Big Pharma & Big Lies: The Hidden Cancer Cure

Cancer isn’t just a danger to us; it is an ever-present cause of misery and hardship. According to the NIH’s National Cancer Institute, there are approximately 439 new cases of cancer per 100,000 individuals each year in the US (NIH 2018). Even I am not immune to Cancer’s reach, as my mother was diagnosed several years ago with Stage II Breast Cancer. It should be no surprise then, that many people want answers. It’s no easy thing to see your loved one suffer, struggle, and then die. As technological miracles surround us, it isn’t necessarily crazy for the typical person to wonder “Why haven’t we cured cancer already?”.

In response, some will say “they already have.”

This “some” is a place holder for a conspiracy theorist that believes that “Big Pharma” and occasionally just the US’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are repressing a cure for cancer. According to Blaskiewicz (2013), Big Pharma comprises not just corporations, but also physicians, regulators, and politicians as well as anyone who makes money from Pharmaceuticals. However, all of these separate parties get surmised into one super evil entity, “Big Pharma.” Furthermore, that Big Pharma is suppressing a currently found cancer cure so that it might financially benefit off of the “ineffective” treatments currently given to those afflicted with the disease. (Blaskiewicz 2013) There isn’t an exact date that one can point to as the start of this conspiracy theory, but it still is popular within the past decade, as in 2005 at least 27.3% of surveyed Americans believed in the myth of a hidden cancer cure (Gansler et al. 2005). This percentage underpins the idea that believers could be relatively any average American considering the prevalence of cancer. Indeed, the reason this belief is extraordinary is several- fold: first, if true, would mean that a massive amount of human suffering would be happening as a result of gross malfeasance. Second, that many people, estimated at the barest minimum to be 714,000 people at multiple companies, would have to keep a secret from the whole world for who knows how long (Berezow 2016). Finally, it would fundamentally change the way we understand cancer, which comprises nearly 100 different diseases, and how it functions (NIH 2015).

However, what would bring someone, anyone, to the idea that some treatment is being kept from them? Blaskiewicz (2013) contends that there may be real problems that underlie the belief. Cancer treatments are often invasive, painful, and may fail to work on an individual level. Caregivers can be forced to watch someone wither away while others yet may live. Though the mortality rate of Americans due to cancer has been declining since the 1990s (NIH 2018), what good does that do to someone who just lost a child to liver cancer? Others still cite the money to be gained in the Pharmaceutical Industry or the “competition” that might occur if a single cancer cure was effective at treatment (Novella & Barrett 2000). While it’s true that Pharmaceuticals are a trillion-dollar industry (Blaskiewicz 2013), getting into the meat of this evidence for the theory, primarily pointing to capitalism itself, brings into focus more pieces of evidence against it.

If we’re going to argue that capitalism is what’s driving companies and others who stand to “make a profit” off of not curing cancer, let’s talk money. As Curtin (2018) points out, 600,000 dead patients mean that many less paying customers for Big Pharma. Were humans to live longer, we’d need more medical attention, more pills, more doctor visits, and more money to

pay for all of it (Curtin 2018). Big Pharma would lose out on all of the profit in the long term, which intelligent businesspeople would recognize. We also have past evidence of the mechanisms of Big Pharma fighting against a situation that would be similar to the use of ineffective cancer cure known as the Heparin contaminant crisis. In this case, a Chinese supplier of the chemical Heparin, normally costing $900, contaminated it with another mimicking chemical that cost only $9. (Berezow 2016) When the side effects of the drug started harming, even killing people, the FDA created new control methods to prevent harm by the end of 2009 (Berezow 2016). It would have been far more “beneficial” in the conspiracy’s logic to Big Pharma to sell the drug, as usual, profit off of the price difference, and profit off of the resulting damage. The FDA responded quickly effectively to the crisis, even though the recall caused a massive shortage (Berezow 2016, Dunning 2017).

As we move away from capitalistic motivations and return to the original parts of the belief that make it extraordinary, more damning pieces of evidence also return. First, the entire of Big Pharma as a coordinating, gigantic, evil monolithic entity is nearly impossible. I previously mentioned that the minimum requirement for this conspiracy was well over 700,000 people (Berezow 2016), and if this is the case, how is the secret kept? Rarely are any of the nearly 600 publicly traded pharma companies working together, and who wouldn’t brag about curing cancer? (Wakefield 2018) Moreover, not every single person involved in cancer research would gain by having a “cure” kept secret. Many academics would kill to land the Nobel prize associated with such a discovery and aren’t seeking financial compensation for the discovery (Curtin 2018). However, if that were not enough, are many of those supposed conspirators also touched by cancer? Are scientists, politicians, lobbyists and more immune to it (Curtin 2018)? Certainly not. Besides, the notion of a “single cure” originates in a misunderstanding of cancer as well as the scientific treatments being researched to fight it (Wakefield 2018). Each cancer case is unique in its way, and trying to nail down similarities can be difficult, which is why there is a large variety in the official number of cancer types (Wakefield 2018). Cures by the nature of the disease cannot be one size fits all.

It is important to remember that we cannot be unkind to those who believe in this conspiracy. Many cognitive factors contribute to this belief. It is possible that this belief comes out of a desire to impose order on an uncaring and random world (Blaskiewicz 2013). Often, when individuals fall into this conspiracy theory, Cognitive Dissonance kicks in because they turn to ineffective alternative medicines that they believe Big Pharma is suppressing. When one chooses to go for alternative methods, refusing another treatment is difficult to undo, and the death of their loved ones would refute this belief unequivocally. Considering how many other people also have cancer and feel powerless, there would be an active community of support and an inability to ignore what has happened. Also, there can be a reasonable degree of post hoc thinking that goes into this belief. The fact that one “cure” was ineffective means that there must be some other cure, some magic bullet that will be.

