Chemtrails redux: the attack of the tin-foil hat brigade


Normal clouds mis-identified by wingnutsMy earlier post on the nonsensical chemtrail conspiracy has generated quite a lot of activity recently (more than 1,000 views in a few days – thanks!). So much so that I decided to look online again to see why – had this silliness abated? Were people waking up and laughing at their former craziness? Or was it spreading more among the hard-of-thinking and the anti-science crowd?

Sadly, it seems the latter is the case. And after a bit of research, I became deeply distressed that it seems to be spreading rapidly.

Or maybe the overall number of gullibles is simply growing larger. They band together into cult-like groups that reject outsiders; refuse to allow debate or questions; that turn inwardly and reinforce their own beliefs among one another. Dissonance reduction in numbers.

I found a Facebook group page with more than 11,000 chemtrail-believing members (that’s scary enough right there). Imagine 11,000 people dedicated to this silliest and most risible of all the recent conspiracy theories. But they’re hardly alone.

The conspiracy works like this: every world government, every airline, air force, every pilot, every airline and air force ground and cabin crew, millions of government employees worldwide, engineering firms, chemical manufacturers, scientists, NGOs, meteorologists, NASA, reptilians, and the darkly secretive (and entirely imaginary) “New World Order,” the Illuminati (or the Zionists, Bill Gates or President Obama, since they are implicated – not a little racism runs through these posts) have conspired and are conspiring to secretly spray toxins (or drugs or biochemicals or alien lifeforms) into the atmosphere from stratospheric heights in order to pacify/poison/control (your choice, it seems) the population and/or the weather/crops.

But no matter how you laugh at the gullibility of these folks, no matter how their photographs and wild imagining are easily debunked by science, meteorology, rational thought and common sense, they seem to persist. And grow. (I blame TV, but that’s a digression.)*

More normal sky and cloudsThe conspiracists’ approach to science, natural phenomena, logic and fact is stunningly medieval. Of course, back in the Medieval days the motivating agents were demons, ghosts, imps, sprites and other invisible figments of their imagination. Today, it’s no less superstitious; just the imagined instigators have been given a modern facelift: big government, big pharma and secret societies. They’re still the scary things that go bump in the night, though.

Superstition is still superstition even when wrapped up in technology. The Skeptics’ Dictionary describes superstition as:

…a false belief based on ignorance (e.g., if we don’t beat the drums during an eclipse, the evil demon won’t return the sun to the sky), fear of the unknown (e.g., if we don’t chop up this chicken in just the right way and burn it according to tradition while uttering just the right incantations then the rain won’t come and our crops won’t grow and we’ll starve), trust in magic (e.g., if I put spit or dirt on my beautiful child who has been praised, the effects of the evil eye will be averted), trust in chance (if I open this book randomly and let my finger fall to any word that word will guide my future actions), or some other false conception of causation (e.g.,  homeopathy, therapeutic touch, vitalism, creationism, or that I’ll have good luck if I carry a rabbit’s foot or bad luck if a black cat crosses my path).

The conspiracist view of  government and politics goes beyond superstition, beyond the bizarre and into the pathological.

Some less-than-civil folks online call the chemtrail believers “chemtards.” Others ascribe malicious intent to them:

The Chemtrail looks like a normal contrail in reality. However, there is a conspiracy on the internet that has been passed on for some time and gaining in strength about the Chemtrail. But the truth is that the chemtrails are a hoax and rumour on the internet by people who are looking to create some kind of chaos or just trying to make an impact on others by giving false importance to the chemtrails.

Certainly some chemtrail promotes have engaged in deliberate hoaxes as this news story tells:

The Penticton RCMP is investigating a fraudulent letter that began circulating in the city on Monday.
According to Sgt. Rick Dellebuur, bogus alert notices regarding hazardous chemtrails were put on vehicles at Shoppers Drug Mart.
The letter has city letterhead, but was not issued by the city.
“There is no environmental department in the city and Penticton did not issue this,” he said.
The letter signed by someone named Susan Smith, environmental department manager, states “we are suspecting that unidentified planes are deliberately spraying chemicals over the city of Penticton.”
It further covers how to identify hazardous chemtrails and who to contact if you see them.
Dellebuur said they are investigating to see who is behind this.
“We are following up on leads,” he said. “It’s just one of those things out there in this day and age.”

