Conspiracy Theory

Musical influence of Art Bell

I’m going to do my best to post a lot before Halloween because indulging in creepiness is one of the things I do best. I have so many creepy books, favorite creepy movies, and creepy sites to share that it would be a shame not to take advantage of this time of the year and write about all the eerie weirdness rattling around in my head.

This entry came about in my typical circuitous “getting lost on the Internet” method of gathering information. I wanted to discuss some really disturbing, dark songs about child predators, and had a specific song in mind, two songs, actually, about a predator assaulting a child and the child seeking revenge, but couldn’t remember the name of the songs or the band that performed them. In my attempts to run the song to ground, I fell into a YouTube hole that completely distracted me from my original goal. I’ll eventually discuss songs about child predation but not today because I found mystery wondering how many songs there are that are inspired by Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM. (By the way, the band I was originally searching for is G.G.F.H. and the songs are “Little Missy” and “Missy’s Revenge” and while the songs are still outre and upsetting, they aren’t as viscerally disgusting as they were to me when I heard them years ago. I fear I am becoming jaded…)

Discussing Art Bell’s influence on music is really apropos for me this time of year because I always listen to his Ghost to Ghost episodes right before Halloween. I was putting together a playlist earlier this month but when I was searching for G.G.F.H.’s body of work, I found a title that piqued my interest and it turned out to have an Art Bell sample (the Venetian Snares song I discuss below – that is the song that linked me from child exploitation to Art Bell). After listening to the song with the Coast to Coast AM sample, I decided to see how many songs I could find that were influenced by Art Bell in some manner. Art Bell is interesting and somewhat weird in his own right, a man whose life has taken several unexpected turns, and he has been a personal hero of mine ever since he sued Ted Gunderson (who is hopefully right this very minute encountering the Satan he insisted was lurking in every daycare and influencing every politician since Washington) for slandering him as a pedophile.

Art no longer hosts Coast to Coast AM (and while George Noory is okay enough, he lacks a certain edge, I think, that Art brought to the table) but his long tenure on the AM and online radio program featured many bizarre and memorable shows. One of the most memorable was the night a man who claimed he was a former Area 51 employee called into the show in a panic, revealing that the US government was being duped by inhuman creatures posing as aliens from outer space, and that these creatures meant mankind harm. He claimed to be on the run from the federal government and sounded to be completely unhinged by the gravity of his discovery. In the middle of the phone call, something happened to the satellite and at least 50 separate radio stations went dead for around half an hour. Understandably, this caused Art and his listeners to freak out, assuming that indeed the feds were tracking the frightened caller and had interfered with his attempt to share his story. The man behind the Area 51 call eventually called back to Coast to Coast and explained it was indeed a hoax but that he had no idea what had happened in regards to the satellite failure. That, evidently, was just a coincidence. There are some who still believe the Area 51 caller was real and that the later call revealing the hoax is the real hoax, but that is the nature of conspiracy. This episode is called either the “Area 51 Caller” or “The Frantic Caller.”

However real or fake the Area 51 call may have been, it’s now a part of Area 51 lore and anyone who has much interest in fringe or conspiracy culture has likely heard of it. It’s definitely influenced some musicians, famous and obscure. One of the more famous bands to sample the Area 51 call is Tool, in the song “Faaip de Oiad” from the album, Lateralus Faaip de Oiad means “the voice of God” in “Enochian” (the supposed angelic language recorded and likely invented by John Dee and Edward Kelley) – Maynard Keenan is a sort of Renaissance man of the weird and I think he runs a winery now, of all things.


“Faaip de Oiad” doesn’t freak me out the way it does many Tool fans. I think that’s because I’ve heard the source material too many times, and had heard it many times before ever hearing this song. But I can see how this would be jarring or alarming to someone who might not know the source of the jangled, frightened man talking in the middle of the song. I link to this particular video because it has the “lyrics” in the upload notes section.

This Is Not an Odd Book Review – What the Hell Is Going on in France?

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Last year on Houdini’s Revenge, I wrote about how the media worldwide completely mishandled the details of the arrest of Varg Vikernes in the summer of 2013.  Seriously, it was a complete mess, and the hearing that occurred on June 3rd of this year was chilling in what it revealed and the implications for anyone in France who may espouse ideas that are contrary to a particular party line.

Before I begin to discuss the situation with Varg, I need to make a couple of statements, one for clarity and the other just because it always comes up and it’s tiresome.  First, let me tell you how I know Varg.  I met him when I was working on a project I started before 9/11 that eventually fell apart because I am sort of chaotic and was even more so back then.  I consider him a friend, and I assume he considers me one, too, though we frequently butt heads.  Second, despite considering Varg a friend, I don’t share all of his beliefs.  I mention this because I get shade from both sides of the fence and it’s annoying, when it isn’t amusing.  Some people assume I am an anti-Semite because I like Varg and that makes them angry.  Interestingly, some remain angry when I explain I don’t hate Jews because they think I should revile Varg for being an anti-Semite.  But then some people who agree with antisemitic ideas find out that I like Varg and that I am not an anti-Semite, and they get angry.  Not long ago some dude who thinks he’s like Charles Martel because being anonymous on the Internet is evidently pretty empowering was so annoyed by me that he social media snarked me with, “Oh, you are a multicultural white genocide supporter?”

Isn’t that how journalists used to know they were on to something – when everyone was pissed off at them?  That’s what I tell myself these days.  So please know I don’t want to hear your opinion about my beliefs, unless you feel that freedom of speech is a bad thing and then I will totally be willing to throw down with you in comments. 

Harry Houdini Will Have His Revenge on Michael and Debi Pearl

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

Book:  To Train Up a Child

Authors:  Michael and Debi Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries

Type of Book:  Instruction manual for beating children

Availability:  Not linking to it.  You don’t want to buy it.  If you do want to buy it, I will not abet such a bad decision.

Comments:  This is one of the wickedest books I have ever read and, given who I am and what I read, that is saying a lot.  This is a book so vile, written by a man so degenerate, that there is literally no way for a moral person to discuss it with anything approaching neutrality.  It is a book written solely with the intent of breaking the wills of small children, beating them into submission, and it has become a text used by witless Christian parents to beat their “willful” children to death.  And Michael Pearl is okay with that because he says those parents didn’t beat their children with love in their hearts or they wouldn’t have struck their children repeatedly with plumbing line until their muscles broke down and clogged their kidneys with biological debris, killing them.

This book is deeply problematic beyond just the content, which we will get to in a moment.  This book upsets me so much because though I am an atheist, I know excellent and fine Christians.  My grandfather was one.  He would have rebuked a man like Michael Pearl and if Pearl beat a child or a dog with a piece of wood, a belt, or plumbing line in front of him, Pearl would have found out what it is like to be at the mercy of a larger, angry man.  That is not because my grandfather was some sort of vengeance seeker.  Far from it.  He was not a man who looked for fights.  He would have rebuked Pearl because genuine believers cannot stomach the harms done by True Believers.  Many Christians today have the same reactions to the Westboro Baptist Church.  This book is so deeply problematic because in fundamentalist, legalistic circles, people use this book in the place of their own judgement as Christians, parents and decent human beings.

This is not a condemnation of Christianity.  It is a condemnation of Christians who use Michael and Debi Pearl’s disgusting book of abuse, a book so profoundly horrible that if it was used against prisoners it would be illegal and if it was used on POWs it would be considered war crimes.   So if you want to defend Christianity, don’t do it here.  Christianity is not what is being discussed here.  What is being discussed here is child abuse in the name of Michael Pearl, not God or Jesus, and the way that unthinking faith leads people to do terrible things.

The purpose of To Train Up a Child is to use Amish horse training methods on children, and even then the Amish would likely turn their backs on Pearl if they knew how their methods of taming wild animals were used on children.

Don’t get lost in the details.  Pearl in Chapter One lays out a bunch of explanations of how it is that he is not disciplining children, but rather continually training them so he does not have to discipline them.  He uses Proverbs 22:6 as his rationale:

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Fair enough, but when “training” consists of pulling a nursing infant’s hair, hitting them continually, deliberately putting them in harm’s way to show them they must obey all commands, even those that make zero sense on any rational level, hitting them if they do not obey quickly enough for your satisfaction, what you are doing is brainwashing your child to follow your demented ideas, not any sort of Godly path.  Mindless, shattered, fearful automatons will never depart from the path you put them on.

Michael Pearl (and I refer to him mostly because even though his wife is a co-author, the book is written by him in first person, his wife referred to in the third person) gives a lot of lip service about how one must be calm when beating one’s children.  But as he says that a parent must be calm when training their children, he also goes on to say many times that a child must be trained until they are submissive or broken (he actually uses that word).  He recommends a course of whippings wherein the whippings continue until the child submits.  So as he gives lip service to the notion that a parent must have their head clear when engaging in his training methods, he also insists that training continue – sessions of whippings – until the adult feels the child is broken. The child’s physical welfare is never a part of the parent’s clear mind.  In a way, a clear and “Godly” minded person doing this to a child reeks of sheer sadism.

Why should you “train” your children?  To make them blindly obedient in all situations, of course.

Training is the conditioning of the child’s mind before the crisis arises.  It is preparation for future, instant, unquestioning obedience.

The last quality I would want in any human being is unquestioning obedience but Pearl insists this is to make a child happy because obedient children who have limits are happier.   There is truth in this – children with boundaries live happier lives, but Pearl does not teach boundaries.  In fact, as I will discuss, he doesn’t even permit them in his home.  He insists his children are the best examples of his methods being sound, but when we are finished discussing this book, I will discuss Pearl’s children, one of whom is living a hardscrabble life, engaging in bizarre prophetic visions, barely able to feed her children because her shattered mind and blind obedience made her prey to a man like her father.

People may find this hard to believe, but Pearl advocates beating children when they are infants. Here’s what Pearl did when his babies were able to crawl:

Place an appealing object where they can reach it, maybe in a “No-No” corner or on the apple juice table (another name for the coffee table).  When they spy it and make a dive for it, in a calm voice say, “No, don’t touch that.”  Since they are already familiar with the word “No,” they will likely pause, look at you in wonder, and then turn around and grab it.  Switch their hand once and simultaneously say, “No.”

Pearl says to switch lightly but when you have an implement in your hand to strike an infant, I posit you, the adult, may have little idea what it feels like to have your hand “switched.”  On his site Pearl says to test the implement on yourself but given that he recommends repeated whipping sessions, the adult can easily lose track of how hard he or she is hitting.

Media Criticism: The Arrest of Varg Vikernes

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

One of the goals of Houdini’s Revenge is to look critically at how we receive information and come to believe what it is we believe.  Because of the way information is disseminated these days, we can no longer expect to read the news and know that we are reading the truth.  But it’s worse than that because these days we can’t even be sure that media outlets are even making an attempt to investigate what they are reporting to the public.  When dozens of websites republish the same initial report, if that initial report is completely wrong, by the time any errors are noted, the story is already all over the world and repeated without reflection.

On July 16, a friend on my Facebook left me a comment telling me that he had thought of me when he read Boing Boing!  I have a lot of strange irons in busy fires, so I had to go comb the site to see what he meant.  Within a minute, all was explained.  Xeni Jardin had posted a blurb that referred to an AFP article about the French police arresting Varg Vikernes.   This is the entire news blurb from Jacques Clement’s AFP article, link to article in quote:

Kristian Vikernes, a Norwegian neo-Nazi black metal musician and convicted killer who goes by the name of “Varg,” has been arrested in France over suspicions that he was planning a “major terrorist act.” He is reported to be linked to Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik, and he once stabbed a fellow musician to death, and set fire to several churches in the early 1990s.

Regardless of what anyone thinks of Vikernes’ politics, social beliefs or his past, we should all be extremely concerned that this news blurb from AFP that became the backbone of dozens and dozens of articles that reported this story has two major problems in just two sentences.  The first is that Varg Vikernes has not been known as “Kristian” in almost two decades.  Calling him “Kristian Vikernes” and mentioning he goes by “Varg” is like writing an article about “Thomas Mapother IV” and mentioning he goes by Tom Cruise.  I have no idea why AFP made the decision to make that strange distinction, but it set the tone for what was to come in the second sentence.

The second sentence is a hoot.  Varg Vikernes was “reported to be linked to” Anders Behring Breivik?  Ten minutes on Google would have made it impossible for any reporter worth a tinker’s damn to support such an accusation.  If nothing else, it would have made for far better reporting to have at least investigated what Varg had said about Breivik before they had run articles about his arrest.  Perhaps they could have added Varg’s own words from his websites as a counterpoint to the charges against him.  Perhaps Clement could have, you know, reported instead of vomiting up the vomiting up some official reports and adding some sly insinuations to spice up his article. 

Boston Marathon Conspiracy Theories: The Shooting of Sean Collier

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

The post-bombing activities of April 18-19 were strange. Deeply weird. The actions of the Tsarnaev brothers, when verifiable, made no sense and the shooting of MIT police officer Sean Collier made so little sense that is has fueled a lot of speculation that the Tsarnaev brothers were not responsible for his murder at all.  The narrative of the murder of Sean Collier feeds a lot of “Dzhokhar Was Framed” theories and is almost a wholly separate conspiracy theory unto itself.

Increasingly, with the exception of the usual conspiracy theory suspects, I really do think the cause of all of the conspiracies created about the Boston bombings and the subsequent mayhem can be summed up in two statements:

1)  The FBI has yet again permitted an act of terrorism to occur in the USA due to another complete breakdown in intelligence gathering and sharing, and their investigative choices after the Boston bombing have raised more questions than they have answered.  I suspect the FBI has always been this much a mess but before the Internet it was harder for the average citizen to analyze their various errors.

2)  The mainstream media in the English-speaking world is mostly a disgrace.  I suspect that mainstream journalism has always been this much a mess but before the Internet it was harder for the average citizen to analyze their various errors.

Any analysis of how Sean Collier was shot to death can only come about by exploring the story with those two statements in mind.  Worse, given that this is yet another instance wherein the American public has to take the FBI’s word for it that there is proof the Tsarnaev brothers were involved in an atrocious activity, the discussion of Sean Collier has an unfortunate “second verse, same as the first” ring to it.   The FBI says they have proof, and more on that in a bit, but even if they have proof, the path to such proof is filled with detours that make it hard to put much faith in the idea that we will ever see anything about this case clearly.  As much as I urge everyone to have patience, to wait to see what the prosecution has in store for Dzhokhar, to wait to see what the FBI or the US Attorney General’s Office may eventually choose to share with us, I can see all too clearly why it is so many people are unwilling to wait.  Just the media idiocy with the Collier case alone is conspiracy fodder.

Boston Marathon Bombing Conspiracies: “Pretty Chilling”

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

I have stated many times throughout my discussions of the Boston bombings that I believe the mainstream media and the details from the official investigation itself have fueled as much conspiracy theory as the “usual suspects” have created.  Boston has been notable in the realm of conspiracy theory in how so many people who are not conspiracy theorists have begun to think something is being hidden and that we are being manipulated, or at the very least that everyone involved in the case is incompetent.

They have very good reasons for thinking this way because the media handling of the case and the investigative decisions have been a complete mess. My article on the “Alex Jones-ification of the Mainstream Media” showed dismay at the original reporting in the case and, when I wrote it, I thought we had seen the nadir of the misreporting but I was wrong. Even worse, I was completely unprepared for the official investigative statements that seem to be making everything worse. At this point, anyone paying close attention to the details of the case should be having a hard time believing much of any official narrative about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s role in the Boston bombing, his role in the various shootouts in Watertown and the confession he allegedly gave federal interrogators.

This is worth paying close attention to.  The low standards of reporting and the continually changing stories from the investigators as they engage in activities that ten years ago would have been unconstitutional and grounds for prosecution are actual, provable harms.  While people are agitating about staged scenes and casting aspersions on bomb victims, while people are making disgusting anti-semitic accusations, the press and the government are legitimately doing terrible things that are less exciting than creating fantastic theories that would be too outrageous even for movies.  Were I a conspiracy theorist, I might wonder about the motivations of those who are engaging in such insulting flights of fancy.  But mostly I think theories are created for mundane reasons that have nothing to do with being government plants or purveyors of disinformation.  But the end result is the same.  But while people are contemplating a staged attack that five minutes on Google proves couldn’t have happened, the press are merrily reporting garbage and the investigation is changing their official story whenever it suits them and the waters have been so muddied by the usual conspiracy theory suspects that people are afraid of being tarred with the same irrational brush if they speak out and say, “There are so many problems with the case against the Tsarnaev brothers that I do not know if they were even involved.”

One of the reasons I cannot throw my hat emphatically behind Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a bomber is because none of the evidence that the government claims to have proving he planted a bomb has been seen by anyone who spoke to the press and because the eyewitness identification that led the FBI to identify the Tsarnaev brothers is shaky at best.  There are some who think that the FBI doesn’t have a tape that shows Dzhokhar planting a bomb and their suspicions are very much an element of the “Dzhokhar Was Framed” theory.

Let’s begin discussing the whole mess with Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts. 

Boston Marathon Conspiracy Theories: Dzhokhar Is Dead

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

In several places online I have seen people postulate that they think that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is dead.  With one sickening exception, the Dzhokhar Is Dead rumors are benign and based on assumptions that are easy to understand.  But even as they are easy to understand, there’s not much to back the theories because they are all fueled by the fact that we haven’t seen Dzhokhar moving since he stepped out of the boat in Watertown on April 19.  An uncredited and unverified picture of him, presumably after surgery, was leaked, and in it he looks pretty bad.  Since then, the public has not seen him.  He was taken from Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, where he was rushed on April 19, and transferred to a federal prison hospital, Federal Medical Center Devens and at no time did anyone in the public witness the transfer.

Though no one in the public has seen Dzhokhar, there are pretty clear signs that he is alive.  He recently was permitted to speak to his mother on the telephone, and told her he was recovering, among other things. There is always the possibility that Zubeidat Tsarnaeva was listening to someone else on the phone, as Zubeidat reports that the call was very quiet and it was hard for them to hear each other.  However, this situation is different from Maret Tsarnaeva insisting the man in the Naked Guy video is her nephew despite not having seen him in over five years.  One presumes a mother will know her son’s voice, even if she has been away from him for a while.  Given how vocal Zubeidat has been about her suspicions about staging and false flags, and that the police killed Tamerlan after taking him into custody peacefully, had she any suspicion that the boy on the phone was not her son, she would have shouted it from the rooftops.

Some people find Zubeidat Tsarnaeva a bit odd but there are other people who have had access to  Dzhokhar.  He has a defense team that has seen him and fought for and won permission to photograph him. Evidently Dzhokhar is in such bad shape that his physical state could be used in his favor in court (and if he is so debilitated weeks after the shootout that it is remarkable enough that it needs to be introduced in court, it points to the notion that perhaps he was in no state to have been interrogated after surgery, but more on that in another entry).  That a defense team is going to photograph him should give lie to the idea he is dead.  Moreover, from a place of anecdote, the presence of Judy Clarke on Dzhokhar’s defense team should calm suspicions about Dzhokhar’s death.  An independent thinker, Clarke is one of the last people I can think of who would participate in a conspiracy wherein she would have to cover up the death of a client or defend a doppelganger.  Raised by John Birchers, she became rabidly anti-death penalty and has long been an advocate for people the government and private citizens would genuinely like to see dead, like child murderer Susan Smith. Judy Clarke’s presence on Dzhokhar’s defense team should comfort those who think him dead or fear for his long-term safety pre-trial.

I am of the opinion that much is odd about the accusations against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and I worry that he is being treated harshly or that the we have been misled about the state of his injuries after the shootout.  I am not the only one. A rumor that I have not been able to prove through any legitimate source insists that Dzhokhar also has a broken arm that he received either during prison mistreatment or as the result of the shootout at the boat.  That such a rumor didn’t immediate strike me as unlikely says something about the quality of reporting that has accompanied Tsarnaev throughout this case (it appears to have originated from a faked transcription of the phone call Zubiedat had with Dzhokhar, since removed from the VK account where I first saw it).  We were told weeks after the boat in Watertown was searched that a note had been found so it’s not unlikely Dzhokhar could have broken his arm before or in custody and the news not have filtered out. I would not be surprised if Dzhokhar’s physical state is far worse than the public has been led to believe but the call with his mother and the defense team’s presence, especially now that they can photograph him, should dispel most of the rumors.  Hardline conspiracy theorists who believe the whole world is in on the conspiracy cannot be swayed but for the rest of us, I think we can rest assured he is at least alive.

But even as most of the “he’s dead” theories about Dzhokhar are largely benign, there is a theory that verges into the malignant.  I am not sure if the video in question was created by StillSpeakingOut but his or her YouTube channel is the first place I have seen this video and every single share of it I have seen originated from that channel.  There are other channels that have uploaded this video but they don’t come close to the view numbers that StillSpeakingOut has.  Therefore I will, for rhetorical purposes, attribute the video to StillSpeakingOut and will be only too happy to edit this text if another creator is revealed.  The “Free Jahar” fandom of young women who have no idea what “Zionist” may mean in this context have been a boon to this video, sharing it without much thought as they scare each other with vapid rumor.  For them this video is like a campfire story that ends with a car door and a hook except this time the hook is anti-semitism.

Boston Marathon Bombing Conspiracies: Dzhokhar Was Framed/Is a Patsy

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

Much of the conspiracy theory that has sprung up around the Boston Marathon bombing is spun from whole cloth, caused by misinterpretation of basic facts or is the result of complete cognitive failures on the parts of the theorists.  95% of the conspiracy theories can be debunked pretty easily, though I still put in the time because I think objective truth is worth working for.

But I have to say that there is so much strangeness surrounding Dzhokhar Tsarnaev that while I do not think he has been made a patsy by The Forces That Be, I can also say that  the media and governmental failures in this case are responsible directly for a lot of the conspiracy theory that has been formed around the idea that Dzhokhar is innocent.  When the mainstream media and the actual investigative agencies screw up this much, we have to expect conspiracies to crop up.  The regular conspiracy theory suspects are going to create theories but this time lots of regular people have been sucked into conspiracy theory because they find it difficult to believe what any agency or news source has to say about the case.  Some of what I write here will also be found in my article about the media failures and what may seem like odd governmental actions in the Boston bombing case, but I think they are worth repeating.  And frankly some repetition is inevitable.  And impossible.  It’s all been horked up in some sort of conspiracy theory hairball.  It’s just one big, interconnected mess.

There are so many conspiracies and so many rumors about Dzhokhar that again I find myself forced to break them out into separate entries.  Some may not be “theories” as such but rather examinations of evidence that play a role in the “Dzhokhar Was Framed” theories.  I feel I need to break them up into single entries because otherwise I will have a 20,000 word document, if that short, for all of the theories.  And a new one seems to pop up every day.   If you have a particular Dzhokhar conspiracy theory you would like to see explored here, let me know.  As many as I have found, I bet there are a lot more I haven’t read yet.  Stay tuned for some debunking and, and I have to be blunt here, lots of complaining about how information is disseminated by online sources and mainstream media.

While you are waiting for my first Dzhokhar debunk, be sure to have a look at my discussion of the “Free Jahar” fandom and be sure to check back later as I add to the Dzhokhar theory discussions.

Boston Marathon Bombing Conspiracies: The Jahart Throb

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

I initially wanted to discuss the fandom that has sprung up around Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the conspiracy theories about Dzhokhar, mostly scenarios that involve him having been framed.  As I wrote, it became clear to me this needed to be a section on its own.  The fandom is important to any discussion of conspiracy theory in the Boston bombings, but the girls in the fandom are not actual creators of theory. They just share what is already out there. I want to discuss them because I think that they are a subset of conspiracy theory in general – a mini moral panic, and a misrepresented one at that.  Also I initially thought these girls were a bellwether of sorts, a case study of what happens when we don’t teach our young people how to tell a good source from bad, how to research claims people make, and how to engage in independent thought without leaving the realm of reason.

