ADAMCZYK: In praise of believing anything you want

Ed Adamczyk

I love a good conspiracy theory, and it is not hard to find several dozen.

Among my favorites is the notice of “666” attached to things, a reference to the “mark of the beast,” or of the devil or Antichrist. You need not read the Book of Revelations to be aware of its significance to those primed to believe it as an apocalyptic code. You do, however, have to believe in the spiritual authority of the New Testament.A belief in the existence of the devil helps.

You find the dreaded “666” if you look for it. There are three sixes hidden within the clapper and the lower part of the bell of the Taco Bell logo, for example, so I am told. Same for the logo of the Walt Disney Co., which is based on the signature of the company founder. The CERN Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland uses stylized protons as its emblem, depicted as circles with lines flying off as tangents, which to some people denotes a pile of three sixes.

The first Apple computer, which came mounted on a piece of wood, retailed for $666.66, a number the company said was easy to type with a single finger. The numbers on a roulette wheel add up to 666. The list goes on.

Presumably, some people regard these examples as evidence that the devil’s work is being done and that it takes a certain in-the-know to be aware of it. Others of us treat it as a find-the-clue parlor game, not unlike a drinking game I invented: watch the television program “Ancient Aliens” and take a sip every time the narrator employs equivocating language while explaining how extraterrestrials “may have” helped build Stonehenge or the Pyramids, “could have” a base of operations on the dark side of the moon or “might have been involved in” anything difficult to explain.

As a non-believer of a lot of things I find this stuff entertaining, but lately I am seeing it in places where rationality has traditionally been of some importance. I refer to the Democratic Party.

Because of poll numbers, which incidentally failed us in 2016, there is a growing belief that a change of occupancy will soon befall the White House. Biden will move in, Trump is fired. Led largely by observation of a president not prone to honor tradition and expected behavior, questions are arising if a transfer of power will be as by-the-numbers as prior changes.

News outlets like The Atlantic, the Washington Post, Politico and the British news website The Independent are actually batting this around. Assuming the current president loses the Electoral College in November, they theorize that he might refuse to leave office. He might declare the vote too close and thus invalid, triggering martial law. He might void the mail-in votes. His attorney general might seek an indictment of one thing or another against the Democratic Party candidate. He might do something actually within the law, like demand that the Supreme Court, which he conveniently loaded with conservatives, take up the matter.

Maybe none of that will occur, and the president may receive enough votes to stay in power, but it is why the Democrats are striving not only for a victory in November, but a massive one, a voters’ repudiation of the past four years. At least one news outlet has predicted that the president and the Senate Majority Leader will conspire on a “scorched earth” policy, deliberately ramming legislation through between Election Day and Inauguration Day that will make the next president’s job harder.

In a way I am pleased that the Democrats are as talented as Republicans in innuendo, false narratives and general predictions of chaos, in the way that the president recently implied that the presumptive Democratic candidate is opposed to the suburbs, and also windows. There was a time in American history that political campaigns were run this way. A remnant is the now obsolete recommendation by newspapers on for whom to vote: cities typically had more than one newspaper – some had dozens, in a variety of languages -- and published lies about candidates flowed like beer from a tap in the run-up to Election Day.

From the moment the president descended the Trump Tower golden staircase in 2015 to announce his candidacy and denounce immigrants – someone on his staff must have seen “Triumph of the Will,” the 1935 Nazi propaganda film in which you-know-who arrives from overhead by airplane to delirious crowds – things have been strange. Inquire among the 150,000 Americans dead from COVID-19 who won’t be voting this year. Ask the millions who were 14 when Hillary vs. Trump was contested, and are now eligible to vote.

It’s going to get stranger, and I don’t need the wishy-washy “maybes” of “Ancient Aliens” to conclude that.

Contact Ed Adamczyk at

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