Ultimately, the social context for this extraordinary belief is truly sadder than most. Most if not all believers come to this community out of pain and loss. They want answers, and they find them in the extraordinary. Once they become surrounded by the sorrows of others and a disbelief in the authority of modern science, they drift farther away. This community can be isolating and dangerous, as who is to say what a theorizing caregiver would do when another family member gets cancer, or even they get cancer?

People who believe that Big Pharma is out to get them are often sustained by a post hoc rationalization of tragedy and a large amount of cognitive dissonance in pursuing alternative medicine when current treatments have failed them. They wish to understand what is going on but are unable. I hope that if one should ever cross someone who believes this theory, that you and I can give them compassion, and engage them in a way that helps them and others like them heal.

Cited Sources:

Berezow, A. (2016, June 11). Proof There’s No FDA-Big Pharma Conspiracy Suppressing Cancer Cures. Retrieved from pharma-conspiracy-to-suppress-cancer-cures

Blaskiewicz, R. (2013). The Big Pharma conspiracy theory. Medical Writing,22(4), 259-261. doi:10.1179/2047480613z.000000000142

Curtin, I. (2018, February 15). Is it time to give Big Pharma a big break? Retrieved from

Dunning, B. (2017, September 19). The Big Pharma Conspiracy. Retrieved from

Gansler, T. , Henley, S. J., Stein, K. , Nehl, E. J., Smigal, C. and Slaughter, E. (2005), Sociodemographic determinants of cancer treatment health literacy. Cancer, 104: 653-660. doi:10.1002/cncr.21194

NIH. (2015, February 9). What Is Cancer? Retrieved from cancer/understanding/what-is-cancer#types-of-cancer

NIH. (2018, April 27). Cancer Statistics. Retrieved from cancer/understanding/statistics

Novella, S., & Barrett, S. (2000, June 22). Is There a Conspiracy to Suppress Cancer Cures? Retrieved from

Wakefield, A. (2018, September 24). Secret cancer cure – is Big Pharma hiding it from us? Retrieved from pharma-hiding/

Apocalypse Now, or Never? The Fallacy of Doomsday Predictions

By Nisha Krishnan

Doomsday predictors are people who believe that they can predict the end of the world.  There are variations on what happens during this “end time” but the most common iterations are a “Judgement Day” conclusion, in which good people are raptured up to heaven while sinners perish on earth, and an end in which everybody on earth is extinguished (Wikipedia, 2012).  The people who are most likely to believe in doomsday predictions are those who are religious, because there are many religious texts that seem to indicate an end of days.  Information about the end of the world can be found anywhere on the internet, throughout Youtube and other video-sharing sites, and in religious cults.  There have been many doomsday predictions spanning the course of history from 66 CE until as recently as last year in April (Wikipedia, 2019).  Even today, people continue to make predictions about dates in the future in which the world will inevitably end.  Doomsday predictions are important because they can lead to bad results, such as when people kill themselves or sell all of their worldly possessions in anticipation of the end of the world.  It is an extraordinary belief because there is little proof to back these claims, and they are often the result of someone trying to interpret ambiguous information that is in religious or other ancient texts.  It is also quite extraordinary to believe that you can pinpoint, to the exact day, when the entire world will end.

There is evidence that can be used for the idea of doomsday predictions.  One source of evidence for doomsdayers is the use of astronomy.  For example, David Meade, a prominent doomsdayer, used a rare alignment of the sun and the constellation Virgo as proof of the end of the world, because this was indicated as a sign of the end of the world in the beginning of Revelation 12 (Pappas, 2017).  Another very popular source of doomsday predictions is the Mayan Calendar.  One of the most famous end of world predictions was for December 21st, 2012.  People took this prediction seriously, and they stocked up on food and read up on survival skills.  The reason that the Mayan Calendar was proof of this end was because the most popular Mayan calendar abruptly ended on December 21st, 2012 (Zuckerman, 2012).  Finally, many religious people claim that the world is going to end because our society has progressed.  With this progress comes loose morals, technological innovation, the loss of privacy, and social problems.  Since the world is not pious and does not value morals, these religious people believe that God will end the world because we deserve to be smited (Truthunited, 2018).

Many scientists tend to have evidence against doomsday predictors as well.  One example of this is the true nature of the Mayan Calendars.  Mayan calendars are actually cyclical in nature, which means that in the Mayan culture, the world would continue for thousands of years without anything changing.  When calendar cycles end, new calendars are made that symbolize the continuation of time, and the idea of rebirth.  The whole 2012 controversy was only started because the current Mayan calendar cycle ended on December 21st, 2012, and religious people believed that this meant the end of time (Zuckerman, 2012).  Additionally, many of the “rare” astronomical events that happen are actually more common than doomsdayers suggest, and they do not affect life on earth at all.  For example, eclipses used to be associated with the end of times, and yet human civilization has survived hundreds, if not thousands of eclipses, and lived to tell the tale (Pappas, 2017).  Finally, there is the evidence that many doomsdayers tend to use the same information to predict the end of the world, even when this information has led to failed predictions.  For example, David Meade used the same astronomical alignment of the sun and the constellation Virgo as proof of the end of the world for three separate predictions (Bryner, 2018).

There are some cognitive contributions that may lead to a belief system that supports doomsday predictions.  One cognitive contribution is confirmation bias.  This is when you actively seek out information that supports your belief and ignore information that doesn’t.  Many doomsday predictors find “evidence” in astrology and in religious texts and interpret this ambiguous information to support their theories.  They do not listen to people who try to prove them wrong, or pay attention to evidence that refutes their predictions. I don’t believe that these people are misinformed, per se, but rather that they are misinterpreting ambiguous information in the world around them.  There might also be reasons for why people have made doomsday predictions, historically.  Throughout the long history of human civilization, we have been plagued with crises like poverty, war, political issues, hatred, and violence.  The cognitive contribution comes in to play with this information, because apocalyptic predictions have often been used to divert attention away from these more realistic issues.  When you are constantly living in fear from the world ending someday, you don’t have time to worry about social problems that actively hurt you on a day to day basis.  Finally, there is the cognitive contribution of the “true believer”.  A true believer is someone who believes so strongly in something that even when contrary evidence is introduced, this can strengthen the conviction of the belief.  Cognitive dissonance also plays a role in being a true believer when things fail.  Obviously, every doomsday prediction has been wrong, since the world is still alive today.  When the predicted end day comes and goes and nothing happens, cognitive dissonance occurs.  On one hand, they believe so strongly that the end of days is upon us, but on the other hand, the end of the world did not happen.  They change one of the beliefs to reduce this dissonance— for example, the religious text actually points to a new date as the end of times.

