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Conspiracy Theories
Status: Unlikely
An article has begun to circulate around the internet warning of a secret government plan to enlist pastors in an evil plan to create a submissive populace:
A Pastor has come forward to blow the whistle on a nationwide FEMA program which is training Pastors and other religious representatives to become secret police enforcers who teach their congregations to "obey the government" in preparation for a declaration of martial law, property and firearm seizures, and forced relocation. In March of this year the Pastor, who we shall refer to as Pastor Revere, was invited to attend a meeting of his local FEMA chapter which circulated around preparedness for a potential bio-terrorist attack, any natural disaster or a nationally declared emergency. The FEMA directors told the Pastors that attended that it was their job to help implement FEMA and Homeland Security directives in anticipation of any of these eventualities. The first directive was for Pastors to preach to their congregations Romans 13, the often taken out of context bible passage that was used by Hitler to hoodwink Christians into supporting him, in order to teach them to "obey the government" when martial law is declared.
And it goes on and on in this style. The article originally comes from prisonplanet.com, which is a conspiracy-theory site. Tellingly, the article doesn't provide any verifiable source for its claims. The story relies solely upon the word of "Pastor Revere". Of course, as Marx said, religion is the opium of the masses, so such a plan wouldn't be all that farfetched, but it seems a bit unnecessary. After all, isn't pacifying and brainwashing the populace what Fox News is for?
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed May 31, 2006
Comments (24)
Status: Highly Doubtful
I've received a lot of emails about a story in The Observer a few days ago alleging that thirty-six dolphins "trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater" and "carrying 'toxic dart' guns" were swept out of their tanks by Hurricane Katrina and are now at large in the Gulf of Mexico. This story is very doubtful for a number of reasons.

First, it seems to be a wild rumor inspired by the true report that eight bottlenose dolphins were washed out of their marina by Katrina, but were later recovered. Second, The Observer's story relies entirely upon one source, a "respected accident investigator" named Leo Sheridan. But as The Register points out, Mr. Sheridan has been the source for many dubious conspiracy-style claims in the past.

In 2003 he told The Guardian that he didn't believe the official explanation that the English aviator Amy Johnson's plane crashed in 1941 because it ran out of fuel. He believed she had been shot down.

In 1998 he told the Observer the cause of death of 22 dolphins found washed up on the shore in southern France was that "'these were dolphins trained by the US navy, and that something went badly wrong... They were disposed of to conceal the existence of the American's military dolphin programme.' According to Mr Sheridan, the United States navy launched a classified programme, the Cetacean Intelligence Mission, in San Diego in 1989 with the approval of President George Bush. The dolphins, fitted with harnesses around their necks and with small electrodes planted under their skin, were taught first to patrol and protect Trident submarines in harbour and stationary warships at sea."

And in 1991 The Observer used him as the source for a story about crop circles: "Britain's crop circles are caused by squabbling birds marking out their feeding territory, says environmental investigator Leo Sheridan. 'Each morning birds that feed off the crops, such as starlings and sparrows, squabble over their patch of field,' he says. 'The birds sometimes two or three hundred of them whirl round in circles close to the top of the crops, flattening them with the action of their wings as they fight each other for a patch of field.' Mr Sheridan, who is employed by aviation authorities to investigate atmospheric and environmental influences on air disasters, claims he has witnessed the phenomenon in Devon and Cornwall."

In other words, Leo Sheridan is The Observer's resident crackpot-on-call. They must phone him up whenever they want to add a bit of drama or weirdness to their stories.

Further discrediting the story is the US Navy's insistence that it has never trained dolphins for attack missions. The dolphins are only trained to locate suspicious objects. Not to destroy them.
Categories: Animals, Conspiracy Theories, Military
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 28, 2005
Comments (15)
Weatherman Scott Stevens claims that "Japanese gangsters known as the Yakuza caused Hurricane Katrina." Here are more details (thanks to John for sending me the link):

Scott Stevens says after looking at NASA satellite photos of the hurricane, he is convinced it was caused by electromagnetic generators from ground-based microwave transmitters. The generators emit a soundwave between three and 30 megahertz and Stevens claims the Russians invented the storm-creating technology back in 1976 and sold it to others in the late 1980s. Stevens says the clouds formed by the generators are different than normal clouds and are able to appear out of nowhere and says Katrina had many rotation points that are unusual for hurricanes. At least ten nations and organizations possess the technology but Stevens suspects the Japanese Yakuza created Katrina in order to make a fortune in the futures market and to get even with the U.S. for the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima.