While I still think we can see some failures in how we teach young people to process data, I also think this particular fandom has been blown up by the media into just another excuse to clutch pearls, declaiming These Kids Today.  A few articles about the Free Jahar fandom are even-handed but the bulk focus on the teen crush angle, insinuating that all the people online who are concerned about the “evidence” against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are just angst-filled teeny-boppers.  I also think a lot of the discussion about this topic is click bait, an easy way to draw people who want to gawk at the salaciousness of young women lusting after a suspected killer, dun dun DUN!  (Please note that Jahar is an anglicized spelling of Dzhokhar.)

However, before I talk about the girls who make up the group/fandom that so many media venues have mocked, I want to make a distinction.  There are “Free Jahar” groups that do not focus on the relative attractiveness of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and it is my belief that many articles bashing the “Free Jaharists” as silly, love-struck girls have mixed the more serious groups in to make the fandom group seem larger.  A few hundred girls on Tumblr acting like teenage girls often do isn’t newsworthy.  Fifteen thousand girls mooning over a suspected bomber and spreading wretched conspiracy theory is marginally more newsworthy.  But from all the reading I have done (and thank me later for taking that hit – I should subtitle this blog “I read this crap so you don’t have to!”), the girls who spawned the Gawker article that got this ball rolling are entirely different from the larger groups they have been lumped into.

Early articles discussing the “Jihotties” reference a large Facebook group that was later shut down.  There is a current, private Free Jahar Facebook  that has almost 15,000 members, and from what I have gathered, this is a continuation of the Facebook community that got shut down, reforming after the dust settled.  I joined this community and read a lot of the status updates there and this community is definitely not a fandom, nor is it steeped in conspiracy theory, though potential conspiracy is discussed.  There are no sighs about how cute Dzhohkar is and the bulk of the community maintain a reasonably intelligent discussion level, though there are a few odd drawings of Dzhokhar and someone posted an article about psychic predictions of the Boston bombing.  A few people post new pictures they find of Dzhokhar, but none of the sillier elements to this Facebook group are the focus of the group. Yet I think that this group is used to plump up the numbers in reports of the infinitely more interesting, media-wise, fandom.  A fandom is far easier to mock and to dismiss than collectives of mostly young people who think there are serious problems with the case against Dzhokhar.  (ETA: And an hour after I posted this entry I see a post wherein someone touts a paranoid and lunatic video wherein some gubernatorial candidate in Nevada is convinced DHS staged the Boston Marathon bombing.  I have no idea what I was thinking, assuming that any place was safe from the gut punch of bad conspiracy theory.  I’m sure within minutes someone will post a cuddly picture of Jahar, but for a brief few days, there was a place wherein people were discussing problems in the case against Dzhokhar intelligently.  I take some comfort in that very few people have responded to it, either by comments or by likes – some very small comfort.  But they aren’t behaving like a fandom so my original analysis still stands in that regard. )

From what I have read, I would be very surprised if there are more than a thousand girls in the Free Jahar fandom.  The largest open group of the sorts of “Free Jaharists” sensationalized on Gawker I can find is a Facebook group with around 600 members.  FreeJahar on Twitter has around 1,800 followers.  The other names on Twitter associated with the Justice for Dzhokhar “movement” have substantially fewer followers.  Troy Crossley, an aspiring rapper, who was once friends with Dzhokhar and who is vocal in his support for his friend, has over 15,000 followers.  Troy’s account, however, pre-dates the Boston bombing attack and I have no way of knowing how many followers he had before April 19.  None of the actual “Justice for Jahar” Twitter accounts even come close to having the number of followers Troy has.  But for the sake of argument, let’s lump all the serious groups in with the fandoms.  Even if every single Troy Crossley follower, lurid Dzhokhar Tumblr user and member of the largest Free Jahar Facebook account are unique users and are representative of the love-sick fandom mocked in the mainstream press, the Free Jahar movement is still very, very small.  All combined, they would represent .01% of Americans and it must be stated that these groups are international.  There may very well be more people in the world who think the Earth is flat and think that the Cottingley Fairies were real.

Boston Marathon Bombing Conspiracy: Craft International, False Flag – UPDATED

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

I can’t determine what site or what commentator initially brought up Craft/Blackwater but there’s a lot of information about it out on the web. Craft International started being mentioned on April 17, two days after the bombings.  Pontifications about the possible presence of Craft International at the Boston Marathon blossomed into full force false flag paranoia on April 18. Alex Jones, the ruddy huckster, was a force behind accusations against Craft International as being part of a false flag, which makes sense because he was literally the first conspiracy theorist to declare false flag as the cause behind the Boston bombings.  He waited a cool 41 minutes after the bombings before he invoked false flag, and I have to commend him for his restraint.  It had to have hurt him to wait that long.  But he had to have sighed with relief when people began to notice the men in the black caps with the black backpacks because then he had something upon which to pin his false flag allegations.

I suspect I will mention this again when I discuss all of the false flag accusations that happened before 4/18, but it is logically impossible to declare any violent event a government-inspired false flag before the government has even had a chance to declare a suspect.  How can it be a false flag before the government has even told us an official story?  It can’t, unless you are convinced that every horrible thing that ever happens is obviously planned by the government against innocent Americans in order to strip us of our rights in some sort of eventual Constitutional rights denigration in the name of… whatever it those who invoke false flag during a stiff wind fear.  At that point, all evidence is just confirmation bias.  They knew a false flag was going to happen.  They had to wait for one.  And that’s crappy logic and evidence analysis.

agentsStill, the Craft International rumors had some steam.  The discussion and accusations were provoked by the number of men on the ground at the scene of the bombing, before and after, dressed identically. The men were wearing khaki pants, khaki boots, black zip-up jackets, black caps with what appear to be skulls on them, and black backpacks.

Boston Bombing Conspiracies: The Naked Tamerlan Recording

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

Early on April 19, Boston police took into a custody a man who had been stripped naked and cuffed.  Footage was taken of this man as he was placed in the back of a squad car.  This man bore a certain resemblance to Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

It’s understandable how at first glance this film could raise all kinds of questions.  One is that if Tamerlan was naked and cuffed in the back of a squad car, then he could not have been in a shoot-out with the police that ended with him being run down by his brother as Dzhokhar fled the scene in the stolen car.  Another is that the story about Tamerlan being killed on the scene was rubbish and that he was taken into custody peacefully and then later brutally murdered.

The theories that have sprung up around the video of the supposedly naked Tamerlan are quite proof-resistant, and show how it is that evidence often cannot have any influence over the mindsets that believe in conspiracy theory.

One of the best debunks comes from Metabunk, but it’s important to note that people take the evidence in this debunk to prove that the Naked Man is Tamerlan.  Seriously, people look at this information and think it proves that the Naked Man was Tamerlan.  If nothing else, this theory shows so well the intractable nature of the conspiracy theorist mind.  All information is filtered in a manner that confirms the biases of those who create theories and believe in them.

Boston Bombing Conspiracy Theories: Dave McGowan’s Staging Theory, Part 1

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

11/28/15: Via several search strings leading people to this entry, I learned Dave McGowan died on November 22, 2015. He was diagnosed in late spring with a very aggressive form of cancer and it sounds like he spent the last six months of his life suffering physically and financially. No matter how much I disagreed with him in some areas of research, this is all quite unpleasant to find out. He was an interesting man who influenced large swaths of alternative thought and this is sad news to all who have read his work, especially his very interesting works about Laurel Canyon. God speed, Dave.

6/6/13: Let’s keep McGowan’s pet name for me over on his site, ironic usage included. I want real discussion, not strange men cursing at me with such unoriginality they can only muster someone else’s anger. Seriously.

5/27/13  Please note:  I appreciate the impassioned responses this entry has received and I like to reply to comments when applicable.  I do, however, have other things to accomplish, like other entries in the Boston Bombing series, as well as discussions on my other site, and cannot continue to give comments the attention they deserve as it is eating up so much of my time.  Even though I no longer have the time to engage on this topic  – and that is my fault for I had no idea this would generate much in the way of a response – comments are still open.  Follow my comment policy and I am only too happy to let commenters give their opinions.  My lack of response is just due to time.  True Believers may interpret this comment however they please.

(Note:  I noticed yesterday that Dave McGowan’s site was throwing up “bandwidth exceeded” messages.  If this is a chronic problem with his site, I may not continue on and discuss the rest of his entries because it’s hardly fair to readers not to be able to see the source I am analyzing, even as I quote liberally and use the exact pictures he uses. Upgrade, Dave!  Even as I dislike this theory, your Laurel Canyon stuff is fascinating!)

A reader here, who is a conspiracy theorist whom I respect and enjoy talking with, directed me to Dave McGowan’s “Special Report on the Boston Marathon: The Curious Case of the Man Who Could Only Sit Down.”  I read through it and immediately found a lot of problems I wanted to address.

I had spent three days writing my analysis of McGowan’s entire theory when my husband pointed out to me that McGowan had split his article up into three parts, adding large, new chunks of material at the end and adding smaller bits of new information in the parts I had already covered, specifically information about Christian Williams.  I had been working out of the same, unclosed window for days and had not noticed these changes.  Because accuracy matters, I changed my discussion to mirror McGowan’s work, and will be splitting my discussion into three parts.  If anything I quote here appears to have changed since posting this debunk, let me know and I will post the screen shot of the entire entries I responded to.  Please note that this analysis for Part One comes from the entry McGowan had posted as of 5/15/2013.

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered this sort of thing before.  All bloggers I read indicate when they have edited content.  I personally prefer to leave content as it stands and include an edit with the new information.  You can see this at work in my entry on The Franklin Cover-Up.  It’s important to have this sort of information integrity because otherwise you are forcing your readers to check back with your entry literally every day lest they be accused of misquoting you, which will definitely happen when discussing conspiracy theory.  True Believers love to read ill-intent in the smallest of errors and had my husband not seen that McGowan had, in fact, added large sections to his work and split it up into three sections, I can’t imagine the attacks that would have been lobbed my way.

I have the original I initially responded to and checked to see if there was some manner in which McGowan communicated his new material.  His font sizes change often in his work and I initially had hoped smaller font was indicative of edited material, but that did not prove to be the case as unedited material was also in smaller font.  There was nothing in any of the three sections to show the reader that he had been adding to his original work, other than the obvious fact that he had broken his first entry into three smaller entries.

Very strange, but at least I noticed before I posted so no harm done.

I found myself in an odd position debunking McGowan’s theory.  Though this is only the second entry in my Boston Bombing Theories series,  I have several other entries in my drafts folder that need a bit more research or need to be edited before I post them.  None of them have inspired in me the level of anger I experienced reading McGowan’s theory, but then again, it’s early days.  Perhaps more of this is in store for me.  Still, it was, at times, nauseating to read such a virulent lack of respect for the Boston Bombing victims.  Throughout his articles, McGowan engages in a near Stalinist desire to unperson people who have suffered grave harm in order to prove a theory that involves more supposition on his part than it does actual proof.  He insults the appearance of one victim, he demeans the dead and he outright mocks serious injuries because he claims it is clear victims were not wounded.  He bases this opinion solely on his observations, which often appear strange as the pictures show gravely injured people.  Or at least they do to those not pushing an agenda.  It’s hard to maintain a tone of civility when one encounters such a shocking lack of basic human decency.  I’m sure McGowan is a great man and thinker in many respects but his Boston Bombing Theory doesn’t necessarily reflect that.

Let me also repeat here that I don’t have a theory as to what happened at Boston.  I am withholding judgement until the government makes a full case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  It would be very nice to see the video the FBI claims shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing the bomb and the letter he is said to have written on the wall of the boat where he hid after the Watertown shoot out, especially the latter as it just sounds so strange.  There has been too much bad information about this case to have much faith in anything that the public cannot see with their own eyes.

Because this is the first long debunk I have posted, I need to explain why I am discussing his theory line by line.  Lest it seem like I am beating up McGowan, I will likely need to examine every line of every conspiracy theory.  Most, if not all, theorists will insist that if a debunker fails to address every single bit of minutia in their theory, then they haven’t debunked it.  And if they put as much work into their theories that McGowan has put into his, perhaps they deserve that level of scrutiny.  Having had people focus on one element of something I have to say rather than examine the whole of my argument, I understand how frustrating it is when people ignore large chunks of what I write.

I also need to tell you all that there is analysis of extremely bloody and graphic bomb scene photographs.  If you are squeamish or find such content offensive, you will want to give this section a miss. 

Boston Bombing Conspiracy Theories – The backpack analyses

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

The backpacks
 

A lot of scrutiny has been paid to the backpacks that the suspects carried and those that were found at the bombing scenes. Almost all of the backpack examinations are part of the “Dzhokhar Was Framed” conspiracy theories, but I think they deserve analyses of their own. Here are some of the backpack examinations that gathered steam.

1) The picture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev fleeing the bombing scene has been doctored to remove his backpack

This video claims to show that the photograph that David Greene took on his cell phone was doctored to photoshop out the backpack Dzhokhar was carrying. I do not know enough about photoshopping to debunk this but others in the comments have pointed out that digital images often have an effect that is called “ghosting” that can be the cause for the pixelation that 2Minstral claims to see. Additionally, there is a debunker video for those who know and understand digital photography. All conspiracy theory has some element of harm in it, be it twisting or obfuscating the truth to actively destroying the lives of innocent people. This theory has led to a sort of online pillory of David Greene, the man who took the picture, as some people accuse him of altering his own photo.  Some of the theories indicate that the FBI was responsible for photoshopping this picture.  But Greene has still caught blowback from people who accuse him of wrongdoing.

This theory also feeds into the sixth backpack theory I discuss, as there is belief that there is a conspiracy to hide the fact that Dzhokhar left the bombing scene with the same backpack he was seen wearing in the surveillance video. 

Boston Bombing Conspiracy Theories

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

I was initially going to discuss all of the Boston Marathon Bombing conspiracy theories in one entry. However, as I researched I found that, in less than a month after the bombings, the theories were so deep and so wide I had no hope of discussing and/or debunking them in one entry.

Though I found it easy to debunk a lot of these theories, a handful of them I cannot debunk because there is not enough information available to me.  However, I need those who read these discussions to understand that debunking these conspiracy theories is not a de facto agreement with the official stance that the Tsarnaev brothers are responsible for the bombings.  I have a lot of trouble with the way the FBI is managing the case and releasing information, and I have even more trouble with the way the mainstream media is spreading rumor as fact.  To be really specific, I have now and always will have problems with any case that involves Carmen Ortiz.  After her shameless and shameful behavior in the Aaron Swartz case, her presence in any investigation and prosecution will trip my alarm bells.  I say all of this so that no one reading here is under the impression that I am pushing a specific agenda other than one that requires legitimate evidence and actual proof offered before I believe anything.

In many ways, I think that people who are embracing Boston Bombing conspiracy theory are doing so because that is how the human brain works.  People like loose ends tied and most of us are impatient. If the mainstream media fails us, some of us turn to the fringe to find resolution.  Some think the sort of pattern recognition that goes into believing conspiracy theory is a trait that can be explained via evolutionary psychology.  There are understandable reasons why people engage in conspiracy theory and even as I find such methods of problem solving strange, those people deserve respect.

But then there are the others, those theories propagated by people with vile intentions and completely unsound world views.  The amount of anti-Semitism I have found in a couple of the theories, most notably one of the “Dzhokhar is Dead” theories, is sickening.   Watching as the young women and teens who make up the bulk of the “Free Jahar” movement actively spread these theories with little knowledge of what they were endorsing other than that it proved that their latest fandom idol was innocent was distinctly horrible.  There is no way for me to see those theories as anything but toxic and anathema to a decent society.

As I debunk, I will try to be as respectful as I can to the theories that are not utterly disgusting, and even then I will not be engaging in any sort of insult or cruelty.  I don’t have to be nasty to tell the truth about people who believe terrible things. I urge anyone who chooses to respond to my debunkings to follow my lead on this.  These days people can barely stand to read the comments on the Internet, so low has the discourse sunk.  That won’t happen here.  Please engage with an eye to discussion and civility.

Biting off more than I can chew

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

There’s no way I can address all the Boston Marathon Bombing conspiracy theories in one entry.  I must have been a fool to think I could.  So I will be splitting them up into categories and posting them as I feel I have the category or subcategory complete.  I’ll be posting the backpack theories Tuesday morning and will continue working on all the other theories until I have them covered.  No idea how long that will take, but as my husband often says, “It’ll take however long it takes.”

Some of my examinations may seem excessive or even anal, but I take conspiracy theory seriously because I take objective truth seriously.  Moreover,  for every 100 completely lunatic ideas, there is always one that makes sense and could be true if only we examine it closely enough.  To dismiss any theory without deep examination, for me, is much more condescending than just snerting and calling conspiracy theorists crazy.  So prepare for in-depth analysis from me.

See you Tuesday and wish me luck as I swim in the deep end of the Boston bomber conspiracies.  If you’ve seen something in particular you think would be good for me to look at, please, please, please let me know.

The Alex Jones-ification of the Mainstream Media

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

When the Boston Marathon Bombings occurred, I immediately knew two things were going to happen.  First, people were going to mouth off and engage in passive-aggressive yet incendiary speculation about the Tea Party.  The Tea Party is anathema to my political, social and moral beliefs but even I tensed as people pointed out the links between Tax Day and Patriot Day, both happening on April 15th, and the Tea Party.  And when I say people, I mean liberal pundits, and I was not disappointed.  Michael Moore and David Axelrod were the two whose comments I found the most ridiculous (I didn’t mind Chris Matthews mentioning that most domestic terrorists in the USA are from the extreme right wing because it’s an accurate statement based on actual evidence – this just wasn’t the right time to bring it up).  We live in a world of pundits.  Everyone with a little bit of knowledge and access to a television camera offers instant opinions based on very little fact and we pay them to do it.  It used to be that pundits were experts, but perhaps we now need to rethink their value because when the truth matters the most they seem to do more harm than good. When Moore and Axelrod postulated about the Tea Party, there was zero proof of anything other than that two bombs went off and that people were gravely injured.  Their speculation about who was to blame was irresponsible.

The response to this was equally as tiresome. With no small amount of disgust, I noticed the sanctimonious and oh-so-offended tones of those on the right, so sorely aggrieved that anyone would think the right wing responsible for bombings, as if Tim McVeigh, Eric Rudolph and Ted Kaczynski did not exist. But all of that’s beside the point.  I advise all people who were not injured in the attack or who are not close to someone injured in the attack to pull up their socks and stop making this terrible tragedy all about them and their sense of continual victimization.

The second thing I knew would happen was that Alex Jones would declare it a false flag operation launched against innocent citizens by a government so craven it would kill its own in order to erode our civil rights.  His bloviating performance during the Sandy Hook shooting caused many like me to expect the worst from him and on cue, just like the barking seal he is, he began to perform for the paranoid types who make up the core of his support.  Grass is green, sky is blue, blood is on the ground, and Alex Jones is pandering to the delusions of the crowd.  It must be Monday.

But even though pundits are loosely considered journalists in this country, I was not prepared for the utter failure of not just the journalists in the USA, but journalists worldwide, to cover the bombings in a professional manner.  I expect pundits to act like fools – it’s what they are paid to do.  I expect Alex Jones to concoct improbable conspiracies and pass them off as news – it is what he is paid to do.  But I did not expect mainstream media, supposedly run by trained journalists, to go so very wrong as they adopted the instant idiocy of punditry and the Infowars tactic to treat every rumor as fact.  I know we are a society wherein we demand instant news and that CNN, the New York Post and other “legitimate” news sources were just trying to give us what we want, but the fact that legitimate news media decided to use the same metrics as Reddit to determine the factual worthiness of information they received is distressing and cannot be excused just because people want instant news.

April 19, 2013I posit the complete news failures we witnessed and are still witnessing happened because the mainstream media and pundits followed the examples set by conspiracy-mongers like Alex Jones.  The mainstream media failed to follow some of the most basic rules of journalism in their reporting of the Boston Marathon Bombings and acted as if they, hubs of world news, needed to behave like people on message boards, reporting every tiny bit of information before vetting it, giving as much credence to chatter on a police radio as they did to actual news releases from the Boston police and the FBI.  It is nothing short of knee-slappingly hilarious that after such a failure of basic reporting ethics and rules, the mainstream media tried to blame social media sites like Reddit for muddying the waters as members worked over every detail of the bombings, coming to good conclusions, bad conclusions and outright crazy conclusions.  In a world where proper journalism matters, the mutterings on message boards mean nothing.  The media blaming Reddit for their failures and the harms they caused is pathetic and sniveling.  Whether or not we like the idea that people gather on social media sites to engage in armchair sleuthing, it happens and will continue to happen.  Armchair sleuths are not the problem.  Mainstream media who give credence to armchair sleuths are the problem, but, as we will see, just reading the Find Boston Bombers subReddit was hardly the whole of the media failure. 

Welcome to Houdini’s Revenge!

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

For several years, I have run a site called I Read Odd Books. As the name implies, I write reviews or discussions of strange literature. In addition to strange fiction, I discuss books about conspiracy theory, the paranormal and alternate versions of history.  I sometimes discuss books by authors who have large bodies of work outside of the book they wrote and it is hard to keep people on topic to the book and not the numerous websites or related books on the topic. After a while I wondered if it was even fair to insist that people remain on point with the book and not discuss all the information available. It felt distinctly censorious to insist people limit themselves to the book and wondered if I should create a separate site to discuss such books so that people would be able to discuss the entirety of the topic.

I love conspiracy theory.  I love reading and hearing the theories people come up with and the ways they reach their conclusions.  I love the sheer strangeness of it all.

But my love of odd topics is salted with many grains of skepticism. I am an atheist who received a darn good college education wherein I was taught to read and think carefully. I was taught how to find facts, how to verify sources and how to separate wheat from chaff. Years spent in high school debate also gifted me with the ability to put forth a case without using formal or informal logical fallacies (though sometimes in cross examination debate, being rational was decidedly optional). There are many reasons why people believe in conspiracy theory and the paranormal but those reasons aside, their refusal to follow the most basic rules of argument when offering their cases is upsetting and tiring. Encountering the same sort of poor reasoning, refusals to hear evidence that may disprove their ideas, and an inability to synthesize information from reading sources began to fill me with something close to dread.

I gave creating this site more consideration after the Newtown shooting. I am unsure what was at play in the creation of the LIBOR/Newtown and Aurora shooters conspiracy theory, but it was vile. It was stupid. And what is worse, it was easily proven false with five minutes of research. So I wrote a quick entry on IROB asking for people to think twice before believing the theory, that there had been no Senate Finance Committee hearings on the matter, nor were any in the pipeline, and that at no point had anyone flinging the theory showed a link between the fathers of the shooters or their employers and the LIBOR scandal.

The comments I received were upsetting. With seemingly no self-awareness, people posted information they insisted proved a link between GE and the LIBOR hearings/scandal or between the Lanza and Holmes families and the LIBOR hearings and scandals, and in so doing engaged in some common debate behaviors that I, an amateur skeptic, have found to be part and parcel with those who support conspiracy theory.

tin-foil-hat-3False Equivalence
–Someone left a comment insisting that GE’s involvement in bad loans in Australia and subsequent cessation of issuing of said mortgage loans was synonymous with involvement in the LIBOR scandal. The implication was that any bad acts on GE’s part meant they just had to be a part of the LIBOR scandal in some respect but issuing subprime loans is in no way similar to illegally manipulating interest rates.

Ad hominem
–That same commenter insinuated that I only wrote my opinion in order to raise the hits on my site. That was an interesting accusation to make since at the time I had no ads on I Read Odd Books and therefore benefited in no way from site hits.  Impugning the motives of the person asking for proof is such a common tactic that ad hominem is often invoked even when it makes no sense.

Statements of fact with no evidence to back them up
–Someone commented that GE was most certainly a LIBOR defendant but offered nothing to prove that assertion. When I pointed this out, he never offered any proof.

