Regardless of the response of Justice Minister Ken Clarke to allegations surrounding the death of Dr. David Kelly, rumours of a conspiracy will still linger on.
We now have a new conspiracy meme about the circumstances surrounding Dr. Kelly and his seemingly untimely and not fully explained death.
We need to include references to the conspiracy meme in any news coverage.
A conspiracy meme is the most powerful form of word of mouth going. I call it a ‘Captain Scarlet meme’ because, like the children’s television character – it is indestructible.
If someone has the belief that Dr. Kelly’s death was not a suicide and refuses to believe the official verdict that he killed himself, no amount of information, views of experts is going to change their mind.
Someone who holds a conspiracy meme will respond to any new facts as: “Well they’re bound to say that aren’t they?”
This response provides the strongest firewall to any new material. It is a self-supporting and crucially self-replenishing belief; any new information merely makes the underlying belief that there is a conspiracy even stronger.
If only there was greater recognition and understanding of how memes work, we can then more adequately deal with conspiracy stories.
I am not saying there should never be investigations if someone feels there has been conspiracies or cover ups.
Rather, that the meme dimension, particularly the ‘Captain Scarlet meme’, needs to be taken into account in any news reporting or consideration of allegations of a conspiracy.
We had a ridiculous situation where more money was spent on the inquest into the circumstances surrounding the death of Princess Diana, than was raised by the Diana Memorial Fund-raising concert.
Did this inquest establish a ‘truth’? Do the Mohammed Al Fayed’s of the world now believe the verdict of such an investigation? Have rumours of conspiracy about Diana’s death disappeared?
Are we going down a similar path with Dr. David Kelly? Will any inquest bring back a much-loved husband and father?
I don’t want to appear as a conspiracy kill-joy. My favourite film of the year was ‘The Ghost’ which deliciously plotted a set of conspiracy theories surrounding a fictitious Prime Minister and circumstances around his decision to go to war in the Middle East.
If more facts need to be explored, so be it. But don’t expect to arrive at a definitive, universally-agreed truth about Dr. Kelly.
Let’s recognise conspiracy memes when we see them – and pass it on.