"Totally coup, yo."

Posts Tagged with ‘conspiracy’


Kino: The Winged Beatle

May 23rd, 2012 by

These two guys don’t look alike at all!!1

Constellations never made any sense to me. The stars are just randomly plotted around the night sky and it always seemed arbitrary to me to say that certain stars make up one constellation while others are separate. And all the shapes they were mean to represent were never apparent to me, even when other people tried to point them out and connect the dots.

The Winged Beatle reminded me of how I can be astrologically challenged in that sense. It’s a documentary which promotes the conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney died in a car accident in 1966 and has now been replaced by a doppelganger. This is “proved” by a series of unrelated anomalies and “clues” mostly hidden in Beatles music and the album artwork.

The reason I say this is like astrology is that the film avoids making any definitive conclusion like the plague. Like the astrologers, the filmmakers behind this leave it to their audience to connect most of the dots. This must be satisfying to the believers since it allows for a sense of interactivity with the movie.

This is demonstrated early on when the film gets close to making some kind of claim about The Beatles trying to establish themselves at the helm of a new religion. At first I had trouble figuring out of the filmmakers were complaining about this or just “exposing” a fun new facet to this band they loved, probably because I apparently live in some kind of atheist bubble and sometimes have trouble telling what’s offensive to religious people.

After poking around a few reviews and the comment sections that followed, it looks like those who buy into this stuff aren’t very happy about it. These people are so backwards that they’re still into this idea that normal rock music is part of Satan’s evil plan. They haven’t even caught up with the ignorant hicks who think punk, metal, and hip hop are Satanic plots to get kids to cast spells on their parents.

The details aren’t quite clear, but the basic gist of what they say happened is this: Paul McCartney died in a car accident. Instead of cashing in on the tragedy the way pretty much every other band that lost a member too early would, the Beatles hushed it up. They replaced Paul with someone else. Probably Billy Shears. The band would publicly deny this any time it came up during interviews or other public appearances, but would also leave maddeningly incomplete “hints.” According to those behind TWB, The Beatles were basically trolling their fans.

I think most of the “evidence” presented in the film can be lumped into two categories, and I’m going to illustrate the categories by using two examples. First would be some supposed backwards messages in the music, especially a bit in Strawberry Fields Forever which is supposed to be John Lennon saying “I buried Paul.” The Official Story from the Beatles is that he was actually saying “cranberry sauce.” Of course when this excerpt is played in the movie, the audience is primed with a caption suggesting that Lennon was saying that he buried McCartney.

This, along with another instance where someone close to the band said that Paul “isn’t the same guy” – a seemingly obvious reference to a sudden change in McCartney’s character – I think falls under the category of deception on the part of those spreading the idea that Paul is dead. Either they’ve fooled themselves or they’re consciously fooling others. And they do it by cherry-picking and misrepresenting evidence so that it fits with their theory.

The other category of evidence presented in TWB involves when I think the Beatles were trolling their more gullible fans as part of a marketing gimmick. I don’t have evidence to support this but what this interpretation has over the alternative (i.e. that McCartney really is dead) is that it involves less scheming and intense secrecy.

So let’s say you’re in a rock band and some people mistakenly believe your bassist died. This adds intrigue to your group and intrigue means money. So you feed into that by, say, using some death imagery in some of your album artwork. Like the flowers arranged in the shape of a bass at the lower left-hand corner of the Sgt. Pepper album cover, which is supposed to represent a grave.

Lots of bands have done this kind of thing since the sixties and it’s gotten to the point where it can all be very blatant and over-the-top. One of my favorite bands growing up was called the Mephiskapheles, whose debut album was called God Bless Satan. Lots of punk and heavy metal bands embraced Satanic and death imagery back in the 80s. Fans appreciated it when their favorite bands directly confronted the religious right’s hysteria over the supposedly degrading culture in that way.

To be sure, I’m not saying I have some secret memo from the Beatles manager where he pitched these ideas to the band. But this is just a simpler explanation for the data points TWB brings up that aren’t intentionally deceptive.¬†So if you take out all the evidence TWB brings up that is deceitful and misrepresentative, and then you take out everything that would be better explained by simple opportunism on the band’s part, you’re left with, well, nothing at all.

But really what’s most frustrating about this stuff is in how so many questions are left unanswered. Why would the band give away this secret? What’s the point of that? The only thing close to an explanation is that Alesteir Crowley wrote a couple of sentences about how he liked backwards writing and backwards speech in one of his books once.

