The Conspiracy Theory Edition
The Short Story - Issue 22 - October.2021
This week I’ve been thinking about conspiracy theories.
It’s a freaky time to be alive. When I was preparing for adulthood no one warned me that I would be raising a child during a global pandemic or that a bunch of people wouldn’t believe that it was a global pandemic and still more wouldn’t get a vaccine that could help end that pandemic because one time Nicki Minaj tweeted about someone’s swollen testicles.
Can you imagine someone asks why you won’t get a potentially life saving vaccine and your answer is:
Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s swollen Trinidadian testicles.
Despite being an insane thing to say, this sentence makes a fantastic vocal warm up. It really hits every part of your mouth AND THAT’S THE ONLY GOOD THING ABOUT IT.
Conspiracy theories are no longer just the domain of that creepy uncle that only visits every few years or the lady two houses over who thinks someone is trying to steal and sell all of her cats. Conspiracy theories are having their moment on the main stage.
So, let’s go ahead and don our illuminati robes, give Bigfoot a high five, and feel the rush of the 5Gs coursing through our veins as we search for the truth in the Conspiracy Theory edition.
Why are humans likely to create and believe far fetched conspiracy theories? According to TED-ED, humans are programmed to look for patterns and Ramsey theory explains that given a large enough data-set interesting patterns will always emerge.
No, Moby Dick did not predict the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., or the death of Princess Diana. It DID, however, predict that I would spend the rest of grad school desperately trying to not finish reading Moby Dick and fake my way through conversations about it because that book is boring.
If you’re wondering what other things people around you are actively believing are true, this is an eye-opening list. For example, I had no idea that there are people out there just getting groceries and thinking about how the Denver International Airport is the Illuminati's headquarters. Or, running errands like getting an oil change and then dropping their dog off at the groomers whilst completely convinced that Prince Charles is a vampire.
Okay, so we know that humans are always seeking patterns and that leads us to make some pretty weird associations — but how do those ideas spread so quickly? Well, as my COVID denying neighbor would say, “it’s all social media’s fault!”
I hate it when he’s right.
Bogus conspiracy theories like this have always been a part of U.S. history. Only now, experts say they're spreading faster and wider than ever before – accelerated by social media, encouraged by former President Trump, and weaponized in a way not seen before in American history. — Joel Rose for NPR
One of my favorite examples of how quickly misinformation and conspiracy theories can spread is the time a guy named Jack accidentally convinced the internet that Finland didn’t exist.
"I take massive pride in it," Jack said. "I've told all of my friends, and they think it's hysterical. When sitting around telling stories, very few things trump, 'I once started a viral online conspiracy that the landmass of Finland didn't exist.'"
Okay, so conspiracy theories tend to be funny and we often dismiss those who believe outlandish things like flat Earth theory as harmless, but Ted Goertzel a conspiracy theory researcher at Rutgers argues:
The basic goal of a conspiracy theorist, he says, isn’t usually to prove that one specific theory is true or false, but “to prove that nothing is provable, that all assertions are arbitrary.” — The Verge
Also, this article was written in 2017 and somehow PREDICTS THE EXACT PROBLEMS WE’RE HAVING TODAY. It’s like an eerily prescient episode of the Simpsons.
Okay, this is all pretty deep stuff, so let’s end with something funny. I watched the new show INSIDE JOB tonight (Produced by Gravity Falls’ Alex Hirsch). It’s all about conspiracy theories and it’s hilarious.
Okay, that’s it for this edition!
Just for the record: science is real, vaccines work, Finland exists, our planet is not flat, and Bigfoot gives *amazing* hugs.
Until next time,
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