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"chemtrails and footpads and 9/11"
November 5, 2010 8:47 AM   Subscribe

How the venerable Pacifica Radio network is being taken over by "a kind of Tea Party of the left, featuring ex-Scientologists, miracle cure hucksters, and conspiracists who believe that Amy Goodman's Democracy Now!, Pacifica's premier program, is taking CIA money to suppress 'the truth about 9/11.'" posted by enn (116 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Venerable?
posted by koeselitz at 8:48 AM on November 5, 2010


Venerable?

Pacifica Radio is the oldest public radio network in the United States.
posted by enn at 8:50 AM on November 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


Christ, between the kooks and the board takeovers it's a miracle Pacifica has survived this long. This is really sad news.
posted by RogerB at 8:50 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Venerable?
posted by koeselitz at 11:48 AM on November 5


Definition of VENERABLE
3b : impressive by reason of age


Pacifica Radio is the oldest public radio network in the United States. Pacifica was founded in 1946 by pacifist Lewis Hill. During World War II, Hill filed for conscientious objector status. After the war, Hill and a small group of ex-conscientious-objectors created the Pacifica Foundation. On-air broadcasting at KPFA in Berkeley, California commenced in 1949.
posted by Gandhi Knoxville at 8:52 AM on November 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


venerable? vulnerable.
posted by chavenet at 8:52 AM on November 5, 2010


Pacifica Radio is the oldest public radio network in the United States.

And they've put up a fearsome resistance to government, corporate and even internal censorship over the years.
posted by zarq at 8:52 AM on November 5, 2010 [10 favorites]


When I hear about people so intensely wrapped up in an alternate reality, I start to question my own sanity a little. It's like these people are shifting my personal Overton reality window. Weird stuff.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:54 AM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, you just introduced me to the chemtrails "theory" and footpads. Thanks?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:56 AM on November 5, 2010


Wow, this is unfortunate. I love Democracy Now! and have heard some really good programs on the network - is there anything we can do about it other than submitting a signature (as the first link suggests) or is that the best option?
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:57 AM on November 5, 2010


As a leftist, I don't know if I should be more offended by being compared to the teabaggers or to new agey scientologist truthers.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:58 AM on November 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


ex-Scientologists, miracle cure hucksters, and conspiracists who believe that Amy Goodman's Democracy Now!, Pacifica's premier program, is taking CIA money to suppress 'the truth about 9/11

At what point were any of these types of people identified as "the left?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:59 AM on November 5, 2010 [30 favorites]


Also, you just introduced me to the chemtrails "theory" and footpads. Thanks?

Yeah, it took me a while to figure out what Henwood was talking about there — I kept thinking of "footpad" meaning thief, but apparently it is this (warning: bad crazy):
Ionic Foot baths and Foot pads. This is a fairly innovative way of pulling out heavy metals and other toxins through the feet. Many practitioners who use the foot baths in their offices recommend drinking a lot of water afterwards followed by ionic mineral supplementation. There are numerous fabulous testimonies with these baths, though lab analysis of the water after treatments is rare. The foot pad method works on the same principle of pulling out metals/toxins through the feet; this method being fairly effortless since one applies the pads to the soles of their feet when they go to bed at night.

A testimonial at www.bodypurenow.com is by a dentist who claims the following toxins came out of his body through his feet—mercury, isopropyl alcohol, benzene, nickel, asbestos, dimethylaminoazobenzene and PCBs. This same website offers a free analysis of the toxins in used foot pads that are purchased from them.

CAUTION. One Internet blogger advises caution when eliminating heavy metals, parasites and fungi—specifically for those who are experiencing Morgellon’s disease or suspect that the nanotechnology has been in them for years and has likely become integrated into their biological system. She claims her advise comes from " personal experience."
posted by enn at 8:59 AM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


A day later the vitamin supplements mogul Gary Null, notorious for his claim that HIV does not cause AIDS

Wait, that's a thing?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:00 AM on November 5, 2010


Wait, that's a thing?

Tragically, yes, especially when it has lead to disastrous policies, like in South Africa. Thankfully the new government there has reversed course.
posted by jedicus at 9:03 AM on November 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Can we stop equating the entirety of the Tea Party with the minority of fringe cooks within it? Many Tea Party candidates did quite well in the polls last Tuesday. It can no longer be considered the fringe movement it has been lambasted as over the past year.

Or has our society reached an intellectual low where Scientology is considered as crazy as the notion of federalism?
posted by cleancut at 9:03 AM on November 5, 2010


(warning: bad crazy)

What? That shit is hilarious crazy. They actually suggest that people stop boiling water.
posted by cmonkey at 9:05 AM on November 5, 2010


Wait, that's a thing?

Yes. He's one of a small handful of vocal HIV denialists, whose ranks include Robert Root-Bernstein, whose book, Rethinking AIDS caused quite a stir in the '90s.

There's clear, compelling evidence that HIV causes AIDS.
posted by zarq at 9:06 AM on November 5, 2010


In the place of programs of journalistic integrity and serious intellectual inquiry, KPFA listeners only have to look to WBAI to imagine what the sound of their radio station will soon be: programs about the Illuminati, microchips used for mind-control, and neo-populist goldbuggery.
So, basically, Alex Jones and PrisonPlanet.com will be taking over?
posted by hippybear at 9:06 AM on November 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can we stop equating the entirety of the Tea Party with the minority of fringe cooks within it?

