The Worse of Both Worlds

Inbetween reading academic tomes and watching ‘Doctor Who’ I do, on occasion, read spurious Conspiracy Theory literature. As of today I have finished (read that either way) with the whole ‘Bloodline of Christ’ fandango that resulted famously in ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (and should have ended more famously with acres of media coverage of the Baigent and Leigh vs. Brown case[1]).Anyway, today I finished reading Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince’s ‘The Sion Revelation.’ I met both of them in London last year at UnCon06 (although I doubt they remember me) when they gave a precis of their then just-published book. It was a good talk, focussing on the verifiable history of the Priory of Sion (the cornerstone to most of the texts on the supposedly extant bloodline of the Christian messiah) and I only didn’t buy a copy of the book because it was big and bulky and was going to take up space in a suitcase.A year later (maybe to the day) I interloaned the book (which came from Dunedin, presumably the closest source of it in a library within New Zealand). The talk Prince and Picknett made focused heavily on a peculiarly French off-shoot of Freemasonry, Synarchsim (for those of you denying the Freemason conspiracy theories[2] let it be said that whilst Freemasonry might well be benign now that doesn’t mean that a) it has always been so and b) there is also more than one kind of Freemasonry). Synarchism was the polar opposite to anarchism; the rule of the land by those destined to lead, leading those destined to be. It was an ‘everything in its place’ political philosophy that, if you accept Picknett and Prince’s thesis, is arguably one of the factors in the formation of the European Economic Community and is the real explanation of the Priory of Sion. No Templars, no Merovingians and no descent from the messiah; just Freemasons, thugs and the infiltration and subversion of secret societies.Which is all fine and good, but its just another Conspiracy Theory, isn’t it? A more plausible thesis than that of ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’ but still a Conspiracy Theory, a tentative explanation of events.These ‘more plausible’ Conspiracy Theories seem very persuasive; they, after all, up against quite wacky contenders. Admittedly, ‘The Sion Revelation’ rests upon some fairly good sources and is up front when Picknett and Prince have to make unverifiable claims, so it certainly has a degree of plausibility approaching that of an historical text but it still rests upon certain huge assumptions. It would be a mistake to assume that a ‘more plausible’ Conspiracy Theory is correct in the face of a wacky one.Yet that is a mistake people make.Which is why Conspiracy Theorists find non-Conspiracy Theorists just a little whack.–1. In case you missed it, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh sued Dan Brown for plagiarism, arguing that he took, whole cloth, ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’ and made it into ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ Now this would have been interesting enough if they were both books intended to be fiction, but ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’ was intended to be a history book; it was meant to describe something that really happened. Just how a fiction writer can plagiarise history to write a sub-standard thriller I don’t know. Nothing about that claim makes sense. 2. Which, by and large, I do as well.      

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