An MH370 Theory So Crazy It Could Be True?

Filed Under: Media

In general I don’t pay much attention to conspiracy theories, though I’ve received no fewer than a dozen emails and messages from readers today with links to the New York Magazine article by Jeff Wise, entitled “How crazy am I think I actually know where that Malaysia Airlines plane is?”


When I first scrolled through the article and saw how long it was, I kind of thought twice about reading it.

But OMG, it was the best read I’ve had in a while. I don’t know if there’s any merit to the theory, but the 15 minutes I spent reading this story were hands down the most exciting part of my day.

Obviously we don’t know if the theory is right or wrong, but it’s completely different than anything I’ve otherwise heard, and also possibly presents the most compelling theory yet.

Wow, wow, wow

Check out the full article.

What do you make of Jeff Wise’s theory?

  1. Personally, I think this is plausible. Given that it has nearly been a year with no traces of it found. All the ideas that have been presented thus far, haven’t seemed to stack up, so I think that any new ideas like this have some merit whether or not they are correct.

  2. LOL, I opened the link then accidentally clicked on a link to an article about ATM robberies in Staten Island. For a second I thought the article was accusing these ATM thieves of stealing a plane…

  3. I read it the other day.

    The only interesting thing about it is that it gives you an insight into what it must be like to be a conspiracy nut. This guy seems to be teetering on the edge — he’s got a theory and he’s tempted by it, but this particular guy seems to be able to see that he’s teetering on the edge and he’s pulling back by writing *this* article instead of a different one. I’m a scientist, so I can attest to the unique thrill of discovering something new, bringing totally new knowledge into the world. Even discovering something relatively prosaic is a huge kick. Conspiracy theorists are often people who long for the thrill of knowing something nobody else knows, but don’t want to engage in the many years of hard work it takes to actually discover something *true*, so they just short-circuit the whole process by “discovering” something that is bullshit and spending the rest of their life arguing about it. It’s a helluva tradeoff — you get to consider yourself a genius, and the only price you have to pay is that everyone else considers you a nutball.

    This particular conspiracy theory falls over in the same way that they almost all do: it’s a ridiculously over-complicated and risky way for the alleged conspirators to get whatever it is that they want. What could the Russian government possibly want that would motivate them to engage in such a ridiculous plan, which can fail embarrassingly in any of a hundred different ways. Not the aircraft, obviously, the Russians can afford to buy a 777 if they want one. So, they want to kidnap some passenger on the aircraft? There are easier fricking ways, they involve dark alleyways and vans.

  4. Lucky – I think you missed the whole point of the article, which comes near the end.

    “Somehow, the airing of my theory helped quell my obsession. My gut still tells me I’m right, but my brain knows better than to trust my gut.”

    Specifically: it’s about how compelling conspiracy theories are, and when you are in the thrall of one, everything seems to fit. I still find this a huge waste of NYMag’s time and counterproductive (as we all think at first it’s about the theory), but the actual theory isn’t presented for consideration.

  5. WOW. Maybe I’m just starved for news on MH370 but I found that article fascinating. I won’t even pretend to comment with authority on the merit of the argument, but still a great read.

  6. Wise speculates this is Russian retaliation against the “West”….. Riiiiiight.

    Hijack a plane bound for Beijing filled with mainland Chinese, on the flag carrier of a Muslim / Chinese heritage Southeast Asia nation. What a way to stick it to “the West”!

    Wise did a live interview on Gawker where he further speculates this is the motive. I just think this is pretty crap speculation.

  7. The tracking could be believed.

    My money is on it having crashed, possibly closer to last known contact.

    His motive analysis is terrible. Like conspiracy buffs saying elvis lives on the moon, when Greenland is so much nicer…

  8. I think that considering no traces were found… Some government of some country has to be involved in this. Not sure which one or how or why… But either the disappearance or the cover up is government work for sure.

  9. I LOVED the article. I told my family I thought it was in Asia, so I am going to show them this article. But in the end, it is a conspiracy theory after all, and the name says it all. I would love to see this come up more, however, to create that story that everyone talks about. That is what America needs. Thanks!

