There's no arguing with someone who believes an insane conspiracy theory. To believe in one of these things in the first place requires dismissing so many facts and so much common sense that nothing will ever get through. They believe because they want to believe, and will inevitably decide that any evidence you provide against the conspiracy was planted by the conspiracy itself.
And if that's the case, why even bother arguing with conspiracy theorists at all, driving massive, hilarious trucks though the holes in their logic? Because the more you dig in, the more hilarious the theories get.
In 1969, the world watched in amazement as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. It's impossible to overstate how much of an achievement this was for humanity. No longer were we the universe's equivalent of that carless friend who continuously begs for rides. Humanity could go anywhere it wanted now.
And then a bunch of people decided that it was all totally fake, nothing more than a film set in a hangar with astronauts bouncing along on fishing lines. Oh sure, there were a few rockets as well -- gotta dupe some people with that. And the radio signals detected from every corner of the planet. And a thousand other things. But forget all that, it was a conspiracy. Even if such a conspiracy would have been more complex and expensive than actually going to the damn moon in the first place. It was a conspiracy that stood as a glorious testament to America's skill at underhandedness and laziness ... or at least, it would have been for all of ten seconds before the Soviet Union busted us.
What everyone forgets about the USSR's space program was that it consisted of a lot more than a man and some dogs and a cavalcade of hilarious disasters. It was a vast, incredibly-successful program that set all of the records for being in space. For several years, the Soviets owned space and, vitally, possessed the ability to track and receive radio signals from any spacecraft they wished. If we'd only pretended to land on the moon, they would have come at us with receipts.
If you think they'd have covered for us like a bunch of bros, well, we'd already been through this dance by the time of the moon landings. In 1960, an American spy plane was shot down inside Soviet airspace. Khrushchev waited until the Eisenhower government had spun a few lies about it being a weather research plane before revealing to the world the truth: It was a spy plane, and here's the pilot to prove it, and oh look, here's the big fuck-off camera he was carrying with him. If they had the opportunity to damage our political and scientific standing on the world stage by revealing we'd faked the moon landing, they wouldn't have hesitated for a second. And why would they? They were still mad about the voices in Rocky And Bullwinkle. That kind of insult takes decades to heal.
Surveys say 12 million people think that shapeshifting lizards have taken over the world by disguising themselves as world leaders and other figureheads. And maybe they're right? Have any of you pried at your senator's neck skin lately?
OK, it's clearly nonsense. In such a world, all of our world leaders and celebrities would disappear during the cold months, leaving the world in the squishy, often-moist hands of us mammal plebes. Lizards aren't warm-blooded, and unless shapeshifting into human form results in internal human biology as well, a lizard person would have to hibernate during the colder months of the year. A communal hibernation too, because that's also something that lizards do:
The warmer months wouldn't exactly bring forth their dominion either. They'd have to wait until the sun had risen before coming out, and even then they'd be sluggish until their body temperature kicked into gear. They'd also need to get back home before sunset for the opposite reason, and would be seen most days taking their lunch whilst laying on a rock somewhere. Although we guess the steps of the Lincoln Memorial would work just as well.
And sure, it's a little pointless using things like science and logic to point out how stupid this all is, so try this on: What is even the point of a conspiracy of lizard politicians when we already have ample evidence of the havoc that regular, warm-blooded human politicians can do?
Several high-ranking Nazis escaped to Argentina following the end of the war, which has led many to speculate that Hitler did the same. It sounds sort of reasonable. What if as the Soviets were closing in, Hitler fired a gun that shot a Batman-esque "BANG!" banner, and then slipped out the side door while everyone was laughing? Is that so hard to believe?
Yes, it is hard to believe. Because if it was true, it'd definitely have meant another world war. The main problem is the man himself. Hitler had a bit of an ego. Again, not unlike the Joker. Or Jack Nicholson, for that matter.
Hitler was famously a control freak, a megalomaniac who distrusted his generals and dictated everything (as dictators are wont to do). Remember, this is the man who conceived of a system of government centered on the idea that he was the head of a race of superhumans. Which means if Der Fuhrer had escaped, there's literally no chance that he would have been happy retiring to a mountainside chalet to tend llamas. He would have started some shit again.
But how? He'd have no men ... aside from all those other Nazis who absconded to the Costa del Argentine to take up a life of goat-herding and sulking. And he wouldn't have found himself short of support from the local population, either. Argentina remained neutral during the war, partially as a result of the high numbers of German immigrants living there. If Hitler had washed up on their shores and told them that they were the only force remaining to retake the fatherland, he'd have found a few willing listeners.
And it was the country's leaders -- fascist sympathizers themselves -- who set up the "ratlines" that helped so many war criminals escape to their shores in the first place. Granted, they were doing this in the hope of gathering scientific and military talent to make the country a superpower on par with the United States and the USSR, rather than an overt commitment to Hitler's ideals. But it certainly displays a leadership structure with a moral flexibility that would be a breeding ground for someone like Hitler. That Argentina didn't try to become a new Aryan superpower -- it instead focused its energy on mastering soccer and coups -- is proof enough that Hitler never made it there.
According to some very excitable people, every day, the government flies chemical-spewing planes over our heads with the aim of turning us into obedient slaves, disease-ridden test subjects, or just flat-out morons.