The Winged Beatle doesn’t deal with any of the obvious follow-up questions. It only focuses on pattern recognition, and we as a species are very¬†susceptible¬†to false positives when it comes to perceiving patterns where none exist. We’ve been doing it for a long time. Back when we lived outside and slept under the stars, we invented constellations. Now that we live indoors and fall asleep watching TV, we make nonsensical patterns with our pop culture.

*

Follow me on Twitter

 

3 Comments

God's PR Squad Lies Again! Alex Jones! Stoned Angels Ordering Pizza!

May 18th, 2012 by

STOP THE PRESSES: Alex Jones is being stupid again, you guys! He has exposed the secret atheist agenda, and can you guess what it is? You get one guess. If your guess was a mishmash of Jonesian buzzwords like “New World Order,” “conspiracy,” “Luciferian,” and “occult,” then you win!

Alex Jones does this “research,” OK? He doesn’t ever cite any sources because usually his research involves just making shit up. But according to his research, everyone funding atheist groups are secretly occultist Luciferians, like pretty much everyone else who doesn’t believe everything published on InfoWars.

See, these rich occultists try to turn everyone into other occultists, somehow in some invisible way. Probably with magic. Anyway, it usually doesn’t work, so they just try to “make everyone atheist.” Because that’s so much easier given how trust-worthy and well-accepted atheists are in American society.

As usual, this is all part of some plot to advance the cause of eugenics. There’s a pretty despicable trick he plays with that word. Most of us think of eugenics and associate it with pseudoscience, racism, and the¬†Holocaust. But that’s not what he’s really referring to. He really means abortion, and by abortion, I mean laws making abortion legal. But to Jones, legalizing abortion and Auschwitz are all the same thing because he has no morals and no sense of¬†proportion¬†at all.

Jones started out as an anti-abortion conservative radio guy. He quickly “discovered” the New World Order and found his niche there, but he’s held onto this weird fetish for the government forcing unwanted pregnancies throughout his career, for FREEDOM.

*

Angels rush in for the lunch special.

A pizza shop owner Bob Usner¬†found an angel on his surveillance video. Admittedly I’m pretty bad with aesthetics overall but it took me a few minutes of staring at this picture to see the “angel.” And I’m still not 100% sure I’m seeing the same one as the pizza shop owner.

But if we’re perceiving the same thing here, the angel is doing a what Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter 2 refer to as the Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku spinning kick¬†towards the left side of the frame. The right side of the vague blur is one of the angel’s wings and the left side of the blur would be the other. The slightly less blurred black space in between the two is supposed to be the head, which would be facing left, blocking the full view of the wing on the angel’s right side with its silhouette.

I found this story via r/skeptic and some of the commenters there seemed to think it was probably a pigeon. I guess I can see that in the same unconvincing way I can see the angel. But since there are around 400 million pigeons in the world (most of them live at the University at Buffalo’s North Campus or with Mike Tyson in Brooklyn) and there are exactly zero cases of actual angel appearances, it’s a lot more likely this is a pigeon.

To most of our audience that goes without saying. But look at how easily a true believer like Usner can warp the probability of supernatural events based on past experiences:

“When asked if there could another explanation for the image, maybe a spider web or a lens flare, Usner said the camera has never captured anything like this.”

So there’s no way it can be a spider web because his camera never captured ANYTHING LIKE THAT before. Does that mean that his camera regularly picks up pictures of spirits and ghosts and demons? Is that why he could identify this blur as his dead father in angel form? And is this some kind of special camera? Maybe it’s a demonic surveillance camera straight from the pit of hell! Let’s burn it!

*

Rick Perry, seen here, beating the heat

Remember last year when there was a drought in Texas and its Governor Rick Perry was all like, “Hey dudes! Maybe if we wave our hands around and mumble to ourselves, it’ll start raining!” It was a combination of The Secret and a rain dance.

So they prayed and prayed, but forgot to fill out the proper paperwork. So their Prophet Mohammed God set large portions of the state on fire.

But now in an Orwellian re-writing of history, Christian activist Rick Scarborough and science fiction alternative history author David Barton are claiming that prayer actually stopped the wildfires. It would be easier to make a case for the opposite, although that would still involve claiming that prayer is magical.

