HIV/AIDS Denialism

by Emily Koch

There is a surprising amount of those around the world who are considered to be HIV/AIDS deniers, and they are usually people who have been diagnosed with the disease or who are close to someone that has been diagnosed. These people are also, to begin with, wearier of western medicine than the general public. AIDS was first recognized as a disease in the 1980’s and AIDS denialism gained a large number of followers following the release of Peter Deusburg’s 1996 book “Inventing the AIDS virus.” In his book, Deusberg expressed that HIV is harmless, a passenger virus. He believed that AIDS was spread through things such as drug abuse, sexual intercourse, poor sanitation and health, etc.

But, AIDS denialism does not have a set definition; some believe that it is a hoax made up by pharmaceutical companies to make money and that the treatments for AIDS are instead poisonous causing the patients to develop the same symptoms that AIDS is said to cause. Others believe that AIDS is just a name for cases where there are multiple diseases present. According to Bruce Mirken in “Answering the AIDS Denialists: Is AIDS Real?”, this multitude of diseases can include cancer, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and yeast infections to name a few. And then there are those such as Deusberg who believe that AIDS is real but not infectious, although they don’t think there is a correlation between it and HIV.

Those who do not believe that HIV is a direct cause of the AIDS virus have many reasons as to why they believe so. First of all, they claim none of the Koch Postulates that “…establish a causal relationship between a microbe and a disease” are met. Because none of them are met, there is no way that HIV could possibly cause AIDS according to this fact. They also say that those who have been diagnosed with the disease, and are given medicines to combat it, only seem to feel worse after taking the medicines. Due to this, they believe that there is a conspiracy within drug companies to create a deadly disease that doesn’t exist only so those who have been ‘diagnosed’ will buy their medicines leading to a profit gain for those companies. On the other hand, the evidence that supports the causal relationship between HIV and AIDS is extensive and seems to disprove all of the deniers’ claims. There have been extensive peer reviewed studies published that do in fact show the connection between HIV and AIDS. Many doctors and researchers have studied the progression of HIV and have stated that the last stage of the disease is AIDS- affecting your immune system which allows you to catch other diseases that the deniers say is what is being misdiagnosed as AIDS. There is also the explanation as to why patients feel better when they quit taking the AIDS medications. Because they have been told that the medications are poisonous and quitting them will lead to being cured, the placebo effect kicks in. They think it will work, and it does for a while, until the disease catches up to them and they continue to get worse.

AIDS denialism is an extraordinary belief that is believed by seemingly normal persons in our society. They are those who so badly want to believe that this disease isn’t real, so they make up reasons as to why it isn’t. Because AIDS is a deadly disease, it is emotionally difficult to be diagnosed with it or see someone you love be diagnosed. Because of this, those people long to believe that it really doesn’t exist and that there is some bigger conspiracy- they can’t possibly bear to face the truth. This leads them to deny the disease and the causal relationship between HIV and AIDS. Although they have been presented with the true evidence and facts, they are true believers who cannot face the reality they are trying to avoid. They are also presented with reasons as to why the disease is not real, and when it comes from someone similar to them, they are more likely to believe what those people say rather than others with opposing viewpoints.

In conclusion, AIDS deniers are easily convinced due to their extreme desire for it not to be real. Whether themselves or someone close to them has been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, their first reaction would mostly likely be to question why they are the ones in this situation. They so badly want to believe that it is not happening to them, so when they are presented with a theory that fulfills their desire to make it not real, then they will not stop denying the disease no matter how much evidence against it is shown to them. This extraordinary belief is one that is quite dangerous, as deniers who have the disease will most likely refuse treating, ultimately leading to their death. Lastly, those who deny their diagnosis and refuse treatment also put those around them at risk because they refuse to believe it exists, which in their minds makes it impossible for them to infect others.


