In case you haven't seen it yet, the movie suggests that William Shakespeare was not the author of plays, such as Hamlet. This is not a new accusation, but it may be the first movie regarding this topic. Here's the trailer (with Everything in its Right Place playing in the background.)
I am not an English major so I have no clue about the truth of the accusation, but since watching the movie, I found a lot of biographical details suggesting that Edward de Vere was the author of Hamlet. I have no real interest in whether this accusation against William Shakespeare is right or wrong, but I certainly like the possibility that a possible relative of mine is the author of Hamlet rather than somebody to whom I'm in no way related.
Does believing that William Shakespeare is the not the author of Hamlet make you a conspiracy nut? I don't think so, and the goal of the rest of this post is for me to explain what I think are good forms of paranoia and bad forms of paranoia.
Here are some characteristics of possibly healthy paranoia: (1) willingness to hear both sides of the debate, (2) general skepticism of authority and so-called authorities, and (3) acknowledgment that we all lie
Here are some characteristics of unhealthy paranoia: (1) telling yourself that you have no control, (2) believing that there is a massive conspiracy that would require the involvement of hundreds of people lying and/or keeping silent on the lie, and, (3) disobeying Occam's Razor.
How does general skepticism get turned into outright paranoia?
Having lived part of my life in both the healthy and the unhealthy side of paranoia, I can speak from some experience.
Here are some sources of paranoia: (1) egoism and/or fear of losing your soul at death, (2) lack of control (real or perceived lack of control), (3) surrounding yourself with other people who are paranoid (which is obviously easier now a days with the internet), (4) general lack of physical health (though, it's a real chicken or egg argument about whether a lack of health leads to or is caused by the paranoia.)
For anybody who thinks that they currently suffer from paranoia, here's my suggestions if you would like to get over your paranoia.
1) Read Joseph Campbell (or whatever source of mythology / religion that you can relate to without taking it as literally the Word of God)
2) Keep in shape (workout regularly and take vitamins, include one like B12 that you might not think of. And if you suffer from cold sores, make sure that you take B12 and the amino acid, lysine.)
3) Control your use of alcohol (alcohol abuse and the eventual hangover will often lead to a feeling of lack of control as well as general paranoia)
4) Listen to Beethoven (especially his 5th symphony), read Benjamin Franklin (either his autobiography or a biography), read or listen to Richard Feynman (start with anything you can find). Remember that Benjamin Franklin only had ~ two years of formal education and didn't become a scientist until 40 yrs old (and still he got the equivalent of the Nobel Prize even after having not started until late in life.)
5) Watch out for highly paranoia music groups such as Radiohead or The Decembrists, especially Radiohead because their music is so good. And reduce your consumption of novels by Thomas Pynchon (even though Gravity's Rainbow is so damn good.)
With that having been said, here's my list of conspiracies that fall under healthy skepticism vs. unhealthy conspiracy (note that I'm not saying that the conspiracies are true or false, just that I think that there's a difference between believing in different types of conspiracies.)
Healthy skepticism: (1) William Shakespeare did not write all or any of the plays attributed to him, (2) the Federal Reserve calls printing money "economic stimulus", (3) Not being completely sure of the motives of Lee Harvey Oswald, (4) Questioning the motives for certain recent wars, and (5) General questioning of authority that doesn't lead you to think "If I stand up against these people, then they are going to kill me and all of my family."
Unhealthy conspiracy: (1) The Holocaust never happened (i.e. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), (2) 9/11 was planned by George Bush and some combination of Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, etc..., (3) The US never went to the moon, (4) We are nearing peak oil or peak coal and soon there will be a global crash of civilization (so we should just do whatever makes us happy in the mean time), (5) The emission of CO2 will cause billions of people to die in the next two decades, (6) Global warming is a hoax by millions of scientists, (7) the goal of the white race is to eliminate the black race (paraphrasing Louis Farrakhan), (8) the US will be taken over by a New World Order (including the U.N. or FEMA or some other large bureaucratic agency) (i.e. Alex Jones), (9) If you speak out against the Federal Reserve, then they will kill you (i.e. James Rogers), and (10) The world is controlled by the Jews (i.e. Eric Cartman)
Somewhat milder conspiracies (because they normally don't lead to you fearing that somebody is out to get you): (1) The Earth is less than 1 billion years old and the Universe is less than 10 billion years old, (2) Humans are not descended from bacteria, (3) AIDS/HIV is scam, (4) The Big Bang never happened, and (5) The President of the U.S. was not legally born in the US and/or is Muslim.
So, hopefully I've pissed off almost everybody. Well, not hopefully, but what I'm trying to get at is the following: we all believe in some conspiracies. It's impossible to go through life without having ever believed in a conspiracy.
The question is: will you allow yourself to be controlled by the conspiracy? I mean...to be controlled in the same way that some parasites can take a hold of some insects and control their minds. (Here's also a video of "zombie snails.")
How do you know whether you are being controlled by the conspiracy?
--When you don't listen to people's arguments on the other side
--When you fear going outside
--When you don't respect others who think differently
I think that important ways (but not the only ways) of getting over unhealthy conspiracies are:
(1) Remaining open to outside arguments that are logically reasoned
(2) Staying healthy
(3) Remembering that the goal of life is for life to expand (both here on Earth and to other planets) [Note that this last one is particularly important because it can reduce an unhealthy fear of death]
In conclusion, we all love a good conspiracy. It's just a question of whether the conspiracy prevents you from living life to the fullest, and doing your part to help life grow.