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Jul 2 2015 10:00am

Conspiracies Allure Because I’m a Liar (and So Are You)

Call me naïve, but I believe humans have been to the moon. I know several intelligent people who do not believe humans have been to the moon and, while I believe they are mistaken, I do not think them crazy.

Because I know this: consensus reality is not capital-R, Reality.

Or, as Napoleon Bonaparte is credited with saying, “History is a set of lies agreed upon.” (I owe thanks to Mr. Vickers, my high school history teacher, for posting that quote on the classroom wall and incorporating it into his lectures.)

We are a story-telling species, and we shape our past into a set of manageable narratives. But we are liars. In our agreed-upon lies, we so often reduce humans to white hats and black hats, as if we were fallen angels instead of risen apes. And more often than not, we edit these stories to paint ourselves in a favorable light, to give ourselves the white hat.

This is the biggest conspiracy of all, this quirk of human nature, because, as Sir Winston Churchill definitely said, “History is written by the victors.” You’d have to be blind to deny the truth of Churchill’s statement. The stories told by the powerful shape our consensus reality far more profoundly than do the stories told by the defeated. And every day, that imbalance comes into play as we invent tomorrow’s history.

[This is getting deep, bear with me...]