I TOOK a taxi the other day for the first time in, I guess, about two years. It was good to be reminded about the certainties of life. These include death, tax breaks for the rich, and a taxi driver with an opinion.

There is a law in the world of columnists that one can not rail at a loquacious taxi driver or the evils of litter. These subjects are deemed to be boring. So I will bore you with something else instead. Warning: this thesis still contains traces of taxi driver.

The gentleman whose winged chariot spirited me into the town expressed words that caused my stomach to lurch in a manner only previously experienced in those staging posts of life.

That feeling as a boy on a Sunday night when you knew school was in the morn. That feeling as a young man as you stood at Boots corner and realised that she was not coming. That moment when a boss approached you saying he had an, "exciting project”.

So as the car pulled onto Maryhill Road I took the brace position as the driver said: “So Covid, eh?”

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This was never likely to be a prelude to a tribute to NHS workers, a sparkling encomium to the genius of vaccine-creating scientists or a gracious reflection on a time of awful trial.

It was, rather, the unveiling of a conspiracy theory. The humble taxi driver is not alone. Everyone from Naomi Woolf through Ian Brown to Matt Le Tissier has expressed varying degrees of scepticism over the causes of Covid and the reactions to it.

However, the taxi driver was wondrously creative. His theory spanned the Old Testament, imminent universal slavery, and chips with everything, including via a needle into your arm. He also said it was the end of capitalism, as if this was a bad thing.

I listened till my ears bled. I disguised this, as I believed he would blame the vaccine.

I finally tried saying something unintelligible. Well, he started it. Then I left his cab with a feeling of having survived a verbal onslaught, in the same way that one left double Latin grateful that the teacher’s sarcasm (Latin teachers were sarcasticus sarcastissimus) had finally stopped and that normal living could be approached with merely my abnormally high levels of anxiety.

Now, I don’t want to denigrate the taxi trade here. In another life, they transported me home when I was only able to articulate the precise details of my destination by sign language.

But it is true that the taxi driver does not find it difficult to have a theory. One reason may be that they have time to think. This is not necessarily a good thing, as several of my therapists have pointed out.

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The reality of conspiracy theories is that most of us have them. For example, a commission ruled on the Kennedy assassination and I do not believe its conclusions. Similarly, the report of the 9/11 commission has so many holes in it that it could double as my faither’s semmit.

When reflecting on the taxi driver’s Covid lecture, I saw he shared with me the central tenets of conspiracy theories.

The first is that knowledge is power and to have a theory places us above the pack. Second, the theory must be backed by “evidence”. I use quotation marks because sources can be as reliable as a pre-owned Lada. Third, and crucially, those who sneer or even mildly disagree with your conspiracy theory can be dismissed as credulous or even just plain daft.

The reaction to the unbeliever can be expressed with a snort, a shake of the head and something patronising along the lines of “well, you just keep believing that...”

Most of these theories contribute to the gaiety of the nation. They are innocuous. They can best be summarised in a widely circulated story that concerns a politician. Even in restricted Covid times, this tale has been whispered in scandalised tones to me. When one points out the obvious flaws in the tale, the narrator wearily shakes his or her head, disappointed, even slightly appalled, by my naïveté.

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The Covid branch of the conspiracy theory holds dangers, however. They are obvious. Vaccination has to be as universal as possible. Containment measures must be maintained and may even become what can now be described as the old normal.

But the prevalence of the anti-Covid narrative and its, well, virulence speaks to something else.

There is a constituency that does not accept information from the authorities without question. This can be a good thing. There is a constituency which does not believe anything the authorities tell them. This, too, can be a good thing.

This defiant stance is even understandable. There is a suspicion that this Westminster government is learning Japanese so it can lie at the Olympics. It is not alone.

One of its predecessors told us that there was a big bad boy with weapons of mass destruction and we should bally well bloody his nose jolly quick. And we see how that ended when, or if, it ever ends.

This contempt for official sources is the petri dish for conspiracy theories, dangerous or just deliciously whacky, or both.

They may be here to stay. I maintain that Lee Harvey Oswald was a patsy manipulated by dark forces that may have included the CIA, the Mob and Cuban dissidents. My taxi driver might merely observe that Oswald may have been the victim of a secret vaccination programme.

The thought that we may be wrong has not occurred to us.

Our columns are platforms for writers to express their opinions.They not necessarily represent the views of The Herald