Conspiracy Theoryology

Hosted ByRyan Nelson

A biweekly discussion about why conspiracy theories and alternative beliefs capture our imagination and gain popularity.

The Day Finland Didn’t Exist

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Ep. 25 – Finland Doesn’t Exist

In the Cold War era, Japan and the Soviet Union supposedly shared a secret about a stretch of the Baltic Sea between the Soviet Union and Sweden. Around the mid-20th century, the two nations collectively spread the idea that there was a landmass known as Finland on that stretch of ocean, to keep the good fishing between themselves. The Japanese were free to fish as much as they liked there without worrying about international laws, so long as they give a share to Russia. The company of Nokia is actually owned by the Japanese and is used to hide the shipments  from this secret fishing industry in the guise of hardware. To get all this food across the continent, the trans-Siberian railway was built for this express purpose.

This is the conspiracy theory that surfaced in 2015 on an unassuming Reddit thread. Not long following, it went viral, traveling across social media and taking on a life of it’s own. The fallout was fast and fierce. While many responded jokingly or dismissively, some responses were highly critical, and even outright insulting. Understandably, some Finnish users within Reddit were offended that such a claim was gaining traction. And traction it saw. Spreading across social media sites such as Tumbler and 4chan.

The question remains, what made this amusing conspiracy theory resonate so well with the public? Why did it capture our imagination, inspire discussion and spur debate? Is it due to some internet “law” that speaks to parody and sarcasm, or is it rooted in something more substantial in literature, like the concept of satire? Why does it speak to us? We try to tackle this issue on this episode of Conspiracy Theoryology.

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