Posted at 5 p.m. April 24, 2017

The crazy runs deep

Online conspiracy theories range from the plausible to
Earth floating on the back of a space tortoise

Flag Raising

Come and take a journey through the loosely connected ramblings, vague anecdotes and random connections known as conspiracy theories.

One of the most prominent and ridiculous theories is that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 were an inside job. The 2006 film “Loose Change” spawned many of these conspiracy theories. Although the questions it raises sound interesting, even plausible at first, once they are put under heavy scrutiny, they fall apart.

One of the main arguments 9/11-truthers use is that jet fuel can’t melt steel, which would suggest that the World Trade Center buildings would not have collapsed after being hit by passenger airliners. The lowest melting point for a steel alloy is 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Jet-A, the fuel in the aircrafts that hit the Twin Towers, burns at 1,030 degrees Celsius, or 1,890 degrees Fahrenheit in an open-air burn. Structural steel has a melting point of 1,510 degrees Celsius or 2,750 degrees Fahrenheit. So, technically, they are correct. But this idea ignores the unique catastrophic situation that having multiple failing structural members created.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology replicated the conditions in the towers during the fires that eventually brought the buildings down. According to the NIST report, there were gaps in heat insulation on the structural members supporting the floors in numerous areas between one and 12 inches. In the NIST experiments, the same type of structural members with variations of thin, thick and no insulation were exposed to the conditions of the tower’s collapse. The areas with insulation had a temperature variance of between 300 degrees Kelvin and 1,000 degrees Kelvin while areas with a 12-inch gap in insulation had no variance and stood at 1,400 degrees Kelvin or 2,060.33 degrees Fahrenheit.

Due to the extreme, furnace-like heat on the upper floors, numerous floor supports reached this level of heat in various places and when a single failure occurred, a catastrophic collapse ensued.

As with many conspiracy theories, if the 9/11-truthers were to delve deeper into the science, they would see how hilariously wrong they are. And keep in mind, I used to be a truther.

The next group of pseudo-scientists are the fake moon landing people. They believe the moon landings were faked on a movie studio, probably in Area 51. Their first argument, and most easily disproven, is this: They claim because there is no wind on the moon, the flag couldn’t possibly be waving the way it is in the photos and videos. They’re right that the moon doesn’t have gusts of winds like we get here on Earth, but the flag actually had a horizontal rod inserted into the top of it to keep it in position, making it look like it’s blowing in the wind.

These lost souls also argue that there are no stars in the photo, and therefore it was not taken in outer space. This is easily debunked with a little knowledge of lunar cycles and photography. All the Apollo missions landed during the lunar day, and the camera’s exposure settings were set to capture the Lunar Module, the Moon’s surface and the astronauts even as they were brightly lit by the sun.

The third argument for this conspiracy theory is that the astronauts would have been exposed to lethal doses of radiation while passing through the Van Allen Belts, which are rings of radiation around Earth. Although the astronauts did pass through the belts, it was on the fringes of them, and the transit took less than 30 minutes. This amount of time did not constitute a dangerous dose of radiation.

The final terrible argument they have, and what they sometimes seem to think is a real mic drop moment, is if Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, who filmed him exiting the Module? The astounding answer to this brain buster is “no one.” Armstrong pulled a cable which released a TV camera that swung out from the side of the Module. Checkmate, fake-moon-landing nuts.

The final and arguably most ridiculous of the conspiracy theories are the Flat Earthers. Yes, Kyrie Irving, I’m pointing at you.

“The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat,” Irving said in an ESPN interview. “It’s right in front of our faces. I’m telling you, it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us.”

“They,” refers to scientists. No, Kyrie there is no vast global conspiracy including multiple branches of space agencies from different countries and scientists that are all colluding to trick the world into thinking the Earth is round.

The ways to debunk these horrible arguments are numerous and do not require much thinking. For instance, if the Earth were flat, sailing ships would not disappear slowly over the horizon. Instead they would get smaller and smaller and smaller until they eventually vanished. You can also observe the curvature of Earth by going to the top of a very tall mountain on a clear day.

Secondly, we have photos from satellites and spacecraft that show a round Earth from multiple angles. Somehow, the conspiracy theorists find it plausible that every space agency on Earth is working together to doctor photos to make the Earth look round.

All these theories have one thing in common. The people that believe in them are always dying to believe in something. Whether it is reptilians running the government, 9/11 being an inside job or moon landing being faked, these people want to believe this stuff.

If you hear a story online that sounds too good to be true, do some research and find out if it is true on your own. Remember this, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.


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