From the structure of the planet to the status and stunts of celebrities, conspiracy theories seek to challenge the status quo. Below are some prominent theories that aim to shift commonly held perceptions about popular topics and people.
Photoshopped images of the globe. Gravity doesn’t exist. The flat earth theory holds just that — the planet we live on is not spherical, but flat.
“The earth is surrounded on all sides by an ice wall that holds the oceans back,” according to the Flat Earth Society website.
What exists beyond the ice wall is unknown.
According to the Flat Earth Society website, the best proof of a flat earth is the Bedford Level Experiment of the 19th century. After examining the surface level of water along a river in 1838, scientist Samuel Rowbotham concluded the Earth was flat.
“Can you really think of us rotating around the sun, and all the planets align, rotating in specific dates, being perpendicular with what’s going on with these planets and stuff like this?” Boston Celtics player Kyrie Irving said in Allie Clifton’s Road Trippin’ podcast.
Other celebrities and athletes have hinted at beliefs in the flat earth model, including retired professional basketball player Shaquille O’Neal and rapper B.o.B.
When it comes to gravity, some believe objects don’t actually accelerate downward — instead, the Earth is constantly accelerating upward at 32 feet per second squared, which creates the illusion gravity.
When it comes to space exploration, the Flat Earth Society suggests it only takes a fraction of the space travel budget to fake space travel, leaving a large surplus for greedy scientists.
“Please note that we are not suggesting that space agencies are aware that the earth is flat and actively covering the fact up,” according to the Flat Earth Society website. “They depict the earth as being round simply because that is what they expect it to be.”
Between 1985 and 2002, Coke introduced a new formula to replace the original, named Coke II. This came after the Coca-Cola Company experienced years of dwindling market shares to other non-carbonated drinks.
However, the switch to Coke II was met with hostile outlash, and the company reintroduced Coke’s original formula within three months, which resulted in a significant boost in sales.
Some speculate this was a marketing plot to artificially boost the company’s sales.
“We’re not that dumb, and we’re not that smart,” said Donald Keough, president of the Coca-Cola Company.
Other explanations offer that the switch to Coke II covered up the company’s switch from sugar-sweetened drinks to high fructose corn syrup sweeteners.
The switch also covered the final removal of all coca from Coke products, in line with the Drug Enforcement Administration's attempts to fight cocaine trafficking and consumption.
Avril Lavigne is dead
Rumor has it Canadian punk-princess and “Sk8r Boi” singer Avril Lavigne died in 2003 and was replaced by a doppelganger named Melissa Vandella.
It has been said that when Lavigne’s grandfather passed away in 2003, she couldn’t handle it. The result was, allegedly, her taking her own life. However, since she was at the height of her career the record label didn’t want to let her go. Thus, Melissa became Avril.
There aren’t a plethora of facts, but there are enough to make you think. When Lavgine released her first album in 2002, the fame she experienced was heavy. Since she had trouble adjusting, she hired a body double, Melissa Vandella, to walk around for her. The two became fast friends, Lavigne even wrote “Melissa” across her hand during a photoshoot.
Physically, Lavigne now has fewer freckles on her arm now than she did before and during 2003, which can be tied to growth as a human being but, for conspiracy purposes, it can be linked to Melissa taking her spot post-death.
Lavigne was a punk-lover. She wore ripped tank tops and almost always wore pants. Suddenly she was making red carpet appearances in skirts and singing along to what sounds like dubstep in her song “Hello Kitty.” This change in her appearance and her musical style can also be tied to growth, but again, it can also be tied to Melissa.
It’s entirely possible that Lavigne is still alive, but that’s no fun. In the spirit of 2002 Avril, it’s fun to make things complicated.
Melania Trump has a body double
In October of 2017, Melania Trump was accused of hiring a body double to appear on television with President Donald Trump.
One Twitter user, @JoeVargas, tweeted out a photo of a CNN clip of President Trump and the first lady, saying, “This is not Melania. To think they would go this far & try & make us think its her on TV is mind blowing.”
In the photo posted, it looked as if Melania’s nose was part of a mask. Her sunglasses were big enough to hide the bulk of her face, but during the interview President Trump slipped up and said, “My wife Melania, who happens to be right here.” Twitter user @JoeVargas pointed out the phrase “who happens to be right here” is a strange thing to say about someone who is in the line of sight for the camera.
This conspiracy has since been debunked by several sources, like CNNPolitics and Vox. The consensus was that the Twitter user may have just had a bad television.
Lea Michele, if you’re (pretending to) read this, please don’t continue.
For those not obsessively tracking developments in the musical theatre world, Michele played Rachel Berry on “Glee.” But she made news earlier this year for a bizarre conspiracy theory: that she can’t read or write.
Originally discussed in a 40-minute Facebook live video by the podcast One More Thing in July 2017, the theory picked back up in March 2018 when “Lea Michele” trended on Twitter.
Jaye Hunt and Robert Ackerman, the folks behind the video, offered compelling evidence. They proposed that because Michele started working professionally at a young age, she never received a full education. Hunt and Ackerman collected social media posts, photos of book-signing events and “Ellen” video clips to corroborate their theory that Michele is illiterate.
Michele has since responded to the theory, tweeting, “Loved READING this tweet and wanted to WRITE you back…literally laughing out loud at all this. Love you!!!”
This could put the theory to rest…but what if it was her personal assistant who wrote the tweet? Barring a video of Michele explicitly writing or reading an unprepared sample, the internet will never be satisfied to let this one rest.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy
This is the conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories. A multitude of theories have been proposed surrounding the death of the former President of the United States.
These theories range from the involvement of the mafia in Kennedy's death, to conspiracies featuring the Cuban and Soviet governments.
Some of the most popular conspiracies about the assassination propose the involvement of U.S. government organizations like the CIA, or even Kennedy's vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson. Certain people, like former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, have combined several of these theories into one. In Ventura's book, "They Killed Our President," he wrote that Kennedy was murdered by a conspiracy which involved the CIA, anti-Fidel Castro Cubans, the mafia and others who were angered by Kennedy's policies toward Cuba and the Soviet Union.
Within the various conspiracies about Kennedy's death are layers of other conspiracies as well. These involve possible witnesses that never came forward, mysterious deaths of known witnesses and possible accomplices to Lee Harvey Oswald, the man arrested and charged with the murder.
Even more conspiracies exist regarding Jack Ruby, the man who shot and killed Oswald on live television just days after Kennedy's death, but there are plenty of made-for-TV documentaries to explain the rest of the story.
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.
More in Arts
The IU Auditorium, the Jacobs School of Music and MidWay Music Speaks were all awarded funds.
Performances will take place on Zoom.
The concert airs at 9:30 p.m. on July 25.