Not one week after physicists confirmed the existence of gravitational waves, the conspiracy theorists are out in force, shouting to the heavens that the "breakthrough" was a lie invented by fame-hungry scientists, supported by money-hungry institutions and regurgitated by the traffic-hungry news media. All to keep you from seeing the bigger lie -- gravity itself! The corporate physics elite, drunk on the power of being able to write the laws of nature as it sees fit, have built a prison for our minds, my friends.
In the humble pursuit of real truth, below you'll find a selection of the finest gravitational wave conspiracy theories the internet has to offer. Is Einstein turning over in his grave? Who cares, he's probably one of Them.
1. Gravity Waves Are a Scam to Defraud the Public
Ah yes, a classic theoretical physics scam, paid for by the sweat and tears of hardworking taxpayers. There are several Reddit threads explaining this in great detail, but here's what it all boils down to:
- Physicists "see" incredible "signal" in their "detector."
- Months go by, no other signals are detected. Panic that it might have been a false alarm sets in.
- Academic institutions and media are mobilized to make Big Announcement about the spurious signal. Announcement comes on February 11th, just in time for the 2016 Nobel Prize nominations.
- Tenure, funding, fame, and glory ensue.
General mistrust of the system, and lack of awareness of what the LIGO physicists were up to during the four months prior to the announcement.
Where to begin? Let's start with the signal itself, which was impressively loud and clear. The first scenario the LIGO physicists considered was a deliberate faked signal -- a so-called "blind injection." Within hours, the team verified that this is not the case. Over the next few months, they examined a slew of environmental detectors to make absolutely sure the signal wasn't just random noise. Overall, the probability of an event like this being a statistical fluke is estimated to be about one in ten million.
What's more, the LIGO team does have several other tentative gravitational waves signals from the same three-month listening period. One of these events has about a three per cent chance of being falsified -- not Nobel-prize worthy stuff, but certainly a good candidate. And the LIGO team fully expects to see many more signals when the detectors turn back on again in a few months.
Did we learn nothing from CERN, people?
2. Gravity Waves Are a Scam to Convince Us the World is Round
Why would generations of physicists go out of their way to perpetuate a false theory about the basic nature of the universe we live in? One word: CONTROL.
And what better way to get everyone chanting their dogma than a global propaganda-fest celebrating the "theory" of gravity?
Ah, gravity...that convenient excuse for everything that doesn't make sense about living on a spinning ball. You know what else doesn't make any goddamn sense? LIVING ON A BALL, SHEEPLE.
3. The Physicists Done Messed Up
Scientists screw up all the time. Let's not forget that in 2014, astrophysicists working on the BICEP2 telescope claimed to have found the first evidence of gravitational waves in the early universe, supporting the theory of "inflation" -- that the cosmos expanded very rapidly after the Big Bang. A few months later, doubts began to creep in. By the following year, it was clear that the "discovery" was nothing but dust. Literally.
Aside from the physicists' aforementioned track record, LIGO's gravitational wave "detection" was clearly nothing but electromagnetic phase rarefaction.
See counterarguments for #1. If you'd like more information, many news outlets have gone into a great detail on everything the physicists did to ensure that they weren't screwing up this time.
Regarding BICEP2, Physical Review Letters editor Robert Garisto adds that the screw-up had less to do with science itself and more to do with science communication. "While it's true that the press conference, and to some extent the pre-print of the BICEP2 results, turned out not to be correct, if you look at the PRL paper, it was much more circumspect about the discovery," he told Gizmodo. "That paper is still not wrong."
In the case of the LIGO paper, the scientific claims themselves are far more robust. "I can't say 100 per cent for sure that we're not living in the Matrix, but I can't imagine another way in which this will be disproven," Garisto said. "The evidence is just too strong."
Say what about a Matrix?
4. An Evil Genius Is Tricking Us All
This one actually comes from the LIGO physicists themselves. In fact, it's the only conceivable way they can imagine the signal that passed through LIGO's detectors on September 14th, 2015 being false.
"An evil genius is, by definition, smarter than we are," UCLA physicist and LIGO collaborator Alain Weinstein told Gizmodo. "We cannot rule out the evil genius hypothesis because we're not smart enough."
[Editor's note: An evil genius, according to Weinstein, is different from a rogue. Conceivably, a disaffected employee could plant an injection in the LIGO detectors without telling anyone. "We thought very hard about this, and concluded that we didn't know how to do it," Weinstein said. "So anyone who did do it had to be smarter than us." Hence, evil genius.]
We can't really compute the probability of an evil genius tricking the entire planet into believing that a once-obscure outcome of general relativity is in fact real, but one might wonder why a person of such mental faculties hasn't put that brain to better use. For instance, building a warp drive/time machine and travelling to a more enlightened part of the galaxy/future, or just saying bugger all and sticking the rest of us in a Matrix.