Maybe chemtrails were deployed to boost cartilage gel sales
April 11, 2013 3:47 PM   Subscribe

A Brief History of Chemtrails traces the popular conspiracy theory to its origins on Usenet and Art Bell. How To Debunk Chemtrails collects resources about the theory. Jet Pilots Fear Chemtrail Attacks suggest the belief may be more than a harmless theory.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants (107 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Relevant xkcd.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:53 PM on April 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


Man, chemtrails are my new favorite woowoo conspiracy theory. Realistically, there are problems associated with jet exhaust and the pollution created simply by burning jet fuel as a propellant. I mean, seriously, that stuff is majorly carcinogenic, and the oxidized exhaust is pretty bad for you, no matter who you are.

But the theories? Man, they come up with some crazy things. They're usually one or two steps from believing the fluoridation in municipal water systems is to create a docile population.

It's great for drunken debates, that's for sure.
posted by daq at 3:58 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


They're usually one or two steps from believing the fluoridation in municipal water systems is to create a docile population.

From, or past?
posted by PMdixon at 4:00 PM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I first moved to Berkeley about 7 years ago I saw a ton of flyers advertising instructions on how to build "orgone generators" for the purposes of dispersing chemtrails.
posted by brundlefly at 4:02 PM on April 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


I know too many other-wise intelligent people who believe this (and the fluoride thing). Maybe it's something in the water.

('Course, there probably is large-scale geoenginering going on in drought-effected areas, which is as it should be.)
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:03 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


PMdixon,
At least in my experience, they aren't quite ready to claim that the government is capable of doing the whole fluoride/mind-control thing. They are usually just starting to pick up on anti-authoritarian paranoia, but not quite educated enough in the woo theories from the 1950's to today.
And almost none of them have ever heard of "High Weirdness by Mail" or the Cult of the Subgenius. Pinkies, every one of them.
posted by daq at 4:03 PM on April 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


suggest the belief may be more than a harmless theory.

...where the harm comes from chemtrail believing loonies.

So, crazy people: still crazy.
posted by pompomtom at 4:04 PM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


When I first moved to Berkeley about 7 years ago I saw a ton of flyers advertising instructions on how to build "orgone generators" for the purposes of dispersing chemtrails.

At least you'll have fun while cloudbusting.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:04 PM on April 11, 2013


I too have a fondness for the Chemtrail Conspiracy, mainly in the form of the Adventures of Don and Carol Croft which features Our Hero traveling across the countryside in a homemade mobile home throwing dixie cups full of resin and tinfoil at cellphone/death towers.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:06 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're talking about Prince!
posted by steinsaltz at 4:07 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


TRUST NO ONE except Billy Corgan
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:09 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shameless (yet relevant) self plug!
posted by Jezztek at 4:11 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is it time to put plastic wrap on my tinfoil hat?
posted by tommasz at 4:12 PM on April 11, 2013


You gotta love Art Bell. I used to enjoy tuning into Coast to Coast AM late at night when I couldn't sleep. I still think the existence of "shadow people" (those people you think you see out of the corner of your eye but when you look they are gone) is my all time favorite. He had a great ability to mix real science with complete nonsense in a tangled web of conspiracy. And the idea that this guy was out there, broadcasting from the high desert in the dark hours of deep night was part of the fun. If his show ran from noon-5 PM, I think the entire shtick would be less compelling and we would have fewer believers.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 4:14 PM on April 11, 2013 [15 favorites]


Conspiracy theories just aren't the same after Geocities shut down.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:15 PM on April 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I posted this photo to flickr a couple months ago and within a day or two someone posted a very long and detailed comment explaining chemtrails (not contrails!). I left it there for lulz, until they came back a couple weeks or so later and left another comment of the same ilk. Then I blocked them. Out of curiosity, I went back a week or so ago to see if I could find who it was - I'd forgotten their username - but a little simple googling brought them up. I won't link to them here, our of fear that they will join and suck up all the commenting space in this thread, but damn if they don't have some really wonderful sky photos on their flickr.
posted by rtha at 4:18 PM on April 11, 2013


Oh man, I had a Geocities page once called "Why You Should Join the New World Order" talking about all the benefits of helping out and doing your part for the safety of us all and I got SO MANY ANGRY EMAILS that I wished I saved them as I'd be on my third Tumblr book deal by now.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:18 PM on April 11, 2013 [21 favorites]


I've read enough about the many different flavors of kookdom (chemtrailers, 9-11 truthers, flat earthers, cell phone fearmongers, D&D demonizers, moon landing deniers, UFO believers, crop circle studiers, fluoridation opponents, New Agers, Satanic panickers, Unarians, Raelians, detoxers, immunization opponents, perpetual motion proponents, evolution deniers and young earth creationists, holistic medicine quacks, psychics, readers of The Secret) to find it not as much charming or funny as a symptom of the breakdown of civilization.