“AIDS Denialism.” AIDS Action Committee,

“Debunking Denialist Myths.” AIDSTruth, 26 July 2015,

James, John S., and From AIDS Treatment News. “AIDS Denialists: How to Respond.”, 5 May 2000,

“Koch’s Postulates.” Wikipedia, Wikepedia Foundation, 12 Feb. 2007,

Mirken, Bruce and From AIDS Treatment News. “Answering the AIDS Denialists: Is AIDS

Real?”, 1 Dec. 2000,

“What are HIV and AIDS?” AVERT, 2 Jan. 2018,

The Chemtrail Conspiracy

by Georgia Kinch

Have you ever looked up to the sky and noticed a trail that seemed to follow the path of an airplane passing by? Perhaps you thought nothing of it, chalking it up to the exhaust fuel from the plane’s engines. Or perhaps you were among the thousands of Americans who believe it to be a chemtrail: Toxic clouds created by the government to disperse unknown chemicals on humankind. The theory first began in 1996 when military researchers published a paper describing chemtrails as a speculated future form of warfare. Journalists, however, ran with the idea and spread the news that chemtrails were already being used by the Air Force (Newitz & Steiner, 2014). Since then, the theory has continued to captivate the minds of Americans who believe that the government is using chemicals to sterilize/control the population, administer drugs for mind control, suppress human evolution, and more. The kicker: There is no scientific evidence that these trails in the sky actually contain any significant chemicals.

So, what do chemtrail believers base their theory on? The first argument is that these trails did not begin to appear so predominantly in the sky until the government project began. There is also a phenomenon that has to do with shadows and angles that can cause certain trails to appear very dark, and they have thus been called “black ray” chemtrails and are assumed to contain poisonous chemicals. There have even been several videos of admittance of the use of chemtrails, including from a Germany news agency and two aircraft pilots (these videos later turned out to have been either tampered with or faked) (“Chemtrails”).

More evidence exists for the contrary side. These trails of clouds, officially called “contrails”, did indeed exist well before this theory came about. As environmental journalist Chris Clarke puts it, “that theory is easily countered by being 35, having looked at the sky before 1995, and remembering persistent contrails” (Clarke, 2017). These contrails do appear more frequently now, but that is simply due to increased air traffic. As for the theory that these chemtrails are being used to sicken their targets and control the population? Life expectancy has actually risen in recent years and is higher than ever! Additionally, there will likely never be scientific evidence to confirm the existence of chemtrails, as the theory is unfalsifiable. It is impossible to fly up to a contrail and collect a sample of the cloud for testing. That will simply never happen.

While there is little evidence to support the theory of chemtrails, it is not hard to understand why someone would believe that the government may be corrupt and employing such harmful tactics. Considering the Holocaust, the Ukrainian genocide, and the countless other episodes of mass homicide, is it really that far out of the realm of possibility for a government to indiscreetly spray poisonous chemicals from the sky? Believers of chemtrails may be vulnerable to the belief because of such a fearful state surrounding many political systems today.

Chemtrail believers likely came to their conclusion by way of fear: Fear of the government; Fear of a New World Order threatening to take control; Fear of history repeating itself. While their evidence is situational and unfalsifiable, perhaps maintaining their belief alleviates their fear of what could happen if they did not.


1 – Newitz, A., & Steiner, A. (2014, September 24). Here’s Where the Chemtrail Conspiracy

Theory Actually Came From. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from

2 – Chemtrails. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from

3 – Clarke, C. (2017, May 25). Why Do People Believe in Chemtrails? Retrieved February 28,

2018, from

Flat Earthers

by Abigail Kent

Flat earthers are people who believe that the earth we live on today, is flat. They believe that the sphere, or globe, that we have always known our Earth by, is not the actual reality or truth. The way a lot of people know our world by today is a massive rock orbiting through the atmosphere and around the sun. We know the Earth as a sphere, with a top and bottom axis, showing the planet on a tilt, and an equator, showing the middle, and outermost part of our planet Earth. Flat earthers see our planet far differently. They see Earth as being flat, with the north pole in the middle. These believers say that the bible even has supporting evidence, stating the earth is flat. The truth is the truth to them, and they believe that just because humans have been able to provide other evidence showing the earth is the sphere, they still think that their truth should not be set aside for this reason. They see their truth as far greater than humans, so why would they believe the evidence that is readily available.

