Business Insider spoke to Dr. Jan-Willem van Prooijen, associate professor of psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Dr. van Prooijen said people are often drawn to conspiracy theories after major diasters as a way of coping with their fear.
He added he finds the flat earth and hollow earth theories the most baffling due to the wealth of scientific research on the subject.
What if there were a tunnel through the middle of the earth and you jumped in?
We’ve all heard a lot of really weird conspiracy theories about the world — the Flat Earth, the Hollow Earth, and the world’s governments all conspire to cover up the truth, for some reason. Some of these are so bizarre that they can only be jokes. None more so than the claim that Finland doesn’t exist. The idea here is that where we all think Finland is is actually just ocean, and that Japan and Russia conspired to persuade the world there’s a country there, to cover up the fact that Japan does unlimited fishing and whaling there with no international oversight. Today we’re going to study why a tale so trivially disproven as that can actually survive to become passionately believed by a small but vocal group of conspiracy theorists.
On any map, Finland borders Russia to its east, and its south and west borders are in the Baltic Sea. To its north, Finland connects to Sweden and Norway. Believers in the conspiracy theory have drawn a new map in which most of Finland is simply erased, extending the Baltic Sea all the way to the Russian border; and the northern third of Finland is simply renamed as more of Sweden, thus extending Sweden’s territory significantly. And thus is the Baltic Sea greatly expanded as well, giving those Japanese fishing boats plenty of space to do what they do, unpestered by fishing regulators.
How would such a thing come to be? According to the conspiracy theory, after World War II, Russia found itself short of food (and this is quite true). Japan was facing a related problem, in that they found they’d been overfishing and needed new waters. So they approached Russia with the idea of granting them secret fishing rights in the Baltic; and to hide it from the rest of the world, they’d mutually agree to tell everyone that much of the Baltic Sea was actually a landmass called Finland so there’s no need for anyone to try and regulate fishing there. Russia agreed, and together they built the Trans-Siberian Railway to facilitate the endeavour, and as a quid pro quo, Japan donated much of its catch to Russia.
Today we’re going to point the skeptical eye at yet another alternative science that has managed to hang around for centuries despite being obviously wrong, the hollow Earth. There are many different models of hollow Earth theory, and support from equally diverse communities. It is a mind-bending example of how people can mold their world views to fit their beliefs, and then mold science itself to fit the world view.
Today, the prevailing hollow Earth theory states that the Earth is a hollow shell, with its inner surface being much like the outer surface where we live. It has oceans, mountain ranges, and clouds; and hovering at the very center of this hollow ball is a miniature sun that warms the inner-surface residents. Slightly offset from the North Pole and the South Pole are holes that allow travel between the outer and inner worlds. The civilization that lives on the inner surface is more advanced than ours, and they fly in and out through the polar openings in flying saucers, which explains UFO sightings by the outer surface civilization. Only the government knows about the polar openings and the inner civilization, and they suppress this information; ostensibly to prevent other governments from finding out about it and claiming the territory.
To most of us, this sounds like a pretty far-out concept; so many applications of various sciences prove it wrong. Nevertheless, even today, it has its supporters. Many books are available earnestly promoting the theory. Websites such as OurHollowEarth.com, HollowEarthNetwork.com, and HollowEarthTheory.com provide only a starting point for active communities who firmly believe this.
Conspiracy mongering is a big part of most of today’s hollow Earth writings: familiar assertions that the government is covering it up, the proverbial “they” don’t want you to know about it, and that we should all “wake up” and see the truth. But this is the least interesting part of hollow Earth theory, and only its most recently introduced aspect. There is a rich and surprising history behind how this all came to be
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- This hollow earth: the under-people (mikemonaco.wordpress.com)