Opinion Forum

Believing the unbelievable

When I was in high school, one of our small group of boys in the class explained to the rest of us that an inventor had come up with a device that would allow you to run your car on water instead of gas. But the oil companies had obtained the rights to this miracle item and had made sure it would never go on the market and ruin their sales of petroleum products. We angrily denounced these greedy oil men to each other. I’m not sure how much of the story we actually believed, but it was entertaining to accept it as truth.

There must be something in our genes that makes us crave the unexpected, the unlikely, the nigh-unbelievable. Robert L. Ripley became fabulously rich and famous by feeding the public, via cartoons, comic strips, books, newspaper articles and movie shorts, thousands of stories or pictures of oddities that were difficult to believe. Hence the title he used, “Believe It Or Not.” He traveled the world collecting this stuff. Some of it was startling, some of it was sickening, and some of it, according to critics, was based on debatable facts. But who’s quibbling over truth or fiction? We were willing to believe and be entertained.

Currently, it appears that a large number of our citizens are absolutely convinced of two significant fantasies. This wouldn’t matter except that these particular bits of shiny foil don’t just attract, they undermine fundamental foundations of our government and our country. One of these is the “Deep State,” supposedly a sizable group of political professionals scattered throughout the government, determined to undermine the administration’s efforts to achieve its goals, the goals for which it was elected. Does this sound sensible to you, in a country that leaks like a sieve, where secrets have a shelf life of six months? Me neither. But if you are addicted to conspiracy theories, I can see where this one would be attractive. An administration that controls all the major elements of government is stymied by those sinister civil servants who manage to communicate and undercut everything, known only to the true believers who have figured this out.

The other dazzler is QAnon. Q may be one person or many, but he or they know things none of the rest of us can figure out. Q sees behind what the rest of us consider obvious, posting information that enlightens us as to the President’s real operations behind the curtain. According to Q, for example, Robert Mueller is not really investigating Russian interference in our elections and possible collusion with foreign elements by some in the government. No, Q tells us, Mueller is actually functioning at the direction of the President, and his real mission is to collect all the evidence that can convict Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who are, according to Q, in bed with Vladimir Putin. There are various other accusations by Q, who claims to have a Top Secret clearance and access to all the dirt that, for some reason, escapes the thousands of others in the government who also have Top Secret clearances.

I realize this sounds like something I’m making up as I type, but it isn’t, and I’m only scratching the surface. If you think this stuff would only be believed by children, just watch the next rally that’s shown on the news and see how many Q T-shirts are sported by what appear to be adults. The number of believers, according to news reports, is growing rapidly.

Well, I could go on about this for a long time, but I won’t. I need to go do some research to see if I can find an automotive gadget that I hear has been invented. I want to get one so I can start running my car on water instead of gasoline.