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Bailey: Your conspiracy theories aren’t all fun and games

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Everybody loves a fun conspiracy theory.

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Things like Paul McCartney dying and being replaced by a look-alike or Area 51 being full of space aliens seem to get people talking. They capture the imagination and let us believe that there is a layer of secrecy over the world, and by reading into these theories, we can finally look past the mirage and see the truth.

Denver International Airport even has fun theories about its odd murals and art pieces. It can be really tempting to add a layer of intrigue to our world, especially when bored at the airport.

Unfortunately, buying into these illusions does have consequences.

Most conspiracy theories used to just be “I don’t believe the government,” which is fair. There is more than enough proof in every new release of old documents that they lie to us. More recently, this trend had led to a mass distrust of all authority.

Look at the rise of anti-vaxxers and flat Earthers. These two groups are causing distinct harm on society’s views of scientists and science itself. People want to believe these “theories” because deep down, people love feeling like they know more than experts or that they have it all figured out. That’s human nature, but that’s no excuse to believe these fallacies.

Anti-vaxxers have led to real measles outbreaks. Sandy Hook theorists have terrorized real families in pain. The moon landing theorists helped erase names like Margaret Hamilton, Kurt H. Debus and John Houbolt from memory and replace them with images of secret government sound stages. Theories can, and do, cause real harm to the world.

It’s one thing to say “I don’t trust the government.” But it’s another to take away scientists’ life accomplishments and say they too are just lying for the state.

Some of these theories also come from a place of real hate. Eleven percent of Americans still think Barack Obama wasn’t born in America — which is a racist lie.

For decades, America has been the land of conspiracy theories, and it’s hurting us. People want to believe there is more to the world around them than they can see, and they want more than anything to be right. But the cost of these theories making people feel good is too high.

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The moon landing happened. Scientists with passion, hard work and undeniable genius made it happen. Vaccines protect people from disease. If they don’t, then where did polio go?

Children are dying in schools from mass shootings. There is no lie that can protect us from the deeply terrifying and saddening truth of that.

Every new conspiracy that people buy into gives more credence to all the others. If authority was lying about this, what else were they lying about?

If we are to ever deal with our problems, we must first look at them in the light. So whatever little conspiracy you hold onto, please let go of it.

If you are one of the people who really pushes conspiracies and believes in several, then please take some time and realize what you’re doing. Is that feeling of being right really worth the cost?

Fynn Bailey can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter at @FynnBailey.

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