I am really enjoying the image of bands of radical sous chefs skulking through the urban night and blowing up government buildings.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:09 AM on November 5, 2010 [29 favorites]


The footpad/chemtrail/FEMA camp/Morgellons/Truther people invade anything fringe enough to give them an opening (Coast to Coast AM, anarchist book fairs, antiwar protests, Youtube comments, etc.) - they're not a political faction so much as a group of people with the same obnoxious personality disorder.
posted by theodolite at 9:10 AM on November 5, 2010 [15 favorites]


I was devastated, back in the nineties, when the wretched Mary Frances Berry basically killed Pacifica as we knew it. I'd been a loyal listener to the DC Pacifica station, WPFW, which played great music, terrible music, wild-eyed propaganda, and other amazing stuff with production values that ranged from NPR-shiny to one night when I was working the overnight shift and the DJ passed out, leaving a record to skip for three continuous hours, a musical experience that was strange, then hypnotic, then sort of amazing, as sonic pareidolia made new shapes in my brain.

WPFW used to have readers read entire books, too, which I loved, sitting at my station in a room with a leaky Xidex D-80 microfiche duplicator. I heard The Women of Brewster Place there, and The Color Purple, and Octavia Butler and other neat things.

It was sad, the way it went, and the nerve sort of hasn't recovered, but I've not listened in a while, so I'm not even sure what happened since then. It doesn't surprise me that the loony left would find Pacifica a perfect garden to cultivate a crop of bug-nuts, but I'm devastated, too, because I still entertain some shred of belief that our side is supposed to be the good one. In the end, everyone in the whole world's gone fucking insane, and we're going to have to let some of our most treasured institutions slip away.

I thought, for a stretch, that Air America was going to be the new Pacifica, but holy crap they were alternately dull, ridiculous, and prone to the same sort of WTF-are-you-talking-about conspiracy bullcrap that we expect from the right. These days, I just sort of despair over all of it, and try to rally up the energy to fight the good fight, whenever it's possible.

How discouraging this is.
posted by sonascope at 9:11 AM on November 5, 2010 [16 favorites]


Or has our society reached an intellectual low where Scientology is considered as crazy as the notion of federalism?

No, though Scientology is about as kooky as believing 1) Hawaii isn't part of the US, 2) muslims planned to have Obama in office decades ago, 3) Death Panels, 4) widescale plans for White Slavery, 5) And Hitler. I mean, DC-10 spacecraft, magic volcanos and body thetans are kinda on the same level to me in terms of, "I need to start selling you whatever you're smoking, because I could use the income".
posted by yeloson at 9:11 AM on November 5, 2010 [13 favorites]


(warning: bad crazy)

Report on the Kinoki foot pads hoax.
Also see: Aqua detox
posted by zarq at 9:11 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


WBAI: 370 days a year of fund-raising drives.
posted by wcfields at 9:11 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


l33tpolicywonk: Wait, that's a thing?

Yes and Gary Null is not the only well-known fruitcake who believes it either.

cleancut: Can we stop equating the entirety of the Tea Party with the minority of fringe cooks within it? Many Tea Party candidates did quite well in the polls last Tuesday. It can no longer be considered the fringe movement it has been lambasted as over the past year.

Doing well in the polls + winning elections does not necessarily confer legitimacy, intellectual, ideological, or otherwise. Sorry!
posted by blucevalo at 9:13 AM on November 5, 2010 [10 favorites]


jedicus: "Tragically, yes, especially when it has lead to disastrous policies, like in South Africa."

That's a really terrible thing I didn't know existed until today. For anyone who's interested in what publications should be effectively ignored given this information:
In 2006, Celia Farber, a journalist and prominent AIDS denialist, published an essay in the March issue of Harper's Magazine entitled "Out of Control: AIDS and the Corruption of Medical Science", in which she summarized a number of arguments for AIDS denialism and alleged incompetence, conspiracy, and fraud on the part of the medical community.
...
AIDS denialism has received some support from political conservatives in the United States. Duesberg's work has been published in Policy Review, a journal once published by The Heritage Foundation but now owned by the Hoover Institution, and by Regnery Press, as has Tom Bethell's book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science, which endorses AIDS denialism.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:15 AM on November 5, 2010


In my experience, the people who believe in chemtrails, foot pads and 9/11 truthers tend to be pretty right wing, as far as these things go. I wouldn't consider them Left by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:17 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


sous chefs ... blowing up government buildings

"Keep your government hands off my mise-en-place!"

FWIW, I recently donated to WBAI in support of Behind the News and have just written to ask for my money back. Pacifica (and its local stations) are only useful institutions if they carry rational programming; while the push around a decade ago toward a declawed, depoliticized corporate/foundation model was disturbing, what's happening now — each station's individual devolution into a nutbag asylum — is just sad. Though I've tried to steer clear of the internal politicking in the past, I think Boal must be right; something has to be very wrong with the governance structure if Pacifica can be derailed by both the NPR-lite corporatist crowd and the lunatic fringes this easily.
posted by RogerB at 9:17 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can we stop equating the entirety of the Tea Party with the minority of fringe cooks within it?

Nope. Rand Paul is a kook, elected or not.

This is too bad about Pacifica, verging on the tragic.
posted by OmieWise at 9:22 AM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


...though Scientology is about as kooky as believing 1) Hawaii isn't part of the US, 2) muslims planned to have Obama in office decades ago, 3) Death Panels, 4) widescale plans for White Slavery, 5) And Hitler

With the exception of the notion of panels of bureaucrats who will decide which people or classes of people will live and die in a nationalized health system, the rest of your examples are the rantings of fringe loonies within the Tea Party.

