Tom Whittle, Scientology spinmeister and conspiracy theory enthusiast, is at it again. He’s just posted an article for STAND titled Unanswered Questions About Jonestown, what’s apparently going to be the first in a series. It doesn’t take much deduction to predict which way his story will go: Whittle would have you believe that Jonestown was a CIA mind-control operation gone terribly wrong. But hey, any theory has got to be better than the more accepted theory that religious cult leader Jim Jones convinced his minion of fanatics into a horrific mass suicide. The story is pretty formulaic as Scientology propaganda goes. With phrases like “unanswered questions” and government “cover ups,” Whittle attempts to paint a more sinister picture of the Jonestown disaster. With a combination of insubstantial innuendo and imaginative paranoia, he serves up an inviting dish of baloney, no doubt irresistible to the fevered minds of Scientology true believers. On the other hand, good conspiracy theories always contain a few grains of truth. It allows the conspiracy-inclined to connect the dots through a disconcerting maze of dubious plausibilities. We know for example that Jim Jones had government connections. He had support from San Francisco mayor George Moscone, and had meetings with vice presidential candidate Walter Mondale and First Lady Rosalynn Carter. We know that the People’s Temple had come under investigation and that Jones believed that the CIA and other intelligence agencies were conspiring to undermine his cult. And we also know that only seven autopsies were performed, relying on eyewitness accounts and suicide notes as the only reliable evidence of the causes of death. It doesn’t take a soothsayer to predict what Whittle’s articles will leave out. There won’t be a single word written about the People’s Temple’s long and disturbing litany of abuse and demented behavior. Sort of like Scientology. Now there’s a couple of dots that wouldn’t be too hard to connect. But guaranteed, Tom Whittle will stay clear of anything suggesting such a grim connection.