Don’t you love conspiracy theories? The moon landing was filmed in Hollywood with actors, global warming is a global warning about global conspiracies, President Kennedy was assassinated by a team, the earth is flat – we know all this is true but we choose to believe they are not. So say the conspiracy theorists. Actually, every family seems to have somebody who is a specialist.

He (or she) will tell you with absolute certainty that Elvis is alive or that innoculations are bad and might lead to insanity. Any attempt to convince them otherwise is seen as further proof of the conspiracy theory. “The world is trying to convince me I am wrong when I know I am right. The fact that it is trying to convince me is proof enough that I am right,” is the standard response. You cannot win.

Rather like the American President (who shall remain anonymous), they believe what they want to, and see everything as confirmation of their own pet theories. Average global temperatures are rising? Well, doesn’t that confirm that two million people turned up for the inaugural? President Obama was born in the US? Then doesn’t that prove that aliens are contacting us and controlling our thoughts?

Our family’s main conspiracy theorist when I was growing up was a distant uncle (so distant went the family joke that it was like looking at an object through the wrong end of the telescope) who managed to convince people that if enough of them gave him sufficient amounts of money, the world wouldn’t end that week as other conspiracy theorists maintained. Put like that it sounds cheesy, but this man had charm and a wonderfully convincing manner of speech that both charmed and convinced.

He was a great joiner of dots and revealer of patterns, two other qualities that conspiracy theorists cannot succeed without. He saw in the way food turned bad overnight a message from aliens that was denied to the others. The conspiracies may have started off as a joke, but I think he soon discovered that there’s a sucker born every minute, and decided to monetise that happy occasion.

For all we know there might be people who believe in the grand unification theory of conspiracies. That the team which murdered John F Kennedy spread the rumour about global warming to distract us from the fact that aliens are running our lives and Hollywood is responsible for fooling us about the moon landings, and probably ensuring that the food in our fridges goes bad which, as everyone knows, is a message from green people with a horn in the centre of their foreheads.

The list could go on. And probably does.