On March 8th, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing … and vanished without trace shortly after. So began one of the most shocking, baffling and fascinating international news stories of modern times and a global media frenzy while multi-national investigators and search teams tried to find traces of the missing plane and its 239 passengers.
Away from the more tempered, ‘friendly’ speculation and ‘expert opinion’ of mainstream news coverage and away from the judicious, guarded dialogue of official investigation, the Internet is of course awash with uncensored public opinion, unfounded speculation and the standard diversity of on-line conspiracy theorizing that now customarily accompanies such curious news stories. Here, we’ll look at some of the more outside-the-box hypotheses.
I enjoy conspiracy theories as much as the next guy (actually maybe not as much as some of the next guys), but it used to be that the theories would follow some time after the event in question, in the case of say the JFK assassination or the death of Marylin Monroe; whereas an effect of our glorious Internet age is that the theories and rampant speculation have no restriction anymore – they follow instantaneously, in many cases almost as (or even before) the news is breaking on the major networks.
This means a lot of the time that spurious information gets viral, gets mixed in with the facts; and while tightly-controlled major, mainstream news outlets have a careful filter for such things, many other media platforms, particularly social media, end up circulating questionable ideas.
By definition most social media posters and opinion blogs seek going viral and are thus much more inclined to recirculate spurious ideas for their attention-grabbing properties and pandemic qualities.
I’ve made that point in this blog before; that I have a lot of patience for the medium of conspiracy theories up to a point, but that the more untempered, ludicrous strands of conspiracy-based commentary serve to undermine and devalue the more serious, credible ideas. In other words the more intelligent, serious thinkers even in the loose realm of ‘conspiracy theorising’ get tarred with the same brush as all the wackos and attention-seekers jumping and shouting from the rooftops (or whatever the cyber equivalent of rooftops is).
In many instances, the latter category serves to undermine the former category, resulting in the entire field of conspiracy hypotheses being ridiculed when actually some of the less sensationalist ideas are actually very sound and worthy of consideration. In this instance I’m referring specifically to the mystery of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, but generally the same thing applies to numerous other subject areas too, up to and including 9/11.
Another by-product of our age is that celebrities wisely or unwisely get their word in too. There were two conspicuous examples of that last week. Perpetually remorseless media mogul Rupert Murdoch advanced the hijacking theory, arguing on Twitter that the plane is hidden, “like Bin Laden”, in Northern Pakistan. While the never-reticent Courtney Love (bless her) also posted on Twitter. Using the crowd-sourced satellite site Tomnod for clues as to the fate of the plane, Courtney personally annotated a satellite image to show what she thinks are objects resembling a wreckage and an oil-leak in the ocean a mile from the small Malaysian island of Pulau Perak. Courtney’s posting at least was genuinely trying to be constructive and helpful and not conspiratorial.
Beyond that, here are some of the more fantastical hypotheses that have cropped up in various nooks and crannies of the worldwide web since Flight 370 went missing; and no, they don’t include references to the TV series LOST.
- The plane hasn’t crashed — it’s just been made invisible. There are a variety of hypotheses for how this might’ve been achieved; but not as many for why. In theory it would be something similar to the famous Philadelphia Experiment.
- Flight 370 deployed “electronic weaponry” or a “cloaking device”, hiding it from radar detection.
- The plane has been at an American Navy base the entire time, held by the US for some as-yet-unknown reason.
- Flight 370 was hijacked by extremists — probably Islamist jihadists — who may be planning to re-outfit the plane for an attack, this being the theory forwarded by Rupert Murdoch on his Twitter page.
- The plane was hit with some kind of new experimental weapon that either vaporized it entirely or transported it into ‘another dimension’ of space.
- The flight was abducted by aliens; numerous websites have suggested this hypothesis, a predictable one with a certain logic to it – was always going to be suggested. There are innumerable stories of alleged alien abductions going back sixty to seventy years, of course; but never, as far as I’m aware, involving an entire plane-load of abductees. Although come to think of it there may have been an X-Files episode along those lines. There have, however, been plenty of stories of aircraft and pilots encountering Unidentified Flying Objects.
- The Illuminati planned it; of course they did, the Illuminati are behind everything, after all. Best of all a 2012 Pitbull song even foretold the incident! I have no idea who or what the fuck ‘Pitbull’ is, but apparently his song Get It Started, featuring Shakira, makes allusions to the plane’s disappearance, as numerous YouTube commenters earnestly attest. I know to many people rap music and ‘the Illuminati’ are somewhat bedfellows, but no, this isn’t quite up there with the Lone Gunmen‘s fictional forecasting of 9/11.
My personal favorite is that the pilots were actually members of the Illuminati from the future sent back in time to the present to steal passengers from planes that are about to crash. According to the Illuminati-heavy website http://www.bofads.com/ ; “…In the future, Earth’s population will be decimated by disease caused by overfishing, chem trails, overcrowding, and global warming. As a result, the Illuminati began a program by which they’d send agents back to grab flights right before they crashed and bring them into the future using a device known as the Millennium Gate. This allows them to replenish the gene pool and avoid time travel induced paradoxes because the people on the plane were doomed to die anyway.”
That one’s my personal favorite, if only because I’ve been watching some of those ‘Temporal Cold War’ episodes of Enterprise recently.
All of that aside, there is a valid basis for unorthodox speculation and out-of-the-box thinking where there appears to be no rational explanation presently holding water. Away from the more ridiculous theories, it is extraordinary that in this modern technological day and age a commercial airplane carrying that many people can just disappear without being tracked or transponding and leave behind no discernible trail or trace.
And then when other curiosities emerge in the story, most of which are well attested to in the media, the enquiring mind naturally gets to work. For example, the Malaysian Government has reportedly repeatedly turned down assistance from Interpol to assist in its investigations, which is highly curious.
The disappearance of Flight 370 also plays into the mythology of not-dissimilar mysteries that have preceded it, the phenomenon of vanishing aircraft or ships at sea having a long history based in a mixture of myth and fact. As many as 100 aircraft have been believed to have gone missing in flight since 1948 and never been recovered. Though the Malaysian flight was nowhere near the infamous Bermuda Triangle, some conspiracy commentators have brought up the belief held by some that the Gulf of Thailand also houses a mysterious zone equivalent to the Bermuda Triangle. And for those who might scoff at the notion of the triangle, I highly recommend reading Charles Berlitz’s 1975 book on the subject.
There have been at least 10 officially missing craft either at sea or in the air in the so-called Bermuda Triangle zone, including the Navy carrier USS Cyclops, which disappeared in 1918, the ship, along with its 306 crew and passengers never found; and many more than that are speculated, going back centuries. Beyond that, there are such famous cases elsewhere as that of Amelia Earhart or the Mary Celeste, which was discovered in 1872 in perfectly good condition but entirely missing its crew, who have never been accounted for.