As mentioned previously, doomsday predictors and believers tend to come from the same community—people who are religious.  This is because many different religions have information and predictions about the end of the world through religious stories and texts.  Additionally, religious people tend to believe that there is good and evil in the world, and that as society progresses, the evil is beginning to overtake the good.  When you believe that most people in the world are bad, but that you are good because you are religious and have morals, it can be easy to think that there is an end of the world for people who are bad, or that the world will end and everybody will die as punishment because of the sinners.  This is what justifies and sustains good behavior, the idea that bad people will be punished.  Social influences are also absolutely a part of this conviction of belief.  When religious groups get together to face the predicted end of times, there is strength in the numbers.  When the date comes and goes and nothing has happened, many people probably believe that there is no possible way that an entire group could have been wrong.  This sustains belief as new predictions emerge.  When every member of a group believes in something, group polarization can occur as well, which can lead to increased strength of conviction in the belief.

Whether one believes in doomsday predictions or not, it is hard to deny that it is a very common belief that has scared all of us at one point or another.  While seemingly unproblematic as a belief, doomsday predictions can have some serious consequences.  They create a sense of fear and panic in society.  The people who believe in them may also attempt suicide or sell their worldly possessions in anticipation of the end of the world, which is obviously harmful.  The psychological explanations for doomsday beliefs are endless and include cognitive dissonance, the “true believer” effect, apophenia, and confirmation bias.  By examining the cognitive contributions that can lead to a belief in the end of the world, and how these beliefs are sustained through psychological explanations, we can understand why people have such strong convictions about doomsday predictions even in the face of such damning evidence against them.




Works Cited


Bryner, J. (2018, April 23). The ‘End of the World’ Is Today.  Here’s Why We’re Still Here. Retrieved March 21, 2019, from


Pappas, S. (2017, September 22). Apocalypse Now? Doomsday Predictions Are Just Recycled Bogus Theories. Retrieved March 21, 2019, from


Truthunited. (2018, April 09). 100% PROOF WE ARE IN THE END TIMES. Retrieved March 21, 2019, from


Wikipedia. (2019, February 19). End time. Retrieved March 21, 2019, from


Wikipedia. (2019, March 09). List of dates predicted for apocalyptic events. Retrieved March 21, 2019, from


Zuckerman, C. (2012, December 14). Maya Calendars Actually Predict That Life Goes On. Retrieved March 21, 2019, from



Can a cat really steal a baby’s breath, or is that an urban legend?

Urban legends circulate from person to person, coming from friends of friends, for years, even centuries. One urban legend that says a cat will steal a baby’s breath in its sleep. While anyone can believe this urban legend, usually people who are pregnant or have young children are most concerned with it. Although urban legends can vary in their details, this one usually consists of a cat climbing into a crib with a baby and stealing its breath. Supposedly, this happens because either the cat is attracted to the milk scent on a baby’s breath, or it is simply jealous that the owners are giving more attention to the baby. Information on this topic is found mostly on the internet. This story has been going around since the 17th century and can still be heard of today. This belief is extraordinary because not only are cats not known to do this, it also seems impossible that a cat would do this.

There are several personal reports from parents stating that the cause of death of their infant was the cat climbing into the crib and stealing the baby’s breath. While this may not be the official cause, it is kind of an “everybody knows” thing among the believers and storytellers alike. There is also a coroner report from 1791 that confirmed that this was in fact the cause of a particular baby’s death. Although this is not necessarily fact based evidence, it is enough to keep the urban legend going around. The previously mentioned coroner’s claim was later proven false. Babies can suffer from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is what had actually happened in that case. To further argue against the urban legend, experts have said that a cat would not do this.

Various factors have contributed to the belief and spread of this urban legend. Some people are simply misinformed on the subject. There isn’t much evidence on either side of the topic, so people typically just pass the information along to others as a precaution. The little evidence that there is against the claim can often be misinterpreted. People even mistake SIDS for the cat actually stealing the breath from the baby. Any animal could potentially roll onto a child as well, which may align with other variations of this urban legend. Parents could make these misconceptions because they want to blame something for the death of their child. Another reason could be due to the common negative stereotypes about cats.

Society as a whole typically has a negative view of cats. These views have been held for centuries, regardless of how many people have them as pets and enjoy them. While this urban legend can be spread by anyone, it usually resonates more with expecting or new parents. There are different reasons as to why people maintain this belief. First, cats are usually associated with evil or the devil, making people weary of them in the first place. Second, when a coroner, or someone with some kind of first-hand experience speaks out confirming that this happened, it makes it a lot easier to believe. While social factors are a big part in maintaining these beliefs, there are psychological reasons that people may believe it in the first place.

Social support plays a big psychological role in maintaining a belief. Talking to people who also believe this urban legend further strengthens the belief. Another thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the impact that starting a story with “a friend of a friend” has. This makes the account more personal and easier to believe. There is also a fear that parents have of something happening to their baby. Even if they may not actually believe that a cat can steal the breath from their baby in the night, the stereotypes about cats alone can cause people to keep the legend circulating, just in case.


Castro, J. (2012). Do Cats Really Kill Babies by Sucking Away Their Breath? Retrieved from

Mikklenson, D. (2007). Cats Suck Babies’ Breath. Retrieved from

Turner, B. Do cats really steal babies’ breath? Retrieved from

Psychology 2301 Blog Post 2: The Conspiracy of Rothschild Family

According to the 20/80 rule, 20% of people possessing 80% of the money in the world. However, through the famous book about Rothschild family “The Money Master,” it gained the public’s attention that the rule does not apply for them because they seemed to control 80% money in the world for 200 years. Their $500 trillion assets helped them to influence the financial markets and governments in many nations.

