Stephen Hawking is one of the most well-known physicists on the planet, from his theories that have changed humanity’s collective understanding of life on Earth and the goings-on of space and time to his enduring spirit that has allowed him to survive and even thrive for decades with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) while a physics professor at Cambridge University. Professor Hawking’s form of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is of the early onset, slow-progressing variety. At the time of his diagnosis in 1963, Stephen Hawking was just 21 years old and given two more years to live.
He is now 76.
While many describe Professor Hawking’s 50-plus-year survival with ALS as miraculous, particularly considering disease degeneration that has rendered him utterly dependent upon medical, scientific, and computer technology for communication (Hawking is able to operate a communication device with his cheek muscles) and mobility (his wheelchair is controlled by small movements of his chin), some internet conspiracy theorists claim that there is more to it than that.
According to some conspiracy theorists, the “real” Stephen Hawking died decades age, back in 1985. What’s more, Daily Mail reports that the same conspiracy theorists believe that Hawking has been replaced with a puppet or lookalike by the “political and scientific elite.” The reason for the subterfuge? To steer and control the scientific beliefs of the masses.
In an attempt to support and substantiate their theory regarding the idea of a puppet Stephen Hawking, conspiracy theorists have cited several critical points that they claim prove that today’s Professor Hawking cannot be the same as the original.
Theories regarding a potential faux-Hawking have been circulating on conspiracy theory message boards and other websites for years, and the most widely referenced reason theorists give for believing that the professor has been (perhaps nefariously) replaced are the perplexing changes in his physical appearance – not to mention a lack of apparent aging. As one Above Top Secret member noted in June of 2016, photos decades apart appear to feature Stephen Hawking looking shockingly youthful and with seemingly different hair and cheeks.
“Now what got me intrigued was the notion put forward that, given he has a degenerative disease like ALS of who the longest other survivor lived only for a further twenty years, how is it he does not appear to have aged that dramatically, but even appears to have fuller cheeks and differently coloured hair/ eyebrows?”
Others have noted that Hawkings eyes seem to have changed color over the years, while his ears appear smaller.
While some may cite the disfiguring nature of ALS when explaining the changes in Stephen Hawking’s appearance, the die-hard puppet conspiracy believers claim that the professor’s teeth are something that can’t be easily explained away. Namely, why have they been so badly neglected, and how has their basic structure seemingly transformed without major and inexplicable dental work?
Most Hawking conspiracy theorists say that his teeth have been obviously changed over the years with the bottom teeth longer and the top appearing to have been filed down almost completely, begging the question, “Why?”
Some conspiracy theorists also refer to the fact that Stephen Hawking is still alive at all as proof that he was, at some time in the distant past, replaced with a “puppet.” He’s survived for 55 years, despite having a prognosis of just two years to live at the time of his diagnosis, and nobody can explain precisely how or why.
Which is why some believe that’s it’s not true, that Professor Hawking didn’t really survive at all.
Climate Change Could Turn Earth into Venus: Stephen Hawking— Lindsay Lawson (@chikuroishioi) January 13, 2018
Stephen Hawking turns 76; How has he survived ALS for more than 50 years?— deisy (@rotschellrlche) January 13, 2018
Stephen Hawking once held a party for time travelers. He sent the invitation after the party had ended.— What The F*** Facts (@WhatTheFFacts) January 12, 2018
Proponents of the “replacement Hawking” theory also widely reference the technology that Professor Hawking uses to communicate as a detail that simply doesn’t add up. Many claim that twitching a cheek muscle to operate a computerized voice synthesizer could never give the physically disabled physicist the ability to speak quickly, eloquently, and with such a wide range of vocabulary.
Others have even noted that when speaking, Stephen Hawking’s face often appears to be completely still with no sign of a cheek muscle twitch.
Happy 76th Birthday to one of the most inspiring scientists in the world - Professor Stephen Hawking! It was a great privilege to see such a legend speaking about his life in physics last year (here is a short video I took then of the Professor talking about his PhD allocation). pic.twitter.com/Ze2xUfLGyB— Maria Sharif (@MariaSharif_) January 8, 2018
So, how do conspiracy theorists believe that the “impostor Hawking” is speaking? According to those who believe that the original Stephen Hawking passed away decades ago, the new Hawking isn’t actually speaking at all. Instead, they claim that his profound words are really being fed into his computer speaking device by “NASA astrophysicists” intent on lying to the masses and leading them to believe whatever it is the “shadow government” wants them to think.
According to at least one Reddit user, the idea that Stephen Hawking isn’t who he claims to be is a theory that seemingly “becomes MORE true the longer the charade goes on.” Not to mention opens the door to a plethora of questions regarding his groundbreaking scientific theories, many of which have taken hold in Western scientific communities and even popular culture.
“This is one of those conspiracies that becomes MORE true the longer the charade goes on. Why is nobody else with that disease living even a fraction of this long? There was a PDF out there by another guy who documented even more on this one. The evidence is damning. And once you realize what’s going on, you have to wonder… who REALLY wrote “A Brief History of Time”???
In reality, the complexities of most of Hawking’s theories make them incomprehensible to the masses. Still, he puts them (and his opinion) out there. Combined with the widely honored title of “smartest man in the world,” much of what Stephen Hawking has to say is taken as virtual gospel, despite lack of substantiation or even understanding.
Stephen Hawking is really, really nervous about our future— nadal (@armanvanp83) January 13, 2018
Stable geniuses like Stephen Hawking talk about the origins of our universe. Or like the Dalai Lama, about our common humanity. Like MLK they talk about freedom and equality. Or like Marie Curie about the deep mysteries of physics and chemistry. They rarely talk about themselves.— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 7, 2018
Stephen Hawking is a genius. He described Trump as “a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator" And then, when the #StableGenius followers could not understand those words he clarified by saying simply: “Trump bad man. Real bad man.” #stilltrue— Ida May Cardinal (@CardinalIda) January 7, 2018
So what would the world’s oft-touted but still securely shrouded in mystery “shadow government” stand to gain by deliberately unleashing a fake Hawking onto the global populous? According to concerned conspiracy theorists, it all has to do with steering the beliefs of the masses.
Stephen Hawking is widely believed, and not just when he’s talking about physics-related topics. From global warming to universal healthcare to artificial intelligence to the end of the world to Donald Trump, Hawking’s fans and supporters tend to follow his cues on virtually any topic, making him, according to conspiracy theorists, the perfect tool for the so-called shadow government to “push science and lose God.”
While the pseudo-Hawking conspiracy is, on the surface at least, seemingly well thought-out and even somewhat compelling, the folks at IFLScience call it “the strangest thing since string theory,” and boil it down to the fact that so many people simply can’t believe that Stephen Hawking has survived so long and so well with ALS. The publication admits that most ALS sufferers lose their battle with the degenerative disease within half a decade of diagnosis, but goes on to remind readers that this doesn’t mean that their aren’t people battling the illness that live for a much longer or shorter period of time.
Meaning that Stephen Hawking’s remarkable longevity is unlikely due to being replaced by an impostor in the mid-1980s but rather due to early diagnosis, slow progression, excellent medical care and a little bit of luck.