These beliefs have been supported for quite some time. This theory has been around since the early 1800’s. It was a very popular belief back then, mainly due to the lack of resources, like space exploration or pictures. They obviously were not able to send a rocketship into space in the 1800’s. The belief of the earth being flat has never really gone away, but it has definitely made a comeback over the last couple of years. Hundreds of people gather for conferences hosted by the International Flat Earth Research Society. People gather from all over and listen to speakers and share their thoughts and evidence about their belief. Information is readily available, almost anywhere, on the flat earth theory, especially with the comeback it is making. There are websites after websites, books, magazine articles, news segments, etc., that all cover the flat earth theory. A lot of them meet and gather for online events, too. For example, the youtube channel for flat earthers.

The information that can be found from all of these different resources looks at it from all angles. There is obviously a lot of information that shows the earth is a sphere. All of the things we were taught growing up, whether it be learning about our round earth in grade school science, or seeing pictures from a spacecraft in space, we have just always known the earth as round. A lot of evidence for the earth being flat, is subjective. They rely heavily on their senses to know that the world they live in is not a sphere. One lady explained how you can go down to the ocean, look from left to right over the horizon, and see that it is a straight line, meaning the earth is flat. One of the most concrete forms of evidence for flat earthers is the Bedford Level Experiment. Basically what this consisted of was monitoring a straight line of moving water for about a six mile stretch. There were three poles along this path. The poles were there to show any difference in water level at any point. If the earth were really round, then there should have been some sort of water level difference because of the natural curvature in the earth, but the water was in fact the same level among all three poles. This experiment was done in the early 1800’s. They also use the bible as evidence, too. They take words from the bible very literally and that supports their belief in a flat earth.

A lot of these believers are probably not misinformed, especially based off of the amount of evidence there is out there proving the earth is a sphere. The evidence is possible misinterpreted. A lot of flat earthers see evidence supporting a round earth as a lie and see it to be very deceiving. Many have expressed that they are offended and appalled that they had been lied to and deceived for so long about the shape of our earth. I feel like pseudoscience is big in flat earthers, seeing as the rely on things like their senses, or what is visible to the eye, which those things obviously can not be disproven. They hear all of this opposing evidence or thoughts from others, and it makes sense to them so they also jump on the flat earth train.

Flat earthers come from all over. It is not specific to just one area. Hearing people interview about the flat earth society brought to light the variety in people that support this theory. A lot of the people come to have these beliefs from reading articles or sites, or being involved in discussion posts on websites. Anyone has access to the internet, so anyone is capable of starting to believe the earth is flat. When numbers start to rise in online groups, or a video goes viral, it dramatically increases the likelihood of someone seeing or involving themselves with this belief. The world we live in today is very technology reliant, and has a very heavy influence on people. They are able to gain and sustain these beliefs by having the support of their community of other believers. It is extraordinary because it is such a strongly supported theory, even with the amount of evidence against it. These people believe in something that others may see as impossible.

Flat earthers are a great example of a community of extraordinary beliefs. It is a theory and belief that has been around since the 1800’s. It has stood its time and still stands strong, despite overwhelming evidence against it. They believe things based on their senses, and taking things very literally from a religious book. The number of people who believe this theory is growing. They have taken full advantage of the technology world, and have gained believers, followers, and support and strength in this way.


El Chupacabra

by Mike Kaplan

The concept of a Chupacabra is not very different from the American Sasquatch or Bigfoot, they are both large creatures that dwell in the woods and are popular subjects for those who believe that such magical creatures exist alongside us with barely any recognition. Both creatures have at least half a dozen television shows featuring themselves or hunters and believers across the continent and the world. While Bigfoot is almost always described as being large and hairy, El Chupacabra is more often described as a smaller lizard type beast; but many believe his body to be hairy as well. The biggest difference I could find between the two in my research is that while we see Bigfoot as mostly harmless, El Chupacabra strikes fear into many peoples of Mexico and Latin America. El Chupacabra literally means “goat-sucker” and it survives by eating goats, or really any farm animal. Reports of its specific looks range quite dramatically, some have said it was a huge hairy beast very much like bigfoot, others claiming it was like a bear with rows of spines on its back, some swear it had fangs like a walrus, and hopped like a kangaroo. Yet others report Chupacabras to be smaller hairless wolf type creatures. One thing is for sure though, they survive by drinking all the blood of whatever prey they chase.