But because it eventually rained at some point in the future – who’da thunk it, right? – Scarborough calls it a “fresh illustration of how God honors prayer.” To which Barton responded:

“Yeah, that’s one of those many things that historians will looks back upon and say ‘look at the correlation.’”

See, this is how miracle stories can start. We’re seeing it happen right in front of our eyes. This is why you can’t take ancient historical accounts with lots of mythical elements seriously. The people who are interested in spreading this kind of nonsense will just flat out lie. And they’ll do it boldly and without any shame at all.

*

Follow me on Twitter

3 Comments

BEASTcast 30: Bob Blaskiewicz

April 30th, 2012 by

Bob Blaskiewicz is a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at Georgia Tech’s¬†School of Literature, Communication and Culture. He also writes for the Committee For Skeptical Inquiry and blogs at Skeptical Humanities. We talk about conspiracy theories and his recent article on the Denver International Airport. Music is by¬†Pigface¬†and is used with permission.¬†You can¬†subscribe to the BEASTcast here¬†or¬†rate and/or leave a review¬†in iTunes. (more…)

1 Comment

TWiC #9: David Icke's 5 Most Hilarious Fantasies

March 2nd, 2012 by

So I’ve almost got to the double digits of this column about crackpots and craziness without even having addressed David Icke. He’s probably best known for spreading the idea that European royalty and other powerful elites like George Bush and Boxcar Willie are secretly the descendants of reptilian shape-shifters from another planet who interbred with humans in ancient times to create special bloodlines… Bloodlines of evil! And they eat babies! And stuff. It’s an extension of the Ancient Aliens hypotheses you get from guys like Zecharia Sitchin and Giorgio A. Tsoukalos (who I hear is actually a really nice guy, for what it’s worth) with a little interplanetary erotica thrown in for fun.

(more…)

4 Comments

TWiC #8: Alex Jones is the King of All Crackpots

February 24th, 2012 by

I first heard about Alex Jones during one of my first breaks home from college, catching up with a friend from high school. He went to college in Meadville, PA, at the same school which after one semester drove Trent Reznor into the happening nightlife of Cleveland and probably fueled his angst-based career for the next 20 years.

(more…)

20 Comments

TWiC #7: Flat Earthers Are Probably Smarter Than You

February 17th, 2012 by

… But they’re still wrong.

“It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.” -Thomas Paine

Last weekend my Twitter timeline blew up when Kirk Cameron showed up at CPAC to lecture at the attendees about creationism and the worldwide mad deadly evolution conspiracy. But the mocking wasn’t coming from scientists or secular activists who work at keeping religion out of science classrooms. Those people tend to not show up at events like CPAC. No, it was coming pretty much exclusively from liberal political activist bloggers and journalists. And not only that, it was also exclusively coming from bloggers and journalists who, as far as I could tell, have never once written about biological evolution or the fallacies involved in creationist arguments. I speculated that most of them have never even opened a text on evolution before. (more…)

11 Comments

TWiC #6: Obama is a Secret Pharaoh Clone

February 9th, 2012 by

“OBAMA! And BIDEN! The Three Musketeers!”

So it looks like birtherism is about as dead as we could hope. Sure, the WorldNetDaily and Washington Times crowd will never be convinced Barack Obama is an American human, but the public consciousness has at least shifted enough around this issue that when someone admits to being a birther it’s pretty much the end of any serious conversation. So now the would-be birthers who still want to be taken seriously have to limit their race-baiting to the kind of dog-whistle buzz words and phrases that people like Newt Gingrich are so fond of. (more…)

1 Comment



5 Ways 9/11 Truthers Are Like Creationists

September 1st, 2011 by

On the Origin of Conspiracy Theories By Means of Natural Stupidity

Happy 9/11 anniversary everyone! This year is going to be extra special because we have ten fingers and we’ve set up our numerical system based on that arbitrary amount. The news media is going to capitalize on this hard: Fox News has a special on it about how George W. Bush killed Osama bin Laden on September 12 with only night-vision goggles and a sword. MSNBC has one about how we antagonized the Muslim world by locking up “suspected terrorists” indefinitely without charges and invading a few Middle Eastern countries. And the most outrageous of the tragedy opportunists are planning a march in Manhattan to mark the 10 year anniversary of everyone’s favorite act of mass murder. (more…)

2 Comments

  • Archives