The family starts from Mayer Amschel Rothschild and his five sons. Mayer earned and accumulated his earliest asset quickly during the Napoleonic Wars. He gained the 3 million British pounds from the British government and sent his five sons to five countries in Europe to start their bank business. Gradually, they became the top influencer in Europe because they buy and sell nation debts during and after the war. Indeed, they have enough money to impact the war by sponsoring money to the armies and nations. More importantly, they made most of their money by doing war-business.

Since the family was keeping a low profile after the book debunking the family history came out, lots of legends of the Rothschild family were broadcasted and correlates with the conspiracies after. In America, it was saying that: “Morgan family has the Democratic Party, the Rockefeller family has the Republican Party, and the Rothschild family holds both of them.” The family became more and more mystery and it caused the imagination that Rothschild is always behind of kinds of conspiracies.

It also brings professionals doubts on the amount of asset under this family’s account. Although the family is very discrete about their wealth and operation to the public, the $500 trillion is never easy to hide from the world. In addition, if they had $500 trillion in 200 years, based on the 6% inflation rate, it would be a huge number now. Also, the world’s total wealth was estimated at only $250 trillion four years ago.

Fortunately, more people nowadays regard the book as a novel because of the bizarre stories and exaggerated numbers. There are many settings in the book about Rothschild family that do not make any sense when we have basic knowledge about the economy, it is easy to spot what is truth and what is a fabrication. What was involved in this conspiracy about Rothschild is augment from ignorance. Rothschild family’s myth of wealth is something cannot be proved, so people who make up the conspiracy would insist their point until the family shows the public their bank deposit.



Evon, Dan. “Rothschild Family Wealth,” 30 Oct 2016. Available online: [Accessed in 2019]

Philpot, Robert. “The Rothschilds, the banks and antisemitism – the truth and the myths,” 11 Dec 2017. Available online: [Accessed in 2019].


Do we only use 10 percent of our brains: A misconception or an extraordinary belief?

Believed to have started due to a misquote or misinterpretation of the works of Albert Einstein and Pierre Flourens in the 19th century, the belief escalated through time. It’s not certain if it was due to William James in 1908 or due to Karl Lashley between 1920-1930. Lashley’s involvement in this theory revolves around what we recently stumbled upon in class. His experiments with rats and their brains tell us a lot about how our brains function. He was the one who said that the damage to memory does not depend on where the damage is located in the brain. (Eric, 2005) Though the belief was started due to misinterpretations and misquotes, it was made popular by the most popular folk devil of all times, the internet, social media. The information ones given access by media escalates like wildfire. One interesting thing about this belief is that it was either started or believed by intellectual people, who were great contributions to the field of science. This is why this belief is a bit different than other extraordinary beliefs. When a scientist, who is believed to have high credibility, starts believing in this, it is easy for the public to follow their ideas and beliefs. This belief is still popular to this day. Dr Kalat pointed out another theory for this reasoning. According to him, in the 20th century, neuroscientists were already aware about the huge numbers of neurons that are placed locally in the brain. But unfortunately, they knew very little about these cells, which ultimately got correlated to the 10 percent myth. (Kalat, 1997) It is an extraordinary belief as it does not have any scientific backing. It has no evidence to support the claims.


While talking about why this claim could make sense we need to know that “one reason this myth has endured is that it has been adopted by psychics and other paranormal pushers to explain psychic powers.”(Mikkelson, 2014) The reason it’s used for psychic reasoning is that they easily get away with saying, since most of the people only use 10 percent of their brains, psychics have the special ability to use more than 10 percent, this is the reason they have their ability in the first place. Though it’s a convincing argument, it fails to provide a causal relationship. Even though this would have been a good argument for the claim, more scientific advances and reasoning has debunked this theory. First of all, many brain scans have shown that most of the regions of the brain are active during the day to day routine. (Cherry, 2018) We also know that if this belief was true then there wouldn’t be any significant difference in people who face brain damages, due to accidents. We know this because no matter what part of the brain is damaged it still causes a difference in memory. (Cherry, 2014) There is a default in logic too with this theory, we wouldn’t have such a large brain if we were only allowed to use a small portion of it. (Cherry, 2014)


There are many cognitive contributions that contribute to this belief system. Firstly since the belief came into existence due to intellectual personals, we know that authority plays a big role in this. Whereas we know that authority cannot and should not play a role in scientific claims. Another concept that plays an important role is confirmation bias. The scientists like William James, have invested way too much time and effort in this belief, for them to accept that it is untrue. Therefore they start making illogical interpretations of their research to confirm their beliefs. It is also important to know that post hoc reasoning could have been a reason why people still believe in this belief. As we know psychics claim they are psychics, as they can use more than 10 percent of their brains. Which means the belief led them to believe that they have access to more than a normal person. Post-hoc explanations prevent bad hypotheses from being discarded. People believe in these beliefs because they don’t have anything to lose.  “When the reward is great and the cost of the behavior is minor, the tendency toward superstition is increased.”(Killeen, 1997) In this belief especially the research and studies were misinterpreted. For example one after the other many works of scientists, some who said that only 10 percent of the mind has been mapped, Craig Karges, who said that the brain is divided into two parts. One part is conscious, which is about 10 to 20 percent of the brain and the other part is subconscious which is 80 to 90 percent of the brain. All these theories somehow misinterpreted as humans can only use 10 percent of their brain. (Mikkelson, 2014)


Though the belief started in the 19th century, due to media, it had now got a platform, where millions of people keep misinterpreting the information and making their beliefs stronger. The internet is a platform where anyone and everyone can put their thoughts forward, there are no restrictions on what people say. (Hawkins, 2012) The people who believe in this myth are all over the place and come from all walks of life. Social media platforms like facebook and twitter, always help in spreading news like wildfire.