I have no doubt some of these promoters are the internet versions of televangelists: they prey on the gullible, the hard-of-thinking, the susceptible and the ill-educated, conning them through sales and marketing, through aggressively encouraged “donations.”

One of the most telling indicators of these conspiracy fantasies is that they seem to be held predominantly by those of the libertarian or uber-right-wing political stripe. Blaming Obama for anything spooky, inexplicable, disagreeable or simply misunderstood seems de rigeur among the conspiracists, even if it’s blatantly stupid or illogical to draw even the vaguest of connections between events and the administration. They finally got down to blaming the government for the weather.

The Facebook chemtrail group page – kind of a digital Jonestown for True Believers – notes right out that you can’t argue with them:

In this group, you will not be irritated by people who claim that geoengineering/chemtrails don’t exist. We know they exist and we ban chemtrail deniers, debunkers, debators, and disinformers…
This group is about geoengineering and chemtrails, which are those white lines in the sky created by jets.
Geoengineering/chemtrails are highly toxic and must be stopped. We’re working together bring an end to this crime against humanity.
We share information and experiences about chemtrails. We are also organizing and mobilizing chemtrail awareness activities to help notify the public about the largest and most deadly crime against humanity in human history.
If you’re exploring the possibility of chemtrails and have legitimate questions, you are more than welcome to join us and let us help you in your research of this critical issue.
We hope you find our group educational and motivating!

Nope, just natural cloud cover...Educational and motivating? Anti-science and stupefying perhaps is a better choice of words.

The group clearly states that anyone with a contrary opinion, who might even question the science, the logic or the sanity of some of these bizarre claims will be banned. So it’s not about discussion or debate, just a place for the True Believer to preach to the choir. Clearly I won’t be allowed to join.

This intro claims that the lines in the sky are created by jets. Fair enough: We’ve known about and seen the condensation from jet engines in the stratosphere for half a century. Water vapour, it’s called. We can see the jets, we can see the vapour.

But then it claims it’s a “highly toxic…crime against humanity.” What claptrap. It’s as valid as claiming leprechauns make rainbows.

The intro points to a site at http://globalskywatch.com/. There you can read this fine bit of disinformation:

“Chemtrails” is the name given to plumes emitted by aircraft in the sky.
“Geoengineering” is the name used to define the intentional process of altering – or “engineering” – the Earth’s atmosphere.
A rapidly-growing number of people and organizations in numerous industrialized countries now believe chemtrails are visible artifacts of current geoengineering programs. In November 2010, the U.N. attempted to regulate them.
Mounting evidence suggests that the millions-of-tons of aluminum and barium particulates purportedly used in geoengineering programs explains the dramatically-increasing aluminum and barium levels in sampled water and soil tests.
Scientists in several countries have linked recent plant and animal die-offs to aluminum and/or barium toxicity drawing even more attention to global geoengineering programs.

Let’s stop here just to discuss some issues of rhetoric and argument – in the classical senses of the words. “Rapidly-growing” is a meaningless phrase without numbers. Going from two to four supporters in a day might be called a rapid growth, if you measure by percentages, but the numbers are small. “rapidly-growing” has the same value in this context as the word “insignificant.”

Visible jet engine exhaust is called a “contrail.” Chemtrail is the alternative name invented by those who are afraid of, or unschooled in the basic physics behind contrails. Scientists and pilots don’t call them “chemtrails.” Wingnuts do.

“Mounting evidence” without a reference to that alleged evidence, where it was published or peer-reviewed, the names of the researchers and their academic background is another meaningless phrase. Allegation, innuendo and accusation are not “evidence.” Especially because it’s followed by the word “suggests” which means there is no proof of anything, merely hypotheses or wishful thinking. But by whom?

“Scientists in several countries”? Which countries? Which scientists (and who are their employers, what are their degrees, published work, and qualifications?) Many people with (and without) university degrees claim to be “scientists” without anything to support that claim (i.e. having worked in an environment dedicated to researching or experimenting in a scientific discipline). The chemtrail groupies also label enthusiastic but untrained supporters as “scientists” if they do anything that masquerades as actual research.

