In the early twentieth century, an amateur archaeologist named Alfred Watkins noticed an alignment in certain points of interest in the countryside of England. Upon further investigation utilizing maps, Watkins observed that straight lines connect numerous notable places such as castles, ancient monoliths, hills, and bodies of water. He named this phenomena “ley lines” and surmised that previous inhabitants of the British Isles going back to prehistory had purposefully laid out what they built linearly in order to facilitate long-distance travel. However, because of the great magnitude of conspicuous sites in the British Isles, the straight lines Watkins observed are attributable to coincidence, not human ingenuity.

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Due to basic observations of probability, we know that if there are enough points on a graph, straight lines will be able to be drawn between the points.

Over time, new theories were drawn out from the already debunked ley line theory that associated the straight lines caused by coincidence with spiritual energy inherent to the Earth and extraterrestrial influence on early humans. Given the plethora of straight lines able to be drawn through points of interest in the British Isles, straight lines also connect mysterious sites such as the Great Pyramid of Giza, Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, and even pseudoscientific areas like the Bermuda Triangle. These theories of an interconnected Earth with mystical and spiritual properties are fascinating and often believed because of prior beliefs in the occult such as aliens, astrology, and dowsing.

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In essence, the theory of ley lines is believed because the believer wants it to be true in order to confirm their already established beliefs, even if those beliefs are discredited by reason.

The murder of Seth Rich

Similar to theories of ley lines, recent #conspiracy theories surrounding the death of DNC staffer #Seth Rich began with a simple theory that was easily debunked. Although theories were being created immediately after the incident, ten months after his murder the story escalated due to dubious evidence disseminated by not only FOX News, including political commentators such as Sean Hannity and Geraldo Rivera, and fringe internet groups, but also republican congressman Newt Gingrich, among others.

The theory alleges that Rich, while working for the DNC, was cooperating with Wikileaks through either internet entrepreneur and fraudster Kim Dotcom or anonymous hacker(s) Guccifer 2.0 in order to reveal the emails leaked by Wikileaks on July 22, 2016. Adherents to the theory believe that due to Rich’s unfoundedly alleged coaction with Wikileaks, Dotcom, or Guccifer 2.0, Rich was murdered by agents acting on behalf of the DNC or Clinton herself.

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One of the basic problems with this theory is the evidence that Rich’s murder was a robbery in which the assailants fled the scene -- panicked after shooting Rich, without taking his possessions. This is the thinking of the police who investigated the crime, taking into account similar recent robberies in the area and the tear on the band of the victim’s watch. Rich was also bruised all over his body and face, and also survived the incident, but later passed away at a hospital. This would seem to discredit the theory that shadow government hitmen or assassins murdered Rich in retaliation for the leaked emails because a hitman would usually not flee a scene after non-lethally shooting the intended target, you know, because he’s supposed to be a highly-trained paid assassin. Political assassinations also usually do not include attempting to take the victim’s watch or beating the victim, considering hitmen are paid to kill people, not attempt to rob them, and carry loaded firearms, or other deadly weapons.

Another flaw in this baseless and deceptive theory is that the emails from the July 22 leak were not politically damaging enough to even warrant motive for Clinton or the DNC to resort to murder in an attempt to cover it up. The emails exhibit how unfairly the DNC treated Bernie Sanders as a candidate as well as donor funding information. So, although Dotcom and others have labelled Rich someone who exposed political corruption heroically, the only political corruption contained in the emails was made legal through the supreme court decision of Citizen’s United v. FEC.

Believers of the theory

Although a large proponent of the believers of the Seth Rich murder conspiracy theory are conservatives, there are also a number of progressives that stand by this theory. The overarching belief that unites these two groups is the belief that #Hillary Clinton is a ruthless politician who will stop at nothing, even murder, to gain power. They are united by their preconceived and unproven notions that Clinton has engaged in similar activities in the past.

Much like believers in the occult, these groups desperately want what they believe to be true. Any new information that could possibly fit the narrative they already adhere to is fodder for their established beliefs, although those beliefs themselves are untrue.