How psychics tricked scientists on three separate occasions. Uri Geller, Steve Shaw & Michael Edwards, and Ronny Marcus managed to dupe scientists at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), The McDonnell Laboratory at Washington University, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory respectively. Here’s how, as well as how skeptics James Randi (magician), Dr. Ray Hyman (psychologist), & Martin Gardner (science communicator) responded to the psychic trickery.
Here’s what to say to anti-vaxxers!
Via The Local France
One in ten French people believe the Earth may be flat and 16 percent think the US faked its moon landings, according to a new survey, which tested some of the most famous ones on a group of 1,200 people. Here’s what’s else they believe.
The poll by the Ifop group on behalf of the Fondation Jean Jaures think-tank and the Conspiracy Watch organisation found that large sections of French society believed in theories with no grounding in established fact.
One of the best-known conspiracy theories — that the CIA was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 — was believed by 54 percent of respondents, while 16 percent thought America had faked its moon landings.
A cause for concern to France’s current centrist government, the most widely-held theory was that the health ministry was conspiring with pharmaceutical companies to conceal the danger of vaccines.
A total of 55 percent of respondents agreed with this — at a time when the government has raised the number of obligatory vaccines to 11 from three for all newborns to combat a resurgence in some illnesses.
“I hope that… our country will return to the rationality that has always been its marker,” Health Minister Agnes Buzyn pleaded last Friday, adding that France was “a global exception” when it came to opposition to vaccines.
An interesting conspiracy theory that has grown in popularity over the last decade is the belief that the long-lasting white clouds left in the sky by aircraft are actually chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed on the population for nefarious reasons. The people who believe in this conspiracy theory call these lines in the sky ‘chemtrails’ and feel so strongly against them that back in May of this year, they organised protests around the world. In an attempt to better understand this conspiracy and the people who believe in it, I attended one of the protests in London.
As I was working my way through the crowd I saw a young gentleman holding a cardboard sign saying “stop geoengineering” made out of print-outs of contrails pictures. Within seconds of talking to him, I was reminded of my nerdy teenage self and, for some time, was seriously considering not publishing the interview but out of all the people I met there that day what he had to say was the most interesting. In the very short time I talked to him there was a whole load of crazy that I am going to address later, but for now, I am going to concentrate on the parts centered around depopulation and Space Preservation Act that some says proves chemtrails existence.
More than a decade after the terrorist attacks that shook the nation, questions still surround what happened during 9/11.
From the collapse of the twin towers, to whether the White House had inside knowledge, AllTime 10s brings you, the 10 most shocking conspiracies about 9/11.
The Internet is polluted with craziness, and there is no better example than YouTube. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen when you give everyone on the planet the power to show everyone else on the planet their innermost thoughts, desires, and insane ramblings, you need only look at YouTube.
One of the biggest offenders of incoherent ramblings is the subject of spaceflight. Simply search ‘space shuttle’ on YouTube, and you’ll find accusations of the crew of Columbia being abducted by aliens. Crazy, incoherent, and somewhat insulting. Accusations of a moon landing conspiracy are unavoidable in the ‘related videos’ section and are similarly filled with videos from people with either a tenuous grasp of reality or too much time on their hands.
A broken clock is right twice a day, a broken calendar is right every twenty-eight years or so, and every once in a while, simply from the volume of videos on the subject, one conspiracy theorist will present a new and novel idea. Here we present perhaps the only moon landing conspiracy theory that makes sense, is consistent with physical laws, and that may actually be true.
Comparing other government conspiracies
One of the best ways to figure out what it would take to pull off a project is to compare it to earlier, similar projects. If you’re building a 100-storey skyscraper and need a good idea of how long construction will take, just look at how long it took to build the last 100-storey skyscraper. If you want to build a dam and wonder how much it will cost, just look at earlier, similar dams that used the same construction methods and materials.
The Apollo moon landing conspiracy contends that 400,000 government workers and contractors would need to keep quiet, and no inquisitive journalists would be out in the trenches, digging for the truth. This government conspiracy would ostensibly be headed by none other than Richard Nixon, and fortunately we have a pretty good analog to compare a moon landing conspiracy to other Nixon-era conspiracies. Watergate-gate, with far fewer people involved, was found out. It strains credibility that a conspiracy many orders of magnitude larger would not be uncovered.
