One week after a government bulletin warned the public to avoid getting their freak on at Area 51, paranoia is in full force. Photos of “unusual lights” in the Nevada sky were posted on Reddit in April, leading internet sleuths to suspect Area 51, a famously top-secret military base where some visitors have previously believed they were being monitored from the skies, of directly causing the sightings. Other residents have pleaded with Area 51 to allow them to pose for selfies with Steve Jobs — though the retired Apple executive isn’t actually said to have ever visited. And, in another sign of creeping ennui among Area 51 denizens, rumors circulated that Paul Allen was filming a movie at the site.
Ever since the missile site-cum-technological marvel became the focus of an endless online debate, the speculation has fueled a sometimes panicked defense. Suggestions that Area 51 is nothing more than a militarized swimming pool are truly horrifying — and unsurprising — to conspiracy theorists.
This story first appeared in the November 1, 2018 issue of New York Magazine.