There is a luvverly bunch of COVID-19 conspiracy theories but try as I may I have yet to find one in the bunch that I can deeply, truly believe in.
I will keep trying, but meanwhile find the contrary, cultivated parts of my mind listening respectfully to learned conspiracy theory philosopher-historian professor Quassim Cassam. He says (hear him learnedly talking on ABC Radio National) that us silly humans find "radical uncertainty" of the kind engendered by the pandemic uncomfortable. We often prefer "fantasy explanations" to a "stuff just happens" supine acceptance of the inexplicable.
So it is no wonder, he divines, that not just our present horror but all pandemics (including the Black Death of 1347-1351, at the time thought engineered by the Jews) always attract conspiracy theories.
Those of you who trespass on the internet will be meeting the conspiracy theories everywhere. There's lots of suspicion of sinister conspiratorial skulduggery by the famous and influential. Bill Gates crops up a lot (anti-vaxxers think he is plotting to vaccinate the World). So too does Donald Trump's long-suffering infectious disease expert, dear old Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Just to digress a little for a moment, let me say that it is simultaneously one of the joys and one of the disappointments of living in Australia's clever federal capital city that one seldom meets a colourfully rip-roaringly fruit loopingly convinced conspiracy theorist.
It is as if Canberra is intellectually stony ground in which the seeds of credulism struggle to germinate. Professor Cassam worries that conspiracy theories have populist political consequences. But, much as one would like (for the colour they would impart to what one fears will be an election of three or four sensible shades of grey) some Trumpian pop-up populist candidates in the ACT's November elections, one doubts that democratic magic will happen.
Why are the conspiracy theories about COVID-19 so virulently rampant? Why is this columnist, usually a model of rationality, flirting with irrational thoughts?
"A conspiracy theory is not only pushing misinformation," Cassam diagnosed in ABC radio discussion with hostess Geraldine Doogue.
"It is also in the business of claiming knowledge or certainty where there isn't any.
"You can have two different attitudes to viruses - and maybe two different attitudes to the world. One attitude is that stuff like this just happens. There are viruses and have always been viruses throughout human history.
"The other attitude is to say that 'No, these things don't just happen, there must be someone at fault.'
"So you can distinguish between people who are comfortable with the idea of uncertainty, versus people who are always looking for an agent that's responsible, not happy to live with radical uncertainty.
"It's a human feature to look for intelligibility. You can see this being at the root of religious belief. The inexplicable, the unknowable, the uncertain, these are all things we find it difficult to live with. But maturity as a human being is accepting that we don't know what we don't know."
The professor and Geraldine Doogue (the latter a believing Catholic and so really in no position to scoff at daft things believed by credulists) were very mature-sounding and dismissive of the conspiracy believers. But I, listening to them and somehow estranged from them, find myself shyly disposed to entertaining a COVID-19 conspiracy theory, if only I can find an intellectually appealing one.
I think it is because I am so very scared.
Scholarly explainers of conspiratorial beliefs diagnose that psychologically it is somehow less terrifying to think that plotting humans have contrived a horror than to think it is just a random, everyday,"deadly stuff just happens" cataclysm. If it (the 9/11 attack, for example, or President Kennedy's assassination) came hurtling out of nowhere, the fearful tremble, it can happen again, any moment now. Better to think these things painstakingly plotted.
And if it is acting alone, the COVID-19 virus is more alarming still because it is unhuman, unfathomable and driven in ways we can't imagine. We can't bargain with it. One keeps hearing expert virologists say of this virus (their voices ringing with grudging admiration of their submicroscopic enemy, like Sherlock Holmes grudgingly acknowledging the Machiavellian genius of his arch enemy Professor Moriarty) that this virus is so wondrously, virusesquely brilliant, wily and shape-shifting, that it couldn't possibly have been invented by mere dull humans tinkering in a lab.
No wonder, then, that some of us might half-prefer to think we are up against a puppet virus of only average intelligence, being manipulated by wicked human puppet masters (like Bill Gates and Dr Fauci) of slightly-above-average intelligence.
Elderly now, and timid, I feel COVID-vulnerable and prone to these unbecoming irrationalities.
It's four in the morning. One is awake and anxious. What's that sound outside in my suburban street, only just up the road from the alarming pop-up coronavirus emergency hospital built in anticipation of the dreaded Second Wave?
Is it just the wind in the leaves of the eucalypts? Or is it the Grim Reaper sharpening his scythe?