The evidence of the existence of Chupacabra is staggering, with reports dating back to the 1990s, and some claiming they have been around since a time when the Aztecs rules the lands. Even as recent as 2014, or 2010, people have reported seeing, and being petrified by fear when witnessing El Chupacabra. Sightings have been reported, across Mexico, most of Latin America, some of South America, and even on many Caribbean Islands. Once was once reported as seen in the State of Maine and the country of Russia. Blurry photos of the beasts and closer pictures of their footprints make believers sure that there is something out there to find. A YouTube search bring up over 210,000 videos about the monster, there are people who literally spend their lives in pursuit of this monster. Of course, most of these sightings and “proof” can be explained, other large animals leave large footprints, and a wolf with mange may easily be confused with the demon creature of your worst nightmare. Some would swear on their lives they have seen it, but let’s be real folks, by now someone would have captured or killed it and sadly there is no solid scientific evidence of the existence of El Chupacabra at all. Wouldn’t that be a phenomenal find!

Why do people claim to see El Chupacabra? Why is he so popular in the Americas, but not in the rest of the world? It is my opinion that those who swear to have seen El Chupacabra either mistook what they saw or are crazy. El Chupacabra is a popular children’s story in Mexico, and it ensures that the children behave. Another source of believers may be people who heard these stories as a kid, and never learned that they were fiction. These believers then pass down the stories to their children, and I believe this created the regional and cultural myth of El Chupacabra. Another explanation could be those who came across sick wild wolves or dogs who would in all appearances then resemble a Chupacabra, a wild, frightening looking hair hairless beast, with red eyes; I would certainly run away.

In conclusion, while very effective for ensuring your children go to bed on time, it is a safe bet that the Chupacabra is more of a story, and not a real monster lurking in the night. People believe in the Chupacabra out of fear, and those who claim to have seen it both have a too wide range of descriptions to be believable and were likely seeing something else and mistaken. No one has ever gotten a good picture of a Chupacabra or captured one. No reliable source has ever encountered one. While much like Bigfoot, El Chupacabra is its very own monster, and while it may not exist in this world, it haunts millions of people’s dreams.

Google has millions of articles you can dig through, but here are some sources I looked at while creating this post:


The Alkaline Diet

by Ericka Johns

The alkaline diet is one that involves eating foods categorized as either alkaline or acidic, in order to achieve a balancd pH level of all of the fluids in one’s body (i.e. blood and urine). The goal of the diet is to bring the pH of one’s blood to about 7.35-7.45. Advocates of this diet believe that disease and disorder cannot take place, or survive, in a body with a balanced pH. 1 This means that proponents of this diet believe it to be a cure-all formula. The philosophy behind the alkaline diet is that if you eat foods that balance your pH levels, there will be less stress on the homeostatic mechanisms of the body, leading to good health. One popular proponent of the alkaline diet is Robert O. Young, who uses the diet as a form of “treatment” for his patients with cancer. Patients like Kim Tinkham, whose case lead to death, might opt for the alkaline diet as opposed to evidence-based treatments offered at a traditional medical hospital. 2

Whether or not the alkaline diet can cure or prevent cancer is not empirically supported because there are no scientific human studies that has tested these connections. In fact, in a systematic review conducted by Tanis R Fenton and Tian Heung 3, no studies involving randomized trials or any that examined dietary acid or alkalinity and the connection to cancer treatment were found. It is important to note that this review included 8278 citations and 252 abstracts. The closest thing to scientific evidence that can be found in support of the alkaline diet and cancer treatment is a lab study that showed that some cancer cells show faster growth in an acidic solution and treatment worked better when the area around a tumor was made alkaline.

According to WebMD’s Dr. Melinda Ratini, there is early evidence that suggests that a diet low in acid-producing foods (like animal proteins and processed foods) and high in fruits and vegetables can aide in the prevention of kidney stones, strengthen bones and muscles, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, improve heart and brain function, and reduce lower back pain. Though this is promising evidence in support of the alkaline diet, researchers are still unsure of some of these claims because it is so new4. There is a chance that the direct impact that proponents of the diet are pushing (eating more alkaline foods balances the blood’s pH and leads to perfect health) may be illusory. As Dr. Ratini points out, an increase in fruit and vegetable intake, and the absence of processed foods and other high-sodium foods, will lead to weight loss and better health. This can be the relationship that proponents of the alkaline diet are observing but are attributing the results of this observation to the link between the diet and a direct impact on the pH level of the blood.

