Monday, March 16, 2009

Imported Post: Conspiracy Theory

Originally posted: Thursday, February 12, 2009

Reading Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi's Monster of Florence. Epiphany: Conspiracy theories are wonderful for fiction, but they are annoying and bizarre when applied to real life. But, when the police develop a conspiracy theory as in the the case of Dr. Narducci, the School of the Red Rose, and the serial killer(s) known as the Monster of Florence, then God help us.

It is as though the investigators, in their single-minded obsession to catch the killer, see it as a personal offront that the killer is still loose, and develop a kind of collective delusion. They must justify their obsession. They must justify why this character has eluded them for decades. Of course! It can't be only one person! Of course! It must be a conspiracy against law and order. Of course! It has to be a shadowy group of very rich and powerful individuals who are united against me, because a poor Sardianian illiterate could never have eluded justice so effectively for so long. There's nothing wrong with MY methods--I must be up against impossible odds. The motive? Of course--it MUST be SATANIC, because I certainly feel as though I'm in hell...

Apparently such investigative "technique" is tantamount to a kind of hysteria--and leads to factitious delusion and the most bizarre leaps in logic. Like auditors, investigators may need to be rotated so that they don't develop these Captain Ahab-like fixations and mental disorders.

Preston and Spezi, having the temerity to review the evidence and come to their own conclusions--which deviate from the investigator's bizarre construct of events, fall under the lens of suspicion themselves. Like the Salem Witch Trials, when questioning the procedure itself was enough to bring suspicion on the questioner.

Money quote: "I felt like I was in Franz Kafka's The Trial, acted out by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis."

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