Courier's believe it or not

After Sandy Hook and the Boston Bombing, pictures of people mourning were released. In pictures from both tragedies, an eerily-similar woman is seen crying, leading people to believe that she was a crisis actress. There’s constant debate about the beliefs that these tragedies were faked.

Political theories, like 9/11 being an inside job and pop culture ones, such as Beyoncé faking her pregnancy, caused firestorms all over social media. Whatever the theory, there’s still one question: why do people believe in conspiracy theories?

“Most people believe conspiracy theories because of confirmation bias. This is when we look for evidence of what we want to believe and ignore other evidence that might contradict us. Theorists will take that as evidence to confirm their fears,” AP Psychology teacher Rebecca Whitney said.

Confirmation bias explains political theories, but suggestibility, the quality of tending to accept false information because others have accepted it, explains pop culture conspiracies.

According to Viren Swami, social psychology professor at Anglia Ruskin University, conspiracies were popularized by the impact of social media on people’s daily lives. Social media, such as Reddit, spreads belief in conspiracies through suggestibility.

One well-known conspiracy theory is the Mandela Effect. It originated after Fiona Broome, a paranormal consultant, posted her belief that Nelson Mandela died in the 1980s. While some readers refuted her, others claimed to remember the same thing, even going as far as to say they remembered seeing his funeral procession.

Since Bloome’s blog post, examples of the Mandela effect have been cropping up. Some theorists believe it’s caused by drifts to alternate universes. With the right amount of supposed evidence and frequent misinformation, conspiracies can gain a following now faster than ever.

Illustration by Alissa Green

“I don’t think conspiracy theories are real and I don’t know how people believe them. They have no evidence. Some are fun to read about, but I mean, I’d never believe one,” junior Sarah Curia said.

Aside from faked tragedies and alternate universes, celebrities are oftentimes the target of conspiracy theorists. This year, a conspiracy broke out that Avril Lavigne died and was replaced by a doppelganger. However, one of the biggest conspiracies is that of Paul McCartney’s death and subsequent replacement. The international boy band, The Beatles, ruled the music scene throughout the 60s and 70s, or in what was known as “Beatlemania”. What people don’t know is the dark theory surrounding the band.

“The theory goes that in 1966, Paul McCartney was killed in a car wreck and after the Beatles took a music hiatus, he was replaced,” English teacher and conspiracy theorist Brian Nicola said.

Theorists claim that McCartney was swapped with an imposter. According to Time. com, the replacement is William Campbell, or “Billy Shears,” a winner of a Paul McCartney lookalike contest. Evidence of this cover-up is apparently sprinkled in the Beatles’ later albums and seen in differences in McCartney after the alleged accident. “Paul McCartney was known to play a guitar backwards and upside down, since he was left handed. After he was replaced, he suddenly played guitar with his right hand,” Nicola said.

According to, albums such as “Abbey Road” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” included clues of McCartney’s demise. In the latter album, for example, McCartney is depicted with the letters OPD on his arm, which theorists interpret to mean “officially pronounced dead."

“The cover of ‘Abbey Road’ is said to represent a funeral procession with John Lennon as a priest, Ringo Starr as a mourner, George Harrison as a gravedigger, and Paul McCartney, who is barefoot and out of step with the others, as a dead man,” junior Beatles enthusiast Kerri Carson said.

Whether it’s a hoax or the world has been tricked to believing a lie, three things are for certain: the Beatles music legacy will live on, Nelson Mandela died in 2013 and conspiracies will continue to arise throughout the generations.


Print Editions

Online Editions