Although it is possible to observe that these kinds of things have always been with us, just not so conclusively disproven as they are now, at least in prior centuries there was more of an excuse for believing in crazy things. There have always been die-hards, does it seem to be much more difficult to convince ordinary people of when they're engaging in woo anymore?
posted by JHarris at 4:27 PM on April 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


I once worked with a woman who was very much developing schizophrenia, and her belief in chemtrails was a major part of her delusions. (Her explanation was that Dick Cheney had set up a program in which chemicals in airplane exhaust would fall to the earth, into the water table, and poison our growing food with some sort of mind-control agent.) I tried to get her to get psychiatric help, but there's only so much one can do. I think of her every time someone brings up chemtrails, and I very much hope she (and her kids) are doing ok.
posted by jaguar at 4:27 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


FACT: Polyvinyl fluoride (PVF) is a polymer material mainly used in the flammability-lowering coatings of airplane interiors. THE PLANE'S ARE MADE OF FLOURRIDE WAKE UP PEOPLE.
posted by prinado at 4:31 PM on April 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Arrrrrgh Art Bell...my dude roommate believes everything Art Bell spews. He keeps insisting that the chemtrails are going to depopulate the world. If so, where are all these new people coming from, I ask??? I can barely watch any political TV shows any more because dude will stand there and tell me the Art Bell gospel version of nearly everything. Dude never heard a conspiracy theory he didn't like.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 4:32 PM on April 11, 2013


From the comments:

****

AHS says:
August 30, 2012 at 8:53 pm
For years since i’ve noticed chemtrail, it is a no brainer-all you need do is watch the sky and check commercial air traffic. People confuse the facts into something complex when-observation is all that is needed. Whatever they are doing/spraying it
A.makes clouds
B. heavy spraying equals heavy rain in 4 years concurrent
Via occasional look outside while having a smoke-100% rock solid, bullet proof, video cam ease proof.

Now all you need do is look to Bill Gates or Scientific American. Not sure if they tell the same story as B Gates want to put Sulfur Dioxide into atmosphere, while other reports are of aluminum particles=both for geoengineering purposes. I have heard our planet is 20% darker than some yrs back, yet sun more intense from aerosol ozone destroying applications. (non-researched by myself)
Google chemtrails and Scientific American. Oh, the president also gave a speech talking about geoengineering and “chemtrails” along with many gov papers~all easy to find on the web. Verify and go to the gov source, do not read some blogger with fudged “documents”
Conspiracy is often a fact you will not recognize until it is found in mainstream publications. Now Scientific American is permitting everybody to accept as fact, go look you are granted permission to believe they exist. The otherwise “fringe looney” who has spoke of this for 20 yrs, no longer needs to exist to the nay sayers- Myself? I would now want to know what the fringe looney is speaking on today! Curiosity killed the cat, i am not a cat….meow…did i say that?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:35 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Portland is holding a referendum on fluoridating the water, and the amount of Purity of Essence signs in yards is extremely depressing. Good thing we have a lot of rainwater to drink.

Speaking of Art Bell, I have a vague memory of a call involving a time traveler, who was coming back to buy a very specific kind of computer that they couldn't get after the apocalypse. The caller had a very elaborate timeline of what was going to happen and I remember it was really creepy. A-ha, found it! John Titor.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 4:40 PM on April 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


When I read drivel like the comment above, I often think of Tara: "Well, I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's depressing."
posted by Strass at 4:40 PM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


daq: "They're usually one or two steps from believing the fluoridation in municipal water systems is to create a docile population. "

This theory showed up on Facebook the other day, posted by someone I had up until then considered a reasonably normal person.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:43 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a vague memory of a call involving a time traveler, who was coming back to buy a very specific kind of computer that they couldn't get after the apocalypse. The caller had a very elaborate timeline of what was going to happen and I remember it was really creepy.

That would be John Titor, probably. Would have been a compelling mythos, too bad about him not predicting 9/11.
posted by gimonca at 4:45 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or not, Titor appears to have been on Usenet.
posted by gimonca at 4:46 PM on April 11, 2013


Chemtrails is one of my favorite songs.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:49 PM on April 11, 2013


My mom listened to Dreamland the other night and got totally freaked out.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:49 PM on April 11, 2013


I am an aficionado of kook theories and the origins of most of them are quite interesting. What is so strange is how many of the zanier and more schizophrenic ones start to show up in the mainstream, thanks to unhinged personalities like Glenn Beck and Alex Jones.
I kind of dropped out of following the underground stuff a few years back, and I was actually incredulously shocked to hear some of the stuff coming from Beck and Jones. I mean, sure, they've revamped some of the theories to make Obama the originator or evil mastermind behind things (which is weird, since some of the theories date back to before Obama was born). What's even weirder to me is the prevalence of Tea Party advocates going on some of the longest and most detailed conspiracy theories and linking them all into some grand unified conspiracy headed by things like the Bilderberg Group or the Tri-Lateral Commission. Though, it does explain why they call Obama a Nazi-Socialist-Communist-Fascist-etc, etc. Mostly, though, it's like watching someone literally crack and schizoid out. I think I'm going to start carrying a roll of Aluminum Foil with me and make these people some hats. I bet they'd wear them, too.
posted by daq at 4:51 PM on April 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh, man, KokuRyu, thank you for giving me more entertainment. I hadn't heard of Dreamland before, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be very happy sampling some of that and making some chillout dub with bits and pieces of that interspersed.
posted by daq at 4:52 PM on April 11, 2013


I posted this on Facebook and got incoherent walls of text from friends of friends worried about chemtrails. I'm not sure how to counter it, and I'm pretty worried and angry. It also leads into harmful things like anti-vaccination.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:54 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


