“Bungle of energy” (New Age energy)

brighteyes

Energy is a measurement of the ability to do work. However, the term morphs into a deliberately vague concept when alternative medics reference it in conjunction with auras, chi, prana, crystals, or biofields.

When a local hospital advertised Reiki on its website and attributed to it a number of amazing powers, I queried administrators and media coordinators for more information. I asked about the source or Reiki energy, how it is accessed, what instrument determines how much is being used, what unit the energy is measured in, and how it is transferred to patient to practitioner.

They could answer none of this, nor any other question. I have found this to be the case for every proponent and practitioner of energy medicine and healing. They can offer no explanation for how it is stored and whether the energy source is heat, food, explosive compounds, or spinning flywheels.

New Age energy is a highly supple, adaptive catchall phrase that suggests a benevolent pulsating ball of light that cannot be seen but can always be accessed with the correct hand gyrations or ersatz electronic implement that beeps and hums. After treatment, the patient will feel refreshed, enlightened, healed, or be in touch with nature, angels, aliens, or lost souls. This is done by unblocking, harmonizing, unifying, tuning, aligning, balancing, or channeling a life force that takes the form of an invisible yet glimmering blob.

New Agers pilfer science terms, but use them incorrectly to come up with phrases such as “aligning cell vibration,” “digital frequencies of allergens,” and a seemingly never-ending list of terms using the prefix “quantum.”

A certain German theoretical physicist let us know that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. Putting what that means into practical terms, Brain Dunning at Skeptoid explained, “Speed is a function of distance and time, so energy can be expressed in mass, distance, and time. That’s how we define work that can be done. Energy is a measurement of work. If I lift a rock, I’m inputting enough potential energy to dent the surface of the table one centimeter when I drop it. The calories of chemical potential energy that my bloodstream absorbs when I eat a Power Bar charge up my muscles enough to dig 100 kilograms of dirt in my garden. Nowhere did Einstein discuss hovering glowing clouds or fields of mystical power generated by human spirits.”

Dunning suggests that when hearing the word energy in an esoteric or healing sense, substitute the word with the definition, “measurable work capability” and see how much sense the phrase makes. When doing that, you will get sentences likes this:

“The human race has known about the existence of a universal measurable work capability related to life for many ages.”

“Each individual organism or material radiates and absorbs measurable work capability via a unique wave field.”

“Healing Touch is a therapy that helps to restore and balance measurable work capability that has been depleted.”

For these claims to have any merit, those making them should be able to describe how this energy is stored, manifested, and utilized. Dunning wrote, “Is it potential energy stored in the chemistry of fat cells? Is it heat that can spread through the body? Is it a measurable amount of electromagnetism and if so, where’s the magnet? In any event, it must be measurable and quantifiable, or it can’t be called energy.”

By contrast, alternative medics use energy for claims and terms they cannot measure, quantify, or describe. They use it to renew chakras, perform Reiki, attain universal consciousness, chase ghosts, or commune with a higher plane.  

But energy is not a substance any more than mass or volume are. Nothing is composed of energy any more than it is composed of mass or volume. Still, various new age modalities purport to harness, modify, and transfer unknown energies of unknown origin and access them through unknown means and control them with an unverified instrument or method. Proponents make fallacious appeals to both antiquity and novelty, highlighting energy medicine’s supposed shamanic and exotic roots, while also making futurist references to subatomic waves and vibrating biofields.

Those practices that appeal to antiquity, such as Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, qigong, are all faith healing without the religious trappings. Some practitioners require the patient to be present, which appeals to those who feel comforted or loved when attended to by a charismatic craniosacral therapist or iridologist. Others do healings by Internet or telephone or even by just wishing it. This is a logical extension of the practice; If energy can be captured and honed for our benefit, the idea of doing so from afar is consistent with the use of this ability.

For those who prefer their medical magic more Jetsons than Flintstones, orgone is a universal life force which is massless and omnipresent and which can coalesce to create microscopic units, galaxies, and every-sized structure in between. If they coalesce insufficiently in humans, disease results.  Meanwhile, in radionics, disease is diagnosed and treated with an energy similar to radio waves. Then there are the clinicians whose field rests on auras and chakras, the key components in an alternate anatomy.

While the terms and techniques differ, the overarching idea is the same: An invisible, unmeasurable, unverifiable force will offer relief from pain, inflammation, nausea, high blood pressure, rosacea, osteoporosis, hernias, and almost any other malady.

While there are many anecdotes and much post hoc reasoning attesting to wonderful results, there is no evidence of a metaphysical life force that determines health depending on whether this energy source is freely flowing.

The original energy healer may have been Franz Mesmer, who had many women and a few men swooning over his animal magnetism in the 19th Century. While there has been no research affirming the existence of any energy accessed and stored by Mesmer or his alt-med successors, the concept continues today. These metaphysical notions should have gone extinct with the advent of Germ Theory, yet the likes of Reiki and Therapeutic Touch continue in the gyrating hands of 21st Century hospital nurses.

The impracticality of such methods was demonstrated by 9-year-old Emily Rosa, the youngest person to have a paper published in a peer-reviewed journal. Rosa tested Therapeutic Touch practitioners using a simple but brilliant method. In Therapeutic Touch, the practitioner supposedly has the ability to place their hands over the patient’s hands to see if healing is needed, and is then able to tap into healing powers and transfer them.