Just clouds...“Recent plant and animal die-offs” is another unsupported claim. It has no more intrinsic merit than my claim an Invisible Pink Unicorn lives in my back yard (it does!). Where, how many, what species, what environmental and climactic conditions, what autopsies were performed, where was the research published, data collected and collated, etc. etc. None given, just a wild allegation.

“Drawing even more attention to…” A common tactic in the disinformation business is to make a claim, spread it around among followers as much as possible, then claim it has “drawn attention.” (We’ve seen that tactic used locally).

Has the traditional media picked up on it? Has it become headline story on CBC? NBC? The Huffington Post? Even the disreputable Fox News? No – except to shrug it off as wildly speculative or simply crazy.

And yet Fox carries so many wacky, paranoid conspiracy theories about Obama you’d think for sure they’d get on board for one more opportunity to discredit him.**

The FB page is replete with photos of normal sky, sometimes with contrails, sometimes just clouds. Yet the posters of these seemingly innocent snapshots see in them malicious conspiracies: mind control, poisoning, weather control. The pictures here on my blog are from that page or the pages of its members.

Here are some of the comments that accompany the photos (this is just cut-and-paste; I don’t make this stuff up… and I didn’t alter the spelling, grammar or language):

Same here in Puerto Rico. We used to have great sunsets now they all look like this picture. Chemtrails invented by the same people that invent medicine. Same results. It takes away the simptoms not the disease.

Ive read and watch all different things on it….some say Niburu, some say prophecy, some say aliens, some say nukes…I don’t freakin know

We are going on day 5 without spraying in NH. I am hoping they are done bothering us for awhile, but I know it iwill start back up soon. Enjoying blue skies and not lookng around mad. This photo is awful and this is so wrong

These are not the contrails you are looking for... move on...I’m in SW Ontario, Canada. Tuesday was clear. Wednesday there was major spraying but it was still sunny. Yesterday it was overcast until about 4:30pm when we got some sun. It was clear last night. Now it’s overcast again. There’s a chance of rain today and tomorrow so of course their spraying needs to coincide with the potential rain, which will probably never come.

We are being poisoned by chemicals in food and water and the air. The storms destroy homes and most people financially. And most have no clue whats happening. Most think the sunsets are pretty when they see a sky full of chemicals. Very sad

the Geo-engineering Scientist’s leading the programs Dr. David Keith and Ken Caldeira claim it is solar radiation management…through stratospheric aerosol geo-engineering in order to cool the Planet to help prevent Global warming….I say horse shit, dumb idea, not worth the risks to the health of humans, animals and plant life. But that is what these psychopath’s are proposing and trying to pass legislature for.

I suppose once you take on the burden of telling others that you believe in geoengineering then you have to stay strong in the face of the disinfo shills and ignoramuses which, I believe, is just too difficult for some people. They don’t want to be known as tinfoil hat, conspiracy theorists. However, since there is so much evidence regarding spraying I no longer believe it’s simply a conspiracy theory. IMO, it’s conspiracy fact.

as most of this “seems” to be happening in the good new usa then why dont some one or a group of you use your legal system and start “sueing the ass off the the punks”???? but being serious why dont you USE your system and your media to bring this into the main stream?? procrationtion?NO!!!! PRO ACTION,YES!!!!!

his has to make your blood boil. It can not be done within the law of any country and can only be carried out by a president that has absolutely lost his mind completely. This is a total travesty of justice and a crime against humanity. Where are the legal experts and why do they remain so silent???

the only way is to stop booking and flying. if the population just stopped for 1 week we would see what the bastards are doing….or just start tagging these planes and put a stop to them… gps has a reason so use it

We need a class action suit against the groups and i think 10 trillion dollars would get their fucking attention, need good lawyers that back us and news source that will report it all. 168 bills in congress they are trying to pass for climate control, they are out of control, the masses are they only way to go, all people on these sites need to be a part of it and from all over the world. Who’s with me on that.

