Quick: Which would you rather be driving in a 40mph head-on collision: A 1959 Chevy Bel Air or a 2009 Chevy Malibu?
I hope you said the Malibu. From Dragonrock posting at the JREF Swift Blog: Of Cars and Conspiracies.
I went to view the video on Youtube and saw the different copies have hundreds of comments claiming everything from the Bel Air had the engine removed to the frame of the older car was rusted and simply broke. Others say that something was done to the Malibu because the new plastic car wouldn’t have a chance against one made of sheet metal.
These conspiracies spread because of what “everyone knows.” The list of things everyone knows is long and includes things like: Toilets swirl one way in the northern hemisphere and the other way in the southern; Silencers turn the loudest gunshot into a quiet “fffffttt”; that Bogey said “Play it again, Sam”; and, of course, older cars are stronger than newer ones. But, in all these cases, what “everyone knows” is actually wrong.
I suspect that this conspiracy will fade rather quickly while the JFK, moon hoax, 9/11 truthers will be around for a while. But the root of all of them is the same and that’s a lack of critical thinking. I’m of the opinion that the hard core conspiracy theorists are a lost cause, but educating children, not on conspiracies, but on basic critical thinking will cause belief in these stories to die a slow death. It’s hard to fix our world, but maybe we can keep our children from screwing up theirs quite as badly.
That assumes, of course, that each generation gets its own world to screw up fresh. Unfortunately, for certain kinds of long-lasting screwups, the generational inputs are additive.