If you believe most of the people who voted for Tea Party candidates last Tuesday buy into such insanity, perhaps you'd be interested in buying this bridge in New York I could sell you.
posted by cleancut at 9:24 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


For anyone who's interested in what publications should be effectively ignored given this information:

Yeah, I canceled my subscription to Harper's because of the Farber article. AIDS denialism has been discussed several times on MeFi.
posted by OmieWise at 9:25 AM on November 5, 2010


Could we not make this into a thread about the Tea Party?
posted by RogerB at 9:25 AM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, god. I've been thinking that my coworker was just mispronouncing "contrails" when she said "chemtrails." I had no idea that it was a Crazy Shibboleth.
posted by COBRA! at 9:26 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


CAUTION. One Internet blogger advises caution when eliminating heavy metals, parasites and fungi—specifically for those who are experiencing Morgellon’s disease

Eh! Stop! Magic words. We're done.
posted by Edison Carter at 9:29 AM on November 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


...if your coworker is talking about chemtrails, you probably need to give that coworker a wider berth, and maybe watch your back lest they flip out with guns one day. Chemtrail people are the kind of crazy that can turn violent; delusional and desperate.
posted by aramaic at 9:29 AM on November 5, 2010


Does anyone remember the MeFi post about a site about contrails that claimed they were some sorts of creatures (silths?) protecting us from some other sorts of creatures? I looked around but could not find it.
posted by OmieWise at 9:31 AM on November 5, 2010


...if your coworker is talking about chemtrails, you probably need to give that coworker a wider berth, and maybe watch your back lest they flip out with guns one day. Chemtrail people are the kind of crazy that can turn violent; delusional and desperate.
posted by aramaic


Yeah, honestly, several conversations make a lot more sense now. In a tragic, GAH! sort of way.
posted by COBRA! at 9:32 AM on November 5, 2010


new study from Public Policy Polling finds that 42 percent of Republicans believe that President Obama was not born in the United States,

Tiny, tiny fringe!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:33 AM on November 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


Could we not make this into a thread about the Tea Party?

if you look around on the web, you'll realize that much of the lunatic fringe that is going on about chemtrails and 9/11 truth is in fact associated with the social circles that have produced much of the themes of the tea party

at some time during the 80s, the woo-woo world of the esoteric conspirators turned from the left to the right, although many of them were on the right all along
posted by pyramid termite at 9:34 AM on November 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


In my experience, the people who believe in chemtrails, foot pads and 9/11 truthers tend to be pretty right wing, as far as these things go.

I don't know that I've ever encountered chemtrail folks, and I'd never heard of foot pads until this thread, but the few truthers I've met have all been lefties. Also the guy I worked with who thought the moon landing was faked was a lefty. And lest we forget the blerg.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:37 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


With the exception of the notion of panels of bureaucrats who will decide which people or classes of people will live and die in a nationalized health system, the rest of your examples are the rantings of fringe loonies within the Tea Party.

Okay, so you're saying some of the loonies aren't fringe? You seem to be agreeing with yeloson with this statement, unless I'm missing something.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:38 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or has our society reached an intellectual low where Scientology is considered as crazy as the notion of federalism?

No, but it is nearly as kooky as claiming you are a libertarian and federalist when you are really a socially conservative anti-federalist.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:38 AM on November 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


Oh, no. You're talking about sylphs, and how they break up chemtrails.

I'm digging now trying to find the website where I saw photos "of" sylphs breaking up chemtrails, often in response to prayer warrior activity, or because people have put some kind of orgone-energy-infused ball of resin in the ground, often under tall power towers....

Eh, the crazy.... It's deep and it smells bad when I get too close.
posted by hippybear at 9:40 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm having trouble understanding how any of this stuff has anything to do with "the left."
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:40 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


The left has a way of eating itself. ACT-UP San Francisco, for instance, got taken over by HIV deniers. It turns out that "everyone's opinion is equally valid" and "all decisions are made by consensus" can sometimes go badly.
posted by Nelson at 9:42 AM on November 5, 2010 [11 favorites]


at some time during the 80s, the woo-woo world of the esoteric conspirators turned from the left to the right, although many of them were on the right all along

Was the left ever significant in that sort of conspiracy theory? I thought it was an unbroken lineage from the Know-Nothings, through McCarthyism, the Birchers, the militia movement and onto the 9/11 Truthers and teabaggers.
posted by acb at 9:42 AM on November 5, 2010


new study from Public Policy Polling finds that 42 percent of Republicans believe that President Obama was not born in the United States,

I'm getting a 404 when I try to follow the HuffPo's link to the actual poll that they claim has that result.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:43 AM on November 5, 2010


Pacifica has always been pretty fringe and wacky. Nobody that I know listens to it, and we're all pretty solid liberal democrats.
posted by empath at 9:44 AM on November 5, 2010


In my experience, the people who believe in chemtrails, foot pads and 9/11 truthers tend to be pretty right wing, as far as these things go.

I don't know that it's designated by political leanings. There are definitely left-leaning "truthers", no doubt about it, especially since it can be blamed on bush and cheney... but they tend to be against "the government" overall, so more like anarchists or libertarians. Or just kooks.

