bio-physically delimited: so outputs need to be equitably distributed globally toward an inclusive egalitarian paradigm.

          It will never catch on? No, but it is not purely because of the rich. The average trailer park resident; a redneck among the everglades of Florida, is among the global super rich – in terms of carbon and resource consumption. No one wants to address what is going to happen when the sustainer of such inequality – cheap burnable carbon – starts to become relatively more expensive. As it already is.

          So you shrugged off the AGW conspiracy. What about the entropy conspiracy? We need to transition from carbon fuels for the gross inequality, dehumanisation, hyper-exploitation, wars and death it has created and sustained; as well as its accelerating factor toward entropic and bio-systemic collapse. What we can’t do is carry on. AGW and entropy combined ensure only greater death and wars can crown capitalistic modernity.

          So, if your arguments against AGW entail any sort of defence of the current carbon immiseration cycle – capitalistic modernity – forget it. If so, was entropy a conspiracy by physicists to preclude techno-utopian advance? Perhaps this current inequality can go on forever without causing a psychological or metabolic rift. Whether that is ethically justifiable or even desirable is a strongly contestable point. And AGW and entropy render the argument null and void. There is no real world dialogue as to IF we need to change. The dialogue needs to address HOW we are going to change. AGW becomes a distraction. Entropy is the factor we need to focus on.

        • Makropulos says

          So let me get this straight. The “Climate Change industry” and “the CO2 warriors” are some kind of parasitical gangsters who have hoodwinked all those scientists (or perhaps secretly employ them) to falsify a doomsday scenario to sponge off the “gullible and guilt-ridden” rich (who seemingly have the poor’s interests at heart)?

  3. Fair dinkum says

    And then there’s the shit that rains down on us from those at the top of the pyramid.
    Is that gravity or what?

  4. Ramdan says

    Oh…I knew there was something fishy with Newton and the apple, now I totally get it!!.
    Thank you to put everything in perspective for me!.

  5. Hugh O'Neill says

    The court room photo is particularly apt since that is where learned counsels offer differing theories of how criminals conspire i.e. theorising about who planned what with whom and why is the daily bread and butter of all detectives, defence and prosecution lawyers, judges and juries. Perhaps then, anyone in the dock can get off by accusing the prosecution as a conspiracy theorist. Release the prisoner.

  6. Makropulos says

    The obverse of the undoubtedly brilliant Prof. Karen Douglas’s observation is that people subscribing to the view that nobody anywhere ever conspires in any way whatsoever are more inclined towards a state of beatific serenity radiating love and goodwill to all through their complete denial of all causality and group motivation. Floating on a cloud above the mundane illusory delusions that politicians actually do anything, these saintly non-conspiratorially minded beings are fast approaching that state of ultimate perfection where all thought will blissfully cease to exist. At which point those happy entities will function as they should i.e. as compulsive consumers of drugs, beer, soaps, tabloids and porn.

  7. crank says

    The end of the Russiagate is almost satisfying, not just because those who have faced endless flak for asking basic questions and following basic logic have been shown to be finally conclusively right, but also because so many of it’s most staunch advocates were also often the very same supercillious liberal twats who have strut so arrogantly in their a priori denunciations of jfk scepticism and 9/11 scepticism as ‘conspiracy theory’.
    Their bogus reasoning for rejecting any questioning of such matters just packed up and left town for the snowy hills of Hawaii.

    I’m off for a spree of shoplifting to celebrate.

  8. flaxgirl says

    Hilarious read on my Monday morning commute to work!

  9. Mandrau says

    Thank you Mr. Curtin for the belly laugh on this Sunday afternoon where catching up on recent conspiracy posts had me thinking what’s ‘up’ with this shit. Thanks for setting me straight.

    • Ken Kenn says

      The ‘experts’ are right.

      When the Twin Towers fell and Building 7 collapsed without assistance by aircraft I was initially suspicious.

      Having read a bit about Newton I got a bit more suspicious.

      Here was this other ‘expert’ ( Newton ) telling me that buildings don’t fall down like that and the ‘ Whackjobs ‘ were the conspiracy Deniers.

