Archives For conspiracies

buried skull

When the world momentarily became a better place through bin Laden’s removal from it, there was an instant surge of “deathers,” conspiracy theorists convinced that there was no raid or the whole thing was a sham, weaving a New World Order tale for every possible scenario. Indulged by the media looking for views and bursting comment sections, they went quiet after al Qaeda’s generals themselves confirmed that indeed, their leader was dead and gone. Or, at least, quiet in the public eye. But now there’s a new bin Laden conspiracy theory in town from a legendary investigative reporter who says that the raid in Pakistan was indeed a sham, and instead of the intelligence community tracking down a terrorist mastermind and dispatching special operators to take him out in a daring raid, the CIA and SOCOM was just doing Pakistan’s dirty work while stuffing someone’s wallet to the tune of $25 million. In trying to answer the very real mystery of how Pakistan could allow the most wanted man on earth to set up shop next to their West Point, he ended up with a tall tale that belongs on InfoWars rather than in a real newspaper.

Many technicalities of Hersh’s story have already been picked apart by numerous writers, so I’ll limit myself to solely the showstoppers here. First off is the idea that Pakistan not only knew bin Laden was hiding out next to their top military facility, they put him there under house arrest for future use as a pawn in negotiations with the U.S. about military aid. This actually makes sense because the ISI is the kind of organization that would think that this would be a great idea, but it quickly stops making it when you realize that they would’ve held him for five years. A deal could have been made within months if not weeks because terrorists do not age like fine wine and art. Bin Laden was worth even more when al Qaeda affiliates were raising hell in Iraq and he hadn’t yet become a far off leader writing vague strategy memos. To sit on an asset like this when the Bush Administration would’ve surely paid handsomely for his head would be asinine.

The second problem is the claim that the ISI went along with a greedy informant who waltzed in from the street and asked American diplomats for the bounty on bin Laden’s head. Whether he went rogue or sent by the intelligence agency guarding bin Laden, why would Pakistan follow? Every passionate rebuttal of a Hersh debunking rests on the idea that the ISI wouldn’t give up a man who many Pakistanis actually see as a hero, including some fundamentalist higher ups in the so-called Pakistani deep state, the shadowy cabal of generals, tycoons, and politicians who hold real power in the country. Then why would they help Americans execute a raid? Why allow them to even get close to bin Laden rather than hide him or just discredit the informant? Which one is it? Pakistan wanted to trade bin Laden for cash and guns, or protect him as a hero? The two are mutually exclusive. Did the ISI suddenly decide that after holding on to him through the years of violence and turmoil on their borders and within he just wasn’t worth it?

But changing their mind about bin Laden’s upkeep has to be eliminated as an option due to the third big problem with Hersh’s tale, the idea that Saudi Arabia paid to house him in Pakistan. It’s only a slightly less ridiculous proposition than the idea that it was the Americans who footed the bill because anyone who knows anything about bin Laden is aware that the House of Saud was very interested in having him killed. Suggesting otherwise falls into the “well, Arabs are all more or less the same, right?” category of geopolitical reasoning. Saudis didn’t mind him too much as long as he picked fights with Americans, but they drew the line at attacking their kingdom. All of his Saudi benefactors and friends were actually dealing with him illegally because his citizenship was revoked and his assets frozen after he tried to orchestrate a revolt against the royal family for allowing American bases on Saudi soil. Why would the House of Saud ever pay to imprison someone they wanted dead and blamed for terrorist attacks on hotels and oil refineries?

While it’s true that Saudi Arabia funds terrorists around the world, the fuller, darker story, is that this is how they deal with homegrown homicidal extremists; they simply export them to a distant land, fighting wars that don’t need to be fought funded by countries that don’t want to fight them but know that the minute they stop giving their bloodthirsty maniacs something to do, they’ll be handling a domestic crisis of epic proportions. So why didn’t Pakistan adopt the strategy which would’ve made them look either cunning or completely un-involved and sent bin Laden off into some distant province of Afghanistan to die or get killed if they wanted to get rid of him? It’s so much more likely that there were ISI people aware of his presence, who saw him as a hero and didn’t want him to die, and simply kept their mouths shut, directing suspicious minds to look for him elsewhere. Then, when they woke up one morning to find that a SEAL team killed him, that was the end of that as far as they were concerned. They did their best to protect him, but they lacked the virtually unlimited resources of a superpower with a globe spanning military.

