2020 has been one hell of a year. In the last 12 months, we were subjected to a pandemic, saw evidence of possible UFOs, and watched a nail biting election. As the world braved through an eventful year while mostly trapped indoors, minds began wandering and thinking up some of the craziest ideas to make sense of it all. Researchers have found that conspiracy theories help people feel in control — something many are looking for right now — because they provide an opportunity to reject official narratives. From the tongue-in-cheek to the disturbingly serious, here are some of the weirdest conspiracy theories this year.
5G spread the coronavirus
The pandemic is the defining event of 2020. Experts took a while trying to figure out what the coronavirus was, so the start of the outbreak was filled with unanswered questions. Chief among them was, where did COVID-19 come from? One of the weirdest — yet popular — theories suggests that 5G technology is to blame.
According to WIRED, this movement all began in January, when a Belgian newspaper published an interview with a doctor who claimed that 5G technology could have caused the coronavirus to spread, because 5G cell towers were built around Wuhan in 2019. Although the doctor cautioned that he did not fact check this, the theory took on a life of its own. His comments were picked up by anti-5G campaigners from Dutch-speaking countries and eventually spread to different parts of the world in April, including the United Kingdom and Ireland, where people began setting cell phone towers on fire.
5G networks rely on radio waves that are transmitted between an antenna and a phone. It promises better connectivity but some have speculated that 5G helps transmit the coronavirus. Various experts have debunked the theory, saying that such claims are impossible because viruses and the radio waves that make mobile phones work are two different things.
Lasers caused the wildfires in the United States
Photos of fires and explosions that showed supposed laser beams made people think there was more to the wildfires that raged through the West Coast of the United States this year. What did they suspect? That the government was testing satellites with laser weaponry.
It was later discovered that the photos that were being shared were from a SpaceX rocket launch, two Californian wildfires from 2018, and a controlled fire conducted by an oil refinery in Ohio.
Aliens are real
When mysterious monoliths appeared out of nowhere, people thought there could only be one logical explanation: aliens! The first metal structure appeared in the Utah desert on Nov. 18 and later vanished on Nov. 27. Following this, similar monoliths started appearing and disappearing in places, including Romania and California. The theory is that aliens deliberately placed these structures on earth to warn of an alien invasion to come.
People said the same thing when The Pentagon released footage of UFOs in April, confirming that the videos previously released by a private company in 2017 were real. The videos, taken by U.S. Navy pilots, show what’s been called “unidentified aerial phenomena” moving about rapidly on camera. Now people are asking: are we truly alone in this universe?
Kim Jong Un is dead?
Remember when the world thought Kim Jong Un was dead? Kim disappeared from state media for three weeks, causing widespread speculation, but it was later revealed that he was actually alive and well when he made a public appearance at the opening of a fertilizer plant.
Once Kim was back in the public eye, rumors spread that he deliberately faked his death to expose traitors in his inner circle. The internet took the theory and ran with it.
However, that’s not the only theory that has came out of the incident. Many folks started to believe that Kim Jong Un is using a body double because of his supposedly deteriorating health. People shared photos of Kim before and after his unexplained disappearance, claiming that his teeth and ear lobe looked different.
Social distancing robots are spying on us
Now that places like Japan and Singapore have robots that remind people to practice social social distancing, some actually think governments are using these machines to spy on people, and that we shouldn’t be too comfortable with these new “friends.” Queue jokes about robots taking over the world.
TikTok created the coronavirus
TikTok blew up in 2020. It’s gotten so popular that celebrities like Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey joined the app while in self-quarantine, and TikTok influencer Charli D’amelio guested on The Tonight Show and now has a reality show with her family. Eventually, people started floating the idea that it was TikTok’s plan to get people so bored, they’d have to use the app.
Of course, these theories were mostly for laughs and no one actually had any evidence to back them up.