More than a century after it sank, the story of the RMS Titanic still fascinates people around the world, and as with any large-scale tragedy, not everyone believes mainstream explanations for the incident. There may not be many Titanic conspiracy theoriesout there, but the ones that do exist are certainly persistent. One theory was the subject of a book published in 1998, nearly two decades ago — and it still circulates today. How's that for longevity?
When the Titanicset off on its maiden voyage, the British ocean liner was already famous. Commissioned by the White Star Line in the early 20th century, it was one of three "Olympic class" liners; its sister ships were theRMS Olympic and HMHS Britannic. (TheBritannic, by the way, sank in 1916in the Aegean Sea, leaving 30 dead.) The Titanic was one of the biggest, most luxurious ships of its time, and in April of 1912, it set sail for New York with more than 2,200 people aboard.
Four days into its journey, however, the ship crashed into an iceberg, tearing open multiple watertight compartments along its hull. Within a few hours, the Titanic had sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, and more than 1,500 passengers and crew were dead. (So much for being the "king of the world.")
The Titanic was in the news recently thanks to an alternate theory about why it sank so easily. According to journalist Senan Molony, it's possible that a coal fire broke out before the voyage began, weakening the ship's structure and allowing the iceberg to cause more damage. As Jalopnik pointed out, this theory isn't exactly new — we've known for a while that there was a fire onboard that certainly didn't help matters — but a documentary that aired in the UK just after the New Year, Titanic: The New Evidence has brought it back to light.
Wondering why you're still so fascinated by these theories? "We are creatures of control and predictability," Dr. Joshua Klaplow, licensed clinical psychologist and behavioral scientist, tells Bustle. "We seek in general to create certainty out of uncertainty. At a very deep level uncertainty signals danger. So when there are mysteries or stories with endings that seem not entirely clear. Or worse, stories that suggest that our world is not predictable and there are no clear answers (or answers that suit our individual perspective on the world) we are prone to create stories or believe stories that fit narratives that suit us."
And let's face it, conspiracy theories are also pretty exciting. "Conspiracy theories tap into our natural curiosity, our desire to find truths that fit our own bias perspectives, and frankly the excitement that comes with the belief that maybe what was explained one way is not the case," Klapow says. "Conspiracy theories are both tantalizing from a mystery standpoint, but also pull on our desire to create closure and truth in our world to make it more explainable."
For what it's worth, the fire theory is fairly plausible... but let's face it: That's not what you're here for. Instead, let's look at six conspiracy theories about the sinking of the Titanic. Although they're not all that credible (and in some cases, extremely not credible), they're always interesting to think about.