As said before, there are dozens of little details that give us reason to doubt pretty much every other word that Hersh wrote and relying on all anonymous sources makes his story pretty much impossible to verify. If you believe that special operators refer to what they do as “murder” and throw bodies of long sought foes out of choppers for no reason, that the House of Saud won’t just off their enemies, that it somehow benefited either Saudi Arabia or Pakistan to keep the old terrorist alive while his minions wreaked havoc across the region, and that despite photos of an honest to goodness firefight and wreckage at the compound, the SEALs actually just walked in, shot an already almost dead man in a wheelchair to later dump his body mid-flight, and left, you probably won’t agree with a single critique of Hersh’s “expose.” And you’ll likely resort to the oft repeated defense of his writing: “you’re just asking questions about why they did something, not showing that Hersh is wrong!” But actually I am. People can be illogical, but generally, when we come to politics on the world stage, people follow their best interests and all my questions really ask is why none of their players he invokes, other than the U.S., acted in their best interests.

Finally, here’s the most important detail to consider. Hersh had two explosive reports that gave him his legendary reputation, the story on the My Lai massacre, and the investigation into how prisoners were being abused at Abu Grahib. Much of the rest of his journalistic career, though, was spent trying to find a contrarian narrative that would give him a second My Lai bombshell, and he relied on con men, cranks, and dictators with every incentive to lie to him as his primary sources, either regurgitating conspiracy theories, or inventing a new one on the spot when he felt he needed to up the ante. And that’s the sad truth about him. He started as an investigative journalist looking for the truth, then having gotten a taste of success, became a pundit with his expected narrative. Much like Glenn Beck will see a communist conspiracy in everything and in every current event Alex Jones finds the Illuminati, Hersh will keep telling you that America is a bumbling, barely competent empire with outsize ambitions. The truth is that America does use plenty of military and financial muscle to maintain its global hegemony, but every country plays the same game as well. But that truth is messy, too messy for Hersh. He wants a villain, a very big and easy target for our outrage so he can pull in enough attention to justify his fee…

s.o. operator

When you’re in LA, heading into the Valley, you’d likely be following Ventura Blvd. or the 101 for some time until you find the I405, which passes right next to the Sherman Oaks Galleria. There, if at that intersection you were to turn and head south on Sepulveda, just one block down, you’d see the front door to the recording studio of Coast To Coast AM Radio, the beacon of paranoia and conspiracy theories that keep Alex Jones flush with cash, and help listeners indulge in their fantasies of fighting the New World Order or imagining the wicked sex lives of those working to advance it in great detail. Currently, the biggest thing now emanating from it is one of the most boneheaded conspiracy theories to see the light of day: Jade Helm. If you were to listen to the conspiracy’s proponents, the puppet masters secretly pulling the world’s strings are staging an exercise on imposing martial law on the United States. After announcing this exercise for public awareness and releasing maps of where the exercises will be held instead of, you know, going out there and just imposing said martial order, or even practicing in complete secrecy.

Remember the mission to kill Osama bin Laden and how no one knew it will happen until there was an announcement in the news that the mission was carried out? Even the soldiers whose days were spent practicing for it had to guess who they were going after until the last minute. If you believe the “deathers” that there was either no such as bin Laden or that he was just a CIA operative, even then the announcement seemed like it came out of nowhere. This is why huge, sensitive military operations are classified. You need an element of surprise. Why is the military broadcasting its takeover of the Southwest when it could just do it within a few days? It has just about all the assets it needs already in place. Likewise, martial law is really only necessary in a situation when you fear massive anti-government unrest, which unlike hyperventilating partisan blowhards and Chicken Littles of AM radio will tell you, isn’t exactly brewing in the U.S. So what would be the point of forcibly pacifying an already peaceful, friendly population?

But despite the complete lack of sense, logic, and reason behind the Jade Helm theory, there’s been an effort by a few token contrarians to somehow justify a kernel of legitimacy to a concern of a government takeover of a population that’s actively participating in said government with no sensible reason not borrowed from conspiracy klaxons. Instead of approaching this conspiracy for what it is, these writers are trying to weave in the specter of police militarization, which while an important and perfectly legitimate concern in its own right is totally inapplicable here. I’m not sure if they’re doing it for the hits, so the right keywords will show up during a search on Google News according to their editors, or because they’re just looking for a transition to their new best read topic, but we end up with with the following exonerations of pathological paranoia

We live at a time when the Pentagon distributes surplus military equipment to small-town police forces; when cops present themselves to the public as soldiers fighting a war; when officials respond to unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore with curfews and … illiberal, heavy-handed tactics. It’s not crazy to complain about militarization. The conspiratorial version of the complaint literalizes it: A genuine shift in how people are policed becomes a plot to impose martial rule.

