BY Angelo Fernando

I’ve always wondered who invents conspiracy theories. Most people I meet – with a few exceptions from Facebook, of course – aren’t loonies. So I’m beginning to suspect there must be a secret network out there. Perhaps a sweatshop of disgruntled comedy sketch writers, retired copywriters and tabloid journalists who hang out on weekends.

But do these storytellers really fill our bizarre need for entertainment?

Like the aunty next door who whispers salacious stories about the tuk-tuk driver who sports a Bob Marley T-shirt perhaps?

Some conspiracy theories of the ‘Elvis-is-alive’ variety are so delightful that we ought to simply leave them alone. One which you may not have heard involves the Beatles, which goes like this: ‘They never existed!’

But that’s not the most preposterous part…

The theory is substantiated by (and I kid you not) ‘research’ into the anatomy of the fab four – the visible parts, at least. Someone meticulously documented the different shapes of the Liverpool lads’ earlobes and teeth.

I’m willing to admit that John, Paul, George and Ringo could have been easily swapped by a cover band with good lip-syncing skills and wigs. Or even by the Gypsies as long as they didn’t attempt to sing Eleanor Rigby to the tune of Uncle Johnson.

But let’s not go down that rabbit hole. The point is conspiracy theories prove that the world still has a sense of humour. Rather than be annoyed at the onslaught, we could simply grin and bear it!

Having said that, it really ticked me off when I discovered from a ‘reliable source’ (also known as the internet) that the moon landing never took place. The theory is that the take-off and landing were faked by the US merely to stick it to the Soviet Union, which was killing the Americans in the space race.

Stanley Kubrick has been unfortunately implicated in this bizarre theory; but at the time of writing this column, he didn’t respond to a request for an interview – because he is dead!

Ever since such conspiracy theories flooded my inbox, I’ve taken them as seriously as the case of Barack Obama’s birth certificate and to be as reliable as news on Facebook – which, in case you haven’t heard, is itself bathed in conspiracy theories about being a front for a spy agency. Julian Assange, who evidently has plenty of free time in London, certainly stays off Facebook, which he calls a ‘spy machine.’

Some theories are too radioactive to even question. Like the one about the lost Malaysia Airlines aircraft that was supposedly diverted to a secret Indian Ocean base. They fall under the banner of ‘false flag operations’ – meaning that if you click on these stories, you risk seeing black helicopters landing on your front lawn.

Now whatever you do while reading this, don’t google ‘black helicopters.’ And yes, there’s a conspiracy theory about this too, which is even more frightening than the bogey man although I will not go into that since impressionable young children (besides my mother) read this column.

And then there’s the Illuminati. Word on the street (and by ‘street’ I refer to questions I’m asked by students who also believe that pop icons like Beyoncé are secret Illuminati operatives) is that they are everywhere.

For the uninitiated, the Illuminati was a secret society begun around 1776 by a Bavarian fellow who was hell-bent on creating a ‘new world order.’ Its members are said to be prominent businessmen, politicians and pop culture figures who supposedly use cryptic symbols. And its plan is to control everyone and take over the world with the help of the IMF, NATO and Beyoncé’s backup singers wearing next to nothing.

What places it squarely in ‘wing-nut’ conspiracy territory are suggestions – well, theories – that the Illuminati probably had a hand in the French Revolution and even JFK’s assassination. Give it a few months and it may also be held responsible for Trump-ism.

For ‘evidence,’ believers point to an Illuminati symbol hidden in plain sight on the back of the US Dollar bill. If you want to creep someone out, fish out a dollar bill and point to the triangular eye hovering over a pyramid. Does the ‘all-seeing eye’ portend we’re being watched? Placed exactly on the reverse is the seal of the Department of Treasury, which carries the date 1789.

Put on your conspiracy hat and think hard about it: that’s 13 years since the creation of the Bavarian Illuminati. Is that why the pyramid below has 13 layers? Are you terrified? Do you still have a sense of humour left? Is the aunty next door watching?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to step outside and check why there’s a black helicopter hovering above our murunga tree….