However, polls consistently say that a good portion of americans think there was some kind of conspiracy... I don't know what to make of those numbers, and "knowing about it" is different from actually setting it up, but that poll said 16% believe the planted explosives theory, which boggles my mind (it doesn't even make any sense - why do the planes at all at that point?).
posted by mdn at 9:44 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


featuring ex-Scientologists

The only way one can construe "ex-Scientologists" as a bad thing are if a) one is a Scientologist oneself, or b) said ex-Scientologists left Scientology for even kookier pastures.

Mmmmm....cookier pastries....
posted by Sys Rq at 9:45 AM on November 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


It turns out that "everyone's opinion is equally valid" and "all decisions are made by consensus" can sometimes go badly.

I agree. Which is why I have always asserted there is such a thing as a 'wrong opinion'.
posted by Edison Carter at 9:46 AM on November 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


Does anyone remember the MeFi post about a site about contrails that claimed they were some sorts of creatures (silths?) protecting us from some other sorts of creatures? I looked around but could not find it.

Here's the MetaFilter thread in question: "Welcome Our Sylph Overlords"
posted by hippybear at 9:47 AM on November 5, 2010


The only way one can construe "ex-Scientologists" as a bad thing are if a) one is a Scientologist oneself, or b) said ex-Scientologists left Scientology for even kookier pastures.

There has been a movement of people who completely believe all that woo about E-Meters and thetans and engrams but aren't happy with the governing structure of the Church of Scientology, and dissociate themselves from it whilst practicing their rituals. I think they call themselves "freezoners" or something similar.
posted by acb at 9:49 AM on November 5, 2010


Pacifica has always been pretty fringe and wacky.

Bullshit. There's long been some kooky stuff within Pacifica's programming menu, for sure; but it's also featured some of the best independent journalism and leftist (i.e. not you and your "liberal democrat" friends) political analysis around. Democracy Now! and Behind the News are among the few best things in American political journalism. The stations also do a lot of community cultural and musical stuff that's not "fringe and wacky" by any measure. This latest drive toward total Gary Nullification is a fairly new and very disturbing trend.
posted by RogerB at 9:49 AM on November 5, 2010 [10 favorites]


Sylphs! Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 9:51 AM on November 5, 2010


I'll say this: people who're running around thinking they're full of nanites that might have to be removed through their feet, and that slyphs are protecting them from chemtrails, well, I guess it's probably a pretty exciting little private reality.
posted by COBRA! at 9:53 AM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


With the exception of the notion of panels of bureaucrats who will decide which people or classes of people will live and die in a nationalized health system, the rest of your examples are the rantings of fringe loonies within the Tea Party.

Speaking as a Canadian, I'll have you know our death panels employ a lot of people, something the American economy has been having trouble with lately. Just sayin'. Granted, the job of deciding which ethnic groups and age brackets are worthy of medical care is obviously only available to an educated elite. However, there are also plenty of blue collar jobs in putting our elderly out on the ice floes of Georgia Strait (as typically happens when their communal work unit deems them unfit for labour). As for the literary class, there are always jobs writing for the state-owned propaganda organs; there is always a need for stories about how the ice floes are actually called "BC Ferries" and how they are moving to a retirement community in the fiction of imperial nostalgia preposterously named "Victoria".
posted by [citation needed] at 9:53 AM on November 5, 2010 [37 favorites]


Here's the MetaFilter thread in question: "Welcome Our Sylph Overlords"

*backs slowly away from the internets*
posted by zarq at 9:55 AM on November 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


This explains a lot. Used to love to tune in to WBAI for some thought provoking contrarianism or just healthily-angering-up leftist agitprop ... now half the time it seems likes it's fruity alt. medicine nonsense, but with all the high seriousness and righteousness of the political stuff.
posted by MattD at 9:56 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can we stop equating the entirety of the Tea Party with the minority of fringe cooks within it? Many Tea Party candidates did quite well in the polls last Tuesday. It can no longer be considered the fringe movement it has been lambasted as over the past year.
You start by asking if we can stop considering them to be "fringe kooks". By reason of explanation, you show why they should not be considered "fringe".

If anything, that they are apparently not "fringe" makes their kookiness worse, not better.
posted by Flunkie at 9:57 AM on November 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'll say this: people who're running around thinking they're full of nanites that might have to be removed through their feet, and that slyphs are protecting them from chemtrails, well, I guess it's probably a pretty exciting little private reality.

It's not so private. The people around them - family, friends, coworkers - are subjected to it. And it's not pretty. And it's sort of scary when you get to the point of people actually really really believing it. Because it means that they've so completely broken from objective truth that you don't trust them to carry out the basic functions of life without inadvertently getting themselves killed somehow.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:59 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's the MetaFilter thread in question: "Welcome Our Sylph Overlords"

*backs slowly away from the internets*
posted by zarq


Yeah, I have a friend who works at PolitiFact, and I'm just having a grand old time sending him links from that thread, saying "FACT CHECK THIS, MOTHERFUCKER!"
posted by COBRA! at 10:01 AM on November 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


I consider myself a leftist.

1) I always thought the chemtrail/footpad malarkey was the province of late night infomercials of the sort populated by Kevin Trudeau or the super-colon-blow cleanser guy. I know my wife's uncle is one of those chelation-therapy/gold standard/the-cancer-conspiracy-killed-Steve-McQueen types.