Notice how the complaints are about the militarization of police and the deafness of judges and courts to local abuses. But the military is not the police. It doesn’t kill people during traffic stops, it doesn’t patrol the streets, it doesn’t handle riots, and its job is to deter and kill the enemies of the country it serves. We can argue how much of Jade Helm should be classified or the level of detail SOCOM should provide about how it spends its cash and trains its operators, but the fact of the matter is that special forces do our most classified and sensitive missions, so if there are any places in the military budget that are opaque by necessity, it has a good case for being one such spot. Talking about what it does too much can give enemy groups insights into tactics and weapons, meaning already difficult operations will become even harder to pull off. No, we don’t have to trust the government about everything it says, but we should at least think through what we distrust most and pick reasonable objections to reasonable issues, not just scream that the sky is falling when Alex Jones and his ilk need a boost in viewership and cash flow.

coffee owl

Mornings are awful. Always have been, always will be, rousing you out of bed, interrupting your sleep in unhealthy ways, rushing you to work at ungodly hours during which you must navigate e-mails and other minutia while your mind shakes itself awake to do real tasks. Unless, you do what most people around you do and reach for the nearest legal stimulant to brush off all those early morning cobwebs. I’m talking about coffee, one of the most frequently consumed drugs in the world, bringing in over $30 billion in revenues from the 2.25 billion cups of coffee drank by people around the world each day, and supporting a network employing over 25 million. And as with every drug, there’s a natural dependency. Forgoing it means anxiety, shakes, cold sweats, headaches, irritability, fatigue, and a general foggy haze in which you struggle to operate. It’s a much less intense version of pretty much any other kind of “dope sick” addicts get when they’re unable to secure their fix. Yet, it’s sold openly, to anyone and everyone, at a profit.

What does that have to do with mornings though? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. Think for just a moment why you have to go to work so early, especially when you’re not in the logistics, travel, or maintenance business where one could make the case for early mornings or working through the night. Why do you have to be in the office by 8 am or 9 am along with everyone? If you need your coffee fix to no longer feel like a zombie, that’s why. Mornings were invented for one, simple reason. To get you addicted to coffee. Industry shills known as “morning people,” a code obviously denoting the fiction of someone actually enjoying being forcibly woken up at the separation of the gluteal muscles of dawn, have convinced much of the developed world to set work schedules in a way that will maximize their boss’ ability to get you hooked on coffee, then encourage you to be stuck in a never-ending cycle of sleep deprivation to keep you coming for another fix, day in, day out, even when you can sleep in and don’t have to work.

And Big Coffee and its members like Starbucks, Petes, and Coffee Bean, are not the only ones making a profit off your addiction. They’ve allied themselves with Big Ag’s breakfast industry to sell you cereals, granola bars, yogurt, and other “breakfast food” as it’s denoted. Of course it’s not all there is to it. You see, many fast food chains and coffee stores sell breakfast foods that are highly caloric, containing significant amounts of saturated fat and sugar, which coupled with the sedentary lifestyle enforced by many workplaces often leads to weight gain, and that weight gain interferes with sleeping patterns that make people less tired. Basically, we’re looking at an elaborate, vicious cycle of addiction for corporate profit. We need to wake up to the injustice of mornings and petition Big Coffee to stop pushing companies to open early, as well as removing the addictive chemical caffeine from the vast majority of their offerings still containing it in doses as high as 436 grams. I will be putting together an official letter writing campaign and a petition calling for the end of our forced caffeine addiction on Change.org in the next few days.

Likewise, yours truly isn’t sitting back and just counting on these corrupt corporate behemoths, many with the same market caps and annual profits as Monsanto to roll over, and is in the final stages of a partnership with several vendors to offer a new, natural energy drink alternative for those who must start their day early. If we can’t hit Big Coffee in the media, we need to hit it in the only place it really cares about: the wallet. You wouldn’t be just buying an energy drink that helps you stay alert and awake, you’d be giving these corporate drug pushers the finger to say loudly and proudly that you don’t need their damn coffee and “breakfast food,” you can see all their tricks from a mile away, and you’re smarter than to just let them ensnare you. Even better, should you have any of those “reward cards” that encourage you to be a good little addict and come back for a discount on your next fix, why not make a video of you cutting such a card, or creatively destroying it in some pother way, upload it, then link to it in your entry in the petition when it will be up and running? I’m ready to take on mornings. Who’s with me?

ufo vector

Different people who want Hillary Clinton to win the presidency in 2016 want her to win for many different reasons. Some believe that a female president is long overdue. Others, believe that of all the presidential contenders, she is the most electable. Yet others dislike her greatly, but with some complicated political calculus arrived at the conclusion that her ability to nominate four of the future Supreme Court justices makes her the only choice that won’t plunge the country into despotic arch-conservatism. But others still couldn’t care less about any of that because such, can we say, earthly, concerns are trivial to them. You see, to them, the most important part of a potential second Clinton administration is that they’ll finally get access to all the top secret files detailing our ongoing contact with alien civilizations. You know, after the last great reveal of our apparent alien alliances failed to materialize in 2012 as predicted, I started losing hope that an alien that’s been taken to our leaders will address the world, but hot damn! Another chance!