This is also a diet that many celebrities, such as Erykah Badu, Kate Hudson, and Victoria Beckham, have endorsed 5. This can serve as an influence when you see how healthy and youthful these celebrities seem to be. This is also a diet that requires no exercise, includes foods you can find at your local grocery store, does not involve medical doctors, and presents itself as a cure-all. All of these factors combined are appealing for those who prefer natural remedies, those who do not like exercising, those who are not fans of hospitals, and those who desire to be in control of their life and health. Proponents of this diet tend to be naturalists who follow the teachings of famous natural “doctors” such as those of Dr. Sebi, whose teachings were based on a link between what we eat and how our bodies function. In today’s society, social media plays a huge role in what is trending and what becomes a part of our culture, this includes our diets 6. On platforms such as Instagram, we have people called “Influencers” whose accounts exist to “influence” a certain brand or lifestyle. One of these lifestyles heavily represented on Instagram is that of healthy living, which sometimes include advocating the alkaline diet. This encourages people to consider the diet and maybe try it for themselves when they see their favorite influencers endorsing the diet with accompanying “facts” and anecdotal testimonies.

In conclusion, there is not enough empirical evidence to support the claims popularized by proponents of the alkaline diet. Though some research has shown that a diet low in acidic foods can have a positive effect on the body, more research is required to test these claims. As far as the direct relationship between the alkaline diet and cancer, there has been no research supporting or denying the diet’s influence. The truth of the matter is, an increase in fruit and vegetable intake will lead to positive results, whether or not it’s due to the diet’s impact on the body’s blood pH is currently unknown/untested.




Faith Healing

by Sarah Hutchinson

Faith healing is the practice of, well, healing through faith. Believers in this practice have come to the understanding that their diseases and ailments can be cured or relieved through, prayers, belief, and good intentions. This can be done by going on a pilgrimage, having a “spokesperson” for God heal you on His behalf, or just through having extreme faith that you will be healed. A large subset of those who believe in this practice are Christians, especially those who believe in Cristian science. There are churches all around the world and numerous “healers” who claim to have the power to cure cancer, give people the ability to walk again, and relieve arthritic pain. This can be a great source of comfort for some, but it can keep believers from seeking real medical treatment, which can be incredibly dangerous, especially for those without a voice, like children or persons with disabilities. This practice is one that is incredibly prevalent in today’s society, and many people of all ages, classes, and races believe that God can cure what medicine cannot.

Why do people believe this? Just typing “faith healing” into a Youtube search engine yields thousands of videos of extraordinary instances of these miracles. Often people find themselves witnessing impressive feats such as those bound to wheelchairs walking again. They consider what they witness and others’ testimonials of God’s healing to be proof of concept. There is also evidence that symptoms are relieved through faith healing. The flip side to this argument is that often these symptoms are relieved either through the body naturally healing something within its realm such as a common cold, or through the placebo effect. Many people experience the relief of their symptom in the heat of the moment, only to find themselves feeling as before when they get home, or later that week.

There are a lot of reasons one might believe in this pseudoscience. The first is that it is promising the impossible to desperate people. The people who go to faith healers can have everything from headaches to terminal illnesses. Some of them have tried everything. Often what they are suffering is incurable. Offering any form of hope can definitely cause them to overlook rationality, and confirmation bias can be a huge factor here. Disconfirming evidence is also ignored here largely due to retreats to the supernatural. Often, if it doesn’t work, a believer uses the excuse that their faith needs to be stronger or that God has a reason for making them wait. They believe that God’s work is beyond understanding, and that is why they aren’t scared off by the instances when it doesn’t work. It is also why they keep trying.

Believers come from religious communities. These communities are central to their lives, giving them an endless supply of influence. When everyone they are close to holds the belief that faith healing works, it is hard to challenge the notion. They also have a great amount invested in these beliefs themselves: their religion, their concept of how the world works, and their view of themselves. These beliefs make up who they are, and often they have grown up in this faith. Changing one’s views is a challenge when the world is telling you to, but when you are involved in such a close knit community, even if the thought were to cross your mind, it would quickly be pushed away.

