My working theory—you could call it a philosophy, or a freestanding reason of how the world works—is what I call the Theory of Relative Laziness. It goes like this: Never attribute anything to conspiracy, coordination or planning when laziness could explain it. Call it Occam’s Armchair.
While perusing the weirder corners of the Internet the other day I stumbled upon the Flat Earth Society’s website. They believe—and claim to have plenty of evidence—that the world is not a sphere, it’s instead flat. Why? According to their site it’s because the world looks flat,. The first question in their FAQs is, “Is this a joke?” The answer: “No.” What about the moon landing and space travel, they’re asked? It’s been faked.
What’s more lazy? Fifty years of an international conspiracy to commit massive (not to mention expensive) fraud to needlessly trick the world into believing our planet is shaped like a basketball? Or some dude looking at the ground beneath him and saying, “It looks flat.”
I find it comforting to think of just how lazy the Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were. Yes, they went through all the trouble of learning how to make a bomb, constructing said bomb and walking to the finish line of the most prestigious street race in the world with moderately heavy backpacks.
But that was basically it. No attempts to hide their identity. No going through all the trouble of writing a manifesto to explain or indicate the goal of causing the senseless deaths of onlookers. Not even a declarative sentence, actually. No saving up money before the event so they could skip town. No trying to get rid of evidence. No attempts to change their identity. No backup plan. No thoughts on maybe not terrorizing your hometown where you’ve gone to school and people recognize you because your picture is in their yearbook.
There are reports the duo were preparing to carry out other attacks; the pitiful half-hearted assertion of slacker terrorists everywhere.
Yes they were cruel, callous and malicious—but thankfully they were also lazy.
This event has inspired a menagerie of conspiracy theories that I put into two categories: the false-reports-are-true theories and our-preexisting-assumptions-are-even-more-valid theories.
There are hypotheses that incorporate since-corrected errors that ended up in the news media: A Saudi national, a “dark-skinned man,” or anything mentioned in the Murdoch-owned New York Post. The idea is that these were the truth and the corrections are the cover-ups. According to my Theory of Relative Laziness when you have journalists not doing their due diligence coupled with a denial of new information (meaning you get to stop reading and think you’re right) both can be attributed to simple laziness.
Within seconds of the bombs going off a popular conspiracy sham artist (I’m not naming) tweeted out something to the effect of “The government did this, the government always does this so they can take away our civil rights.” (Civil rights mean your right to stockpile weapons and ammunition. A “right” that’s not being threatened even in the wake of people with arsenals making threats.) No investigation, no pausing for the victims, no evidence pondered, he knew—the government did it.
Conservatives will tell you government can’t do anything well. Liberals will tell you government is flawed but it’s the best we’ve got. Nowhere on the political spectrum or in any evidence-based reality is the U.S. government hyper-competent and perfect at accomplishing their objectives. Never.
But it’s the laziest punditry there is: Everything went off as planned, everyone is in on it and I’m the only one brave enough to say anything.
It’s apparently also pretty lucrative. No overhead, low production costs, no need to employ a fact-checker (or copy-editors).
A lot of the world can be explained by the simple fact that someone isn’t putting in a full effort and isn’t interested in doing their job. See every column I’ve ever written about Congress.