Rosa constructed a cardboard cutout the practitioners could place their hands through without being able to see if a patient was on the other side. Practitioners had a 50 percent chance of being right by guesswork, yet failed to hit even that level, detecting energy fieldd only 44 percent of the time in 280 trials. Before, they claimed the ability to detect, control, and transfer the healing power, but when put to a controlled test, they were unable to determine even if a patient and their accompanying energy field were present.

Energy healing failed this test and all others. There are no double blind studies or other research attesting to the existence of a curative gleaming sphere floating through the ethers waiting to be snatched by a naturopath. Seeking it out is a waste of measurable work capability.

 

“Absolutely lipid” (Statins denial)

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There exist among us those who advocate rejecting all medication in favor of “natural cures,” which are neither, and who implicate physicians and pharmaceutical executives in an alliance to pump patients full of needless, nefarious medication. Some of these potent pills and potions are said to kill people by the millions, which if true, would quickly leave the malevolent medics with no one left to prey on. If there was a conspiracy to sell medication that was without value, it would make more sense to sell placeboes that could be made much cheaper and which would avoid poisoning the customers.

Statins are among the drugs cited by believers in this conspiracy. Statins are lipid-lowering medications that reduce instances of cardiovascular disease among those most at risk. The anti-statin brigade includes the usual suspects, Mike Adams and Joseph Mercola, as well as a new one to me, Leonard Coldwell. The latter claims to have concocted a cure for cancer that is 92 percent effective. If so, there is truth to the hidden cancer cure conspiracy theory because Coldwell has yet to make his treatment publicly available.

Coldwell calls statins a mass murder method that invariably hardens the liver and slices 20 years off your life. In a lengthy retort, the SkepDoc Harriett Hall wrote that statins actually lengthen lifespans for those most at risk for cardiovascular disease, while lowering cholesterol. Coldwell agrees with the last part, but argues this is detrimental since he considers high cholesterol beneficial. But Hall noted, “You don’t die of either too much or too little cholesterol. You die of heart attacks and strokes, and reducing high cholesterol levels reduces your risk of those events.”

Coldwell claims that 250 being considered a normal cholesterol level is an arbitrary number dreamed up, but it actually came from measuring cholesterol levels in large populations. Those studies found that those with higher cholesterol levels were more likely to have heart attacks, and 250 is where the increase in risk was noticed.

Instead of scientifically-researched, tested, and proven statins, Coldwell recommends fending off heart disease with two bananas on an empty stomach. He cites this as a natural cure, even though the bananas we eat are remarkably unnatural, having been modified from a tiny, green, barely edible pod into today’s scrumptious elongated yellow fruit. And while regular consumption of fruits and vegetables promotes good health, there is no evidence for Coldwell’s claim that two daily bananas is an especially potent foe of cardiovascular disease.

Coldwell claims that Big Pharma spokespersons have described statins as a magic pill that will ward off heart attacks and other cardiovascular ailments. Hall shot down this strawman, noting that the medical establishment considers statins to be “drugs with risks and benefits, and the benefits have been determined to outweigh the risks.” It is not magic, doctors know how it works, and know it will work better for some than others.

Mercola and Adams both write that cholesterol has no bearing on heart disease and that statins will impair many biological functions and cause muscle pain. However, Hall’s PubMed search produced more than 30,000 articles on statins research, and a 2016 review of these studies by the Lancet found statins reduce the rate of heart attacks and strokes in at-risk patients by as much as 50 percent.

Of the 30,000 papers, Adams and Mercola cherry-pick a few isolated passages that suggest low cholesterol levels may be associated with higher death rates among the elderly. But the papers also noted this was not a causal relationship. People in their 90s often die for reasons unrelated to low cholesterol.

Critics sometimes label statins as overprescribed and while this strictly speaking is true, it is the result of a medical shortcoming, not a furtive attempt to enrich pharmaceutical executives and their lackey physicians. There is no way to know which patients will benefit from statins, but it is logical to treat anyone who may be at risk of heart attack and stroke. Consequently, many patients will take statins without seeing their risk of cardiovascular disease reduced. While the treatment won’t benefit everyone, those who do benefit do so greatly.

The detractors also highlight the drug’s possible side effects, but according to Hall, only one patient in 50,000 will develop a serious condition as a result of taking statins, and those usually disappear when the medication is discontinued. The critics also gloss over the fact that the side effects of bypassing statins can include premature death.

“Squeeze play” (Alternative massage therapy)

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Massage is the manual manipulation of muscles, joints, and tissues for therapy. It can help relieve soreness, increase range of motion, and feels pleasant enough. Leave it to alternative medicine to screw all that up.

Some unscrupulous practitioners make claims that go far beyond massage’s abilities, asserting it can eradicate or ameliorate disease. Some integrative medicine specialists and Dr. Oz claim the practice is effective for allergies, asthma, bronchitis, constipation, diarrhea, fibromyalgia, and sinusitis. Proponents also credit massage with work done by the liver, kidneys, and colon, saying it can help with waste removal, immune system functioning, and toxin removal, though they never specify which toxins or explain how squeezing someone’s shoulders will exorcise them.

As to its supposed role in disease control, there is no scientifically plausible explanation for how this works, nor any double blind studies attesting to this ability. The claims primarily rely on the mythical concept of the ki flowing through meridians, and the purported need to periodically unblocking this. Neither ki nor meridians have never been shown to exist in any X-ray or CT scan and no explanation is proffered on how any technique would clear blockages or why this would be beneficial.