In summary, social influence and unfalsifiable beliefs can lead someone to do crazy things. Even ignoring proper medical care at the cost of your own or your child’s life can seem justifiable in the name of religion. Often confirmation bias can keep disconfirming evidence at bay, and retreats to the supernatural are a given when it comes to the unreliable nature of faith healing. It can be a fairly dangerous belief. While the “healed” many feel better in the moment, the consequences can be high for those who need real medical care.

For more information, the sources I used and found helpful can be found below.

Alien UFO Sightings

by Lauren Hondroulis

Alien sightings have been a worldwide phenomenon since the beginning of the 20th century. Even ancient records have accounts of strange shapes and lights in the sky that were interpreted as visitors from unknown lands. People who accept that extraterrestrial beings have come to Earth are not limited to a specific group of individuals. About half of Americans believe in aliens according to the Huffington Post, but about one third believe that these beings have made it to our planet. There is an excess of information about potential alien sightings all over the media of today. Both the internet and television have aided the spread of extraterrestrial news to the masses. Many conspiracies have been created on this topic and these are readily available to the public which has made it popular and remain popular throughout the decades. These alien and UFO ideas are important to our world because they help us to hypothesize about what is beyond our planet and how it could impact us. Since this belief is not falsifiable and hard to research, it is one of extraordinary origin.

There has been a lot of compelling information in popular media regarding UFO sightings. Many people who believe that aliens have visited Earth use Roswell, Area 51, and Project Blue Book as evidence to back up their opinions. The 1947 incident in Roswell seemed to have made a lot of Americans true believers after a reported flying disk crash landed into a field. After another press release, it was stated that only a weather balloon was recovered which led people to assume that the government is hiding the specimen and their potential passengers in an unknown location. Unfortunately, this information is difficult to find concrete evidence about, but simultaneously it cannot be proven false. It is because of this that the visitation from extraterrestrial life has been a long debated topic that has fed numerous conspiracies.

There are many reasonable explanations for the objects that are labeled as UFOs throughout history. Given that most of the sightings occur at night, human eyes are not always reliable. It is easy to misidentify something in the dark, as depth perception and visual cues are not clear. Individuals can see shapes where there are none while the brain interprets different objects into one through the process of closure. In low light it is also easy to mistake the distance an object is from you. People have reported to see enormous objects dancing through the sky, when in reality the entity is right in front of their face. It is a combination of these visual errors combined with past experiences such as movies or television shows that can lead people to label the peculiar as alien doing.

Though there is a lack of evidence to show that aliens have actually paid earth a visit, the belief remains strong in our society. This may be due to its deeply rooted presence in our popular culture. Countless alien movies have topped the box offices and people are constantly being exposed to the idea of UFOs and abduction. Believers will continue to believe as long as this concept stays in the minds of American citizens. The mystery surrounding area 51 and its conspiracies fuel the thoughts of everyday people because the unknown can be very tantalizing.

Many people are very susceptible to suggestion, especially when it involves the seemingly impossible. The urge to believe combined with visual tricks, can make average items turn extraordinary. This has kept aliens at the forefront of the science fiction world and helped perpetuate countless theories and investigations into the unknown.


The Anti-Vaccine Movement

by Hannah Hites

Everyone knows that vaccines save lives and prevent horrible diseases such as smallpox, polio, and so on from making a comeback; at least, I hope they do. Though vaccines do fight against various diseases from reappearing, there is a belief that vaccines can actually do more harm to children than good. It all started in the 1990s when Andrew Wakefield, MD, set out to study if there was a possible link between some vaccines, specifically the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR), and neuropsychiatric diseases, specifically autism in children. After his research, he released a case series study claiming he had found evidence of a connection. Though he wrote in his paper that a causal relationship could not be shown between the MMR vaccination and autism, he released a video saying that the two were related. The damage was done. News outlets and press released these “findings”, and parents everywhere began to believe it. Celebrities endorsed the idea as well which led to an even greater following. Though these claims have since been debunked making this belief extraordinary, there are still those who refuse to vaccinate their children in fear of an autism diagnosis. I don’t think I need to explain the importance of vaccinations when it comes to eradicated, deadly diseases, but there are still people who put the importance of a falsely proven theory above their children’s disease prevention.