Additionally, there are many other nefarious activities sponsored by the US government that have been made public. The MK Ultra experiments dosed hundreds of people including Ted Kaczynski and Sirhan Sirhan with LSD. Not all of the records were destroyed, though, and the entire experiment was disclosed in 1977 with a FOIA request. The US Public Health Service infected people with syphilis, and the CIA is responsible for overthrowing dozens of governments around the world. All of these conspiracies were eventually found out. The very idea that researchers, academics, and journalists are unable to pierce the veil of a moon landing conspiracy over forty years strains credibility.
There is one government project on the scale of the Apollo moon landing that was, for a time, secret: the Manhattan Project. With perhaps 300,000 people involved in the creation of the first atomic bombs, it is the only secret government project with the same scale as NASA in the 1960s. Here, history tells us that secrets that big don’t stay secret for long, with the Soviet Union receiving plans for atomic weapons before the end of the war.
In comparing the scale of an Apollo moon landing conspiracy to other, real conspiracies committed by the US government, the argument completely falls apart. The Tuskegee syphilis experiments involved perhaps a few hundred people. The MK Ultra experiments perhaps a few thousand. Watergate-gate involved less than one hundred. An Apollo moon landing conspiracy would involve nearly a half million over the course of ten years, yet moon landing conspiracists say the largest conspiracy of all time would be the one that succeeded. It doesn’t strain credibility – it completely destroys it.
Some say alien spacecraft are tested at Nevada’s legendary Area 51 site; what does history have to say?
Today we’re going to soar above the alkaline flats of the Nevada desert at speeds in excess of Mach 3, banking and weaving among the peaks, and come in for a landing at runway 32R at airport designation KXTA. We’re inside the restricted airspace of the Nevada Test and Training Range, operated from nearby Nellis Air Force Base. Commonly called Area 51 by the general public, this well-developed base on the shore of dry Groom Lake is one of the most famous mystery sites in the world, shrouded in rumor and wild claims of aliens and conspiracies.
In 2001, two friends and I took a Cessna Skyhawk from Las Vegas to Tonopah, closely skirting the border of the restricted airspace surrounding Nellis AFB. This happened to be just prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, at which time the restricted airspace was greatly expanded, and the route that we took then is no longer possible today. But at the time, flying past the radar facility atop Bald Mountain, we were able to legally look right down into Groom Lake, and took plenty of photographs and video. We were contacted by the air traffic control tower at Groom Lake, which was plainly visible from our position, and he asked us what our destination was. We told him Tonopah, and he asked if we’d like him to give us a direct vector to Tonopah. This was his way of saying “Maybe you’d like to veer away and go straight to Tonopah rather than hugging our border.” But as we weren’t doing anything wrong, we declined his offer and finished out our original flight plan. We saw a number of other landing strips scattered about inside Nellis, but none that were as well developed as Groom Lake.
Why were we able to do this, at a base that everyone believes is so top-secret? Everyone says the government denies its existence or that it doesn’t appear on maps. There is indeed one very big secret at Area 51. In the words of Joerg Arnu, founder of the Dreamland Resort web site: “The biggest secret about Area 51 is that it was never secret.”
In late 1950, the United States Atomic Energy Commission established the National Proving Grounds for the testing of nuclear devices, inside the Las Vegas Gunnery and Bombing Range. This huge area was subdivided into parcels called simply Area 1, Area 2, and so on; and only those Areas from 1 to 30 became a final part of the project. Area 51 was merely a leftover piece of land among many others.
The Central Intelligence Agency’s Project AQUATONE had resulted in the design of what would become the U-2 spy plane, but for security reasons, they wanted someplace more private than Edwards Air Force Base to develop it. In 1955, a team led by Lockheed’s chief designer, the legendary Kelly Johnson, flew around Nevada looking for an alternate site. They found one inside Area 51: the dry Groom Lake, which they described as “A perfect natural landing field… as smooth as a billiard table without anything being done to it.”
