by Jonathan M. Gitlin
Conspiracy theories are as American as apple pie or crippling student loans. Seemingly rational individuals are, it turns out, able to hold completely irrational beliefs that can be remarkably resistant to objective reality. We never really landed on the moon. [science_finding_i_don’t_like] is just a scam so scientists can get more grant money. Aliens live in a base underneath Denver International Airport. Psychologists (possibly under orders from a shadowy cabal of New World Order officials and cyborg Pharma executives) suggest that a combination of cynicism and a feeling of powerlessness in the face of events, combined with a little added low self worth, makes the most fertile minds for conspiracy theories to take root in.
So, for those ripe to believe, Ars presents a few favorite conspiracy theories for your Memorial Day consideration:
Colony Collapse Disorder
The ongoing decline in US and European honey bee populations continues to defy simple explanations. Although a lot of recent attention has focused on the role of neonicotinoid pesticides, evidence also points to a role for mites, fungi, viruses, and industrial bee keeping practices. One might think that many plausible causes behind Colony Collapse Disorder would suffice for even the most cynical mind—no matter how low its self esteem was. And yet, that hasn’t stopped conspiracy theorists dismissing this so-called science in favor of blaming Monsanto and others for engineering GMO crops designed to take out the humble honey bee for reasons of corporate domination. Not to mention cellphone towers and their evil (but non-ionizing) EM emissions. Even the Russians and Osama Bin Laden are to blame.
USS Jimmy Carter
Named for the 39th President who served as a nuclear engineer in the US Navy, the USS Jimmy Carter is one of three Seawolf-class fast attack submarines. Originally conceived to do battle with titanium-hulled Akulas in a real-life Red Storm Rising, the Jimmy Carter was instead chosen to replace the most decorated ship in the Navy, the USS Parche. Not much is known about what USS Parche got up to between 1979 and 2004, and even less is known about Jimmy Carter‘s exploits: tapping underwater cables, exfiltrating intelligence assets, policing the Benthic Treaty (OK, not that last one). But you have to admit, the boat’s official website doesn’t really give much away!
This low information environment provides a blank slate as dark as Jimmy Carter’s hull onto which the less conventional thinker can chalk their theory. For one example, the vessel is the party responsible for the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people. Apparently, the submarine was able to trigger seismic activity via some kind of directed energy weapon. And how do we know this? Dead cetaceans off the coast of Australia, you see. Oh, and the fact that when the boat returned home she was flying a broom from her conning tower.
Needless to say the finger has also been pointed at the USS Jimmy Carter for causing the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan and caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The US Air Force’s X-37B unmanned shuttle also gets to play a role in this event, allegedly spending a week in orbit above Japan monitoring Jimmy Carter‘s repeated attempts to cause a supposedly natural disaster. The proof? Increased infrared emissions heating the atmosphere above the epicenter.
Blaming earthquakes on submarines might be a recent thing, but blaming them on the US government is nothing new. Who can forget the revelation in 1995 that former DoD scientist Travis Dane faked his own death and was using a particle beam device on the satellite Grazer One to cause seismic activity until he was stopped by a chef and retired sailor on a train in the Rocky Mountains? Or that only two years later, a New York cab driver called Jerry Fletcher waged a campaign of harassment against an official at the Department of Justice, Alice Sutton, centered on a NASA plot to assassinate the President using a seismic weapon carried aboard the Space Shuttle?
Oh, wait, that’s right, those were just movies.