Cables, cuts and conspiracies

Paul Raven @ 04-02-2008

Illuminati-jacket Coincidences happen. Synchronicity is a function of the inherent human propensity for seeing patterns in an essentially random world.

Seriously, I got over the whole conspiracy theory thing years ago (and, funnily enough, it was reading The Illuminatus! Trilogy that inoculated me against it), but I’m still kind of fascinated by the process of conspiracy theories – the inevitability of how they appear wherever there is a chain of events and a vacuum of facts surrounding them. Where we can’t see causality, we create it – from whole cloth if necessary. [Image by Ford – or should that be Fnord?]

Point in case – undersea optical fibre internet cables being severed or malfunctioning in the Asia and Middle East regions. Four have gone down in a very compressed time-frame; the entirety of Iran has been without internet connectivity for a couple of days (and you can check the internet traffic report for the Asia region to see of that’s still the case).

So, what’s going on? Official story – shipping anchors and power failures. Obvious conspiracist conclusion – ZOMFG clandestine operations!!1! I think we can all agree that the latter is unlikely (though sadly all too easy to believe), and that the former seems too simple to be true – even if it actually is*.

Now, leaving aside the question of what’s actually happening (which no amount of internet debate is going to determine), let’s try to answer another question – are conspiracy theories an inevitability in complex societies where it’s impossible for everyone to know everything? Or will the increasingly connected nature of the world slowly shine a light into all the dark corners where these ambiguities hide?

[* So don’t call Occam’s Razor on me, I’m not claiming anything either way; just highlighting ambiguity for the sake of debate. Play nice.]


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