Also check out Scott Stevens's website, Weather Wars, where he elaborates on his theory of scalar weather (as he calls it) and provides a lot of hurricane imagery to make his case. Stevens really seems to believe his theory, so I would classify it as a conspiracy theory rather than a hoax.

Update: Here's a page with more pictures of supposedly artificially created scalar weather phenomena.
image
Categories: Conspiracy Theories
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 09, 2005
Comments (37)
Has the government been monitoring and recording your telephone conversations? A government contractor was able to copy 1 terabyte worth of phone calls recorded by the government. Enter your phone number to find out if they've been spying on you!
Categories: April Fools Day, Conspiracy Theories
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 31, 2005
Comments (19)
Moon Base Clavius is "an organization of amateurs and professionals devoted to the Apollo program and its manned exploration of the moon. Our special mission is to debunk the so-called conspiracy theories that state such a landing may never have occurred." Their site is "named after the Clavius Moon Base in Arthur C. Clarke's novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, and visualized by Stanley Kubrick in the film of the same name." I've only just begun browsing around their site, but already it looks like it has a lot of good info on it.
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 10, 2005
Comments (26)
The Guardian reports that a story has been spreading around Islamic websites about a CIA muezzin school in which the CIA trains agents to pose as muezzins (the men who call Muslims to prayer five days a week times a day from the minaret towers of mosques). Supposedly the CIA feels that muezzins are in a uniquely advantageous position to view everything that's going on in Muslim communities. But in reality, this is another of those satire-mistaken-as-news stories. The story of the CIA Muezzin school originated on the satire-laced website of the The Rockall Times (Rockall is a tiny uninhabited island in the middle of the Atlantic). So this will join the growing list of spoofs taken seriously by Muslim news sources, a list that already includes the Giant Skeleton Unearthed in Saudi Arabia, and the Secret History of the Flying Carpet.
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 11, 2005
Comments (9)
I realize some people feel that Abstract Expressionism needs some kind of an excuse for its existence, but the following purported connection between Abstract Expressionism and the CIA seems just bizarre. It comes from a review of Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War by Frances Stonor Saunders

One of the most important and fascinating discussions in Saunders' book is about the fact that CIA and its allies in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) poured vast sums of money into promoting Abstract Expressionist (AE) painting and painters as an antidote to art with a social content. In promoting AE, the CIA fought off the right-wing in Congress. What the CIA saw in AE was an "anti-Communist ideology, the ideology of freedom, of free enterprise. Non-figurative and politically silent it was the very antithesis of socialist realism" (254). They viewed AE as the true expression of the national will. To bypass right-wing criticism, the CIA turned to the private sector (namely MOMA and its co-founder, Nelson Rockefeller, who referred to AE as "free enterprise painting.") Many directors at MOMA had longstanding links to the CIA and were more than willing to lend a hand in promoting AE as a weapon in the cultural Cold War. Heavily funded exhibits of AE were organized all over Europe; art critics were mobilized, and art magazines churned out articles full of lavish praise. The combined economic resources of MOMA and the CIA-run Fairfield Foundation ensured the collaboration of Europe's most prestigious galleries which, in turn, were able to influence aesthetics across Europe.

Art museum directors on the front lines of the Cold War? That sounds like the plot of a Thomas Pynchon novel to me. It also sounds just crazy enough to be true. (via Early Days of a Better Nation)
Categories: Art, Conspiracy Theories
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 10, 2005
Comments (15)
image Hmmm. There's either a typo in the caption to this Yahoo! News photo, or maybe they're trying to tell us that all those NASA manned space missions really were a hoax:

A Mercury-Redstone rocket that once stood upright at the credentialing center at the Kennedy Space Center (news - web sites) in Titusville, Fla. lies on the grass after being blown down by Hurricane Frances Saturday, Sept. 5, 2004. A rocket similar to this was used to launch Alan Shepard on the first unmanned suborbital mission. (AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove)
Categories: Conspiracy Theories
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 07, 2004
Comments (10)
All true conspiracy wackos know that there's an international Jewish conspiracy to control the world, but they may not have realized that this conspiracy has its own website, appropriately called InternationalJewishConspiracy.com. The site offers the lowdown on all aspects of the Jewish conspiracy, such as a refresher on secret Jewish signs as well as a list of some of the lesser known protocols of the Elders of Zion. Obviously the site is a spoof, and pretty funny. But still, I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be wearing one of the 'International Jewish Conspiracy' t-shirts they sell. I'd worry that people wouldn't recognize it as a joke. (Thanks to Jim Terr for the submission)
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 20, 2004
Comments (2)
image Head for the hills. The end of the world is near. For the past month conspiracy-theory sites have been all abuzz with the latest scare story: that a comet surrounded by a cloud of dust is going to hit the Earth this month and trigger an end-of-the-human-race scenario.