Security and confidentiality have been constant throughout Groom Lake’s history. Nobody outside the base has ever had access to whatever work was being done inside, and for a long time, everything that had ever happened there was classified. So conditions were ripe in 1989 when a guy named Bob Lazar told a Las Vegas television reporter that he’d been working there for the past year, reverse engineering alien spacecraft to learn how they worked. For years, Lazar enjoyed a good run of television guest appearances and other publicity.
A lot of people in the UFO community really wanted to believe Lazar’s story, as it so perfectly confirmed their conviction that aliens visit the Earth and that the government covers it up. But everyone who seriously fact-checked Lazar’s claims . . .
Belief is only useful where facts do not exist. Where facts exist, they are all that matter when attempting to assess a situation. Anyone who latches onto a story that happens to fit a smaller set of facts while ignoring the possible implications of other facts is limiting their reasoning to comfortable stories rather than opening their mind to the nuance of reality. Cultivating conspiracy theories is worse than beta, it’s worse than white knighting—it is one step away from being a complete tool.
Let me restate myself for emphasis, you’re a moron if you decide to ignore facts that are inconvenient to your preferred narrative so that you can maintain a comfortable or ego-invested lie. This is the foundation of red pill truth. Don’t give up your reasoning and attention to detail when the first beta masquerading as a man tries to claim that something is a hoax or false-flag event. This isn’t much different than listening to your favorite female oneitis target tell you how to be attractive for her when you’re 18 years old. Sure, it feels good when a woman tells you how to be attractive to women, and her story feels like it fits the facts, but anyone who has digested the red pill knows that situation is like drinking poison.
Just because you believe the world is ending, doesn’t mean that there’s a US-government-generated earthquake targeted at you specifically. The conspiracy theorist mindset is wholly narcissistic, unable to accept that entirely bad situations can occur purely by random chance or (as is more often the case) by absolute human incompetence. This way of thinking is actually attractive to the remnants of the human brain that are primal, the old, lizard brain that tells us to go find a woman to have sex with. Worse yet, it really strokes our primitive egos when we feel like we know something that other people do not. These lines of thinking are attractive because they are extremely useful for keeping us safe in situations that could potentially go out of control quickly. Yet, this form of thought is an unmitigated disaster when all that is required is a little reading, thinking, and acceptance of all facts available for a rational explanation to present itself.
The human mind wants to believe something
If you’re walking alone down a dark alley in a seedy part of a large modern city in the middle of the night, would you consider getting mugged to be a part of a grand conspiracy against you? Probably not, but you would be hard-pressed to explain exactly what circumstances led to your unfortunate encounter. In fact, you would have no facts on your mugging save the visual identity of your attacker at best. In this situation your mind would be free to come up with all kinds of stories that fit your limited set of facts. Yet you never see humans attribute muggings to the NSA, or the CIA, or any other clandestine organization of the world’s governments. Why is this? Because our minds (for at least some of us) can accept the fact that we placed ourselves into a vulnerable situation and someone else took advantage of us. Our shared experience or human consciousness lets us understand that large cities have lots of people who want to do unsavory things to other people if they feel they can get away with it.
by David Lambert via Scholars and Rogues
Contrails are the wispy white clouds of frozen water vapor that streak across the sky in the wake of jet engines. But according to 17 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds—my generation—contrails are actually “chemtrails,” poisonous chemicals sprayed by the government for sinister reasons. As the world becomes an increasingly scary and complex place with no simple answers, the temptation to create narratives explaining all of its evil will grow. And here lies the heart of the modern conspiracy theory. Yet when fantasy overtakes reality, progress suffers.
Whenever anything bad happens in the world today, from September 11th to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, there is a growing gaggle quick to cry, “wake up sheeple!” Tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing and September 11th are of course “false flag” operations by a sinister cabal—the CIA, New World Order, Neocons, Illuminati, Jews, and Rothchilds are the usual suspects—but so are natural disasters. Twisters in the Midwest: Weather weapons being tested by the Pentagon. The Indian Ocean Tsunami: Caused by a nuclear weapon detonated in a deep ocean trench. Even the Earthquake in Haiti was the result of malicious meddling. As one blogger alerts us, “If you just assume it was a natural disaster, you are probably not current with what technology is capable of.” Omitted were any credentials explaining how the writer is more knowledgeable on technology than the rest of us.
