Posts Tagged ‘UFOs’

Annie Jacobsen opposes the kinds of conspiracy theories she started

August 15, 2011

It’s silly to believe they’re aliens… They’re clearly part of a Nazi/Communist alliance’s propaganda campaign!

If I were to write a BEAST editorial about how journalists these days are being too offensive to people of faith and spirituality, everyone who read it would rightfully think of me as a huge hypocrite. Or maybe they’d think I’d suffered some kind of brain injury. When you’ve written about faith issues in the way I have, you kind of forfeit your right to complain about people doing the same

Similarly, if you write a book about Roswell and then promote it largely based on the final chapter which invents one of the most out-there conspiracy theories ever, you forfeit your right to complain about loony conspiracy theories. At least you should.

Apparently the NY Daily News doesn’t think so. Last Sunday they featured a mostly reasonable column by Annie Jacobsen about how America has become what she calls a conspiratocracy. It gives a crash course in the history of American conspiracy theories, and speculates as to why they’ve spread so rapidly recently.

There isn’t much with which to disagree in her piece, aside from that the subject she’s writing about is much too wide for a 450 word column. All of the conspiracy theories she mentions are definitely silly and deserving of increased mockery. But it’s definitely odd that Jacobsen would choose this as a topic given her recent past.

A few months ago, Jacobsen released a book about Area 51, the secretive military base which UFO believers claim is the headquarters of the government’s secret research on extraterrestrials and flying saucers. I have not read her book, but I did pay attention to how she promoted it, as authors do, in the media. Here she is on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, but probably the most in-depth interview I heard was on NPR’s program Fresh Air with Terry Gross. I’ll get to that in a minute.

From what I’ve heard, most of the book is in the same vein as the NY Daily News column, rightfully debunking loony conspiracy theories about Area 51. But when you get to the last chapter, she introduces a bizarre conspiracy theory of her own to explain the 1947 Roswell incident which many believe to be a case of an alien spacecraft crashing in the New Mexico desert which was then quickly hushed up by the government. Here’s how she explained it to Terry Gross:

“The child-sized aviators in this craft [that crashed in New Mexico] were the result of a Soviet human experimentation program, and they had been made to look like aliens a la Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds, and it was a warning shot over President Truman’s bow, so to speak. In 1947, when this would have originally happened, the Soviets did not yet have the nuclear bomb, and Stalin and Truman were locked in horns with one another, and Stalin couldn’t compete in nuclear weaponry yet, but he certainly could compete in the world of black propaganda — and that was his aim, according to my source. …

“What is firsthand information is that he worked with these bodies [of the pilots] and he was an eyewitness to the horror of seeing them and working with them. Where they actually came from is obviously the subject of debate. But if you look at the timeline with Josef Mengele, he left Auschwitz in January of 1945 and disappeared for a while, and the suggestion by the source is that Mengele had already cut his losses with the Third Reich at that point and was working with Stalin.”

So let’s count how many layers of absurdity we have here. The Soviets collaborated with the notorious Nazi Josef Mengele (1) in order to scare Americans by sending a flying saucer (2) across most of the continental US without detection until it crashed (3), presumably because it was piloted by mutated children disguised as aliens (4). And all of this is substantiated solely by one anonymous source speaking about something which allegedly happened over 60 years ago (5-infinity).

In that same interview, Jacobsen speculates that Mengele’s “child-sized aviators” were the subject of either surgical or genetic mutation. So the latter option would mean that Mengele rounded up people with odd genes in order to selectively breed them specifically for this program to be launched decades in the future in collaboration with the Russians. He must have had pretty amazing foresight in order to predict such an unlikely partnership.

Obviously this is all pretty ridiculous. If you have really low standards of evidence then it’s pretty easy to get away with this kind of “reporting” – all you have to do is find an old man far enough gone to make some kooky claims about having worked on this or that secret government project a lifetime ago, and you’ve got yourself a story. Make it the last chapter of your book and you’ll get on all the talk shows and sell lots of copies. It’s probably not a coincidence that “Con artist authors making up bullshit” doesn’t appear anywhere in Jacobsen’s explanation for why America’s become so obsessed with bullshit conspiracy theories lately. But it probably should be.

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REPOST: Martian Jesus

January 13, 2011

A recently released picture of the Martian surface has ignited some controversy in the most widely circulated newspaper in the UK (“Has Jesus Christ Been Spotted On Mars?”). The question mark in the headline apparently means they’re not quite sure if there was an alteration of the Martian surface in order to make it sort of kind of look like Jesus:

Jesus had 3 visible boobs.

