According to Robert Anton Wilson, the history of the world is the history of the warfare between secret societies.

Conspiracy theory is a notion that appeals to many among us, me not the least. The difference between being a total wacko and a reasonable thinker is the knowledge that no matter what we can find out about secret societies and world domination, no matter how many sources we read, from tattered tracts and mimeographed rants to reasoned tomes, no matter how many years spent searching the web, reading usenet, listening to cranks and undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenics on the corner, we can never know the whole truth.

Conspiracy theory is correct in its generalities. In the specifics, all of them fall apart at some point, some sooner, some later.

Ah, but it is the generalities! The concept that the world is ruled by mysterious forces, communicating in secret codes and riddles, manipulating our lives in ways we cannot perceive, shaping us, molding us into creatures beyond our ability to imagine, or downpressing us into orclike slaves, doing their bidding without complaint.

There is one clear and simple truth. Perhaps not the whole truth, perhaps only one of the truths. But at least part of one truth is, everyone has felt that touch. The conspirators are our parents.

Try to remember, or imagine what it was like. Here is a strange world, a world that does not make sense, populated by huge godlike figures that speak in secret tongues and have power over everything we do. Religion and conspiracy theory spring from the same roots.

This does not mean that conspiracy theorists are wrong, however. For the essence of all good conspiracy theory is conspirators, people who, for one reason or another, want to be the parents of the world. Interestingly, there are few (if any) benign conspiracy theories. Where are the whispered tales of the organization of powerful men that secretly makes the world a better place, that strive endlessly to help humanity, to free us all?

The reason is equally simple -- we only have knowledge of the conspiracies that fail. If you hear about them, they have failed in the first, most important criteria of a good secret society, Keeping It Secret.

Softlinked below is an incomplete selection of conspiracy-related material to be found at E2. Especially illuminating are Illuminatus!, hyper-uber-mega-/meta- conspiracy theory, Who profits from poverty?, and Principia Discordia. New theories spring up every day, because, well, they have to.

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