This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Over the past few years, conspiracy theories have gone from crackpot ideas peddled by crazy uncles and desert dwellers to even crazier crackpot ideas peddled by prominent politicians, cable news hosts, and tons of old people on Facebook. As hostile foreign governments and kekking 4channers sow the seeds of discontent and the theories ascend from seedy message board chains to the mainstream media, the press has been forced to spend time explaining and debunking the increasingly insidious claims. Though the backlash against Facebook for its laissez faire approach to fake news and the ongoing defamation lawsuit against Alex Jones indicate that these theories are finally being taken seriously by the powers that be, their proliferation among the masses seems unabated.
But conspiracy theories have been a fact of life for as long as anyone can remember, and not all of the outlandish ideas and rumors people believe are as harmful as, for instance, thinking a pizza parlor is a front for pedophiles. Some conspiracy theories can be thought experiments that are either interesting to contemplate or are just flat-out funny, and we've rounded up some of the "best" below. None of them are real, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy them:
Little Caesars Serves DiGiorno Pizza
On October 6, 2018, quick and cheap pizza chain Little Caesar’s had the freshness of its menu called into question when a video surfaced on Twitter showing a shopping cart full of freezer aisle DiGiorno pizzas behind the counter. A later investigation revealed that this Caesar’s location was inside of a Kmart and the pizza cart belonged to a store employee who was storing expired pizzas in a spare cooler for disposal in the morning. It was too late, of course. Memes had been made, Chrissy Teigan got involved, and a new conspiracy theory was born.
Tommy Wiseau Is DB Cooper
This one goes way back to 1971, when a man using the alias Dan Cooper hijacked a 727 with a briefcase bomb and forced the jet to land, where he secured a $200,000 cash ransom before forcing the pilots to take off again. Once in the air, Cooper opened the door and parachuted down somewhere into the Pacific Northwest forests, never to be seen again. (This was back when plane hijackings were common occurrences.) With no one injured and no suspect charged in the 45 years the case remained open, the mystery man who eventually came to be known as D.B. Cooper was gradually elevated to the status of folk hero. Theories abound about Cooper’s true identity, but the best yet pegs him as Hollywood’s foremost character with a murky past: Tommy Wiseau. First posited in a 2014 XKCD webcomic that laid out the similarities between Cooper and the living meme, the theory was an instant crowd pleaser. And really, if you don’t think about it too much, The Room auteur’s fuzzy age, national origin, and mysterious wealth could possibly stem from a daring airborne heist. Maybe?
Stevie Wonder Isn’t Really Blind
Famed singer and pianist Stevie Wonder’s premature birth resulted in his development of a condition that caused his retinas to detach and ultimately left him blind. Wonder’s success in spite of his disability is nothing short of inspirational, but a new breed of truther has emerged that claims he’s has been faking that shit since day one and duping us all the way to the bank. Some of the "evidence" includes a video of him catching a falling mic stand, a pic of him taking a photo of Michael Jackson, and his love for courtside seats at basketball games. Sean Combs even said that Wonder could "see" what people are wearing. A lot of this can be chalked up to the fact that vision-impaired people can actually live relatively normal lives, but it’s admittedly fun to imagine the Motown legend getting away with a long con of this magnitude.
Finland and Australia Don’t Exist
In 2017 20,000 people shared a Facebook post that claimed to have proof that the continent nation of Australia is a work of fiction by Great Britain that allowed them to kill convicts with impunity. Everyone claiming to be from Australia: liars. Think you’ve been there? You weren’t. In the same vein, another Redditor accidentally convinced the internet that Finland is a made-up place. It’s clear that these theories were spread with the same jocular intent as the earlier theory about the small German town of Bielefeld, so the only people who needed correcting were the Aussies who let themselves get upset over an obvious joke.
Mattress Firms are All Money Laundering Fronts
With over 3,300 locations in the US, Mattress Firm is one of the largest specialty mattress retailers in the country. But as one befuddled Redditor pointed out in a 2016 /r/askreddit thread, the ubiquity of a store that sells an item people only buy every seven to ten years, often with multiple locations in spitting distance of each other, reeks of a money laundering scheme. Steinhoff International Holdings, the South African retail group that bought Mattress Firm in 2016, was subsequently mired in a massive accounting scandal, which might have added fuel to this theory, but an investigation found irregularities going back to 2015, before the Mattress Firm purchase. The money laundering stuff is likely bunk, but it's thrilling to imagine seedy behavior lurking in such a banal business.
Let’s wrap things up with not just one, but an entire genre of pop culture conspiracy theories. Here, fanatics comb through archival photos of their favorite singer looking for the birthmark or eyelid crease that conclusively proves the star has been switched with a lookalike. Here are but a few of the choice cuts from this world of dupes and doppelgängers: Avril Lavigne was killed in 2003 and replaced with a clone or friend named Melissa Vandella, Taylor Swift is a clone of Satanic Priestess Zeena LaVey, Miley Cyrus died of an overdose and was replaced by the body double from this old concert clip, Beyoncé is an Illuminati clone made from her own stem cells, Eminem is an Illuminati clone, Andrew WK is a work of performance art being played by multiple people, Gucci Mane was cloned by the government while serving time in prison, Kanye West is also a clone (according to Nick Cannon). Some also believe that Katy Perry is a grown-up JonBenét Ramsey and, though that’s not technically a duplicate example, it's in the same universe of nonsense: What if a famous person was actually not that person, but a regular person who was just pretending to be famous? Whoa, man.
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