There must be something about rising oil prices that affects the ability of some people to reason.
You know who I mean: The people who believe there's technology that would allow cars and trucks to run on water instead of gasoline, if only those despicable automakers and greedy oil companies didn't suppress it.
The first time I heard someone talk about "The Conspiracy" with a straight face was so long ago that it was a water-burning carburetor that supposedly was locked away in a vault somewhere. Since then, the theory has updated the carburetor to an injection system.
There is no convincing some people that the theory doesn't pass the smell test. You can explain that if an automaker had such technology it would be a tremendous competitive advantage and that having a carburetor/injection system that runs on water instead of gasoline would allow an auto company to dominate the world.
It doesn't matter. Some people won't listen. Others won't hear.
Now that I'm thinking about it, it makes no sense for automakers to hide technology like that. But Big Oil, well
That's why the $10.4 billion in profits rung up by ExxonMobil in the second quarter are bound to light up the conspiracy Web sites and blogs.
In the dark days of the first OPEC oil embargo, inventors with remarkable fuel-saving widgets began coming out into the daylight, trying to get a little publicity.
Some days, there were so many, uh, promoters, that it was like walking up and down the midway at a state fair. We saw everything from systems that used magnets on the fuel line to rearrange gasoline molecules to additives with secret ingredients that boosted fuel economy by (at least) 200 percent.
Then there were the semi-serious attempts to develop electric vehicles.
One of the latest systems being touted involves magnetic motors that can power electric vehicles without any external energy source. If true, it would be a game breaker for the automaker that gets the rights to it.
Like so many other breakthrough technologies, it sounds too good to be true.
But I could be wrong.
Maybe Honda has been doing secret research on magnetic motors in well-camouflaged offshore laboratories and is about ready to spring it on unsuspecting competitors.
Who knows? Maybe Honda will hire Elvis and Marilyn to promote it.
It could happen.
The truth is out there.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]