One of my favourite books of all time is Umberto Eco’s ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’, in which a group of bored book publishers create, for fun, ‘The Plan’, a made up concoction of occult ideas and theories, with just about enough coherence to make it plausable. Their problems begin when a group of esoteric nutters get wind of the plan and think that it is real. If you haven’t read it and have a penchant for deep thinking fiction, read it!
It reflects beautifully just how people can so easily get caught up in conspiracy theories. Most of the time, they rationalise facts and events to suit their theories; not that they could ever appreciate all the facts, but a judicious bit of cognitive bias and selective ignorance can go a long way to spin a yarn that just isn’t there.
In fact, this is the key to good filmmaking. Humans are wired to fill in the gaps. Shown two disparate images, the brain will try to rationalise it and find meaning. The problem is that it’s too easy to make two plus two equal twelvety.
Some of the time – most of the time – things just are; there is no rational force or reason for it. It makes for a dull story, though, so it’ll be a long time before our brains will let us learn that.0