Red herring (actually, this comment covers a lot of illogical ground, including false equivalence)
–That same commenter insisted that there had been Senate Finance Committee hearings on the LIBOR scandal because HSBC had been fined over a billion dollars for their role in the LIBOR scandal. Actually, it was a Department of Justice probe and HSBC receiving a fine had nothing to do at all with GE or FICO or any of their employees testifying before a Senate Finance Committee hearing.

Failure to understand sources
–A commenter named Trevor posted a link to an article that he said showed the links between GE and the LIBOR scandal. The article was a break down of recent financial scandals, including LIBOR, but GE was not in any manner mentioned in the section on LIBOR. GE was mentioned for rigging municipal bond deals, which had nothing to with LIBOR. But for many, GE being mentioned in an article where LIBOR was mentioned as well was proof positive that there was a connection between the two.

Deliberately misleading
–A commenter named Jenna sneered that I needed to tell Bernanke and Geithner that they had not, in fact, given testimony about LIBOR. Bernanke was asked about LIBOR as he gave the Federal Reserve’s semi-annual monetary policy report before the Senate Banking Committee. Geithner appeared before a Senate panel to discuss LIBOR. Neither were ever witnesses before a Senate Finance Committee hearing and the presence of either at any sort of Senate panel or hearing in no way proves a connection between Mr Lanza or Mr Holmes and their employers with the LIBOR scandal.

Onus probandi, argumentum ad ignoratiam
–A reasonably intelligent comment from Emma caused me existential despair when I reached the end, for she said that just because we don’t know that a witness list that includes Mr. Lanza and Mr. Holmes is out there does not mean it does not exist to prove her case. In short, she engaged in onus probandi, which means that the person who is making a claim is pushing the burden of proof onto the person arguing the claim, saying that the claim must be proven untrue, not that it must be proven true. Since there was no way to dismiss a list not offered into evidence, there was no way I could refute it, if I followed her illogical conclusion. She also engaged in argumentum ad ignoratiam wherein she pushes aside any notion that we must withhold judgment until there is actual proof to reach a conclusion.

Inability to stay on topic
–Almost all of the comments veered completely off topic, seemingly without realizing it. In a conversation about whether or not Mr. Holmes and Mr. Lanza or the companies they worked for were on a witness list to testify before the Senate Finance Committee about the LIBOR scandal and that their sons were turned into Manchurian candidates in order to scare them off, we ended up discussing all sorts of things that had nothing to do with the topic. Senate Banking Committee hearings, fines given to other companies, testimony given by people not Mr. Holmes or Mr. Lanza, testimony from companies not FICO or GE. This is what I call the greater spitwad argument, wherein people will toss out anything they think is relevant in the hopes that one of the wads sticks.

One entry about one conspiracy theory and it was like a role call of bad thought and logical fallacies. It may seem pedantic to some, but there are basic rules of engagement one should follow when making an extraordinary claim. The logical fallacies and bad arguments I invoked above are not obscure, finicky ways of dismissing claims. They are at the heart of the poor reasoning and deduction that go into making conspiracy theory and supernatural claims and they were offered without a second thought as to how they destroyed the validity of the argument those people wanted to make.

But even that wasn’t enough to make me nag my husband to create this site for me. I was pushed over the edge last Monday, when two bombs went off during the Boston marathon.

Within an hour of the bombings, online people were already speculating wildly, without an ounce of evidence, that the Tea Party was responsible. horsey41913Then Alex Jones invoked false flag and we were off to the conspiratorial races. Before long the mainstream press was dragging the names of innocent people through the mud, making accusations against them based on chatter heard on police radio. In fact, as the mainstream media descended into the sort of sewer reporting common to Infowars, or perhaps following the lead of Infowars, a missing student from Brown University was accused of being Suspect #2, even though he bears only a ballpark resemblance to the suspect (hair length, mole position, and basic facial bone structure made it clear the missing student was not Suspect #2), his face was published on the front of the New York Post, may they be sued until only lint is left in their pockets. The subsequent furor caused the missing student’s family no small amount of pain and forced them to remove social media sites they used to get the word out about their missing loved one.

Another young man who wasn’t even in Boston during the bombing was dragged into this, a young man I will call Mike. Mike was identified by several sources as being Suspect #1, who was killed early Friday morning. There were several people online with that name, but for some reason some people found a twitter feed of a 15-year-old Ethiopian national living in the UK, and insisted he was the bomber. This accusation appeared in many places online, even as saner voices begged for the name to be removed, that it was manifestly impossible that an Ethiopian teenager residing in Europe could be the bombing suspect. I was on my cellphone, reading as this happened, and lack screen shots but I will be revisiting this later in my first real entry here because this is at the heart of conspiracy theory – an inability to change one’s mind even as mountains of evidence are presented that disprove a theory. As of late Friday, Alex Jones’ Infowars was still claiming that Suspect #2 was the missing Brown student.

The International Business Times went one step further – even after they named two wrong suspects, they hilariously chided social media outlets like Reddit for trying to solve the case and for putting misinformation out there, as if people poring over pictures in cyberspace forced them to  publish any name that came along and accuse them of the Boston Marathon bombings.  IBT published the two names online around 3:30 a.m. CST on Friday. The names were still up there when I finally fell asleep around 6:00 a.m. So yeah, sure, Reddit was clearly the problem here.

How did this happen? How did the mutterings of average Joes, of regular citizens yammering online, become the basis for mainstream reporting? People who believe fringe ideas often state that they cannot trust the media but these days, if the handling of the Boston bombing reporting is anything to go on, conspiracy theorists could be right. We all watched as the worst sort of reasoning and lack of dedication to proven fact infested media reporting of one of the worst acts of domestic terrorism on American soil in almost 20 years. Did heads roll? Were people fired? Or has this laxity and lack of perspicacity just become so common that it seems unavoidable? Errors happen. People get things wrong from time to time. But this was not a simple mistake. This was media outlets publishing as fact the first rumors to come across their laptop screens.

So I got angry and unhappy and finally launched the site I had been talking about for months.

Will I change anything? Probably not. Conspiracy theory and the supernatural are remarkably impervious to fact, or even the aforementioned mountains of evidence. But at some point, even being just another voice in the e-wilderness, asking for reason, attention to evidence, and logical debate, has its appeal. I get to channel the energy I spend yelling at headlines and Twitter feeds into this site.  So that’s a net win for me, at least.

On this site, all voices are welcome as long as they follow my comment policy. I will never degrade anyone who believes in that which cannot be proven with logic and legitimate evidence. I will never mock anyone or permit anyone to be mocked here. In fact, I may not even respond much to comments left by True Believers unless their comments demand it, either by request of the commenter or by the information they bring to the table. For example, there is no way to argue with those who believe that the planes that flew into the Twin Towers on 9-11 were holograms and that no one died that day. They believe that everyone involved that day was an actor, sometimes “identifying” one actor in several different roles. They have pictures of clearly different people whom they claim are one person, they insist the Towers never came crashing to the ground, and there is nothing anyone can say to influence them. They believe 9-11 didn’t happen, in the face of overwhelming evidence, because they reject anything that does not prove their case (one of the most extreme forms of confirmation bias I have personally witnessed). There is no way they will change their minds and it is folly to try to engage them.  One of the things that keeps a person sane online is knowing how to pick one’s battles.

But even knowing that, I think it is important to do this. I think it is important to always be on the side of informed truth. This site will likely focus heavily on books, but I will be discussing media, conspiracy and paranormal sites and current events as well. So welcome to Houdini’s Revenge. All are welcome, all will be heard, and all will be dissected.

This Is Not an Odd Books Discussion: Stop talking about Libor shooter conspiracies

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

I run a site devoted to bizarre books and ideas. I am about to launch a site devoted to debunking bad ideas, mostly focusing on books about conspiracy theory. While I would not consider myself an expert on conspiracy theory, I think it can be accepted that I know a thing or two about a thing or two.

Let me state very clearly: There is no link between the Libor bank scandal and the Aurora and Newtown shootings. Fabian4Liberty, one of the main sources for this theory, made a video explaining the conspiracy. Far be it from me to suggest he should crawl under a rock from the shame of manipulating the deaths of many to fuel the vainglorious arrogance that stokes conspiracy theory (he knows the real truth, dontcha know, and the rest of us are sheep if we disagree and rely on fact rather than half-baked and scurrilous speculation).

It is all nonsense. There are no Senate Banking Committee hearings scheduled on the Libor scandal and even if there were, neither Holmes nor Lanza would have been called to testify. There is no witness list because there are no hearings scheduled. I repeat: Robert Holmes and Peter Lanza are on no Libor hearings witness list because the Senate Banking Committee has no Libor hearings scheduled.  You will note that none of the proponents of this conspiracy theory have produced a list of people who were scheduled to testify at this non-existent hearing.  There is not a lick of actual evidence that proves anything Fabian4Justice asserts.

That should be the end of it, but most conspiracy theory True Believers won’t let that deter them, and they are spreading this garbage all over the Internet.  So let’s discuss it in a bit more depth.

Robert Holmes, father of the Aurora shooter, was an anti-fraud engineer for FICO. In a way, there is a certain demented logic in linking Holmes to the Libor scandal because FICO assigns credit scores in the USA . But it is a stretch to extrapolate an anti-fraud engineer for FICO into having the expertise necessary to be an expert witness on British banks falsely reporting interest rates and how that affected US derivative markets. A large stretch. There is no link between FICO and the Libor scandal and Holmes’ anti-fraud work with FICO. None.

The situation with Peter Lanza is even more tenuous and, frankly, stupid as hell. Lanza worked for GE as the vice-president of the tax division. GE has no link to the Libor scandal at all and one wonders how a man who worked in a tax division of a large corporation would have the expertise needed to help unravel interest rate misreporting in the UK and how it affected US  financial products like student loans and mortgage rates.

So there are no Libor hearings scheduled by the Senate Banking Committee. There is no witness list.  Neither Holmes nor Lanza had the expertise needed to testify in such matters.  Those simple facts slay this bizarre theory, and there is no need to discuss the fact that Suzanne Collins is from Newtown and that The Dark Knight Rises had financial shenanigans in the plot. Moreover, if the fact that the theory has descended into such minutia wherein it is important to note that an author of a Young Adult dystopian novel series hailed from a place where a disturbed young man killed children does not give you pause, then likely nothing anyone says can dissuade you from this strange and demented course of anti-logic.

But let me throw this your way, just to be another voice in the wilderness asking for sanity: Say Holmes and Lanza had been on a witness list for non-existent Libor hearings.  How on earth did “the forces that be” gain access to their sons, engage them in intense brainwashing so that they would commit horrific mass killings and do so without anyone noticing. Lanza lived with his mother – it beggars belief that a group of covert bank apologists working for some shadowy New World Order organization could have taken him from his mother and engaged him in the sort of brainwashing that would have led him to go on a rampage.

People unfamiliar with psychopharmacology may think that anyone who takes certain drugs can become a Manchurian Candidate. Possibly, but the sort of drug reaction that can make one psychotic enough to snap and engage in a mass murder will make it impossible to engage in the sort of planning both Holmes and Lanza exhibited before their rampages. The sorts of drugs that can make one susceptible to rampage training do exist but it still takes time to train such people and, if MK-ULTRA is anything to go by, mass murder assassination training is dicey at best.

But all of this asks the question: If there was indeed a list of people meant to testify before the Senate Banking Committee, what would training the unstable sons of two of the witnesses to perform mass murder ultimately do to the hearing process? Was this shadowy agency planning on manipulating mentally shaky family members of each person on the list? And if so, how does doing so manipulate those called to testify into withdrawing as witnesses? The government could compel them to testify even if they withdrew. Also, if I knew my child had been coerced into mass murder on behalf of a strange government organization to prevent me from testifying, I would redouble my efforts to make sure my voice was heard. Many would. Especially if they were already against the wall, known as parents as some of the worst mass murderers in history. What more can happen to their reputations and family?

And if this was an attempt to discredit the witnesses by painting them as untrustworthy because they raised mass murderers, it brings us back to the idea that this shadowy agency would have to engage in a lot of covert brainwashing in order to discredit all the people on that imaginary witness list.

Guys, there are unstable people in this world who do terrible things. While the motives behind those who create these theories are often unclear to me aside from the self-aggrandizement that comes from being separate from the “sheeple,” I understand all too well why people believe this crap. But it makes them defensive when I state the reasons, so I won’t.

Instead, I will just ask that any True Believer demand to see the witness lists that Holmes and Lanza supposedly appeared on.  Withhold judgement until you see those lists.  Do not take anyone at their word – not even me.  Demand solid, clear proof before buying into any of this.  Demand actual, accountable proof before you forward a single e-mail, share a Facebook status or retweet anything.

Conspiracy theory preys on the modern lack of perspicacity, as we see words on a screen and assume they have legitimacy.  The purveyors of lies rely on people believing them without question, which is the same reasoning they use against non-believers.  They accuse us of being mindless robots who refuse to see reason, but  refusing to believe without proof is a sign of mental strength. Don’t be weak. Don’t fall for this garbage.  Children were killed because an unstable young man shot them to death.  Not because the government wants to control your access to guns.  Not because an unnamed shadow organization wanted to stop testimony.  The children are dead because a mentally ill man shot them.  In this case, the truth really is harder to accept than the all the various lies.

One last thing: May those who have exploited the Aurora and Newton shootings to fit their pet paranoias eventually feel the hot blast of shame and condemnation deserved by charlatans.

This Is Not An Odd Book Discussion: Stop talking about Texas!

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

This is not a political rant. This is a common sense rant.

I have noticed online some disturbing statements from unhappy Romney-ites. Once it was revealed that Australia was not really the paradise they thought it would be to escape godless Socialism, eyes fell on Texas. Let me clear up a few problems with the idea of hoards of white, disappointed folk rushing my state in the hopes of creating a new republic when Texas engages in a bloody war against the USA to secede:

1) Texas is not about to secede. I know Perry spoke of it but Perry said a lot of things (I was of the opinion he deliberately tanked his presidential chances by saying loony things – he didn’t want to be president any more than I do), and despite being Governor, he really isn’t the boss of us. David Dewhurst is the boss of us and he has higher political aspirations and won’t risk them suggesting that Texas engage in what can only end up being a giant, bloody clusterfuck. Outside of Texe Marr enclaves of utter lunacy you will not find the mass of Texan bosoms heaving for secession. We are devoted Americans, though many of us value our state as much as we value our country.

2) I do not know where the idea that Texas as a whole hates the Democratic Party came from, but a simple Google will show you that a full 40% of the state voted for Obama. National election-wise we are a Red State but in terms of popular vote we’re more a purply-magenta color. We are not your default angry-white-dude Eden.

3) If common sense fails you and you find yourself on a modern day wagon trail coming to Texas thinking we will soon be a new country and a conservative stronghold, please understand that you may want to step lightly as you barge into my home state, a place where even the housewives are armed. It’s untrue that all liberals eschew pro-2A ideals, just like it’s untrue that Texas is about to secede. We won’t take well to Romney carpet baggers rushing down here and telling us what to do.

Yeah, I know all those people bloviating online have no intentions of moving here. But of all the reactionary things said in reference to Obama winning, this one is so dumb. At least when whiners in 2004 sniveled about going to Canada when Bush won, Canada made sense to the ideals of liberal butthurt.

Seriously, how hard is a Google. If the only places you can find sources for Texas secession as real possibility are infowars and the comment sections on a variety of AM radio stations, then don’t pack the car (or babble about packing the car). If the people who are commenting that Texas is about to secede are using Confederate Flags as their user icons, mayhaps they have a far different agenda at work than simply longing for “freedom.” If you don’t bother to look up how the actual popular vote went in my state, you will miss the better opportunity to go to Oklahoma, which is a far Redder state than Texas.

In fact, may I make a suggestion? Oklahoma: A Much Better Choice for Unhappy Romney-ites!

ETA: Yes, yes, a bunch of you are sending me a Fox News graphic showing that “thousands” want to secede from various states all over the Union. Maybe even tens of thousands? All I can say to this is that 26 million people, give or take a few, live in Texas. Even 500,000 people wanting to do anything in Texas is such a meaningless number that I cannot help but lip fart at anyone who thinks that signing online petitions means anything. If half a million people in Texas want to secede, that means about 2% of the state wants out. At any given moment 2% of the state wants all sorts of damn fool things they ain’t gonna be gettin’. I imagine 2% of Texans want to legalize meth, want to make it legal to beat postal officials on sight, want to make church attendance compulsory and similar half-baked notions that are near and dear to the lunatic fringe.

But that 500,000 I mentioned is a generous number since not even 100,000 Texans have signed the online petition. One hundred thousand butthurt souls wanting a bloody war of secession equals about .3% of the state. I imagine .3% of the state want to have sex with a tree. .3% of the state want to write snake handling into the constitution. .3% of the state want to eat your dog. And not even that many people want to secede.

So go on being butthurt while the national media eggs you on the way they egged on Alec Baldwin when Bush beat Kerry. All less than .3% of you. Tell Alex Jones I said hello.

2083 by Anders Behring Breivik, Part 4: All About ABB

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Now begins the last installment of my look at 2083.  If you’re just now joining the discussion, this is the fourth in the series.  You can click these links and go straight to Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

Throughout the previous three looks at Anders Behring Breivik and Fjordman, I did my best to remain on topic with the text only.  I still will derive most of Part Four from the manifesto text, but I will also be using information from the news and other sources as I discuss what I think this text reveals about Breivik.   If one reads the text closely,  Breivik reveals a lot of answers to questions that are troubling people.   I also think the text reveals a lot about Breivik’s motives in a way that gives lie to the idea that stopping Islamic immigration and ending what he refers to as cultural Marxism were his only goals.

In Part Three I mostly discussed the things that Breivik planned and the things he actually did.   Because of the level of plagiarism that Breivik engages in throughout the manifesto, it is hard to look at his writing and know if the words are indeed his, but there are patterns that emerge, times when it seems like writing flows and when it seems like he is parroting ideology from others in an awkward manner.   When he writes from a place of experience or a place of emotion, it flows smoother and simply feels more real.  So I tell myself that there are times I know I am reading Breivik’s actual thoughts, as well as text that is not plagiarized.

I need to explain that I am looking at his manifesto the way I read any text.   I am looking at the whole of the document – how it is arranged, how the writing appears, what Breivik considers important, what he does not.  There is truth in this manifesto of lies.   You know how it is when a seasoned poker player can judge the hands of the other players at the table?  It is because the other players, even as they try to present a flat demeanor, have what are called “tells.”  A finger twitches, eyes dart to the left, someone unconsciously clears his throat.  And the experienced poker player knows.  Breivik’s manifesto is littered with tells.

While I hope I am not sounding too arrogant, I am a reasonably good “poker player.”   I’m no expert on literary construction.  But I fancy that because of my time in the trenches of odd books, strange books, bizarre books, and the people who naturally accompany such books, I have a pretty good grounding in the unusual mind.   I also had some excellent teachers and professors in my day who instilled in me a habit of engaging with words in a manner that, at times, makes reading very involved for me.  So I fancy that I enter into Part Four with some skills for analyzing text.

But at the same time, I will be engaging in psychological analysis of Breivik that should likely be taken with a grain of salt.  In a way, psychoanalyzing him will be no different than analyzing other literary characters because in its way, this manifesto is as much a piece of fiction as any novel.   I don’t need a psychological degree in order to discuss the mental state of Emma Bovary, Gregor Samsa, or Catherine Earnshaw.   But if I acknowledge that I am analyzing the text in the same way that I would a fictional novel, hopefully that will make it clear that this is just speculation.   Once the professional psychological reports come back,  I have no doubt large chunks of this entry will be proven completely off-base.  As you read this, please keep in mind I am doing my best to discuss Breivik in relation to what I think his manifesto tells me about him, with some news articles to bolster the opinions I posit. I could be very wrong.

And all that having been said, I think I’m right on more than I am wrong.  I wouldn’t have written all this out if I didn’t have some belief I was right.

So let’s look at the insight the manifesto text gives us into the mind of Breivik.  Let’s look at how his text arrangement and emphasis show his priorities.  Let’s talk about what some of his plagiarism really means.  Let’s look at how so much of what he writes contradicts itself.   Let’s see if some of the initial media responses to him are borne out in his manifesto. Let’s see if we can pin down the mind of a killer via the words that meant so much to him.

2083 by Anders Behring Breivik, Part 3: Breivik

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Before I begin discussing Anders Behring Breivik’s words from 2083, I want to remind any new readers that this is a four-part series.  You can read my take on Fjordman’s articles from 2083 in Part One and Part Two.

I am dreading writing about Anders Behring Breivik.   Whether I understood it consciously or not, I began discussing Fjordman because he was so much easier to write about.  His words, even as they appalled me, were words I knew he thought were true, plus there is the added benefit that he never killed anyone.  Fjordman’s passion indicated that he was emotionally connected to his dreadful topics.  At no time did I feel like I was reading the whole truth when I was reading Breivik’s own contributions to his manifesto.  Many times he read emotionally flat even as he was discussing war and executions.

I don’t think anyone will ever see the real face of Anders Behring Breivik and that is why I dread writing about him.  He wears many faces and in so doing, hides his real motives.  He is a man who carefully constructed an image before his rampage and is carefully maintaining that image even after his arrest.  I can make no assertions that I have nailed Breivik because I am not a psychologist.  All I can say is that as a person who has a vast interest in strange ideas and strange people, I have met many people who had or still have ideas I find anathema to a healthy world.  Some of these people were friendly, intelligent and affable and their strange beliefs took back stage to the whole of their personality.  Some were dark, dangerous people whom I never hope to see or correspond with again.  But every one of them was a real person, charming and glib, or earnest and odd, or determined and frightening but there was a core of humanity to them that could not be denied even as I was appalled with elements of their ideologies.  Even when I wanted to shake Fjordman, the reason I wanted to shake him was because he is real, someone whose words could create an honest, human reaction.

The same cannot be said of Breivik.  Even taking into account the number of articles he reproduced from Fjordman and other Islamophobic writers, there was not much of Breivik present in his manifesto.   That sense of no one being at home was not helped by the fact that he often reproduced chunks of text from other writers without attributing it, leading to the impression that those words were his.  He outright plagiarized Ted Kaczynski.  I swear at times I felt like I was reading slightly repackaged essays from William Lind.   Hundreds of pages of  Breivik’s interpretation of historical events, political actions and religious beliefs, all as absorbing as entries from supermarket encyclopedias.  And about as facile, too.  His criticism of political correctness/cultural Marxism showed about as much understanding of the Frankfurt School and reactions to the New Criticism as an answer to a high school essay question.  And one assume those high school essayists would know not to crib entire entries from Wikipedia.

All of the plagiarism accusations, all of them correct, popped up after the manifesto was discovered and bloggers ran it through software that detects unfair usage.  People seemed jubilant in a manner I could not understand because, on its face, who cares if a mass murderer of children plagiarized his brick of a manifesto?  There are far more moral issues to discuss when talking about Breivik.  The plagiarism, rather than being one more example of the criminal nature of Breivik needs to be looked at in terms of what it represents.  Plagiarism is a form of lying, a form of intellectual theft, and when one steals the ideas of others, it can point to the notion that the plagiarist is trying to either align himself with ideas he thinks are brilliant or he is trying to cover up a lack of confidence in his own writing.  I think Breivik’s plagiarism points to both but it also points to something else I will discuss Part Four.

There were moments when Breivik wrote in an extemporaneous, personal style, like in the sections where he reproduced his diary and discussed actions he truly performed.  But even when he was talking about himself, he often used trite devices to distance himself from his exposure.  It was as if he realized he was talking about himself too much and wanted to distract from it, but couldn’t stop writing about himself even if he tried.  For instance, he produces an “interview” called  “Interview with a Justiciar Knight Commander of the PCCTS, Knights Templar” and for a few minutes, I thought that maybe, perhaps I was reading the words of a compatriot in Breivik’s scheme.  He makes references to having comrades in arms as well as ideology.  But no, it was an interview with himself (and whether or not I think the text proves he acted alone is something I will touch on in in depth my fourth article).