In the last week this has grown explosively NASA,NOAA,OBAMA,NORAD,USGS,FEMA,All you Flockers pay attention.

lord yea.. we get nailed all the time, and ITS THE SAME JETS FOR YEARS NOW…EVERY TIME

believe it is the mission of Geoengineering 2 kill people. . . Multi-millions of da Useless Eaters.

Most important – Chemtrails / MORGELLONS not only artificial fibres – but synthetic lifeforms ( NWO ) – best dokumentation on this subject I have seen: From Chemtrails to Pseudo-Life: The Dark Agenda of Synthetic Biology (FULL LENGTH VIDEO)
As the natural world dies around us, what will take its place? Planetary engineering includes bioremediation measures to bring us genetically engineered trees and crops. And what of humans themselves? How are we being transformed from the inside out?
Presented at Conspiracy Con 2011, this 1 hour power point presentation by Sofia Smallstorm introduces primary and scientific findings hidden in the muffles of mainstream alternative media.

There’s an effect called pareidolia, when people see shapes, faces and images in random things like water stains, pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches and clouds. It’s natural. Humans are built to find patterns in everything. As Bill Woolam writes:

The tendency in humans to believe in meaning, or pattern, in things when in reality there really is none.
It is an irresistible urge in many people and is the reason many people believe in conspiracies when there are none, hidden meaning in people’s comments when there are none, and connectedness in events when in reality there are none. (This is not to suggest that real corruption and sinister activities are not to be found).
It is why people sacrificed their own children on mountains in the hope of appeasing Gods that did not exist. Why they threw people into volcanos and burned “witches”. Why they gave money to religious institutions to pay for the “sins” of dead relatives.
That is why simple superstitious people waged war on their neighbors in the hope that it would please the cloud spirits and make rain for their crops.
That is why they thought floods, fires, storms, meteors or earthquakes were the result of unappeased Gods or ancestor spirits, when in reality none existed. At the time, the people did not understand that such occurrences are just natural phenomenon.
They see a willful conscious reason for something when there really isn’t one.

Simply because you see a big fluffy bunny in the sky doesn’t mean it’s real or that rabbits live in clouds, or the government is seeding the sky with toxic bunnies.

Simply because you see an odd contrail doesn’t mean that it’s not shaped by high-altitude winds and temperatures and conditions you don’t appreciate from the ground. Or that the distance between you and the contrail isn’t changing its appearance.

This delusion goes beyond pareidolia because it’s not merely a pattern they see, but a whole socio-politico-military conspiracy. it’s almost Biblically apocalyptic, an eschatological wackiness.

In response to this madness, at least one other Facebook page has been created to debunk the chemtrail nonsense:  www.facebook.com/PilotsExplainContrailsNotChemtrails. not surprisingly, it has a lot of good information that explains many of the wackier conspiracist notions.

Another good site is Contrail Science. Metabunk.org has some pretty good explanatory material (real science!), too. In fact, you can read a good debunking of a typical conspiracist movie with chemtrail references here on their site. The movie producers’ site is typically hyperbolic in its paranoia; the front page claims:

“The elites are poisoning our food supplies as we speak. Now is the time to get safe, sortable food from MyPatriotSupply.com” – Shepard Ambellas
For hundreds of years an elite group of oligarchs have ruled the land, fueled by a legacy of sex, money, power and greed…. in the last 60 years their power has become more consolidated as they have become more organized. Their own white papers and other documents show the diabolic plans they have in store for the population.

There it is again: the elites. The Illuminati. The New World Order. Zionists. Obama. Masons. Rosicrucians. That amorphous, secretive yet powerful body that controls the world from the shadows.

The website referenced in the first line caters to the equally-wacky survivalist conspiracists. Not that all survivalists are wingnuts (some are simply keen on being prepared for a disaster), but a lot of them are linked to racism, American fascism, Christian fundamentalism (some modern-day apocalyptics) and even terrorism:

The group most responsible for spreading Christian Identity in the 1980’s was the Posse Comitatus, a loosely-knit survivalist movement which grew out of the Christian Identity teachings of Col. William Potter Gale in California. Survivalists believe the collapse of society is imminent, and thus they collect weapons and conduct field exercises in armed self-defense and reconnaissance. Some survivalists store large quantities of grains, dried foods, canned goods, water and vitamins in anticipation of long-projected economic or political collapse and racial rioting. Many have moved to isolated rural areas. Not all survivalists are part of the white supremacist movement, but many are… Many Posse and Identity adherents believe Jews, Blacks, Communists, Homosexuals and race-traitors have seized control of the United States. They refer to Washington, D.C. as the Zionist Occupational Government (ZOG). They read the novel “The Turner Diaries” in which an underground white army leads a revolution against ZOG.

