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The Bird Conspiracy Theory On 60 Minutes That Gave Viewers Quite The Chuckle

"60 Minutes" is an emotional roller coaster, isn't it? Viewers can watch it for the "oohs" and "aahs" that the exploration of a wide and fantastic world can elicit. They can employ its hard-hitting emotional stories to draw out a startled gasp in a housemate or a loved one. And if a regular "60 Minutes" watcher wants a chuckle — no, quite a chuckle — they know exactly which episode they should look to: The 2022 tale of a group of citizens dead-set in their belief that birds aren't real. If you're not chuckling already, then get ready, because it's coming.

The segment begins with world-traveling "60 Minutes" host Sharyn Alfonsi, ushered in as always by that stopwatch that the network has forced the show to keep time by ever since Mike Wallace played an impromptu electric keyboard solo that took the runtime to an hour and forty-three minutes back in 1971. "There have always been conspiracy theories," Alfonsi reminds viewers, listing a handful of familiar favorites. "So you might not be surprised to learn that more than a million people have become followers of a conspiracy theory that birds aren't real."

60 Minutes viewers got quite the chuckle from Birds Aren't Real

"That's right," Sharyn Alfonsi continues, "the birds you think you see flying in the sky are actually government surveillance drones."

From there, the episode of "60 Minutes" pretty immediately gives the game away: The "Birds Aren't Real" movement is the brainchild of Peter McIndoe, a Kaufman-esque devotee to committing to the bit, who developed the concept as a means of poking fun at conspiracy theorists — a tactic which has never gone badly before. It's a goof, all about "taking this concept of misinformation and almost building a little safe space to come together within it and laugh at it, rather than be scared by it," McIndoe told "60 Minutes" in a rare moment of on-screen earnestness, "and accept the lunacy of it all and be a bird truther for a moment in time when everything's so crazy."

For the record, the dogma of the "Birds Aren't Real" movement is pretty scintillating. According to proponents, the American government killed all wild birds in the mid-20th century, replacing them with robotic lookalikes. They sit on electric lines to recharge their batteries. Seagulls eat our french fries to harvest our DNA. What a group. They have rallies and everything.

It's a great line of thinking — the kind of wild, just-this-side-of-crazy conspiracy that Anson Mount warned us about, and more than that? Enough to give viewers quite a chuckle.