NOTE: This article is a republication- Source: LitHub (by Sander van der Linden).
On 30 March 2014, I received an email from one “Alan Tarica.” He had been reading my work on the psychology of conspiracy theories and decided to send me a link to his detailed website uncovering patterns of a vast conspiracy to conceal or ignore the fact that Shakespeare’s famous sonnets were written by somebody else. Who might this be? According to Tarica, all signs point towards the Earl of Oxford. In several conversations, Alan tried to convince me that when you read the Sonnets from end to beginning, starting with the last poem and working your way back to the first poem, hidden truths are revealed.
Most of my colleagues don’t typically respond to such emails, but I often feel a strong pull—like a deep desire—to learn more about what exactly motivates belief in these type of conspiracy theories. After a few emails, I sent Alan Tarica a paper about how illusory pattern perception is linked to belief in conspiracy theories. After I googled his name and discovered that TARICA is an anagram for “ART CIA,” I quickly realized that he had been obsessively emailing and attacking scholars across the board. I told him that this was not my area of expertise but that I’m sure that “the truth is out there.”
One of his emails to me read as follows:
Thanks for response but really have to wonder if you find the behaviour of your fellow academics even remotely acceptable.
Of course, the truth is out there but without a conversation how are we supposed to get at it?
I can assure you I will make this ultimately about the contemptible behaviour of those that should be able to make informed comments. And I expect far greater participation from everyone despite their discipline.
But if you do nothing else, please pass that along.
All the best, Alan.
The truth is out there, but that wasn’t enough for Alan. He kept emailing and his last email to me read: “Why don’t you try and refute my ‘conspiracy theory’ you useless and outrageous asshole.”
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