More contrailsAre these people all chemtrail conspiracy people? No, but the ideas feed off one another. It’s easier to believe your government is trying to control or poison you with aerial spraying if you already have a sociopathic fear of that government. For example, homesteadingsurvivalism seems like a back-to-the-land site, until you discover it offers a DVD called “Aerosol Crimes aka Chemtrails.” The site’s description reads:

Over the years aerosol/chemtrail research has provided some leads but even more questions as to who and why the spraying occurs. It is clear jets are deliberately spraying the sky’s and it will not stop until enough people are aware and willing to stand up for the operations exposure and termination… Aircraft are now repeatedly dispersing materials into the upper atmosphere at flight altitude, roughly from 35,000 to 40,000 feet.

The author of this video, Clifford Carnicom, is, according to his own website, a “a self-employed professional computer consultant.” Not a physicist, not a chemist, not a meteorologist and apparently not a jet pilot. He has a BA Surveying and Photogrammetry from California State University, an Associate of Sciences degree and a Forest Engineering vocational degree. “He is also a certified Bookkeeping Specialist.”

Sounds like a smart, accomplished guy, but he has no identified education or experience in any of the fields relevant to atmospheric studies. Yet he has written dozens of articles on the subject, as well as on morgellons; a smorgasbord of technically-dense conspiracies, paranoia, and the usual self-righteous accusations of government and corporate conspiracies. Here are just a  few lines snipped randomly from the papers online:

The highest levels of the United States government have been used to lie to the American public and the world. These lies have culminated in the conduct of a criminal war, and the harm to civilized society from these actions continues to this day.
There are repeated, frequent, and widespread accounts of illness being reported in association with chemtrail spraying activity.
As chemtrail activity continues in Santa Fe, NM, the camera will remain active to further prove and document the crimes which are being committed.
Above the slick frankenfog, the soldiers of the New Roman Legions go back and forth in the sky, sowing salt in the fields of heaven. And then? If we do not cower inside our houses, we enter the great outdoors, and breathe the insult of slow death for inceasingly overworked immune systems.
Have we then, as a nation, irrevocably traded the spirit of freedom for the noxious intoxicating vapors of spurious security?
…there has been a complete failure of the formal medical community, non-profit organizations and government to adequately research and distribute information to the public on the nature of the Morgellons condition.

Small marchThe New World Order is apparently very artistic: it is even painting murals about chemtrails as this site suggests.

In case you missed it, the chemtrailers organized a “global march” against chemtrails in August (FB page here). Based on the photos I’ve seen of the small crowds, more people line up at bus stops for the morning commute than came out to protest at any one location. The fact that anyone came out at all erodes my faith in humanity’s collective intelligence.

And don’t get me started on the “orgonite” crazies and their close links to chemtrail crazies:

the skys are beautiful and clear today after an attempted chemtrail day. I placed 140 tb’s out in the general omaha area and the chemplanes were not sticking, but they were able to build up a canopy from flying back and over over midtown and drawing from council bluffs and offut.
today i took 60 pieces of orgonite, and gifted all the towers i didn’t before. Then i went to council bluffs and offut/bellevue and gifted about 30-40 towers, and some water gifting.
These results turned a chem whiteout in these areas into this bright, deep blue canopy that kept spreading wherever i was gifting.
This could be the catalyst to a mass awakening folks, and it will prevent the objectives of the chemtrail spraying program.
i documented chemtrails on friday in an orgonite forum.

Orgone was a weird notion about orgiastic  sexual energy that could be trapped, dreamed up by uber-nutcase Wilhelm Reich. Look it up.