And on further exploring, I now have a goto site for high weirdness. This Unknown County site is FAB-U-LOUS.
posted by daq at 4:55 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember being in California for a meeting on "Sudden Oak Death" (a disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of oaks in CA), and when I told a friendly shop clerk why I was in town, she told me the oaks had been killed by chemtrails. I had no idea what she was talking about.
posted by acrasis at 4:55 PM on April 11, 2013


Oh holy shit, they have a message board. See you guys later. I'm off on an adventure.
posted by daq at 4:56 PM on April 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


Seymour Zamboni: "shadow people" (those people you think you see out of the corner of your eye but when you look they are gone)

Sounds like an episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark?".
posted by I-Write-Essays at 5:06 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's impossible to argue with these conspiracy lovers. Everything speck of logic you may come with against their idea of a world conspiracy is shot down by them saying that you're believing the lies or whatever. Climate change hoaxing, eugenics, chemtrails, they're all being masterminded by a cartoon Illuminati group according to them, and they're proof for this is so specious and absurd usually. There's one guy who runs a conspiracy site who claims there's a "vegetarian" conspiracy- "" are encouraging people to eat vegetarian so they they'll get weak and more docile, (despite the fact that meat is subsidized and pushed on us in most advertising ..plus fast food industry).
It's totally insane shit.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:12 PM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Portland's fluoride referendum: I like to think my complete lack of cavities to date has been partially the result of Portland's non-fluoridated water. Growing up there in the late 70s meant we got to take delicious (to a child) grape-flavored fluoride tablets. My brother and I ate a three-month supply in minutes one day...

As adults we both have faint white star-shapes on our teeth as a result. I am going to have to remember this when I run into a chemtrail/fluoride/vaccine loon, I would assume I should be practically a zombie based on the dosage consumed...

The chemtrails people seem even less coherent than the fluoride people, I fear for the quality of conspiracy theories my children will get to point and laugh at.
posted by combinatorial explosion at 5:13 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is an authority vacuum in our society. All of the traditional authorities are demonstrably corrupt, and serve other masters, and not us.

Why not believe in Chemtrails? There's no authority left which could refute them.

Government serves the 140 people who get to vote in the "Money Election".

Academia has gone off in pursuit of grant money and/or inflating tuition and student population to increase profits.

Science has been paywalled by Elsevier, et all.

The internet is a vast wasteland where almost nobody runs their own servers any more, and thus we're all in corporate run walled gardens.

The church is just a pedophile infested mess.

Really, are there any institutions you can trust to refute any sufficiently coherent theory?
posted by MikeWarot at 5:25 PM on April 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


Art Bell was great because he was a kook, but kind of a gentle kook who had his limits and if the guest wasn't stroking a particular kook of Bell's, he'd have this... not entirely incredulous tone of voice, but there'd be a certain "get a load of this guy!" that you could hear if you knew how to listen for it. Noory's just a putz.


I still think the existence of "shadow people" (those people you think you see out of the corner of your eye but when you look they are gone) is my all time favorite.

Shadow people are also seen during sleep paralysis if the sleeper has their eyes open, as the sleeper's brain struggles to interpret both dream and reality and produces human-looking shapes.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:35 PM on April 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


The website linked to in the post refutes them, actually.
posted by kiltedtaco at 5:36 PM on April 11, 2013


Metafilter: serves the 140 people who get to vote in the "Money Election".
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:37 PM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dammit, people, I have to go to sleep! I can't be up all night chasing the crazy!
posted by Kitteh at 5:37 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really, are there any institutions you can trust to refute any sufficiently coherent theory?

Metafilter?
posted by dudemanlives at 5:38 PM on April 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


How To Debunk Chemtrails collects resources about the theory.

Except you can't. That assumes that these people are rational. But they're not. They are not only stupid and ignorant, they are wholly irrational. They will not, and don't, respond to reasoned debate.

Any evidence you offer is excluded on the grounds that you are part of the conspiracy. it's simply not possible to convince them.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:41 PM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Shadow people are also seen during sleep paralysis if the sleeper has their eyes open, as the sleeper's brain struggles to interpret both dream and reality and produces human-looking shapes.

Well well, got it all figured out then do ya?
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:47 PM on April 11, 2013


Chemtrails aren't a real theory. It's not even wrong. There's nothing to engage with rationally, but it does make for lots of pretty cloud pictures.

I, too, have pretty much stopped following this sort of stuff despite an almost anthropological sort of fascination with it, mostly due to the incredible racism that has overtaken it since Obama became a national figure, but it's interesting to think about how old these sorts of claims are getting. With origins going back decades or more, these so-called conspirators are remarkably ineffective. (OR ARE THEY?)
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:48 PM on April 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


When I was in high school I worked a closing McDonald's shift, and would drive the long drive home listening to Art Bell in my hoopty. I fucking loved Art Bell.

I listen to a lot of Alex Jones, and am friends of friends with someone who works directly for him, and holy shit if these people won't take every possible opportunity to try to wake the sheeple up. A guy came in my bike shop the other day and wanted advice on which water bottles were BPA free (all of ours are), so I told him, and then he just launched into "Yeah well BPA is just part of the government's soft kill program, and chemtrails are making us docile plus the flouride will reprogram your beta waves so that you're more susceptible to the mind control rays they piggyback onto FM transmissions......"

My wife has a zero tolerance policy for anything I try to filter through a conspiracy lens, even though she knows I don't take it seriously. Not. Funny. To. Her.