There are subcategories of medicinal massage malarkey. The ones most resembling traditional, legitimate massage are acupressure and shiatsu. These are so similar that the only difference seems to be that the former aims to access ki, while the latter taps into qi. As to the technique, it’s mostly just a massage, though more attention is usually paid to a specific body part. Different parts are said to be connected via meridians to various internal organs or tissues. So applying acupressure to the lower right thumb might be used to deal with wheezing lungs. There are multitudinous meridian charts so which body part corresponds to which organ or tissue will vary by practitioner. By contrast, all physicians would treat strep throat in generally the same manner, with prescriptions and proven, understood techniques that were arrived at via the Scientific Method and validated in double blind studies.

Acupressure and shiatsu generally advertise themselves as needle-less acupuncture. This is a relatively good idea since the only point of acupuncture is at the end of the needles. If spending 60 minutes receiving make-believe medicine, getting pampered is preferable to getting poked.

Aromatherapy might be considered another form of medicinal massage, although the focus is less on the hands and more on what the hands are applying. In aromatherapy, an essential oil or combination of oils is applied topically, usually on an infected body part. Whereas shiatsu may involve rubbing a calf to try and placate an upset stomach, in aromatherapy, oil would be applied on the infected body part.

Aromatherapy is a little less ridiculous than the other forms of massage medicine. For one, there are no meridians or ki associated with it. Second, the oils are extracted from plants and herbs. About half of medicines have a plant base, so it is not entirely unrealistic to think that some of the oils may have medicinal potential.

The big problem is that they haven’t been tested in a laboratory. There has been no active component identified or isolated. No correct dosage has been determined and no pill, lotion, or cream containing the extracted ingredient has been tested in double blind studies.

Instead, a practitioner or online proponent will announce, “Jasmine works great for migraines,” or ‘”Try sage and patchouli for inflammation.” Another tipster may suggest sandalwood for the same aliments and a third person offer lavender. All the recommendations are all based on anecdotes, which are unreliable because they fail to consider the fluctuating nature of illnesses, the placebo effect, or selective memory. That is why double blind studies are the gold standard for determining what works.

There are no such studies attesting to effectiveness of craniosacral therapy. This from of massage medicine is based on the notion that skull bones are movable and can be manipulated for a variety of health benefits. Precisely what benefit is almost invariably whichever one the client needs when he or she shows up at the neighborhood head shed. The truth is, a person’s skull bones have fused by the time they are regularly watching Paw Patrol. Also, these bones can only be moved by blunt force or a scalpel, not nimble fingertips. As to why one would want to pull apart and move around the brain’s shield, reasons I found included improving life energy, attuning to rhythm, and getting in touch with one’s inner cinnamon bun, or similar undefined and unproven notions. Yet another form of medicinal massage is reflexology, which focuses on the feet.

The more extreme proponents credit massage medicine with treating several dozen conditions as broad as anger, fear, arthritis, cancer, emphysema, shyness,  eczema, bulimia, insomnia, infertility, nightmares, panic attacks, and sciatica. Lists this exhaustive are nearly always a pseudo-medicine giveaway. Authentic medicine has been researched, tested, refined, and has been tailored to treat a specific condition. Doctors and scientists understand the pathological, biological, and anatomical principles behind it, know how it works, why it works, and why some patients might respond better than others. A mainstream treatment for infertility won’t be used to reduce the anxiety of another patient and to treat dyspepsia in a third.

With no research to verify their claims, medicinal massage practitioners are left with the usual alt-med fallbacks. They display dexterity in this area, for they credit the field with employing both ancient methods and cutting-edge knowledge of physiology. Most alt-med practitioners use only the appeal to antiquity or the appeal to novelty, not both.

Meanwhile, massagetherapy.co.uk makes use of the ad populum (“Shiatsu is one of the fastest growing areas of complementary therapy in the UK”) while tryshiatsu.co.uk appeals to authority (“Shiatsu is officially recognized in Japan.”) This last boast does not say precisely which entity recognized shiatsu, what about it was recognized, or why this matters. As to what shiatsu actually does, the website states that it clients to “Contact with the energy pathways and helps to correct imbalance in the functioning of internal organs and to re-balance the effects of emotional disturbance.” I have no idea what any of that means, maybe the ki flow to my brain is blocked.

“Arbour missed” (ADHD denial)

DENNIS

Nicole Arbour has become a minor Internet celebrity by videotaping rants about groups of people who are different than Nicole Arbour. Blacks, the overweight, and feminists have all been on the receiving end of her mocking monologues. Her most recent assault is on ADHD sufferers and their parents. The gist of her railing is that the disorder is make-believe and that unfit parents should be spanking their little hellions into line.

In actuality, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has been a known clinical condition since at least the early 1900s. In his takedown of Arbour, skeptic blogger Emil Karlsson noted there are more than 30,000 articles about ADHD in PubMed.

Biological factors that contribute to ADHD include genetic variants of neurotransmitter receptors and transporters as well as differences in executive function that are related to memory and attention. Environmental factors may include brain injury, premature birth, and heavy lead exposure during pregnancy.

Arbour offers no research or a different interpretation of data. Rather, she is content to reject outright a swath of parents, make evidence-free claims that cola and cereal cause ADHD symptoms, and offer erroneous anecdotes. For instance, she claims the first person to describe ADHD eventually rejected his initial finding and concluded the disorder was nonexistent.

