ArtView January 2016 - Page 61

triumphant... Here’s something to consider, would you trust any reputable industry that has a failure rate of 95%? Would you buy a TV, or a car or bicycle or a bed that has a failure rate of 95%? No. But the diet industry fails 95% of the time. Do think it’s something like giving power to the person? So they feel empowered, like taking control so they’re more willing to try and believe something if they can do something about it? That’s part of it, it’s really complex. All of these conspiracy theories have been around for at least two and a half thousand years. Probably the most famous one is the Great Fire of Rome. You’ve probably heard the story of how Nero fiddled while Rome was burning. What happened was they were having one of their festivals and they had this huge stadium that would take half a million people, bigger than the Colosseum, the Circus Maximus. They were gearing up for the festival and Nero himself was out of town at his home, he was going to come back when the festival started. They had all these street people walking around, selling food, then the fire started and Rome burned for six days. As soon as the fire started, he (Nero) came back to Rome and started organising firefighting, he started organising food and shelter for the people. But he had his enemies. I mean, he certainly wasn’t the best, kindest, most compassionate person on Earth. All these rumours started about him and then made their way into the literature, so now everybody today, two thousand years later, has an image of Nero playing a musical instrument while Rome burns. Even though that never happened. That was one of the very first mistruths and conspiracy theories. And that goes all the way down the line, there’s a study of ‘letters to the editor’ in the New York Times and a lot of them are about conspiracy theories. I guess with the internet, nowadays, it’s easier to come across these stories and facts than before? Yeah, if you go looking, you can find like-minded people, but to regard them as crazy is simplistic, because in many other ways, people can be perfectly rational about their beliefs and sometimes irrational. Go figure.