As said many times before and will say again, there’s absolutely nothing in the laws of biology that prevents an alien species on another planet from becoming intelligent, building spacecraft when their civilization is advanced enough, and exploring the cosmos, eventually making it to a little blue planet around an otherwise unremarkable yellow sun in the galactic suburbs. In fact, if we run the numbers, it’s almost a certainty. But the odds of this happening with a species close enough to detect us over the last century or so are astronomical. Think of meeting aliens a little like winning the lottery. Someone is going to hit that jackpot, but the chances of it being you just as you really need the money are basically nonexistent. Still, our dedicated ufologists are totally and irreversibly convinced that aliens are among us, whether we’re secretly waging war with an extraterrestrial army on the dark side of the moon, exploring their artifacts on and around Mars, meeting in secret with their representatives, or some combination of the above, and nothing will possibly change their minds, nor will any disclosure be adequate enough.

Again, the government could tell the ufologists everything it knows and even admit to every top secret drone and stealth aircraft test it may have chosen to cover up as a UFO, which would be fascinating for aviation buffs and historians. But that’s not the narrative that ufologists on whose behalf organizations like the Paradigm Research Group advocates, want to hear. Nothing short of the plot of Stargate SG-1 or Doctor Who turning out to be a documentary will do. For them, speculative astrobiology has reinforced a faith instead of acting as a fact check and they’re just hoping for a confirmation that an alien empire doing business with humans in every government report with enough reactions, like Evangelical Christians patiently await The Rapture and take every war or earthquake as a sign of the impending end of time. Although I would argue that the former is much more plausible than the latter in the grand scheme of things, either is so unlikely that it’s probably a bad idea to base our lives on either belief. If you really want to find alien life and get full disclosure about alien contact, I’d point you to SETI rather than any politician…

barefoot

Conspiracy theories about mind control are nothing new. In fact, I’ve lost count how many books from Jim Marrs and David Icke purport some sort of mind control beam, or wave, or program by the nefarious Illuminati altering our consciousness so we become mere puppets to the will of an evil intelligence. And considering how many of them are out there, they’re getting harder to sell, even to an audience primed to hear more stories about sinister mind control experiments which sound pulled right form the pages of the Illuminatus! Trilogy, so if you’re a conspiracy theorist with a book to sell, you have to spice it up somehow, and sex slavery seems to be emerging as the new trend in getting people’s attention. A good example is a new book from the Conspiracy Journal which builds itself on the story of Cathy O’Brien, a woman who claimed that she was a victim of the CIA’s more sinister MKULTRA subproject codenamed Monarch in a Satanic Panic era potboiler called Trance Formation of America. Yes dear readers, sex can sell anything…

Now, where do we begin? When you open an online version of O’Brien’s book, you’ll be quickly hammered by countless attempts to prove that a) mind control exists, b) no one talks about it to hide how effective it is from you, thus engaging in a form of mind control, and c) because there are reams of paperwork showing that the CIA experimented with mind control, it means we have to believe O’Brien and her stories of CIA sex slaves created for the pleasure of malevolent big wigs whose cooperation America wanted to secure during the Cold War. Oy. Here’s the problem in this line of reasoning. The kernel of truth here is that the CIA did attempt to experiment with all sorts of mind control ideas to teach its spies, but just about all of them were spectacular failures so one of the big reasons why so many were kept hush hush is because they flatly didn’t work and the agency didn’t want anyone to know how badly they were struggling with anything other than drugging a person and very unevenly interrogating him or her in an intoxicated state.

But instead of showing how mind control can work, O’Brien simply claims that absence of a well understood or recognized form of mind control means that it must exist, then goes on to equate tightly controlled state propaganda with mind control. That doesn’t really work. Mind control has the connotation that there’s a device, or a chemical cocktail that will make you do the bidding of whoever has it. Propaganda is basically brainwashing through tight control of information. That’s not the same thing, and it relies on a totalitarian regime that could control everything its citizens see and hear, a regime like North Korea. And even there the total control breaks down when an errant signal gets picked up on the radio or an outlawed internet connection is established that lets the regime’s prisoner-citizens see into the outside world. Having lived in a real authoritarian state, I can tell you that America today is far too permissive to exercise that kind of “mind control by disinformation,” unless you can prove that the entire Western world is being brainwashed, a claim that requires a very significant burden of proof and for some political miracles to occur.

And this is where the mind controlled CIA/Illuminati/Builderberg sex slaves come in. They are the reward for those rich, famous, and powerful enough to advance the New World Order’s agenda, though one wonders since when the rich and powerful, for whom money is no object, became so easily bribed with sex. They can easily charm/buy their way into women’s panties as shown by countless scandals of exactly that happening. Even more bizarre to me is that stories of female sexual slaves are plentiful while virtually nothing exists on male sex slaves. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Surely a global network of thousands of power players must feature straight women with an appetite for lithe young men, or homosexual fatcats. So why do we hear nothing at all about them? Of course there’s more. O’Brien’s vivid recollections of abuse at the hands of all sorts of foreign diplomats, power brokers, and Satanic cultists — oh we’ll be back to that, don’t you worry for a second that we won’t — came to her through hypnosis, like the memories of alien abductees though a process we’ve seen before, a process which has no scientific basis.