When someone who borrows ideology from others, when someone plagiarizes the key points of his manifesto, when he writes as if he has a book open in front of him, yet carries on an interview with himself that goes on for 64 pages, that is a clue of sorts.  That clue is that his personality is more important than his ideology.  I will later make the assertion that Breivik has a personality disorder, an armchair psychiatric diagnosis to be sure, but for now, Breivik to me is sui generis because he is so bland and so self-absorbed.  He is a media-age monster, grooming his image before and after his rampage.   It is almost as if how he is perceived is more important than how his actions are perceived, and that will be a key discussion in my part four.

As a woman who knows far more about mass murderers and sociopaths than I ever planned to discover, Breivik is a monster unto himself.  He lacks the simmering hatred with a catastrophic trigger that is associated with most mass murderers.  For a religious man, who discusses Catholicism as a means of conquering his greatest foes, he talks about it dispassionately and incorporates little of it in his daily life, the Knights Templar cover notwithstanding.  In fact, the only time I sensed Breivik was showing emotion was during the first pages of his manifesto when he discusses the utopia he feels like he lost out on because of cultural Marxism, and during some of the discussions of cultural Marxism itself.  When he expressed anger in the sections about Islam, the anger very much seemed borrowed from other writers.  I sensed none of Fjordman’s urgent paranoia.   In fact, I wonder if Fjordman was Breivik’s favorite writer because Fjordman had something Breivik lacks – a passionate identity.  Breivik’s utter lack of self outside of his interest in his appearance is remarkable.

Breivik, even in his manifesto, comes across as vain, isolated, and more of a Walter Mitty fantasist than a mass murderer driven by religious bigotry.  At times his manifesto read more like an RPG manual, casting a strange light over his use of video games to train.    I wonder if, in a narcissistic haze, he saw all of his victims as two-dimensional characters in the self-centered game going on in his head. He comes across more as a man trying on roles – Mason, Knight Templar, Eurabian theorist, chemist, marksman, international criminal and male model – than a man who was driven by hate for Islamic immigration or such deep love for his country he had to protect it at any cost.   And there is a reason for those disparities, one all too common.

The reason is that Breivik is a liar.  He lies to himself and he lies to us in his manifesto.  He hid a key motive for the murders behind hundreds of pages of vaguely relevant information. He isn’t crazy – people with personality disorders can be terribly deluded but they are not insane.  He is simply a fabulist, a man who hated the life he was born into and the life he had come to live and was willing to do anything to redefine himself.

Does this mean he was not influenced by Fjordman?  Of course he was.  I think I made my case for how it is Fjordman’s violent rhetoric influenced Breivik.  And in terms of common sense, you don’t reproduce article after article from another writer in your mass murder manifesto unless you are influenced or inspired by them in some way.   Even had Breivik never read a word of Fjordman’s work, it still would have been violent, bigoted and misogynistic.   It is just Fjordman’s great misfortune that his loaded mini-manifestos found a reader willing to take his words to heart.  But I think Fjordman may have influenced Breivik in a way that no one could have anticipated, a way no one can hold Fjordman responsible for.  I think Breivik, who already had distaste for Muslims and feminism, found Fjordman so intoxicating because he longed to have the influence that Fjordman had and probably still has.

Fjordman was a part of a tightly knit group of Islamophobes online.  People in that oeuvre looked up to Fjordman.  They found him to be a great thinker.  And Breivik even wanted to meet Fjordman but was rebuffed.   I cannot entirely make the case that Breivik had an ideological and sociological crush on Fjordman, but it sure seemed likely when I finished the manifesto.   And this is a stretch, but I also wonder how Breivik truly felt about Fjordman refusing to meet him.  In his manifesto, he makes little jabs at men who blog and do not act.    It is sheer speculation but it has a ring of truth to it that if Breivik could not meet his idol, if he could not become a part of the thinkers who fueled his ideology, he would best him in some manner.

But that’s just one of the theories floating in my head.  While Breivik was decidedly an Islamophobe, there definitely other motives that fueled his rampage.  The very way he begins his manifesto is a very good clue that he has mixed motives.  The beginning is not an overview of atrocities attributed to Muslims, but rather a discourse on how the family of the 1950s cannot exist in a politically correct world.  I intend to make the case in Part Four that Breivik was as equally motivated by twisted emotions about what he considers the destruction of his own family as he was the need to end Muslim immigration in Europe.  Though in his manifesto he gives a reason for why he did not shoot Muslims, the fact that he shot young people, teens, having fun at a summer camp, speaks to motives in addition to Islamophobia.  It is more in line with his loathing of cultural Marxism, but even that only goes so far.  By shooting teenagers, he violated even his own outline of the “traitors” who needed to die first.  He shot to death dozens of teenagers because he was striking out at a country he felt deprived him of the family and youth he thinks he deserved and missed out on.

So, in my estimation, Breivik is a liar both to himself and his audience, and his motives go further than just a look at his hatred discussed disjointedly and blandly in his manifesto.  Given that much of his manifesto is the work of others, either attributed or plagiarized, and that his pages and pages of historical revisionism and examples of Bad Things Muslims Have Done Over The Past 1400 Years are just regurgitated facts from Islamophobia sites, I don’t even see the point of discussing them.  Discussing Fjordman’s anti-Muslim beliefs is discussing Breivik’s anti-Muslim beliefs.  You can find analysis of those parts of his manifesto elsewhere, and in the comments on those sites you will find refutations that are then refuted and in turn there is more refutation but there is never a conclusion.  A True Believer in conspiracy theory cannot change his or her argument and non-believers are foolish even to try and convince them to see reason on an online venue.  So I am not going to examine all that minutia and those “facts” repackaged and filtered through Eurabia conspiracy theory.  It would just be my facts against their facts and it would be a colossal waste of time.

Instead, I intend to examine this manifesto in two ways.  In this article, Part Three, I want to discuss the framework Breivik set up for the massacre and the things he actually did to prepare.   I warn you – Part Three is the  least interesting part of my analysis and probably reads that way.  But it is worth looking at, I think.  Breivik  may be lying about some of the things he did, but that framework at least seems to have some authenticity to it.  The framework, in which he analyzed who should be killed, how to go about it, evasive maneuvers, etc. was clearer and seemed less copied and false than all the facts he vomited up.

There are some out there who seem to think this manifesto should not be discussed at all because parts of it read like The Anarchist Cookbook combined with some volumes from Paladin Press and to discuss it is to aid in the dissemination of such information. I find that laughable at best because there is nothing in this manifesto that the average teenager cannot find in several minutes using a Smart Phone.  Moreover, refusing to look at this section because it is deemed too dangerous to discuss just perpetuates the thought that Breivik had to have had help or financial backing, and feeds the fear that there is a sinister group of people training to kill Muslims and liberals in Europe.  If nothing else, this manifesto shows what the so-called super-empowered individual can accomplish on his own, which is cold comfort, I know.

All of that having been said, I don’t intend to reproduce any content that could prove a legal liability to this site or to my web hosting service.

In Part Four, which will hopefully come no later than early next week, I will discuss common questions the manifesto answers, Breivik’s emotional motives that fueled the murders, what I consider to be a personality disorder that is evident even to those who did not read 2083, and other inconsistencies and issues that cropped up as I read his “interview” and his diary.  That, I think, will be infinitely more interesting than this discussion.

But if you’re still here with me, let’s discuss Anders Behring Breivik.

2083 by Anders Behring Breivik, Fjordman: Part Two

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Today begins the second part of my look at Fjordman, the blogger who inspired  and was frequently cited by the Norway killer, Anders Behring Breivik (whom I will refer to as ABB throughout the rest of this discussion).  If you have not read part one, have a look at it here.

It would appear that my discussion of 2083 went a little viral, so welcome new readers!  I also welcome all comments, even those that may disagree with me entirely.  I encourage people to stick to reactions to the text but, of course, I understand political discussions will be inevitable where such a document is concerned.

It should also be mentioned that yes, I am verbose as a rule. Sorry about that but if length bothers you, you likely were not going to be interested in a quote-laden discussion of a 1500 page manifesto anyway. Also, please bear in mind this is a discussion of the book, not a review as such. I’m not judging the literary merit of the manifesto as much as I am just trying to reveal what the manifesto really contains and the minds of the people involved. I mean, I guess someone could review Mein Kampf or The New Libertarian Manifesto with an eye to the quality of the prose, but I really don’t recommend it.

2083: A European Declaration of Independence was so much more than a look at anti-Islam viewpoints that led to murder.  It contains a number of critiques, from how hip hop music is destroying black culture in the United States to misogynistic rants that contained rape apology.  It has reproductive ideas that sound like science fiction and instructions on how to make poison bullets.  It is all over the map. In many ways, I am glad I read this because it is a mistake to think that ABB was a lunatic who was just gunning for socialists whom he considered responsible for Muslim immigration.  His master plan, derived from the ideas of other thinkers, had something unsettling in store for almost everyone who wasn’t a white man. As progressive as we like to think we are, many of the more virulent ideas present in 2083 are rampant in political and social elements in the United States.

ABB is only a monster to us because he took his ideology to heart and shot people instead of blogging about it.  But he is only unique in how he displayed his hate.  And he is even less unique when you realize that all of his ideas came from other people.  As I said in my first article, in so many ways, Fjordman is more interesting to me than ABB, because Fjordman’s brain is on display here far more than ABB’s.  ABB is violently derivative.

This second part of my look at Fjordman will be when I show my snark teeth a bit more because it is going to cover  his misogyny that at times gives lie to his nationalist leanings, the messy contradictions present in Fjordman’s theories, his misuse of pop culture and literature, and some of the utterly bizarre things present in his writing.   Yeah, there will be snark.  I won’t be able to help it. Also, part two is mostly just a reaction to some of the more bizarre elements of Fjordman’s thought processes and misinterpretations. Mostly, this will be a look at the mind of a man who really is driven by hate to the point that he is rabid, inconsistent and just flat out weird.

Though I also mentioned in Part One that I find Fjordman infinitely more interesting than the murderer who cloaked himself in his ideas, Fjordman did not ask for any of this.  I did try to make a case that Fjordman engaged in rhetoric that seemed fated to send a True Believer on a violent rampage, but the fact is is that Fjordman was writing in that false, protective cloud that seems to envelop so many bloggers.  We write and write and write and it never seems possible that we could, without overtly meaning to, inspire someone to shoot up teenagers on an island.  Blogging is a new weapon in the arsenal of using the written word to change the world and Fjordman has, for me at least, become a cautionary tale.   And as I said before, Fjordman is not pitiful, but he is definitely pitiable.  That is, he is pitiable when he isn’t actively pissing me off.  There are some things that no woman outside of the stay-at-home-daughters in the Vision Forum can read and not be filled with disgust.

So let’s begin Fjordman: Part Two.

2083 by Andrew Berwick, aka Anders Behring Breivik

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: 2083: A European Declaration of Independence

Author: Andrew Berwick, real name Anders Behring Breivik

Type of Book: Paranoid manifesto, conspiracy theory

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Sigh…

Availability: It’s all over the Internet.

Comments: (edited to add: I mistakenly refer to the site Gates of Vienna as Gates of Brussels several times in this discussion. Mea culpa and I would change it but this article has been reproduced several places and the mistake is sort of cast in e-stone. Just know that the site is Gates of Vienna.) When I learned that the Norway mass murderer had salted his manifesto all over the Internet shortly before he went on his rampage, I knew I was going to have to read it. After all, I read odd books. And more to the point, I have an unapologetic interest in the aberrant mind. From all the commentary I read online and from news reports, Anders Behring Breivik was a fundamentalist Christian, he was a fascist, he was a racist, he was an Aryan supremacist, he hated Muslims, he was a loner, he was a part of a larger anti-Islam group, he was a lunatic, he was a mastermind – he was all kinds of inconsistent things and I wondered what was correct and what was the typical media rush to judgment.  I wondered if the people who were postulating about him and his sources had actually read the manifesto.

So I read it. Every last word. I will admit that at about page 1200 things at times got a little vague for me. Reading every word of this disjointed, strange monster of a manuscript would make even an Adderall addict bleary. I also admit that after a while, all the articles explaining the horrors of Islam and all the terrible things Muslims have done wore a bit thin. I have a feeling that were I forced to read some of them again, it would be like I was reading them for the first time. That’s okay  because all that “evidence” was not likely to be of much interest to me anyway. It’s largely unimportant because I examined this manifesto from the perspective of a person interested in strange minds and conspiracy theory. On both fronts, this manifesto was quite interesting.

Strangely, Anders Behring Breivik (to be called ABB from here on out) is not the most interesting part of this manifesto. Rather, it was the cast of characters who led him to the conclusions he reached and provided confirmation for his strange ideas. Most notable is Fjordman. So notable is Fjordman that I intend to devote two entries to discussing him. Initially, I declared Fjordman to be a complete asshole, and parts of that assessment still seem true, but as I reread and wrote my discussion, I began to find him pitiable. Not pitiful, but definitely pitiable.

Fjordman, who revealed his identity recently as Peder Jensen, a 36-year-old man who seems largely unremarkable, greatly inspired ABB’s thoughts and the terrible rampage that killed 77 people. Because Fjordman influenced many of ABB’s ideas, it seems logical to me to discuss him first. You see, though much of this manifesto consists of articles from other writers, the bulk of the articles came from Fjordman. If you have not read or browsed the manifesto, many articles from anti-Islamists are reproduced in full in the manifesto. Part two of this three-part manifesto was almost a static wiki of articles from other people. Though my eyes admittedly glazed over at times, I believe I counted 40 articles from Fjordman reproduced throughout the 1500 pages. Though there are articles from other writers (one of them a hilarious pearl-clutching treatise on the horrors of rap music), Fjordman’s words take up the most space and show a very clear path of how his words affected ABB. Though there are theories about a Brit in Malta who may have influenced ABB’s rampage, the fact is Fjordman’s paranoiac and violent rhetoric influenced ABB’s mindset and his plans more than any other writer or thinker. In fact, the subtitle of this manifesto comes from the title of one of Fjordman’s articles, and the date of 2083 seems very much influenced by estimates that Fjordman posits about the decline of Europe if Muslim immigration is not stopped soon. So logically, for me at any rate, to understand ABB, we first must talk about Fjordman’s articles and the part they played in ABB’s anti-Muslim fears.

Before you read part one of my discussion about Fjordman, there are some things I would like to share with you, gentle reader. Unpleasant things. Of course, I will never not be a little shocked when I discover a whole mess of people willing to accept conspiracy theory as irrevocable fact. I may devote my life to reading books about conspiracy theory, but it is unsettling when it hits home how deeply people can believe in it. It was shocking to realize that there are people who take the word of Bat Ye’or, the woman responsible for creating what I like to call The Protocols of the Elders of Mecca, as historical truth. It was horrifying to realize that people like Diana West (ahahahaha!), Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer are not laughed out of every quarter of contemporary political thought. It was disgusting to realize that there are no depths too low for the likes of Glenn Beck, Pamela Geller and Debbie Schlussel to sink as they try desperately to keep their names and ideas relevant in the minds of those who live and breathe race hate and bigotry.

But as unpleasant as all of this is, it is important that we understand how common conspiracy theory is in some form or other for a good many people in this world. For many the natural impulse is to dismiss ABB as a crazy man, and we dismiss him as a lunatic at our own risk because if he is a lunatic, so are many, many others. It is hardwired into the human brain to believe strange things, I think, and it’s hard to look at a man like ABB and realize that he is just one of many, a man who is different solely because he took things just one step further. That is why I ultimately feel pity for Fjordman. Fjordman, a True Believer in Bat Ye’or’s Eurabia conspiracy theory was building castles in the air via his online essays, never once thinking that his words, taken at face value, could have been seen as a call to arms.

We have a vested interest in dismissing all violence as crazy, labeling people like ABB as The Other, but his views are derived from other people and are influencing other people even after anyone with common decency would dismiss him. Killing innocent teenagers for a bizarre political and social agenda should have rendered ABB’s ideas untouchable for anyone with sense and a conscience – Fjordman is appalled by what happened on Utøya – but there is a fringe element who see what ABB did as being the work of a patriot. Think I’m exaggerating? I don’t recommend visiting Pamela Geller or Debbie Schlussel’s sites because if you do, you are rewarding their dreadful antics to draw attention to themselves. Rather, check out the analysis of some of these people on sites like Loon Watch, Spencer Watch, and, interestingly enough, Little Green Footballs. (It had been years since I had visited Little Green Footballs. Last time I visited the site, it was a hive of scum and villainy. Discovering the site is no longer devoted to race hate and biogtry was perhaps the sole pleasant element to come from reading 2083.)

Before I begin my discussion of 2083, I need to make it clear, very clear, that I am not discussing any specifics of the immigration situations in other countries or the specifics of Muslim immigration in Europe. I am not qualified to discuss it and I have no interest running to ground all of the statistics, determining what information is sound and what information is not. But even though the sites I have read that discussed some elements of 2083 focus solely on the question of Islamic immigration, there is so much more than that to be found in 2083. So much, in fact, that what began as just another of my long-winded looks at strange writings turned into what I think will be a four part series: two entries about Fjordman and two entries about ABB.

But being who I am, only part of the manifesto interested me. If you want a hard political look at Muslim immigration and the social implications of it, there are plenty of political sites on both sides of the issue to accommodate you. My examination of Fjordman will look at his beliefs and an analysis of his writing. My examination of ABB will be to look at his plans and his theories, and some postulation about his brain because I cannot resist the urge to armchair psychoanalyze him. And it should be mentioned that I am not going to stray from the text. Everything I discuss about either man comes directly from 2083, and to make it clear, every word from Fjordman comes from articles that ABB found so important that he reproduced them in full in 2083. I also will end up snarking some because, given the text we are discussing, how can I not? Some ideas, even those that lead to tragedy, have an arrogant comedy in them that cannot be ignored by a woman who has a black belt in sarcasm.

So begins Part One: Fjordman.

Gods, Genes and Consciousness by Paul Von Ward

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: God, Genes and Consciousness: Nonhuman Intervention in Human History

Author: Paul Von Ward

Type of Book: Aliens, hidden history, alternate history, whacked theory

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Because the book attempts to explain how modern man and culture have been shaped by the intervention of space aliens.

Availability: Published by Hampton Roads Publishing Company in 2003, you can get a copy here:

Comments: I bought this book with the intention of having an “Alien Intervention Week.” I bought five books on the topic and got two in before my inner Edina Monsoon burst forth. (I consider Edina Monsoon to be my id, and have had far too many people tell me I reminded them of her in moments of hyperactivity or boredom.) I read the first book, a tiny little book that was more of a survey and felt heartened. I thought, “Hey, maybe this isn’t all boring crap!” Then I began this book and Edina was not impressed and felt I needed to go and buy some new clothes online and eat some chips and salsa. I read a chapter and muttered under my breath. I played the Ramones at full volume and wandered downstairs to find the vegan gummi bears. I bribed myself to finish each chapter because unless a book is really just an egregious pile of dishonest crap, I have to finish it. This is not an egregious pile of dishonest crap sort of book. It is simply Not Relevant to My Interests. I wasted copious amounts of time between each chapter. I watched Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift videos on YouTube because it seemed a better use of time. I cleaned the toilet. I ate lots of snacks. I told my inner Edina to hush so I could finish the book and when I was finished she said, “Fine! Are you happy? Because I’m not!” I wasn’t either.

But I read this thing and I’m gonna discuss it. Because this is a level of weird that never really interested me that deeply (just one of those things – I cannot read enough about Satanic Panic but aliens don’t do it for me, odd book-wise), I was forced to read carefully to prevent my mind from wandering. Who knows, as I write this I may have some sort of epiphany that I really do enjoy reading about alien intervention. But really, all I know as I am typing is that I sort of dread the Zecharia Sitchin tome I’ve got sitting on my bedside table.

And I have to mention, because it always bears repeating, that when I slip into snark discussing this book, it is not the fault of the author. Paul Von Ward sets out his thesis and uses all sorts of religious texts to draw what to some may seem like reasonable conclusions. In the eternal argument of “made” versus “just happened” I sit firmly in the camp of “just happened.” I don’t think God, gods, or aliens shaped the earth in any manner and am still amused at people who look at the world of 4,000 years ago and marvel that our ancient ancestors could, you know, build stuff like pyramids, as if being human, brain-wise, was really that radically different than being a human now. Humans are marvelous and remarkable. Don’t discount them when it comes to measuring things, cutting things, hauling things and assembling things.

Cult Rapture by Adam Parfrey

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: Cult Rapture

Author: Adam Parfrey

Type of Book: Non-fiction, conspiracy theory, history, sociology, pop culture

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Well, the cover was pretty much a dead giveaway, what, with the David Koresh angel of justice drawing. But then you factor in that Adam Parfrey, owner of Feral House and an all-around-odd-content kind of guy, wrote most of the articles in the book and you’ve got an odd book on your hands.

Availability: Published by Feral House in 1995, it’s out of print, but you can still get a copy relatively cheaply online:

Comments: Lord a’mercy, I love books like this. I love these sort of collections of whacked culture, weird theories and weird people. If you’ve read Apocalypse Culture or Apocalypse Culture II, you have a good handle on what to expect from this book, though I sensed a healthy amount of snark from time to time. Or maybe I was just projecting my own snark. But even if there was not any snark, it was still a fun, entertaining book.

Over 15-years-old at this writing, much of the book could seem dated to a person who needs to be up-to-date on their high weirdness and occult-goings-on. Luckily, I need no freshness when it comes to topics odd. But even taking into account the relatively dated elements of some of these articles, this collection was informative, interesting, saddening, silly, funny and in some respects quite disgusting.

So, to make it easy on myself, I’m just gonna discuss the articles in the order they occur, but I will group the ones that left me with literally nothing to discuss at the end. I think my verbosity where certain articles are concerned may be a very good look at my id at the moment. Clearly harmless crazies, Nazis, gross people and certain areas of feminist thought incite my love of typing.

Liquid Conspiracy by George Piccard

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: Liquid Conspiracy: JFK, LSD, the CIA, Area 51 & UFOs

Author: George Piccard (can’t find a current site or blog for Piccard so if anyone knows if he dwells online, let me know and I will update this)

Type of Book: Non fiction, conspiracy theory

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Conspiracy theory is always odd and this is no exception.

Availability: Published by Adventures Unlimited Press in 1999, I purchased this from my local amazing strange book source, Brave New Books, but they are revamping their online store, so for now, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Okay, this book and others like it are why I decided to ax I Read Everything and make it just an occasional sidebar to this site. You see, I read so much faster than I write and when I take too much time to discuss a book after I have read it, with some books it feels like I have forgotten huge chunks of the content. This happens especially with scatter-shot conspiracy theory like this because at some point, most of this stuff eventually covers the same ground. I mean, I will always know Icke’s alien lizard theory from James Shelby Downard’s mystical topography but unless you are a conspirator rock star, it can be hard to keep things straight unless you discuss the book within a few days of reading it. In order to give my first odd love its due, I need to just focus on the weird, you know?

And this book is wonderfully weird. And in some ways it makes sense and in other ways I can see how I lost the thread of how all of this held together, but Liquid Conspiracy explains an interesting theory, to some observable level of success, though it was all a bit mutable. It’s supposed to be mutable, though. It’s liquid, you see. But give Piccard his due, as he has a pretty interesting theory on how things work behind the scenes and under the surfaces.

