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5 Absurd Conspiracy Theories in Astronomy

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I am a marketing professional holding a postgraduate degree in management. Astronomy is my hobby.

It is not easy to make a lot of people believe in fanciful, meaningless, and baseless stories. Some conspiracy theories manage to just do that. These theories cover varied subjects such as politics, business, sports, entertainment, astronomy, and medicine. There are two things common to all conspiracy theories. One is the lack of logic and the other is a flight of fantasy.

5 Most Absurd Conspiracy Theories in Astronomy

  1. Aliens were captured live at Roswell
  2. UFOs are alien ships
  3. Earth is flat
  4. Nibiru will cause apocalypse
  5. Man never landed on Moon

1. Aliens Captured Live Near Roswell

Myth

It is difficult to understand how this theory became so popular when internet was not even born. According to conspiracy theorists, an UFO crash landed near Roswell in New Mexico. They also claim that an alien was captured alive or dead. It is a mystery how this picture surfaced and became one of the most widely circulated one.

Fact

A strange object crashed near Roswell in 1947. Military soon cordoned off the area giving out little information to public. Few newspapers reported that an alien ship had crash landed near Roswell. However, the official story changed soon to this being just a weather balloon. Few also suspected that it was a classified military exercise gone wrong. The above photograph was possibly that of a mummified human body used by conspiracy theorists to deceive public.

2. UFOs Are Alien Ships

Myth

An UFO sighting is often mistaken to be an alien ship. It is very illogical that so many alien ships come so close to earth but none would try to contact us. Where can the aliens come from?

We all know that none of the other planets and moons in solar system can support life. The nearest star is at about 4 light years away. Assuming a planet there supports intelligent alien life, it would take them about 14,400 years to reach earth traveling at a speed of 300,000 km / hour. Having traveled so long, why are they refusing to land or contact us? It does not sound logical.

Fact

UFOs are real. Do not get me wrong. An UFO by definition is any unidentified flying object. Many such unidentified objects are spotted from time to time. Most such sightings would have some explanation like a weather balloon, sky lanterns (Chinese lanterns), classified military aircraft, planet, or a less understood atmospheric phenomenon.

How many more pictures do we need to see that the Earth is round?

How many more pictures do we need to see that the Earth is round?

3. Earth is Flat

Myth

There are a group of people who believe that our Earth is flat and not round as per our beliefs. They rubbish the round shape of Earth and even ascribe ulterior motives to the scientific community for maintaining a common lie for so many years.

Fact

This is the easiest of all conspiracy theories to debunk. Assume you are in deep sea and you are watching another ship move away from yours. You would see the hull of the ship disappear first and later the sail. Is it not a proof to explain the curvature of our Earth?

Sun rises at different times in two regions located east or west of each other. In a flat earth, the sun rise time should not change for any region on earth. On top of it, so many space agencies have released images of earth taken from space where our planet looks like a round ball. Those who believe in a flat earth are the ones who refuse to look at facts.

4. Nibiru Will Cause Apocalypse

Fact

There are orbital anomalies observed in the outer planets and Pluto that cannot be explained by the gravity of known solar system bodies. It gives rise to a possibility of a ninth planet located faraway. It may be too far and too dim to be spotted from Earth.

Myth

Nibiru could cause apocalyptic events on Earth, according to the conspiracy theorists. They quote many ancient texts to support their theories. The creative interpretation of ancient texts is usually weird and unbelievable. One theory talks about the collision of Nibiru with Earth. Other insane accounts talk about Nibiru's gravity flinging comets towards us from Oort cloud. The impacting comets would cause apocalypse, according to conspiracy theorists.

Setting dates for the Apocalypse

The conspiracy theorists earlier publicized 21st December 2012 as the date for apocalyptic event. Nibiru was one of the many possibilities discussed as a cause for the apocalyptic event. When 2012 passed with no event, the conspiracy theorists kept revising the dates for end-of-the-world scenario several times. They never seem to stop.

The first man to land on moon.

The first man to land on moon.

5. Man Never Landed on Moon

Myth

This is another insane conspiracy theory without an iota of truth. Instead of being proud about this achievement, some question if we ever landed on Moon.

NASA has debunked this conspiracy theory in their website addressing every point raised by conspiracy theorists. One should check the explanations from their website before believing such claims. I would present few explanations to debunk this conspiracy theory from a common man's perspective.

Facts

The Apollo moon landing program involved thousands of reputed scientists and senior staff. It is bizarre to conclude all these highly qualified men and women can be convinced to lie consistently for five decades. It is not just improbable but impossible.

Did the Flag Flutter?

Conspiracy theorists quote the fluttering flag as an evidence to support their claim. Since the moon does not have an atmosphere, they ask how the flag fluttered. In reality, the flag did not flutter. It was held together by thin rods that acted as support. The flag became crumpled when astronomers tried installing it on lunar surface and this gave the impression of a fluttering flag.

Are you wondering why NASA had sent such a light flag that could get crumpled? Every gram of payload in such space programs costs lots of money. The flag was just a symbolic requirement and not part of their scientific pursuits. So they needed to keep the weight of the flag as low as possible.

Will Rival Space Agencies Keep Quiet?

If moon landing was a hoax, the space organizations in Russia, Europe, China or India would have made this an issue. It is time to put this conspiracy theory to rest. We should feel proud that few of our kind had set their foot on the milky white ball in the night sky.

Crop circles add spice to alien conspiracy theories.

Crop circles add spice to alien conspiracy theories.

Why Do We Love Conspiracy Theories?

Our minds crave for explanations, sometimes fanciful ones, to describe any event. We cannot explain every event based on our current understanding. At times, the authorities with access to information may be constrained to reveal the truth due to the need for secrecy. Then people connect the dots on their own and give shape to conspiracy theories. If several people have a shared belief on the same theory, it gains wider appeal.

Belief on Aliens

References

  1. Neel V.Patel. (2018, December 11). 7 easy ways you can tell for yourself that the moon landing really happened [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.popsci.com/proof-moon-landing-not-fake
  2. DR WILLIAM REVILLE. (2000, September 11). Myth of UFO at Roswell debunked [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.irishtimes.com/news/myth-of-ufo-at-roswell-debunked-1.1101393
  3. Avi Selk (2017, November 18). Please stop annoying this NASA scientist with your ridiculous Planet X doomsday theories [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/11/18/please-stop-annoying-this-nasa-scientist-with-your-ridiculous-planet-x-doomsday-theories/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c3bdca6c61fe
  4. Eleanor Cummins. (2017, December 22). Yes, UFOs exist. But they're probably not what you think [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.popsci.com/ufo-aliens-military

Please leave your valuable comments.

Edward Han from Singapore on May 17, 2019:

I love astronomy and your theory seems interesting. Guess everyone loves conspiracy theories to spice up their lives.

Mohan Babu (author) from Chennai, India on May 13, 2019:

Shawindi Silva, I have been reading about these for over ten years. Initially, I was open to the possibility of two of these conspiracy theories being true, But the more I dug information, the more I was convinced that these theories had no basis.

Mohan Babu (author) from Chennai, India on May 13, 2019:

Liz Westwood, the flat earth society has very few takers now as it is the least popular of the conspiracy theories listed here. It is surprising that some people believe in a flat earth theory even today.

Shawindi Silva from Sri lanka on May 13, 2019:

This is so interesting !!! and this is one of the topics that I'm searching about over 5 years !! thank you !!!

Liz Westwood from UK on May 13, 2019:

This is an interesting article. I have heard of the Flat earth society. I am amazed at how many can believe such a theory.