Finally, in conclusion, we should try our best and not give into these beliefs, we need to think critically, by using 100 percent of our brain to figure out if something actually makes any sense. If we could only leave behind confirmation bias and post hoc reasoning, we will be able to see the real truth. As intellectual people of society, we must learn to know the full truth about a claim before we blindly accept it. We can either follow what other people believe and never be able to discover our full potential or we can use 100 percent of our brain to achieve the greatest we actually deserve.



Hawkins, Sara. “How Free Speech and Social Media Fit Together.” Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner, 20 Jan. 2019,

Cherry, Kendra. “Do You Really Use Only 10 Percent of Your Brain?” Verywell Mind, 31 Oct. 2018,

Chudler, Eric H. “Do We Use Only 10% of Our Brain?” Neuroscience For Kids, 13 Oct. 2005,

Mikkelson, David. “FACT CHECK: Do We Only Use Ten Percent of Our Brains?”, 25 July 2014,

Shuttleworth , Martyn. “Post Hoc Reasoning – Failure of Concluding Causality.” Explorable,

Kalat, James W. Biological Psychology. 6th ed., Brooks/Cole Pub Co; 6 Edition (1705).

The Nazi Bunkers of Antarctica

Nazi Bunkers in Antarctica

Alex Kirkpatrick


When thinking about Hitler and Nazi Germany most people can think of at least one conspiracy theory they have heard about. Two pretty common ones are the holocaust never happened or that Hitler is alive and well in Argentina.  A third theory that is beginning to see some popularity among paranormal/conspiracy theorists is the idea that the Nazis took control of part of Antarctica and built underground bunkers where they would experiment with creating new technology (Soniak, 2012).  This theory originates from a story about a Nazi expedition to Antarctica.  The story says that while exploring and mapping the area, they uncovered a multitude of underground caves and rivers.  One of the caves was particularly large and was turned into a large city that would be home to both Nazi’s and other powerful groups, like the illuminati.  Along the way, the Germans either came across alien technology or made contact with the aliens.  The Germans learned how to use the technology and were able to build a number of weapons (Soniak, 2012).  This belief is extraordinary because there is no evidence that the Nazis ever did, or were even capable of building such base.  Geologist and Oceanographer, Colin Summerhayes, partnered with journalist and historian, Peter Beeching, to examine evidence about Antarctica and the Nazis.  The pair published a 21-page peer reviewed study about these mysterious Antarctic bases and if they are real or not.

In support of this claim is the fact that the Nazis did at one point carry out an expedition to Antarctica in 1938.  Many conspiracy theorists claim that this was a large-scale expedition, with militarized and scientific ships.  In reality, it was just one small ship with the goal of finding new territory where Germany could expand their whaling industry.  There is also no mention of intent to establish a base in any Nazi documents, and after the start of WWII, the Nazis don’t return to Antarctica until 1959.  The crew manning the ship also would have been nowhere near large enough to build a base the size of what is being claimed. (Soniak, 2012).  Another bit of evidence for this theory is about the Nazi’s agreeing to The Antarctic treaty.  The treaty makes Antarctica a research zone and states that Antarctica cannot be targeted in any way by bombs or missiles.  Conspiracy theorists jump on this and say why would Nazi Germany sign this agreement?  The claim is that they signed this agreement to deter other nations from visiting Antarctica and stumbling upon their base and the research being done there.  There has been no evidence found to corroborate that point (McKendry, 2017).  Additionally, some claim that Hitler himself is actually at Antarctica.  The evidence for this idea is based on the claim that a German ship arrived at an Argentinian base located in Antarctica after the war ended.  Another popular conspiracy theory is that Hitler escaped to Argentina at the end of the war, and so therefore he was picked up by a German ship, and sent to Antarctica to live at the secret bunker.  Unfortunately, there is no evidence that Hitler ever made it to Argentina or that the supposed German boat ever went to Argentina’s Antarctic base (Barraclough, 2018).

So why do so many people believe this, despite the lack of evidence?  One major reason is simply because it’s Antarctica.  The hazardous conditions make Antarctica one of the last unexplored places on Earth.  Because so little is known about the continent, this makes it a perfect breeding ground for conspiracy theories.  So much of it remains unexplored and unknown, and it makes people think that anything could be there (Barraclough, 2018).  Another contributor to this belief is that there have been some bizarre military activities that have occurred at Antarctica over the years, such as supposed German boats coming or the U.S. project “Operation Highjump”.  These strange events, and the lack of information around them, often lead people to conclude that it must be because there is something going on there that the government doesn’t want us to know about.  Rumors and speculation abound, and a conspiracy theory is born.  In this case, people are simply misinformed and not looking at the evidence correctly.  Today, much of the information concerning some of the military activities at Antarctica has been made public and now people can read up on the facts of some of these missions (Hanks, et. al, 2017).  Many believers are also guilty of engaging in confirmation bias.  A tenant of confirmation bias is that ambiguous evidence will be seen as supporting one’s theory.  There are not many records surrounding the whaling expedition in 1938, so believers will look at this event and interpret the ambiguity of the evidence in such a way that it supports their theory.

Many of these believes actually come from Flat Earth.  Flat Earther’s often propose that it is illegal to go to Antarctica and has a constant military presence, that’s why none of them can go investigate if the ice wall is out there.  There is a subgroup of flat earth who believes that part of the reason you “can’t go” to Antarctica is because of the Nazi base there.  Being a part of the flat earth community is what allows them to sustain their beliefs.  They have a whole community to engage with and back them up in their beliefs.

The idea that the Nazis built a secret base at Antarctica is not based in evidence.  To date, there has been nothing found to support it.  Its believers are simply engaging in confirmation and are misinterpreting what they claim is their “evidence”.  Most of the believers are also a part of the flat earth community, and this is what gives them the support to continue in their beliefs.  This is just one of the conspiracy theories surrounding the mysterious continent of Antarctica, and like many of the other theories, it is a long way from being confirmed.