Word of the approaching comet was first leaked on the internet by someone using the screen name 'Aussie Bloke,' who claimed to be an Australian astronomer. You can look at some of his posts over at Bushcountry.org (thanks to Marco Langbroek for sending the link). They make pretty dramatic reading. For instance, here's where he describes the effect that the cometary impact will have:

"There will be several impacts of differing sizes spread over the globe. The bombardment will last a week or so at most. The largest fragment will rock the planet and the smaller ones will wipe out a city here or there depending on where they come down. There WILL be quakes and firestorms and major flooding of coastlines due to ocean impacts. Yes...it will be much like the movie 'deep impact' only worse."

According to Aussie Bloke, there's not much time to get your affairs in order because the dust cloud will begin to reach us tomorrow (June 8), and the first impact will occur on June 18.

Now it seemed pretty easy to dismiss some random guy calling himself Aussie Bloke, but then he decided to reveal his true identity. He said that he was Dr. Grant Gartrell, and sure enough there definitely is a fully credentialed Australian astronomer by that name... who has published articles about meteors and cometary impacts. But unfortunately (or fortunately, rather), that Dr. Grant Gartrell completely denies any knowledge of this 'Impact in June' stuff. In fact, he's been retired from astronomy for quite a while and now spends his time running a blueberry farm, not tracking comets.

It looks like the entire 'Impact in June' hysteria has actually been an elaborate hoax designed to poke fun at the conspiracy nuts. One clue that it was all a joke can be found in the evidence that was presented. For instance, one poster noted that you could tell the comet was approaching because "fireballs have increased significantly over the last several weeks and are happening EVERYWHERE." He then noted that a fireball was seen near Grover's Mill, New Jersey (scroll about a third of the way down the page). Grover's Mill, of course, is where the Martians supposedly landed during the 1938 War of the Worlds Panic Broadcast.
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Science
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 07, 2004
Comments (8)
image A guy calling himself Eric Bruderton has some dramatic footage up on his website of people (soldiers or mercenaries? It's hard to tell) being attacked by unseen assailants wielding rocket-propelled grenades. Bruderton himself admits he doesn't know what the footage is about. As he writes, "I don’t know these people, I don’t know who’s shooting at them and I don’t know why they are being targeted. I don’t even know where they are. Maybe the Middle East." But he insists that the footage is important, and that he has somehow put himself in danger by making the footage publicly available. The whole thing reeks of a Blair-Witch-style publicity stunt. But the footage, if it is staged (which I'm guessing it is), is pretty high production value. (the video takes about 20 or 30 seconds to load). (via Chapel Perilous)
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Military
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 04, 2004
Comments (26)
image I've received quite a few emails with questions like this: Is Gillette really putting spy chips inside of their products that allow them to spy on consumers at a distance? Is the company surreptitiously snapping photographs of people who pick up their products from store shelves? Are these and other claims being made at the Boycott Gillette website really true? Well, the strange thing is, as wild as these claims sound, they're actually true. Or rather, they used to be true... and could be true again in the future. Gillette did experiment with putting 'spy chips' (wireless transmitting devices, also known as RFID tags, or Radio Frequency Identification Tags) inside of the packaging of its products. And it did experiment with photographing people who picked up its products in stores. This was all revealed last year (read about it in this Guardian article). Gillette claims that it's not currently continuing these experiments, but it's still an enthusiastic supporter of the concept of the use of RFID tags, believing that they could help prevent theft and help the company better manage its inventory. They dismiss claims that the chips would be used to spy on people outside of the store. Dick Cantwell, Vice-president of global business management for Gillette, has been quoted in the media as saying that Gillette would probably only consider putting RFID tags in all its products once the price of the tags came down to around one cent each. Maybe in ten years or so. Another organization (besides Boycott Gillette) that's worried about the privacy concerns that the use of RFID tags raises is Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering. Personally, I've been boycotting Gillette for years for a different reason. Their razor blades are too expensive. Plus, I don't see a need to have double, triple, or quadruple-bladed razors (or whatever number they're now up too). A cheap single-bladed, generic razor works fine for me.
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Technology
Posted by Alex on Sat May 22, 2004
Comments (3)
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