2) If you don't think lefties can suffer from lack of oxygen to the brain, give a listen to Dave Emory's "For the Record" sometime. We get it on WCBN, but it's on WBAI and on WFMU, too, I think. Or just check his SpitfireList.com.
posted by beelzbubba at 10:04 AM on November 5, 2010


I always thought of these people as "Black-helicopter Republicans". All of this stuff falls under the New Word Order rubric, and if you scratch one of those people you almost always find a millenarian born-again Christian.

Angry conspiracy theorists are never Left in any sense. They may look left because they're anti-establishment, and they may approach the left on common ground, but it's camouflage. If you get beyond the crazy picture of the world to their ideologies, you find separatism and libertarianism at the core. They may pay lip service to equality, civil rights, environmentalism and so on, but they have no concept of the commons, no belief in democracy, and no care for social infrastructure.

It's a shame that we've gone from colloidal silver to foot pads. I'm going to miss purple people.
posted by clarknova at 10:07 AM on November 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


Here's the MetaFilter thread in question: "Welcome Our Sylph Overlords"

You know, after taking a good long, look at the site, they're engaging in systemic anthropomorphism, by seeing faces and objects in pictures of clouds. That's not so new. There are some people who believe this is how mankind created religion.
posted by zarq at 10:10 AM on November 5, 2010


Yeah, I have a friend who works at PolitiFact, and I'm just having a grand old time sending him links from that thread, saying "FACT CHECK THIS, MOTHERFUCKER!"

Ha! In the future, he can blame his nervous breakdown on you, then? :)
posted by zarq at 10:11 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, his breakdown'll clearly be the fault of the nanites, accelerated by chemtrail poisoning.
posted by COBRA! at 10:15 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think they call themselves "freezoners" or something similar.

Bit of trivia: William Burroughs was one of the first freezoners.
posted by clarknova at 10:18 AM on November 5, 2010


You know, after taking a good long, look at the site, they're engaging in systemic anthropomorphism, by seeing faces and objects in pictures of clouds.

*paging user 17572*
posted by [citation needed] at 10:20 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are some people who believe this is how mankind created religion.

Holy shit, I always thought that the idea of pareidolia and apophenia being leftover evolutionary shortcuts that caused a concept of divinity through pattern-projection onto unrelated sensory noise data (combined with memetic idea-replication through an innate need for herd leadership) was a theory I came up with on my own! Now I need this book.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:30 AM on November 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


COBRA!: I'll say this: people who're running around thinking they're full of nanites that might have to be removed through their feet, and that slyphs are protecting them from chemtrails, well, I guess it's probably a pretty exciting little private reality.

stoneweaver: It's not so private. The people around them - family, friends, coworkers - are subjected to it. And it's not pretty. And it's sort of scary when you get to the point of people actually really really believing it. Because it means that they've so completely broken from objective truth that you don't trust them to carry out the basic functions of life without inadvertently getting themselves killed somehow.


I lived in Sedona for a couple of years in the mid-to-late 1990s. It was shockingly odd to be suddenly in an entire community that believes this stuff. Not just one brand of the stuff, either, but huge swaths of all kinds of it, from energy vortices (vortexes?) to homeopathic solutions made by soaking crystals in water (to tune the water's energy, of course) to full-on alien cults (because when the mothership lands, it will do so at Bell Rock in Sedona, of course)...

I mean, they're nice people -- friendly and artistic and outgoing. Just don't talking to them about anything except the weather. And even that's not always a safe topic.
posted by hippybear at 10:31 AM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


The left (however we choose to define it) is not exempt from wacko-type conspiracy thinking. 9/11 Truthers are not all right-wing nuts, there are some left-wing nuts in the mixed nuts, too. I think (and this is not original) that at some point, the extremes bend around and meet up in some kind of singularity of Peak Crazy.

Anecdotally: I had a roommate a couple years back who, despite being a sweet and earnest kid, never met a conspiracy theory he did not like. Chemtrails, the Rothschilds run the world, 9/11 was an inside detonation job, etc. And his politics can best be described as Left-Anarchist. I do not deny that there is a strong undercurrent of Far Right thinking at work in a lot of conspiracy theories, but I do not like propagating the idea that those with whom I happen to agree politically are somehow insulated from a lack of critical thinking or are not prone to conspiracy theorizing.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:34 AM on November 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


Could somebody explain what the footpad thing is to me so I don't have to wade through pages and pages of crap on Google?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:34 AM on November 5, 2010


Wikipedia has a straightforward summary:

"Certain devices are promoted to allegedly remove toxins from the body. One version is a foot bath using a mild electrical current, while another involves small adhesive pads applied to the skin. In both cases, the production of an alleged brown "toxin" appears after a brief delay. In the case of the foot bath, the "toxin" is theorized to be small amounts of rusted iron leaching from the electrodes, while the adhesive pads change color due to oxidation of the pads' ingredients in response to the skin's moisture. In both cases, the same color changes occur irrespective of whether the water or patch contact the skin."

The alleged 'toxins' range from heavy metals to nanites. The entire concept is absurd from soup to nuts, but there you have it.
posted by jedicus at 10:42 AM on November 5, 2010


jedicus: "The alleged 'toxins' range from heavy metals to nanites. The entire concept is absurd from soup to nuts, but there you have it."

Thanks. That is a remarkably silly thing to believe.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:46 AM on November 5, 2010


And his politics can best be described as Left-Anarchist.