Now, if you think the “liquid conspiracy” in this book refers to copious amounts of acid, you are not alone, because that was my first thought too, that all of this revolved around LSD and its impact on JFK, the CIA, etc. But really, Liquid Conspiracy refers to the information Piccard claims he received from a man called Kilder, a man who worked for the RAF during WWII and in his capacity as some sort of governmental flunky managed to find out who the men behind the curtain are and what they want to do. It is, as referenced in the book, a “Grand Unification Theory of Conspiracy.”

The elderly Englishman contacted Piccard with his information and unloaded it all before he died and Piccard did his best to verify it. Luckily, Kilder had a photographic memory (one day I will go off on a rant about how it is eidetic memory does not mean what people think it means and how it is often more than not a relatively useless trait, but that day is not today) and wrote a lot of things down. Of course, the skeptic in me is always immediately ready to snert when a clerk in some governmental agency is able to get the lowdown on the conspiracy controlling the world because, you know, it’s a damn conspiracy and you’d think they’d be a little more careful in how they disseminate their evil plans, especially when they know they have a clerk with a photographic memory who has access to their nefarious plans, but all I can do is give my head a shake, refuse to approach this with reason, relax and enjoy the show. I advise that you do the same.

Relax… Because here it comes. The Liquid Conspiracy features all the usual players in conspiracies that control the world. The Knights Templar, the Knights of Malta, the Masons, the Illuminati, the Rothschilds, Adam Weishaupt, the Federal Reserve, the Catholic Church, Skull and Bones, Nazis, aliens, Communists and on and on. You’ve likely heard it all before or read it on websites that are generally nothing but a wall of Geocities text with a series of eyes in pyramids blinking at you when you reach the bottom of the page. And really, it’s nothing new. There are men behind the curtain, lots of them, some with competing interests but all with a common goal of keeping us, the common men, so distracted from their goals that they keep us in chains and we wreck our interests as they keep all the power and the money away from us.

But the conspiracy Kilder shared with Piccard is that all of the forces that seek to control the world entered into a pact.

The Knights, the Elders, and the aliens made a pact. The conspiracy–its character subtly changed with their recent collaboration–made its final plans for the coming One World Order. The dangerous union of the Freemasons, the Illuminati, and the Templar Knights and the Roman Catholic Church with the support of the Grey aliens, brought to an end a fifteen hundred year struggle. These rival groups came together to put aside their previous animosities and to forge an invincible power.

And why not. Why wouldn’t the Masons, the Illuminati and little green–er–gray men join together? In unity there is strength, right? The proof for this alliance is what Piccard calls “The Breakfast with the Kingmakers of ’45.” Present at this breakfast were representatives of all the major conspiracies, twelve entities in total, and it was then they merged together to form a sort of perpetually moving, form-fitting, Lycra-blend conspiracy.

The new conspiracy was an entity unto itself. Using ritual magic and technologies still never spoken of, the attendees initiated an incredible device. A poltergeist of sorts, an ever-evolving energy form which would transfer power inner-dimensionally, from thought to reality. This curse (and I use these terms with reservation, for there is no other terminology to describe it) would grow, mutate, and adapt to the desires of its masters. The will of the secret world government would come to manifest physically. Still, actual temporal involvement was absolutely required. But with the aid and intelligence of their psychic contraption, their desires faced no opposition in the realm of the feeble masses.

So, it’s not just the aliens and the Trilateral Commission and the Masons and the Illuminati and the greasy soul of Prescott Bush we got to worry about. It’s a device that can… I don’t know… control our minds and adapt our reality on behalf of all these combined conspirators. Yeah, this is one helluva theory. All based on the photographic memory of some British clerk and who am I, in all seriousness, to argue with that.

You think I am being sarcastic? Well, maybe a bit, but for me conspiracy theory in a very real manner is not dissimilar to religion, an attempt to explain that which seems hidden, mysterious, beyond comprehension. There is a gossamer thread that runs from being very suspicious about the Federal Reserve to believing that there is a bizarre cabal that uses an inexplicable “psychic contraption” to blur things so we cannot see how they are perpetually working behind the scenes. One is a reasonable but at times paranoiac topic, the other is an attempt to create a story to force the world into a mechanism that to them makes more sense than the randomness that often surrounds world events, and it is all too easy to start with one and end up wallowing in the other. Human beings like believing strange things. It is a part of who we are as a species.

I mean, is a “psychic contraption” uniting the Bilderbergers and the Catholics and the aliens really that more outlandish than a talking bush afire or immaculate conception or some awesome guy rising from the dead? Of course that’s up to the individual but atheist though I am, I recognize that wacky beliefs fuel the world and I have always wondered why some wacky beliefs make the cut for widespread belief and some don’t. I suspect it is personal salvation and a sense of a larger presence looking out for us in a positive manner, something that most conspiracy theory lacks, but the cynics among us might think that makes conspiracy theory more believable.

But an angel Moroni brought Joseph Smith golden plates and a British clerk named Kilder remembered a bunch of fantastic stuff, wrote it down and shared it with Piccard and there isn’t a whole lot of proof for either happening so all you can do is decide whether or not you believe. I don’t believe either, mainly because I lack of capacity for belief but conspiracy is amazing to me in the same way religion is because I love seeing what it is that make people believe and how beliefs evolve. Conspiracy is a religion, pure and simple, a religion without a savior, and in a way, that makes it all the more amazing. So yeah, I give this no credence but I don’t have to because I love it for what it is, not for its truth or reality.

So back to Piccard. After chapter one, the rest of the book becomes his version of world events filtered through the lens of his take on the conspiracy controlling the world, and even without this filter, this book is a good conspiracy primer because it covers pretty decently a lot of territory, from Operation Paperclip to LSD as a CIA means of mind control and how it influenced the Kennedy administration, the JFK assassination, Area 51 and UFOs, MK-ULTRA, Jim Jones, the general complete anomaly that is the state of Ohio and AIDS. This is just a small sample of what this book discusses and like I said, if you remove the whole Liquid Conspiracy you still get an excellent overview of conspiracy and high weirdness in general. I could spend a lot of time dissecting the weirdness but this is not new weirdness outside of the Liquid Conspiracy. All that is different is the interpretation of the forces behind it. So if you are new to conspiracy, you could do a lot worse than begin your trip into this cloudy place of utter paranoia reading this book.

So I say read it. I haven’t been able to find out much about George Piccard online and that’s a shame that this guy may have petered out at some point, but this kind of thing gets exhausting for men who are not made of stern and lunatic stuff, like Alex Jones. But even as a side player in the madness, I think Piccard deserves a look.

Apocalypse Waiting to Happen by Dr. John Coleman

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: Apocalypse Waiting to Happen: The Plagues That Threaten Us All

Author: Dr. John Coleman

Type of Book: Non-fiction, conspiracy theory, disease

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Well, I bought it at the marvelous Austin book store, Brave New Books. That’s a good clue as to potential oddness. The content cinched the deal.

Availability: Published by World in Review Books in 2009, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Take this statement for what it’s worth but it took me forever to write this discussion because I came down with a case of the flu that will not go away. If I were paranoid, I would be very concerned.

Man, I am definitely going to have a good time examining this book in close detail because it combines all the best things I have come to love in lunatic screeds predicting the end of the world, but before I begin, I have to say that books like this make me long for the days of ‘zines. Really, this book is a long form ‘zine, or maybe a very long newsletter. This book should have been written on an electric typewriter, single spaced, no margins, hand-written corrections in the margin and mailed to everyone who signed up for it. This book took me back to those days long past, wherein the only way one could get a hold of a strangely-spelled, interestingly-reasoned screed was to wait impatiently by the mail box.

If you are of the right mind, this book will amuse you to no end. Because when you pick up a book that is ostensibly discussing the diseases that could mark the end of the world, and the disease “Guillain Barre” is spelled “Guillane Barre” on the cover and in the table of contents you find a chapter called, “The Terrible Toll of NRSA,” you know you are in for one hell of a time.

There are moments of complete coherence wherein you think, “Hey, Dr. Coleman may be on to something, though he seems like he may be overstating it.” Then there are moments of utter lunacy wherein you think, “What sort of doctor is this guy anyway?” I still have not been able to determine what his doctorate is in, or if he is an MD, but the little bit of research I did showed me that Dr. John Coleman is a man who should have already been on my radar because he is a conspiracy theory Renaissance Man. Sometimes I am disappointed in myself but I comfort myself with the knowledge that my new Kindle and I will rectify my Coleman deficiency as soon as possible.

So, in just the cover and the table of contents, I already know this book’s content is going to be a bit iffy and my suspicions are played out in the text. This book is ostensibly a treatise on the diseases that could potentially end mankind as we know it, and it takes all kinds of very interesting turns while offering some information that turned out to be more or less factually correct when I looked into it and some that is simply the stuff of conspiratorial dreams (and that is a statement anyone should take advisedly because though I am deeply interested in illness as a topic, I am a liberal arts sort of gal, not a scientist).

It’s hard to buy into the alarmist nature of the book but all conspiracies are alarmist and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I knew I was in for a ride when I read this (and from here on out, just know I am not going to enter the traditional [sic] when there is a grammar, spelling or structural problem in Dr. Coleman’s text because it would become tiresome):

The cardinal sin being committed against God and man by the spiritually wicked men in high places is the destruction of mankind through so-called “natural means.”

Okay, so I now know Dr. John Coleman is going to look at this via a Christian filter of the Apocalypse, which is just fine with me because as an atheist I don’t have any dog in that fight but it also means I will be able to dismiss some of what he considers proof. We also know that we might venture into the idea that some of these diseases threatening us are not natural in origin. Hoo boy, I am very excited now. You should be, too.

Despite the fact that I know that very excellent conspiracy awaits me, I have to say the hands-down best parts of this book are all the left turns that come out of nowhere. The sort of shifts in content that make you shake your head and wonder if you missed a page or something, and realize no, it’s not you. The quote I give above is at the top of page 2. Dr. Coleman then spends three paragraphs discussing disease and how it is that the death toll of disease far outweighs casualties of war plus some fear of Socialist government, which was sort of a “What?” but still mildly topical in context, then :RECORD SCRATCH:

This book is not about politics per se, so I will confine my remarks to posing the question that so badly needs to be asked: What in God’s name are our soldiers doing in Iraq and Afghanistan?

No matter how tragic the Columbine School and the Virginia Tech massacres of April 20, 1999 and April 16, 2007, they cannot be viewed as anything other than sad and terrible occurrences. What is so savage about it all is that the victims were not allowed by law, to defend themselves.

Okay, so we now know this is going to be a roller coaster of weirdness. We now have a pretty good window into Dr. Coleman’s mind: the government is going to kill us with disease, governmental action that Dr. Coleman does not like will be called Socialist and he is pro-gun to the extent that he thinks high school freshmen should carry them to school. And if it sounds like I am mocking Dr. Coleman, maybe I am a little, but mostly I have mild affection for people with mindsets complete different than mine because without them this website would be basically a shill for Eraserhead Press. And, it has to be said, I have been known to harbor one or two wacky ideas myself…

Of particular interest to me was Dr. Coleman’s take on the Clinton presidency refusing to destroy all of the smallpox samples housed with the CDC:

In 1996 the World Health Organization demanded that all existing stocks of smallpox viruses be destroyed. At first the United States was vociferous in its demands, that all nations possessing stocks of the virus join the U.S. in destroying such stocks. All of a sudden, having gotten a taste of what it is like to be mass killers in Serbia and Iraq, the governments of Britain and the United States did a 180 degree turn. “We are not going to carry out our previous decision” (to destroy the smallpox hoard), said Clinton “just in case the U.S. may need them in the future.” This startling announcement came on April 22, 1999. Mark the date well. Future historians will trace the start of the coming apocalypse to this date.

Having read enough Richard Preston to ensure I lost sleep, I have a different take on the U.S. refusal to destroy their smallpox stocks. You see, disease is a form of mutually assured destruction and nations talk a big game about getting rid of disease stocks and nukes but such stores are preventative measure to keep other countries from using disease as a form of warfare because they know we could just return the favor. Moreover, in the event a country launches a dirty bomb against us and we don’t have samples of the disease to make a vaccine, we are sitting ducks. Unpleasant, but true. Stocks of nukes and stocks of disease make for better diplomacy in a world wherein seats of political power are occupied by egoists and madmen. Interestingly, before declaring Clinton the worst sort of bastard for reneging on the U.S. promise to destroy smallpox stocks, Coleman, who has already shown little use for dictatorships and Socialism in general, declares:

When apprised of Clinton’s decision not to destroy our stash of deadly smallpox viruses, Mikhail Shurgalis, Russia’s spokesman on the treaty, denied his country has any stocks of smallpox. Iran and China also deny holding any Biological Warfare stocks.

Okay, I don’t think Dr. Coleman is twisting facts and ideas to suit his particular hobbyhorse. I think riding his hobbyhorse gives him a strange myopia. Does he really trust Iraq, Russia or China’s word on whether or not they destroyed their smallpox stores? And say Clinton had believed them and sometime in our lifetime we found out those nations in fact had their smallpox stores and we had destroyed our disease deterrent as well as the means to make a vaccine? Policy in such matters is cloak and dagger to be sure but not nearly as straightforward as Dr. Coleman seems to think. “Oh, China and Russia say they no longer have smallpox viruses? That’s good enough for us. Those countries have never given us cause to doubt them before,” seems to be the reasoning where disease stockpiles are concerned. Would such a naive approach work in nuclear disarmament? Probably not.

The overall structure of Dr. Coleman’s book makes some level of sense and as a rule, I can see where he is coming from as this sort of conspiracy is nothing new – the government wants us sick and covers it up, the government accidentally makes us sick and covers it up. Many people exhibit this manner of thinking, notably Jenny McCarthy, and it was therefore not that surprising to see it in action here.

Autism in children may be the result of vaccinations. British doctor, Stephen Walker, was the first to discover a possible link between child vaccinations and autism on June 3, 2006. This has led to speculation among medical researchers that there must be a common factor somewhere, but discovery of what that factor is, remains beyond reach. Are we being used as human guinea pigs?

Well, we might be, but not via vaccinations. Stephen Walker has come out and admitted he cannot prove a link between the MMR vaccine and autism and as of right now there is not a single link between vaccinations and autism.

But Dr. Coleman is all too willing to go that extra step in the course of his paranoia despite the fact that one of his own sources has backed down from his initial findings:

We know now vaccines injected into children weaken their immune system and leave them vulnerable to other diseases. Could it be that the grand design is to make children vulnerable to infectious plagues, which will then sweep millions of people to their deaths in far greater numbers than the Black Plague of the 14th Century? After all, didn’t Bertrand Russell say that there had to be a return of the Black Plague. Vaccinations have become the chic way of allegedly warding off terrible diseases, but what we are learning through research into such illnesses as chronic fatigue syndrome is that the more prevalent the inoculations programs are, the more there is a growing incidence of strange and exotic diseases, which hitherto, were unknown or only occurred in limited numbers.

It’s actually extremely questionable that vaccines weaken a child’s immune system when the end result is that children with these vaccinations do not develop mumps, measles, German measles, whooping cough and all the myriad childhood diseases that made children die left and right. And if you don’t get Dr. Coleman’s riff about Bertrand Russell and why his musings on the Black Plague are de facto evidence of anything sinister in the government to sicken people, it’s discussed in the book and evidently in some of his other books and I will touch on it more in a bit. But yeah, it’s conspiri-tastic. And bless Dr. Coleman for associating vaccines with the word “chic.” When I get my next flu shot I better get a Chanel bandaid. I also dispute the idea that CFS is new or burgeoning as it is a disease that most commonly afflicts women and the annals of medical history are crammed with depictions of sickly, easily tired, wasting, neurasthenic women. CFS has been around for a long time but like most auto-immune illnesses, there is still very little known about it.

But don’t get me wrong. I love conspiracy theory but I have no issue discussing where it falls short and can be dangerous. Hell, the conspiracy about vaccines has led some to believe that Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccine advocacy has a body count. So while I am largely amused by Dr. Coleman and quite interested in reading more of his books, the fact is, he sort of doesn’t mind mixing it up in a way that makes it hard to swallow even the passages where he gets things right. The government is at fault, Bertrand Russell is somehow behind it, and that’s all well and good because heaven knows Russell could stand to be taken down a peg or two posthumously. But given all the conspiratorial bends this book takes, the following was… shocking… and upsetting to a liberal gal like me:

The incidence of all strains of hepatitis, A-G, is very heavy in Central and Latin America and India, and immigrants from these areas are not screened when they are arrive in the U.S., so that there is a vast pool of infection — a veritable reservoir of hepatitis in our midst. In California the situation has become so serious as to border on panic as more and more people are discovering that they are infected with hepatitis C. Yet, in spite of the terrible dander, concerned citizens who demand medical screening for immigrants are called “racists.”

Terrible dander, eh? One would think a panic about an infectious disease that reduces lifespan would be more than a dander but maybe I shouldn’t nitpick that. Instead let me nitpick facts. In the United States, the vast majority of people who currently have Hepatitis C contracted the disease before blood was tested for the diseases as a matter of course in refined tests to find the disease, which was developed in 1990. Since accurate screening began, the number of people who contract Hepatitis C has fallen dramatically. In the current climate, the top causes for Hepatitis C transmission are via risky sexual and drug usage behaviors. Because Hepatitis C is blood-borne, there is some risk from food-handlers, and to be blunt, no one really knows all the potential methods of transmission but blood seems to be the most reasonable risk.

But as a whole, it is, in fact, racist to say that people from Central and Latin America and India who have Hepatitis C are more likely to become drug abusers and engage in unprotected sex, and statements like this one, a statement Dr. Coleman makes several times in the book, is a rallying cry for people who desperately need to cling to something to prove motive behind their race hate. Moreover, most people well-versed in epidemiology will tell you that we have far more to fear simply from legal travel. A disease like Hepatitis C is small beans compared to the capacity for a super-flu to spread and cause a pandemic because of the ease of rapid air travel. Immigrants with Hepatitis C are the least of our troubles.

But the weird statements don’t stop there, and it would be disappointing if they did:

In a sense, HVC [Hepatitis C] is worse than HIV because there is no indication at the onset of the disease that one is really ill.

Well, actually, there isn’t a whole lot at the beginning of HIV contraction that lets you know you’ve contracted the disease. Obviousness of infection and delay of symptoms are actually a common trait of both conditions.

Then there are the delightful statements, like this one:

It is more desperately urgent, that we defend our liver!

Ignoring the implication that we are all sharing a single liver, I shouted a comma-less variant of this exhortation the day I stopped drinking.

Now here is why Dr. Coleman is such an excellent conspirator: He lays out interesting information that may or may not link together ideas but never really follows through, which is one of the hallmarks of excellent conspiracy:

A horrific outbreak of the Black Plague occurred in 1348, dislocating the wage and price structure producing major economic and political conditions and social crisis, and carrying away millions of people. We are presently living in the middle of economic and political conditions closely paralleling those of 1338, which fit in with the predictions of Ziegler who said a great plague would come by the year 2020. This also confirms the expectations of Hecker who said that each succeeding plague would be more virulent that the last. In 1347, famine in parts of Europe, notably in what is now Italy, helped the spread of the Black Plague. Compare this with Africa today, where millions are dying from starvation and AIDS.

Actually, Dr. Coleman rides off the rails with the AIDS comparison because despite the sheer horror of AIDS, the fact remains that it does not kill with the rapidity of yersinia pestis. A person with AIDS can live a very long time and the way the disease is spread is more selective so while it is a pandemic in parts of Africa, it is not even in the same class of rapid-death disease spread we are discussing when we talk about Black Plague. But this is a tantalizing passage because Dr. Coleman is not talking about Nostradamus-styled predictions. Phillip Ziegler is an excellent source for information about the history of the Black Death and it would have been nice if Dr. Coleman had told us how the economic and political conditions today closely parallel those of 1338 because having read Ziegler (admittedly many years ago), I don’t see the correlations. The Hecker he is referring to is J.H. Hecker and I know nothing of his work so I don’t know if Hecker is a good source, but this could have been such an interesting section if Dr. Coleman had laid out for us how we are looking at a political climate and social climate that could result in a plague. I think such conditions are here. I’ve read enough writers like Laurie Garrett to know that things could become quite dire quite quickly if conditions were right. I just want Dr. Coleman to better explain his alarmist utterings.

And I gotta tell you, his section on MRSA, though he calls it “NRSA” in his table of contents, was damn informative. I have family in the medical community who have echoed that MRSA is a nightmare, that once a hospital has a MRSA contamination, getting rid of it is dicey, that unions prevent some hospitals from removing from service nurses who test positive as being carriers for MRSA via the nose tests, and that in many cases, surgery is a crap-shoot (and if you ever read much about prion diseases, you will fear surgery for the rest of your life, believe me). I had to have a steel plate put in my ankle two years ago and I recall the weird things people told me to do after surgery. One nurse told me that after surgery that I needed to go home and run the hottest water I could stand over my incision, no matter what the doctors said. I didn’t because it would have hurt like 20 bastards in a bastard boat but I always wondered if she told me this because she felt this was a deterrent to MRSA. The parts about MRSA are as jumbled and use as interesting grammar as the rest of the book but here Dr. Coleman was on point and his paranoia, while perhaps overblown and strangely stated, was not out of bounds when healthy teenagers are picking the infection up in locker rooms and dying from it.

And then there are other sections where he starts off strong, with cogent, well-thought out points, but then he just veers off course, falls down the mountain and crashes in the valley below. In an excellent paragraph explaining what he failed to explain in the passage about the Black Plague, Dr. Coleman explains in detail how poverty, overcrowding, and crappy government in Brazil have led to a perfect storm for AIDS that could lead to a complete pandemic. Then he follows that with this:

The monsters in the Club of Rome and those running the Global 2000 mass extermination program are well pleased with their work. Barring a change of plan – – which appears totally unlikely – – billions of people will die of AIDS this decade. If Lord Bertrand Russell and H.G. Wells were alive today, they would look upon AIDS as a providential gift, a dream come true.

Dr. Coleman explains earlier in the book what the Club of Rome is and why Bertrand Russell and H.G. Wells are among history’s greatest monsters (they evidently are a part of a plot to kill off “useless eaters”) but I’m weary, the explanations are suitably lunatic and until I read his books on the topics themselves, I will not discuss them, but I wonder why, in the face of actual evidence of wrong-doing that causes problems in the here and now we have to ascribe these ills to the machinations of two dead Brits, one so priapic he barely had time to manage his sex life with decorum, let alone plot to destroy the world a century after his death.

Dr. Coleman’s information about AZT, the drug used to treat AIDS is another instance wherein Dr. Coleman may have been presenting excellent information but the fact that he thinks that Bertrand Russell was a part of a cabal to kill off the world makes it hard to know if AZT is the poison that Dr. Coleman says it is. That’s one of the few times conspiracy theory makes me unhappy – when conspiracy folk may have an excellent point but you can’t trust in it because of all the lunacy that accompanies it. A very basic Google proved that AZT is not in fact the miracle drug I had initially thought it to be. But it is… unsettling that many of the voices who bring us dissenting information are as untrustworthy in their own way as the the standard sources of news.

His take on flu viruses, especially H1N1, was timely but also unnecessarily alarmist:

According to a top scientist for the United Nations, who examined the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Africa, as well as the victims of HIV/AIDS, concluded that H1N1 possesses certain transmission vectors that suggest that the new flu strain has been genetically manufactured as a military biological warfare weapon.

He goes on to cite “scientists,” who are evidently working for the UN, who say that H1N1 was a human-engineered disease, which doesn’t pass the basic skeptic sniff test. The H1N1 virus subtype has been identified for almost a century, both the avian and swine infections. I can only assume that the horror of it creating a Spanish flu-type pandemic (which was caused by the avian H1N1 virus) is one of the reasons people feared this disease so much and as I have begun to note, fear is the cause of most conspiracy. However, unless anyone can give me the mechanism by which they think this known disease was mutated to make it similar to Ebola, I call shenanigans. I can only assume that the reason anyone would link H1N1 to Ebola is because the former on occasion and the latter always cause a cytokine storm in the sufferer. But the cytokine storm was an element of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic so again, we’ve known for almost a century that cytokine storms can happen in flu and it would be hard to say that a flu that causes a cytokine storm is anything new.