What the heck is in our water supply? What is oozing out of the ground that allows this type of effect to happen? Everywhere we look, the visible spectrum is rainbows. This cannot be natural. As a nation, we have to ask ourselves what the hell is going on.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:51 PM on April 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


(Her explanation was that Dick Cheney had set up a program in which chemicals in airplane exhaust would fall to the earth, into the water table, and poison our growing food with some sort of mind-control agent.)

Well, here I was thinking that chemtrails were hooey and believers were a little lot wacko. Then you had to go and mention Demon Dick.

OMG CHEMTRAILZ ARE TEH REAL!!
posted by BlueHorse at 5:56 PM on April 11, 2013


Satanic panickers

At first I read this as "Satanic picnickers" and for a moment I was utterly terrified.

Sigh. The struggle hasn't been the same since they got Xandor Korzybski.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:03 PM on April 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Isn't is obvious? Chemtrails are part of the conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids. You have been warned.
posted by notme at 6:07 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Chemtrails were my favorite part of the Majestic ARG from forever ago.
posted by andreaazure at 6:12 PM on April 11, 2013


Noory's just a putz.

Wha-what? But what about this mail-order emergency rations thing he told me to order? He said it was like a savings account of food!

How much interest does a ham sandwich earn monthly?
posted by JHarris at 6:18 PM on April 11, 2013


Perhaps we could just hire George Clooney to drive around breaking it all up.
posted by salishsea at 6:19 PM on April 11, 2013


Just a parade of lost souls, more fodder for the NatGeo-industrial-Doomsday-Prepper complex.
posted by feloniousmonk at 6:20 PM on April 11, 2013


There have always been die-hards, does it seem to be much more difficult to convince ordinary people of when they're engaging in woo anymore?

There have always been religions, yes? Now there's just more variety. You can even pick reality, if you like. Or someone else's version of it.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:29 PM on April 11, 2013


A sometimes fun podcast is Skeptoid, where the host turns "the skeptical eye!" on various conspiracies, paranormal events, and fringe theories. Last four episodes were: Aquatic Ape Theory, John Titor, the disappearance of a B52, & the Pentagon 9/11 missile theory.

He can be slightly rational-type-personality biased at times if I recall, but I forgive and like to listen because I like hearing skeptical investigations unfold. Start from the middle/end of the series so far, when he's a little more sure of his role.
posted by tychotesla at 6:41 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been following the exploits of one Ann Bressington, a character that, sadly, is in the South Australian Legislative Council. She got in on a quirk of electoral law.

But since then, she's gone the full nutjob on fluoride, chemtrails and 'population control', and agenda 21, claiming that the Federal Minister for Health is guilty for 'crimes against humanity' for supporting fluoridation, and inciting her handful of followers to make death threats against the Minister and anyone else who questions her nutjobbery.

A good rundown here, from blogger Reasonable Hank.

In other news, similar nutjobs in Queensland local councils are ending fluoridation programs.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:50 PM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wha-what? But what about this mail-order emergency rations thing he told me to order? He said it was like a savings account of food!

Which is a fascinating simile to use, considering what he thinks of the banks.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:07 PM on April 11, 2013


In Calgary, the year before last city council voted 10-3 to stop fluoridating. Last month, someone in Kensington put up a bunch of 8.5 x 11 colour posters about chemtrails. Coincidence? I think not. I tried to read them thinking they could be slightly altered to increase their humour value, but they were pretty much incomprehensible.

(Hint to chemtrail advocates: please write in complete sentences (English optional), and use the currently accepted meanings of words. When Century 21* Agenda 21 comes into effect, then we'll switch to the new definitions, ok? Thank you for your consideration.)

*When they say "watch for the signs", those aren't the ones they're talking about.
posted by sneebler at 7:08 PM on April 11, 2013


My stepfather and his friends all think chemtrails are about weather control. I can't even say 'isn't it a lovely day?' without one or the other of them mentioning the lack, or clarity, of the chemtrails.
So 'weather' goes on the list of 'things not to mention at my stepdad's house', along with 'royalty' 'Americans' and 'the internet'.
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 7:15 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, seriously, that stuff is majorly carcinogenic, and the oxidized exhaust is pretty bad for you

Yeah, but it smells so good!

Actually, I really just need someone to agree with me that (unburned) jet fuel smells like maple syrup. Anyone?
posted by backseatpilot at 7:18 PM on April 11, 2013


Don't huff jet fuel, man. That's just a bad idea.

Also, it's just not as good with bacon as maple syrup is.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:34 PM on April 11, 2013


Government serves the 140 people who get to vote in the "Money Election".

Are these 140 Jews or lizards?

His thoughts were red thoughts, do you think there's something in the Australian character that encourages the conspiracy mindset? I think there's a similar feel to California, where good weather and abundant pot and lots of hippies combine to lead to people believing anything if it comes from a site with 'natural' in the title or warns against 'chemicals'. Anti-vacc, fluoride, and chemtrail people seem to stem from the same fear of contamination that comes from anti-GM food activism and pushes for more 'organic' food. Or maybe that's my conspiracy mindset.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:46 PM on April 11, 2013


I have a friend who, along with her husband, is anti-vax, believes in chemtrails and the dumbing down of society through the systemic use of fluoride, Illuminati control, homeopathy and all kinds of other stuff. She was so proud of her daughter who was watching Teletubbies as a toddler one day and who lisped out 'Chemtrails!' This was not a sign of her having picked up on the chemtrail conversations she must have been overhearing from her parents; rather, this kid was obviously so smart that she was able to identify a toxic chemtrail sent to Teletubby land to poison Tinky Winky or something.