So in the end, what we have is a mix of Satanic Panic ritual sexual abuse, misuse of hypnosis on highly suggestible subjects, and conspiracy theories borrowing from the Taxil Hoax. And that’s a perfect mix in the 1990s, when the tabloids are on fire with the idea of Satanic subliminal music, and wild claims of countless children being tortured and future Miss Teen Americas raped in the catacombs of cultists acting on behalf of the Devil, and greedy con men are writing confessions of their supposed guilt in the nasty undertaking. Isn’t it odd that O’Brien’s tale fits just oh so very perfectly with the predominant money making conspiracy literature of the time, literature quickly shown to be either untrustworthy or outright made up and sold as real accounts? And shouldn’t we wonder why perfectly these calibrated salacious rumors and supposed real tales of power, sex, magic, and aliens should be trusted when they’re repackaged to sell to us a second time, a few decades after they were last popular? Human trafficking like the type shown in Taken is bad enough without money-making boogeymen like the Repotoids, CIA, and the Illuminati. Maybe we should keep them out of a very real and very dire problem? Just a thought…

noodly_horror_600

While there have been numerous studies on the psychology of conspiracy theorists, people to whom everything is a conspiracy by the powers that be to push a secret agenda, and who keep countering criticisms of their theories by invoking negative evidence and malfeasance at higher and higher levels, most of them focused on how they shape their worldview and why. Few cover the apparent obsessive nature of the true believers of a conspiracy theory who go so far in the name of "finding the truth" that they lose all perspective of what they’re doing and why they get static from those they try to interrogate. For example, the Sandy Hook Truthers, who insist that the school shooting in New England is some sort of secret government plot, are demanding the death certificates of the murdered children and hysterically hyperventilated when the coroner’s office contemplated telling them to go away and wasting their time with their "theories."

Basically, the theorists’ argument goes like this. They didn’t see any photos of the dead kids or their bodies in body bags, therefore it’s probable that their parents were really actors and there were no kids actually shot that day. If they were, why are there no pictures and videos of their little corpses? Let’s see, how about because while our news media has very little shame, they’re still cognizant that it’s in such revoltingly poor taste to bombard us with pictures of dead children covered in blood and bullet wounds that there would be riots outside their offices? And why is a coroner thinking twice about giving them death certificates? Because he knows that they’ll only be twisted to serve the conspiracy theorists’ agenda. Somebody on Prison Planet, or InfoWars, or ATS, will announce that his girlfriend’s best friend’s boyfriend-in-law twice removed just got his fifth degree black belt in death certificate forensics and totally knows they’re fake. How? It’s what always happens with every document meant to answer conspiracy theorists.

Even if someone were to go as inhumanly far as exhuming the victims’ bodies and doing a full, public DNA analysis broadcast live on the web to confirm that the victims are who we were told they are, some fanatic obsessed with this theories will find a way to claim that the tests were just theater by the Reptoids from Tau Ceti or whatnot. Again, this is what conspiracy theorists do. All evidence that runs counter to their beliefs must be rationalized to still fit into them, made out as some sort of disinformation operation by evil forces, or dismissed as a fraud. You can tell that it will happen with their pseudo-religious approach to their theories: a messianic proclamation of a discovered truth no one wants them to know, with anecdotes, factoids, rumors, and third-hand, if not fourth-hand accounts, presented to the critics to be disproved and held up as dogma that all true believers must follow lest they be labeled a CIA/NSA/Illuminati mole in their midst…

frosted illuminati

All the conspiracy theories around Agenda 21 are just gifts that just never stop giving. If you’ve been reading Weird Things for a while, you know about its roots as a supposed manifesto of an evil, socialist one world government trying to take over the world through environmentalism, and the subsequent paranoia about every single urban planning idea that features words like green and sustainability, with far right conspiracy theorists going out of their way to look for a threat in anything they could possibly tie to Agenda 21 and indulge in their fantasies of martyrdom in the Environmentalist Socialist Illuminati ruled society. The latest freakout mentioning the fluffy nice-to-maybe-think-about list of talking points from 1992 to be sang to the tinfoil choir? The U.N. will destroy your suburbs and make you move into a densely packed city to free up green space. If this sounds like a really far-fetched flight of the rabidly paranoid imagination that came from the rants on Glenn Beck’s version of Coast to Coast Radio, you’re right. It’s exactly what it is.

