I hope Weigel is right that pictures help us bury nut-job theories about what really happened in Boston. But I’m with my other Slate colleague Amanda Marcotte, who points out that conspiracy theorists are rarely dissuaded by evidence. As I discovered in a book I wrote about how conspiracy theorists and other hucksters spread false stories online, truthers often begin with an inchoate belief—e.g., the government can’t be trusted—and then selectively interpret evidence to support their claims. As a result, having more photographic evidence from a scene does not necessarily tamp down outlandish theories. In fact, sometimes just the opposite happens—the more pictures there are, the more places there are for truthers to find “overlooked evidence.” …

I suspect we’ll see the same thing in Boston. Pictures of real life after an attack are messy—people and objects are often in places that don’t seem to make sense, especially when examined by amateurs who don’t understand the context in which the photos were taken. By scrutinizing enough shaky, blurry pictures and videos closely enough, skeptics are sure to spot little things that seem off. Look, there’s a man on the roof of a building—why? Why is this trashcan here rather than there? Does the man in the gabardine suit look like a spy? After finding enough of these little things that don’t make sense, the conspiracy-minded often paste them into a larger storyline that, to them, makes a whole lot of sense if only people would consider it.