“Would they wrongly accuse him? I remembered the story of Rabbi Akiba, whose body had been tortured with iron spikes until death. Would I suffer the same fate? Had we returned to the time of Chmielnicki or of the destruction of the Temple? I wished to suddenly have wings and to be able to fly out the window, or to become as strong as Samson and strike these Philistines with the jawbone of an ass—or else to have a hat that would make me invisible.”
Conspiracy theories offer a way to resolve events that are mysterious, or are difficult to accept, by blaming an occult culprit. They often borrow the path of rational discourse, the causal chain, and may even do so fairly convincingly. At heart, however, they are driven by the assumption of malevolent intent at the root of a calamity, a crisis, an epidemic. They aim establish a guilty, distant and definitive cause. The latter two elements reveal the bias of the search for truth that underpins the hunt for conspiracy: culpability that is definitive and occult in origin, an immutable source of the world’s evils.