But who cares? Isn’t questioning big government and corporate dominance over our lives a good thing? Sure it is. But losing the ability to distinguish between the reality and paranoia won’t do us any good.
Let’s look at three hot topics on conspiracy websites: vaccines, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and fluoride—or as one website put it, the three biggest human rights tragedies of our time.
Far from a tragedy, vaccines have saved millions of lives. We are currently living in what UNICEF calls the Child Survival Revolution. Children no longer perish from dreadful, agonizing diseases as they have throughout most of history. Vaccinations are a major reason why. But good news is usually no news, which is why headlines such as “Plane Lands Safely” or “Swimmer Not Attacked by Shark” don’t exist, yet their opposites certainly do. As a result, society tends to underappreciate progress. Perhaps this explains why the loud voices behind the anti-vaccine movement . . .
By Bob Dyer via Akron Beacon Journal
Awhile back, the managing editor of my favorite newspaper received a whacky, 770-word tirade from a reader. He immediately passed it along to me. Apparently, I am the first person he thinks of when he thinks about wackos.
Of those 770 words, 176 are capitalized. The author REALLY, REALLY wanted to make a point.
His point: The Akron Beacon Journal is part of a nationwide conspiracy to poison the populace via a “MASSIVE CHEMICAL SPRAYING PROJECT” that is designed to change the weather and “drastically shrink the population,” along with some other, fuzzier motives that I haven’t quite sorted out.
“I find it very odd that the Beacon is not all over this,” the email continued. “I would be willing to bet that you have been personally contacted by government agencies and instructed NOT to run any stories on this.”
Yep. The NSA, the CIA and the ABJ — one big, happy family. Has this guy ever read our editorial pages?
Our outraged reader (who didn’t respond to an email I sent last week) had gathered all the proof he needed simply by looking skyward and seeing “dozens and dozens of large jets spraying massive amounts of chemicals into the air over Akron and Portage Lakes. …
“When the sky is clear you can see 20 to 30 chemical sprayers making crisscross patters in the sky. DO NOT TELL ME THESE ARE COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS. THEY ARE 100 PERCENT NOT JUST REGULAR PLANES.”
He closed with this:
“REMEMBER: WHEN YOU GET READY TO DELETE THIS EMAIL, YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AND ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS ARE STANDING UNDER THE TOXIC BLANKET JUST LIKE I AM. SO THERE SHOULD BE NO DENYING THIS ISSUE ANY LONGER. GET THIS INTO THE PAPER ASAP. IT’S YOUR JOB. DO YOUR JOB.”
That subtle story suggestion came to mind the other day when I got a call from another local resident who sounded considerably more rational but who has bought into the same basic argument.
Both of them believe, using the parlance of the fringe, in “chemtrails.”
Incredibly, their ranks appear to be growing.
Google “chemtrails” and you’ll get more than 2.7 million hits.
Google “contrails” and you’ll get a mere 410,000.
You can even Google “vapor trails,” add those 370,000 hits to the “contrails” total, and you still get fewer than one-third the number of hits you get with “chemtrails.”
Depending on who is pounding the keyboard, the conspiracy is designed to change the weather, control our minds, limit population growth, manage solar radiation or kill us off — and sometimes various combinations thereof.
When I got a chemtrail phone call from a 76-year-old Ravenna man, I could resist the siren song no longer. I arranged to meet him (in a public place) and see what he had to offer.
John Ward is a lifelong resident of Greater Akron, with the exception of serving four years as an electrician in the Air Force — yes, our air force.
A pleasant, soft-spoken man with bifocals and thick white hair combed back into a long ponytail, he presented me with 11 pages of material someone else had gathered from the Internet (he doesn’t have a computer), including a list of 81 chemicals he says are perpetually raining down upon us.
He also displayed a handwritten sheet filled with . . .
