In the same way that physicists are searching for some grand unifying theory of nature, conspiracy theorists - whose natural habitat is now the Internet - seem to do the same thing with their ideas. For them, heaven would be to discover that Elvis killed JFK and was then forced into hiding by aliens. The CIA, they would discover, managed to cover it up until Diana accidentally stumbled across the truth late last summer... You get the idea.

Diana, the first global celebrity to die suddenly since the Net became widely available (by which I mean the last couple of years), shows how quickly conspiracy theories - which are just variations on urban myths - can spread in the Internet age. Try typing "Princess Diana conspiracy" in to a search engine and you'll get about 4,000 references. If you do the same with JFK (right), you get about 12,000. But bear in mind that Kennedy was openly gunned down, that he was the most powerful man on earth, and that it happened 30 years ago. You quickly get an idea of how fast Diana information has amassed itself on the Web over the last six months. Imagine what would happen to the Internet these days if Tony Blair were to be assassinated this weekend? It would probably grind to a halt for the rest of the year. (And if he's been rubbed out by the time you read this, I'll have some serious explaining to do.)

Kennedy assassination buffs should make their first stop the aptly named Kennedy Assassination Home Page. It presents itself as something of a cod research tool, supposedly allowing you to "make up your own mind" by supplying its own skewed facts and figures. If nothing else, it gives an insight into the imagination people need to create these stories. It also proves the first rule of conspiracy-spinning: as soon as anything incorrect crops up in an official investigation, it's pounced on as irrefutable evidence of a cover up. The site also supplies a list of links to other Kennedy killing sites, with a series of increasingly unlikely ideas. My favourite: that he was killed by a Secret Service agent whose gun accidentally went off.

Diana conspiracy pages are, as you'd expect, less in-depth. To see how you can take a theory too far, look at the Princess Homicide page on Real News. This claims that the car was crushed in a kind of hydraulic press and then planted in the tunnel by a cabal of agents determined to stop her crusade against land mines.

And what about William and Harry, who, we're told, are upset by the conspiracy theories flying around about Diana? Well, what-ever else they do, I'd suggest they steer clear of their web browsers for, oh, at least the next 30 years.

How Diana was murdered. A cautionary tale of just how paranoid you can get about conspiracy theories. DiMemorial/2consp.html

The Princess Diana Conspiracy Page. Links to other Diana conspiracy pages.

The Kennedy Assassination Home Page. Includes a searchable archive and a list of links to other pages.