5 Dumb Garbage Conspiracy Theories Spreading Right Now
The term "conspiracy theory" derives from a mythical tale in which a group of gargoyles, believing they were the (only) purveyors of all things good, descended upon a town to destroy and cleanse the townsfolk of their "evil ways." Just kidding, we totally made that up, but we bet there are people who would gladly recite that story on their vlog ad nauseam before printing T-shirts that say, "BE THE GARGOYLE." That's just reality now because acquiring factual and correct information in today's world means navigating through a barrage of false and inaccurate drivel being shot at you from all fronts.
2021 has only just begun, so let's look at some of the drivel that's currently trying to get you and your grandma to join the cult of the gargoyle army ...
QAnon Claims Ashli Babbitt Didn't Die During The Capitol Siege, Is A False Flag Crisis Actor
protestors terrorists stormed and infiltrated the Capitol because (sigh) reasons, 35-year-old veteran Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed by a Capitol police officer when she tried to gain entrance to the Speaker's Lobby. A collage of videos taken of the incident was published online, making it easy to determine how exactly the whole thing went down. Only, no, not according to a number of QAnon folk. While Babbitt went from voting for Obama to being radicalized by right-wing extremists online, the group she joined around four years ago has now turned against her -- they're claiming that the videos are lies and that she's actually still alive in some major cover-up.
We theorize that they're simply trying to distract from the dude who, during the riot, may or may not have tased his own balls.
Before we go into these bizarre claims, it's important to note that immediately following Babbitt's death, civilian and celebrity alt-right pundits alike were already holding her up as a martyr and the "first victim of the second Civil War" (and probably printing shirts with her face on it already). Radio host and rejected Garbage Pail Kids doll Alex Jones was calling the shooting an "execution" even before her death was officially confirmed. Babbitt was immediately used as a propaganda and recruiting tool because male white supremacists love nothing more than to hold up dying white women and children to justify their self-imposed hierarchical importance.
But then the narrative started spiraling out of control. The claim made by the QAnon Patriots account on Parler stated that Babbitt's death was a "False Flag Operation." The theory got another tail stuck to it when others posited that, when slowed down, one of the videos of the shooting showed the police officer's gun swerving, meaning Babbitt wasn't even shot. Lin Wood, the attorney who was involved with the "Kraken" lawsuits to overturn the election results and who called for VP Mike Pence to be executed by "firing squad" on his Parler, shared these theories to millions of people. He also claimed that Babbitt's Twitter posts were Photoshopped by the left to make it look like she was affiliated with QAnon. The theory got traction so fast that even Jones had to pivot from "One Of Us!" to "The LEFT gone DONE this!" Others straight-up called Babbitt an Antifa spy.
Like many others who get radicalized, Babbitt had a deep personal need that wasn't being filled by herself nor the world around her. That is until she found a group where she could belong. And in the end, that vile group decided to label her an Antifa spy simply to fit their propaganda.
The COVID-19 Conspiracy Theorists Who Thought A Diagram Of A Guitar Pedal Was A 5G Vaccine Chip
It's really something special when people like anti-vaxxers -- who support theories that are so anti-science -- start passing along diagrams to make their point. It's even funnier when those diagrams turn out to be something completely different. In late December, an image was posted on Facebook by an unknown user who claimed it to be the blueprint of a 5G chip being added to the COVID-19 vaccines. Soon after, the diagram was shared on a Romanian-language radio station's website, and from there, the conspiracy theory spread to Italy. Want to see what it looks like?
Now, if you're wondering why a 5G chip blueprint would have tag words like "bass," "treble," and "footswitch" on it, then congratulations. You have not been fooled by this actually hilarious image. It didn't take long for a software engineer Mario Fusco to debunk this supposed chip diagram on Twitter, revealing that it was nothing more than a presentation of a guitar pedal's electric circuit board. More specifically, it's the circuit board of a Boss Metal Zone distortion pedal. Sorry. We're just laughing at the word "distortion." We're also laughing at the fact that, if you Google Boss Metal Zone pedal, it's clear that many people regard it as one of the worst pedals ever.
There's a good chance that whoever came up with this gnarly theory was satirizing conspiracy theorists of both vaccines and 5G technologies (so, QAnon, basically), but in a world where anything and everything are being used to convince others, they're being lied to, no joke shall go unspared. Somewhere, someone has already removed those music terms with photoshop (just like someone added the "5G FREQ" in there) and presented it as proof that Bill Gates and 5G tech want to come and live in your brain. Of course, we're not sure what's worse: People actually believing this nonsense, or the media giving us headlines like this.
Viral Post Claims The Pope Has Been Arrested
Over the weekend following the Capitol insurrection, an article published on right-wing Canadian website The Conservative Beaver alleged that Pope Francis was arrested for everything under the sun, including incest, human trafficking, and apparently hoarding killer bongs. The article has since been (somewhat) amended, but here's the original statement:
"Pope Francis aka Jorge Mario Bergoglio was arrested Saturday in connection with an 80-count indictment of charges including possession of child pornography, human trafficking, incest, possession of drug paraphernalia and felony fraud."
