Conspiracy: Seeking reason in the midst of chaos
As the co-authors of three adventure/espionage novels with the word “conspiracy” in their titles, Wonder Wife and I have done considerable research into why so many people are willing to believe that what might be merely a random event is the result of two or more people “conspiring” to make the event happen.
When the circumstances surrounding some horrific event such as, say, the assassination of a president, are not explained satisfactorily, the inevitable result is the launching of countless conspiracy theories. The underlying psychological reason for the popularity of “conspiracy” as the “reason” behind certain human events is that a conspiracy is a more comforting explanation than the horrific thought that the world is totally out-of-control. While the event might be the result of evil minds, the work of evil minds is, for some, a more comforting explanation than being confronted by a world that is inexplicably chaotic.
The current controversy over who should be the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos is a case in point. Using apples-to-apples statistics from the Bronco’s four wins and 12 losses in the 2010 NFL season we find that rookie quarterback Tim Tebow’s passing statistics were almost as good as that of the then six-year veteran QB Kyle Orton. In 2010, the Bronco’s scored 13 rushing touchdowns. Tebow scored six of them (46%). Orton scored no rushing touchdowns while losing four fumbles. Tebow lost zero fumbles.
For moving the Broncos very well between the 20-yard-lines, Orton’s passing deserves a lot of praise. Inside the Red Zone, however, the defense knows Orton is unlikely to run. So, they play pure pass defense, causing the Broncos to often come away scoreless. By contrast, Tim Tebow forces the defense to defend against both the run and the pass. Plus there is that intangible quality which is Tebow’s ability to fire up the offense line with his virtually demonic desire to get himself or a teammate across the goal line.
This year, with Tebow sitting mostly on the bench, the Bronco’s record is a dismal one win and four losses. The Bronco’s new coach explains that the benching of Tebow is based on the coach’s conception of the Broncos as a passing team. Despite the previous season’s passing statistics, the coach says that Tebow is only a running quarterback.
Some, but not all, fans see a disconnect between last season’s statistics and what the coach is saying. When that happens, it is human nature to find some form of rationality where none seems to exist. That search often finds a home in conspiracy theory. In this case, pointing in the minds of some, to Pro Football Hall of Famer, John Elway, the Broncos new executive vice-president of football operations. For sure, as long as Tim Tebow sits on the bench or only gets to play behind the second- or third-string offensive lines, he is no threat to the Elway legacy.
Folks, I don’t make this stuff up. Denver talk radio is chock-a-talk with conspiracy theories as to why last year was the Bronco’s worst year ever and why the Broncos continue in the cellar of the NFL. Last week, with the game versus San Diego essentially lost, the coach had no logical alternative. So, he put Tebow in the game. And, as Tebow fans predicted, the Broncos came back from the dead. Tebow pulled the Broncos within five points of San Diego when time ran out. Tebow’s QB rating was 101.7. If Tim Tebow becomes the Broncos starting quarterback, conspiracy theorist will have to find something else to talk about.
Our current novel-in-progress, which is about the JFK assassination, includes the word “conspiracy” in the title. While it may well be that Lee Harvey Oswald was merely a lone, communist psychopath seeking attention and that Jack Ruby shot Oswald thinking Jack Ruby would be acclaimed a hero; enough remains unexplained to provide the grist for an endless string of conspiracy novels.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
©2011. William Hamilton.