Sometimes, we want other people to do things, but those people don’t want to do those things. In many cases, people have tried to solve this problem with violence or other forms of direct coercion, but some craftier people have looked into the idea of mind control. Science has found little evidence that such techniques work, although conspiracy theorists would tell you that those scientists are in on the plot. Whether it is the Illuminati, the mysterious powers that be, or your nation’s government, there is someone out there with incredible, malevolent power working to control your every move, theorists claim, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
10 • Facebook Is A Mind Control Plot
To many people, Facebook is just an annoying—if somewhat necessary—social tool, but some are convinced that it is far, far more than that. They believe that sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Digg came to prominence a little too easily. As such, they must have had backing from powerful media moguls like Rupert Murdoch as well as faceless government benefactors. In turn, the media promotes these sites to encourage the masses to publicly post about their lives, making it easier to spy on them. This theory also claims that part of the point of social media is to brainwash you into silence, so you will slowly conform to what those lurking in the shadows would prefer you to be.
Some people even think that the Facebook plot goes beyond simple social engineering. The Weekly World News claims that they talked to some “anonymous men” from the CIA, who divulged details of an operation planned for 2012. These nameless sources claim that data gathered from Facebook was being used to create mind-controlling applications that would compel users to do the CIA’s bidding, leading to total enslavement of the world’s population.
9 • Brainwashing During The Korean War
During the Korean War, many US soldiers were captured and kept as prisoners of war by the North Koreans. The North Koreans were known for being incredibly cruel to their prisoners, either killing them or simply letting them die from neglect. After the Chinese took over the prison camps, they maintained an iron grip on their prisoners but halted the unnecessary killing. Instead, they attempted to undermine prisoners’ beliefs in democracy and capitalism, often holding sessions with prisoners for the purpose of indoctrination.
After the war, many people were concerned about defectors, and the specter of Chinese brainwashing was raised. However, researchers found that the number of defectors was greatly exaggerated. Very few people collaborated with the Chinese in any meaningful way, and most of those who did were already sympathetic to their cause. In fact, experts believe that these so-called “brainwashing” techniques were merely a strategy for keeping prisoners busy, preventing them from organizing. Once the Chinese got their hands on the prison camp, no one escaped.
Despite this explanation, the conspiracies theories that the Chinese were experimenting with turning prisoners against their own country for dark and sinister purposes have persisted to this day. It could be argued that this conspiracy was the inspiration for many future theories about supposedly compromised former soldiers and spies.
8 • Jonestown Was A CIA Experiment
You already know that the Jonestown cult ended with an incredibly tragic mass suicide. Shortly before the events (which were caught on tape) that created the expression “don’t drink the Kool-Aid,” a congressman named Leo Ryan had arrived to investigate the cult but was gunned down shortly after disembarking his plane. Official sources claim that the attack was perpetrated by cultists from Jim Jones’s group, who chose their own destruction under his enigmatic influence, but some theorists are convinced that something far more shocking occurred.
The theorists claim that there were signs that the body count was initially inaccurate, leading them to believe that some tried to run away. Others claim that many of the cultists were murdered by cyanide poisoning, citing injection marks on the bodies that couldn’t have been reached without help. Along with the likelihood that the CIA had infiltrated the group for the purpose of investigation, this evidence has led to some very strange theories, such as the claim that the entire Jonestown cult was a camp set up by the CIA to test mind-controlling techniques. The theorists claim that the congressman was actually gunned down by the CIA, after which the camp was quickly cleansed so that the truth of their gruesome experiments didn’t get out.
It might seem odd to believe that the CIA was present after the recording of the massacre came to light, but some theorists think the audio tape was heavily edited. One theorist claims that the lack of proof is itself evidence of a conspiracy, explaining that the rumors about the CIA’s involvement in Jonestown are so crazy and unbelievable that the CIA must have planted them so you wouldn’t know the actual truth about what they did.
7 • Fluoride In Water Turns You Into Lobotomized Zombie
If you’ve ever watched Dr. Strangelove, you’ve heard the conspiracy theory that fluoride in the water is designed to sap and pollute all of your precious bodily fluids. Many people insist that fluoride is an attempt to poison the water, but the origins of these myths are stranger then you might think. The conspiracy theorists claim that the plot began in Nazi Germany, where Hitler and his top cabinet were looking for a strategy to control minds on a massive scale. They decided that fluoride would be great because, according to the theorists, it erodes your mental function and free-will as it slowly builds up in your body. Over time, you become a pawn for the powers that be.