She is referring to Leon Eisenberg, who contributed to psychology’s understanding of childhood behavioral conditions, but ADHD had been identified 20 years before his birth. Second, Eisenberg never claimed ADHD was fictitious, he only thought psychosocial factors were more important than biological ones in causing the disorder.  He therefore thought that pills to control the condition were being overprescribed. Most importantly, even if Eisenberg had said ADHD doesn’t exist, that wouldn’t make it true and wouldn’t override what the tens of thousands of papers and decades have research have shown.

Another Arbour claim, one frequently espoused in the anti-ADHD camp, is that the disorder is over-diagnosed in the United States. Critics will point out that six percent of US children are identified as having ADHD, nearly 10 times what is seen in Europe, particularly France.

It is true that most American children diagnosed with ADHD would not be similarly labeled in France, while a child not diagnosed in France might be in the United States. But this is because the countries use different diagnostic systems and analyze different factors in making the determination.

In Europe, a child must show a sustained inability to adapt due to inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. In the United States, a child needs to show substantial impairment in just one of these categories.

Arbour uses the disparity when trotting out hackneyed claims of a Big Pharma conspiracy. Like most alleged conspiracies, it collapses under the weight of the ever-increasing number of participants who would need to be involved and stay silent for it to work. This one would have to involve pediatricians, school nurses, teachers, and psychiatrists working in concert to continue a sham for the benefit of shadowy pharmaceutical executives. Also conspiring would be parents such as Cristina Margolis, who blogs on issues related to ADHD.

In her response to Arbour’s characterization of parents like herself as lazy, coddling miscreants “who give kids drugs,” Margolis related her experience of being married to an ADHD sufferer and being the mother of one.

She noted that one of Arbour’s many mistakes was dismissing ADHD boys and girls as being nothing more than typical, hyper children. Margolis pointed out that hyperactivity is only one type of ADHD, with inattentiveness and a combination of the two being the others.

“Not all children with ADHD are hyper. ADHD affects people differently,” Margolis wrote. “When a child is diagnosed with ADHD, more coexisting conditions can arise as well, such as depression, anxiety, oppositional defiance disorder, and bipolar disorder. My then 6-year-old daughter told me she wanted to die. ADHD, depression, and all the other coexisting conditions are nothing to belittle and make fun of.”

This is not the first time that a public response has been warranted following a misinformation piece about the disorder. In 2015, blogger Matt Walsh labeled ADHD a myth, which prompted a detailed reply from Steven Novella of the Yale School of Medicine and president of the New England Skeptical Society.

Perhaps the most fundamental of Walsh’s errors was using “disease” and “disorder” interchangeably while failing to define either. Novella wrote, “ADHD is certainly not a disease. That term should be reserved for entities that involve a discrete pathophysiological condition. But in medicine, there are also clinical syndromes, disorders, and categories of disorders.”

Novella further explained that brain disorders are different than problems with organ systems that rely only on the health of cells and tissue: “Liver disease is largely caused by pathological processes affecting liver cells. However, brain cells also have other layers of complexity to their function, the pattern of connections, and the biochemical processes that underlie brain processing. To add another layer of complexity, part of the function of the brain is to interact with the environment, including other people and society. Because of this, medicine uses the concept of mental disorder to define a clinical entity in which a cluster of signs and symptoms relating to thought, mood, and behavior cause demonstrable harm.”

ADHD specifically is “a disorder of executive function, which is a definable neurological function that localizes to the frontal lobes. Executive function is what enables us to pay attention…and to inhibit behaviors that are not socially appropriate. Medication for ADHD improves function and outcomes and is cost effective.”

Walsh’s piece conspicuously lacked any of the technical terms and explanatory passages contained in Novella’s post. For instance, he wrote that because there is no magic line where the amount of hyperactivity and inattention crosses the threshold from normal to problematic, there is no disorder. That is the continuum fallacy and would be like arguing that because there’s no set number of drinks a person can have per week to go from a casual imbiber drinker to a lush, there are no alcoholics. While not referencing the 30,000 PubMed papers, Walsh did highlight three doctors who agree with him, displaying a cherry-picking acumen that would impress the most robust climate change denier.

Back to Margolis, she wrote that the disorder is a lifetime sentence, but that it can be controlled with diet, accommodations at school, and medication: “I hoped our daughter would respond well to treatment without medication, but she was one of many who needed more help. That is what ADHD medication is: Help. With her medication, she is excelling in school and extracurricular activities, making friends, and has gained self-confidence.” Margolis thus describes her daughter as “thriving,” while Arbour calls her “a zombie.”

 

 

“Flag razing” (False flags)

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The term “false flag” refers to the naval warfare tactic of a ship flying a banner other than its battle ensign in hopes of luring enemy ships within striking range. Similar tactics have been used on land, with soldiers dressing in enemy uniforms. In a more generic sense, false flag refers to a government perpetrating an atrocity, then blaming it on another entity, generally an enemy.

They have been happening for a long time. There are conflicting opinions about whether Nero set the fire that burned parts of Rome, then blamed it on Christians. The sinking of the Maine may have been a false flag, though it might have been caused by an internal coal explosion. In either case, when artist Frederic Remington told publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst that there were no hostilities in Cuba to illustrate, Hearst replied, “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.” The resulting art work was a false flag, albeit a rare one that was perpetrated by a powerful private person rather than the government.

