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Trending: The Greta Thunberg Photo Conspiracy Theory

By David Schonauer   Monday December 2, 2019


We’re living in a golden age of conspiracy theory.

Alternation versions of history and science are nothing new, of course. We're still wondering about who really killed JFK in Dallas in 1963. And whether the  Apollo 11 astronauts actually saw a UFO on their way to the moon in 1969. Or for that matter, whether astronauts landed on the moon at all. (The idea that the moon landings were created on a soundstage on Earth has been particular persistent: A 1999 Gallup Poll found that six percent of Americans surveyed doubted that the moon landing happened. That percentage spiked after Fox television aired a special called Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?Some 15 million people watched it.) 

Now, with social media, conspiracy theorists have found a new, fertile ground for growing their ideas. This year has seen the rise of Flat Earthers — that is, people who believe that our planet is in truth flat and stationary. CNN recently reported on the third-annual Flat Earth International Conference, which was held at an Embassy Suites hotel in suburban Dallas. Speakers gave presentations including "Space is Fake" and "Testing The Moon: A Globe Lie Perspective."  

“We live in an increasingly scientific world, so why do conspiracy theories seem to be more popular than ever?” noted the BBC’s Science Focus magazine this summer, when it reported on Flat Earthers. Researchers from Texas Tech University believe they’ve isolated YouTube videos as ground zero for the spread of flat-earth theories, noted New York magazine in February. 

The latest conspiracy theory to thrill the internet focuses on teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg: Twitter, noted People magazine recently, now believes she is a time traveler.

It all has to do with a 121-year-old photograph.

The circa 1898 photo, unearthed from archives at the University of Washington, shows three children working at a gold mine in Canada during the Yukon gold rush. One of the girls bears an uncanny resemblance to Thunberg. She is even wearing a braid in her hair, “which is 16-year-old Thunberg’s signature style,” noted People.

The first link between the photo and the Swedish teen appears to have come on Nov. 9, when Facebook user Allison White shared the snap after spotting it hanging at Pike Place Market in Seattle, reports People.

“#GretaThunberg is a TIME TRAVELER,” White wrote.

She may have been joking, or not. But the idea began to catch on.

“So ‘Greta Thunberg’ is in a photo from 120 years ago, and it’s my new favourite conspiracy. Greta’s a time traveller, from the future, and she’s here to save us,” one Twitter user wrote.

Another user paired the old photo with a photo of Thunberg taken by photographer Shane Balkowitsch using a 19th-century wet-plate process.

Still another theorized that perhaps Thunberg is actually from the future and sent back in time “to key moments in history to stop climate change.”

Will this conspiracy theory have legs? It wouldn’t seem to, but who knows?  Another Twitter user more or less summed up the prevailing sentiment over Thunberg the time traveler when he wrote, “Wishing her all the best and success in her mission to save the Earth. We can use the help we can get!”

1 Comments

  1. D. Lindemann commented on: December 2, 2019 at 6:35 p.m.
    TIME TRAVEL CONSPIRACIES ARE A WASTE OF OUR TIME. SOMEONE ONCE LOOKED LIKE GRETA THUNBERG. SO? IS IT REALLY THAT AMAZING? IS SHE FROM THE FUTURE? ASK ME NEXT WEEK OR MAYBE JUST ASK HER. THEN WATCH HER LAUGH. WHY DO STUPID ARTICLES LIKE THIS APPEAR ON WHAT SOME MIGHT CONSTRUE AN HONEST WEBSITE? DEAR GRETA STANDS FOR SOMETHING VERY REAL NOT FOR THIS HOKEM. BY DIMINISHING HER INSIGHT TO THE LEVEL OF A FAIRY TALE IS ABHORRANT.

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