Here’s what the brouhaha is all about. Today’s urban planners are looking at how to help cities grow efficiently and they hate the suburbs, therefore, they’re suggesting less sprawl, more and better planned modular architecture, and fewer individual family homes as the best way forward for the future. And they have their reasons. Suburbs mean more roads, less farms, more waste, pollution, underutilized infrastructure and all that sprawl only makes the city bigger and frees a lot of parking space. We can certainly point to lower crime and good schools, but these are not functions of suburbs being suburbs. These are functions of taxes from high earners and smart voters who insist that their municipal governments put their hard-earned money to good use or cut the tax rate. When city planners look at cities, they’re not seeing how one’s desire for a plot of land with a single house on it really moves the overall community forward and the decline and fall of many exurbs across the nation shows that they’re not inevitable.

However, the catch is that despite not liking suburbs, city planners have no right to tell you how and where to live so if you find a plot of residential land, you can buy it and build anything you’d like on it. The city may not be happy with everything you might build, but unless you’re doing all sorts of illegal, police complaint generating things, there’s not all that much it can do even if it so badly wants to. Likewise, the U.N. has zero jurisdiction there because if every proposal it posted on the web was somehow binding or enforceable, Russia and the United States would be forced to mine asteroids and the Moon and share everything they find according to a U.N. schedule of who gets what resources around the world (see: The Moon Treaty) but because there’s nothing that can be done to enforce these ideas, following them is strictly optional. So the suburbs won’t go anywhere as long as there are people who’d like to live in them or see few options for raising their families in a more urban setting. They may shrink, but they’re unlikely to vanish, and even then it would be a case of lower demand rather than some sort of edict from above.

Just think about this, what elected government would want to tell people as fiercely individual as Americans where they could live and how? It would be a disaster and more than likely be thrown out as unconstitutional in some way, shape, or form. But then again, very few urban planners will be so radical as to level the suburbs and stick everyone in high rises. Give them a taller, slightly denser populated version of the suburbs with multi-level condominium blocks, parks, and more mixed use areas, and they’ll be happy. And again, as noted above, they have their reasons not to like sprawling McMansions as far as the eye can see, and those reasons do make sense if we consider entire cities rather than only what John Q. Public wants. Just because a document from over two decades ago says that it may be nice for cities to be more eco-friendly and sustainable in the long run, doesn’t mean that urban planners in America turned into mindless zombies from a magical power exuded by the vague bullet points and decided to demolish the nuclear family’s one plot, white picket fence home on the whim of their New World Order masters.

smiley death grafitti

It started almost immediately after Sandy Hook. The reliably shrill alt med ignoramus who hasn’t read about a conspiracy theory he didn’t immediately love, Mike Adams, penned a fiery screed accusing psychoactive drugs of creating mass murderers and using a seemingly long list of very grizzly events to support his point. Since he’s Alex Jones’ best buddy and fills in on the Coast to Coast radio show, the meme has spread like wildfire among conspiracy theorists, and even the pundits of World Net Daily — known as World Nut Daily for some very good reasons — are now spouting the dogma of antidepressants turning people into a homicidal frenzy, all so Big Pharma can profit from untested drugs while the government covers up the dark truth. Although that last part there could’ve been from the Sandy Hook Truther conspiracy. It’s kind of hard to keep all of the overlapping conspiracies straight sometimes, though it’s usually a safe bet that there’s some mention of the government covering up something for someone nefarious so the bigwigs of the New World Order can keep their sex slaves and appease their alien overlords.

Here’s the immediate problem with the psychoactive drug-induced mass murders theory. It fails the statistical significance test. Tens of millions of people have taken what’s known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, to treat mild to severe depression, and social disorders like anxiety and OCD. Virtually all the brand names given by Adams and his friends and fans are from the same family of SSRIs, and we can safely ask why just a few dozen examples of violent crime out of a population of tens of millions of patients mean that SSRIs turn people into crazed gunmen. After all, if your study population is, say, 20 million and your sample time period goes back decades, having some mass murderers, serial killers, and short tempered violent criminals is pretty much statistically inevitable. Plus, what about the other tens of millions of patients who didn’t commit any crimes? How can you argue for a causative effect between SSRIs and murder when the murderers are so few and far between as to be a tiny blip on the radar? And that’s not to mention that SSRIs don’t have any known side effects that increase one’s aggression.

In fact, patients on SSRIs with the most extreme side effects and conditions are likely to commit suicide, not homicide. A quick reading of the list presented by Adams and company mentions a number of suicides quite prominently, as well as changing the definition of mass murder to "any violent crime in which more then one person died," further weakening their own case. Yes, a lot of gunmen commit suicide after their massacres, true. But the problem is that it’s very difficult to make any definitive causative link between SSRIs and suicide. Considering that patients with an extreme case of depression may commit suicide in spite of the drug rather than because of it, as well as the fact that for patients with a history of abuse and trauma SSRIs might not really do all that much more than a placebo, the connection is very murky. While we can say that gunmen in the headlines today were taking SSRIs and other similar medications, we can make a stronger case that the medications failed to do their job than Adams can that their medication pushed all, or nearly all of them, them towards violence, because the former explanation better fits with the fact that tens of millions of SSRI-using patients aren’t violent, and the relevant scientific work.

