If you think the earth is flat, you can go online to find others of like mind who will affirm your belief.
If you think the moon landing was a fake stunt carried out in some film studio with special effects and actors, you can go online to find others of like mind who will affirm your belief.
Perhaps you believe that the earth and universe are only 6,000 years old. Online, you will find others who will affirm your belief.
Conspiracy theorists have been around about as long as humans have roamed the earth, but these days they can get a lot more exposure in a much shorter time through the Internet. Good conspiracy theories thread in actual historical events or scientific truths. The flag planted by astronaut Neil Armstrong appears in a photograph to be fluttering in a breeze. Impossible since there is no wind on the moon. So the landing was fake.
Reasonable explanations are quickly dismissed.
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy remains one of the most popular conspiracy theories. The CIA had him killed. The mob had him killed. Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone, and Oswald was killed because his handlers feared he'd spill the beans.
Another long-running conspiracy theory is the spacecraft that crashed in Roswell, N.M. The alien occupants - in some conspiracy versions they died in the crash; in others they lived and were kept in captivity - along with their ship, are hidden in the government's secret facility at Area 51.
Scientists have taken apart the spacecraft, and some of the technology they discovered is evidenced today in the modern advances we have seen in recent decades.
As is evidenced here, conspiracies often conflict. If we got all this technology from the crashed spaceship, why did we have to fake a moon landing?
Conspiracy theories always look good on first blush. The U.N. is taking over the world. Since the organization is world reaching this makes perfect sense. Until you consider the agency has no authoritative powers on its own. So the argument basically is that member countries of the U.N. are trying to take over themselves. Yeah, that makes sense.
The government was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and is covering it up.
Actually, the argument that the government is covering up the attacks, the fake moon landing, the Kennedy assassination, alien invasions or anything else loses a little credibility when you stop to think that in all the years not one person has ever come forward to say they were part of any one of these conspiracies.
Given the prevalence of today's "me first" society, where everyone is clamoring to write a book or get a reality TV show based on what they know, it is implausible to think that all these people have remained and continue to remain quiet about their involvement in any of these massive plots.
On its website, the Flat Earth Society says the organization dates back to the early 1800s. "Flat Earth views were based largely on literal interpretation of Bible passages," the website notes.
Literal Bible interpretations also are at the root of beliefs that the earth is only 6,000 years old. Supporters of this theory generally base their argument on following the generations of individuals in the Bible and counting up the years.
Scientific evidence showing the earth to be much older is dismissed by these believers, such as how is it that we can see the light from stars that are billions of light years away if the universe was only created 6,000 years ago? Light travels at a set pace, so if the universe is only 6,000 years old, the light from those stars billions of light years away would not be reaching us yet and we wouldn't be able to see them. Conspiracy theorists, however, generally have no use for science, or any direct evidence that may contradict their beliefs.
Questioning conventional wisdom and viewing official accounts of events and activities with a skeptical eye can reveal inconsistencies and lead to the discovery of truth, but conspiracy theorists who ignore the inconsistencies in their own arguments or dismiss scientific data because it doesn't fit with their beliefs are living in a delusional world and, unfortunately, through the Internet, tend to gain far wider audiences than they actually deserve.