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Birds aren't real? A gen-Z conspiracy theory turned social commentary

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Shock Value.

In 2016, Peter McIndoe started a farcical conspiracy theory called Birds Aren't Real—gaining a following of Gen Z adherents. He reflects on what the fake movement reveals about belief and belonging.

About Peter McIndoe

Peter McIndoe is the founder of Birds Aren't Real and has a social media following of 500,000. Growing up, McIndoe was home-schooled in a deeply conservative religious community in rural Arkansas. Today McIndoe works to explore the "us-versus-them" mentality implicit in conspiracy theories. His work has been featured everywhere from The Guardian to 60 Minutes. He is currently working on a book, due out in 2024.

This segment of TED Radio Hour was produced by Katie Monteleone and edited by Sanaz Meshkinpour. You can follow us on Facebook @TEDRadioHourand email us at TEDRadioHour@npr.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Manoush Zomorodi is the host of TED Radio Hour. She is a journalist, podcaster and media entrepreneur, and her work reflects her passion for investigating how technology and business are transforming humanity.
Katie Monteleone is a producer for TED Radio Hour. She started out as an intern for the show in January 2019. After her internship, Monteleone began producing for Life Kit before returning to the TED Radio Hour team in October 2019 as a full-time producer.