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Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Friday, 8 May 2009 17:05 UK

Political conspiracy theories

Jim Fitzpatrick
The Politics Show Northern Ireland

The Tower of Babel
The Tower of Babel - a model for the European Parliament building?

The CIA killed JFK. The Israelis carried out the 9/11 attacks. Neil Armstrong never walked on the moon, but strolled across an elaborate set located firmly on earth.

You have heard the theories and the supporting evidence: there were two gunmen; thousands of Israeli nationals did not turn up for work on September 11; the flag Armstrong planted on the moon flaps in an impossible wind.

I have to admit that I love a good conspiracy theory up to a point, they are often more interesting than the facts.

And as the European election campaign warms up, it is not surprising to find that the EU has more than its fair share.

On the minor scale, there are all those stories about bananas going straight, acres being banned, and yoghurt renamed "fermented milk".

But these tall tales that seem to exist solely to provide Sun sub-editors with good headline material, pale into insignificance beside some of the bigger full-scale theories.

Seat "666"

Did you know, for instance, that seat "666" in the European Parliament is kept vacant for the return of the Antichrist?

I know this because our former First Minister, and former MEP, Ian Paisley has seen it with his own eyes and written about it.

He believes the empty seat is of prophetic significance.

The European Parliament
The European Parliament - a seat is vacant for the Antichrist

"The Antichrist's seat will be occupied. The world awaits his full and final development. The Lord will destroy him by the spirit of His mouth and by the brightness of His coming (2 Thes. 2-8).

"The coming of the Lord draweth night."

I am no biblical scholar, but it seems that the arrival of the Antichrist to take his seat in the Louise Weiss building in Strasbourg might herald the end of the world.

Scan the internet and you will find further evidence that the European institutions are at the heart of an apocalyptic agenda.

Babylon and Babel

The whore of Babylon apparently features prominently in much European Union imagery, even on the Euro.

And the building in Strasbourg, which kindly keeps a seat warm for you-know-who, is clearly modelled on the Tower of Babel itself.

Don't believe it?

European Parliament
Babel or the European Parliament building?

Check out the striking similarity between a famous painting by Brueghel the Elder in 1563, and the new parliament.

In the recently published "Voodoo Histories", David Aaronovitch argues that conspiracy theories are damaging and dangerous because their corrosive effect is the destruction of faith in politics and government.

I have not read the book yet, but Aaronovitch seems to suggest that this leaves room for crack-pot ideologies to flourish.

The answer, he says, is to challenge the conspiracy theory with fact and logic.

One gunman was able to kill JFK; thousands of Israelis did not avoid work at the Twin Towers on 9/11 - that is pure myth based on an over-calculation of the number of Israelis who worked there.

Man on the moon c/o Ap Images
Man on the Moon - conspiracy theories abound

And Neil Armstrong's flag does not flap in the wind, but moves about due to the fact that the pole is being manipulated into the ground by the astronauts.

On The Politics Show this Sunday, through a day in the life of our new reporter Yvette Shapiro, we tackle some of the myths of Europe while explaining exactly what impact it has on our daily lives.

And we talk to Secretary of State Shaun Woodward.

The Politics Show for the Northern Ireland, with Jon Sopel and Jim Fitzpatrick on Sunday at 11:00 on BBC One.

You get a second chance to see the programme again that night, at 22:55 GMT on BBC One.

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