The fresh wound of ignominy inflicted by a senior bureaucrat (BPS-20), after he stole the wallet of the head of the Kuwaiti delegation, which had come to Pakistan to discuss a myriad of investment plans, has left the nation in a state of consternation. Questions are being raised as to why a senior official stoop to this nadir of immoral conscience. While we all waited for the answers, the rumour brigade came to the rescue of the bureaucrat and the nation, in a manner that would, serve as a face saving endeavour or at least mitigate its tarnishing effects. The conspiracy theorists gave the whole fracas a new façade to look at, and this side of the story had the touch of a James Bond story to it. The alternate story tells us that the bureaucrat was on a spy mission ordained by one of our neighbouring countries, which is not enjoying cordial relations with Kuwait. The spy was placing a chip that would help the intelligence agency of that country extract some sensitive information from the delegate whose wallet was stolen. This astonishing story is absolute rubbish, as perhaps theorists believed that his crime of stealing would be more acceptable, if it was juxtaposed with spying. But alas! the CCTV video revealed that our ‘James Bond’ was in his late 50s and his physical condition would not have allowed him to perform any actions that a spy is expected to attempt. Furthermore, was he not supposed to put the wallet back from where he picked up after planting the suggested chip? Then why was it recovered from his home, as was written in the FIR. Perhaps answers to these questions will take the air out of this balloon. One may ask these so called custodians of ultimate truth, who present these theories with conviction, whether there is any specific agenda behind their endeavours. The answer is in the affirmative. The primary reason is to get attention from the public by divulging something which not many people know, and by sensationalising the issue they achieve this goal. Furthermore, it is also done to create a sense of uncertainty and fear that things are not in control. One of the frequently sold ideas, is that Pakistan would have been a super power today, had it not been for the Machiavellian manoeuvrings from Zionist or Indian quarters. Rather than holding ourselves responsible, we like to shift the onus of our ills on other nations and this is a perfect manifestation of cognitive dissonance. The architects of these preposterous theories also play safe. Most of their stories either involve spy agencies like CIA, MOSSAD, RAW and ISI or leave the matter in a totally inaccessible realm of ghosts and aliens. They know that after stating something pertaining to the above mentioned entities, they will not have to corroborate their theory with verifiable facts, because neither spy agencies share any information, nor ghosts and aliens will come to testify their concocted stories. This makes it easier to propound anything and walk away, without being challenged, and today anyone can write a story with the last line saying forwarded as received, which further protects the source of the misinformation. The concerning fact is that these fabricated stories are readily digested by people with lack of knowledge and a poorly developed approach to critical thinking. Children are usually inquisitive in nature and do question us about things, but mostly this crucial quality of theirs is quashed when they are told by their elders to do whatever they are told to do, instead of developing a healthy sense of curiosity. This leads to acceptance of certain notions without challenging their validity, and once this habit is ingrained in our subconscious mind, it is a daunting task to get rid of it. The alternate story tells us that the bureaucrat was on a spy mission ordained by one of our neighbouring countries, which is not enjoying cordial relations with Kuwait Moreover, conspiracy theories are ubiquitous phenomenon, whether it was the moon landings or 9/11, the Illuminati secret society or mysterious disappearance of flight MH-370; we have all conspiracy theories catering to different segments of different societies. Majority is of the view that we are not allowed by institutions to know the truth, so when we are given information based on deducted analogies, we tend to fall for it as a lot of work has gone behind connecting the dots, which in reality might not be the case. However, most conspiracy theories cannot be proved, so they are scrapped and in the process some of the theories which may actually hold some truth are also out rightly rejected without paying heed to them. Although seemingly harmless, some conspiracy theories actually become larger than life and practically hamper the progress of a country. Those living in a society in which myths flourish and are accepted, tend to actually grasp these theories more quickly and when these men reach higher positions they tend to think on the same pattern. So while making decisions on external and internal fronts of the country, they are always wary of conspiracies being hatched by other nations against theirs. This very reason does not let the initiatives mature into something tangible, ultimately sacrificing progress at the altar of these conspiracy theories. The writer is a freelance columnist and can be reached via twitter: @murtazakazi1 Published in Daily Times, October 5th 2018.