Conspiracy Theories and the Forklift Six

forklift6

In Fredericksburg, Virginia on May 6th of this year, Keith’s forklift overturned, killing him. Five days later on May 11th, in Powell, Ohio a man named Marcellus was crushed by a sand hopper that fell from a forklift. Three days laster in Lexington, Kentucky on May 14th of this year a man named Chiu was killed by a large slab of granite falling on him. The granite had fallen from a forklift.

Less than a month later, in Buffalo, New York, a guy called Charlie was electrocuted when a forklift boom contacted with an energized power line. A few weeks later, a 25-year-old man named Allen was securing a load on a forklift June 29th, in Granite Falls, North Carolina, 55-year-old Steven was crushed by forklift that he was operating.

Six men all killed by forklifts. One killed by falling granite. Another killed in Granite Falls. The last man killed was 55 years old. He was killed on the 55th day since the first Forklift killing.

Everything I’ve said is entirely true. I got the information from a website called The Weekly Toll which looks at workplace killings. If I were to tell you that I believe that Forklifts have become sentient and are trying to systematically kill us, you’d rightly say I must be joking or I’ve lost my mind. Or if I were to tell you that there’s a lever factory in Kansas City, Missouri that is hell-bent on destroying the forklift industry by making them look bad just at the start of the season of industrial equipment conventions, you’d see it for the silliness that it is.

And yet, if the forklift operators are alternative medicine doctors or vaccinated children or any number of other things that have nothing to do with each other, we see conspiracy. We see a secret pattern. We’re humans. We’re pattern seeking creatures which often means we see patterns that simply aren’t there.

There are two fallacies at work. One is Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc  (After, Therefore Because Of). This refers to the assumption that simply because one event happened after another event, the first event is the cause of the second. It’s often untrue. One hour before Donald Trump announced he was running for President, I made a sandwich. My sandwich had nothing to do with Trump’s latest stunt.

The other is the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy where we’re looking for a specific pattern and we find it by ignoring anything that doesn’t fit with our narrative. With the Forklift Conspiracy I’m ignoring all the other workplace deaths and all the millions of times in those 55 days that forklifts were used without incident.

Recently I saw a meme that listed half a dozen alternative medicine doctors throughout the country that had mysteriously died. Unlike most memes, this one listed names. So I did some digging and soon found that one had been murdered by their spouse, another had committed suicide, three had disappeared in literally the most dangerous part of Mexico, one had wandered into the wilderness never to be seen again. The Forklift Six have more in common than these doctors did.

It’s easy to get caught up in patterns that aren’t there. The only way to avoid it is to continually ask yourself questions and do some research before believing there’s some sort of X-Files level conspiracy going on.

– Jack Cameron

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