I am increasingly running out of things to talk to my friend about, because I'll be damned if I'll talk to her about any of this stuff! FIAMO works in real life too, but one day she'll ask me my opinion and I'll be forced to make a stand. Sigh.
posted by h00py at 8:00 PM on April 11, 2013


His thoughts were red thoughts, do you think there's something in the Australian character that encourages the conspiracy mindset?

No. Because the 'Australian character' is not a monolith. Australia is a diverse, multicultural, heterogenous place. You can't generalise like that with any level of accuracy.

'anti-vacc, fluoride, and chemtrail people seem to stem from the same fear of contamination that comes from anti-GM food activism and pushes for more 'organic' food.'

I think people fear what they don't understand. And that many of the people engaging in this kind of nonsense are ignorant and lack the skills to engage with the science and the evidence. In the vaccum of understanding, they latch on to the things they can understand, being the simplistic analyses offered by people like Bressington.

I think that anti-GM is a slightly different kettle of fish, because there is evidence of regulatory capture by GM companies such as Monsanto, and arguably GM products are not being subjected to the study and testing that they should be.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:02 PM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think my favorite conspiracy theory is about the little invisible things flying around us that can only be detected on video. I don't even know what they call these things, I'm sure this has a name. I saw one of the videos, annotated with screen caps. It's just small insects flying in front of the camera at high speed.

Conspiracies are not what they used to be. I recall an old friend of the family who insisted that the world is secretly being run by the Societe Generale de Belgique, which went underground and operates through the puppet system they created called the United Nations. They hold obscure rituals in the Meditation Room of the UN Building in NYC, where they debauch virgins on an altar made of lodestone, inside the sheltered walls of a specially installed Faraday cage.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:26 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I recall an old friend of the family who insisted that the world is secretly being run by the Societe Generale de Belgique, which went underground and operates through the puppet system they created called the United Nations. They hold obscure rituals in the Meditation Room of the UN Building in NYC, where they debauch virgins on an altar made of lodestone, inside the sheltered walls of a specially installed Faraday cage.

I WANT TO
BELIEVE

What? It sounds fun! How do I join?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:30 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


rtha, is that the first time you've posted that comment re: flickr? I'm experiencing some major deja vu.

I have a friend who progressively went from "fan of Carlos Castaneda" to "complete nut who believes in Chemtrails, Lizard People, The Secret, NLP, Everything Some Crazy MoFo Named Val Valerian Writes, Everything David Icke Writes, along with Don Croft, Trufax.org(!!?!!)," etc. He set up his own 1990's Geocities-style site around 2006 and wanted my opinion and it was awkward.

It all started after he moved to Arizona and away from his support network of friends, but he quickly established friendships there. It may have also had to do with the 100 hits of acid he did over the course of a month prior to moving, but the both of us were pretty woo-hoo and speculative about everything, and he just kind of took it to the deep end.

At one point I told him that I thought he was basically turning his life into an RPG of sorts, a quite fantastical one at that, using all of this to give himself a sense of purpose that was ultimately fruitless in terms of finding any peace in the world, even if it is as he envisions it and the sheeple are just making the best of it. He conceded that he probably was living in his own fantasy, but that didn't stop him from ranting endlessly about it every time we visited (this did die down after many years to a verrrry slow trickle). He built the "orgone generators" and "cloudbusters" and such and I wondered how much environmental damage was involved in wasting shitloads of volatile urethane resin crap, and how much damage he was doing to his lungs and brains (he did do it outside, at least). YEAH BRO THE SOLUTION TO OUR ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IS TOXIC PLASTIC GLUE SHIT AND METAL SHARDS AND BEAUTIFUL ROCKS MINED FROM THE EARTH.

Ooh, shadow people. I notice the shadow people pretty often, especially when I'm manic and have been up too late. Quite a few "sightings" recently where it felt uncanny and detailed but it was just my brain doing some cool shit. For all I know I was stepping backwards outside of myself and seeing my own form projected, or it was just low information being thrown into a human-like blob. It's clearly just an illusion and I know how amazingly complex the brain is and how the rendering engine can become overburdened...far too familiar with messing with rendering engine. Awhile back a friend of mine showed me a YouTube video about the "shadow people" and it was so clearly a clever attempt to work them into your brain through the powers of suggestion. I was on to the video's intent quite quickly and tried to psych myself out of being psyched out but that didn't stop me some seeing the evil cowboy from hell on a distant window in the house that night. Instant goosebumps and shivers and all of the typical descriptors of panic and terror, but just for a split second. My mind gets very entertained by this madness, and yet I know it's all bogus and that the actual mechanisms are far more fantastic to explore.

In some ways it reminds me of pro-wrestling, because I will sometimes play the "smart mark" with my more out-there friends but I try to be skeptical and wish that more people enjoyed the show without believing it to be true and enriching blowhards like Alex Jones.
posted by lordaych at 8:32 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


No. Because the 'Australian character' is not a monolith. Australia is a diverse, multicultural, heterogenous place. You can't generalise like that with any level of accuracy.