      After this study I stand corrected and the three experts had best not stand near me in any queue as I’ll have their wallets quicker than you could say ‘ Inside Job!’

      I’m reasonably sure Newton got involved in the Tulip Bulb Ponzi Scheme – so he wasn’t all that after all.

      The liar.

      All hail the government sponsored Truthers.

      If these people are not lauded then it will lead to a life of crime.

      Maybe it’s the reason a lot of black people are incarcerated in US prisons?

      They must all be full on Conspiracy Theorists.

      I’m sure Jordan would love this angle as it saves explaining choices made when you are poverty stricken.

  10. Loverat says

    Great article Edward. I honestly am in awe of folk who can think up such sh*t.

    Nowadays I watch so little TV except the Drama Channel which has alot of UK dramas from around 10 years back.. But that courtroom scene at the top made me think of my favourite courtroom judge – not Judge Judy or Judge Rinder. But Judge Deed – that programme really has sussed out the way the establishment works down to the finest detail. Anyone else seen it and agree?

    And in the UK had you been nabbed in the Co-op by ‘the filth’ (UK equivalent to the ‘cops’ in USA) for nicking fruit, Judge Deed after the usual attempts by the establishment to find you guilty, would have found you not guilty.

    Nowadays, Judge Deed is the world in which I live in. It sounds mad but its the nearest I can find to reality and justice.

    • eagle eye says

      There is a book by an Aussie Journo (deceased) Evan Whitton, “Our corrupt legal system” that lovers of John Deed will find interesting, or more likely fascinating. It could have been the inspiration of some of the plots.

      Online, free, here:http://netk.net.au/Whitton/OCLS.pdf

  11. Remember the days when you would have got co-op stamps on all purchases.
    The manager of our local store would offer youngsters caught pinching sweets a choice: a phone call to local police station or spending an hour or so licking stamps.

  12. BigB says

    As I was saying: the oil from the Iraq war probably ended up on a forecourt near you and me. Not even the dried fruit or sugar is innocent:

    “I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

    It is not all down to the bad guys: the elite criminals. The big-time criminals do it because they can make a profit from us. They get away with it if we turn an enabling blind eye to a projected, dissociative ‘their’ crimes. We are not blameless and innocent: there is no ‘them’ and ‘us’ dichotomy. Everything we do comes at a cost: and that cost, be it planetary environmentally, or someone else’s life, has to be figured in to the equation. No one is fully to blame, but no one is wholly innocent either.

    So, what of the petty criminals who conspire to invade countries, kill millions, and blame it on others? For phones and fruit and a techno-lifestyle afforded by ‘free’ oil. Nothing is free. We need to figure in the true cost of our lifestyle choices entail. Smedley Butler had the honesty to admit he was a gangster for capitalism. What are we if we live off capitalisms spoils?

    It ends when we make less blind, and more informed choices about how we want to live. If we choose techno-industrial carbon capitalism: it goes on until we all die. Or at least, that is what we willingly risk. We are all in this together. There is no one else to blame. Our fate is ours alone to decide.

  13. gullible people are definitely more law abiding than conspiracy theorists. thats for sure.

  14. SharonM says

    Try-before-buy at a co-op, it’s no big deal. But try-before-buy at a corporate grocery store, then it’s a “crime”;)
    Conspiracies are the trademark of the U.S. regime and its corporate media extensions. There needs to be a pushback against the pejorative use of the terms; conspiracy, conspiracy theory, and conspiracy theorist. Like people not shying away. People saying, “yes, I’m definitely a conspiracy theorist”. It’s an opening for us to explain government conspiracies that murder millions of innocent people and animals. We’re propaganda analysts, critical thinkers, and conspiracy theorists:)

    • wardropper says

      Theory has nothing to do with it.
      Someone recently described themselves as a conspiracy researcher.
      I consider that an accurate description of what most of us here are.

  15. Helmut Taylor says

    Ya got me there, Ed…I commit similar indiscretions I must admit – juss larke George done!


Comments are closed.