Between the Lines: I heard it from a friend, who heard it …

�The conspiracies that we know are coming but might never happen are the most dangerous, because if they might never happen, how will we know if we stopped it?�

Stephen Colbert, the comedian/commentator of The Colbert Report, made that observation last February in response to Glenn Beck�s ramblings at the time that uprisings in Egypt were, according to Beck, the first stages of a looming Islamic caliphate.

I was reminded of this as I viewed a You Tube video earlier this week posted by someone who calls himself the Smiling Scotsman.

The Scotsman claims that the U.S. military has placed explosives on Gavins Point Dam and has plans to blow it up.

He knows this is true because, and I�m quoting him directly here, �A very good friend of mine called me, to tell me that one of his people has a good friend who holds a position on the Gavins Point Dam.�

And evidently that good friend (the one who holds the position at Gavins Point, not the other friend) told the very good friend of the Scotsman about the explosives on the dam, and that friend, in turn told one of the Scotsman�s �people� about it, and that person told the very good friend of the Scotsman, who in turn told the Scotsman about it.

At least, I think that�s what happened.

I mean, how can you NOT believe the Scotsman when he goes to such lengths to verify his information before announcing it to whomever will listen to him on You Tube?

The Scotsman also says the face of the dam is cracking, and the explosives have been planted because it is hoped if �they� blow up about 25 percent of the dam, it will save the hydroelectric generators that are present there. He also mentions that he�s not sure who �they� are � they could be the military, or they could be the Corps, or they could be the government.

�If they do this, then they will be able to blame it on dam failure, and therefore they won�t have any uncomfortable problems from the media,� the Scotsman said.

We shouldn�t be surprised that this rather significant chunk of misinformation is currently making the rounds.

Let�s face it. When you compare being informed with being misinformed, I think we�ll all agree that being misinformed is usually more fun.

Being informed is a lot like sitting in class, listening as your teacher presents a lecture filled with actual verified information. You know. Facts. Which can, after time, be a real drag.

Especially when it comes time to do homework, when you�d rather watch Jesse Ventura on the Discovery Channel prove that the 9/11 attacks weren�t the works of terrorists, but rather conspiracists. Or watch Donald Trump join the birthers in stating that President Obama was not born in the United States.

It�s little wonder, with Fox News and Beck and Trump and Ventura, et al, constantly banging their drums, that eventually some people will believe them. Even when they�re speaking nonsense.

It also makes it so much easier for someone like the Smiling Scotsman to believe something as absurd as his claims about the Gavins Point Dam.

Chalk it up to being human, I guess � to that something (now I�m being as vague as the Scotsman) deep in the human psyche that makes us believe there are patterns to events � order, purpose and meaning.

The simplest alternate explanation to a conspiracy theory is usually incompetence. When people say, �Why did these things happen?� and then point to a series of seemingly implausible events, it�s usually because the government messed up. The right arm didn�t know what the left arm was doing. Government is made of human beings. They are remarkably ordinary in their ability to make mistakes.

There is also a certain amount of life which is luck, chance, coincidence and happenstance. You can�t always divine some larger pattern from the fact that two events seem related or happened in the same month. Often it is just chance.

I�m not particularly partial to conspiracy theories. There�s usually a reasonable explanation for why things happen (Lee Harvey Oswald was a particularly good shot that fateful day in Dallas). In other words, there is usually that �alternate� explanation out there for things that eventually become the latest conspiracy.

Did the government (or they, using the Scotsman�s vernacular) screw up, causing the Missouri River to flood?

The answer to that question will be revealed someday, after everything that�s happened on the river this year has been thoroughly studied by people who have expertise to make sound conclusions.

Before that study is complete, however, I�m sure several different explanations will be presented to us.

We�ll get this information from a friend. Who heard it from one his friends. Who read it on the internet and then texted it to the friend�s friend. And that friend�s friend�s acquaintance told one her classmates. And he posted it on his blog �

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