There are other examples. Japan staged a railroad bombing and blamed it on the Chinese to justify its 1931 Manchurian invasion. Later that decade, Nazis dressed in Polish uniforms and set off explosives as a pretext to launch World War II. The CIA’s Operation Gladio was likely responsible for acts of terrorism that the U.S. blamed on Communists. And in the Lavon Affair, Israel staged minor terrorist attacks against Western targets and tried to pin them on Nasser.

So governments and yellow journalists have staged or supported false flag events. While it might be reasonable to think these still occur, there are some people for whom the default position is that any terrorist attack or invasion is a false flag. It is a major flaw in a theory if the conclusion is reached first, then evidence is sought to support it. Especially if contrary information is rejected solely for being contrary.  

Let’s take the 9/11 Truther assertion that no plane hit the Pentagon. Believers base this on there being no clear shot of the impact, just a blurred horizontal image, followed by an explosion one frame later. They also insist that the hole is seemingly being too narrow for an airplane to have passed through it.

However, USA Today reporter Mike Walter witnessed the attack and he reported seeing a plane flying very low, then banking lower still and colliding with the building. Initially, he was a darling of the Truther movement because a couple of European journalists had printed only part of his interview with CNN and made it appear as though he said a missile had hit the Pentagon. In fact, he had made it clear he had seen an airplane, but described its movement as being “like a cruise missile.” Walter made an explanatory video about this, showing the full CNN interview and reiterating his eyewitness account. He included that he saw the wings fold back upon impact and that explained why the hole was the size it was.

The Truthers’ answer to this was that he was lying. In what passed for their evidence, they wrote, “His eyes are darting, which indicates deception,” and “You can tell he’s reading from a script.” While eyewitness accounts are unreliable, it would be supremely unlikely that multiple people would misidentify a plane slamming into the world’s largest office building. But to a Truther, the words of Walter and the others contradicted their favored narrative so the witnesses became part of the plot.

Regulars to conspiracy theory websites pride themselves on continually questioning mainstream accounts of such events, yet seldom extend this scrutiny to claims made by fellow theorists. So they will accept unsubstantiated assertions about prevaricating Pentagon witnesses, but never point out that in 16 years, theorists have yet to produce one person who saw a missile.

Nor do Truthers explain what happened to the crew or passengers listed on the manifest or to the airplane. The call from Barbara Olson to her husband is likewise unexplained. In fact, all Truther points I’ve encountered are in the form of negative evidence. Even if Walter and the rest were lying, even if there was no airplane, even if explosives brought down the three towers in New York, even if Flight 77 passengers are holed up in a bunker, where is one piece of evidence that the Bush administration is responsible?

Since 9/11, nearly every terrorist attack or mass casualty is considered by some conspiracy theorists to be fabricated. They continue to call these false flags, though they are misusing the term. The examples cited so far, from Nero to the World Trade Center, all featured persons being slaughtered and buildings or equipment being destroyed. This is a key point because conspiracy theorists today use the traditional definition of false flag to mean something quite different, specifically that no one was harmed. A false false flag, I suppose. They are not claiming that the Boston Marathon bombing or Orlando nightclub shooting were perpetrated by government agents, they are saying they never happened. In these and similar tragedies, they label as liars the witnesses, victims, reporters, emergency workers, and family members of those slain.

Another crucial difference is that the verified false flags were used as a pretext for invasion. By contrast, the string of mass shootings and bombings that theorists have labeled false flags were followed by no action. The government has not blamed these on an entity they then engage, nor have they commenced with a roundup of undesirables or a confiscation of guns.

On the more extreme sites, it goes beyond insisting that plane disappearances, mass shootings, and bombings were staged. Even train derailments, hostile police encounters, and videos of racists railing in checkout lanes are considered scripted. Anyone with contrary information is part of the plot. Anyone arguing with the conclusions is being paid by the government to do so.

Advocates of these theories are almost always vague as to the reasons this is being done and are hostile about the question even being raised. They can offer nothing more than the government is engaging in psychological warfare on its citizens. Usually no reason is given, though Billy DeMoss speculates that it is to weaken our resistance so that a mass extermination can wipe out two-thirds of humanity, with the survivors herded into FEMA camps. Projections like this always take place in what I call an Eternal Tomorrow. It is always so tantalizingly close, the signs are there and obvious to the woken people, yet it never quite arrives.

These websites feature self-congratulation and the deriding of sheeple and skeptics who can’t see the clear truth. When a photo of hospitalized Oregon shooting hero Chris Mintz was released, theorists pounced on the fact that they didn’t think he looked wounded enough. This caused one of them to fume, “Now they’re just throwing it in our faces, making it so obviously fake. They’re laughing at us.” I suppose he got that last part right.

The most extreme of the extreme sites is nodisinfo.com, in which 100 percent of media accounts are labeled staged events. After a nonfatal collision between a bus and a semitrailer, the website claimed the blood streaming down one of the victim’s faces had no cut from which it was emanating, but had rather been applied as makeup. After the Fort Hood shooting, they described soldiers who had been moved to safety as looking too calm. Later, the neighbor lady of the shooter posed with his picture for a photographer and the website said the fact that she was smiling proved the shooting never happened.  

These are more examples of negative evidence. Because a skeptic cannot describe the precise thought process and actions of anyone in a given tragic situation, it means the theorist is right, no matter how ludicrous or unsubstantiated the claim.

Even possible future events are labeled false flags. There is an annual Army exercise in Indiana that simulates a nuclear dirty bomb being detonated in Indianapolis and at least one website argues this is a precursor to a false flag that will simulate the same.

