THE DEVIL’S LAMENT

They say the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist. Not so. In fact his greatest frustration is that he can’t convince the world he does.

I have a recently retired colleague for whom there isn’t a conspiracy theory – 9/11, Covid 19, you name it – that isn’t just an obvious fact. So I asked him, “What do you think it would take for the rest of the world to accept the truth?” To which he answered, “If one of the conspirators confessed.” And so I did. “I was the second gunman on the grassy knoll.”

He doesn’t believe me. No one does. So what’s wrong with a conspiracy theory is not that it can’t be falsified. It’s that even when it’s true, a full confession can’t count as evidence that it is.

Or worse, that a full confession will count as evidence that it’s true when it’s not. For example, just to see if the Dean actually reads these things, I wrote in my last year’s Professional Activities Report (PAR) that I’d just been commissioned to update the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. His response? Nothin’. But now I’m worried that a thousand years from now some anthropologist will stumble on my PAR in a filing cabinet somewhere and conclude that “the Protocols of the Elders of Zion must have been real. Now whodathunkit?!”

It used to be that fucking with the truth was serious business. Now it’s just innocent fun. If this is the Devil’s doing, maybe John Milton had him right. He’s not so much evil as just a prankster.

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