"Libertarians are anarchists with money" is a widely abused trope that's partly true, and becomes mostly true when you replace "money" with "years". Check in on him when he's thirty and tell me how much of a lefty he is. If he's still into chemtrails and Rothschilds (see also:'The Jews') that anti-statism will look much less like Bartolomeo Vanzetti and a lot more like Ron Paul.
posted by clarknova at 10:53 AM on November 5, 2010


Salvor Hardin: "Also, you just introduced me to the chemtrails "theory" and footpads. Thanks?"

this wiki entry on Footpad" seems quite apropos!
posted by symbioid at 10:57 AM on November 5, 2010


XQUZYPHYR: "ex-Scientologists, miracle cure hucksters, and conspiracists who believe that Amy Goodman's Democracy Now!, Pacifica's premier program, is taking CIA money to suppress 'the truth about 9/11

At what point were any of these types of people identified as "the left?"
"

I've seen so many god-damn new-agey hippie types fall for this bullshit. In that sense, I think it's "left" because they tend to be anti-war and distrustful of corporate America. But of course, there's right-wing anti-war movements too, who also claim to distrust corporate America. And I think in this sense, it's more "libertarian" than an authentic left. And it really pisses me the fuck off to see these people fall for shit like this.

Basically Alex Jones is destroying America from the Left and Right.

My own conspiracy theory, and I'm beginning to wonder if maybe it might just be true (LOL), is that Alex Jones was behind 9/11. I actually wanna make that into a bumper sticker.
posted by symbioid at 11:00 AM on November 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


stoneweaver: "I'll say this: people who're running around thinking they're full of nanites that might have to be removed through their feet, and that slyphs are protecting them from chemtrails, well, I guess it's probably a pretty exciting little private reality.

It's not so private. The people around them - family, friends, coworkers - are subjected to it. And it's not pretty. And it's sort of scary when you get to the point of people actually really really believing it. Because it means that they've so completely broken from objective truth that you don't trust them to carry out the basic functions of life without inadvertently getting themselves killed somehow.
"

And yet, they never somehow end up getting themselves killed. Sadly.
posted by symbioid at 11:11 AM on November 5, 2010


My own conspiracy theory, and I'm beginning to wonder if maybe it might just be true (LOL), is that Alex Jones was behind 9/11. I actually wanna make that into a bumper sticker.

Oh god me too! Metafilter needs a CafePress account, stat!

This two part (1 2) Alex Jones guest spot with Noam Chomsky is both awful and telling. They get along very well with only minor disagreements while Chomsky is on the phone, and the moment he's off Jones spends almost as much time spewing brutal invective against him. "Betrayal" is the word for that, and it's what Jones does every day to his credulous audiences.
posted by clarknova at 11:14 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh wait it's five parts. Still worth a listen, though.
posted by clarknova at 11:17 AM on November 5, 2010


Those educate-yourself.org links are especially fantastic because there's always one last curlicue of insanity before the end of the page. You'll be rolling along, talking about how to use orgone accumulators to draw chemtrail-cleaning Slyphs, and then at the last minute the author will mention how this relates to his field, astrology. Because, of course it does.

Or, in another article, you'll hear how the beneficial effects of footpads may be at cross purposes for those seeking treatment for Morgellon's disease. Because, yes, of course, why wouldn't there be a connection between the two.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:26 AM on November 5, 2010


If he's still into chemtrails and Rothschilds (see also:'The Jews') that anti-statism will look much less like Bartolomeo Vanzetti and a lot more like Ron Paul.

I do not disagree with you, generally, but this particular individual is, I suspect, more of an example of the quote I have such an open mind my brains fell out unquote trope. Holisitic medicine, alien contact, et cetera. He is pretty thoroughly anti-materialistic (financially, not metaphysically, though I suspect that too) and basically squats and plays in bands and makes art. He does not really match the archetype of the libertarian-in-training you posit. Which is what leads me to suggest that not all conspiracy theorist thinking is ideologically driven so much as personality driven.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:27 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm vaguely ashamed that my first reaction is always, "God, these people are gullible! How can I make a buck off of it?" but then I never follow through and rip people off, which makes me feel like I'm just leaving all this free fruit on the trees.
posted by klangklangston at 11:28 AM on November 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


jedicus: "The alleged 'toxins' range from heavy metals to nanites. The entire concept is absurd from soup to nuts, but there you have it."

I use the word "toxin" as a BS-filter. If claims about "toxins" or the benefits of "detoxifying" are made, I consider the product to be highly suspect.
posted by workerant at 11:28 AM on November 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


If claims about "toxins" or the benefits of "detoxifying" are made, I consider the product to be highly suspect.

That is precisely what the toxins want you to think.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:39 AM on November 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


then I never follow through and rip people off, which makes me feel like I'm just leaving all this free fruit on the trees.

It is awfully tempting, but it's a lot harder than it seems. For one thing, you end up living inside their worldview for big chunks of your life, which is just spectacularly depressing and frankly dissociative.

It's just not worth it, unless you happen to get a rush from the scam itself. If you're merely in it for the money it's a waste of effort and sanity. Sure, you might snare a mark or two, but to make anything approaching a usable sum you have to really dedicate yourself to the sales effort. Which requires intimate understanding of the market, and thus the depression/dissociation mentioned above.