  10. People seem to forget exactly how large the oceans are when they say, “There has been no debris found;” that plane is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

  11. Did they every search at the last arc in the north area? Someone must have done this right? Maybe it flew north and then crashed in remote Kazakhstan?

  12. You are an idiot. You should be sentenced to repeating high school forever until you learn a little basic science and a little common sense. Shame on you.
    You are an idiot.

  13. That story is full of nonsense but unless we find the plane stuff like this will persist — some still argue against the moon landing (even though even in USSR that was never disputed) and that was documented pretty darn well.

    It’s sad the author even went so far as to write a book (well, ebook) about this theory. How can anyone take him seriously after this?

  14. What a crank. I want my 5 minutes back. This guy has been all over internet message boards spouting nonsense. Every time someone with actual knowledge starts explaining engineering concepts to him he sprays a bunch of nonsense and flees to another thread/forum.

    I’m disappointed you got taken in by him.

    1. Before MH370, it was not even known that satellite ping BTO and BFO could be used to track airplanes, let alone examining their offset from ideal predicted value. The analysis was essentially jerry-rigged by the Inmarsat team in real time.

    2. Moreover, you can’t fake the offset data. The values being recorded are things measured by the satellite due to its precession in orbit in space. A hijacker couldn’t possibly know what the exact precession of the satellite would be at that time of day nor could they modulate their frequency by such a minute amount to produce a misleading offset. The only place that data could be faked would be at the Immarsat ground station in Australia, which would require a vastly larger conspiracy.

    3. To modify any of the frequency logic to produce any fake data, you’d have to directly modify the antenna software in the antenna unit on the outside of the plane itself. You can’t do it from the E&E bay. And anyway if you are messing around in the E&E bay you need someone else to actually fly the plane. So any hijacking story gets more complicated.

    4. He relies on the BFO data to get him to the Baikonaur Cosmodrome but then says the BFO data is faked. Why bother faking the data so that it still includes where you steal the plane to?

    5. Why would Russia want the plane? There was nothing of real value on the plane. Aeroflot has a whole pile of 777s and the cargo on the plane nor the passengers were particularly interesting.

    In conclusion, the article fails to pass the laugh test and the author misunderstands a lot about modern communication technology. Nymag should be ashamed of itself for printing it and I’m sad you got taken in by it.

  15. Life is only THAT complicated in Hollywood and in conspiracists’ heads. The article is a really good insight into how & why folks come up with the theories they do.

  16. Let’s explore the psychology of why Lucky would post something like this, why we would choose to read the article and post a comment?

  17. Did it occur to the author of the article that suggesting the Chinese military doesn’t have the ability to track an aircraft the size of a 777 simply because it is flying along the border is calling the largest economy of the world incompetent?

  18. Good Gosh this is totally idiotic! The real conspiracy is this incessant need to negate human error or mechanical breakdown in favour of nonsensical hyperbole. Ever heard of the KISS principle? Yeah, yeah, yeah…it’s all Putin’s fault. Yawn. Very disappointing Lucky. While we’re at it, let’s all go back to the days we believed the earth was flat.

  19. There is a Russian word that describes well what that theory is. Пурга. And it doesn’t mean blizzard.

  20. What stuns me more than the story itself is that some people here claim they read the article in 5 minutes, while it took me at least 15 minutes to finish. How is that possible?!

  21. Interesting article – obviously I don’t think that’s what happened but it isn’t any crazier than some of the other MH370 theories. The most glaring hole is for me is, if this theory is true, how did all the major powers in the area fail to detect a Boeing 777 on radar? Even if it was flying along borders? Areas such as Jammu/Kashmir are among the most geopolitically tense in the world. I’m convinced the Indians, Pakistanis, and Chinese all have advanced radar equipment and I am very skeptical that an unidentified widebody jetliner would not raise any suspicion.

