You know, there are conspiracy theories that you can kind of see how, through a combination of wishful thinking and squinting at the evidence, a person might come to believe that, say, Ron Ramsey is actually a balding Bigfoot.
Today, in fact, just a second ago, I learned about The Phantom Time Hypothesis, which states that European history from 614–911 is just made up. It didn’t happen.
Why would someone, say a couple of Popes, just make up the early Middle Ages? I don’t know. Why would Otto and Gerbert need to make up the early Middle Ages? Yes, both of their Wikipedia articles make it seem plausible that they could have been bored. I guess. I mean, if I were playing dice with the Devil and carrying on an affair with the demon Meridiana and carrying around a magic bronze head that gave me answers to life’s mysteries, I would be too busy to make up the early Middle Ages. But I am not Pope Sylvester the Second.
See, this is my first problem with this conspiracy (I mean, after the obvious problem). Okay, I might buy that Emperor Otto is a bit of a snob and, fine, he liked to shuffle body parts of various saints around Europe, but he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who’d be all “Oh, hey, sure, Pope Sylvester, I’d love to hang out with your creepy talking metal head and your demon girlfriend and make up a whole world for Tolkien to plagiarize only to have Dungeons & Dragons plagiarize it from him. Shoot, roll those Devil Dice and let’s get our quest started.”
And that seems to be what this conspiracy theory hinges on: that Otto, Mr. Good Christian, would want to play Dungeons & Dragons with a Pope just the invention of electricity away from being Slayer’s bassist.
I’m not buying it.
But boy howdy, do I love this. In fact, I think this may be my favorite conspiracy theory, ever.
Edited to add: I don’t know for a fact that Slayer’s bassist sits around making up alternative European histories in between consorting with the Devil, talking to his robotic pet head, and having an affair with a demon, but I feel like it would be unfair to assume otherwise.