Wakefield began to study the possible relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism after a cohort study was released showing that people who had been vaccinated with MMR were more likely to have bowel disease than those who were not. He believed the link could be possible due to the infection from the vaccine virus. Even though he ended up finding no causal relationship between the two, he still suggested a link in a video he released later. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and beliefs, but when something has been tested and not been shown to be true, I don’t think that information should still be spread around as fact. There are plenty of people who believe this information because of pure fear for their children’s psychiatric health and because of their trust in a doctor (Wakefield) to take his word as true.

Those who still believe this could be the result of several different factors. These people have been misinformed because of Wakefield’s video saying there is a link between the two. Even though he stated in his study there was no causal relationship, people are probably more likely to have watched his video thinking there was some groundbreaking and important health research in it. They are also trusting an authority-type person’s word as fact because why shouldn’t they trust a person in their area of expertise? Lastly, fear mongering definitely plays a role in this pseudoscience. Parents will do anything to protect their kids, and if they have any reason to believe that vaccines may cause harm to them or the harm outweighs the benefits, then surely, they won’t utilize them.

Believers of this extraordinary claim come from several different communities. Though it was first thought to be mostly liberals who did not want to vaccinate their children, it has been shown that people from both ends of the political spectrum believe in this. There are also several celebrities who believe and endorse this including Jenny McCarthy, Alicia Silverstone, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just to name a few. They use their fame to help promote their belief in not vaccinating children. Many people buy into this peripheral route of persuasion even though these celebrities have no expertise in medicine. This extraordinary belief has all the typical features of a pseudoscience including having the outward appearance of science and appealing to authority, making it easy for some individuals (especially those who have not been informed of all the facts) to believe.

Vaccines have worked wonders for our society ever since they were discovered many years ago. I can only hope that enough people still see and believe in their good use to help keep eradicated diseases from taking lives once again. People may still believe that vaccines can cause autism in children, but I hope that they would still put value in their children’s safety from potential diseases that could result from not having the proper vaccines. This pseudoscience has been proven to not be true, but fear mongering, celebrity endorsement, and the word of a doctor (Wakefield) will continue allowing people to believe.


Flat Earth Theory

by Donovan Condon

Flat Earth Theory is generally the belief that the earth is flat despite all evidence to the contrary. The people who believe in this theory are referred to as “flat-earthers”, and there are still many people who believe in it to this day. The origin of this theory dated back ages before technology could disprove it. It was originally a widespread knowledge that the earth was flat because it seemed flat, and that was the easiest explanation. With new technology, we found that the earth is a sphere along with other planets. The theory is popular with many people including some celebrities like B.O.B. It is important because with the knowledge we have now, it would disobey the laws of nature if it were flat, but conspiracies about governments and NASA prove to be a leading factor in many conspiracies and points flat-earthers make.

Along with the general consensus that the earth “seems and feels” flat, there are other points they use to prove it. One theory is that, with distrust in government and NASA leading it, is that the earth is a circular disc with a huge wall(Antarctica) surrounding it. The wall is guarded by NASA employees to make sure no one climbs it and falls off. They also believe that gravity is an illusion. Rather, they say that instead of objects accelerating downward, the flat earth disc accelerates up using the force of “dark energy.” Despite the theory of gravity never being disproven, the theories they hold true to do not have much, if any, evidence to support them. Flat-earthers also believe photos of the globe are photoshopped, GPS systems are faked and handled purposefully, and that faking a government agency like NASA is for the financial gain of governments. They believe all this in despite that the majority of people believe in gravity, satellite photos, orbits, and all the other profound evidence.

There is not really a certain cognitive contribution to this belief but rather a skeptical view of the government. As do many conspiracy theories, flat earth theory builds off of the reasons why people would cover it up, rather than establish better data on the issue itself. If there are events and actions that seem to cover it up, it only encourages the disbelief in a spherical earth, and in turn, proves the flat-earth theory.

