Don’t Confuse Me With Facts

“I don’t watch The Agenda, OK?”theagenda

Said Urban Sophisticat, sitting across the desk from me, answering a question no one asked.

“It’s like it works really hard not to be watched by too many people.”

I had no opinion one way or the other about The Agenda, and still wasn’t sure why we were talking about it.

“I don’t even know what the agenda is.”

Said Acaphlegmic, sitting beside Urban Sophisticat, eating from a newspaper cup of fish and chips.

“But I will watch the odd segment when a link catches my attention on Facebook,” Urban Sophisticat continued.

Again, nobody had asked and as far as I could tell nobody cared.

“So yesterday, fishandchipsI scroll past this link, Agenda 21. I’m thinking, I don’t know, some anniversary show or something.”

“And you wanted to watch the anniversary celebrations of a show you seldom watch?”

“I mean, who doesn’t want to see Steve Paikin in one of those birthday hats, blowing out candles on a cake?”

How do you respond to that? Who indeed. Urban Sophisticat’s enthusiasm even drew Acaphlegmic’s attention from his food.

“The point is, Agenda 21 had nothing to do with The Agenda. Do you know what Agenda 21 is?” Urban Sophisticat asked me.

I didn’t. Apparently, this is Agenda 21. And here’s what it’s morphed into.


Well there’s 10 minutes of my life I won’t be getting back. But wait, there’s more.

“Glenn Beck’s even aboard the crazy band wagon.”

“Come on! Cut it out!! Why are you showing me this shit?!”

“We’re just awash in conspiracy theories,” Urban Sophisticat tells me as if it’s some sort of news. “How can we properly govern ourselves if half the population believes in wild-eyed nuttery most of the time? One world rule. Public transit as an assault on our personal freedom. The density gulags. They’re not even trying to look sane anymore.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. These are dark days indeed for those peering too long into the chasm of unreason, driven in part by partisan tribalism. tinfoilhatOur confirmation bias is strong and deep, grasshopper.

Acaphelgmic balled up his dinner newspaper and tossed it onto my desk and leaned back in his chair, poised to put in his two cents worth. No. It’d be worth more than that. He’d been hard at work recently on his non-fiction opus, Confession of a Former Conspiracy Theorist, after having spent much of his adult life running in those circles. ‘Undercover investigative work’, he claimed of his time wearing a tinfoil hat.

“The French New Wavers and David Lynch aside,” he began, “people need a coherent narrative. Especially in times of big change. Change is scary. Who knows what it might bring? People are much more leery of losing something than they are excited about gaining something.”

“Fine. But—“

Urban Sophisticat was stopped by Acaphlegmic’s raised hand. He wasn’t finished speaking yet.

“Any story, no matter how out there, with a clear arc of a beginning, middle and end is preferred to something filled with false starts, a lot of ifs and no certain ending. mannixWho doesn’t watch the Streets of San Francisco or Mannix and not know who the killer is by the first commercial?”

He leaned back in his chair, his views thusly expressed.

Urban Sophisticat slumped down into his chair, clearly not satisfied with the answer, and I couldn’t blame him. It’s all well and good to try and explain those inclined to believing conspiracy theories but it doesn’t really help trying to figure out how to contend them and still keep our democracy functioning. Our city right now is swirling in them. A media conspiracy. A conspiracy of social elites. A downtown conspiring to overturn the democratic will of the suburbs.

“I blame it on social media and the internet,” says Urban Sophisticat. “It’s allowed the crazies out of their cages.”conspiracy1

He’s not helping matters.

At which point, Acaphlegmic begins to laugh. A big, disturbing belly laugh. Disturbing enough that I start to worry that he’s choking on a piece of his dinner.

But no. He gains control of himself and lets us in on the joke.

“The places of worship I’ve been thrown out of, saying that organized religion is the original, daddy of `em all conspiracy theory. I can’t tell you.”

OK. So he’s going to be of no help to sorting through this political and social conundrum.

“I’m mean, think about it! Some guy, up in the sky, bepatientall knowing, all seeing, controlling every aspect of our lives. How crazy is that?”

As he flew off into another grating crescendo of laughter, we knew there’d be no more making sense of Acaphlegmic today. He came. He ate. He opined. He found himself funny.

We have to hope that over the course of time at least some of those embracing wild ideas and theories, will return to their senses. Let’s call it a temporary craziness. Maybe if we construct compelling and easy to follow narratives ourselves, it will draw enough people back into the fold so that we can start having a more rational conversation again. Get back to actual facts and figures instead of wild conjecture and empty chanting.

sunnily submitted by Cityslikr