And why are the “elites” doing this? You can pick the reason from the buffet of conspiracies. At aircrap.org they blame “world domination”:

Our goal is to educate people and collect data about the toxic Chemtrails that are being sprayed on the population of the world.  In addition, we are launching multiple films exposing those who are attempting to carry out their program for World Domination. All of our films are given for free with a donation – which is at your discretion. Remember that a video on the internet can reach a million before a book can be read by one.
War has been declared upon the planet and every living life form on it. The Illuminati elite, who creates our currency (through the privately owned Federal Reserve System) and controls our commerce through the IMF World, not only wants to rule the world, but also want to own it and everyone on it. And that includes you.
This Evilarchy that is waging war against this world have determined that in order to give their elite more room to stretch, then those they considered “useless eaters” are going to have to die. The Death Dumps (Chemtrails) that we are witnessing being dropped upon the population is the method that they are using to carry out mass murder. They are exterminating us like cockroaches.

Shell out your money, folks. Pay to have your wildest fears confirmed. And what proof do you get from your donation? An internet video. Gawds forbid they might send you something you’d have to read. Well, it’s harder to convince people by words alone. If that rambling, paranoid rant doesn’t frighten you off, their collection of images and video, manipulated and Photoshopped, can work wonders in convincing folks. We’re already in thrall to our TV sets.

As another chemtrail believer states:

Ethylene dibromide and the numerous pathogens often found in abundance after massive chemtrail presence over an area have led to considerations that everything from eugenics to wholesale destruction of populations is an aim of the apparent campaign of serial spraying over the country.
Other theories such as weather manipulation and control of global warming have been advanced for the spraying in the skies over the nation. The fact that rainstorms are often claimed to result from chemtrails in the Pacific Northwest can relate to this, but, in that area, many of the instances of severe sickness after chemtrails have also been reported.

Ethylene dibromide, or 1,2-Dibromoethane, is a real substance used in pesticides and fire retardants. It is used to treat logs against beetles and in many dyes, resins, waxes, and gums, and in “anti-knock gasolene mixtures, particularly aviation fuel.” So there are likely many more local sources for the chemical than jets at 30,000 feet. But one particularly paranoid chemtrail believer suggests it’s being used to prevent people from surviving an upcoming government-caused pandemic:

Ethylene Dibromide that falls to earth immediately and blows through your neighborhood, is reducing your ability to fight off the Cytokine Storm, the fast-kill mechanism of the recently recreated 1918 virus.

But don’t dare point out the numerous holes in his logic. Then you’ll be called a “Quisling shill” for the government. Or as the writer says:

..they term themselves “debunkers”, to inculcate the perception that concern over chemtrails is, more than “misguided”, an out-and-out hoax or fraud! Indeed, a number of them have used the term “hoax” in describing the concern over chemtrails – evidently suggesting that those who address the issue are actually pulling a prank on themselves – and even accused some who pursue the issue of doing it purely for personal profit.
As if someone choosing to try to make a profit off a situation suddenly makes that situation not exist.
Many have tried to hawk fake nostrums to eliminate the symptoms of the common cold, but that doesn’t make the common cold nonexistent. Moreover, the “debunkers” regularly tout the software, Flight Explorer, to “identify” aircraft using routes where chemtrails form. Not only do they, apparently, wish to negate the existence of chemtrails by simply calling them contrails, they seem to want to convince the public that they arise from innocuous, harmless aircraft simply because unidentified, unverified information a piece of software displays on a screen says it does.
They try to “counsel” people against using the guidance of their eyes and their common sense in chemtrails; they, instead, apparently, want them to blindly obey “the official story”.

Well, I count myself on the debunker side of this nonsense.

And there’s even wilder, crazier allegations and more madness online than I’ve shown here. Like this:

We are ALL getting infected b/c it is being sprayed on us in “chemtrails”. The silicone nanotechnology is being sprayed on deli meats with viruses. In addition it has been found in a very popular bubble bath. Also, nanotechnology is being found in sodas! We are being subjected to this poison from all forms.. air, water, food and household products.
Who is doing this and why?
Research the “Illuminati” and find out their depopulation agenda to remove 90% of the worlds population.
EVERYONE has been exposed.
Just you and I have the symptoms. And our bodies are doing what they are supposed to be doing by pushing the invader outside of the body.

