The first rule when concocting a conspiracy theory is not to make any claims that can be proved not to be true. It won't do, for example, to assert that John Kennedy was shot by Jackie Kennedy, because it's clear from the film footage of the assassination that he wasn't. Of course, you could make a case for that footage being faked, but how then would you account for eyewitness reports? Best not to go there. A decent conspiracy theory is made up of hard facts; the invention lies in drawing the connections. For example: Diana, Princess of Wales and campaigner against landmines, died in mysterious circumstances in Paris in August 1997; in July 1998, Brazil's star striker, Ronaldo, fell mysteriously ill the night before the World Cup final at the Stade de France in Paris, a match in which France defeated Brazil 3-0; on the same day, David Ginola, retired French footballer and sometime L'Oréal model, became the new face of the anti-landmine movement. So far, so unconnected. But now let's posit the existence of a mysterious secret organisation working tirelessly and ruthlessly to improve the fortunes of French footballers, an organisation so shadowy that not even the players themselves know of its activities or existence.
LRB 20 October 2005 | PDF Download