The original article also plagiarized a September piece by the Associated Press and lifted a quote from Italian prosecutor Giuseppe Governale talking about the Ndrangheta mob as if he was saying this in relation to the arrest of the Pope:
"Giuseppe Governale, Italy's chief anti-mafia prosecutor, said the group was 'underestimated' and particularly dangerous because of its ability to proliferate across nations and infiltrate them."
Fact-checkers and other websites picked up on the potentially explosive story and were quick to debunk it, but the Beaver stood fast, claiming that these "fact-checkers" provided no counter-proof to their original claims. They continued to share the arrest "rumors" that have now swept across the internet, thanks in part to a YouTube video titled "NAVY SEAL CONFIRMS POPE ARRESTED AND INSURRECTION ACT SIGNED."
The Beaver article, as it stands now, ends with the following:
"So, did the Pope get arrested? It depends who you believe. The mainstream media, or alternative news sites that risk everything to tell you the truth."
Why they think every massive media house would not want to cover a story as big as the Pope getting fucking arrested is, quite frankly, beyond us. Of course, it will come as no surprise that the origin of this misinformation was traced back to 4chan. It's pure QAnon fodder and mirrors the efforts of people like Lin Wood, who claim that wide-scale arrests of global figures involved in election fraud and the whole Satanic baby-eating cabal are "imminent." So, there you have it. "Alternative news sites" like The Conservative Beaver get their sources from delinquent internet boards. Dear oh dear, how will we ever know who to believe.
Iran's Supreme Leader Claims That COVID-19 Vaccines From The US And UK Might Be Used To Contaminate Other Countries
Given the tensions between Iran and the US and the fact that Iran has some history with France when it comes to contaminated medical products, this could easily be brushed off as the paranoid rantings of another far-right man who clings to power by playing everyone up against each other, denying the Holocaust whenever he can, and throwing people in jail for speaking out against him. We believe there's a word for that. But given the high rise in susceptibility of conspiracy theories these days, Twitter decided to remove Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's tweet claiming that the vaccines from the US and the UK were "completely untrustworthy" and that "it's not unlikely they would want to contaminate other nations."
He also said that "If the Americans had been able to produce a vaccine, this Corona disaster would not have occurred in their own country." Someone should maybe explain to him how medicine, new viruses, and time works. Maybe throw in a mask tutorial and a video about American Politics 101.
Iran has been hit the hardest by coronavirus in the Middle East, with more than 1.2 million citizens infected already. It should also be pointed out, at the beginning of the outbreak, Iranian authorities were downplaying the numbers and severity of the situation in their country. That is until those authorities got sick, and some of them died. Sound familiar? Someone remind us again what the word is for people who point fingers at others to distract from their own failures.
Dominion Voting Systems Is Suing Sidney Powell For Her Conspiracy Theories About Their Election Equipment
Before we get into it, please enjoy this introductory paragraph on Sidney Powell's Wikipedia page:
"Sidney Katherine Powell (born 1955) is an American attorney and former federal prosecutor, best known for her promotion of conspiracy theories in attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election."
Nice. Anyway, for those who may not know or who've swiftly forgotten about it thanks to *gestures at everything,* Powell first threatened to and then released "The Kraken" by filing lawsuits in Michigan and Georgia in November 2020, claiming massive electoral fraud in both states. Those claims, however, contained as much evidence as tanning your butthole to acquire enlightenment or whatever. The filings contained rehashes of previous conspiracy theories that were already debunked. An expert witness listed in the lawsuit was an 8kun (previously 8chan) administrator. However, the big kicker is the claim that Trump's electoral loss was a global conspiracy involving numerous countries like China and Iran, also Hugo Chavez. You know, the former Venezuelan president who died in 2013.
Powell got some good airtime from Fox News and OANN with her claims about voter fraud done through Dominion Voting System's election machines. See, in a series of roundabout acrobatic bullshittery, Powell and her fellow QAnon folk managed to tie Dominion to a Venezuelan company specializing in global voting systems. According to them, this company and their machines were the ones responsible for keeping Chavez in power (they were not), and the same technological strategies were now being used by the Democrats to win the election and turn the United States of America into a socialist-commie country. Just like Chavez would've wanted, apparently.
Powell's disinformation campaign went viral on social media, causing Dominion employees to be harassed and receive death threats. This brings us to the first week in January of 2021, when Dominion officially filed a lawsuit against Powell -- a suit that should be followed closely, as it could potentially set a precedent for the legal accountability of spreading disinformation online.
While Fox News aired a segment admitting that the Dominion claims were unsubstantiated, Powell doubled down and tweeted that she was "retracting nothing."
Powell and her posse of Lin Woods and Beavers and Q-chan cronies may seem like opportunistic extremists more concerned about cozying up to people like their twice-impeached president than they are about any real threats to humanity. But these individuals' actions -- who have now become a collective -- are causing real and long-lasting harm. Ashli Babbitt was retweeting Powell's allegations as well as countless of Lin Wood's Deep State tweets in the weeks leading up to the Capitol siege. So did many, many others, believing that they were furthering the collective cause when all they were doing was feeding the algorithms that keep these people relevant to pursue their own agendas.
The same people that'll throw their gargoyle army members under the bus, then try to secure a book deal.
Zanandi plays "Spot The Gargoyle" on Twitter. Give her a follow.
Top image: Harold Escalona, Giulio Napolitano/Shutterstock