June 22, 2024

The Hidden Depths of 15-Minute City Conspiracies

Photo: Deb Cohn-Orbach/UCG/Universal Images Group (Getty Images)

The concept behind the 15-minute city is straightforward: You should be able to access your workplace, groceries, ATM, or medical services within a 15-minute walk from your home, without the need for a vehicle. This urban planning approach emphasizes human convenience over parking spaces, yet it has sparked numerous unfounded conspiracy theories. What is the reason behind the intense scrutiny of urban planning principles?

The concerns are not truly about the practicalities of 15-minute cities, but rather about the unfounded belief that they are the initial phase of a larger plan endorsed by the UN to control the population and reduce human numbers on Earth. How does one transition from a simple idea to such a far-fetched theory? Abigail Thorn from Philosophy Tube offers a fascinating explanation: Individuals who believe in these conspiracies are trapped in a phantasm.

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According to Thorn, a phantasm enables individuals to avoid confronting information that may challenge their worldview and cause anxiety, by allowing contradictory beliefs to coexist without scrutiny. Those who subscribe to phantasms can hold onto beliefs that are illogical, improbable, or blatantly false, yet to them, these beliefs are perceived as factual.

The concept of phantasms delves into complex philosophical territory, and Thorn articulates it far better than someone like me with a business bachelor’s degree ever could. While it may require watching an hour-long YouTube video (or the ad-free version on Nebula) to grasp the opposition to urban planning from a conspiratorial perspective, Philosophy Tube’s content is always enlightening. Dedicate an hour to Chube, and you may gain a clearer perspective on the world. Who knows? You might even become an advocate for 15-minute cities.


1. **What is the concept of the 15-minute city?**
The 15-minute city is the idea that essential services and amenities should be accessible within a 15-minute walk from your residence, promoting a car-free lifestyle.

2. **Why are conspiracy theories associated with 15-minute cities?**
Some individuals believe that 15-minute cities are part of a larger plan to control the population and implement drastic measures, leading to unfounded conspiracy theories.


In conclusion, the discussion around 15-minute cities goes beyond urban planning and delves into the realm of conspiracy theories. Understanding the psychological concept of phantasms sheds light on why some individuals may gravitate towards irrational beliefs. By exploring different perspectives, such as those presented by Philosophy Tube, we can gain a better understanding of the complexities surrounding urban development and conspiracy theories. It is essential to critically examine information and maintain a rational approach when evaluating urban planning concepts like the 15-minute city.

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