Jesus had 3 visible boobs.

Some possible explanations:

  1. After his resurrection, Jesus flew around the solar system to preach at organisms on other worlds. He couldn’t find any, so he decided to make a self-portrait on the surface of the planet to which humans would probably first travel. It was too much work, and Jesus gave up after a few years.
  2. Jesus was really a giant Martian buried underground, and when he punched his way out of his burial-place (like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill 2), he left behind an outline of a vaguely human-ish figure on the Martian surface.
  3. Intelligent life on Mars which has since gone extinct heard about Jesus on Earth by being very quiet and listening in on the Middle East region 2000 years ago and then just decided to alter the surface of their planet to make it look kind of like a human, just for the fuck of it.
  4. Mars is a big planet on which erosion happens. There are no oceans on the surface, so that leaves a lot of possibilities for geological features which might kind of sort of look like a human. Since we’ve evolved in a way to recognize faces, it is not surprising that we would sometimes mistakenly perceive a face. There’s even a name for this phenomenon.

I wonder which is the most likely.

If it really were a face, then it should look that way from all angles. For example, here is a rotated picture of a human face which is still easy to identify as a human face:


Even though this is not how we normally see other humans, it is still easily recognizable as a face. And here’s a rotated shot of the same photo of the Martian surface:

Unless you’re already looking for Jesus here, you won’t see it. You have to want to see it. That should have given pause to whichever Daily Telegraph editor OK’d this story. On the other hand, ad revenue ad revenue ad revenue ad revenue ad revenue ad revenue…

Connecticut is our last line of defense against the alien invaders

July 7, 2010

A Connecticut man has been denied a firearm. It wasn’t because he looked like this:

And it also wasn’t because he “mentioned to the seller what he would be using the weapon for: warding off an alien invasion that occurs once every 36,000 years.” It was because he happened to be a convicted felon.

So basically anyone who’s not a convicted felon can buy a gun to ward off an alien invasion they think will happen soon according to some kind of cosmic schedule. Hasn’t Bill Pullman taught us that we need to deploy a computer virus to the mothership in order to have any real damaging effect on our possible extraterrestrial overlords?

Russian politician under investigation for possibly giving information to his alien abductors

May 10, 2010

This story brings up one of my favorite themes in interesting news stories. It’s one thing for someone to say or do something a little crazy, but where it gets interesting is when that spurs on another crazy reaction from some other party. And then things just take off, where the momentum of accumulated kookiness picks up with every new participant until it turns into an almost unstoppable Möbius strip of nutjobbery. If each unhinged reaction were a piece of debris, this story would be a massive ball from Katamari Damacy.

The Russian governor, bottom right.

So what happened is that Russian governor Kirsan Ilyumzhinov had an experience where he claims he was abducted by aliens. That’s kind of interesting because it’s kind of rare for these claimants to not be inbred hillbillies. But it gets better:

Now a Russian parliamentarian wants Ilyumzhinov questioned, fearing he may have given the aliens “secret information,” according to the Echo of Moscow radio station.
And not just interrogated by anybody, but by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Maybe I’m just a victim of stereotyping by the media here, but I always thought the Russians had it together a little more than this. I can see the claim of alien abduction by a government official in a large bureaucracy of the biggest country in the world. But to get the president to investigate? That’s fucking crazy.

So maybe we should take advantage of this tendency the new administration seems to have towards investigating this stuff. Someone please call up Medvedev and ask him if his refrigerator is running or if he has the whereabouts of Prince Albert, who was last reported being forced into a can.

Fuck Louis Farrakhan

March 2, 2010

If you want to take the title as endorsement of the violent rape of the Nation of Islam leader, I can’t stop you from interpreting that way. From the Associated Press:

“The word ‘prophet’ is too cheap a word. I am a light in the midst of darkness,” Farrakhan said at the annual convention of the movement that embraces black nationalism. “It ain’t ego, it’s my love for you.”

Get that? He’s not egotistical at all. Farrakhan being a “light in the midst of darkness” is really just about his love for others, and not about his ego. Because his love for you is just that special, which itself is also not egotistical. How dare you suggest such a thing?

Farrakhan spent most of the fiery nearly four-hour speech recounting a 1985 vision he had in Mexico. Farrakhan has often described how he believes he was invited aboard an unidentified flying object he calls “the wheel” where he said he heard the late Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad speak to him.