I know, I know. Some folks have drifted so very far outside the gravity field of reality. Ground control to Major Tom…

A few internet sites track this sort of madness, and several attempt to debunk these conspiracies. But they are vox clamantis in deserto.  I live in hope they multiply as rapidly as the crazies, though.***

Over on idiotwars.com, this chemtrail silliness was debunked back in 2008:

The basic origin of the chemtrails conspiracy theory seems to be nothing more than people looking up in the sky and seeing contrails and speculating insanely with no actual basis in fact. It’s a particularly bewildering theory because we’ve had a factual, scientific and verifiable explanation for contrails for generations. To look beyond that explanation requires the kind of paranoid mindset that looks at commonplace things and manufactures nightmares out of nothing. It’s Agent Mulder announcing “I want to believe” and then finding what he wants to believe in whether it exists or not. The classic self-fulfilling prophecy with nothing real behind it.
The idea that contrails were actually something more nefarious is based on several bits of mistaken evidence. First, that contrails seem to last far longer than anyone would expect and that they are increasing in number. Second, that they sometimes form seemingly complex or regular patterns or display strange colors. Third, that some airplanes have mysterious tanks and apparatus in their wings. Couple these observations with a belief that the government is generally up to no good and you get such popular explanations for ‘chemtrails’ as that they are methods of dispersing chemicals over the entire surface of the country to drug the population for any purpose from mass inoculation to mind control, that they are some sort of weather modification program to either cause or prevent global warming, and that they are some method of communicating with aliens or terraforming the earth to be more compatible with alien lifeforms.

But you can’t preach to True Believers. As Eric Hoffer wrote in his 1951 classic study,

Those who see their lives as spoiled and wasted crave equality and fraternity more than they do freedom. If they clamor for freedom, it is but freedom to establish equality and uniformity. The passion for equality is partly a passion for anonymity: to be one thread of the many which make up a tunic; one thread not distinguishable from the others. No one can then point us out, measure us against others and expose our inferiority.
They who clamor loudest for freedom are often the ones least likely to be happy in a free society. The frustrated, oppressed by their shortcomings, blame their failure on existing restraints. Actually, their innermost desire is for an end to the “free for all.” They want to eliminate free competition and the ruthless testing to which the individual is continually subjected in a free society.

Back to the Facebook group. When they’re not railing on about imaginary chemtrails, the Believers are whinging about some other conspiracy to announce to the world. One woman posted a photograph of a sore on her arm (scratch? insect bite? zit?) and asked,

Been feeling out of sorts for days, fatigued, intense itching, frequent urination and headaches….and these sores, could this be Morgellons?

Morgellons is more properly known as “Delusional parasitosis,” a psychosomatic illness. But they persist in sharing their delusion with others online, creating communities of self-diagnosed wingnuts. As Wikipedia says:

Morgellons patients usually self-diagnose based on information from the Internet and find support and confirmation in on-line communities of people with similar illness beliefs.In 2006, Waddell and Burke reported the influence of the Internet on their self-diagnosed Morgellons patients: “physicians are becoming more and more challenged by the many persons who attempt self-diagnosis on-line. In many cases, these attempts are well-intentioned, yet wrong, and a patient’s belief in some of these oftentimes unscientific sites online may preclude their trust in the evidence-based approaches and treatment recommendations of their physician.”

One poster chimes in with New Age-y advice to “try to stay away from floridated (sic) water and plastic containers that leach toxins…..” Fluoridation being one of those other conspiracies that the tin-foil-hat brigade trots out as proof their government is trying to poison/mind control them. Same with vaccinations: they’re convinced it’s a government-big pharma conspiracy, and they’d rather see children die of measles, chicken pox, polio and whooping cough than vaccinate their kids against these controllable diseases. Wackos prescribing health tips to one another.

Others who claim to suffer from the same psychosomatic illness (which they think is a real illness, of course) advise she use colon cleansing, coconut oil, oreganol (sic) oil, white vinegar, non-GMO foods. Some talk about springtails scuttling under their skin (one woman claims to have pulled out 10 from under her skin). Brrrr… what kind of madness sees insects living in your flesh and makes you dig holes into your body to scrape them out?