The conspiracy continues, and this seems especially odd since Dr. Coleman understands in Brazil how poverty, overcrowding and bad government contribute to the spread of disease:

…I believe that Swine Flu will return with a vengeance once the creators of the virus have finished their new genetic model and it is once again released to run amuck throughout the world. Certainly there have been several major pandemics in the U.S. (poliomyelitis, Spanish Flu and Avian Bird all proven or suspected). With Swine Flu, there should have more than likely been well over a thousand fatalities. But what was the actual count? The only fatality was a child. Of course that has changed but why is it that so many more deaths occurred in Mexico than anywhere else. Other races, even other Hispanics, appear to contract a much milder form. Was this due to the lack of medical facilities and the state of the slums around Mexico City and other major cities? But if one looks at Rio de Janeiro and its infamous “favelez” slums –far worse than anything found in Mexico — the theory does not hold up.

Well, the epicenter of the Swine Flu outbreak occurred in Mexico City, not Rio. Had it started in Rio, would we wonder why people in Mexico City slums didn’t fall as fast or as often? No. Where a disease begins is hit the worst. North and South America had time to react and the disease spread simply didn’t occur the way some panicked epidemiologists suspected it would, exactly as what happened with recent outbreaks of SARS and Avian Flu. And as a whitey white white, I got H1N1 and have never been sicker so I am unsure where the idea that other races are less affected comes from – the people who died in the U.S. were not in slums nor were they uniformly of Mexican descent. My anecdata and the actual data simply do not bear out Dr. Coleman’s beliefs.

And it spirals down the rabbit hole from there, with incendiary insinuations that the WHO sat on information about the outbreak of Swine Flu in Mexico, the WHO may have started the outbreak and bizarre and completely unscientific assertions that it is impossible for “four different viruses from three different animals” to mutate into a single disease.

And that’s the worst part of this whole thing, the sour note at the end of this symphony of sickness: Dr. Coleman has interesting points that are made suspect or outright overshadowed by some of his more lunacy-laden beliefs. I haven’t read anything else by Dr. Coleman – maybe he has a line on information that will completely redefine how I think about Bertrand Russell – but there is enough truth in so much that is terrible in medical history that I really don’t need to know about the Club of Rome or a plan by H.G. Wells to believe terrible things have happened and have been covered up. The presence of such whackadoodlery taints the points that Dr. Coleman could drive to town and take to dinner. Hell, I consider myself a skeptic but still believe Edward Hooper’s research that indicates that AIDS is a zootrophic condition that jumped from simians to humans as a result of the development of an oral polio vaccine in Central Africa. That’s some hard core conspiracy right there but it doesn’t require a cabal of long dead elites – just the hubris of a few men who hid the bad things they did and a compliant and easily redirected medical community and press that would not and still refuses to look hard into the issue.

So, I can’t really recommend this book unless you, like me, like nothing more than out-there conspiracy and stories of disease. I think Dr. Coleman’s works, however, are going to appear here again soon, because I have had ill-will for H.G. Wells after discovering he was a plagiarist of the worst sort. I really want to believe Dr. Coleman that Wells was indeed a terrible, terrible man. But there are far better books that make the case for conspiracy and illness. Tackle one of those first before reading this. But I intend to start reading Dr. Coleman’s works apace. He seems a man who will offer a ton of insanity with a few ounces of clarity and frankly, a few ounces of clarity combined with the entertainment of good conspiracy are worth it for me.

The Covert War Against Rock by Alex Constantine

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: The Covert War Against Rock

Author: Alex Constantine (and yeah, I am submerged in his site right now, reading about Duncan and Blake – brb after I have fallen off the deep end entirely)

Type of Book: Rock and roll, conspiracy theory

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: It posits unusual theories about the deaths of famous rock stars.

Availability: Published by Feral House in 2000, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Okay, by now, if you’ve spent any time reading here, you’ll know I am highly skeptical of much conspiracy theory despite the fact that I can’t ever read enough about it. Yet, even as a skeptic, I have a conspiratorial bent to me, depending on how much my belief is beggared. I think there was a covert CIA plot to kill JFK. The more and more I read about the death of RFK, the more uneasy I am about whether or not Sirhan Sirhan acted alone and if his current mental state is due to organic schizophrenia. So embracing such ideas means that a little part of me believes that elements of the American government could want specific celebrities dead. And while some of this book seemed unlikely to me, some of it that hit my belief-o-meter. I’ll need to read more and research more before I can completely buy into some of this content, but there was a lot of information in this book that had the ring of truth to it.

I was surprised at how much of this I knew before reading this book – I’ve clearly absorbed more conspiracy than I thought. Very little of it was new, yet I am surprised by my reactions at the parts that were new to me. I mean, I always suspected there was much more behind the deaths of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh than just cancer and a gun shot, respectively. I mean, when the CIA decides to destabilize an entire country, it isn’t too much to believe that they would also take steps to assassinate reggae musicians who, through their charisma and music, were overt leaders against American political control. Did Bob Marley really get cancer via a copper wire put in boots given to him by the son of a head of the CIA? I tend to think maybe not, but then again, I also live in a world where dissidents get killed via ricin in an umbrella gun.

But the part of this book that was the most new to me was the section about Tupac Shakur. I recall clearly when he died but I thought little of it. He had seemed like a gangsta to me and gangstas sometimes get shot. I didn’t (and mostly still don’t) listen to rap and knew little about the man, to be honest, but the media portrayal of him painted a picture that substituted itself for real information about the man and his death. Constantine’s research into Shakur’s death revealed a completely different picture of Shakur for me, and pointed to very sound reasons why there might have been a conspiracy to kill him. That Shakur was the heir apparent to an activist family, one of whom escaped from prison and defected to Cuba, the way the shooting occurred, the seeming lack of police attempts to solve the murder, all make it seem as if there were some sort of conspiracy to kill Tupac and obfuscate the investigation.

Aside from the belief that Mama Cass Elliot may have been the victim of government-sponsored assassination, there was not a single case in this book that I could say, “Pants!” to (Cass Elliot died of an undetected heart defect, nothing more, nothing less). Whether or not you think the government killed John Lennon, Phil Ochs, Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison, Constantine raises interesting questions about time lines, government interest in these performers and details that were blurry then and blurrier now. (Actually, I did invoke underpants when I read Constantine refer to Donald Bains’ The CIA’s Control of Candy Jones. I found the book so lacking in anything approaching proof that I didn’t even want to keep the book once I discussed it here. Candy Jones was a victim of her own sad mind and the utter incredulity of Long John Nebel, not the MK-Ultra program or the CIA or anything else.)

Of all these deaths presented in this book, it was Michael Hutchence’s that affected me the most. Born in 1970, neatly sandwiched between the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, I was too young to be as interested when most of the stars in this book died, or, in some cases, I was not alive yet. But INXS was a band I adored as an adolescent and young adult. I recall seeing INXS perform on their tour for Listen Like Thieves. Terrence Trent D’Arby opened and despite being in nosebleed seats, my friends and I danced and danced, thrilled to be there. Shabooh Shoobah and The Swing are two of my favorite pop albums ever. His death just seemed so unlikely – death by auto-erotic asphyxiation? Really? The information Constantine presents about elements of Hutchence’s death, important details that never made the public airways, genuinely make me wonder about Hutchence’s demise.

All in all, this was an interesting book. It took itself seriously and as a result, I took it seriously. Constantine certainly knows his conspiracy, and he can write a tight sentence. I think the chapter on Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls is worth the price of admission, and the chapter on Marley and Tosh was a welcome double feature. I don’t buy all of the content in this book but it raises a lot of questions, which, when you are dealing with content of this sort, is often the best anyone can ask for. I mean, I still think Mark David Chapman acted alone, but just because he beat the government to John Lennon, that doesn’t mean the government did not want him dead. This the oddbooks corollary to “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.”

(However, aside from Mama Cass and Candy Jones, this book did strike a major discordant note with me. Maybe rock conspirators can help me out. Constantine asserts that Joan Baez claims she is a survivor of ritual abuse via the Monarch Project. However, the sources he uses combined with his specific verbiage do not support that Baez ever said she was a victim of ritual abuse. Though he says Joan makes this claim, his actual sources never verify anything except she is a vocal opponent of torture and that she has been in intensive therapy. So I fired up the ol’ Internet to see what I could find out.

After several hours spent online reading lots of assertions that Baez survived the Monarch Project (and cringing as the sites pinged my anti-virus software), all I could find were people saying that because her father worked for Cornell, the supposed site of many government mind control experiments in Ithaca, and because she wrote a song called “Play Me Backwards,” which has lyrics that can be interpreted as the words of an abuse survivor, Baez was a victim of mind control. I could not find a single source with a direct quote from Baez indicating she was a victim of the Monarch Project. Those sites that claim she says such a thing use her song lyrics as a de facto admission on her part, which in my mind is hardly the same thing.

More troubling is that the longer I read, the more familiar the phraseology the sites used became. In fact, I began to think there was a single source that asserted Baez was a victim of the Monarch Project, likely based on the fact that she once lived in Ithaca and wrote a disturbing song, and endless others cited that first source. See for yourself what I mean. Google “joan baez ritual abuse.” Soon the phrase self-described victim of ritual child abuse will become very familiar, as all the sources for this information seem to be revisiting one original source that I cannot run to ground. If the belief that Baez was a victim of such abuse is stated outright by Baez somewhere and I missed it, I would love it if someone would direct me to the source. That she has been through intense therapy and speaks out against torture is not enough proof in my books. Interpretation of song lyrics is not enough proof either. Baez has worn her beliefs and attitudes openly for years, speaking out about injustices. If she was a victim of the Monarch Project, I would expect there to be a direct quote from her saying so, not innuendo about song lyrics. So if it is out there and I densely overlooked it, please direct me to it. Leave a comment here, or e-mail me. Some of you send me some pretty interesting e-mails so if anyone knows the answer, I think one of my readers might.)

James Shelby Downard’s Mystical War by Adam Gorightly

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: James Shelby Downard’s Mystical War

Author: Adam Gorightly

Type of book: Non-fiction, conspiracy theory, occult symbology, Masonry

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: It’s about James Shelby Downard’s whacked out and at times strangely on the nose beliefs and how they relate to the mass of conspiracy theory as a whole.

Availability: Published by Virtualbookworm.com in 2008, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Having read Carnivals of Life and Death by James Shelby Downard (I reviewed it here), I wanted to know more about the man, whether or not he was a real human being, and specifically what Gorightly had to say about him. I really like Gorightly’s biography of Kerry Thornley, which I also discussed on this site. I also have a soft spot for Discordians, it must be said, so I am kindly disposed towards Gorightly in general. But I was not as impressed by this book as much as I was by Gorightly’s earlier effort. There was a scattered quality to this book, with a ton of information thrown at the reader in very short order. If you are unfamiliar with Downard or with vast swathes of conspiracy theory in general, you will spend a lot of time Googling when you read this book.

It was quite nice to see that some of my own research and my own suspicions may have some validity to them (because it is impossible not to start feeling some paranoia when you read content like this and it can become hard to determine if you are suddenly seeing odd shadows where there are none). In my review of Carnivals of Life and Death I posited that Downard likely did not exist and may have been a group hoax created by Adam Parfrey, Michael Hoffman and William Grimstad, and Gorightly addresses that idea without confirming or denying it. I find that interesting but don’t see it as anything anyone should find upsetting if Downard is indeed a hoax. Art (or artifice, as it were) is the lie that tells the truth, sometimes. And even though I felt at times that Golightly veered off into his own riffs, I found this book mostly interesting, though the discussions were shallow and yet covered a shocking amount of ground. This is a short book, only 93 pages long, 10 of which are two separate introductions and another three are the index and appendices.

Chapters 1-5 discuss some of the topics Downard covers in Carnivals of Life and Death, as well as the article Downard wrote about the JFK assassination called “King Kill 33.” His unbelievable stories of being a Masonic scapegoat, combined with his supposed sex slave wife and similar mental maunderings are better read in his book, but Gorightly’s discussions are amusing enough. I particularly enjoyed chapter five, which dealt with mystical toponomy. There is an intoxicating “holy crap” element to Downard’s discussions about the 33rd latitude – there is something completely insane yet undeniably obvious about all of it.

It’s around chapter six and onward that things just let loose, applying various branches of conspiracy theory to Downard, mainly via mystical toponomy and mind control. A whole bunch of names who are more or less entire books in their own right get tossed out there in just chapter six alone, from Aleister Crowley to Richard Oppenheimer to Jack Parsons and how they all relate back to the 33rd latitude. From there we expand into Robert Temple’s Sirius theory and UFO-lore, including the Order of the Solar Temple cult suicides, then move on to the assassination of Robert Kennedy, “The Revelation of the Method,” insane journeys with Downard in his silver stream trailer, the connections between Jim Keith’s death at Burning Man and the movie The Wicker Man and the Son of Sam murders… and it was about here that I found myself a little overwhelmed. There is a ton of information crammed into this little book, almost too much.

Seriously, from chapter six on it is like a who’s who of whacked culture and fucked history. David Berkowitz, Terrence McKenna, the Unibomber, Jim Keith, the Carr family, Henry Lee Lucas, Stanley Kubrick, Bill Cooper, Prescott Bush, my hometown hero Alex Jones and so many, many more. This little book could make you go blind from the sheer audacity of its scope. I am unsure if this is a complaint or praise. You tell me…

Because stuff like this matters to me, I will add that the editing at times annoyed me. I suspect that most people who read this sort of stuff don’t care but the editing got very sketchy half-way in. Pepsi Cola did not have an ad that wanted to teach the world to sing. The use of dashes was bizarre. The book incorporated British-style and American-style use of conversational punctuation with no real rhyme or reason. If you’re gonna present a boatload of information in a short amount of space, it helps when the editing and more basic elements of fact checking are on the nose. In some places the editing outright grated.

And so did some of the theories and assertions. I mean, one cannot really disprove that the planet Sirius brought civilization to Earth (well, maybe you can) but you can definitely prove that Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole did not commit several hundred cannibalistic murders. The only reason Henry Lee Lucas is linked to Jim Jones is because he confessed to killing everyone at Jonestown himself, but I think he claimed he shot and stabbed them instead of delivering cups of cyanide-laced fruit drink. Lucas was a semi-literate, probably mentally-challenged grifter who could be coerced into admitting anything. Indicating there was anything sinister in Bush the Lesser commuting his death sentence, linking him to the MK-ULTRA program and the Matamoros drug cult is wacky and sort of dumb. But then again, I also tend to think Gorightly has more than a little trickster in him. I suspect sometimes he just throws things out there to see what will stick, who will believe and who will not. But that’s just a guess because of the whole, you know, Discordian thing.

So, this is a reserved recommendation. If you’re new to the game, you may wanna read up on various insanities before reading this book because it is just an overview of madness and how it related to the theories of James Shelby Downard, and if you have not read Downard, definitely read Carnivals of Life and Death before you read this book. This book was loony though maddening at times, but because I kind of like Gorightly and because I was never bored reading it, I fall more on the end of recommending it than not. But heed my warnings, gentle readers – this book is a one-inch dip in the ocean of conspiracy and as a result may be more taxing than entertaining.

1996 by Gloria Naylor

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: 1996

Author: Gloria Naylor (yes, that Gloria Naylor)

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: God help me, but just bear with me for a moment. Back when I stumbled across the information about Johnny Gosch and the whole Franklin Scandal, I did a search and somehow ended up on the site of a woman called Eleanor White – I can no longer recall the exact link that got me there, but believe me, I got there. Anyway, Eleanor is a person who believes in gang stalking, meaning that organized groups of government entities and private citizens stalk her, breaking into her home, wearing out her clothes, breaking her furniture, leaving mounds of dirt on her kitchen floor, tapping her phone calls, harassing her at work, following her every move and using advanced technology to read her mind. The site had some unintentionally hilarious moments, like when White or someone else posted pictures of some very ratty long johns worn through at the crotch as proof that someone was breaking into their home and wearing out their clothes.

But ultimately, there was nothing funny about any of it because no matter whether or not you believe these people’s claims, the fact remains that they think this is happening to them and some are terrified. Regardless, the first link on the Alphabetical Site list White had on her site was to a review of Gloria Naylor’s 1996. So I had to get a copy. It took me a while to make myself read it. And I don’t even really want to discuss it here because I know that the end result will be a lot of e-mails if not comments from people who genuinely think they are victims of gang or multiple stalkers and will accuse me of being part of the vast conspiracy of people loosening the buttons on their coats, taking their new tires and replacing them with bald radials in order to make them miserable, or beaming thought rays into their brains to inspire suicide. But I read it and by my own messed up, self-imposed rules, discuss it I must.

Availability: Published in 2005 by Third World Press, it is still in print via the publisher’s website or you can get a used copy here:

Comments: I am a grad school dropout. I finished one semester and realized I was just not cut out for it. I was 26 and didn’t want anybody telling me what to read anymore because I just wanted to be left alone with my true crime, my conspiracy theories, my Loch Ness monster photo analyses and my Fay Weldons. I flat out didn’t have the mental discipline it took to get my Master’s, which was no surprise really because as an undergrad, I would stay up until the wee hours after studying to read the books I wanted to read, sometimes faking my way through classes because I couldn’t bring myself to read Beowulf or Mrs. Dalloway. But in that one semester of grad school, I took an African-American women’s writers class and studied Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor. We read The Women of Brewster Place and Mama Day, the latter being not a great novel, but not a bad one either. And the former, in addition to winning a National Book Award in 1983, was a favorite of Oprah, who starred as one of the characters in the mini-series based on the book.

I wonder if Oprah has read 1996. I wonder what she thinks about this book, about what has happened to Gloria Naylor. Something in me tells me she hasn’t read this book. Nor have most Naylor fans who may stumble across this discussion. I am using large quotes from this book in order to discuss it thoroughly and if it seems like I am ridiculing Naylor or anyone else who believes in mind control or gang stalking, I’m not. But if I don’t use her words and react to them with candor, it will be impossible to show why this book is so shocking and so odd.

Gloria Naylor purchased a dream home on St. Helena Island in South Carolina. She set out to spend her summers there, relaxing away from New York and gardening. All was idyllic except for Eunice Simon’s cats. Her neighbor’s cats routinely dug and defecated in her garden. Visiting with Simon did Naylor no good and relations between the two degenerated. Things came to a head when Naylor put out poison to kill tree rats and ended up killing one of Simon’s cats instead. Yes, as in every book I read these days, there is a dead cat in 1996. Things spiral completely out of control when Naylor loses it in a supermarket and snipes at Eunice, “You bitch.” Simon hears “Jew Bitch” and it’s katy bar the door.

At this point, the book slides completely into speculation on Naylor’s part, a retelling of what she thinks must have happened (and bear in mind, Eunice Simon is a pseudonym, as are most of the names in this book, so trying to research what happened to Naylor is impossible). According to Naylor, Simon’s brother is highly placed in the National Security Agency, and though he is tired of his oversensitive sister, he finds that Naylor has tenuous social ties to Black Muslims and begins to make her life hell on those grounds. Using the anti-Jew sentiment that Eunice misheard in the supermarket combined with anti-Semitism perceived as the aim behind Black Muslim groups, Dick Simon from the NSA not only launches an investigative campaign against Naylor, but he also calls in the local ADL to assist stalking and tailing her.

Naylor’s garden is killed off by stalkers. Her home is broken into. She is followed everywhere she goes. Her computer is hacked. Three students recruited by the NSA to torment her – she calls them The Boys – terrorize her at all hours. A friend who visits her is threatened. She returns to New York and the organized stalking continues. Every few minutes, cars stop and open and slam close their doors outside her apartment. Neighbors let the NSA set up a computer and satellite in their home so that thought rays can be beamed into Naylor’s brain. These thoughts they send her are meant to cause her to try to kill herself. When Naylor fights back against the thought rays via inner strength, the NSA ups the ante and begins to read her thoughts and respond to them in real time via typed words on a computer, a sort of intercranial instant message conversation. Untold amounts of money and man hours are spent on tailing and antagonizing Naylor, who accidentally killed a cat and spoke admiringly of the Million Man March.

Sigh…

I am not going to dither here as others have who have read this book, refusing to comment on the factual truth of the events as Naylor perceives them. Outside of sites on organized and gang stalking, you will find scholars weasel out of dealing with the horror of the content by stating the largely irrelevant: that whether or not you believe Naylor was a victim of organized citizen and government stalking, isn’t this an interesting look at race relations in America, a sober reminder of the potential for a tyrannical police state or a fascinating combination of narrative fiction and speculation? That’s some bullshit right there, folks.

I won’t waffle because it is a condescending move not to state facts plainly because I don’t want to look like I am calling a renowned writer crazy. Yes, race relations are still terrible in this country. Yes, the government is intrusive. And maybe Naylor set off a Jewish neighbor with some ties to the NSA and Naylor was investigated a bit rigorously as a result. But nothing else here that Naylor describes as a fictional narrative of true events is even plausible. There are those who think that the fallout of her dispute with her neighbor caused Naylor to become mentally ill. I have no idea. But this book is full of delusions.

When a person says they are stalked, I can believe them. When a person says they were investigated rigorously by the government, I can believe it. Believe me, I can believe it. We all have stories to tell in this post 1984, post 9/11 age. But when a person tells me that the government has been reading their mind with a computer and a type of satellite, typing in responses to their thoughts in an abusive argument, not only can I not believe it, but it brings into doubt even the rational, reasonable accusations the person made. Given the paranoiac belief that Jews are fueling the attacks against her, reliance that Naylor has genuine understanding of what happened to her is crucial to being able to tolerate this book as much more than an anti-Jewish polemic in which a misunderstood insult in a grocery store can launch the entire force of the Anti-Defamation League in a campaign of terror. But then again, I also think only a True Believer in the utter corruption and complete, almost God-like competence of our government will be able to believe the whole of 1996.

This is gonna be one of my longer discussions so read the rest under the jump.

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

This post originally appeared on I Read Everything

Book: The Monster of Florence: A True Story

Authors: Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

Why Did I Read This Book: I have a deep love of the true crime genre. The Monster of Florence serial killings were unknown to me before this book and Amazon also had a copy on sale. So, how could I resist.

Availability: Published in 2008 by Hachette Book Group, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Like I said above, I love accounts of true crime. I also love accounts of miscarriages of justice combined with a healthy dose of vindication. I knew this book was the former when I ordered it but had no idea it was the latter. This book proved an absorbing, infuriating read, all the more because I am a person who takes a keen interest in topics like the belief systems that cause Satanic Panics as well as conspiracies. Most books on those topics get reviewed over on my other site but this book was not an odd book, despite the presence of a decades-long Satanic Panic combined with a pretty profound judicial conspiracy. The line between odd and non-odd is completely arbitrary, I think, but I review this book here mostly because I can see the average person reading this book and finding it very interesting.

There is much to discuss in this book, and strangely, the actual killings, for me, took backseat to the drama that unfolds as Douglas Preston gets sucked not only into telling the tale of the Monster of Florence, but into suspicion of having a role in the supposed conspiracy of Satanists who killed couples along the Florence countryside. The eight killings began in 1968 and ended in 1985. They all involved the killings of couples, most of whom had gone to a wood-like area to park and have sex. The male was generally shot first and the woman shot and/or stabbed, and in five cases, the woman was also mutilated sexually. The cases bear a superficial similarity to the Son of Sam killings in the US, and to my admittedly unexpert eye, the first incident and the last seem very much like they were not done by the same person who committed the other murders because they deviated in some manner from the killer’s MO.

