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Pizza and Politics - Conspiracy Theories

conspiracy.jpgThe Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service hosts Pizza & Politics every Wednesday at noon to discuss a current political topic. Leavitt Center student employees research the topic and moderate the conversation. These discussions expose students to a variety of important issues and encourages them to share their own perspectives while learning all sides of an issue.  Free pizza is provided for all who attend.

Taking a break from some of the more serious topics covered this semester, this week’s discussion was based on popular and compelling conspiracy theories. Moderators Abdikadir Eftin, a senior dual-major in political science and communication, and Miles Anderson, a senior dual major in political science and psychology, sought to keep the discussion fun and open to all ideas, however far fetched they may be.

Preceding each new topic was a short informational video outlining the basics of each theory. Due to the whimsical nature of many conspiracy theories, audience members were encouraged to think outside the box and share their opinions regardless of their knowledge on the topic.

Who is responsible for the JFK assassination?

While nobody mentioned anyone by name with the exception of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man officially charged with the assassination, several members had theories indicating that Oswald was not the real killer. One student pointed out the fact that the trajectory of the bullets through the windshield would have been impossible, or at least very difficult, from the vantage point at which Oswald was discovered. The position that would have made more sense was the bridge nearby. The real shooter may have been in cahoots with Oswald and made his escape in the ensuing chaos. The fact that Oswald was killed before his trial was seen as all too convenient for a government that desperately wanted someone to blame for the assassination.

Has NASA covered up signs of alien life?

The video preceding this question gave an overview of the many claims in the last several decades that people have seen signs of extraterrestrials, but were shot down by the government and their stories written off as hearsay.

This question received mixed responses as many did not think NASA would attempt to cover up alien life. One comment mentioned that the United States would jump at the opportunity to discover something groundbreaking and certainly wouldn’t hide it so that they could be seen as a world leader in extraterrestrial knowledge and contact.  

The other half of the room believed they did and would actively hide signs of alien life, citing reasons ranging from avoiding a global panic to wanting to preserve the superior technology introduced by alien species for government use.

If NASA had information about ETs, but the news was bad, would you still want to know?

Mixed responses came from this question. The most common response was that they would want to know so they could do whatever they wanted with the time they had left. Others disagreed and preferred ignorance to problems that they have no control over. A third party indicated that it depends on what that bad news is. If it was a pending doomsday, they would want to know, but if the bad news was that an alien race was holding Earth hostage and demanded human sacrifices once a year or Earth would be destroyed, they would rather live in ignorance.

Why do people still believe in the Illuminati?

Regardless of the belief in the continued existence of the Illuminati, audience members across the board agreed that people love having something to blame for mysterious or unsettling events. One individual cited the common phrase “sometimes truth is stranger than fiction”, meaning that human beings have a tendency to believe the simplest explanation for things and blaming strange world events or occurrences on a secret society of powerful people is often easier than vetting out the more bizarre truth.

Though the existence of the Illuminati is confirmed earlier in history, the trail appears to go cold in the last hundred years. Some audience members believe it no longer exists while others believe that they simply got better at concealing their existence.

Thoughts about the north tower’s appearance of a controlled collapse during 9/11?

Preceding this question, a video of the north tower collapsing with some explanations of similarities between the north tower collapse and controlled demolitions was shown.

Without diving too deep into the physics of the collapse, audience members indicated that it certainly appeared as if there were blasts throughout the building as it collapsed into itself. The most compelling element was the fact that the building appears to be collapsing downward at the same speed as free falling debris which doesn’t seem possible unless there are blasts occurring on each level to allow the building to fall downward with minimal resistance.

Several audience members mentioned that a big reason they don't believe this particular conspiracy theory is because there isn't a compelling reason why the government would instigate 9/11. Theories include a desire to take control of the oil in the middle east, fostering national unity, and several others but those reasons aren’t enough for most members of the audience.

The engaging but lighthearted nature of the discussion left audience members wanting more and, if nothing else, provided interesting material for future late-night conversations and a reason to dive deeper into the strange corners of YouTube.  

These events are broadcast weekly via Facebook live. The Leavitt Center also hosts a weekly podcast (How It Stands) that follows up on that week’s Pizza & Politics discussion.


    

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