Conspiracy theories are everywhere no matter where we turn. What makes these radical ideas unrealistic, yet so addicting?
A president, assassinated by a mysterious Russian man. Two airplanes slamming into two gleaming buildings. An alleged group that is notoriously known for being the most “powerful people on earth.” Now, what do all these have in common? Exactly, they represent the most infamous conspiracy theories that live in the minds of American citizens.
We as humans have managed to survive several thousand generations due to our ability to develop complex thinking and our deep-rooted curiosity in the great unknown. Forging new ideas, humans are always first to detect fine details that seem to be scattered across whatever we put our minds to.
Though often considered taboo, conspiracy theories have long been woven into the fabrics of American society. Events that can be deemed even the slightest bit suspicious, such as an Unidentified Flying Object, can be spun into a radical theory like aliens are actively trying to take over Planet Earth. Although the term “conspiracy theorist” has negative or even crazy connotations, we cannot help but be interested—and even believe in—certain theories.
When asked what she thinks causes a huge spark in interest, Thuyann Nyguenle (grade) remarked “I think human interaction plays a big role in general. It is [considered] human nature to make connections. People started to latch on to the idea that somehow [everything] has to be connected and certain actions are all resulted from one specific ‘force.’”
The reason why conspiracy theories have been able to stay alive for so long is due to their large range to work around all topics no matter how big or small they seem to be. Conspiracy theories also morph into generational aspects to peak their interests with their audience. In older generations, Mr. Creger reflects that the conspiracies he found interesting, mainly involving an older theory on the terrorist attacks that happened in 2001.
“I think the most popular conspiracy theory is that 9/11 was an inside job and a lot of books have been written about that one. The event was so horrific and it generated so much fear and anger. I think fear and anger tend to generate a delusion”.
Audrey Le (11), a junior in American likes to investigate theories that span more into recent events.
“[Theories] that show up on social media tend to pique my interest. There was one called ‘Pizzagate’ which involved Justin Bieber and politicians, and apparently, one of his music videos focused around the abuse in the music industry. That one got me interested and I started to investigate the theory more,” said Le.
Conspiracy theories have a lingering effect on human society, ranging from books from older generations to social media posts in the modern-day. The ability for them to spread so fast and to virtually spread to any topic or hobby could virtually capture the curiosity of anyone, regardless of how old or young you may be.
But there is still a lingering question that is yet to be answered. What place do conspiracy theories have in society? Are they just for the fun of entertaining people who are suffering from boredom? Or could darker theories spawn into something more sinister? Mr. Creger reflects on the effects of the “rigged 2020 election theory” and the resulting attacks at the Capitol building that followed.
“There has been confirmation by such a wide spectrum of people across the political spectrum [Republicans and Democrats] and professionals that specialize in elections. There have been recounts and so much evidence that says the election was fair and the people who continue to believe that it wasn’t fair because of lies that people are telling. That strikes a whole new level of conspiracy theory.” Creger also adds that conspiracy theories are many built off of negative human emotions, and in a way, are a demented way of coping with a traumatic experience. “Anger and fear are compatible partners. When levels of anger and fear are higher, the tendency to want to embrace delusions is more intense.”
Thuyan further expands on the lack of credibility conspiracy theories tend to have, “Without concrete evidence, they are still just theories at the end of the day and should not be taken seriously. Conspiracy theories that circle topics like the COVID-19 vaccine causing autism, or masks not working, are so dangerous since people are dying right now. Misinformation that can be taken seriously is so deadly.”
At the end of the day, there is no doubt that investigating popular conspiracy theories is a great way to cure boredom and to serve as a general source of entertainment. Every person in the world is bound to be somewhat compelled to a certain subject that further stems their curiosity. But when theories are adapted as an excuse to actively pursue harm and indignant actions, is it just a fun activity after all?