In the course of investigating and then prosecuting men for this crime, the authorities could not have done a worse job had they tried. The first man convicted of the killings, a thoroughly unpleasant man to be sure, eventually had the case against him overturned and was set free by the Italian courts. One Italian police officer even believes evidence was planted to try to prove the case against the innocent man. Though all evidence seems to point to a Sardinian man, whose wife was one of the first victims, the Florence police decided to dive head first off the deep end.

Enter Douglas Preston, American author of popular thrillers, who arrived in Italy to write a book and ended up friends with journalist Mario Spezi, a man with a great interest in the Monster of Florence case. Investigating, they came across all sorts of shocking examples of police failure, investigative misconduct and judicial wrong doing, as well as flat out whacked thinking on the part of Chief Inspector Michele Giuttari, who evidently has a firm belief in the fantastic, and Judge Giuliano Mignini, whose continued presence in the Italian court system after his antics in the Monster of Florence case is baffling.

Investigating the Monster of Florence murders, Preston and and Spezi uncovered all kinds of bizarre information. For example, a lone doctor’s suicide was seen by investigators to be a lynch pin in proving a Satanic cult was behind the murders (the doctor fit several different theories – rich Italians killing for a Satanic sect, a doctor has to be the killer). That theory involved the doctor’s body being fished out of the water, taken to the morgue, swapped with another body, and the fake body was then buried under the doctor’s name.

On April 6, 2002, with the press standing by, the coffin of Francesco Narducci was exhumed and opened. His body was inside, instantly recognizable after seventeen years. A DNA test confirmed it.

This blow to their theories did not stop… Giuttari and the public minister of Perugia. Even in the lack of a substantiated corpse they found evidence. The body was too recognizable for someone who had spent five days in the water and then another seventeen (sic) in a coffin. Giuttari and Mignini promptly concluded that the real body had been substituted again. That’s right –Narducci’s real body, hidden for seventeen years, had been put back in the coffin and the other body removed because the conspirators knew ahead of time that the exhumation was coming.

Then comes Gabriella Carlizzi, a conspiratologist whose ravings make my local hero Alex Jones seem like a rational person of restraint in comparison (a search for Carlizzi’s pro-Satanic Panic blog was of little help but I did find an Italian page that claims she died on August 11, 2010 – I have no idea if this is true). Carlizzi’s theories of Satanic murder, the swapping of the doctor’s body and even more insane theories influenced Giuttari and Mignini, eventually leading to Preston and Spezi finding themselves suspects in the decades-long murders. People warned Preston that Carlizzi was a dangerous person but to those who have dealt with people who are true believers in conspiracy, just the time suck alone of dealing with such people is enough to cause us to want to avoid them. Preston exchanged many e-mails with Carlizzi until he realized his folly and even when he was finished with her, his e-mail box remained clogged by her raving missives. Carlizzi’s theories, crackpot though they seem to us, were taken very seriously by some Italian authorities. In fact, she provided many “links” in the case.

…The investigators also had to show that Narducci had a connection to Pacciani [the man inititally convicted as the Monster who was later released]… and the village of San Casciano, where the satanic cult seemed to be centered.

They succeeded in this as well. Gabriella Carlizzi made a statement to the police asserting that Francesco Narducci had been intiated into the Order of the Red Rose by his father, who was trying to resolve certain sexual problems in his son – the same diabolical sect, Carlizzi claimed, active for centuries in Florence and its environs. Police and prosecutors seemed to accept Carlizzi’s statements as solid, actionable evidence.

Giuttari had no problem rounding up the town drunks and prostitutes and even a man described as a village idiot and having them recite patently untrue information in order to seek convictions. He never seemed at a loss to find people willing to say whatever it was he needed to be said, using the same people over and over, each time molding their testimony to his ends.

As if on cue, Giuttari and his GIDES squad produced witnesses swearing to have seen Francesco Narducci hanging around San Casciano… It took a while for the identities of these new witnesses to come out. When Spezi first heard the names, he thought it was a bad joke: they were the same… witnesses who had been the surprise witnesses at Pacciani’s appeal so many years before…

The three witnesses had earth-shaking new information to impart, which all of them had forgotten to mention eight years earlier when they had first stunned Italy with their extraordinary testimony.

Giuttari was quite unorthodox in his approach to using evidence to solve crimes. In his eyes, a simple doorstop became “an esoteric object used to communicate between this world and the infernal regions.” He fully embraced the theory that powerful people were behind the Satanic conspiracy to kill. Why would these people kill couples and mutilate dying women? Giuttari’s theory was that a

shadowy cabal of wealthy and powerful people, seemingly beyond reproach, who occupied the highest positions in society, business, law and medicine, had hired Pacciani, Vanni and Lotti to kill people in order to obtain the sex organs of girls for use as the obscene, blasphemous “wafer” in their Black Masses.

How all of this came to pass, all this blaming innocent citizens, so many trials and retrials, the willingness to believe in the unbelievable was summed up by an Italian nobleman who was at one point himself accused by some of being the killer:

“In Italy, the hatred of your enemy is such that he has to be built up, made into the ultimate adversary, responsible for all evil. The investigators in the Monster case know that behind the simple facts hides a satanic cult, its tentacles reaching into the highest levels of society. This is what they will prove, no matter what. Woe to the person… who disputes their theory because that makes him an accomplice. The more vehemently he denies being involved, the stronger is the proof.”

And this is exactly what happened. Preston himself has what is essentially a warrant for his arrest should he ever reenter Italy and Spezi himself was arrested and held without communication for days until saner heads prevailed and he was released. Spezi’s appearance on television and numerous articles he wrote examining the deficiencies of the investigation put him squarely in Giuttari’s cross-hairs. In a search of Spezi’s home, Spezi became angry and mocked the police, showing them his own doorstop, identical to the one that Giuttari had considered an occult object. That doorstop gave Giuttari what he considered physical evidence to link Spezi to one of the murder scenes, resulting eventually in Spezi’s arrest. Judges reviewed the evidence and eventually released Spezi but not before his life was completely upturned.

The final trial in this book ended after the book was published, but Giuttari and Mignini’s Satanic killer was acquitted. And so much of this stemmed from the outrageous claims of a demented woman running a website (her claims about the 9/11 attacks are… interesting.)

If that seems like a hopelessly backward idea, us Yanks need to recall that the Satanic Panic plagued us for years and in some places never went away. The trial of the West Memphis Three was no less filled with lies, misinformation and desperate attempts by law enforcement and the judiciary to spin a wild tale of Satanism to solve a case when the real murderer was far more prosaic, far more familiar. Crazy ideas are never far from hand and books like this serve as a sober reminded that there is no idea outrageous enough that some police, judges, or jurors will not believe it.

For those who followed the Amanda Knox travesty in Italy, it will come as no surprise that mad theories again tainted the court system – Gabriella Carlizzi thinks there was some sort of Satanic, Masonic ritual the girl was supposedly involved in that led to the sexual murder of her roommate. Worse, Judge Mignini presided over her joke of a trial.

In November 2007, Mignini became involved on another sensational case, that of the brutal murder of a British student, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia. Mignini quickly ordered the arrest of American student, Amanda Knox, whom he suspected of involvement in the murder… It appears from press leaks that Mignini is spinning an improbable theory about Knox and two alleged co-conspirators in a dark plan of extreme sex, violence and rape.

Knox was convicted and is in an Italian prison now.

But the Monster of Florence remains unidentified and only innocent people have been harmed in the bizarre quest for justice.

Though it may seem as if I have spoiled this book, believe me, there is so much more -so very much more – than what I chose to excerpt here. This case is a skein of tangled yarn. And even if you know how it ends, the many knots along the way make for fascinating reading. I highly recommend it. Fans of true crime will love the investigation and those of us who like a conspiracy theory will realize that America is not the only country where people believe truly bizarre things.

The Carnivals of Life and Death by James Shelby Downard

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: The Carnivals of Life and Death

Author: James Shelby Downard

Type of Book: Conspiracy theory, occult symbology, Masons, utter insanity

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Well, the whole thing sets off my oddometer, but by the time the young Downard claims he saw Alexander Graham Bell involved in sex magick rituals on Jekyll Island, the odd credentials of this book were no longer in question.

Availability: Published by Feral House in 2006, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Oh god. This is one of those moments where in I suspect I am in way over my head. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I fear the Masons and loathe the Ku Klux Klan as much as any self-respecting conspiratologist should. I think there is a level of “street theater” in our economic and political processes, a sort of active public facade that, if the veneer were ever pulled away, would show us far more sinister than it would positive. I think the banking industry and the political system in America are all corrupt beyond belief and that those who operate behind the scenes in these systems are people whose interests in no way reflect the well-being of the American people.

That having been said, I need to make it clear I think that “mystical sex circuses,” “witchcraft sex magick orgies,” and “sexathons that aim at nothing more than racial blood mixing” are neither really part of the secrecy of the economic system behind the economic system, nor are they things that most people really need to worry about in the course of their everyday life. I also suspect that I don’t lean towards believing that

…the mythology of Revelations will be followed like Tinker-Toy instructions: a time of tribulation will come first, after which survivors will be made “one” via a post-tribulation “rapture” spawned by the technical sorcery of having their brain pleasure centers titillated magnetically so that all will cum together.

But then again, a lack of genuine belief in the mystical has always been my Achilles heel.

I suspect there may be rabid disagreement with my above assertions and I’m okay with that because I am relatively sure that a very young James Shelby Downard didn’t witness a man called Cock Robin blow Alexander Graham Bell on Jekyll Island. Knowing that James Shelby Downard likely didn’t exist and was, perhaps, the brain child of three different men doesn’t play as much into my declaration of “Pants!” at the notion of Bell, just, you know, having sex magick orgies in front of kids as you might think. This is The Parable of the Whackjobs, and none of this ever happened but was written to illustrate certain points, like mystical toponomy, symbolism of names and an uneasy sense that things are not entirely as they should be. Call me naive if you must.

But whatever you call me, you need to read this book because it is a hoot. Purportedly the autobiography of one James Shelby Downard, who was born in 1913 and died in 1998 before he could finish his tale. He is most famous for his essay, “King/Kill 33: Masonic Symbolism in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy.” I read that monster years ago but had no idea the full body of ideas Downard (or whomever) brought to the table.

This book reads like those Home Alone movies, you know the ones. A precocious kid with questionable parents keeps finding himself in violent situations wherein he bests his attackers. Imagine those movies except Kevin gets stalked and attacked by Freemasons and the Klan and you pretty much have the gist of this book. According to Downard, he was set up as a scapegoat (pharmakos) or symbolic whipping boy, presumably by his criminally negligent and downright weird parents, and spent his entire life standing up for the American Way by thwarting attack after attack after attack and witnessing unspeakable acts while besting the worst evil there is.

I’m not saying Downard doesn’t have interesting ideas. Some fascinating conclusions are drawn in this book and to be completely frank, at times, some of the scattershot in this book that hits the target is a little eerie. But in order to appreciate that you have to read the rest of the book for what it is: a fictional story, a parable, that through extremes tries to show things the author believes are buried from our sight. These are myths for the paranoid, bizarre, over-the-top fables meant to tell a larger story through unbelievable detail. Or Downard was really a plucky young man who foiled that Joe Pesci time and time again. Believe what you want, but it is undeniable that this book is interesting and a fun read.

You get pushed off the deep end fast in this book, starting the very second Adam Parfrey finishes his introduction. Here’s a small taste of the paranoia and weird associations Downard presents in his own introduction:

…I got a glimpse of frightful memories from the long-dead past and, perhaps more importantly, recognized the past for the corpus mysticum that it is. When my mystical past revealed how it had really occurred, it became a horrendous thing cloaked in iniquity, that old now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t that preserves the criminal mysteries of Masonic oz art (M oz art).

Get used to that, those interesting little connections in Downard’s head. He sees connections in ways that will change how you look at things, synchronous connects that, for some, lead to sinister conclusions.

Of course, there is mention of cats, burning them in fact. I bring this up only because I am beginning to despair of all the mentions of dead cats in all the books I read. If I traipse down the primrose path that Downard stomped, I would begin to think there is something connecting all these dead cats mentioned in every damn book I seem to pick up these days. For now I’m just chalking it up to bad luck.

The book begins with young Downard being secured spread-eagle in his bed on Christmas Eve. He was five. He was unpinned in the morning only to find switches and coal in his stocking. We move from there to a shootout with Masons wherein the tot escapes and blows stuff up. His mother made him dress like a girl. There’s the above-mentioned trip to Jekyll Island where he saw all kinds of things and was almost killed in some sort of magick theater ritual. He gets abandoned and lives like a dog until he is reunited with his mother. He is almost killed countless other times. He thwarts the Klan, he finds Million Dollar Gold Certificates the way I find cat hair on my chair. He is nailed to a tree by the Klan but only the size of his small anus prevents him from being sodomized. He liberates a white sex slave. He finds all kinds of bizarre “grave goods” from the tomb of a Mason only to have FDR offer to purchase them and when he gets the check for a million dollars, his parents talk him out of cashing it. His wife turned out to be a mind-controlled sex slave. He explains the symbolic meanings of dunce caps and bull whips. He finds all sorts of parallels between innocuous ideas, discussing usual ringers like Disney and Proctor & Gamble, but also making the average person aware of why it is we should be alarmed if we see a man curse a pig and then touch our water faucet. This is, like, maybe 5% of the insanity in this book. To discuss it in depth would require far more time than I have and more gin than I am willing to drink.

The best part of this book is how through it all, Downard never gets a clue. I mean, after the third time the Masons tried to kill me, after the Klan had nailed me to a tree, after I’d almost been choked to death by Cock Robin while everyone chanted, “Non Person, Non Person,” I’d be suspicious of anyone who asked me to fish around in an old family tomb. After I noticed the tomb had been booby-trapped, I probably wouldn’t have gone on in. Not Downard. If this man existed, we need to find his grave and take some of his bones to have him reconstituted when DNA technology catches up with my imagination. We need more Downards – clever, foolhardy, indestructible, paranoid yet open to adventure. An Army of Downards? Hell, America would be restored to her old glory in no time.

So yeah, read this book. Home Alone combined with Masonic paranoia and more mystical esoterica than you can absorb in one reading. I highly recommend this fine lunacy.

Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch

This post originally appeared on I Read Everything

Book: Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History

Author: David Aaronovitch

Type of Book: Non-fiction, sociology, history, conspiracy theory

Why Did I Read This Book: I am an avid reader of the odd, as my other book discussion site should prove, and eat conspiracy theory with a spoon. When I saw this book as I wandered through a Barnes & Noble, it was a gimme that I would buy it. That conspiracy theory might actually shape contemporary historical belief seemed too interesting to pass up.

Availability: Published by Riverhead Books in 2010, you can get a copy here:

Comments: I liked this book but not for the reasons I purchased it. As someone who has spent a lot of time wallowing in conspiracy at different times in my life, there was little new for me in this book (though this is not to say there was not some content unfamiliar to me – there was and it was fascinating). Moreover, this book is more a debunking attempt than really a look at how conspiracy theory has shaped modern history for the average person. No one can walk away from this book and feel that any of the examples of conspiracy, their formation and later belief, has affected the modern canon of history, aside from the JFK assassination. Of course people whose personal beliefs lie on the fringe of reason hold conspiracy theory close to their hearts, but I think it is overblown to seriously suggest that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the “plot” to kill Princess Diana in a random car accident with a drunk driver, or Hillary Clinton supposedly murdering Vince Foster is ever going to achieve the level of mainstream belief that will reflect these fringe beliefs as history.

Of course there are always some who believe all manner of odd things. Michael Shermer has shown us that, as well as any other number of debunkers. It often seems as if those who have fringe beliefs are greater in number than they are because the proliferation of conspiracy theory sites on the Internet make the information seem more common place and because the press loves nothing more than a crank with a misspelled sign, wearing a costume and yelling about injustice. The Tea Party (Teabaggers, as they are known to people like me) has shown this in spades in the United States. Get some loud, bombastic, angry, and, in some instances, completely insane people in one place and the press is all over it because crazy is a close second to sales behind sex. But the numbers of Teabaggers are statistically insignificant and recent polls indicate that these people who have received so much press recently as a new force in politics don’t have enough numbers even to impact the 2010 midterm elections. Fringe beliefs among the Truthers and Birthers and Teabaggers will end up as a foot note to history, not history itself.

Aaronovitch does a relatively sound job of showing how, for the fringe, certain myths will not die and will always be a part of a certain zeitgeist regardless of the proof given to debunk these myths. Like the idea that Princess Diana was assassinated or that the Kennedys had Marilyn Monroe killed by an overdose of barbiturate suppositories. There are those who will believe this no matter what, and Aaronovitch shows clearly how the seemingly unbelievable, like the President of the United States is a foreign born citizen or that 9-11 was an inside job, gains some credence. Aaronovitch discovered similar traits that enable otherwise sane people to believe weird things.

1) Historical precedent: If you can show that other conspiracies happened in the past, it is easier to believe they happened now.
2) Elite them against us: All conspiracy theory at its heart shows actions of an elite few – rogue CIA agents killing JFK (which is not that unbelievable for some of us), Jews plotting a world takeover – against the mass of people. Those who do not believe are seen as sheep, people who are so mass deluded they cannot believe.
3) “Just Asking Questions”: Many purveyors of conspiracy theory assume the role of an innocent questioner instead of a provocateur.
4) A circle jerk of “experts” who all quote each other in order to give the theory legitimacy.
5) A veneer of academic credibility, much of which gets echoed by established media but when examined up close, credentials are always suspect.
6) Errors in the theory are explained as disinformation from the forces that the theory hopes to out.
7) Assumption of the role of an endangered victim – those who discuss the theory claim to be under constant surveillance. This assumption of persecution makes outsiders wonder what the subjects of the conspiracy have to hide.

But at it’s heart, this book never convinced me that aside from contemporary news media dropping the ball occasionally that conspiracy theory really is shaping how we perceive history. There may be a sizable minority who have bought into the propaganda of 9-11 conspiracy but where most of the sources are concerned, like the movie Loose Change, I have never heard a single sane person speak of it favorably, and the only places where it is discussed favorably is on sites where conspiracy is the sole topic. Most people (unlike me, for the record), do not think there was a CIA conspiracy to kill JFK, though the evidence in that case has been so muddied and mishandled that differing theories as to what happened were inevitable. Most people, despite the media attention Birthers get, do not think Barack Obama is a Muslim foreigner sent to destroy the United States. While the Kennedy assassination is a different kettle of fish in some respects and has, in fact, affected history, it is hard to see the connection between the actual history of this nation and fringe belief. I cannot say the same about the UK, where a couple of the theories in the book are germane, like the idea that Princess Diana was assassinated, an anti-nuke protester murdered in a conspiracy, or the details surrounding the likely suicide of a Parliament crank. I cannot make that leap mainly because my experience with conspiracy theory exists in an American realm.

But if you get past the notion that history has been deeply affected by conspiracy theory, let alone shaped by it, this book is an incredibly informative, fascinating read. I think anyone interested in conspiracy theory will find much to like in this book. Like many, I knew that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was fake, a scurrilous attempt to pass off fiction as a historical document exposing a Jewish plot to take over the world. Aaronovitch takes this one step further and shows that not only was it a fake, but it was a bad forgery as well, showing the original sources from which the PotEZ was taken, showing side by side analysis. Moreover, I did not know that the men at the heart of publicizing all the supposed crimes committed by President Bill Clinton are the same men behind the attempts to prove that Barack Obama is a Muslim, non-American, socialist/communist/fascist. Joseph Farah and Christopher Ruddy evidently got an 8-year break when George W. Bush took office after Clinton, but got back up to speed in a heartbeat when Democrats took the office back. There were also two British conspiracies that I was not as well-versed in. All in all, this book was worth it for the information I did not know, the connections that show how these conspiracies were created and managed for the new information age.

However, I think reason is not in as short supply as the evening news wants us to believe. Nor is it in as short supply as this book would lead one to think. People believe outrageous things, that cannot be denied. Conspiracy theory is, indeed, a cultural force. I just don’t think it is a force that shapes history and that in a large part comes from my personal experiences with conspiracy immersion, but if it were, the official line would be that Marilyn was murdered, Princess Diana was assassinated by the British royal family, Jews are out to get us and Obama is a Muslim foreign agent. If the fringe had anything more than Internet innuendo, Loose Change would not be derided in every sane circle for all the factual errors it makes. Affecting how elements of history may be perceived to certain individuals is not the same as shaping history as a whole. There is no denying that the fringe affects people who believe it and the history they subscribe to, but fringe belief has not shaped history, modern or otherwise, and in trying to prove it, this book fails.

But it succeeds in telling about some extraordinary delusions of the crowd and how they shaped perception for certain groups (and my local conspiracy expert Alex Jones gets a couple of shout outs). That it does not meet its thesis goal matters less to me than it should because it was simply so damned entertaining – Aaronovitch has an engaging writing style and an amusing, at times caustic wit, and the book is just fun to read. All in all, for a book that missed it’s mark, I can’t believe I am telling you to read it, but I am.

The Prankster and the Conspiracy by Adam Gorightly

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: The Prankster and the Conspiracy

Author: Adam Gorightly

Type of Book: Non-fiction, biography, conspiracy

Why I Consider This Book Odd: Well, Robert Anton Wilson wrote the foreword. That’s sort of a clue right there. But overall, this book covers almost all the bases of oddness: Kennedy assassination conspiracy, Jim Garrison, the 60s in general, Discordianism, CIA spooks, and, Jesus help us all, Sondra London.

Availability: Published in 2003 by Paraview press, you can get a copy here

Comments: You know, I still sort of love the Discordians, even though the whole riff often wears thin for me now. Twenty years ago, I was an avid member of a Discordian offshoot, The Church of the SubGenius. (My SubGenius names were Lady Helena Burningbush and later Lady Helena Burningbook, and Google away – I am lucky that most of my asshattery as a young person occurred before the Internet came to make sure our every act of silliness is recorded for eternity.) But as I got older, I just didn’t see the point anymore. I still see some value in the sort of social satire that such parodies permit, but in the final analysis, I’m pretty earnest and cloaking one’s self behind so many layers of sarcasm and inside jokes in order to make a point ultimately is more work than I am willing to do to prove I am not one of them.

But when Kerry Thornley (Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst) and Greg Hill (Malaclypse the Younger) created Discordianism and co-wrote the Principia Discordia, it was a natural rebellion against the postwar rage for order that permeated life in the 1950s, and the tricksterism had a profound point, one that has become diluted over time, especially now that the Internet makes being a trickster almost mandatory. But 50 years ago, before 1960s rebellion embraced chaos and dissent, Discordianism was a precursor and perhaps catalyst for serious social change. Kerry Thornley, as described in this book, is a man who inspired and in many senses created the counterculture in the United States and while some of the assertions of Thornley’s influence seem overstated to me, he is a person whose role in creating the counterculture has been overlooked in many quarters, and one has to wonder how much his unwitting and unwilling role in the assassination of John F. Kennedy contributed to Thornley’s name being forgotten more than it is remembered.

This book is both Thornley’s biography and an examination of conspiracy theory, and I think that Gorightly’s refusal to settle on a specific opinion, to analyze and give the facts that he does, gives this book far more impact than had he just put on a tinfoil hat and delivered the standard “Warren report bad, Garrison good, Oswald patsy” line that has tarred those who truly worry that there was a CIA conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy (hi, I am one of them). According to Gorightly, Thornley, who served in the Marines with Lee Harvey Oswald and wrote a book about him before the JFK assassination, and lived in New Orleans during the appropriate times, may have been manipulated by the CIA, and he may not have. (As some may or may not know, the infamous picture of Oswald holding a rifle and a copy of a Communist rag, supposedly taken in his backyard, is very likely Oswald’s head grafted onto Thornley’s body.) Given how insane and paranoid Thornley became later in his life, it is hard to tell what really happened.

