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The truth is out there

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The truth is out there

A faked moon landing, lizard people vying for power, and an Earth that is flat – for those who believe in conspiracy theories, the ignorant masses are being lied to, and it’s time our eyes were opened to the truth. So, what do you believe?

Bona Van Kampen is a loving father and husband and like most men, wants the best for his family.

The licensed builder and carpenter works hard to support his family and worries about their future, but that’s where the similarities between Mr Van Kampen and  the average bloke end, because he’s one of a growing number of conspiracy theorists who believe we’re being lied to on a massive scale.

Mr Van Kampen is a flat Earther. He believes the Earth could be the shape of a pizza and in the centre is the north pole, while the south pole encircles its circumference, with an impenetrable Game of Thrones-like ice wall called Antarctica circling the perimeter, which no one has ever crossed.

The sun and moon are much closer to the Earth than science would have us believe, and take turns spinning around the planet.

For the flat Earth theory to be possible, other conspiracies need to come into play.

Gravity is a hoax – it’s merely magnetic forces and the weight of objects that make them fall to the ground.

The Big Bang never happened and photos of the Earth from space are fake. NASA is a propaganda machine, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin a pair of fibbers.

Mr Van Kampen is one of the admins on a Facebook page called Official Flat Earth Globe Discussion, which has more than 82,000 members and is growing rapidly. In the past 30 days, 8465 members have joined.

“We get hundreds of members requests  a day,” he says.

“We have to ask three basic questions. Why do you want to join? Do you think the earth is flat? Do you promise to respect the rules?

“The rules are: no cursing, no swearing, no insulting people. We accept anyone – about half of our members wouldn’t be flat Earthers, they’re just curious.”

Mr Van Kampen discovered the flat Earth theory in 2015 and began to have doubts about the ‘heliocentric’ system – the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around the sun at the centre of the solar system, first proposed by Nicolaus  Copernicus in the 16th century.

Mr Van Kampen found discrepancies and gradually came around to the ‘geocentric’ model – a description of the universe with the Earth at the centre.

“I believe the Earth is flat and stationary, but I’m not sure whether it’s a circle or square, or if it’s contained in a dome-like structure,” he says. “It’s only been 500 years that we’ve had the idea the Earth is a ball. Prior to that, everyone knew it was a flat Earth.

“People often ask me why the Earth looks curved from a plane,” he says.

“The curvature is because you’re looking out a curved window. The horizon is right at eye level. If you stand at the beach and look out to the horizon, it’s right at your eye line. If you go to the mountains and look at the ocean, the horizon rises and meets your eye level again.

“The higher you go, the horizon rises. If you’re on a ball, the horizon should lower, it should curve away from you.”

Flat Earthers believe world powers are manipulating the masses into doing their will. Mr Van Kampen has a deep mistrust of our government, though he sends his two primary school children to a state school.

“We’re going with the state school system while they’re still young because we don’t want to outcast them,” he says.

“There’s a globe in every classroom. I don’t mind because I know when they’re older, we can explain this stuff to them better and they can make up their own minds.”

Mr Van Kampen says he receives a range of reactions to his views.

“When I told my father he said ‘what a load or rubbish, you’re  a complete idiot’,” he says.

“Other people are curious about it. Hostile responses don’t really bother me. When people learn something new, anger is usually the first reaction. I just try to explain it and keep calm.”

Mr Van Kampen says for proof the Earth is flat, you need only look at the UN flag, which is a flat Earth map.

“I think it’s a great deception,” he says. “If you can get people to believe something that’s not true, it’s easier to manipulate them.

“It comes down to globalism. If you have a look at globalism, it’s pretty bad – people  are starving, paying high taxes.

“Everyone is working to pay bills for globalist elites. We’ve become debt slaves.

“I’d love to see everybody live in harmony and peace and sustainably and everyone be able to prosper and be able to have a roof over their head and food on the table and jobs they enjoy doing. Pretty much the opposite of what we have now.”

When asked whether he’s a bit paranoid, Mr Van Kampen says no. He’s just trying to feel a “little less used by the establishment”.

“I find it empowering, having the awareness of what’s going on. I feel like I was walking around hypnotised before.

“This makes more sense than the official story. Just because somebody told me at school the Earth was round, it doesn’t mean it’s the truth.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the moon landing looks fake.”

Caloundra photographer Greg Gardner agrees. The father of two says he can tell by the lighting in the moon landing photographs they were taken in a studio.

“Someone said to me, ‘you’re a photographer, have a look at the photos’,” he says.

