On June 25th, 2009, beloved celebrity Michael Jackson, as seen in figure 1, died at his home in Los Angeles, California at the very young age of 50. His death was caused by a heart attack, brought on by a large amount of the drug propofol,

michael-jackson-10
Figure 1. An image of Michael Jackson performing in Tokyo Japan during his “Bad,” world tour. 

which is commonly used as an anesthetic during surgery.[1] Jackson’s death was highly investigated based on the fact that his doctor, Conrad Murray supplied him with the drugs and left him highly sedated alone in his home.[2] Although he may not have intentionally attempted to kill him, the drugs he administered managed to abruptly end his life. Despite countless medical reports, autopsies, and a lavish funeral, there are those that believe Michael’s death was a hoax and that he is still alive.

There are many different theories as to how and why Michael Jackson would have faked his death. But one thing is certain according to a few believers, he is still alive.  The top five conspiracy theories are:

  • 1. that Michael was under a lot of pressure and wanted to get away from it all
  • 2 that the autopsy done on Michael Jackson was fake
  • 3 that Michael Jackson is a master of disguise and has been running around in disguise
  • 4 that Jackson’s movie “This Is It,” hides 33 clues that prove why he wanted to opt out of his public life
  • 5 that the 1989 music video “Liberian Girl,” explains that his death is a hoax. [3]

The main idea is that some people believe that Michael Jackson did not die on June 25, 2016.

Among the Michael Jackson death hoax believers, there are those that are bigger believers than others, or that head these groups. A well known one, who is constantly ID’d on hoax websites as a Jackson insider is Cassandra Gretchen-Sims. Cassandra claims to be a close friend of Michael Jackson. She says that Jackson wanted to get away from his crazy life, but that he would be back. For a few years after his death Sims claimed to always be in contact with him and that Jackson would give her messages to tell his fans. Sims is quoted on many hoax website, but when searched for online, there is not much one can find on her. She seems to have disappeared. Websites she was once linked to no longer have stories about her.  Conspiracy aside, her cyber disappearance is strange.

Aside from the elusive Cassandra Gretchen-Sims, there are others that truly believe that Michael Jackson is not dead. One of the biggest groups of believers are the Michael Jackson Death Hoax Investigators. These people are dedicated to investigating the circumstances of Michael Jackson’s death, or as they put it “the Michael Jackson Death Hoax.”[4]  The group was founded on July 28, 2009, a little over a month after Jackson’s death shocked the world.

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Figure 2. A screenshot taken from the Michael Jackson Death Hoax Investigators website. 

No information is given as to who found the group, or created the website. Members of the group hide their personal information by creating accounts and usernames to freely post information on their personal site blogs. Without a membership, a viewer has access to forums, the chat room, calendar, MJDHI Blog, Member Blogs, Hoax Info, and Gallery. It is unclear what exactly membership entails, but joining the group is taken very seriously. In an attempt to register myself, an agreement page was immediately brought up. The agreement is a lengthy document that details the responsibilities of membership. Those responsibilities mainly refer to the content put up by each member. Although the content of the website may be controversial, it is crucial to the owners and that the material posted is not false, defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, or sexually oriented in any way.[5] In attempt to uncover more information I started the registration process. The process seemed pretty standard until I reached the verification process. In order to become a member I had to answer the question, “What is the first name of Michael’s youngest sister,” a question that only a true fan would be able to answer. While it may have been easy to Google the answer, I avoided signing up based on the fear that they would immediately be found out that I am not a believer and report or delete me. This group appears to be the most well-informed and legit group of conspiracy believers, but to them the Michael Jackson death hoax is not a conspiracy, it is the truth.

There are many other websites and online groups that continue to believe and talk about their belief in Michael Jackson’s comeback. These groups include, the Michael Jackson Death Hoax website, and Michael Jackson is Not dead. Although both of those websites are not as legit as the Michael Jackson Death Hoax Investigators, they still have the same beliefs and use the same evidence.

Groups of believers commit multiple logically fallacy crimes. A logical fallacy refers to making errors in the terms of understanding something. More information about logical fallacies can be found here. The logical fallacy crimes that Michael Jackson death hoax believers commit are:

  • False Cause: “Presuming that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other.”
  • Fallacy Fallacy: “You presumed that because a claim has been poorly argued, or a fallacy has been made, that the claim itself must be wrong.”
  • Personal Incredulity: “Because you found something difficult to understand, or are unaware of how it works, you made out like it’s probably not true.”
  • Gambler’s Fallacy: “You said that ‘runs’ occur to statistically independent phenomena such as roulette wheel spins.”
  • Texas Sharpshooter: “You cherry-picked a data cluster to suit your argument, or found a pattern to fit a presumption.”

All of the fallacies and their definitions were taken from the logical fallacy website.[6] Believers base their theory mainly on unanswered questions and strange occurrences in his death. These questions include “Dr. Conrad Murray refused to sign the death certificate. No physician at UCLA in charge would sign either. In fact no UCLA doctor has made any kind of statement confirming the death of Michael Jackson or even that he was on the premises,” “Cause of death was listed as “deferred” until after the autopsy. The DC states that it is only valid if signed in purple ink. At the bottom it’s signed in BLUE ink. There are also many irregularities of the document which indicate it

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Figure 3. A photo of Michael Jackson being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance that was featured on Entertainment Tonight.

possibly isn’t legitimate,” and “there is, in existence a SINGLE photo of MJ dead (or dying.) Taken by a tabloid reporter through a DARK tinted window of the ambulance. No other photos of him got taken, no photos at the hospital, no photos anywhere,” as seen in figure 3. All of the inconsistencies linked to Jackson’s death are hard to both prove and disprove. This idea then sparks their imagination and biases to understand missing information as facts that prove his death as unreal. Michael Jackson’s home and private life were heavily guarded. Even if someone claimed to be on the inside or have close relations with the star, there are not many ways to prove them real. It is also easier for super fans to believe that their cherished musician is in hiding than dead.

[1] Chaney, Jane. “The full story on Michael Jackson’s tragic death,” Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/the-full-story-on-michael-jacksons-tragic-death/2016/06/14/5d9f74ee-3181-11e6-8758-d58e76e11b12_story.html

[2] Chaney, Jane. “The full story on Michael Jackson’s tragic death,” Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/the-full-story-on-michael-jacksons-tragic-death/2016/06/14/5d9f74ee-3181-11e6-8758-d58e76e11b12_story.html

[3] Joal, Ryan. “Top Five Michael Jackson Fake-Death Theories.” 2010. E News. http://www.eonline.com/news/187127/top-five-michael-jackson-fake-death-theories

[4] https://www.facebook.com/MichaelJacksonDeathHoaxInvestigators/

[5] http://www.michaeljacksonhoaxforum.com/

[6] https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/

 

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