So let’s review. Mass murdering gunmen on psychoactive drugs are few and far between even when the criteria for mass murder are loosened to include any crime in which two or more have been killed. The link between SSRIs and violence has been studied and shown not to exist. And while patients on SSRIs with a severe diagnosis are more likely to commit suicide, we could very easily make a sound case that suicides are the result of the medication failing to do its job, not driving someone to a suicidal state, much less to killing themselves after leaving a trail of victims in his wake. But none of this bothers the conspiracy theorists. To them, everything has to be a secret plot by those behind the scenes because this the only way they can imagine the world. If they allowed for random chaos to interfere or simplt incompetence to bring down economies and lose wars, why, the world would be an unpredictable place they couldn’t pretend to navigate like sages in the know observing a chess match. They would have to be ordinary shmoes just trying to make sense of events that all too often simply don’t make sense in the big picture…

illuminati agent

When not crying and shilling for gold coins as some sort of super-currency which will be the only thing between certain death and survival in an economic collapse, Glenn Beck decided to write a book forecasting our dark future under the U.N.-led New World Order. Ok, not so much write a book as buy the rights to put his name on a conspiracy potboiler in which humanity has been all but decimated to protect the environment. People are imprisoned in featureless dwellings, kids are taken away form them in birth, they’re fed the equivalent of food pellets, and basically live a life that’s better described as an existence. It’s like peering into the brain of the black helicopter crowd, digging up every single nightmare they’ve ever had and making a crude Jackson Pollock painting out of them. Despite being treated as fiction, it’s very clearly supposed to be a warning about the impact of Agenda 21 when it’s implemented and used to rule the world.

Yes, here we go again with the hysterical fear of a toothless U.N. policy paper which, as noted a few times already, is just a list of suggestions that actually promotes free market capitalism and poses the issue of sustainability as an economic concern for healthy international trade. Yes, it calls for better human rights enforcement, women’s rights, and other liberal development ideas, but it’s mechanism for making sure its guidelines are implemented is to ask really nicely if some of the world’s nations would be so kind to try to implement them. This is why the Agenda 21 and black helicopter cloud insist on looking for moles in the government to stealthily force the U.S. to comply with the document. There’s no way that the U.N. can force anyone to follow it, no taxes it could levy, no military it could deploy, and no amount of money it can use as a bribe. But to find someone willing to take Agenda 21 as the blueprint for global governance is difficult at best.

If there are no consequences for not following along, you have to construct elaborate theories and layer upon layer upon layer of paranoia and backwards leaps of logic to create a cabal of sinister New World Order servants who want to destroy their nations from inside out and do the sorts of things that appear nowhere in the document that’s supposed to be their manifesto. But at the end of the day all they have is a long list of fears and allegations that have no basis in the real world and are backed up with out of context quotes, outright lies, and the ramblings of very popular talk show hosts who see a New World Order plot in everything from the mildew in their showers to a blizzard in January. Their fans, terrified of governments and chained by their own constantly fed and reinforced fears, have locked themselves in echo chambers in which they’re planning for life after the U.N.-led apocalypse, reciting the same mantras until you can hear the hoarseness in their voice through their comments on news sites.

Calls for urban planners to consider their cities’ environmental footprints as they design cities of the future — something already done by those asking for parks, playgrounds, and lakes that will welcome manageable wildlife — are taken as an Illuminati mandate for genocide and seizures of any private property that doesn’t fall within a secret spec sheet. Statements about the need for governments to root our corruption that hobbles economic development and hurts billions, very much the sort of stuff that most people often agree with as a good idea, become warnings to the world’s governments to follow the U.N.’s script or be dismantled by their secret agents. Really, when you take such a bristling attitude to toothless, vague, well-meaning suggestions and insist on twisting them into explicit threats by malevolent forces, you’re just looking for reasons to fear someone or to get angry, much like your counterparts on the far left. All so Glenn Beck can sell you some gold and Alex Jones can sell you another book or “survival kit…”

occult glyphs

After looking at some of the recent posts around here, I’m thinking that I need to get back to this blog’s roots. Less modern day tech, more AI, aliens, and outlandish conspiracy theory reviews. And lucky for me, Wired has feature story about a manuscript created by the Occulists, a rather obscure spin-off of the Freemasons in Germany sometime in the late 1700s, and this story is a perfect starting point to talk about secret societies in general. You see, the reason why the past is littered with secret societies of one sort or another is thanks to the prying eye of churches and monarchs who liked to keep very strict control over the populace to ensure their power. Want to experiment with obscure religious ideas? Burn heretic! Want to discuss a different from of ruling over a population? Off with your head traitor! Back in those days there was a very real and very powerful ruling class which was also very paranoid, and because it made the law, it could do the sort of things that even the most politically connected plutocrats today can’t even imagine. And so, to keep their traditions alive but also secret, the Occulists wrote a book we had to decrypt with a powerful computer and experimental purpose-built linguistic software.

