Why We Embrace Conspiracy Theories

By Ben Shapiro

This week, convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was found unresponsive in his jail cell from an apparent hanging, the day after a court unsealed a cache of documents from a lawsuit against his alleged procurer, Ghislaine Maxwell. Those documents included affidavits from Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the plaintiff, that allege Epstein trafficked her to major figures including former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Prince Andrew of Britain and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Epstein had allegedly attempted suicide in late July, when he apparently tried to hang himself in his cell. He was removed from that cell and placed on suicide watch. Only 11 days before his successful suicide, he was removed from suicide watch.

The failures were systemic. According to the Associated Press, guards on Epstein’s unit were “working extreme overtime shifts to make up for staffing shortages.” Epstein’s jailers were supposed to check on him every 30 minutes but didn’t do so, according to The New York Times. Epstein was also supposed to be housed with another inmate so he wasn’t alone; that never happened.


Given the public scrutiny on Epstein — he was the most famous federal inmate in custody — it's no wonder that so many Americans are deeply suspicious of his suicide. Epstein had publicly associated with both President Donald Trump and ex-President Bill Clinton; Clinton had flown on Epstein's plane multiple times. Within hours, dueling hashtags #ClintonBodyCount and #TrumpBodyCount trended on Twitter. President Trump, seemingly bothered by the hashtag targeting him, even retweeted Terrence K. Williams: "Died of SUICIDE on 24/7 SUICIDE WATCH? Yeah right! How does that happen ... #JefferyEpstein had information on Bill Clinton & now he's dead ... I see #TrumpBodyCount trending but we know who did this! ... RT if you're not Surprised." Conversely, MSNBC's Joy Reid suggested that Attorney General William Barr, "Trump's consigliere ... whose prime directive is to protect Donald Trump no matter what," might be covering up Epstein's murder.

None of this is good for the country, obviously. But the question is why Americans seem so apt to believe conspiracy theories these days. Some of that certainly has to do with social media, where small pockets of fringe opinion can merge together to create larger pockets of fringe opinion.

Much of it has to do with generalized distrust of the media — distrust that is largely justified by media unwilling to question conspiracism from one side of the aisle. The same weekend Trump idiotically retweeted the Clinton-Epstein conspiracy theory, no less than three Democratic presidential candidates suggested that Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2015 while charging that officer, was actually murdered. Not a single reporter apparently bothered to ask why these candidates were ignoring the report of Barack Obama's Department of Justice, which found no evidence of murder.

More of it has to do with the human inability to accept widespread incompetence. Conspiracies are notoriously difficult to pull off. There are simply too many moving parts. Those who believe in conspiracy theories tend to attribute far more control to human beings than they generally have. Better to believe in conspiracies than to accept the difficult truth that those who are supposed to be able to handle their business often fail at it.

In political terms, though, conspiracism turns up the heat radically. That's because every failure becomes evidence of malevolence on the part of your opponent; every oddity becomes yet another data point in favor of the all-powerful evil of those with whom you disagree.

Better, then, to abide by Hanlon's razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." We live in a deeply stupid time. And here's the good news: Stupidity can be handled. Evil is another story.

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10 thoughts on “Why We Embrace Conspiracy Theories”

    1. There were too many coincidences in this case not to cause conspiracy theories. Too many reasons to silence this man as soon as possible and too many high profile politicians, movie stars and billionaires and even a prince to allow Epstein to go to trial. The man had a tremendous ego. He probably believed in his heart that he would be able to finagle or buy a short term, pay off the women and disappear into his island retreat for a few years and emerge a new man. No, I don’t believe he was a candidate for suicide. I do believe he was a candidate for murder.

  1. Sometimes it’s not a theory. That’s what happened.
    Plenty of criminal cases start as a theory. It’s a matter of being able to prove it. Another article said that video from near his cell is un-usable. You remember the saying? Once is happenstance. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an act of war. What are we up to on this one? Prisoner was moved out just before this happened – in the middle of the night. Really? Camera doesn’t work. Said he’d be seeing his lawyer on Sunday. List goes on and on. It could be he decided to check out in a prison cell designed to prevent suicides and managed to do it.

    Could be he really was murdered.

    1. there are two many coincidences in this story to make it believable. Could all of those things go wrong at one time by accident? Doubtful.

  2. Not My Problem – But it is OUR PROBLEM

    On a very SERIOUS note – there are 300,000+ children in the US as a part of an elaborate child sex trafficking/slave trade, and sadly nobody is talking about it. All the news is about the Illegal Aliens and their well-being, Gun Control etc., while we fail to protect our own children.

    Do you have young children or grandchildren?
    Who is protecting them? – Social Media, Schools, Church, and Courts – No, it is your personal responsibility.

    Not my kids – think again! Kids from the projects are ‘street’ smart, not so much from the suburbia. How many friends do the teenagers have, excluding Facebook? Are they looking for anyone to ‘understand’ them?

    *** Educate Yourself ***

    http://www.sharetogethernow.org – Film: ‘8 Days’

    • Children as young as 12 years – Lasting an average of 7 years – and after turning 18, they are considered prostitutes
    • ‘Customers’ are seldom charged, and if they are it is a misdemeanor
    • Most of the ‘Customers’ are well-to-do men – who have the disposable income to be able to pay for this
    • As with the drugs, as long as there is a demand, there will be a supply – today to order a child for sex is almost as easy as to order a pizza
    • Pimps make $200-300,000 a year in cash

    Wake Up America!

  3. And – he’s not dead
    Photos of the guy on the gurney next to photos of epstein show clearly that the ears and the nose do not match. Furthermore, the morning of the “death” – a person on reddit claimed (before any deaths were reported) that something was up with epstein. A gurney was brought to his room and he was removed. Then he was mysteriously brought back about half an hour later. The post was made hours before the supposed death/murder/suicide took place. The orderly was simply reporting something odd. Next thing you know, we have a supposed dead person -with face uncovered – being rolled out of the cell. Unheard of. So Bennnnnn – come on, man. You know that the CIA is the one who invented the term Conspiracy Theory to throw people off and diminish intelligent questioning of the official narrative. For a smart guy sometimes you’re not so smart.

  4. As for Conspiracy Theories we have just survived 2+ years of the Trump Inquisition which all turns out to be one gigantic Conspiracy of leaders of the Alphabet Agencies, FBI, DOJ, SOS, SNI and, of course, the obamba Regime, most probably including obamba, himself.

  5. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that anytime someone has dirt on the clintons that could finally put them away that person conveniently ends up dead

  6. Not a conspiracy yet always hidden: 27 flights to “The Island”. Overstated conspiracy: pawing a young lady while in high school that turns out to be a major flake and proven liar. Conspiracy: efforts put forth by Facebook and Google to steal votes during the 2016 elections that are estimated to be at a minimum 10 million. No Conspiracy: Russian intervention. Fake Conspiracy: Obstruction by Trump. Real Conspiracy: hiring British and EX-KGB operatives by Democrats to produce a fake report concerning Russion collusion with Trump, BTW this is real collusion. Conspiracy: Uranium 1 deal with the Clinton multi million dollar pay off. Conspiracy: The U.S. grant to Haiti by Secratary Clinton and the immediate approval to her brother for the first mining permit granted in over 50 years at half the usual premium.

  7. why do we believe in conspiracies. Really? Remember JFK. Once “theY” found out “they” could get away with murder all hell broke loose. Just look how this country has gone down hill ever since and how liberalism has advanced. Look at all of the problems. Need more proof? look at the crazed lunatics like tilab and omar and cortez and the other reprobates.

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