Similarly, theorists will dig for any instance of a nearby emergency exercise having been held within six months of a shooting or bombing. They consider any training event proof it was rehearsal for a staged event. But military and law enforcement train for contingencies all the time. Training for a bombing’s aftermath in an urban area, followed by an actual bomb 22 days later is an explicable coincidence that requires no coordination of government henchmen, media lackeys, and crisis actors. Speaking of which, in Conspiracy Theory Land, there are 100,000 crisis actors ready to be called on, none of whom are ever identified or outed by their friends, neighbors, or relatives.

Conspiracy theorists rely heavily on anomaly hunting. This is looking for one piece that doesn’t seem to fit or seems contradictory. They scour photos, eyewitnesses’ faces, and reporters’ words, looking for anything that looks inconsistent, which they have a very loose definition of. Any photo that contradicts their claims will be labeled a PhotoShop forgery. Any inconsistency by spokespersons, witnesses, emergency workers, or reporters, no matter how minor, is considered rock solid proof the entire event never happened. Similarly, they consider consistency proof it was rehearsed.

One of the more well-known captures made by anomaly hunters is the Umbrella Man at Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963.  The focus is on him, rather than the totality of the Warren Commission report, the autopsy, ballistic evidence, Oswald’s slaying of J.D. Tippit, and Gerald Posner’s book, Case Closed.  The umbrella might be a signal to the shooter, heck maybe he’s even a backup assassin – a poison pellet was once delivered via an umbrella after all. But the goal is not usually to prove any of this, it’s just to invite endless speculation, ponder exciting possibilities, cast doubt on the popular idea, and offer self-praise for one’s investigative acumen.

As Steven Novella put it, “Conspiracy theorists assume agency, deliberateness, and sinister motivations in the quirky details of events. When anomalies are inevitably found, it is assumed that they are evidence for a conspiracy. Conspiracy theorists tend to ask, ‘What are the odds of a man standing with an open umbrella right next to the president when he was shot?’ They should be asking, ‘What are the odds of anything unusual occurring in any way with any aspect of the JFK assassination?’”

In events as massive as 9/11, there are many thousands of moving pieces, so finding an anomaly or two or even 10 will be easy. A BBC reporter announced Tower 7 had fell when it was still seen standing in the background. The theorist will consider this more consequential than the mounds of intelligence pointing to Osama bin Laden’s involvement, phone calls from passengers and flight attendants describing Islamic terrorists with pepper spray and box cutters, audio of an air traffic controller conversing with Mohamed Atta, terrorist names’ on manifests, images of them passing through security, and airline employees accounts of them checking in.

In one supposed anomaly, some Truthers claim the Fight 77 manifest list had an extraordinary number of senior leaders in fields such as military science, aviation, politics, software, and security. Why this collection of relative bigwigs being onboard would matter is never explained. It’s another example of asking questions for the sake of doing so and reflexively challenging what “They” say. Besides, this passenger list is what might be expected on a flight leaving from the hub of the US military and security industries. Truthers offer no comparison flight lists to bolster their contention that Flight 77’s passengers constituted an unusually successful group of flyers. Nor is any tie established between the list and Bush perpetrating the greatest mass slaughter in U.S. history.

Another issue they bring up is to ask how a passport could survive a plane crashing into a tower. Answer: The same way seat cushions did. The same way the mileage card of victim Lisa Frost did. Explosions incinerate some objects and send others hurtling. But Truthers aren’t looking for this answer, or any other. They only intend to sow doubt on what government spokespersons and reporters are telling us.

For proof of this, consider the way hardened conspiracy theorists responded to Edward Snowden. If one was convinced the government was perpetrating misdeeds against its citizens and was being aided by a compliant media, news articles exposing NSA malfeasance would have been a dream. But theorists instead considered Snowden a plant. They are only interested in anything being exposed if they or their fellow theorists are the ones claiming to do so.

One of their favorite mantras is to dismiss mainstream accounts as the “official story.” Except in infrequent instances such as reports by the 9/11 and Warren Commissions, there is no “official story.” It is a manufactured term meant to drive a wedge between our big bad overseers and brave, enterprising truth seekers. And while “official story” is used to describe what government entities are saying, independent journalists, scientists, and amateur detectives often come to the same conclusions. At least according to the Man In Black looking over my shoulder.

“Whiteout” (White Genocide Theory)

BLACKCHESS

When my cousin complained about having to press ‘1’ for English, I asked her, “How do you think the Cherokee and Choctaw feel about it?”

The cousin’s us-against-them mentality has been displayed by many others since the election. When the Texas senate passed an anti-gay adoption bill last week, legislators said they were emboldened to do so because the president had endorsed ‘religious liberty,’ which these days is translucent code talk for “license to discriminate.”

Those celebrating this religious liberty refrain from extending the concept to Islam, which has been the subject of more fierce opposition in the last year. The most notable example was Trump’s failed attempt to prevent travel from seven Middle Eastern and African nations. For some, the ban went nowhere near far enough, and in some bigoted corners, the focus on Hispanics and Muslims has caused brown to replace black as the most denigrated skin color.

Ironically, those making these complaints are beneficiaries of the only time in U.S. history that immigrants and their descendants have run the indigenous from their homes, claimed their natural resources, supplanted their religion, dressed them in invaders’ clothes, and implemented a new language. This conquest eventually allowed the interlopers’ descendants to worry about losing their dominance and to grumble about automated telephone options.