Today’s secret societies supposedly in charge of the world’s most powerful governments could make your life very uncomfortable. Examples given by conspiracy theories include tracking your every transaction, spying on your social media use, blacklisting you from certain jobs, detaining you at customs, threatening you with legal actions, smearing you in the press, and maybe even making your murder look like an accident as a warning to your friends. Unpleasant, true, but you probably noticed the absence of things such as making your death a public spectacle, torture that would leave you disfigured for the rest of your life, being burnt alive, beheading with a rusty axe that might not do the job with just one whack, or if you’re really lucky or happen to be a very famous aristocrat, exile. That’s the fate awaiting those who were discovered to be members of secret societies because any group outside of the mainstream was immediately assumed to be evil and a threat to the powers in charge. The Occulists were no different since they seemed to have been associated with Freemasonry, carrying a lot of baggage with their history.

While calling yourself a Freemason in public now summons conspiracy theorists to speculate if you have a role in creating the latest new banking crisis or war for your personal gain or at the order of your masters, when the Occulists gathered to perform their versions of Masonic rituals, you would’ve been deemed a Satan worshipping sodomite on a mission to undermine the power and sacred authority of the church and the king or queen. In reality, you would’ve met to indulge in banned plays, reading literature deemed unfit for the general populace, and talk about new, potentially blasphemous ideas in relative privacy and comfort, just letting your mind roam. If you were in the Hellfire Club, you may enjoy some casual sex on the side and call it a good night of fun and entertainment. If you were in the OTO, you would’ve performed rituals that you felt could connect you to the mysteries of the past. There would be nothing all that sinister about what you did, but the Alex Jones’ of the day would be calling for your head in much the same way they do now on the web, radio, and their occasional stints on TV shows.

It’s little wonder that well-connected, wealthy, and powerful people want to join exclusive groups like the Builderbergs or have prominent roles in Masonic lodges. They want to be able to share opinions without public scruitiny, talk about things they wouldn’t ordinarily discuss, and find out who they should really meet if they want to advance their careers or projects. At a certain point, people who have high level positions, are surrounded by aides and assistants, and bombarded with pleas for their time, advice, and help, need an easy way to figure out who’s really important, to put it bluntly. Joining exclusive clubs or going to exclusive parties gives them an easy way to boost their profiles or see who’s on the up and up. Secretive organizations like Skull and Bones and the aforementioned Bilderberg Group seem to be all about networking and getting to know ambitious and promising people on a first name basis. They’re basically the hushed versions of the country club. It’s not exactly the sanctuary for rebellious freethinkers to indulge in experiment after experiment and find like-minded friends it used to be in the 1700s, but it still carries similar overtones and provides an escape from the spotlight for those who feel they need it.

Of course for those more paranoid than most of us, if something takes place in secret, it must be evil or at least nefarious, otherwise it would be made public. People like Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, and Jim Marrs make a living hypocritically arguing that if all the societies they suspect of running the world behind closed doors have nothing to hide, they should be holding all their meetings in public while lamenting intrusive government surveillance as an invasion of their right to privacy, forgetting how quickly and easily the media savages people for simply speaking their minds on a regular basis even if they’re just discussing a hypothetical situation. I’ve lost track of how many times something I wrote sarcastically or just explored in a post was assumed to be my opinion on the matter, or how many times something I said was taken out of context and twisted into things I never said or implied. But I’m just a blogger and a techie. The stakes for me to bluntly speak my mind aren’t all that high. For the head of a major bank or a powerful politician, they’re huge; one of their gaffes or snarky comments can quickly become international news.

And so it seems that secret societies are a necessary construct to let us speak our minds and vet our ideas in the company of those also not too shy to share their experience. In the words of Oscar Wilde, if we give a man a mask, he’ll tell us the truth. These secret and occult groups are masks for men and women to tell what they think is the truth to each other. Although when such groups become too exclusive and too cut off, there’s always the danger of creating something a lot more sinister than a forum to throw out and discuss ideas: an echo chamber where not truth but groupthink shapes the members’ thoughts and actions. Conspiracy theories shouldn’t worry that secret societies gather to talk about taking over the world, they should be worried that they start publishing tome after tome, arguing about their way of thought being the only acceptable or reasonable way to consider world events, lobbying politicians with ideas that obviously received little to no intellectual challenge. But the level of debate is up to each secret society to enforce and which this may be a bizarre proposition, we should accept the secret societies as a release valve for their members and innocent of instituting a New World Order until proven otherwise…