Another wingnut nonsense on the page is the invasion/takeover of the USA, of 366,000 UN troops, guided by FEMA.

15,000 Russian troops to be “assisting” cooperatively with DHS/FEMA, within FEMA REGION 3, enforcing “forced Obamacare” house-to-house, allegedly, beginning October 01, 2013.

No really, it’s posted and someone – likely many someones given the madness of Americans (and apparently an increasing number of Canadians)  — is crazy enough to believe it. I couldn’t possibly think of anything this wacky. Chemtrails and armed Russians at your door. Shades of the McCarthy Red Scare!

The whole conspiracy consciousness is summed up in this video:

Okay, it’s not about chemtrails, but it’s just as wacky and pretty much sums up how far from reality many of the tin foil hat brigade has ventured. A rainbow conspiracy?

I find most conspiracy theories mildly entertaining: as intellectual sport, I enjoy deconstructing and debunking them in the same way I like to solve a Sudoku or chess puzzle. I love pulling the weave apart with logic and analysis. But for others, the weave tightens and entraps them, forming a mental straitjacket that prevents them from using their higher facilities of critical thinking. It cuts off the oxygen to their brains.

These conspiracies tie together and mix their DNA. The franken-conspiracy spreads like mental herpes. Once you’re convinced the government is spraying chemicals from airplanes, it’s a short jump to believing springtails are living under your skin. Or that NASA has airbrushed out mile-high towers on Mars. Or that vaccinations cause autism. Or that Russian troops will soon be enforcing Obamacare door to door. Or that reptilian aliens are taking over the government. Or orgonite is real (like kryptonite).

Once you get hooked on one conspiracy theory, there’s no end to them. You’re addicted. You see them everywhere. You connect the dots and come up with some crazy unified theory to makes sense of it all – except that there’s no sense it it, no logic, just a lot of innuendo, misinterpretation, illiteracy, ignorance, fear, supposition, mixed with some hot button words to fake assurance that there’s real science behind the claims. There isn’t.

And your government – any government – doesn’t have the ability, talent, organizational skills or will to act cohesively enough to do anything even vaguely this monumental. Not even the world’s most tight-assed dictatorships have that control.

But you know who has control? The people spinning these theories. The con artists, the hoaxers, the charlatans., the attention seekers. They’re trapping people, sucking them into their anti-intellectual, anti-science, pseudo-science, paranoid world where you exchange your ability to think for blind faith ins some weird and wacky idea that seems to explain  what you don’t understand. It’s standard cult stuff.

Critical thinking. Skepticism. Wariness. Careful weighing of facts. Reading material in books, not just posted online or shown in a fake “reality” TV show. Use the tools you have in your grey matter to avoid being caught. Go to your local bookstore or library to look up facts. Ask a scientist, someone with a degree in the right field. Ask your teachers and professors.

Give your head a shake if you ever even wonder if any of this conspiracy stuff is true. It’s claptrap. Hogwash, codswallop. Bunk. It’s created by people who have become disconnected from reality, but have been empowered by technology to spread their fantasies.

It’s as real as Santa Claus and Mister Ed the Talking Horse. It’s as real as pixies, imps, leprechauns and psychics.

Help stop the dumbing-down by refusing to buy into any conspiracy theory, not just these silly and illogical ones.
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* Most of the chemtrail believers don’t generally appear to be angry, bitter, lonely, often unemployed middle-aged men with political axes to grind and personal agendas to push, as some conspiracies seem to attract. Many seem to be sincere, albeit misguided and seriously potty. But every conspiracy theory draws its own demographic, I suppose. The “Paul is Dead” conspiracy didn’t seem to engage many non-Beatles fans older than 25, as I recall.

** The credibility of Fox News is less than that of Jersey Shores as a reliable, objective news source, but it seems even they have limits to which they will not stoop. Yet. Their madness, too, seems to be growing.

*** Some of these wingnuts disguise their conspiracy theories under page names that appear to be related to research, surveillance, science or analysis but are just portals to their delusions. The so-called “Conspiracy watch” FB page, for example, is nothing more than a launching site for more paranoid, right-wing fantasies.

 

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