It's not enough money to make it worthwhile, really it isn't. Even if you don't care at all about the morality of it, it still wears you down surprisingly quickly.
posted by aramaic at 11:41 AM on November 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


my first reaction is always, "God, these people are gullible! How can I make a buck off of it?" but then I never follow through and rip people off

Now's your chance to find a lucrative position in listener-supported radio!
posted by RogerB at 11:47 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


For anyone who's interested in what publications should be effectively ignored given this information: ...
AIDS denialism has received some support from political conservatives in the United States. Duesberg's work has been published in Policy Review, a journal once published by The Heritage Foundation but now owned by the Hoover Institution
It's probably worth mentioning that Duesberg's article in Policy Review was published in 1990, more than twenty years ago, 16 years before the Harpers article and roughly ten years before Policy Review became associated with the Hoover Institution.
No, but it is nearly as kooky as claiming you are a libertarian and federalist when you are really a socially conservative anti-federalist.
Strangely meanings of words and contexts related to their use change over time. This is not "kooky". But your idea isn't original. Arthur Schlesinger wrote a letter about it to the New York Times in 2005. Here's one conservative response. As a (card-carrying!) Federalist Society member, it's sort of a different spin on a "We didn't leave the Federalist Party, the Federalist Party left us," kind of situtation. The argument is that the strength of the centralized government today is such that to question it's current power doesn't disalign one with the Federalists, as they didn't envision such a strong central government.
posted by Jahaza at 11:49 AM on November 5, 2010


Jahaza -- "It’s a pretty diverse crowd, united by little else than a rejection of the doctrine of the “living Constitution.”"

OK, then instead of Federalists, howzabout calling yourselves "Dead Constitutionalists"? (I kid, I kid!)
posted by symbioid at 11:56 AM on November 5, 2010


Chemtrails and other government conspiracy stuff has been a fringe part of "the left" as well for a while. In the 90's I remember seeing this stuff at environmental activism events and such. I think its 2 things: the fringe wraps around in a way that blurs left and right, and both fringes have extreme distrust of the government and society that leads them to conspiracy theories.
posted by wildcrdj at 11:56 AM on November 5, 2010


"It's not enough money to make it worthwhile, really it isn't. Even if you don't care at all about the morality of it, it still wears you down surprisingly quickly."

You've seen me here, with people I like and respect. I don't think I could make it three minutes without telling them they were STUPID and WRONG.
posted by klangklangston at 11:59 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


My favorite crazy conspiracy book is Behold a Pale Horse which combines the evil global political conspiracy, Tesla waves as weapons, mind control, and using nuclear bombs on space probes to detonate Jupiter into becoming a full second sun to stave off the next Ice Age.
posted by yeloson at 12:02 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aramaic, thanks for articulating that. It takes a certain kind of sociopath to do those kinds of things - I imagine their thought process goes something like "Wait...I get to abuse a bunch of morons and make money doing it? I don't see a downside..." If you see the marks as human beings who deserve respect despite their ignorance, naivete, and fecklessness, you'd find it difficult to exploit them.

As far as the Pacifica Network goes, they have always been on the beyond-fringe-left from my viewpoint. I would listen sometimes when driving through L.A., but there was a fair amount of eye-rolling going on on my part. Nevertheless it's saddening to see this happen to them - I idealize idealism - without it, we all just become cynics.
posted by Xoebe at 12:04 PM on November 5, 2010


My favorite crazy conspiracy book is Behold a Pale Horse.

That's got HIV denial in it too!
posted by clarknova at 12:16 PM on November 5, 2010


I had an old friend who was this level of gullible and I tried to ignore it until it became part of the "treatments" for her autistic child. There is a lot of overlap between the autism/anti-immunization bunch and the plain crazy seeing evil chemical intent everywhere crowd. Anyway we had words and I had to totally disengage.

Then an in-law pulled me aside at a family gathering to explain to me how my sister's autistic child could be cured involving the same "removal of metals" bullshit and when I politely begged off had the nerve to subtly accuse me of not working in the child's best interest.

And got an ear full of invective I did not know I was capable of.

It is one thing when these loonies inflict treatments for non-existent crap on themselves, but another entirely when they are entrusted with children. It should be prosecuted as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

Now i'm pissed off just thinking about it. gggrraarr
posted by readery at 12:22 PM on November 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Anyone want to start a conspiracy factory with me? We'll just create the craziest, most fucked-up conspiracies, slyly spread the stories, see if anyone believes it, and... BOOM we're geniuses.

Shit. Someone beat me to it.
posted by Edison Carter at 12:27 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


The right doesn't have a monopoly on crazy. The anti-vaccine stuff has always seemed pretty left wing. Generally, I am more scarred of right wing crazies, but there are crazies of all stripes.
posted by rosswald at 12:45 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Right-wingers believe in chiropractic and all kinds of dingbat things too. Every morning on the way to work I pass a farm with a giant HURF DURF NOBAMA SOCIALISM sign, right next to another one which encourages me to try structured water.
posted by Rat Spatula at 12:47 PM on November 5, 2010


Oh, the crazy. Soooooo delightful.
posted by Edison Carter at 1:11 PM on November 5, 2010


Oh, Bill Cooper is good, and I can't believe we've come this far without a nod to Robert Anton Wilson. But in the end, I think my favorite is Commander X.
posted by malocchio at 1:20 PM on November 5, 2010


Well, duh, structured water. Of course, structured water. If your water wasn't structured, then the molecules would just be falling out all over the place and you couldn't even get wet, then, could ya?
posted by beelzbubba at 3:29 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


A friend and I riff back and forth on how, like, yeah, organic farmer's market buy local, man, but what I'm into right now are microwaters. Like, Evian is good and shit, but you haven't lived until you've tasted Pacific Palisades straight from the tap.
posted by klangklangston at 3:51 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have long believed politics is a circle, not a continuum. That is, if you go far enough Left, you start running into the Right. It does all start to mix together.

