Hunting The Truth – Why Conspiracy Theories And Dark Mysteries Are Trending

True crime is charting on Netflix and we just can't turn it off.


Just when we thought 2020 couldn’t get any more unexpected, we find out that there is a new suspect in the Madeline McCann case. Madeline McCann disappeared from her bed in a holiday apartment at a resort in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve region of Portugal on the 3rd of May 2007.

Over thirteen years later and the truth behind her disappearance is still one of the biggest questions in modern history. With a magnitude of conspiracy theories floating around, it’s hard to even remember what the real facts of the case actually are. But with one mention of a new lead on the case earlier this month, and the Netflix docu-series ‘The Disappearance of Madeline McCann’, (which was released in 2019) has shot into the most watched section on Netflix again.


The same can be said for Jeffrey Epstein. Jeffrey Epstein was a well established American financier and sex offender. While owning his own banking firm, Epstein had a very prestigious social circle with strong links to the now President of the United States, Donald Trump. In 2008 he was convicted by a Florida state court of soliciting a prostitute and procuring an underage girl for prostitution. Epstein was convicted of only these two crimes as part of a plea deal; however federal officials had in fact identified 36 girls, whom Epstein had allegedly sexually abused. In July of 2019 he was arrested again for the sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York but was found dead in his cell on the 10th of August 2019. His death was deemed a suicide but conspiracy theories believe that isn’t the case. The Netflix docu-series ‘Jeffrey Epstein : Filthy Rich’ tells the stories of Jeffrey Epstein’s survivors, and how he used his wealth and power to commit these crimes. Just like the Madeline McCann docu-series, this has launched itself into the top 10 watched this week category on Netflix and one can only presume it is due to the political unrest in America at the moment.

But what is it about these horrific cases and the conspiracy theories around them that people find so interesting? The truth is out there, but do we really want to find it or is it the intrigue of the unknown that draws us in?


Over the last few years the true crime genre has exploded with popularity. Books, YouTube videos, documentaries, podcasts – you name the platform and there’s a true crime series waiting for you on it. There is something about hearing these deep, dark and usually horrific stories that we become somewhat hooked on. Even though we ourselves are horrified at the thought of ever committing such crimes, we want to know every intricate detail of how they were carried out, how they got away with it or how they were caught. It is almost as if we are infatuated by the extremity of some people’s evil. We want to see the lengths they would go to, we want to observe from a safe distance – and true crime documentaries are a way of doing this.

Whether the motive is purely sinister or furthered along by something like money or power, we want to understand why people did what they did even though more often than not we will never be able to comprehend how someone could commit such a crime. So, why do we bother sickening ourselves with the details? Scaring ourselves by realising what could happen to seemingly any of us and taking a look into how dark and horrifying the human mind can really get.

Sadly and sickeningly, we live in a world where children go missing almost every day. Madeline McCann was one of these children, but somehow her story connected with the nation like no other case had in recent years. So that begs the question – what made and still makes the investigation into the disappearance of Madeline McCann any different? No one can deny that the massive public interest was one of the main factors that lead to the continued and increased funding into the investigation. But why were the public so interested? As we watch a series like this, we play detective, our minds always working ahead to try and connect the dots before they are connected for us. This adrenaline allows us to feel involved and therefore we want to be right. We want to know even more. The Netflix docu-series surrounding the Madeline McCann case almost raised more questions than it answered. Not only are we kept entertained throughout watching the series, we are left with food for thought after. Although we gained a lot of information, there are a lot of question marks left, and there lies the hunger for more knowledge. If you leave a hole in a plot, we’re going to want it filled.

Whether that’s from the original docu-series, a podcast or a book on the same topic – the bottom line is that the less we know the more we wonder.


Now taking a look at Jeffrey Epstein in comparison. A convicted criminal and serial sex offender. Although his death was under questionable circumstances, his case as a whole was more straight forward. There were less blank spaces to be filled out but yet, people were eager to learn his story. His story is so gripping in the sense of disbelief. Who was Jeffrey Epstein? Where did he make his money? How bad where the crimes he committed and most importantly, how did he get away with it for so long?

Although not every question is answered, the story of Jeffrey Epstein is one that shocks all of us for a variety of reasons. With social relations with the likes of Donald Trump, the now President of the United States, it’s hard not to let our minds wander to how deep these stories go, and how much is being hidden. It opens our eyes to the fact that we don’t know the truth about so much that is going on in the world.

Things like this can happen and are happening.

I think the thing that always sticks with me most when I watch, read or listen to anything in the true crime genre is that somewhere out there in the world, someone knows or knew the truth about what happened. Someone could stop all the wondering and guessing. But they won’t and don’t. The truth is out there – I’m just not sure would true crime be as popular if it was found.

Words by STELLAR intern – Nicky Anderson

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