"Please Read! Do not erase. Your life may depend on it!"
So begins "They Are Taking Over!," one of the featured items on ConspiracyMadLibz.com, a new website launched the week of the Republican National Convention (and just in time for the Democratic confab that gets under way next week) by Krista Kafer, a KNUS radio personality and Denver Post columnist.
The site allows users to create Mad Libs-like conspiracy theories using drop-down menus that offer a wide variety of options. For instance, the sentence "[Nefarious Institution], an organization composed of [Seditious Group], has successfully [Evil Ends]" can be altered to read "Hollywood, an organization composed of Dentists, has successfully Caused Polar Bear Extinction" — or "The Mainstream Press, an organization composed of Global Warming Deniers, has successfully Faked Elvis's Death" — or...well, you get the idea. And as a bonus, users can create their own theory PDFs or items ready for posting on Facebook.
"I've always gotten a kick out of conspiracy theories, just because they're ridiculous and all over the place," says Kafer, who teams with veteran Denver radio personality Steve Kelley at KNUS. "Gluten's going to subvert our health, or GMOs are trying to kill us, or big business is the puppet master behind this politician. I've been fascinated by them since the Clinton administration and all the theories around Vince Foster's death — and then there's the birther thing and the truther thing. So many things that are supposedly subverting our lives."
Inspired by her childhood love of Mad Libs and the writing of humorist Joe Queenan, who lamented the declining quality of conspiracy theories in a 2014 piece for the Wall Street Journal, Kafer came up with the concept for ConspiracyMadLibz.com under the theory that "sometimes the best way to expose a lie is to make fun of it." And while she wants users to enjoy themselves, she says there's a serious point lurking behind the laughs.
"Conspiracy theories can inspire fear and anger, they distort political dialogue, and they seem immune to facts and logic," she notes. "If somebody believes President Obama is a secret Muslim, you can give them all the facts in the world and they'll still believe it. The same thing with people who believe President George W. Bush was behind 9/11. And there can be serious fallout, like people not getting their children vaccinated. Conspiracy theories are counterproductive at best and destructive at worst — and sometimes it seems that the best way to take them on isn't head-on, but with parody or satire.
"That might have a better chance of breaking through to people — and if it doesn't, at least the rest of us have fun."
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Click to check out ConspiracyMadLibz.com for yourself — and look below to see our completely random Mad Lib conspiracy theory based on the premise "They're Trying to Steal the Nomination!"