Putting the UFO aside for a minute, a four hour speech? Really? Is that necessary? Hasn’t this deity punished people enough? I’m no big fan of the soundbite culture but sitting around listening to this nonsense for four fucking hours has got to qualify as cruel and unusual punishment. Concision can be a good thing sometimes.

And plus I love it when these guys use this kind of synergy of woo. It’s not enough for this to just be about talking to dead people, or for it to just be about a UFO abduction, or for it to just be about seeing the future (Farrakhan claims this incident “led him to inklings of future events,” in the language of the article cited above); it has to be about all of them at once. And it’s not even just those things, because he also seems to think that the Chilean earthquake is an indication of future political problems for Obama. Oh yeah, also white people are plotting against him, too. Nice.

UPDATE: The Young Turks reported on this (after me):

Similar:

District 9

March 1, 2010

I’ve decided to give myself this project of writing up these timestamped reviews of movies nominated for best picture for the Oscars. This way readers can talk about them at parties without having to actually watch them. They are all guaranteed to be 100% accurate, so don’t bother fact-checking or anything. Think of these as Cliff’s Notes, except they’re for people with a fear of movies instead of the illiterate. You can trust me.

District 9

  • Minute 1: Oh, OK, so this is basically like The Office plus aliens.
  • Minute 2: So now it’s The Office plus redneck aliens. Didn’t Peter Jackson already do a movie about redneck aliens? I think he did.
  • Minute 5: The aliens are living in a concentration camp in Johannesburg.
  • Minute 7: Steve Carrell is coordinating the relocation of the aliens on a trail of tears to Oklahoma, or as they call it in their language, “maize.” His hot wife is proud of him.
  • Minute 12: Not much happening, they’re running around aliens while operating military stuff. How did they learn English so quickly?
  • Minute 14: The aliens are addicted to some kind of heroin stored in cat food.
  • Minute 17: The Steve Carrell guy firebombs an abortion clinic for Jesus and then gets puked on.
  • Minute 20: The aliens are making methamphetamine from garbage.
  • Minute 22: The aliens are busted for making methamphetamine from garbage. Wikus gets sprayed with more alien shit.
  • Minute 24: FIGHT! One of the meth dealers gets ‘capped’ while the other runs away.
  • Minute 27: The surviving meth dealing alien starts a sitdown demo to protest the mass eviction.
  • Minute 29: Wikus is all fucked up puking and bleeding black shit out of his nose. I didn’t even make that part up.
  • Minute 32: Nigerians are now The Man keeping the alien brothas down by eating their hearts after killing them in drug deals.
  • Minute 35: Wikus pukes again. He’s all junk sick at his party and is sent to rehab where his hand goes all alien-y.
  • Minute 36: The military is forcing Wikus to get a sex change operation in secret. But how did the documentary filmmakers get into the restricted area?
  • Minute 40: OK they’re making him shoot aliens with his new creepy hand. I find it difficult to believe that any military is so desperate for weapons that they need to use mutants to operate alien tech.
  • Minute 42: Wikus gets all SexCrazy and RetardStrong and escapes because he knows the vaccines they wanted to give him would make him autistic.
  • Minute 45: The news is reporting, “Wikus was the first motherfucker to see a new galaxy, or find a new alien life form… and fuck it. Now people are, like, ‘There he goes; homeboy fucked a Martian once.'”
  • Minute 47: Oh, I get it! Wikus is part-ALIEN and he’s hiding from the government in South friggin Africa. Old topical content is old.

  • Minute 49: I think he’s hit rock bottom now, eating catfood he bought on the black market straight from the can by hand outside of a garbage heap. Now his wife left him because of the sex change operation.
  • Minute 52: Inspired by Bob Flanagan, Wikus gets into self-mutilation. How is the film crew still with him? This is supposed to be a documentary. Or mockumentary. Or something.
  • Minute 53: Wikus meets up with the surviving meth dealing alien. Up until this point the movie has been building up to a turn into a dual cop comedy except the cops are both renegades who don’t play by the rules.
  • Minute 57: OMG WE CAN’T TEAM UP TO STORM THE SECURITY STATION AND GET THE FUEL BACK ITS A SUICIDE MISSION AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! OK, let’s go, I guess. Just give me a minute to get all emo and talk to my wife.
  • Minute 62: Hello there Mr. Gangster Sir, I’d like to buy some weapons plz. This will go well.
  • Minute 65:Wikus = Frank Booth “Don’t fucking look at me!”, Nigerian gangsta = Bill O’Reilly “I’m coming for you!”
  • Minute 66: EPIC BATTLE111 Remember kids, always bring your film crew with you while storming an international peacekeeping HQ with alien weapons and your goofy alien sidekick.
  • Minute 76: Bunch of explosions and crap.
  • Minute 78: Wikus is arrested for fucking Martians again, then captured by Nigerian cannibals. “Hey man, be cool, just gimme your arm.”
  • Minute 81: Guys shooting guns, blah blah blah.
  • Minute 83: The goofy alien sidekick uses one of Obama’s predator drones to save Wikus.
  • Minute 86: Wikus saves the goofy alien sidekick from enhanced interrogation using the predator drone.<
  • Minute 91: Sidekick escapes, Wikus decides he’d really rather just hang back and kill some humans instead of change back into one.
  • Minute 96: Black bloc of aliens help Wikus not get killed, he lives happily ever after in the garbage heap. The end.