“Within five minutes of looking at the photos, that was it. NASA said the photos were lit with the sun and that’s why you can’t see the stars, because the sun is a lot brighter.

“But the cute thing is, you never see the sun in any of the photos. Most of the images you do see are very much backlit.

“That doesn’t make sense with one big light source – multiple light sources, yes. The shadows are not stable.

“When you look behind the foreground subject, the background lighting is not consistent with the foreground lighting. It’s right in your face, it’s hilarious.

“For me, the funniest thing is the horizon line – it’s so short. There’s one hill in the background and that’s it.

“They could have shot back into the sun – just give us a sun flare. There’s a famous shot with the studio light flare. I know what a studio light flare looks like, and that’s what it looks like.

“I think everyone knows it was the space race and the Yanks wanted to be the first ones there,” he says.

“It’s a bit of a laugh – I feel sorry for the astronauts that they had to buy into this lie, I really do.”

While Mr Van Kampen and Mr Gardner are on the same page when it comes to the fake moon landings, that’s where their common ground ends.

“I think flat Earth theory is funny,” Mr Gardner says. “You literally have to get up into a plane and you work it out for yourself. It’s pretty obvious  it’s round.”

Flaxton woman Zoe Rieck also thinks the flat Earthers are a bit “out there” but harbours a conspiracy theory of her own: she’s convinced the world is run by lizards.

She is a follower of English conspiracy theorist David Icke, who says the British Royal family, along with other powerful families, are part of a shape-shifting, power-hungry race of reptilian aliens from another planet.

And he’s not the only one. In 2013, US company Public Polling Policy conducted a national survey that revealed more than  12 million Americans agree shape-shifting alien lizards control the world.

Ms Rieck paid $150 to see Mr Icke talk in Brisbane during his 2016 Australian tour.

“It was a fascinating talk,” she says. “I don’t believe they’re actually a lizard as such, it’s their energy fields that merge with human energy fields.

“They love power and want to  be in positions of power, then they can do whatever they please. They can create wars, which creates pain, fear and trauma, which they feed off.

“I don’t believe they’re all bad. I saw some at a bar in Nambour with green scaly skin.

“They were basically the same height and size of people but had reptilian skin. I didn’t feel they were there to do anything bad; they were just like you and I at the pub.

“Other people have said to me they’ve experienced reptilian encounters. It can’t be  a coincidence that so many people have had some kind of experience with it.”

In his 2015 book, Suspicious Minds:  Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories, UK researcher Dr Rob Brotherton says we are  all conspiracy theorists to some degree.

Suspicion is hard wired into our brains for survival reasons and buying into conspiracy theories helps us mitigate our sense of powerlessness and uncertainty in the world.

Ms Rieck says: “I get where people would think that. Definitely things can be made up by the human mind to cope.

“The way I see  it is, I just want to know the truth. I’m not interested in if I feel powerful or powerless.

“I just want to know what’s going on in our society, because there’s something wrong.”

University of the Sunshine Coast senior lecturer in psychology Dr Rachael Sharman agrees with Dr Brotherton: “You only need to look at human history, with things like the burning of witches, to see we’ve always been into superstition.

“It is part of that desire to control our environment. That’s what it comes back to from an evolutionary point of view.

“We did rain dances so the crops would survive – there’s a survival mechanism at the base of this. In drawing conclusions, some of these will be correct and some will be wildly inaccurate.

“Belief in conspiracy theories is tapping into an emotional need, and emotion tends to override reason.

“It’s part of the human condition to be very curious, to try to figure out how A is connected to B.

“We’re striving to understand those relationships better and we’ve been doing it since the dawn of time. That’s how we’ve progressed as a species – it’s not all negative.”

While conspiracy theories may seem like a bit of harmless fun, Dr Sharman has a word of warning: “Conspiracy theories can be a danger to society. A really obvious one is the anti-vaxxers.

“They’re convinced doctors and pharmaceutical companies are out to kill us. If enough people fail to vaccinate, we get victims like newborn children.

“If someone believes the moon landing was faked, do they not then believe in the technology of rockets? Where does that thinking lead?

“On the face of it, it doesn’t sound like it causes harm, but in the long term, it just might. It could relate to a whole lot of consequences down the track.”

 

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Leigh Robshaw is a journalist who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years. Originally from Sydney, she has lived and worked in London, Tokyo and Latin America. She joined the team in 2012 and is MWP's deputy editor. Writing, reading and travel are her greatest passions.

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