For some, it’s just a bitch fest. For others it involves more substantial animosity. There have been thousands of Christian invocations to open U.S. House sessions over the decades, but just one Hindu prayer threw some fundamentalists into apoplectic shock.

Timothy Dailey of the Family Research Council considered the sinister supplication to be responsible for the quaking of Western Civilization. He wrote, “Our founders expected that Christianity – and no other religion – would receive support from the government.” In truth, our founders had expected that no religion would receive government support. Something about “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Following this embrace of alternate truth, Dailey wistfully added, “The U.S. has historically honored the One True God.” That being the one Dailey was told from preschool to believe in. He then added the obligatory Armageddon overtones, finishing with, “Woe be to us on that day when we relegate him to being merely one in the pantheon.” Somehow nearly every universities’ religious studies program has done this for centuries without experiencing boils, lice, or other plagues.

Dailey’s hyperbolic reaction is a microcosm for how entitled majorities respond when they are subjected to rare instances of being treated equally rather than with preference.

Some take their objection to more equitable treatment even further than Dailey. There are racists who think it’s part of a movement to make whites a minority in countries where they are now a majority. Depending on the fervency and cranial capacity of the believer, this may extend to a conviction that there are plans to round up palefaces and eventually exterminate them.

As to who is to blame for this nascent holocaust, the most obvious perpetrators are anyone who resides in or wants to move to the U.S., Canada, or Europe without being white. Other conspirators are those who marry minorities, plus the whites who through action or apathy allow this immigration and miscegenation.

But like most good conspiracies, the bulk of nefariousness is done by shadowy types. In this theory, there is no code talk of Illuminati, Bilderbergers, Rothschilds, Skull & Bones, Bohemian Grove, or international bankers. They’ll just come out and say ‘Jews,’ or an epithet for the same. Unexplained is how the Jews perpetrating this white genocide will escape it since they too are light-skinned.

While whites need to be ushered out, the plot only works if minorities increase their numbers, so a high birth rate among nonwhites is one of the volleys being fired in this stealthy assault. Theorists point out the U.S. had once been 85 percent white, while it is now 63 percent. Reasons for this trend include the high number of Asian tech workers, scant job opportunities in the Third World, and acceptance of war refugees. But believers ignore these factors and instead describe a plot to murder them and their supremacist brethren. They assert that America’s Zionist government (which is 8 percent Jewish) will continue to push white numbers lower until they dwindle to a point where resistance to the Caucasian Catastrophe is futile.

There have been differing definitions of white over the years and in different parts of the world. Spaniards, Slavs, Finns, Jews, Italians, and the Irish have all been considered white or not white depending on who was doing the deciding. For the hard core racists, the defining characteristic is low melanin amounts, although they exclude the Jews for no rational reason. It is presumably an attempt to emulate the Nazis, who presented the Aryan ideal as fit, blonde, blue-eyed, and square-jawed – features noticeably absent among Third Reich leaders. Since there are differing definitions of who is white, it is unclear how broad this genocide net is being cast. Even more blurry is what evidence the theorists have for their position.

Genocide is the attempt to wipe out a group of people, but this isn’t always limited to mass murder. It can include mutilation, torture, forced sterilization and abortion, curtailed liberties, kangaroo courts, kidnappings, the breaking up of families, child conscription, human trafficking, and mandatory repatriation or exile.

Irish blogger Robert Nielson notes that no Western governments or private entities are foisting any of this en masse on whites. To the contrary, many whites continue to enjoy long life expectancy, excellent medical care, and a comfortable standard of living. Someone who is lower middle class in the U.S. would be well-off in parts of Latin and South America.

Further, while the percentage of immigrants in the U.S. has gone up over the last 30 years, that’s true in many countries where being white and a minority are synonymous. Nielson points out that Southwest Asia dominates the list of nations who have the highest percentage of its residents who were born abroad. The UAE has the most at 84 percent and also near the top are Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Jordan. The only white majority country in the top 10 is Switzerland at 28 percent, and blacks account for just one percent of the Swiss.

This shoots down one of the theorists’ talking points, which is that there is a de facto policy of Africa being for Africans, Asia being for Asians, and Europe and the United States being for anyone. To try and support this, they will ignore the above examples and highlight outlier Japan, whose arduous immigration requirements last year resulted in just 11 applicants being granted citizenship.

When racist conspiracy theorists harp on immigration, they assume the new arrivals are at least a few shades darker than the majority. Yet most immigrants to European countries are whites coming from other European nations. And when the theorists quote the number of emigrating Muslims, they never consider that they might be from Albania, Bosnia, or Croatia.

And despite an alleged influx of foreigners into the United States, the 13.4 percent of residents here who were born abroad is less than what it was in 1910.

A few other numbers work against the notion of white genocide. Whites have the lowest percentage of interracial marriage in U.S. at just seven percent, and it is less than 10 percent in most of Europe. This hardly sounds like the breeding ground (so to speak) for a systemic attempt to eradicate whites through miscegenation. The fact that pursuing this policy would also serve to eradicate other colors never seems to be brought up on Stormfront and similar forums.  

Additionally, the notion that a secret cabal is encouraging whites to have fewer children while telling minorities to crank them out is without corroboration. Theorists point out that in 2011, for the first time, whites accounted for less than 50 percent of U.S. births. But at 49.7 percent, white births were still nearly double the next racial category. This does not suggest a people on the brink of elimination.

