The Believable Conspiracy

A Hidden Balance

Illustrator: Taylor Daniels

Illustrator: Taylor Daniels

The world is out to get you. Well, enough of it is at least. This basic fear fuels many of the most enjoyable conspiracy theories. But many of them seem too ridiculous. If a conspiracy relies on the most powerful people to be in on it (in a meritocracy at least), then it is hard to believe. If a conspiracy relies on everyone else to be in on it, then it is hard to believe. A good conspiracy finds the right balance between power and population. Here is the guide to assessing and creating conspiracies.

Too much power in a conspiracy creates a problem. Here, power means people in charge or in the limelight. If a conspiracy needs people who are in extremely powerful positions, then it needs very specific people. If it requires exactly these key positions of power to put complacency drugs in the water, the conspiracy is unlikely. The only way to make a conspiracy convincing with such specific people would require institutions to control who gets comes to power. However, power is often too fickle to so smoothly be controlled, and institutions face the population problem.

When too many people are involved in a conspiracy, it breaks down. An example of this would be a Truman Show scenario. The main reason being that working with others can be exponentially difficult, especially as the group size increases. Also, when groups become greater in number, so too do defectors. A massive group conspiracy is not sustainable.

Conspiracies often have too much power or too much population, but those are needed to give the conspiracy any substance. A group of a few people without power can achieve little compared to more people or more power. There needs to be a tradeoff.

To avoid getting sucked into conspiracies: the most important thing to remember is that the whole world is not out to get you, and the most powerful people are not out to get you. No, you are the target of a mid-sized group of mid-powerful people that will stop at nothing to –