Tag Archives: conspiracy theories

On Mars, And Conspiracy Theories

“On Mars, on Mars, on Mars, on Mars, on Mars.” Last lines of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Blue Mars, last book in his Martian trilogy.

I have wondered before what it is about space travel that is so conducive to wild conspiracy theories.

The latest, from the Mail’s online site, has NASA sending real live astronauts to Mars along with the Viking lander in 1979.

A woman called Jackie, who claims to be a former NASA employee, rang a radio station to say she was watching a live feed from Viking. She saw the Viking rover moving around, as well as two men in unfamiliar space suits on the Martian surface. As, she said, did six of her colleagues.

This story, although oddly enough not immediately corroborated by NASA, is all over the Internet conspiracy sites, which contain the belief that there was, or is, a secret space programme.

There are a couple of problems with it, raised some way down the Mail online story. One, Viking did not have wheels, unlike more recent Martian probes. It could not run around, then. Second, there was no live telemetry feed.

 Still, it allowed the Mail to field another recent theory about the Red Planet. A man described as a physicist believes there was once an advanced civilisation on Mars, but it was destroyed by another race of aliens in a nuclear bombardment from space. This is why Mars is red. (Actually it has to do with the presence of iron on the surface which has rusted.)

It’s always space, isn’t it?


On Philae

Can it be too long before theories start to circulate that the European Space Agency’s Philae lander, sent out to a comet immeasurably far away, is a stunt cooked up on the back lot of a film studio?

There is something about space travel that attracts the conspiracy theory nuts, as I have noted before. I have had emails in the past from people keen to persuade me that the Apollo programme was faked up. There are pages and pages of this stuff on the Internet.

The latest news is that, while Philae has landed on the comet, no one is quite sure where it may be. This is bound to excite some interesting theories. Kidnapped by aliens? Plus, a colleague of mine has tweeted, in jest I trust, that it was a dry run for a subsequent journey, to any comet threatening the Earth, by a craft bearing a nuclear weapon, as in the film Armageddon. Expect that one to come around again.

Anyway, here is an exclusive picture of Philae coming into land:


On Conspiracy Theories, Again

I wrote a few days back about America’s sometimes frightening addiction to conspiracy theories.

Now a professor who specialises in these – such academics apparently exist – has suggested the tendency is hardwired into the American psyche.

This is because America was born out of a huge conspiracy theory, that Britain was conspiring to do the colonists down and cheat them out of their rights, he claims.

Not implausible. Many of the perceived slights that triggered the American War of Independence may have been nothing of the kind, or no worse than the way Britain treated other parts of its empire.

I recall some years ago I was editing a humorous diary column and wrote about one of the original first men on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin, I think it was. He had taken to giving motivational talks, for a decent fee, to US corporates.

I said the talks involved all the usual stuff, how the Moon landings were faked up in a back lot in Burbank, California, the flag that hung the wrong way, etc, etc. I would have thought it fairly obvious I was being satirical.

The emails started to arrive. “So you KNOW about that, do you? Well listen to this…” Page after page of this stuff. Deeply worrying.

A New Dark Age

This is well worth reading:

The US is increasingly in the grip of irrational conspiracy theories. Obama is not American, Bush engineered 9/11. Vaccination is bad for you, but Big Pharma is hiding the truth to maximise profits.
The writer blames the Internet for allowing wingnuts, as the Americans call them, to congregate and share their theories. Present them with the facts, and this merely reinforces their views. “You would say that, wouldn’t you? That means you must be part of the conspiracy.”
America seems to be slipping into an abyss of irrationality and illogic, a new dark age. Free speech is increasingly challenged, in the media and in academe. As I have said before, the road to the Enlightenment is not a one-way street.