Barraclough, B. (2018, March 20). Nazis and pyramids: What’s really going on in Antarctica? Retrieved April 3, 2019, from


Hanks, M., Tingley, B., Schuemann, N. L., Seaburn, P., & Seaburn, P. (2017, March 20). Antarctica’s Secret Nazi Base: Separating the Fact from “Fake News”. Retrieved April 3, 2019, from


McKendry, D. I. (2017, December 21). The Secret Nazi UFO Base Beneath Antarctica. Retrieved April 3, 2019, from


Soniak, M. (2012, March 19). Hitler on Ice: Did the Nazis Have a Secret Antarctic Fortress? Retrieved April 3, 2019, from










The Conspiracy of Chemtrails


Trails of clouds following aircrafts used to disappear-  now they linger. What could explain this seeming defiance of nature? Investigative journalist William Thomas sought to explain those suspicious lines in the sky in the 1990s, emerging with the theory of chemtrails. His findings and eventual publication of Chemtrails Confirmed catapulted a belief that these “trails” are not harmless,  rather they are a coordinated government project seeking to control our minds, the weather, viruses, and life expectancy. Proof of this theory would defy all government structure and known processes, overhauling the trust we have built in institutions-thus making it extraordinary. That being said, the evidence is difficult to come across for any top secret government project.

In 1996 the United States Air force published a report about the possibility of weather modification for warfare, referring mostly to space weaponry. Theories of deviant alternative motives began to circulate internet forums soon after, accusing the government of “spraying the U.S population with mysterious substances.” These mysterious substances were described as straight, smooth, clouds that seem to randomly zig-zag across the sky. Their long duration and hints of color are used as justification of a different chemical combination than typical aircraft exhaust, yet there is no scientific proof for this distinction. Additionally, physical evidence for the belief is slim, the most common claim being that the trails “look strange.”  Yet, countless photos and videos are proponents of this theory. Many YouTubers and bloggers have claimed thousands of views by exhausting the reasons why we should all be suspicious. Some of the most “convincing” photos come from the inside of aircraft while being tested as prototypes, the pictures show barrels of substances lined against the inside of an otherwise empty aircraft, cited as hard proof of foul play. The explanation, however, is that the barrels represent bodies on a flight and tested for changes in center of gravity. The government’s response to the idea of “chemtrails” is another indicator of the truth according to proponents of this theory. In 1999 the conspiracy was discussed on the late night radio show, Art Bell. Soon after, angry accusatory letters began flooding government agencies. An immediate and immense response was coordinated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to attempt to dismiss the conspiracy. In 2001, US Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced the famous Space Preservation Act of 2001 with the idea of banning any weapons in space, including “contrails” of aircraft, the non-conspirators term for the trails. However, believers interpreted this as not only an acknowledgment of their existence, but also proof of their danger and capabilities. In both instances, the government’s direct involvement only reiterated for believers that there was something to hide.

Support of this belief spiked exponentially in the 1990s- early 2000s and has since plateaued. Blogs and internet forums are still accessible, but the content appears to remain constant with lack of new, groundbreaking information, and scientists have virtually dismissed the idea. Believers then and now are not limited by race, gender, age, class, or location. Rather, anyone with a sense of suspicion felt that the government was not above such a plot. Even celebrities have questions on the matter, in 2015 Kylie Jenner posted a photo on Twitter that had written; “Why did I see 75 planes on my 15-minute drive to work? Why is this happening and who is paying for it?” After getting its own countless interactions from her followers, Kim Kardashian retweeted it! Essentially, the exposure from prominent figures alone demonstrates how far the conspiracies’ audience has reached. That being said, those who continue to support the conspiracy most passionately are far-right, anti-government / doomsday conspiracists.

There are psychological explanations for the longevity of this belief despite the absence of physical evidence. A prominent cognitive contribution is increased conviction after unequivocal real-world events have refuted the belief. Returning to the EPA response, despite providing a scientific explanation for the trails, believers interpreted this as being greater confirmation that the government is hiding something. This idea fits into the phrase “absence of evidence is not evidence,” since it is deemed a top-secret project, conspiracists stress that a lack of evidence is exactly what you’d expect, thus making it unfalsifiable. Confirmation bias furthers this idea, believers will run with a few photos or videos for years but ignore the lengthy scientific reports that provide an explanation. Along with this, the belief violates the concept of conservatism. If the government truly is modifying our weather, minds, and diseases, it would contradict countless established explanations of what we know to be true.

Government conspiracies are difficult to extinguish, nearly every citizen sits on a spectrum of distrust. There will always be a “what if” factor in any conspiracy considered top secret, it is a large component of how the belief persists. It is not abnormal to be skeptical, the government is a massive institution where deviant behavior has crept through in many forms. That being said, the conspiracy of chemtrails distinguishes itself as extraordinary given its scale. A plot of this size would override countless established processes proven to be true. Even for a top-secret operation, there must be a place for operating, building, delivering, and those willing to maintain such secrecy. Nonetheless, no single person knows all that the government is up to, thus perhaps the operation of chemtrails will never fully be known.


Slender Man

Urban legends present a unique group of stories that have captivated minds for centuries. Though no one story is the same, urban legends offer the same general structure. They are moldable, usually change depending on who is telling them, and are often relayed as experiential. These characteristics make all sorts of urban legends persist through the ages. A modern day example of an urban legend is that of The Slender Man. A mysterious and adaptable figure, Slender Man captured the minds of countless youths across the world. So intoxicating is this legend, that some even followed the stories to violence. No matter the nature of the “origin” story, Slender Man persisted through countless adaptations and has become an insidious example of the power of imagination.

