German City Offers €1 Million To Anyone Who Can Prove It Doesn't Exist
A German city has offered €1 million (£913,981) to anyone who can prove that it doesn't exist - which on paper, is really confusing.
This isn't some kind of joke, nor is it some kind of philosophical test of reasoning. It is an actual offer.
The reason Bielefeld has put the cash up for grabs is because its existence has been the subject of scrutiny for decades - despite the fact it is the country's 18th largest city with a population of 340,000, has its own football team that played in the Bundesliga in 2009, and, well, just obviously exists.
The conspiracy allegedly began in 1993, when computer science student Achim Held met someone from the city and told them, 'Das gibt's doch gar nicht' - which in practice means 'there's nothing there," but literally means 'that doesn't exist'.
The story was shared online and snowballed to the point that in 2012, Chancellor Angela Merkel even cast doubt over the city's existence in a speech in which she mentioned a meeting she attended in Bielefeld, before adding, '... if it even exists'.
The idea apparently caught the imagination due to the city's distinct lack of basically anything, be it tourist attractions, national institutions or natural landmarks; Bielefeld is suspiciously nondescript.
The conspiracy is founded on the following three questions:
- Do you know anybody from Bielefeld?
- Have you ever been to Bielefeld?
- Do you know anybody who has ever been to Bielefeld?
If people answer 'no' to all three, then they will naturally begin to question whether the city is real after all. If any of their answers are 'yes', then they are accused of being part of the conspiracy.
It's a flawless argument.
Like with most conspiracy theories, it has evolved to become more and more convoluted and outlandish, with Bielefeld deniers speculating that the mythical city was a hoax conceived by Israel's Mossad, the CIA and aliens operating out of Bielefeld University.
But now the city has called out the doubters, offering the huge sum of cash to anyone who, with 'no limits to creativity', can provide 'incontrovertible evidence' Bielefeld doesn't exist... So presumably, the three-pronged question argument outlined above isn't considered sufficient proof.
Entrants have until 4 September to prove the city doesn't exist once and for all. Assuming nobody is able to come up with the breakthrough evidence needed to put the Bielefeld lie to bed once and for all, the city plans to host a ceremony in which it will officially extricate itself from the conspiracy.
Of course, this ceremony won't be able to go ahead if somebody does prove the city doesn't exist. Indeed, nothing will ever happen or ever have happened in the city in this scenario.
Only time will tell.
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