    Entertaining read, but I don’t think the theory holds much water…

  22. I read that article when it came out, and while I think it’s complete nonsense, I DON’T want my 15 minutes back: I thought it was highly entertaining. It demonstrates the capacity of the human mind to confabulate massive, intricate stories from the flimsiest of tiny clues. Imagine this fairly intelligent, probably pretty normal guy almost driven mad by his theory despite the fact that a few gentle shakes (hey, why can’t the Russians just BUY a 777 if they want one?) are sufficient to cause its utter destruction. But instead of relaxing and saying, “I don’t know what happened to the plane, let me get on with my life,” he has to perseverate and perseverate, convincing himself of one thing and another, to the point of obsession… fascinating.

  23. I was keeping an open mind, trying to follow his logic… and then my brain froze when he called the front cabin of an MH 777 “first class.” Surely someone who spent enough time pouring over the mechanical and electronic specifications of the aircraft and then pinpointed the seats of every “ethnically Russian” on the plane would have noticed that MH doesn’t operate a first class cabin on its 777s. Fail.

  24. This theory would fall in line almost entirely too well w/the theory that MH370 and MH17 were one and the same plane. Scary to think about, but Russia is certainly capable of such and crazy enough to do it.

  25. Kudos to Andrew M. for a concise and thorough rebuttal.

    Occam’s razor always… I believe it was pilot suicide and the plane was deliberately routed to a remote part of the ocean to obstruct the potential of any future investigation that would illuminate this. Consider it the most profound and unfortunate case of “saving face” imaginable.

  26. I thoroughly enjoyed the read, perfect script for a Hollywood movie. Though there were several loopholes in his theory, i cant discount the possibility that the govts know way more that whats out there. Whether its the US, Malaysian, Russian, Chinese govt, thats another question.

  27. There goes what respect I did have for him….apparently he’s batshit insane in a way that even Dick Quest can point at and go “Look! Someone who knows less about aviation than I do!”.

    Personally, if pressed to posit a hypothesis, I have to lean towards a subtle depressurization or improperly set pressurization system inducing hypoxia and off behavior from the pilots (such as pulling circuit breakers, course deviation, altitude excursions, etc) as the most scientifically plausible theory that doesn’t require a conspiracy and fits with previous cases (Helios 522, the Payne Stewart Lear crash, various general aviation crashes over the years, etc). There’s more to this hypothesis than that but you have the gist of it. It’s not sexy or likely to grab attention but then again…are we wanting to figure out what happened or are we just trying to garner attention for ourselves?

    I am a scientist first and foremost-and one who works in aviation safety- so my attitude is everyone needs to stop wildly speculating (my hypothesis violates this but I want to demonstrate that there are mundane explanations for this) and running wild in hopes of big ratings or lots of clicks (not you Lucky…). We need to wait until we find the wreckage and actually have some hard evidence to go on before we assume hijacking, pilot suicide or any of the even more irrational hypotheses out there.

  28. Jeff Wise’s blogg shows a picture purporting to be where MH370 landed and was squirreled away, with an outline of a 777 drawn on a bulldozed rectangle of ground. This is supposedly where the plane was hidden. The only problem is that the bulldozed rectangle has no road /runway leading to it along which the plane could have taxied. In fact, it is all soft ground encircled by buildings and trenches.

    Also, I located what I believe to be the cosmodrome he talks about at Lat 46.053318° Long 63.241591°, and I can see no features there that correlate with Wise’s photo. Why didn’t he publish the actual coordinates of his picture, so other “experts” could verify his “data”?

    Looks like a conspiracy theory, sounds like a conspiracy theory, smells like a conspiracy theory …

  29. MH370 was a flight to “Elysium” for some elected people. That is why they shut down all positioning systems which even experts thought would not be possible to shut down. Then they changed course and headed directly towards Antarctica and flew at least 7 hours [this is what they know] or even more.
    So … if you want the truth: They landed on a land mass beyond Antarctica which on some flat earth maps is called “Geminia”. It would be round about a 12 hours flight. And yes … earth is flat. The globe is a system lie for the “normal morons” to redirect the curiosity for finding new land to a non-existing “space”. There is no space. “Space” end about 70 miles above. There is a border nobody can go beyond.

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