Dear Dr. Boli: Why do I hear so many crackpot conspiracy theories lately? —Sincerely, Arethusa Rathermore, Bilderberg, Netherlands.

Dear Madam: Dr. Boli believes that the profusion of conspiracy theories is actually the result of a vast conspiracy by the governing powers to conceal their own incompetence. Consider it for a moment: suppose—merely for the sake of argument—that the world is run by lazy feckless unqualified clock-watchers who want nothing more than to collect the largest paycheck for the least work. If that were so, then we, the ordinary people who hold the real power, could simply vote them out, or overthrow them if they refused to go (for we outnumber them by a fair margin), and hire competent professionals to do their jobs.

But suppose—again merely for the sake of argument—that we, the people, who hold the real power in our hands, could be made to believe that the world was actually run by an ancient and sinister cabal of such ruthless and efficient power that nothing can stop it, and that the seemingly random events which a judicious observer would put down to the incompetence of our governments were actually cogs in the great machinery of the worldwide conspiracy. Why, then, believing we could do nothing, we would indeed do nothing, but rather fall into despair and apathy, leaving the lazy feckless incompetents to watch their clocks and collect their paychecks in peace.

We can see the benefit to the rulers of instilling such a belief in the ruled—a benefit so great that they might indeed be persuaded to rouse themselves to the fifteen minutes or so of effort it would take to post an anonymous rant on a conspiracy-theory bulletin board every once in a while. When looking at conspiracy theories, we should always ask the important question, Cui bono? (which is Latin for “Who gets the gravy?”). Dr. Boli believes he has found the most satisfactory answer to that question.