As mentioned before, some celebrities believe in flat-earth theory as well, which can strengthen the beliefs of others due to the platform given to those celebrities. B.O.B has a song called “Flatline” in which he discusses the fact that no matter how high in elevation a person is, the horizon is always eye level. This in truth is just an illusion of the eyes, but regardless the people who listen to his song and don’t do the research are being misinformed. This type of platform that B.o.B has can influence a great deal of listeners and fans into believing the earth is flat as well. This and a general mistrust of the government and agencies such as NASA are some reasons why the flat earth theory is popular and why it has not been eradicated.

The theory of earth being flat is a popular debate among many, but some psychological explanations as to why people believe in it, or why it has not been eradicated are minority influence, vagueness, and magical thinking. Minority influence is a large factor with this theory because the majority feel there is nothing to prove and that it is a fact that the earth is round, while flat-earthers have a strong willed and sometimes educated argument as to why it is not. A huge part of flat earth theory is that it is vague. Going into to detail could disprove their claims about the earth, so stating general ideas is easier and can’t be proven wrong as easily. The last explanation is magical thinking. Humans have a tendency to perceive unseen forces causing an event rather then realizing the obvious solution, and this is the basis of all conspiracy theories.

Natalie Wolchover and Live Science Staff. “Are Flat-Earthers Being Serious?” LiveScience, Purch, 30 May 2017,



The Mandela Effect

by Bo Cochran

The phenomenon known as “The Mandela Effect” has recently taken the internet by storm. The phenomenon was named after Nelson Mandela, due to the widespread misconception that the former South African president died in the 1980s, while incarcerated in prison, in reality he was liberated and passed away in 2013, not incarcerated. Given this fact, thousands of unrelated people recall Mandela dying in incarceration, and even recount news coverage and watching an emotional speech by his widow. This is just a specific example of the effect, and there are many instances of this effect. Many people believe these misconceptions come from having alternate realities, or memories from a parallel universes. Which means the events or memories that these people believed to be true, were true, until they slipped into another reality, where those events did not occur. This belief explains why many people have misconceptions, but regardless of what reality tells them, they believe their memory to be fact.

There is not a lot of evidence that can be found to support this belief, but proponents of this belief argue that false memory, alone, cannot argue for the sheer number of unrelated people who have these misconceptions. Evidence against this argument are also hard to come by, because the belief is unfalsifiable, due to the fact we don’t even have evidence that parallel universes exist, and even if we did know, we have nothing to measure these drifts from universe to universe. Most research that has been done on this belief conclude that memory can be very unreliable, and there are many limits to human memory.

Many researchers believe this effect is due to the misinformation effect. Kendra Cherry (2017) says “The misinformation effect refers to the tendency for post-event information to interfere with the memory of the original event. Researchers have shown that the introduction of even relatively subtle information following an event can have a dramatic effect on how people remember.” Inaccurate eyewitnesses are a prime example of this effect. The human brain can falsify memories so well, people believe these memories to be true. Other explanations for the Mandela Effect can be due to priming, hypnosis, and misinterpretation when the stimulus was first introduced.

The reason this belief is still very popular, even though there is not much research that supports it, is due to the fact the internet is a powerful tool for spreading information. The information can be false, true, proven, not prove; it does not matter, someone else will read these posts. Many people will read these posts, and find that someone else has stumbled on the same misconception as they have, whether it be misinterpreting Mandela’s death, the Ford logo, or the title of the “The Berenstain Bears”, once people create a community based on believing these misconceptions to be true, then their misinformation starts to seem factual. There are also many convincing videos created to support these beliefs, and the fact the Mandela Effect is hard to disprove, also makes believers stand by this belief.

In conclusion, the fact that a group of people conjure up the same false memories really should not cause confusion. We live in an interconnected world where two totally unrelated people may share the exact same experience, even though they have no knowledge of one another, and unless you believe human memory to be free of error, some of these experiences will eventually result into false memories. Also, since these memories do not have to be one singular event and can occur over days, months, and years, it is very difficult to trace the origin of the memory. So, figuring out when, why, and by what influenced your memory seems impossible to pinpoint.


Broome, Fiona. “Alternate Realities.” Mandela Effect, WordPress, 2009,

Cherry, Kendra. “The Misinformation Effect and False Memories.” Verywellmind, 28 Sept. 2017,