The Fifth Ring: How Conspiracy Theories are Born


As we all know, there was a glitch in the Olympic opening ceremonies yesterday. But not everyone saw it:

Somehow it seemed fitting when a set of floating snowflakes suddenly transformed themselves into Olympic rings — but only four of them. The fifth snowflake never changed.

Russian television viewers, however, saw all five rings, as the show’s producer Konstantin Ernst recognized the malfunction shortly before it occurred and immediately ordered an image from rehearsals to be transmitted in its place. “It would be ridiculous to focus on the ring that would not open,” said Ernst later. “It would be silly.”

That’s quick thinking! But I suspect it’s going to give birth to a thousand conspiracy theories. After all, millions of Russians saw all five rings, so why are all the Americans and Europeans saying there were only four? It must be Photoshop trickery from Westerners designed to make Russia the butt of jokes. Right?

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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