Scottish Power Studio Theatre
20th August, 12.00
Discussing his new book Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History David Aaronovitch was captivating from beginning to end. It perhaps should have come as no surprise that the audience was full of vehement conspiracy theorists wanting to get their oar in, and David did very well to hold his ground.
He is obviously an incredibly intelligent man and his encyclopaedic knowledge of all that is ‘conspiracy’ was very impressive. And yes, he ought to know a fair bit about it having written a book on it, but the way in which he was able to communicate great wads of information which such ease was no mean feat.
The most interesting point that came up more than once was the difference between being a conspiracy theorist and being a sceptic. It is apparent that David belongs to the latter group: questioning everything where there is evidence to make you have doubt. He has little time for those who look for the unbelievable alternative with no substantiation, especially when the official version actually ties everything up much more easily and indeed more credibly.
Taking no prisoners during the open dialogue with the audience, Aaronovitch certainly took the wind out of some people’s conspiracy driven sails. Unlike other question and answer sessions at the Book Festival, there was no namby pamby tip-toeing going on here. The lively discussion was informative for the whole audience, even if only to reaffirm the often empty nature of some conspiracy theories.
I sit well and truly on the fence when it comes to claiming the veracity of this, that or the next conspiracy theory but being a part of such an animated and energetic debate was incredibly refreshing.