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Conspiracy theories - Going beyond the idea of truth (by Private)

In the remaining part of this article, we will dive deeper into some, a few perhaps less well-known, conspiracy theories from around the world, to see just how creative, fascinating, or ridiculous they can be. Beginning with the United States, which could perhaps be regarded as the homeland of conspiracy theories, due to many of them having originated there, we have a whole bunch of weird conspiracy theories going around. Some of the most interesting ones are the so called replacement or imposter theories, which usually posit that a certain celebrity has actually died and then been replaced with a look-alike. In the case of former First Lady Melania Trump, who had allegedly been replaced or was sometimes replaced by a body double, theories claimed that she had either died, refused to attend certain events, or had completely withdrawn from public life. The “evidence” put forward for this theory consists of alleged differences in facial features, bodily dimensions, and behaviour between Melania and her supposed body double, as well as changes in former President Donald Trump's language when referring to her. Another theory involving the former first lady states that she is in fact a Russian spy, paid by President Vladimir Putin to become Donald Trump's wife in order to gain firsthand intelligence on American politics. Perhaps it is the case that both are true, with Melania employing a body double to attend events so that she herself would be able to spy freely??

Speaking of spying, a Turkish newspaper reported in 2017 that supposed enemies of the country were using torn jeans to communicate with each other. As far-fetched as that might sound, it was alleged that the rips and holes in the denim corresponded to coded messages that foreign agents were using to signal to each other. For observers, it was obvious that this was just one of many in a line of theories that support the so called “mastermind” narrative, coined by the country's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which suggests that a certain command and control institution, usually considered to be the government of the United States, is plotting to weaken Turkey by orchestrating events considered hostile to the country. As you can see, this is a classic type of conspiracy theory, involving a group that is purportedly engaging in covert activity to break down an enemy. A similar sentiment can be found in the conspiracy theory involving the so called Big Pharma, which claims that the major medical companies have actually found a cure for cancer, but are withholding it because the money that can be made from cancer treatment would quickly vanish if a cure was made available. This theory has been debunked several times, with some arguing that companies would actually be able to make more money from selling a cure, and that it would be impossible for humans to keep a secret of such importance.

Moving on, do you remember what you were doing eight years ago? Were you perhaps enthusiastically pouring a full bucket of cold ice over your head to raise awareness about and money for the neurodegenerative disease known as ALS? Unbeknownst to you at the time, you might actually have been engaging in a ritual purification cleansing, passed down by Satan himself. At least if you believe the conspiracy theory that maintains that the so called ice bucket challenge was in fact a precursor of the largest human sacrifice in history. A theory of comparable kind is the one that asserts that the current monarch of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth, is actually a cannibal. The theory traces its origins to a British historian, who argued that the Queen's vitality must be due to her eating human flesh. The claim was “confirmed” when a serviceman at the Windsor Castle had reportedly discovered human remains inside the Queen's “private freezer”. I suppose, if the Queen really is a cannibal, it is perhaps not completely improbable that her son, Prince Charles, is actually a vampire...

Next up: Finland is not real. Yes, that is it. I am sorry to break it to you Finns, but you do not actually exist. Believe it or not, this is a real conspiracy theory that started as a joke on Reddit, but eventually gained a large following across the internet. According to the theory, Finland is actually a fictional landmass, made up by Japan and the Soviet Union in 1918 as a way to be able to fish the Baltic Sea undisturbed. This also means that the people who consider themselves Finns are actually Swedish, Russian, or Estonian. Theorists argue that the rest of the world has figured this out by now, but are keeping it a secret, instead allowing “Finland”, which consistently places at the top in rankings of education, healthcare, gender equality, and so on, to serve as a model for a better world. While most people discussing the theory appear to be taking it as the joke it is meant to be, there are a number of hardcore believers who seem adamant about proving that Finland is indeed a fantasy. I guess they just have not met a real Finnish person yet... Speaking of landmasses, you have all heard about the flat-earthers, but have you come across those believing the hollow Earth theory? According to this theory, our planet is actually hollow, and accessible via portals located at the North and South Poles. Some variants of the theory even claim that there are people living inside it. You know, like the Vikings or Nazis, or simply just a completely different civilisation. While on the topic of planets, a new conspiracy theory, postulating that us humans actually come from Mars, went viral on TikTok last year. According to this theory, humans used to live on Mars, but after draining the planet of natural resources and destroying it with nuclear bombs, it was rendered inhabitable. Sounds strangely familiar, does it not?

