Take the discovery a couple of weeks ago that for certain Siri users, the question "What is July 27, 2014?" elicits a response of, "It's Sunday, July 27, 2014. Opening the Gates of Hades."
William Blake, Dante's Gates of Hell (1826) [image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]
You can see how that could make dinner conversation a little awkward.
The reason for the weird response hasn't, as far as I've found, been explained yet. Some have said it's a joke planted there by a waggish programmer; others that it's some kind of weird glitch, similar to the one last year that directed users to Ron Paul's website if they asked questions about politics. The most popular explanation, however, seems to be that it has something to do with the first day of "Ghost Month" in certain traditional Chinese beliefs, on which (similar to Halloween) the gates of heaven and hell are said to open.
But of course, you can't have something like this occurring without the conspiracy theorists getting their knickers in a twist. Take a look at this YouTube video, courtesy of Alex Jones' nutty site InfoWars, where we are shown the Siri response and then told, "Let us know what you think in the comments section."
Here are a few selected samples of the result of that request:
Could they be thinking about opening portals in the the spiritual world to bring the devil into this world in another form through manifestation using technology?
the abyss or the bottomless pit is opened by an angel, thats after alot [sic] of other things have happened. If so, the next 6 months gonna be a rough ride.
Apple obviously know something that the masses do not and this can be said about all individuals in power.the government are nothing put [sic] puppets and all these big organisations are the exact same.they all serve satan and are trying to exexute [sic] that one goalwhat is troubling is the tunnel they are carving through under the ground in seattle-something has stopped it in its tracks-they want to open the seattle underground tunnel in 2014 and something big is stopping there progress from going any further with it-they are sending men inside this thing to take a look and they are saying that something demonic is down there.
Okay, can all of you people just calm down for a minute?well, no [sic] much surprise here, since many things are already programmed to be done. To my point of view, and according to some prophecies summer 2014 seems to be doomed. Actually i believe that things will turn bad much earlier. 2014 will be the year of WW3, i am pretty sure about it (again, according to my sources)
What comes to mind about all of this nonsense is that the conspiracy theorists aren't seeing the fundamental underlying contradiction in their stance. They believe that the Illuminati are ultra-powerful, ultra-intelligent guys, with super technology, maybe even in cahoots with evil aliens, and yet are simultaneously so stupid that they would leave clues on Siri so easy to find that anyone checking their online calendars would ultimately stumble upon them.
I mean, you can't have it both ways. Either the Illuminati are intelligent, or they're not. If they're intelligent, they're not going to be found out by some clown who thinks that Alex Jones is the reincarnation of Einstein.
So, bottom line: could there be some kind of ultimate evil super-top-secret conspiracy?
Yes, I guess there could be. But then we wouldn't know about it. Because that's what "super top-secret" means.
Of course, this isn't about logic, is it? Rationality is the last thing these people are interested in; most conspiracy theorists take the religious paradigm ("believe this even though there's no evidence") and walk it one step further ("believe this because there's no evidence"). And once you're there, there's no arguing with you, is there?
My general take on this is that you shouldn't worry. If you are planning on a vacation to Costa Rica next summer, and will be leaving on July 27, don't apply for a refund quite yet. Whatever this Siri glitch is, I'll bet you cold hard cash that it has nothing to do with the End of the World.
And second, if I'm wrong, and the Gates of Hell open, might as well be in Costa Rica, right? I hear Costa Rica is really nice.