Sure, but that doesn't mean Australia doesn't have a culture distinct from whatever other country and that that culture couldn't be disposed towards conspiracy theories. (I have no idea if it is. I've never been to Australia, I just have a distant Australian cousin I met once.) For example, there's probably a reason you see fliers about chemtrails tacked to telephone poles in Berkeley and not in Minneapolis, where such fliers are mostly about left wing meetings, lost dogs and missing people. No chemtrails and no cell phone towers.
posted by hoyland at 8:33 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, vegan potlucks. Though maybe they lure you with potlucks and then make you believe in chemtrails or Lyndon LaRouche.
posted by hoyland at 8:35 PM on April 11, 2013




I would be less sympathetic of the batshitinsane if their fears weren't continually reinforced by shit the government says in public.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:45 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think my favorite conspiracy theory is about the little invisible things flying around us that can only be detected on video.

You could be thinking of rods but it's not like there is a shortage of options.
posted by feloniousmonk at 8:55 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think of chemtrails as one node on a network of conspiracy theories that, in sum, represent one of the greatest collaborative storytelling projects of the 20th century.

It's told in real democratic hypertext, arranged in weird rhizomatic parallel to itself. After exposure all the academic po-mo stuff just comes off as a weak attempt to capture its self-reflective scope and madness. Pynchon almost did it, but his work still ends when you close the book. This story, the ecumenical conspiracy isn't bounded to any particular text: that's the intrinsic medium/message component of it, how it's always leaking out of every conceivable textual container. Every line is blurred by the very nature of the thing, it's part RPG and part fairy tale and part Chilton manual, and the "author" is an indeterminate smear of people all building up on one another's lore - just like the great 21st-century author ought to be. This to me is the best fanfic ever, except it's written by fans of... society, maybe?

Plus, as a story it's deeply resonant with themes encountered in modern Western life, at least as I live it. Themes of alienation, the mythological individual standing strong against a deep, eldritch and most-of-all bureaucratic evil that may be either malevolent or unfeeling. The panopticon is closing in on our protagonists as they frantically try to find a way to short-circuit it or learn its language. Trust is hard-won. Inanimate objects are the shock troops of the evil empire. It's archetypally astounding and captures the harried, a-logical omniparadoxical tension of the postindustrial subconscious better than just about any work of fiction I can think of.

I can't speak to the lives of people who spend their time working on it, though, even though I personally know a few. But I have noticed how the people I know who are most concerned about being literally poisoned by chemtrails all habitually smoke big-brand cigarettes.
posted by metaman livingblog at 8:58 PM on April 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


I remembered that our local free weekly had an article about chemtrails. I thought i was more recent but actually was from 2001. And interestingly enough, several of the people quoted mention 1999 as when they started noticing them.

My favorite part is that they track down the planes that a chemtrail spotter claims are "spraying" and find out that the conspiracy includes a utility contractor (why would someone who services powerlines have a plane? totally suspicious!) and Alaska Airlines (clearly, connected to HAARP.)
posted by vespabelle at 9:06 PM on April 11, 2013


Fluoride needs to be in contact with tooth enamel to be effective. This is why the dentist uses that awful-tasting paste in the mouth-trays, and why rinsing immediately after brushing moots the use of fluoride toothpaste. Putting fluoride in the water we use to flush our toilets and make coffee is useless. Heck, who drinks unfiltered tap water, anyway?!

Fluoride is highly effective in strengthening tooth enamel. Fluoridating the water supply is the worst way to do it. Brush your teeth properly. There's no need to flush water treatment monies down the drain.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:09 PM on April 11, 2013


I think my favorite conspiracy theory is about the little invisible things flying around us that can only be detected on video.

Orbs, maybe?
posted by metaman livingblog at 9:15 PM on April 11, 2013


Orbs, maybe?

felonious monk had it: rods. I never heard of orbs before, that is hilarious.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:18 PM on April 11, 2013


At first I read this as "Satanic picnickers" and for a moment I was utterly terrified.

The ants always get into the jars of virgins' blood.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:47 PM on April 11, 2013


For example, there's probably a reason you see fliers about chemtrails tacked to telephone poles in Berkeley and not in Minneapolis, where such fliers are mostly about left wing meetings, lost dogs and missing people. No chemtrails and no cell phone towers.

And yet, witness what happens when you search for Minneapolis + chemtrails. Am I to conclude that there's something in the Minneapolitan 'character' that lends itself to conspiracy theories?

CiS's statement is based on a false (or, at least, unproven) premise; that conspiracy theories are rampant in Australia. Despite people like Bressington, I think this kind of thinking is the exception, not the norm.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:16 PM on April 11, 2013


CiS's statement is based on a false (or, at least, unproven) premise; that conspiracy theories are rampant in Australia. Despite people like Bressington, I think this kind of thinking is the exception, not the norm.

Yeah it's not like the anti-vaccers are causing a public health crisis or appearing on popular morning shows.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:57 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whoa...that orbs link made my brain spin.
posted by salishsea at 11:06 PM on April 11, 2013


I didn't say that they weren't a problem; they loud, and sensational, and their bullshit sells papers. But they're not mainstream. They are outliers, and their nonsense is decried and called out.

...or appearing on popular morning shows.

The Dalai Lama has appeared on Sunrise; that doesn't make all of Australia Buddhist.

Most of our elected officials are not insane. Craven, and vote chasing, and many other things but, with the exception of climate change (which is highly politicised for a number of reasons), they accept science driven policy.

