Existence: America’s love for the conspiracy theory

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A belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event. President Bush planned the attacks on 9/11, the government is covering up the fact that aliens have visited Earth, scientists have been ignoring the existence of Bigfoot for years. Years ago people would have been dismissed as lunatics if they believed any of these but now more and more people are starting to believe that everything is not what it seems.

One of the most famous pictures of “Bigfoot”, which attracted a lot of believers to the theory.

In today’s technological landscape, people have constant streams of news and ideas are so easy to put out there that everyone shares theirs. People are also more connected than they have ever been, although it may not seem like it with everyone staring at their phones. But, through the internet, people with similar mindsets are bound to find each other and no one is really alone anymore. Believers of these theories, who are too nervous to discuss them due to the stigma attached, are able to connect with other people who believe and can have discussions without facing the reticule that may come with speaking about it publicly.

David Talan from Machesney Park, Illinois isn’t afraid to proclaim what he believes. David is one of many who believe in the existence of Sasquatch or, as it is better known, Bigfoot.

“All my life I have always loved monsters.” David said as he reflected on his childhood. He continued talking about how he always was fascinated by creatures like Godzilla and King Kong. As a kid, he heard talks of Bigfoot and as he got older he started to believe that something was out there.

“It’s just cool knowing that there is still some mystery left in the world. They may not be able to prove it but they can never disprove it because there is something out there leaving these signs.”

He talked about how important it is to him that there is still something to look for in the world. Sifting through all the evidence and watching everything related to Bigfoot is a way of reminding him that there are still some things yet to be discovered, and that he will be a part of it one day if that thing ends up being Bigfoot. He is just one of the hundreds of thousands of people that believe Bigfoot is out there. David talked about how he is able to connect with these people through things like Facebook. This allowed him to feel connected with other people that share his similar interests. Also, this strengthened his belief in Bigfoot because he was able to see all these people who believed in it as well as hearing their stories.

While David Talan is outdoors, he always has the idea of Bigfoot in the back of his mind

“Some people share their stories and then there are people who haven’t seen Bigfoot but are convinced that he exists; like me.”

But in these groups there are people who are fabricating their story in order to get more attention. This is what comes to the mind of people when they think of the evidence supporting Bigfoot and it hurts the case of people who legitimately think they saw Bigfoot.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of hoaxers, people who make the whole thing up. But not everyone is a liar and people are out there who actually think they saw Bigfoot.”

The concept of hoaxers is present in all sorts of conspiracy theories, other times they have nothing to do with them. It’s just people who get desperate for attention so the play along with what a large group of people are believing. This has been detrimental to multiple theories throughout the years. The public perception changes and all people can focus on is that one time that person faked it. This is also happening in a different way now. TV shows surrounding these conspiracy theories have been popping up on networks ranging from the History Channel to Animal Planet. While these shows can bring new people to the theories (and are one of the main reasons these theories are gaining a lot of traction recently) they can also push people away and shift the perception even more due to the over the top nature of some of them.

“The Discovery Network has the documentaries of Monsters in America, they go with the scientific part of trying to find the evidence of Sasquatch. And there are some legitimate shows where these people are actually trying to look for Bigfoot. Then there are some that make a complete mockery of it. There’s a lot of mockery out there that hurts it. Like, what makes you think you are going to see them in the dark if you can’t see them during the day.”

When shows like this start to make a mockery of the theories, the people who believe them have to deal with the backlash. They are under constant reticule just because they think that there is evidence out there that supports their belief and Dave is no different.

“A lot of people that make of fun of the people who are interested in Bigfoot is because they haven’t done any research. A lot of people say that you may be searching for something that isn’t even there. Which could be true in a sense but they can make fun of us a laugh all they want but it’s going to shock the world if he is truly out there.”

Many people are like David in the sense they want to prove the sceptics wrong. The most important thing to him however is the fact that the hunt for Bigfoot just shows that there is still some mystery in the world, something that he has been chasing since he was a kid. It puts a whole different spin on the people that believe in these theories by looking at them not as lunatics but as people looking for some mystery in their lives. David also has someone who supports him even though she may not believe everything about Bigfoot, his wife Carrie.

“He talks about it a lot, he’ll read about it a lot, he’ll want to watch movies about it and tv shows. He just thinks it a neat thing, [David] is like that. It’s interesting to him that’s why he engulfs himself in it. He thinks it truly exists.”

David and Carrie Talan have been married for 23 years, and she supports his obsession with Bigfoot

Carrie said when she was talking about David’s fascination with the Bigfoot theory.

“They just want to show other people he exist. Their goal is to go out there and find it and say here he is, we found Bigfoot. They want to prove people wrong.”

After these believers have been bashed their whole lives it only makes sense for their main motivator to be proving the sceptics wrong. Carrie recognizes this and it helps her understand why her husband is so driven when it comes to proving Bigfoot’s existence. David just wants to be one of the people invested in this “mystery” when it is finally solved.

“It could happen, they could never find them; who knows. But, when I watch the shows for a little bit I believe there is a Bigfoot out there and that they may find him. But, who knows.”

Carrie is someone who thinks that the shows have brought a whole new generation of believers in these theories. She also thinks that they are not going away anytime soon.

“It interests people. They see how many viewers’ shows like ‘Finding Bigfoot’ get and they are like ‘Wow’. So they keep making more and more shows because this is what they think people want to see. People watch them because they believe or maybe they don’t believe but then they start watching the show and start believing. It’s so easy to access with TV and the internet.”

As these documentaries and shows are earning bigger numbers, the networks will keep making shows in a similar style. And with today’s technology, like Carrie pointed out, getting access to these shows are easier than ever. Information is so easily available that everyone has access to a near unlimited amount of it at their fingertips. This allows these theories and evidence to be spread amongst everyone and in an orderly fashion rather than someone walking down the street holding a sign that says “BIGFOOT EXISTS!” But, all this available information leads to people being more interested in information pertaining to our government.

“The government over the years, with all the problems that have been brought out. And I don’t know if it is because we have access to the internet and that we read about this stuff more but with all the problems with the politicians more people are starting to lose their trust in the government. This leaves a bigger window open to the belief that the government could be hiding this or that.” Carrie said.

David is one of those people. Throughout the years these people see a lot of shady situations going down when it comes to government so when the internet age comes around more of these situations come to light. For example, when Edward Snowden came out and said that the government had been spying on the American people through phones and the internet, he was then, by most people, cast out as a traitor.

People use conspiracy theories to try and explain the world around us. And as more and more information seems to be hidden from the people, more theories will arise. That’s just a place the human mind goes, when information is purposely hidden from us we want to find out what that info may be, no matter what.

The events of 9/11 are a recent example of a catalyst for multiple conspiracy theories

It is especially apparent when tragic events happen such as 9/11 and the death of Princess Diana. These things are massive events that have loads of moving parts causing people to be scared. They are just trying to give reason for these awful acts to happen such as George Bush planned the whole thing because random acts of horrific violence can’t happen. People get scared or curious and so conspiracy theories are born. Some may end up being a little too extreme while others are more like David’s and just look at it as a normal part of their lives. More are latching on to these theories and we may have to look at the world we live in to see now.

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