These chemical-spewing planes supposedly leave behind visible trails called chemtrails, a word which someone has almost certainly confused with contrails -- a very real, very mundane phenomenon you get when you dump hot wet air from a jet engine into cold dry air. But explain condensation all you want and huff on as many windows as you dare, you're not going to talk any believer out of this one. This isn't about the science to them.
But what about the logistics? Because for a plot like this to be effective, it would require trillions of dollars. There's just too much land and air to cover; spraying everything from high altitude like that isn't exactly the most efficient way to dose a population. Crop dusters fly low for a reason. Heck, we know all this from the time we very definitely drugged people from the sky:
Let's start with simply the amount of chemicals required. To cover the country with the same concentration of chemicals that a crop duster squirts out, you'd need roughly 120 billion gallons of the stuff. That's just one dose, and it's already several times more than what all the world's oil tankers can carry. Which should also clue you into the second main problem: how many planes would be required. It's something on the order of four million 747s, and at $83 million per plane, it might be cheaper to simply pay some hoodlums to go door-to-door bludgeoning people with gold-leafed phone books.
You can try to fiddle with the numbers if you want, imagining ultra-concentrated, super potent brain drugs which incapacitate people with but a drop. But that's mostly science fiction, and poses another problem: If a drug is effective with one drop, what happens when someone gets exposed to two drops? Or 50? These chemicals wouldn't get dispersed evenly, and it's hard to imagine a chemical with an ultra-low effective dose that doesn't also have an ultra-low fatal dose.
And in the end, what do our conspirators get for their trillions of dollars? A plot which is utterly ineffective against people indoors? For the first time ever, Generation Netflix will have done something right? What nonsense.
The flat Earth and hollow Earth theories are different, obviously. That's what words mean. But there are some similarities between them, in that they both speak to radically different visions of the nature of our world and there isn't anything to immediately disprove them at eye level, at least.
Lurking just in the wings, though, is every field of science ever. A flat or hollow earth would tear up basically everything we know about gravity, physics, geology, and astronomy. Almost every single aspect of the modern world would have to be an elaborate ruse. If the world was flat, NASA wouldn't have just faked the moon landing; they'd be faking everything they do every day. Physics too, has some words to say about the idea. At the moment, there's a gigantic magnetic field protecting the Earth from solar radiation, without which we'd be dead. This magnetic field is generated by the mass of molten metals swirling inside our planet, and if the Earth was flat or hollow, we wouldn't have that. So where's it coming from?
Anything else? Just everything. The seasons. Phases of the moon. Time zones wouldn't work. We can see satellites with our naked eyes. Surveyors have to correct for the Earth's curvature when measuring large distances. Seismic waves. When we jump up and down, there isn't a hollow sound.
And sure, if you're really attached to one of these theories, you can still believe it by claiming that all the evidence is faked, and all the scientists laughing and spitting at you were paid to do so. But when you extend that line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, you realize ...
The problem behind all conspiracy theories is that even if they were true, every single one of these conspiracies would implode on its own. The odds of keeping a secret go down dramatically the more people know it, which is the basis on which some researchers created a mathematical equation to predict how long, given the number of people involved, major conspiracies would take to unravel. If Big Science was making up climate change, for instance, they'd only have had 3.5 years before one of their 400,000 employees 'fessed up. Meanwhile, a "vaccines contain poison" skit would have lasted three years before the CDC and FDA's herd immunity toward getting arrested ran out.
So what about something like 9/11? While the researchers didn't calculate a timespan for that, from their math, we know that to keep a conspiracy secret for over five years, it can't have more than 2,521 conspirators. And there's a good chance that between the CIA, FBI, ASCE, FAA, NYPD, NYFD, and NYP-EMS, that many people would have been preparing coffee for the true conspirators.
"Ahhh," you say. "What if they were all assassinated afterwards? That's how I'd do it." OK, A) Holy shit, how much thought have you put into this? And B) That would still be the dumbest idea ever, because someone might notice the entire editorial staff of Popular Mechanics committing suicide after publishing their conspiracy-busting book.
"OK," you add hastily. "I just meant maybe they were all paid off." OK sure, fine.
The original equation is based on workers keeping quiet out of loyalty, not because they were paid fat stacks. But we've covered this point before: If the conspirators were paying off troublesome individuals, any of the conspiracies we've mentioned above would be the biggest employer in recorded history. If you discovered that children's vaccines were being dosed with poison, how big would the check have to be to keep your mouth shut? A million dollars? Ten million? It's got to be enough that you could disappear and live the rest of your days blocking out the nightmares with alcohol. And now multiply that by the number of people involved. The IRS will hear about that eventually, unless they're all getting paid off too, and then what happens when some dude notices his neighbor who works at the IRS has boat money? You fairly quickly reach the point where you can't pay off everyone without creating so much inflation that you've effectively paid off no one.
It just doesn't work. Which raises the question: If conspiracy theories don't work, who's coming up with all these conspiracy theories?
Is it the government? To keep us confused and scared and docile?
Oh shit ...
Appease our lizard overlords with this plush iguana, but be sure not to let the mole people see. They are known to get jealous.
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