I think I might have to address the elephant in the room — I enjoy a good conspiracy. What I do want to make clear is that I don’t buy many that are in the public sphere. I am someone that enjoys the storytelling aspect of conspiracies and the mental effort that it takes to piece different forms of “evidence” together.
Lately, I have been listening to a podcast called “Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know.” I had gotten bored of many of the podcasts that I listen to and was looking for something that would add an element of history and fiction together. Something to spice up those workouts and keep the mind working while hitting the gym.
The guys on the show tackle a wide variety of topics including (and my favorite) theories about The Beatles, non-stick pans being poisonous, sports conspiracies, and things happening at CERN. The podcast usually leaves it open to interpretation, not making claims to fact unless already proven by credible sources, giving listeners the option to accept the theory of just enjoy listening to someone’s thoughts. I usually fall on the later because many of the ideas seem to get outside the “normal” radius of thought.
But many of you wonder why I bring up my new podcast obsession? Well, I guess I have to go to three-point land and talk with Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry about his recent claims.
Curry believes that man never landed on the moon. This was stated on a podcast with Curry stating that he doesn’t think it happened. I have yet to listen to the full podcast, but several news outlets are claiming these statements are true.
Which makes me wonder, when have so many been so skeptical?
I realize Curry isn’t the first one to question the moon landing (there have been theories like this for years), but it seems like some celebrities and athletes are drifting further and further away from fact. Last year, Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving brought up how he believes that the Earth is flat. This leads to a lot of mockery, but once again, he wasn’t the first to bring is up recently. Musician B.O.B. got into an argument with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson over the matter.
But while many of us may sit back and get a laugh (or believe) what these celebrities are saying, this should be a cause for alarm from parents, teachers and intellectuals alike. Prominent figures in today’s pop-culture society are stating theories for fact. I spoke with several teenagers about this and some of them actually question if the earth was round. I was astonished.
According to a study conducted in the European Journal of Social Psychology, the belief in conspiracy theories and the supernatural seem to be based around pattern perception. In basic terms, humans look for patterns in physical and social environments and sometimes detect them in chaotic or randomly generated things. This causes an illusory pattern that is a central cognitive ingredient of people’s beliefs in conspiracy theories. The study also shows that the belief in theories is greater in individuals that want to distinguish themselves from everyone.
With so much information at our fingertips, we tend to miss out on the obvious. Disinformation is rampant on the internet and many are falling for it. A scary thought isn’t it?
Well, I am going to try to leave this column not sounding like a loon. I have to get back to Pine Gap and talk to my friend Bigfoot about how the CIA is rigging the winter Olympics. Till next time.
Zach Stich is the managing editor at The Fergus Falls Daily Journal. His column appears each Thursday.