As we reach the end of this article, it should be said that while the conspiracy theories discussed above have repeatedly been debunked as false, it is the case that there are conspiracy theories, first dismissed as nonsense, that have later actually turned out to be true. Examples of this include the CIA's testing of LSD and hallucinogenic drugs, which initially involved consenting volunteers, but was later expanded to include people who were dosed without their knowledge, leaving many victims permanently mentally disabled. Another example comes from Canada, where the government was so paranoid about homosexuality that it hired a university professor to develop a machine that was supposed to detect whether a man was gay or not, resulting in the exclusion or firing of more than 400 men from the civil service, military, and police. Finally, there is of course the example of the tobacco companies, which concealed the fact that smoking causes cancer for several decades, leading countless people into an addiction that causes millions of deaths every year. As you can see, the examples in this category are sinister, and remind us that we always need to stay wary and critical about the world around us. While the step from being healthily skeptical to harmfully paranoid might not always be a large one, just remember this: Always check your sources, and stay clear of echo chambers!

Do you know any interesting conspiracy theories you think others should hear about? Let me know in the comments below!
You have probably heard this before: The Earth is actually flat. NASA faked the moon landing. Airplanes leave chemtrails meant to control us. Aliens have visited us. The Illuminati is plotting to take over the world. These are all examples of well-known conspiracy theories that have now been circulating for decades, with millions of believers all over the world. The most recent additions to the long list of existing conspiracy theories are probably those related to the current coronavirus pandemic; for example, the one that states that the covid-19 vaccines contain a microchip. While certain conspiracy theories can be discussed and believed in, all in good fun, there are certain other theories that are much more sinister, and which can have grave consequences for those impacted by them. One important example is the conspiracy theory that states that the Holocaust was in fact a hoax. Conspiracy theories are characterised by their purpose to explain certain events or phenomena as brought about or perpetuated by a powerful group of people, who are often thought to be purposely misleading the public. Researchers have argued that conspiracy theories often stem from the need to create order and gain a sense of control in an otherwise chaotic world, and, as such, are a result of us human's need to have an explanation for everything. However, even with the existence of plausible explanations for different events, conspiracy theories continue to flourish. They always provide an alternative explanation that differs from the mainstream consensus, and are usually not supported by actual evidence. Furthermore, they often make use of so called circular reasoning, whereby both evidence against the conspiracy and the absence of evidence to prove it are regarded as evidence of its truth.

Conspiracy theorists often believe that they possess a certain mode of thinking or have access to information that the rest of the population does not – they have "woken up" or "seen the light" – which makes them able to see through the many conspiracies that purportedly exist in the world. They see themselves as truth seekers, who aim to uncover the many supposed lies that operate in society. Another common denominator is the belief that everything is orchestrated and happens as a result of conscious decisions, usually on part of some nefarious group, rather than as a result of chance or structural factors. Conspiracies are further regarded as “perfect”, in the sense that they are unrealistically successful in concealing their agendas and achieving their aims. While conspiracy theories have probably existed since the beginning of civilisation, they have become much more common and widespread with the introduction of internet and social media, which enable people from all corners of the world to flock together around shared beliefs, influencing and spurring each other on. Researchers have warned about the potential impact of widespread beliefs in conspiracy theories, some using the word infodemic as a way to emphasise the damage that the spread of misinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories can have. The term also alludes to the speed of which such ideas spread and take root.

We only need to turn to recent history to understand just how powerful conspiracy theories can be. There is a general consensus that conspiracy theories and the spreading of lies about Jews enabled the Holocaust, and more recently, that the conspiracy theories about the "stolen election" led to the storming of the US Capitol last year. While these are pretty extreme examples, they clearly show how far-reaching consequences that conspiracy theories can have. Not all conspiracy theories are of course so bad that they cause mass murders or deadly riots, but many of them undermine trust, both between fellow human beings, but also in institutions and established norms and ways of life, which creates a society where there is a large minority that no longer thinks it needs to play by the rules. Of course, being critical and wary of the information that is put forward to us is in no way a negative trait. However, it becomes a problem when there is no longer a common baseline, a common idea of what is considered truth. Or, put differently, when we live in a world where we can no longer distinguish between fact and fiction. It is also important to note how conspiracy theories can undermine efforts to question and criticise real injustices in society, which are usually a result of structural systems such as capitalism and patriarchy. In order to combat inequalities in the world, some conspiracy theories thus need to be done away with, but this is of course easier said than done. Given the power they can have, and the many decades or even centuries some of them have been around, conspiracy theories will probably always be a part of human existence.

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Private wrote on 24-01 23:34:
BloomCissi wrote:
Toraix wrote:
this is probably the first article in a long time that i actually read
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Private wrote on 24-01 00:21:
BloomCissi wrote:
Rottomilko wrote:
ohhh this layout was trippy, i love it!
very interesting topic!! 
Right, Kofod did an amazing job with this! I'm glad you liked it!
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Toraix wrote on 23-01 21:32:
Toraix wrote:
this is probably the first article in a long time that i actually read
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Allie wrote on 23-01 21:16:
Allie wrote:
this layout is everything! Great work!
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Private wrote on 23-01 21:15:
Rottomilko wrote:
ohhh this layout was trippy, i love it!
very interesting topic!! 

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