The Daily Mail is seriously suggesting Stephen Hawking has been replaced by a puppet

The MailOnline website has run an article which seemingly endorses claims that the scientist is being controlled by NASA

Elizabeth Shaw

Prof. Hawking has done some pretty amazing things – probably not including being replaced by another humanJim Campbell

The Mail Online has published an article entertaining a conspiracy theory that the true Professor Stephen Hawking has somehow been replaced by a ‘lookalike’. The credulous claim suggests that there are six clues that can be used as evidence for the fictional idea.

The article, entitled “Has Stephen Hawking been replaced with a lookalike?” crudely explores the myth, days after the Professor’s birthday.

Hawking, a fellow at Gonville & Caius, is perhaps the world’s most famous scientist. Alongside leading research into theoretical physics, he is a vocal political campaigner, having endorsed Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner at the last election and protested against health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s management of the NHS.

“The idea might seem outlandish” begins a piece which expounds and validates some truly absurd views. The Mail proceed to explain the conspiracy in depth, promising to “[share] the ‘clues’” – ranging “from the way he looks” to “the complexity of his theories.”

“As the conspiracy lovers point out, not many people look younger in 2017 than they did in 1982, especially if they’re suffering from a disease as disfiguring as ALS.” The Mail permitted scrutiny of the Professor’s facial features including his eyes, teeth and hair, even asking: “Why would someone vain enough to dye their hair neglect their teeth so badly?”

ALS is a devastating condition, and in writing, “It’s not just how he looks that’s the problem - there’s the issue with his condition”, the Mail has taken a pretty disrespectful line. Professor Stephen Hawking’s life should be celebrated with each year, not distastefully commented upon: “It would appear that he is still alive, miraculously”.

The Mail also delve into wedding photographs from his second marriage, and suggest that the man Elaine Mason stands beside is “more than likely a lookalike.”

Hawking meeting former US president Barack Obama. The article includes suggestions that the scientist is controlled by NASA.White House Photostream

They further raise questions about the authenticity of his voice-synthesizing device, which the “independent investigators” believe is being controlled by NASA. Echoing the beliefs of fringe conspiracy theorists, the Mail suggests that “the professor isn’t doing anything at all and the voice we hear is the result of NASA astrophysicists typing information into a computer”.

The fiction continues – the wheelchair is supposedly fed information designed to be appropriate and accepted by the masses – information we would “hear and trust”. The final ‘clue’ criticises the fact that, yes, his theories were more complex than usual, and therefore, naturally, he must be a puppet of US space agencies.

“The substitute Hawking, they claim, is used as a puppet to instill fear in the general population.” Critics are shocked that Hawking has recently been engaged in politics, highlighting this normality as “highly suspicious”, opting to believe instead that “he died back into 1985 when he contracted pneumonia and was on life support.”

The piece concludes, implicitly endorsing this fringe theory: “The motive is there. The pictures speak louder than words.” Although it admits that these suggestions only emerge from “certain corners of the internet”, the Mail seriously entertains the preposterous notion of a “puppet professor”.

Sadly, the Mail’s readers seem to be open-minded to the possibility. One commenter said: “Well I won’t argue with the Conspiracy theorists on this one!” and another said “That’s why is [sic] voice is recorded”.

Earlier this year, Hawking claimed mankind’s actions means the Earth is doomed, and that humans have about 100 years to get off the planet. In his grim assessment of humanity, he may have been right.