There is not a definitive or canonized belief system pertaining to Slender Man. His image and belief set that is attached to him changes according to the particular person engaged in the story. However, he is typically depicted as a tall, thin man who wears a black suit. He has long, spindly arms, sometimes multiple, like a spider. Depending on the interpretation, he can cause a variety of symptoms such as memory loss, insomnia, paranoia, distortions of the mind, and incidences of teleportation (Kim, 2019). In terms of His character, sometimes he is depicted as a “dark guardian angel” who is sent to rescue children from their abusive families, or from bullies. In other interpretations, he is seen as a vicious killer who feeds on young children (Brodskey, 2017).

Information regarding the actual legend of Slender Man can be found through a variety of means. The original image of Slender Man was developed by an artist named Eric Knudsen in a 2009 Photoshop contest for the web forum “Something Awful”. He superimposed an image of a dark figure onto 1980’s photographs of children playing in parks (Cohn, 2018). From there, the image inspired writers and film makers to create their own similar interpretations. Stories and

“experiences” popped up on sites like Creepypasta and Wikia (Cohn, 2018). These sources offer artists own personal depictions of the Slender Man legend. They are presented as true, and made to seem authentic or realistic. Videos shot with phones or low grade cameras allow footage to appear realistic, and actor commentary adds to the authenticity (Brodskey, 2017).

The legend was most popular in the immediate years following Knudsen’s Photoshop contest. Between 2009 and 2015, there were countless stories and videos circulating the internet focusing on Slender Man (Kim, 2019). Over the last few years, the popularity of the legend has tapered off, though there are still some blogs and video games dedicated to the character (Kim, 2019). While there is countless information devoted to this character online, belief in Him is undoubtedly extraordinary. Slender Man is a being that is not founded in scientific fact, nor is he substantiated by any actual evidence. He was merely created, and believed.

For the believers of the Slender Man legend, evidence may seem to abound. The believers of Slender Man are young, impressionable, and vulnerable. Mainly, they are middle school aged children who have alone time on their internet devices. Without parental supervision, or the general understanding of what is and isn’t real, the apparent “evidence” of stories and videos seem overwhelming (Brodskey, 2017). Children are impressionable, especially those who are lonely or suffer from a broken family or bullying. Often times, children in these situations feel ostracized, or as if they are outsiders from their communities. In these circumstances, a powerful image, whether He is seen as insidious or dangerous, can be comforting. A sense of belonging is not to be underestimated. In this way, Slender Man can seem very real to a child (Brodskey, 2017).

On the other hand, there is no substantiated evidence to support the actual existence of Slender Man. While one can acknowledge the apparent attraction of his character, there is no

factual basis for any of the claims associated with the stories surrounding Him. While videos and pictures may appear as evidence, experts can easily regard them as being Photoshopped. Additionally, the creator of the first actual image of “Slender Man” is known to be Eric Knudsen. It is factual that His first original “imagery” was created in 2009 for a Photoshop contest.

All in all, it is easy for adults to disregard the idea of Slender Man as a foolish childhood story. But, to those who are vulnerable, it can be very real. Children are impressionable, and the internet is very powerful. It offers a community for those who need it, and within that community, patterns of groupthink can develop. It can be nearly impossible to break off the effect of this apparent community once it has developed. The internet offers an escape, and the fantasies it offers can seem extremely real. The community belief of Slender Man is no different. The children who believed and believe in this story are devoted followers. It is important to acknowledge that although their belief is not founded in fact, it is indeed very genuine.

Kim, Brad, and Tomberry. “Slender Man.” Know Your Meme, 20 Mar. 2019,
Cohn, Gabe. “How Slender Man Became a Legend.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 Aug. 2018,

Brodskey, Irene, director. Beware The Slenderman . HBO NOW®, 2017,


The Illuminati vs. World Order

The “illuminati” is a group that has been greatly debated and spoken about in current culture. Interestingly, this group dates back to the 1700’s when the idea was first formed. Weisnaupt was a Baverian man that decided to form a group in hopes of some illumination. The group started off small and decided members should consent to membership, have strong reputations, have a well-established family, good social connections, and be wealthy. This group grew and pulled in many influential members and was thought to have impactful contributions. The group came to some disagreements within power and people spilling secrets about the group. This led to the downfall of the society. Conspiracy theories blamed the group for various crimes and in turn was seen by the government as conspiring against religion. Membership within the group was said to earn one the death penalty after these accusations. The belief now is whether this group remained underground and is secretly controlling our society as we speak. Some believers believe the illuminati is still real and very powerful. Believers think influential members of society have secretly banned together to create a new world order, including totalitarianism and brainwashing. Members of this alleged society include politicians, celebrities, and other powerful and influential people. This is an extraordinary belief because it would go against all we believe in the order of society. It would be extraordinary to find out a secret society was carefully and strategically controlling the order of life as we know it. It is an important belief to note because if it were to be true, we could assume many inside jobs and secret motives were behind events from the past. It may be important as well because it may be scary to individuals who do not trust why things happen and the order of society. Additionally, information can be found on the internet regarding the history of this group to articles now trying to explain and give proof that the group exists. The internet can spread information very rapidly, especially about this conspiracy. This spread of information can lead to greater growth of evidence or support and in turn more fears and skepticism about world order.

This belief is still popular today but has had some peak time periods for its believers. There is said that there is an LSD influence for the 60’s on the beliefs regarding the illuminati. During this drug revolution, the book “Principia Discordia” came out and made an influence on people’s beliefs. The book spoke on concepts of anarchism, disordianism, and civil disobedience. Some believe these themes in society may have been the reason for suspicion in secret societies that were controlling and brainwashing citizens. A peak in the popularity for the concept of illuminati like groups connects to the political situations in present day as well. Both political parties have conspired theories that underground groups from apposing parties are the blame for negative outcomes and situations within the political world. Many claims have been made that can worry citizens where inside jobs are occurring and it the world’s order is really what we think.