The reason that people like Bressington are interesting is because of their novelty, not their power. She's a running joke in SA, like Pauline Hanson used to be. KJ Maher called out Bressington for her stupidity in the South Australian Legsilative Council, on the record.

Andrew McDonald in the NSW Parliament called out the anti-vax nonsense recently too.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:14 PM on April 11, 2013


Yeah it's not like the anti-vaccers are causing a public health crisis or appearing on popular morning shows. And that was a minute on the Google.

And... it's not like that's happening in any other countries. And it took a minute on the Google to find these stories. It's all over.
posted by grapesaresour at 11:15 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it's just selection bias around the people I know. This seems to be related.

There’s a strong streak of “purity” politics on the left that shades into reactionary politics, and unsurprisingly, women, low income folks, and children are the ones expected to carry the heaviest burden for it. The anti-vaccination folks, the people that are hardcore attachment parenting people, the unschoolers, and the anti-GMO people: These are all movements that are associated with the left, but are reactionary purity panics at heart.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:29 PM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Heck, who drinks unfiltered tap water, anyway?!

Lots of people, surely?
posted by atrazine at 1:47 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


The chemtrails people are trying go take over Pacifica in LA. It's really frustrating.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 1:59 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The chemtrails are nothing. Wait until you hear what the QUEERS are doing to the SOIL.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:26 AM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


What the heck is in our water supply? What is oozing out of the ground that allows this type of effect to happen? Everywhere we look, the visible spectrum is rainbows. This cannot be natural...

Wait. That was for-reals? Seriously? It's not, like, a parody someone tossed-together? Seriously? SERIOUSLY????

I don't even...

I mean...I was chuckling at the video...the cute childlike phenomenon of making your own rainbow with the sprinkler. The quaint innocence juxtaposed by her stern narration. It was a pitch-perfect parody of conspiracy nut video. But...she was serious????????

good lord
posted by Thorzdad at 4:46 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


The saddest thing about the chemtrails conspiracy is that I don't even remember coming up with it while creating this "world" in my mind.
posted by orme at 4:55 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had a co-worker who was heavy into conspiracy theories.

Ever since meeting him I've had the impression that the majority of all this nonsense comes from disenfranchisement due to a lack of agency and education. Believing in conspiracies is a way of feeling like you have special insight into the world around you, and justifying why you have a low paying job in the New World Order.

I think he got a crappy middle school education, and from then on was educated by the new-age rave scene and by minorities who have actual legit historical reasons to fear conspiracy.

I remember he asked me about chemtrails, and his mind was blown when I started talking about how we know that planes control the weather because you can go talk to people who do it for political or agricultural reasons over cropland or the Olympics for a stead paycheck. And how silly it was to believe there was a conspiracy when all the information you needed to confirm it was already accessible.

As poor as I am, I have agency and education: If I fear HAARP or the LHC I can find people who work there, and I can understand what they tell me about their work.
posted by tychotesla at 5:07 AM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


And yet, witness what happens when you search for Minneapolis + chemtrails. Am I to conclude that there's something in the Minneapolitan 'character' that lends itself to conspiracy theories?

CiS's statement is based on a false (or, at least, unproven) premise; that conspiracy theories are rampant in Australia. Despite people like Bressington, I think this kind of thinking is the exception, not the norm.


You could have simply said "I don't think conspiracy theories are so popular here that it says something about the culture." Or "I don't think conspiracy theories are any more popular here than elsewhere." Or the previous plus "Perhaps different conspiracy theories are popular here than elsewhere." None of those are suggesting it's preposterous that a belief in conspiracy theories could suggest something about the culture. (Or perhaps you read 'character' and 'culture' as very different. I think talking about a national 'character' is bizarre, but one doesn't, I think, alter the question by saying 'culture' instead of talking about national character.)

For whatever reason, people in Minneapolis (or at least anywhere I've been) are not interested in telling me about chemtrails. This doesn't mean they don't believe in chemtrails, this means they don't tack notices them to telephone poles. In other words, chemtrails occupy a different place in the culture (an invisible one) here than in Berkeley. This probably says something about the respective cultures, because what notices get tacked to telephone poles probably says something. I'm not randomly making shit up when I tell you I've never seen a chemtrail notice in five years in Minneapolis, when I used to see them every day in Berkeley (though frequently the same notice, to be clear).
posted by hoyland at 5:08 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The chemtrails are nothing. Wait until you hear what the QUEERS are doing to the SOIL.

The Mixer is just a clever cover for disposing of people who learn the truth.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:22 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread taught me that thinking about the John Titor bullshit will still make me angry. And now I'm reading the Wikipedia talk page about it and gaaaah.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:35 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man, orgone generators. When I was a young ham radio geek, I subscribed to 73 Magazine, whose EIC Wayne Greene was big into this stuff. He published the plans to Bob Beck's Plant Growth Stimulator for bioeletrificaton, the theory that low levels of current would be beneficial for the body. It was labelled as a plant growth aid to skirt FDA rules on untested medical devices (aka WHAT THE MEDICAL INDUSTRY DOESN'T WANT YOU TO KNOW) and was supposed to do all kinds of fantastic things. Apparently, the US govt raided and destroyed the work of Wilhelm Reich over such a pretense with orgone.

Even as a kid, you can see where this thinking is attractive.
posted by dr_dank at 6:26 AM on April 12, 2013


JHarris: "How much interest does a ham sandwich earn monthly?"

