Jan 16th, 2023, 03:00 PM

Conspiracy Theories for the Masses

By Andrew Callaghan
Image Credit: Unsplash/Kamil Feczko
Image Credit: Unsplash/Kamil Feczko
The man in a suit, Sasquatch living amongst the trees, Siri as Steve Jobs from beyond the void; all of these are fun topics to discuss, but have people forgotten that they’re fake?

When you first meet someone new and there’s a lull in the conversation, if you’re anything like me, you probably have a list of deep and thought-provoking questions that you can ask that person to keep the conversation alive. One of my favorite questions from the archives:  What conspiracy theories do you believe in? While usually a rather light-hearted and humorous question, as of late I’ve started to realize that some people actually take conspiracy theories to heart. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in some of them, but not to the extent that I would storm a pizza parlor to free child sex slaves kept hidden in the basement.

For readers who may not know, a conspiracy theory is the belief that certain events or situations are secretly manipulated behind the scenes by powerful forces with a negative intent. They always include a secret group with a plot, and often divide people into the ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

One widely popular example of a conspiracy theory is the existence of an entire city built beneath the Denver airport. Another is the theory that each Mattress Firm in the United States is actually a money laundering front. Are these theories true? No, unfortunately, they are not, but they do make for a great bar room debate. Recently, it seems people are becoming too stupid for conspiracy theories. But why?

In recent years, we’ve started to see less and less conspiracy theories pop up such as those previously mentioned. More recent conspiracies have taken an arguably less fun and laughable turn, and have been along the lines of the COVID-19 pandemic being fake, or that of the infamous example of Pizzagate– the aforementioned child trafficking theory. 

As more and more of these far-fetched stories make their way into the mainstream for people to consume and have opinions on, people start to truly believe what they are being told and don’t stop to question the stories or their sources.  

Conspiracy theories can often present themselves as a clear answer to some event in a time of mass uncertainty. They can even appear to some as a logical explanation for something that is usually very difficult to explain in layman's terms. One of the key questions that gives life to any conspiracy theory is, ‘who benefits?’ From there, the story can take shape and grow. Without being able to decipher what is fact and what is fiction, what once was intended as a joke or myth can quickly become a reality for some people.

Once it has reached a large enough audience, it is often hard to debunk a conspiracy theory. Anyone who opposes the theory is automatically seen as ‘the enemy’, or even a member of the conspiracy. During the COVID-19 pandemic we saw plenty of examples of demonizing the opposition; some of the greatest hits including:

  • The COVID-19 Virus was created by the West to eliminate Kim Jong Un
  • China was testing this virus for warfare and it accidentally got out.
  • The world’s governments created this pandemic so they could use the vaccine as a way to put trackers on their populations.


These theories were circulated en masse on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. Even with no basis or facts to stand on, these theories ran rampant and no longer became topics for a bar room debate, but rather quickly devolved into fake news consumed and reposted at high volumes by niche online communities.

A prime example of this phenomenon is when people believed that drinking bleach could be a cure to COVID. This lead to the social media trend known as the #TidePodChallenge, in which people would question how many Tide pods they could consume. What started as a joke and a rumor was quickly adapted by some as truth. This led to the hospitalization, and death, of some and cured zero people of COVID.

Do I think the era of silly conspiracy theories such as Tupac or Elvis still being alive has come to an end? No, I do not. However, I do think that we have entered an era in which information spreads too quickly on all our social platforms; so much so that it can be hard to decipher what is a joke versus fake news. With the amount of keyboard detectives that we now have in the world, running forward with “answers” to global questions before any formal officials can respond— the rate at which conspiracy theories are introduced, and subsequently trusted, has become alarming.

I look forward to the day when I can debate whether or not there really is an Illuminati headquarters under the Denver airport, and the person with whom I am debating  does not look at me with alarm. But, until that day comes, I think we as humans are just too stupid for conspiracy theories.