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Pic of the day

January 10, 2010

This had to have been done by humans because THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ALIENS. NO. SUCH. THING.

Opportunities to troll IRL

November 29, 2009

I have to work for both of these and can not attend either. But asking provocative questions at either or both would be fun and might even be a deterrant to kooks to GTFO of Buffalo and never come back. They will not be missed.

UFO freak at NCCC Wednesday evening

Creationist at UB Saturday afternoon

Go, seek them out, ask embarassing questions, and then dine on their flesh. Gnaw at their fingers and feed their bones to your dog.

Kook of the Week

September 5, 2009

Japan’s new first lady is a little strange a maverick batfuck insane:

“I eat the sun,” Miyuki says, raising her arms as if to tear pieces off an imaginary sun. “Like this: yum, yum, yum. It gives me enormous energy. My husband has recently started doing that too.”

OH MY GOD RUN FOR YOUR LIVES SHE’S EATING THE SUN HOLY SHIT!11

Crazy first lady is crazy.

Crazy first lady is crazy.

Oh, there’s more:

“While my body was asleep, I think my soul rode on a triangular-shaped UFO and went to Venus,” she wrote, adding: “It was a very beautiful place, and it was very green.”

LOLWUT

  1. Venus is not green.
  2. When you’re asleep and you think you’re going somewhere, we call that A DREAM. you idiot.

And speaking of her dreams:

“I have a dream that I still believe will come true, which is to make a film in Hollywood,” she said. “The lead actor is Tom Cruise, of course.”

Of course. But why?

“Why? Because he was Japanese in a previous life.”

The crazy is giving me a headache. Commentary at this point would be superfluous anyway.

Martian Jesus

September 4, 2009

A recently released picture of the Martian surface has ignited some controversy in the most widely circulated newspaper in the UK (“Has Jesus Christ Been Spotted On Mars?”). The question mark in the headline apparently means they’re not quite sure if there was an alteration of the Martian surface in order to make it sort of kind of look like Jesus:

Jesus had 3 visible boobs.

Jesus had 3 visible boobs.

Some possible explanations:

  1. After his resurrection, Jesus flew around the solar system to preach at organisms on other worlds. He couldn’t find any, so he decided to make a self-portrait on the surface of the planet to which humans would probably first travel. It was too much work, and Jesus gave up after a few years.
  2. Jesus was really a giant Martian buried underground, and when he punched his way out of his burial-place (like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill 2), he left behind an outline of a vaguely human-ish figure on the Martian surface.
  3. Intelligent life on Mars which has since gone extinct heard about Jesus on Earth by being very quiet and listening in on the Middle East region 2000 years ago and then just decided to alter the surface of their planet to make it look kind of like a human, just for the fuck of it.
  4. Mars is a big planet on which erosion happens. There are no oceans on the surface, so that leaves a lot of possibilities for geological features which might kind of sort of look like a human. Since we’ve evolved in a way to recognize faces, it is not surprising that we would sometimes mistakenly perceive a face. There’s even a name for this phenomenon.

I wonder which is the most likely.

If it really were a face, then it should look that way from all angles. For example, here is a rotated picture of a human face which is still easy to identify as a human face:


Even though this is not how we normally see other humans, it is still easily recognizable as a face. And here’s a rotated shot of the same photo of the Martian surface:

Unless you’re already looking for Jesus here, you won’t see it. You have to want to see it. That should have given pause to whichever Daily Telegraph editor OK’d this story. On the other hand, ad revenue ad revenue ad revenue ad revenue ad revenue ad revenue…