I find there is daily interest in a ham sandwich.
posted by chavenet at 6:36 AM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Once again the conservative, sandwich-heavy portfolio pays off for the hungry investor!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:46 AM on April 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Wow, thanks everyone for the crazy conspiracies. I sometimes work these into a radio show I do and there's some really choice stuff in this thread. I haven't seen The Adventures of Don & Carol Croft for years, forgot how much wonderful insanity was on there...

"No more Chemtrails,.. not today
Make the Chemtrails,.. go away
They will not stick, they will not stay
This will be a blue sky day."

by Kim Ann Olson
posted by nTeleKy at 8:04 AM on April 12, 2013


What, no mention of the Sylphs, the etheric beings that help destroy chemtrails? (which look indistinguishable from thin clouds)
posted by ymgve at 8:16 AM on April 12, 2013


I think a big part of what can make the chemtrails "theories" and other such ideas so plausible to so many people is that at this point The Government has actually been documented as doing some pretty heinous black-ops weirdo stuff.

The Government has been involved in a secret 40-year program withholding syphilis diagnosis and treatment from African American men.

The Government conducted mind control experiments including drugging unwitting participants with LSD.

The US Army released millions of yellow fever and dengue fever infected mosquitoes in Savannah, Georgia and Avon Park, Florida. Army researchers pretended to be public health workers, so that they could photograph and perform medical tests on the victims. Several people died as a result of the experiments.

And if you told someone who hadn't heard of these real-life Freedom of Information Act verified taxpayer-funded experiments that they happened, they would look at you like, "Oh, one of those Chemtrails-from-Black-Helicopters-over-the-FEMA-Camps" crazies.

This is not to say that I believe that chemtrails are a real woowoo-conspiracy. I don't. Just that the US Government does not have a lot of integrity regarding actual woowoo-conspiracies, so who can blame people if it's hard to keep track of what atrocities have been committed in real-life vs. what is just YouTube-Paranoid-Nutjob-Hypotheses.
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:35 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


huh, just noticed that the gun matt damon is using in the elysium _trailer_ has a 'CHEMRAIL' label on it :P that is all!
posted by kliuless at 8:48 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read Unarians as Unitarians, and thought, Well, that explains a lot. Now, thanks to octobersurprise, I have a mental picture of satanic picnicking Unitarians. The builder is at the house, and is unfazed by my laughter.
posted by theora55 at 8:51 AM on April 12, 2013


These sorts of things are amusing to me on the surface, but at root they always make me kinda sad, because it shows how far we have to go in terms of caring for, or even acknowledging mental health issues in this country.

Being crazy sucks, and I should know! All those logic and analytical skills that make you a whiz with computers or figuring out the world around you work whether or not the rest of your brain does, and then you become obsessed with all the minutae (at the expense of the larger picture) and suddenly you're pointing at comtrails, or gold-fringed flags, or specks in frame-by-frames of 9/11 or rainbows in your sprinklers going "LOOK!! DON'T YOU SEE IT?!" as though it were plain as day. It can feel like being a helpless child who is 100% certain that there are monsters under the bed, and all anyone can do is laugh at your very real fear.

I'm reminded of when a friend was dealing with the relationship with his girlfriend falling apart, going on any number of intricate and admittedly well-thought-out plans and theories and reasons as to how he was going to fix himself, fix her, fix the relationship etc. He was convinced that they were on the road to recovery, despite the fact that they were both clearly miserable for different reasons.

The whole endeavor was predicated on the fact that when he'd ask her, she'd say that she was still in love with him, and that she still wanted to be with him. Even when I suggested that maybe she was, not lying per se, but maybe despite loving him and WANTING to be with him (as he clearly did her), it might not be possible. Like his whole emotional state laid bare was like that one Far Side comic where the professor is doing a huge, blackboard spanning math formula, and a colleague is pointing like "Um, professor?" at a big bracket that says like "[2 + 2 = 5]" It was easier (and made more sense) to him to keep overthinking and planning and theorizing this doomed relationship than it was to actually address what was really going on.

I feel like the stigma on mental health leads to a similar problem: most people think of "mentally ill" as either Daffy Duck or Hannibal Lechter: As noted above, our Gov't has been responsible for all sorts of nasty business, much of which was denied and revealed later. Because of this, people who research chemtrails or suffer Morgellions or whatever don't ever consider that something might be wrong with their brain: to them, they're not only sane, but super-sane; "Crazy" is what happens to other people.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:32 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


atrazine: "Heck, who drinks unfiltered tap water, anyway?!

Lots of people, surely?
"

Not me. And don't call me Shirley.
posted by Splunge at 9:38 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


huh, just noticed that the gun matt damon is using in the elysium _trailer_ has a 'CHEMRAIL' label on it :P that is all!

Damon also starred in a movie called The Adjustment Bureau about *gasp* shadow people.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:40 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I work in finance; I'm a cynical person, and I'm another person who thinks flouridated water is some sort of boondoggle. I don't know who stands to gain by it, financially, but I'm dead certain someone must be, or must have when the policy was started. I haven't researched it because these sorts of things just make me mad.

Don't get me started on cars designed so that small people are unable to use the front seat. They don't make purchasing decisions, so they don't matter, but that is a HELL of a design flaw.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:49 PM on April 13, 2013


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