For example, Thornley knew a very creepy man, Gary Kirstein, whom he mostly called Brother-in-law, who was an unsettling influence in Thornley’s life, and planted ideas that made Thornley think that perhaps he was subject to mind manipulation by the CIA. Thornley specifically believed this because he somehow or another (if at all) picked up rogue radio waves with his mind, an activity that Brother-in-law seemed to know all about. However, the only person who could have proved that Brother-in-law really existed, Greg Hill, died before anyone could question him on the subject. Others who lived in New Orleans at the time and knew Thornley could not verify that Brother-in-law existed. Thornley later believed Kirstein was E. Howard Hunt and Gorightly is of the opinion that Brother-in-law could have been Hunt but does not stake his reputation on it.

And with the mention of E. Howard Hunt, creepiest of the creepiest of spooks, you can tell that this is one helluva fun conspiracy tome, and one of the better because the author, while clearly subject to interesting beliefs (aren’t we all) maintains an air of interested speculation without ever confirming or denying anything. I left the book with the feeling that Thornley was very likely on to something, that perhaps he was an unwitting participant in one of the darkest moments of history, but his subsequent mental illness makes it impossible to know the truth. One of his friends at the time, then Grace Caplinger, now better known to some as character actress Grace Zabriskie, adds to the idea that Thornley’s memory, or at least his interpretations of memory, are to be held in doubt. Thornley described himself as having a long affair with Grace. Grace recalls one incident of not-very interesting sex that never happened again. His ex-wife Cara said that she never experienced some of the things Thornley claimed, like three black helicopters flying over their home. As Thornley drifted further and further into psychosis, it is impossible to know what happened and Thornley’s life does not make it any easier to parse out.

Peripatetic, even when he remained in one city for a while he never seemed to live in the same place for long, Thornley was truly a man who both brought about change and was subject to it. Like a Whitman poem, his mind contained inconsistent multitudes. He initially believed the Lone Gunman theory of the JFK assassination and wrote a book, Oswald, explaining this theory. He later recanted this theory. He became convinced Oswald was a CIA plant who was assigned to ferret out Communist sympathizers in the military and was later a part of a fringe CIA conspiracy to assassinate JFK. Jim Garrison, no small loon himself, called Thornley to a grand jury in order to recount the testimony he gave to the Warren Commission, and was so angered with Thornley’s testimony that he charged Thornley with perjury, though the charges were later dropped.

Though this book does speak of a mentally healthy Thornley (relatively speaking), much of the book documents his decline into mental states even the odd like me find unnerving. Thornley, after his divorce from his wife Cara, went through an exhibitionist sexual phase, which seems normal enough in some quarters. People experiment with all forms of freedom when long term relationships end. But in the manner of many biographies these days, it is revealed that perhaps Thornley had pedophilic tendencies, though if he had them, they were of a short duration and he regained his sense of restraint and decency. One can see this man becoming so mentally adrift that the sexual freedom he in part helped herald in could, in a drug haze, cause him to misapply his sexual freedom to children. If it seems like I am using too many words and dancing around the topic, it’s because that’s exactly what I am doing. I hate the idea that even unhinged Thornley would become so far afield that he could not see the lack of morality in sexual interaction with children. Though this is a very small part of the book, it stuck with me. Everyone these days is either a pedophile or a closet Nazi when their biography finally comes out.

Thornley died in 1998 of complications from a rare disease called Wegener’s Granulomatosis, and though his madness cleared enough at times to permit him moments of humor and clarity, one of the ways I know he was probably deeply entrenched in psychosis is that in his last days, he evidently had a friendship, if not relationship, with Sondra London. My distaste for London runs hard and deep. She has become such a scourge in her by now routine attempts to cozy up to violent murderers for a chance at love, renown, and potential book fodder that she has caused death row inmates to call her a skeeve. She pissed on the memories of the brutally murdered as a self-admitted serial killer lovingly serenaded her in court as she beamed like a teen girl being courted for the first time. I never really saw her as a person much interested in telling the stories of the insane, the broken or the criminally violent as much as someone who would do anything for money, publicity or to satisfy her admitted hybristophilia (or, to paraphrase her, she likes bad boys).

She is a loathsome human being who has made a career out of manipulating deeply mentally ill or sociopathic if not psychotic killers into collaborating with her on books (her collaboration with the disturbed and completely ill Nicolas Claux is truly disturbing – asking that man to illustrate a book on vampire killers is in no way subversive or in the spirit of Discordianism – just exploitative and completely callous). That Brother-in-law set off Thornley’s creepometer but London did not speaks of deep psychological pathology on his part. Gorightly had her number though, stating that even though London has recordings of Thornley important for any biographer, her status as his one true love prevented her from sharing them. Until she was offered money. And poor Thornley, to be on that woman’s list of “true loves”: Gerard Schaeffer, Danny Rolling, Keith Jesperson… Interesting that even they revile her now.

Back to Thornley: No matter what your opinion is of the JFK assassination, or even Thornley’s role in it, it is safe to assert that the madness and paranoia that plagued him in his later life was sparked in no small part by those who were either involved in the assassination or used the assassination to push their personal agenda. He started off as a sparkling trickster and died sick and paranoid, a very sad ending to be sure. I think this was one of the finer biographies and conspiracy books I have read in a while. Complex, interesting, mildly skeptical and interested in the truth but willing to admit it may never be known, and most importantly, evenhanded, open, scrutinizing yet ultimately kind to its subject. I highly recommend it. Gorightly has a book about the Manson Family that I think I will give a go soon.

The Franklin Cover-Up by John W. DeCamp

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: The Franklin Cover-Up: Child Abuse, Satanism, and Murder in Nebraska

Author: John W. DeCamp

Type of Book: Non-fiction, conspiracy theory, Satanic Panic, politics

Why I Consider This Book Odd: Okay, this is circuitous, but this book came across my radar in the following manner: When Jeff Gannon, porn star and male escort cum White House reporter/Bush apologist was outed, I was interested in finding out how such a man got high clearance press credentials. A web search on his name turned up a website devoted to a kidnapped child from Nebraska. Evidently, there are those who think Jeff Gannon is Johnny Gosch, whose mother Noreen maintains that after he was kidnapped in 1982, he was forced into child porn and prostitution (and no matter what, this is not going to be a discussion on poor Noreen – just don’t do it, okay?). The case of Johnny Gosch is as fascinating as it is sad, and on a conspiracy site, I found a thread accusing Hunter S. Thompson of being linked to the Gosch kidnapping because a “reputable” source said he filmed kiddie porn snuff films. The reputable source was this book. Yeah… When a book has you yelling, “Oh my god!” before you even read it, it’s gonna be odd.

Availability: This book was updated and is still in print. You can get a copy here:

Comments: Hoo boy. This is some excellent conspiracy theory, in that it is amazingly insane and involved. On one level, I actually believe about 1/8th of this book. The rest is just so whacked and beyond the realm of reason but with just enough grains of truth here and there that you can’t help but get sucked in.

First, let’s eliminate the whole Hunter S. Thompson thing. There were two sentences in the book that referred to Hunter Thompson as someone who filmed kiddie snuff porn. The person making the accusation is a man who evidently suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder (or Multiple Personality Disorder as it was called when this book was initially written). I have no idea what DeCamp really knows of Thompson, but he calls him a “well known sleaze-culture figure,” whatever that means. It does not appear as if Thompson was ever visually identified by Paul Bonacci, the man making the claim, and no greater research went into proving it. (ETA: A commenter below pointed out that it was Anton Chaitkin who called HST a “wellknown sleeze-culture figure. I re-read and sure enough, I had misattributed the quote.)  Evidently another young woman claimed Thompson tried to make her watch a snuff film but she didn’t watch whatever she claims he wanted her to see.  Was it the horror film Snuff?  Was it Cannibal Holocaust, which some still believe qualifies as a snuff film because of the live animal deaths included in it?  Was she making it up, did she misunderstand?  We don’t know.  All we have is an unverified statement from some woman and two lines in this book attributed to a young man whose origins no one has been able to trace and whose lies/fantasies have fueled a bizarre conspiracy theory.

This book was initially released in 1992. Had anyone any evidence that Thompson filmed children being killed during sex, he would have been investigated thoroughly. Thompson was a man who showed no proclivities towards abuse of children or respect of authority to the extent he would have kept quiet about such a horrific thing out of fear of what would happen to him.  Thompson was a thorn in the side of the government and authority in general – had he been involved in something so vile police would have been only too glad to investigate, as glad as he would have been to expose anyone who killed children on film. That all that seems to be out there to support this claim are the two lines from this book and some unclear claim from someone else sort of closes the case. But if that is not enough, bear in mind that Bonacci claims Thompson filmed kiddie snuff porn in the 1980s. Thompson already had a very successful career as a journalist and an author then. He didn’t need the money, had it been a part of an investigation into political corruption he would have reported on it gleefully, if not paranoiacally, and given his nature, had he been in the wrong place at the wrong time, he would have blown a whistle long before he took his own life.

So let there be no more said on this topic. Anyone who wants to discuss it here can, but I won’t reply. On your head be it if you decide to smear the name of a man whose career completely belied any association with such deviance without any proof other than hearsay from a fragile man who makes all sorts of extraordinary claims because one suspects he may be too mentally ill not to make such claims.

Back to the book… This book has it all, for the seasoned conspiratologist. It has Satanic Panic, with cabals of Satanists killing children, burning their bodies and grinding up their bones and teeth. It has a ring of pedophiles all the way up to the White House, flying out kids from Nebraska for sexual purposes. It makes reference to militias, Oklahoma City, the Montana Seven, the Monarch Project, Bohemian Grove, the Gosch kidnapping (but no Jeff Gannon, alas – perhaps DeCamp will issue a new edition?), the utter shittiness of Bob Kerrey (a subject on which I whole-heartedly agree with the author, because I can easily see a man who lied about being a war criminal for so many years lying about all the other things DeCamp claims), Iran-Contra, LaRouche, a conspiracy to murder witnesses and more and more.

Honestly, there is too much to go into even for my verbose nature.

But on the most basic level, there is a kernel that can be believed in this book, though like I said, 7/8 of it, if not more, should be dismissed. The Franklin Credit Union in Omaha was run by a man named Larry King (no, not that Larry King), who embezzled approximately $40 million and undoubtedly molested children. The credit union was probably involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. Though no real trace seems to have been done on the money he stole, it would appear most of that money embezzled went into parties, stretch limos and access to private planes. King probably did have the sex parties described in the book, though I think the truth of the situation probably ended at flying some of the older kids to other locations to have sex with King. I can see that happening, though most of the other stories are implausible.

Not all the kids were in complicit foster homes or kids of the street – didn’t the orphanages or parents notice when the kids, some youngsters, went missing for days on end as they were carted from one locale to the other for sex. Additionally, some of the things that the chief witnesses described could have caused grave harm and certainly permanent scars or physical damage. There is no mention of a physical examination given to any of the witnesses. Moreover, one of the witnesses claims she gave birth to a police chief’s child. A paternity demand to this day could prove her side of the story, and since she is serving years and years of jail time for perjury, that this step has not been taken is baffling. (ETA: Alisha Owen’s child has been definitively proven not to be the result of any sort of sexual activity between Alisha Owen and police chief Robert Wadman.  That is a huge problem for anyone who wants to believe Owen’s tales of institutionalized and systemic child rape condoned and committed by Omaha police.)

You have to keep in mind that DeCamp, while clearly holding some wacky beliefs, also fell down the rabbit hole in the 1980s when Michelle Remembers was still believed to be factual and not even psychologists knew how to question genuinely abused children without leading them to say all sorts of things that never happened in order to please the questioner. He is a true believer, and as such, dismisses lack of evidence as law enforcement involvement in the conspiracy, a media reticence as a form of institutionalized stonewalling (as if the media would really turn away a chance to score a scoop on a salacious story if there was any truth to it), and any evidence that disproves the Panic is a complicit act to encourage abuse of children. I don’t know exactly how men like DeCamp fall down the rabbit hole, and though they ultimately do more harm than good, I understand how it happens. So while I find DeCamp a little icky in other respects, his intent belief in the unbelievable does not surprise me.

Nor was it a surprise to find the unpleasant, sticky presence of Ted Gunderson, former FBI agent, in this book. The man believes in Satanic Panic to this day, but he also believes all kinds of bizarre things, as I will discuss in a moment.  He is either a loon or crazy like a fox and either way, he is dangerous. He is also lawsuit happy, suing people whom he thinks slander him, including people who have clear screws loose and should be pitied rather than sued. (Google Ted Gunderson and the name Barbara Hartwell and just marvel at the sadness of it all.) I can say without any hesitation that his investigative presence in the Johnny Gosch kidnapping (and sadly, as most believe, murder) has kept the vulnerable Noreen Gosch in a realm where she will believe anything as long as it means her son is alive. It has made her prey to con men and people who torment her. I dream of seeing Gunderson in a whacked-theory cage match with someone – I just can’t think of whom I would inflict Ted on. Art Bell has already won an out of court settlement against him for calling him a child molester so it will have to be someone else (and since it was an out of court settlement with a gag order, there are no firm facts and all the information out there comes from sources that I would rather not link to, lest I become overrun with avid true believers from the whole rainbow spectrum of conspiracy, and if you think I’m verbose…). Gunderson to this day believes the McMartin preschool molestation/Satanic ritual abuse case happened and has been a force behind sending innocent people to prison.  He is wicked, nasty and preys on the unstable and it’s not entirely logical for me to say that I automatically believe the opposite of anything he has to say, but that’s actually close to the truth.

Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens by Susan A. Clancy

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens

Author:
Susan A Clancy

Why I Consider This Book Odd: I heard a review of this book on some NPR morning program, possibly Bryant Park though I can no longer recall, and the burning need to read this book got ignited. Honestly! A Harvard Ph.D. psychology candidate angered people with her findings in memory recovery in sexual abuse and for her next project branched out to study people abducted by aliens. Gah! I love, love, love it when science gets involved in the odd. But yeah, the whole premise – researching people who have tales of abduction and then explaining how these beliefs came to be – was odd. The book proved more fascinating than odd, but it’s odd enough, believe me.

Type of work: Non-fiction, psychological study

Availability: Published in 2005 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College, it is still in print. You can order a copy here:

Comments: This book was a hoot! I am a sucker for anything wherein I get to read people’s profiles (especially psychological profiles of less than normal people) and this book did not disappoint. But ultimately, this is not a book to groove on the oddness, because Clancy’s explanations of how people really do come to believe they were kidnapped by aliens seem sound to a layperson like me and make for fascinating and not always odd reading. But never fear! The book is peppered with enough oddness to make it worth a read from those who can only stomach the oddest of the odd.

Clancy, whose studies into the repressed memories of sexual abuse survivors, led her into a situation where she was damned if she did and damned if she didn’t. If she revealed her findings that sexual abuse survivors were susceptible to idea implantation, she potentially diminished the real, horrific impact of abuse in the survivor community. In order to show the sound methodology of her study, she would end up harming people, as well as causing harm in communities where all too many people are not believed. It was a political and social minefield, one that eventually caused her to be condemned by those in her very field.

The trouble she experienced in sexual abuse recovered memories caused her to move on to a different study – how is it exactly people think they were snatched up by space aliens. Her research ultimately will not show a reader of psychology books anything new, as abductees are subject to the same influences that anyone who develops odd ideas experiences: Media, night terrors, a willingness to read Whitley Strieber, group delusion and reinforcement, a personal sense of isolation and a need to belong somewhere and an insistence that the commonality of the experiences proves all play a part in making people think they were abducted by aliens. Actually, Clancy utterly disproves that last argument – abductions must be true because all our experiences are the same – by showing that they are in fact, not the same, varying with vastly different details (in Chapter 4).

This is a book that could have descended into farce and while Clancy has no aversion to humor and writes in an at times sardonic manner, she respectfully shows the rich diversity of those with abduction stories. They cut across age, economic class and sex, never falling into stereotypes of drunk rednecks wondering what happened during that lost period after the case of beer disappeared and coming up with ET and a probe, or kooky new-agers who long for abduction like a lost lover. Even though elements of those stereotypes make up some who spoke of their experiences for this book, the abductees defy stereotype and Clancy respects the dignity of all her subjects, even the ones whose tales are violent and unsettling, even those who evidently stank up her car with their body odor.

Elements of this book were hilarious, often unintentionally so. I still giggle like a schoolgirl at the description one man gave of his abductor, a naked, gorgeous alien with cherry red public hair. Cherry. Red. Pubic. Hair. Goodness. Some of the stories have insane logic in them that makes sense sort of until you actually think about them. Like the woman who saw three lovely women in flowing dresses and decided that after seeing them she needed to maintain a macrobiotic diet. These women were omens. What flowing dresses on pretty women have to do with a macrobiotic diet is irrelevant. Just go with it. This is one of the milder examples of insane logic in the book, logic that makes sense in a way until you choke it down with rational thought. Some are less cute, like the man who believes his children half alien, the product between him and a non-human female, children he cannot see but knows are there. How his wife feels about step-kids in the ether is not known. It’s a short leap from silly logic to bad ideas that are quite malignant for relationships and sound functioning.

Overall, this is an interesting read, but for anyone who has gone through a dark patch in his or her life – failed relationships, death of loved ones, loss of job, loss of health – some of the experiences these abductees endure are similar to the ones that cause many of us to drink, take Xanax, or find the Lord. Belief in UFO abduction numbs the pain or it creates a sense of belonging to something inexplicable but mystical and bigger than you. It was very easy, once Clancy laid it all out, how every one of her subjects made it from point A to point B.

This was a quick, easy read and I recommend it. And do I believe in alien abduction? Like my belief in the paranormal – sort of, but not really. I’m still looking for rational reasons for the weirdnesses that have gone down in my own life. I love the odd, and live it at times, but my higher brain makes it hard for me to buy into ghosts and alien abduction. As always, your mileage may, and probably will, vary. Regardless, this was a fun book that wallowed in the odd and I quite enjoyed it.

The CIA’s Control of Candy Jones by Donald Bain

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: The CIA’s Control of Candy Jones

Author: Donald Bain

Why I Consider This Book Odd:
The title sort of gives it away, and conspiracy theory always falls into the realm of odd for me.

Type of Work: Utter fiction masquerading as non-fiction.

Availability:
This book cannot seem to stay in print. Initially published in the 1970s, this hot mess was reissued and has since been taken out of print again by that bastion of quality publishing, Barricade Books. I am not questioning Barricade’s publications choices – were it not for publishers like them, where would this site be, in certain respects. Rather, I am referring to the actual quality of the book itself. I suspect that given a ream of paper, a rusty razor and some Elmer’s glue, I could have created a less brittle, more even-paged, smoother-spined, perfect bound book than what I got in the mail. This book was new and looked like it had been mangled by a wolf in a sauna.

But really, it says something when Barricade Books still has the Turner Diaries on its back list, but drops this dog turd of a book like it’s inside a paper bag and set on fire. It says a lot. It says, “This book has less appeal than a crappily and awkwardly written book by a neo-Nazi about the impending race war.”

So given my overall snert at the quality of content as well as the quality of the book itself, I am not even linking to the vastly over-priced copies on Amazon. If, after reading this review, you still want to read this book, send me an e-mail at ireadoddbooks at gmail dot com. Talk to me real pretty and I’ll send you my copy. It’s called sharing the love. (Book has been claimed! YAY!)

Comments:
One of the best things about conspiracy theory is that it is generally interesting. It may be crazy. It may make you doubt your own sanity as you read it (why yes, there IS something lizard-like about the British Royal family). But I defy you to read anything by David Icke, Jim Keith or Tex Marrs and not be entertained.

Never has conspiracy theory been more boring than it is in the hands of Donald Bain. He seems a competent enough writer, so the perhaps the problem lies not with his skill as a teller of odd or improbable tales, but rather the material he was given to work with. If conspiracy theory is to be offered with not even the slightest amount of “proof” other than the hypnotically induced memories of someone claiming CIA-connections, then it needs to have an element of the outrageous in it. Black helicopters. Lizard people. A vast international conspiracy of bankers and politicians who have sex orgies in between attempts to take over the world. Something. Anything more than a weird man who hypnotizes his equally weird wife and TA-DA! She was controlled by the CIA because, you know, she says she was.

Seriously. Aside from the fact that she told her lawyer some weird stuff, a picture of Candy Jones in a black wig (a former model in a wig – the hell you say!), and a handful of people who claim Jones acted weird in candlelight and around oriental music, there is no other proof that Jones was ever involved in the CIA. Her assertions that she carried messages all over the world for the CIA are all the reader has to go on in order to have even the tiniest sliver of belief that makes conspiracies so tantalizing. After reading this book, one gets the impression that Candy Jones, far from being a victim of the MK-ULTRA CIA program, was really a mentally fragile woman who either manipulated or was manipulated by her husband, the radio host “Long John” Nebel, who was either a whackaloon in his own right, or a complete dick. Since it feels sort of weird to speak ill of the dead, let’s go with the former.

Here’s the story in brief (or as brief as I can manage): Candy Jones (real name Jessica Arline), was born into an affluent family and had elaborate memories of really bad childhood abuse that left her subject to developing a split personality (I have no desire to debate whether or not MPD or DID exists). She became a model, did USO tours overseas in the Pacific front in WWII, developed a tropical disease, and was treated by a doctor who later recruited her to work for the CIA.

She was susceptible to the offer because a terrible first marriage left her deeply in debt with no way to pay for her aging mother’s medical bills and her sons’ private educations. Since she was traveling anyway for work, excessive travel would not raise an eyebrow. So she became a CIA mule, all payments were made directly to her debtors (thus eliminating a fabulous element of proof), and she was subjected to “vitamin” shots that clearly by her own descriptions were not vitamins.  Moreover, she was frequently hypnotized so her other personality, Arlene, could handle stuff when things got too much for Candy. According to her memories, Candy was starved, beaten, sexually abused and programmed to commit suicide all by CIA operatives.

All of this came to light because she exhibited a weird element to her personality after she married John Nebel, and had issues sleeping. Nebel, who was evidently Art Bell before there was an Art Bell, naturally took it upon himself to hypnotize his wife so she could sleep and all of this came to light. Nebel, who had an interest in the bizarre, off-beat and paranormal, evidently never once thought it odd that he, a psychiatric layman, would hypnotize his wife, and given his love of the conspiratorial, he never once questioned her stories.

But the stories are not that interesting. Never does the reader know what messages Candy delivered. The reader never sees Candy in action at all. We simply know of what she supposedly did through interminable hypnosis session after hypnosis session. No action, no sense of real belief in her recollections, so overall, this book was tiresome.

But even a boring book can be disturbing.  I was set on edge during the scenes where Nebel goaded his wife into giving him the responses he wanted. It was unnerving, and as someone who loathes descriptions of torture, these sections came dangerously close. Nebel, in the face of all compassion and reason, assumes the role of the men whom his wife thinks tortured her, drawing out information. The section where he forces Candy to reveal a sexual torture scene, forcing her to relive mentally what she thought happened, was a torture scene in its own right. That anyone then or now thinks this appropriate, or done in a spirit of mental health or greater justice, is insane.

After reading this book, I was torn as to what it was I had really read. Had Jones and Nebel concocted the story as a book idea – both were writers before they married. Had Jones hoodwinked Nebel? Had Nebel manipulated a mentally ill woman into creating a conspiracy fantasy, something his life work makes it clear he would have found fascinating and enjoyable?

Ultimately, I don’t think either Jones or Nebel had ill-will or created anything from whole cloth. I think a fragile woman prone to nervous fantasies married a man who had little sense and a desire to uncover uncommon truths.  Together they created this really bad attempt to tie Candy to the MK-ULTRA project, not out of a desire to deceive, but rather it sprung from their respective weaknesses.

Regardless, it was a horrible book. YMMV, but far better, more intriguing, and frankly, believable conspiracy theory exists. Give this one a miss.