With over 4 million articles, Wikipedia is an invaluable resource, whether you're throwing a term paper together at the last minute, or you’re fact-checking that interactive Dr. Who timeline on your own initiative. But follow enough links, and you get sucked into some seriously strange places. We explore some of Wikipedia's oddities in our 4,385,469-week series, Wiki Wormhole.
This Week’s Entry: List Of Conspiracy Theories
What It’s About: The government doesn’t want you to know, man! They’ve covered the whole thing up! At least since the discovery of marijuana, possibly earlier, people have been coming up with alternate explanations for the “official” story for all sorts of things, from UFOs, to assassinations, to any number of actions taken by any number of governments. Many are convoluted, many are unbelievable, but a few have a kernel of truth at their heart. Or maybe that’s just what Obama and his army of gang members want you to believe!
Strangest Fact: That many believe shadowy forces are trying to impose a New World Order is no surprise. That some cite Denver International Airport as the headquarters for these shadowy forces is a surprise. The airport is targeted for suspicion because of its large size relative to the city and its supposedly unusual distance from the city center, not to mention Masonic symbols in the terminal’s Great Hall. Supposedly, the terminal includes a massive underground base holding a secret fleet of black helicopters ready to take flight at the wave of some unseen hand. Also, they have a Cinnabon.
Controversy: It’s all controversial, it’s just a matter of degrees from Holocaust denial to the government outlawing hemp. The most hotly debated controversy is still the September 11th attacks, which have a 14,000-word page of their own discussing various theories from the ridiculous (someone managed to smuggle enough explosives into the twin towers to detonate them from within without attracting any notice), to even more ridiculous (there were no planes—they were missiles made to look like planes using holographic projection, the non-existent technology popularized by Scooby-Doo).
Thing We Were Happiest To Learn: We seem to be one step ahead of the Man. When the mandatory switch from broadcast to digital television happened, there were claims that miniature cameras and microphones were being built into the new set-top converters in order to spy on people. Some even claimed that the boxes were mind-control devices. Luckily, Americans are in the process of ditching digital cable in favor of streaming services, so until they find a way to cram a camera into the Roku box, we’re in the clear.
Thing We Were Unhappiest To Learn: It’s no shock, but it's still disappointing to see that President Obama not only has an extensive entry here but also has two separate pages devoted to conspiracies surrounding his personal history — Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories, and Barack Obama religion conspiracy theories. Obviously the birther theory is the main issue, but a lesser-known theory posits that both Barack and Michelle inactivated their law licenses to avoid ethics charges. In fact, there were no ethics charges, and the couple most likely let their licenses laps because they’re no longer lawyers and probably won’t return to practicing law after 2013. Although that would make a hell of a Law & Order spinoff.
Also noteworthy: The “New Coke” theory suggests that Coca-Cola’s disastrous 1985 revamp of its product was a smokescreen. Supposedly, the company could “re-introduce” its original formula, but with cheaper corn syrup swapped out for sugar. This is, in fact, what happened, but whether it was an intentional strategy is a matter of speculation, which depends on how willing you are to believe that Coke would gamble its status as the most popular soft drink in the world on a convoluted (albeit successful) scheme.
Best link to elsewhere on Wikipedia: The fascinating story of David Icke, a British footballer-turned-sportscaster who, after being pushed out by the BBC, held a press conference in which he announced he was “Son Of The Godhead.” Soon after, Icke promoted theories that the world was being controlled by an elite group of secret reptilian creatures who are the descendants of aliens from the constellation Draco. Among the aliens have been every U.S. president, Queen Elizabeth II, the Egyptian Pharaohs, the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, and naturally, Bob Hope. Icke’s theories include humanity being controlled by a secret alien computer sending signals from the moon, Princess Diana being murdered because she knew too much, and some stuff on child abuse and water fluoridation, because why the hell not.
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