Friday night topic: Conspiracy theories


— 5:01 PM on September 19, 2014

You might have heard about the little stunt Nvidia pulled at its Game24 event yesterday. Using real-time global illumination on its new Maxwell GPUs, the company attempted to simulate the conditions of the moon landing—and "debunk" lunar landing conspiracy theories. Take a look:

Honestly, I was a little surprised to see Nvidia go toe-to-toe with conspiracy theorists. The moon landing hoax theory has been debunked time and again in the past four decades, perhaps most recently by the MythBusters guys. This shouldn't be a topic of contention anymore.

And yet, despite all the evidence, polls show a small percentage of the population still believes we never landed on the moon. There are believers in countless other conspiracy theories, as well, covering everything from bigfoot and Area 51 to the 9/11 attacks.

In my view, these theories all hinge on a fundamental misunderstanding of human ability. They tend to assume either too much ability (such as the kind of flawless planning and execution that would go into perpetrating and covering up the 9/11 attacks) or too little (as in the notion that NASA couldn't possibly send a manned spacecraft to the moon). Add selective evidence gathering from untrustworthy online sources, sprinkle in a dash of the Internet eco-chamber effect, and it's easy for anyone to believe pretty much any old kooky hypothesis.

What about you? What are your thoughts on all this? Have you ever had to debate a conspiracy theorist, and if so, were you able to change their mind? Do you think some things regarded as conspiracy theories are actually true?

Discuss.

   
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