conspiracies Conspiracy-Related Maps That Don't Mean What You Think  

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The Internet is full of images and maps that conspiracy theorists think "prove" whatever plot they've decided is real, from the current controversy over the Jade Helm 15 military exercise to FEMA camps to the "Face on Mars." Almost all of these maps and images are real, but either taken massively out of context or willfully lied about. Thus, a simple map of wave heights becomes a chart of radiation spikes, or a picture of a labor camp in North Korea is deduced to be a labor camp in Wyoming.

Here are the most well known pictures and maps from the conspiracy theory community, all thought to have something to do with an evil plot to take away our freedom. However, all of them are really just easily explainable pictures of something innocuous.

Fukushima Radiation Map

Fukushima Radiation Map is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Conspiracy-Related Maps That Don't Mean What You Think
Photo:  uploaded by Mike Rothschild
Shortly after the meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011, a picture started going around the Internet and was even printed in a number of mainstream news publications. It’s a map of what looks like a plume of red spewing forth from Japan, crossing the Pacific Ocean and making landfall all over the eastern part of the world. Both opponents of nuclear power and tinfoil hat-wearing paranoids thought the map was of radiation from the meltdown.

But it’s not - it’s a map of wave heights of the tsunami that swamped the Fukushima plant after the earthquake. The map itself holds a few clues. First, it’s branded with the logo of NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who have nothing at all to do with studying radiation. The second is that radiation doesn’t stop and vanish when it hits land.

Chemtrail Tank Pictures

Chemtrail Tank Pictures is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Conspiracy-Related Maps That Don't Mean What You Think
Photo:  uploaded by Mike Rothschild
Chances are, someone you follow on Facebook is a “chemtrails” believer. This is a person who thinks the contrails that float behind an airplane aren’t tiny ice crystals caused by hot jet exhaust hitting cold air, but actually the traces of mysterious chemicals sprayed by the government to make us sick and/or control the weather. They will often cite pictures not just of planes in the air “spraying” but airplanes filled with mysterious barrels full of what must be horrible liquid.

However, given that the chemtrails conspiracy has never actually been proven with compelling evidence, these tanks must be something else. And they are – they’re ballast tanks filled with water used to simulate the shifting weight of passengers and cargo during the testing of new jet plane frames.

Jade Helm 15 Map

Jade Helm 15 Map is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Conspiracy-Related Maps That Don't Mean What You Think
Photo:  uploaded by Mike Rothschild
Jade Helm 15 is the latest conspiracy theory that involves Obama sending troops into “patriotic” areas of the US to institute martial law, under the guise of a military exercise. As part of the plot, believers have seized on a map of the exercise and claimed it’s full of secret jargon and what states will be taken first.

The  Jade Helm map is very real but taken way out of context. It’s a simply a map of how the exercise is laid out, with some states labeled “Hostile” (Texas and Utah) and others “Permissive” (Colorado, Nevada, and California). It’s also got an alphabet soup of jargon - which is common to anything involving the military. These states were selected because they have a variety of terrains and environments to train in, as well as a large amount of open land to work on.

9/11 "Predictive Programming"

9/11 "Predictive Programm... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Conspiracy-Related Maps That Don't Mean What You Think
Photo:  uploaded by Mike Rothschild
A key element of the 9/11 truth movement is that the government not only planned and executed the attacks, but spent years conditioning the American people to accept the fiction they created. This was done through a technique called “predictive programming,” the inserting of images of the attacks into popular culture to subliminally dull Americans into thinking it’s possible for terrorists to crash airplanes into the World Trade Center, rather than what “really” happened.

This is flawed on a number of levels. The first is that the WTC was one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, and so was often used in entertainment as a generic target for attacks, especially in cartoons and comic books. Also, for every image that shows a "random" date of September 11 in popular culture (a few famous ones are in The Matrix and The Big Lebowski) there are uncountable works that show different random dates. The biggest issue is that there’s no evidence that predictive programming actually works, or even any agreed-upon technique by which to do it.

Agenda 21 Death Map

Agenda 21 Death Map is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Conspiracy-Related Maps That Don't Mean What You Think
Photo:  uploaded by Mike Rothschild
Agenda 21 is the United Nations policy statement regarding sustainable growth and health in the developing world. It’s also thought of by some conspiracy theorists as a plot by the New World Order to depopulate the planet and cram the survivors into urban ghettos. Needless to say, this plot doesn’t exist, and nothing in the publicly available document even mentions anything of the sort.

One particular element used to move the conspiracy narrative forward is a map with the unwieldy name of “Simulated Reserve and Corridor System to Protect Biological Diversity.” It’s part of a study on animal preserves and areas with little human use that one day might serve as homes for wildlife. Agenda 21 activists are pretending is some kind of plan for where we’re all going to be herded or imprisoned or killed or something, but it’s got nothing to do with Agenda 21 - or mass killing.

The Sandy Hook Smiling Parent

The Sandy Hook Smiling Parent is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Conspiracy-Related Maps That Don't Mean What You Think
Photo:  uploaded by Mike Rothschild
Despite the overwhelming evidence that the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was the work of a demented killer, a few conspiracy theorists continue to insist it was actually a fake “false flag” pulled off by the government for the purposes of curtailing freedom. They use the “odd” behavior of Sandy Hook parent Robbie Parker, father of slain 6-year-old Emilie Parker, as key evidence of the “fakery.”

Why? Because he was smiling just before speaking to the press as part of a news conference. How can someone who just lost a child in a massacre be smiling, they ask. Doesn’t this prove he’s a fraud, or an actor hired to play a grieving parent? Of course not. There’s no one way to “act correctly” in the face of tragedy, and each person responds to trauma in a different way. Parker might have been laughing immediately prior to talking about his son for any number of reasons: he might have been recalling fond memories of his son, or laughing at something someone said that was funny to him, or he might simply have been nervous. Any of these are perfectly normal reactions to something awful, and in no way denote fakery.

FEMA Camp "Swift Luck Greens"

FEMA Camp "Swift Luck Gre... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Conspiracy-Related Maps That Don't Mean What You Think
Photo:  uploaded by Mike Rothschild
One of the most widely circulated pictures supposedly showing a FEMA concentration camp is that of “Swift Luck Greens,” a rumored concentration camp located in the wilds of Wyoming. And a concentration camp it is - but it’s not in Wyoming, it’s in North Korea.

This is a labor camp where dissenters of the Kim regime are sent, with punishment sometimes being handed down to successive generations. The giveaway that the FEMA photo is a hoax, other than the fact that we have other confirmed pictures of the Korean camp, is the name: “Swift Luck Greens” is an anagram for “left wing suckers.”

Denver International Airport Runway Map

Denver International Airport R... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Conspiracy-Related Maps That Don't Mean What You Think
Photo:  uploaded by Mike Rothschild
A number of conspiracy theories surround Denver International Airport, including rumors about its construction, large buildings buried underneath it, barbed wire fencing that faces inward to keep people in, and a great deal of Illuminati symbolism. One of the most widely-circulated pictures is an aerial shot of its runways, with the supposition that they’re laid out like a swastika.

While some of the runway layout is reminiscent of a swastika, that doesn’t mean it’s laid out in any way besides the way that makes the most sense for the wind conditions in the area. Once you've been told something looks a certain way, confirmation bias makes it look like that to you - even if it's a pretty major stretch.