And the tie that binds all of it together is paranoia. The further around back of the circle you are, the more paranoid you are. Moderates seem to worry most about the government not spending their tax dollars right. On the opposite side of the bisection you have a bunch of people worried that the government is using their tax dollars to subjugate the moderates and hide the truth about all those conspiracies.

The Tea Party for the most part has been built around the wing of the Republican Party that was shoved aside during the Bush years -- the truly fiscally conservative. They're awfully close to the Birchers and the Constitution-As-Inerrant-Scripture folks, so they came along for the ride.

I really doubt the Tea Party will last, although their values will be carried forward for a while by the GOP until they have no need for them anymore, just as they did with the Christian Right.

Do not think the Left is above paranoia. The far Left has the same anti-authority sentiments as the far Right; they just manifest it differently.
posted by dw at 4:40 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, hey CIA Minders. I'd be happy to help suppress the truth about 9/11, whatever it happens to be. You know where to reach me!

Or not suppress the truth about 9/11. Either way is cool with me.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:03 PM on November 5, 2010


Gary Null? That's it man, game over man, game over! What the fuck are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do?

No really. Fuck Gary Null.
posted by Splunge at 5:49 AM on November 6, 2010


What is an ex-Scientologist really like? You could also ask what an ex-Catholic is like, or an ex-atheist, and so forth. Someone used to believe something, now that person no longer believes it, and usually winds up believing something else (it's difficult to remain undecided about everything, so we do wind up believing something). In other words, ex-Scientologists can be lots of different things. Some of them have been described as freezoners, although there are certainly other terms. One attempt to reform Scientology is known as metapsychology. Organizations of ex-Scientolgists who wish to practice a more benign form of Scientology call themselves the independent field, to indicate that they are not under the control of the cult. So some ex-Scientologists are still involved in things that at least resemble, and borrow from Scientology. Others are looking for other mystical practices which are not derived from Scientology. And others give up on mysticism and adopt a more realistic world view. I can say this with some confidence because I know a number of ex-Scientologists personally. And in general, most Scientologists will eventually become ex-Scientologists. I have observed before that ex-Scientolgists are the only real product of the Church of Scientology.
posted by grizzled at 7:34 AM on November 9, 2010


The only ex-Scientologist I ever talked to was a gay guy who came to his senses and now loathes the Scientologists.
posted by klangklangston at 9:21 AM on November 9, 2010


Pacifica management lays off the entire staff of KPFA's Morning Show
posted by RogerB at 8:32 PM on November 9, 2010


While the FPP sort of gives the impression that the crazies are actively taking over Pacifica, I think it's worth making it clear that the cuts are just for budgetary reasons, and the resulting crazies that come in are an unfortunate outcome to not being able to afford actual journalists and fact-checkers and so on, not a powerful force in their own right.

In other words, the news is that Pacifica is losing traction, not that the nutbars are gaining it.
posted by mdn at 9:38 AM on November 10, 2010


Well, but a lot of those budget cuts are self-inflicted wounds, because they've been supporting a huge admin staff and have incredibly poor money management skills, which the nutbars are using to purge those who might actually bring in more than they consume.
posted by klangklangston at 9:41 AM on November 10, 2010


I don't think anything is being done innocently, "just" for financial reasons, in this context. There's an active struggle going on for control of the national foundation and the individual stations, and the fruitcakes and the budget-cutters are, if not exactly the same people, at least to some degree aligned in their interests. The national foundation director wouldn't be laying off the professional staff of KPFA's most popular/biggest fundraising show, the local programming whose donations also pay for the national foundation, if there weren't also a vocal faction of "volunteerist" crazies ready to step into the power vacuum after the professional staff leave.
posted by RogerB at 10:48 AM on November 10, 2010


After losing their jobs in a cost-cutting move Monday, employees at Berkeley's KPFA returned to the radio station studios Tuesday, taking over the airwaves with a renegade show.

The unauthorized broadcast originated in a separate studio inside the station with the help of a remaining employee, said Pacifica Foundation Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt.

The station had planned to broadcast a show from a sister station in Los Angeles to fill the time previously filled the morning show, but the staff member at the controls instead opened the microphones to the former employees who held their ground for two hours, Engelhardt said.

"If you have control of the microphones, you have control of the show for the moment," Engelhardt said. "They do like drama, and I hope they won't come back. I'm trying to avoid any tactics of force if they do come back."

During the show, the hosts talked about the layoffs and took calls from listeners. Engelhardt also said she participated in the show to explain her position that without the layoffs the station wouldn't be able to make the next payroll.

Laid-off employees take over broadcast at KPFA
posted by RogerB at 2:04 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Morning Show from November 9th is amazing radio. Engelhardt is just rude, but the Morning Show staff goes above management and does their job. Amazing stuff
posted by wheelieman at 6:37 AM on November 11, 2010


At FTC’s Request, Judge Imposes Ban on Marketers of “Detox” Foot Pads.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:19 AM on November 12, 2010


At FTC’s Request, Judge Imposes Ban on Marketers of “Detox” Foot Pads.

I wonder what will be made of that by the folks who believe the US government is covertly poisoning the general population via chemtrails, water fluoridation, vaccination, secret muslim socialism, etc.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:58 AM on November 12, 2010


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