Facts that prove the existence of this secret society lie within the symbols assumed members use and represent. The first symbol is the triangle and has come up numerous times by suspected members of the illuminati. A great example is Beyoncé and her use of this symbol. Costumes and hand signs have sported this triangle which connects back to the original illuminati group. Her husband Jay-Z has a record label whose symbol is a triangle as well. The triangle symbol can also contain an eye within it, again another symbol connecting back to the illuminati. One strange connection is the fact that the dollar bill has this mysterious symbol on it. Some people believe that this is proof that even long ago, there were secret groups controlling society. Additionally, some influential people have spoken out saying it is indeed real. Some people also connect the illuminati to major events such as 9/11. When facts don’t exactly make sense to some, the perception may be that events such as 9/11 was an inside job and that the illuminati designed this to happen. The presence of the illuminati fills in blanks for some and gives reason to certain events. Some evidence against this belief is that if one go around of the illuminati failed, why wouldn’t it again? The smaller group in the 1700’s fought over disagreements of power and struggled with keeping secrets. If the illuminati is as large and powerful as we think, wouldn’t the same issue potentially arise? Why is there not a tell all book about it that would make someone millions to learn about. Like many extraordinary beliefs and conspiracies, secrets like these are almost impossible not to leak. This belief extremely challenges the order of the world as we know it and it interesting to think we maybe have never picked up on it.

Some cognitive contributions have been written about regarding this specific belief and are quite interesting. It is thought that in the crazy would around us, our brains try to piece together order. People want to give meaning to things we are not sure of or people to blame for negative things occurring in society. An insider group that controls society secretly can give some the understanding of “why”. It can confirm skepticism, when allowing confirmation biases to occur. Going along with celebrities and the elite using symbols, there is a chance people are misinterpreting things. There may be no real connection to these symbols being used and may be coincidental. Additionally, celebrities may find it fun to poke at the idea that they are a part of this secret cult and purposely wearing symbols to get a rise out of fans. Many music videos have explicitly used the word “illuminati” which seems odd to advertise if the group is so secret.

The social context of this belief ties into social medias growth in today’s world. Before social media, it was harder to blast out information to many people but now information from anyone is accessible to almost everyone. People can share opinions, beliefs, and experience that can sway others to think similarly. Social media definitely has played a role with how many articles are available on this topic and how much evidence people put forth to persuade others. The community of believers I see as coming from anywhere. Any individual who is skeptical and suspicious can we drawn into this belief because it confirms something more is going on that we are not told. The ongoing social media growth is giving skeptics more and more fuel to keep this belief alive.

All in all, this belief ties into psychological explanations for its existence. Anxiety and fear are normal emotions that are felt by many. These emotions can lead an individual to become skeptical and look for explanations for what we do not understand. We may seek information to confirm our beliefs (confirmation bias) to comfort ourselves that we are not puppets being controlled by higher powers. As humans we seek to understand what we don’t know and the illuminati may serve the purpose of giving reason to just that.

Works Cited:

Baggini, Julian. “Does the Illuminati Control the World? Maybe It’s Not Such a Mad Idea |


Julian Baggini.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 14 Feb. 2018,


Fotostock, Maria Breuer/ImageBroker/Age, and Karger-Decker/Age Fotostock. “Meet the Man

Who Started the Illuminati.” National Geographic, 1 Nov. 2016,


“The Illuminati: Who Are They and What Do They Control?” The Week UK,


Waldman, Paul. “Republicans Go Full Illuminati.” Image, The Week, 24 Jan. 2018,

Wiccan Witchcraft: Is It Real, Or Merely a Fad?

For this post, I looked into this belief of “Wicca,” or modern day witchcraft (magic). Wicca ideals were first molded by its creator Gerald Brousseau Gardner (1884-1964) who was a retired British civil servant at the time. The components of Wicca are as follows, “a revenance of nature, the practice of magic, and the worship of a female deity known as, “The Goddess” and many other deities, such as “The Horned God” etc. This belief in Wicca requires one to consider the presence of more than one God (polytheistic in nature). The first coven was formed by Gardner in 1954 after there was, “repeal in England of archaic witchcraft laws.” Wicca as a belief was popular throughout the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s but by the late 1980’s, overall growth of the movement started to decline. Typically, teenage women–and women in general–believe in this “religion” as well as its magical practices.

Some evidence that supports Wiccan witchcraft is the fact that most modern day witches perform magic as a way to, “protect nature from the ravages of humankind.” This magic takes the form of “rites” which, if conducted properly, are performed in a space somewhat consecrated in nature and with the help of physical pentagrams. People have seen these pentagrams many times in movies and are usually viewed within the horror genre. Whether these spells actually function to bring humans and nature into complete harmony is a mystery. But Wiccans do their part and participate in these spell-casting rituals whenever possible. Others suggest that this form of “magic” is really just an eccentric excuse to practice, “Christianity without having to deal with the burdens of Christianity.” When delving into it, Wicca has distinct similarities to Christianity. The magic added to it is just another flavor that gives these modern day witches just enough control over their own individualism. This is an aspect that the whole Wiccan form of witchcraft is centered around.

I don’t believe that Wiccans are misinformed. But I do believe that these collections of people are using this alternative form of religion to blanket the fact that all they desire is a form of individualism. Because of that, they consciously perform rituals (rites) paired with magic to showcase how different they are compared to dedicated Christian followers. Some could hypothesize that this facet of magic merely exists within this religion because the Wiccans want to show people how they stand out from the collective society.

Wiccans most often have agendas and reasoning’s for why their form of witchcraft is produced. Individuals who take part in Wiccan tradition are usually people, who are, “Anti-Consumerists, anti-materialists, romanticists, proponents of individualism, minimalists, and feminists.” These Individuals believe in a single lifestyle, but they are also environmentally driven to do what’s best for nature.

All in all, Wiccan magic (witchcraft) and its utilization—in my mind—is a result of a divergence in our history from a collective religion towards a more individualistic approach regarding that same religion. I believe psychologically, that these individuals perform these acts of magic as a way to prove to themselves that they are indeed providing protection against impurities that may affect the world/nature. As of now, there is no empirical evidence that I can see which shows/proves the effectiveness of this magic.

Works Cited: