The Madison County Record Oct. 5, 2013, 11:58am

The only thing more foolish than believing in conspiracies is not believing in them. History is full of conspiracies, from the successful scheme to assassinate Julius Caesar to the unsuccessful plot against Adolf Hitler, and all the others before and after.

Even the everyday lives of ordinary people are filled with conspiracies. Children conspire with siblings to get the best of parents. Students conspire with classmates to get the best of teachers. Employees conspire with co-workers to get the best of bosses. And so on.

Anyone who’s ever been to a surprise party has participated in a (benign) conspiracy.

In the news, we hear of athletes rigging games, brokers engaging in insider trading, contractors defrauding governments, politicians defrauding constituents, soldiers staging coups.

There are conspiracies going on around us all the time. There always have been and there always will be.

Still, that doesn’t mean that everything is a conspiracy. Many things do “just happen.”

If you went shopping this week, for instance, you might have noticed that chuck roast was $2.99 a pound at several different supermarkets. It was even advertised at that price in their separate weekly circulars. Proof positive of price-fixing? No, just evidence of the obvious: that stores price-shop their rivals to avoid being undersold on select items -- an effort that leads to lower, not higher, prices.

Attorney James Wylder of Bloomington gives conspiracy theorists a bad name.

In 2011, the Fourth District Court of Appeals rejected his postulation of conspiracies between living and dead manufacturers and distributors of materials containing asbestos.

This past month, the Court rejected another of his unproven theories, that one manufacturer was somehow conspiring with another fourteen years after the first had sold its interest in an asbestos product to the second.

The Court concluded that “it is impossible to find clear and convincing evidence of a conspiracy if a nonconspiratorial explanation would be a reasonable alternative.”

But who’s being reasonable? Not James Wylder.

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