That is why projections that have whites being less than 50 percent of the U.S. by 2044 does not portend an approaching Aryan apocalypse. These projections still have whites being by far the most populous group. It would be fine with me if whites ever lost this distinction, if only for the spectacle of seeing Klansmen clamoring for minority rights.

“Great white spark” (Cargo cults)

giljet

Many publications have claimed to have news available nowhere else, but the Weekly World News delivered. No other periodical gave us fantabulous headlines like, “Man in Amazon kidnapped by tribe of Al Jolson lookalikes.” Or employed a cranky columnist who complained, “Today’s Christmas toys aren’t dangerous enough.”

But when the paper profiled a tribe of Pacific Islanders that worshipped Don King, it fell short of what reality was offering in terms of being unbelievable. There are genuine cargo cults more bizarre than a fictitious one centered on an unscrupulous boxing promoter.

One such cult is on Vanuatu, an archipelago 3,500 miles southwest of Hawaii. The nation is so remote and obscure that few persons other than geography geeks (such as your author) had heard of it until the TV series Survivor spent a season there.

One might assume that Prince Philip’s announcement this week that he was retiring from public life would be of no concern to those on Vanuatu. But at least for residents of the village of Ionhanen on Tanna island, it is causing significant angst. It means their god won’t be coming home.

These villagers believe the Duke of Edinburgh was born to a mountain spirit on Tanna before floating to a strange, distant land, evidently taking advantage of a disembodied entity’s travel capabilities. Once there, he married an immensely powerful woman. Villagers await this son’s return, not unlike another religion I can think of.

The idea of a floating spirit marrying into wealth, power, and privilege dates to around 1960, but it became associated with Prince Philip when he and Queen Elizabeth II traveled to Vanuatu in 1974, and Ionhanen villagers noticed the extreme deference with which he was treated by politicians.

A local leader with the most excellent moniker Chief Jack paddled a canoe that greeted the royal yacht and he later observed, “I saw him standing on the deck in his white uniform and knew then that he was the true messiah.”

More recently, some villagers were convinced that Cyclone Pam slamming into Vanuatu in 2015 presaged a future visit from Prince Philip, though the announcement from Buckingham Palace this week seems to preclude that. Many persons who would scoff at the notion of linking a cyclone to a potential Royal visit will assert that natural disasters which befall the United States are the result a raging god offering his commentary on gay marriage. Indeed, post hoc reasoning is among the centerpieces of most religions.

Prince Philip worshippers are part of a handful of remaining cargo cults, most of them in the South Pacific. While they date to as far back as the 18th Century, the majority sprang up in World War II, when soldiers and sailors exposed islanders to technology and products far more advanced than anything they ever knew existed. This included matches, mirrors, radios, canned food, soft drinks, and Walkie Talkies, to say nothing of airplanes and automatic weapons. In many cases, the arrival of pale-skinned guests and their accompanying manna seemed consistent with longstanding myths about past wonders and prophecies of a divine return.

For instance, the sails and masts of Capt. James Cook’s ship resembled images of the Hawaiian god Lono. Plus, he arrived of the day of this deity’s annual festival, so Cook was literally treated like a god. On his return trip, however, the masts and sails had been damaged by storms, which greatly enraged the islanders. Cook tried to explain what had happened, but what kind of lame deity is unable to control the weather? Disenchanted believers pummeled Cook with clubs, knives, and rocks.

Conversely, it was the man-god doing the damage when Cortes met the Aztecs. He arrived on the date the Mesoamericans were expecting Quetzalcoatl to return from the Abyss and reclaim his land. Hence, a terrified Montezuma obsequiously gave into every one of the Spaniard’s demands and whims. It did no good, as Cortes eventually slaughtered his worshippers, continuing a ghoulish godly tradition that includes slaying first-born sons and drowning nearly every living being.

When Cook, Cortes, or U.S. service members arrived, islanders were seeing men who were very different from themselves in appearance, dress, and conduct. These unexpected, inexplicable travelers also seemed capable of multitudinous miracles and their arrival seemed to have been forecasted. With all this, the notion that it was supernatural seems understandable. Then, post hoc reasoning caused the belief to strengthen. In the 75 years since American fighters arrived on the islands, some of South Pacific nations have seen the construction of airports, universities, and hospitals, none of which their ancestors knew existed 100 years ago. Thus, the prophecy that strange beings were going to arrive and usher in unprecedented prosperity seems fulfilled.

This might seem to be a quaint quality of a simple people who sleep in huts, travel by canoe, and harvest food by hand. Yet it is almost identical to when U.S. Christians consider modern developments to be confirmation of their scriptures. For example, some posters to Matt Walsh’s Facebook page wrote that Earth Day fulfills Romans 1:25 (“They worshipped and served created things rather than the creator.”) Others maintain gay marriage advocates were portended by Isaiah 5:2, which reads, “Woe unto them that call evil good.” Still others cite any strange, though explicable, astronomical features as a vindication of Luke 21:25 (“There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars.”) Pacific Islanders living in primitive conditions and multimillionaire televangelists reveling in tax-free luxury are both manifesting the Forer Effect, where something is deemed valid because it has personal meaning.

When victorious service members left the South Pacific, rudimentary landing strips and ports were built in hopes of enticing the gods to come back. Some Islanders built replica airplanes out of bamboo and leaves, thinking this might attract the real thing. Even 72 years later, some still expect their gods to return. With that duration, it may seem that these folks have had a long wait, but by religion standards, they’re rookies.