Of course, as fluoridation spread, conspiracy theories and myths spread along with it. This has culminated in many conspiracy theorists pushing two theories that seem totally incompatible with each other. For instance, one theorist explains his theory of subtle mind control, going on to explain that fluoride quickly poisons your body as well. It seems like zombies aren’t very useful if they’re dead.
Anyone publicly writing about issues of science and medicine from a pro-science perspective likely gets many e-mails similar to the ones I see every week. Here’s just one recent example:
Im sorry the medical community has become decadent and lazy as most that follow your stance could care less to study the real truth. I have also seen it much more deviant as many professionals know the risks and harm vaccination cause but continue to push it through there practices because of pure greed. Many are also scared of loosing there practices for not following the corrupt industry. Im sorry but the medical industry has become drug pushing decadent slobs that only care about there bottom line.
The e-mailer clearly has a particular narrative that he is following (in addition to the amusingly common poor grammar and spelling). He even writes at one point in our exchange, “the details really don’t matter at this point what matters is what the bigger picture…” He is certain of his big picture conspiracy narrative. The details are unimportant.
Being on the receiving end of an almost constant barrage of such medical conspiracy theories it might seem that such beliefs are extremely common. Of course, such e-mails are self-selective and therefore not representative of the general population. I was therefore interested to see a published survey polling the general population about such beliefs. The survey is published in JAMA Internal Medicine, authored by Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood.
Here are the six survey questions and the percentage who agree or disagree (the rest indicating that they do not know).
The Food and Drug Administration is deliberately preventing the public from getting natural cures for cancer and other diseases because of pressure from drug companies. (37% agree, 32% disagree)
Health officials know that cell phones cause cancer but are doing nothing to stop it because large corporations won’t let them. (20% agree, 40% disagree)
The CIA deliberately infected large numbers of African Americans with HIV under the guise of a hepatitis inoculation program. (12% agree, 51% disagree)
The global dissemination of genetically modified foods by Monsanto Inc is part of a secret program, called Agenda 21, launched by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations to shrink the world’s population. (12% agree, 42% disagree)
Doctors and the government still want to vaccinate children even though they know these vaccines cause autism and other psychological disorders. (20% agree, 44% disagree)
Public water fluoridation is really just a secret way for chemical companies to dump the dangerous byproducts of phosphate mines into the environment. (12% agree, 46% disagree)
The numbers are not surprising, in fact I would have guessed they were a bit higher, but again that perception is likely distorted by my e-mail inbox. They found that 49% of Americans agreed with at least one conspiracy, and 18% agreed with three or more. This is in line with the level of belief in non-medical conspiracies. They did not publish, but I would be interested, in the percentage of people who said they disagreed with all of the conspiracies. Many of the respondents indicated that they did not know if a particular conspiracy were true, likely because they had not heard of it before, but were unwilling to disagree on plausibility grounds alone.
Forget Kenya. Never mind the secret madrassas. The sinister, shocking truth about Barack Obama’s past lies not in east Africa, but in outer space. As a young man in the early 1980s, Obama was part of a secret CIA project to explore Mars. The future president teleported there, along with the future head of Darpa.
That’s the assertion, at least, of a pair of self-proclaimed time-traveling, universe-exploring government agents. Andrew D. Basiago and William Stillings insist that they once served as “chrononauts” at Darpa’s behest, traversing the boundaries of time and space. They swear: A youthful Barack Obama was one of them.
Perhaps this all sounds fantastical, absurd, and more than a little nuts. We couldn’t agree more. That’s one of the reasons we love conspiracy theories — the more awesomely insane, the better. Each week during 2012, when the Mayans tell us to expect the apocalypse, Danger Room will peel back a new layer of crazy to expose those oh-so-cleverly hidden machinations powering this doomed plane of existence. Welcome — back — to Tinfoil Tuesday.
According to Basiago and Stillings, Obama isn’t just lying about his identity. He’s lying about his military service record, too. While his political opponents in 2008 attacked him for never serving, in truth, he was concealing his participation in a hidden CIA intergalactic program hosted at a California community college in 1980.
Officially, the White House says Obama never went to Mars. “Only if you count watching Marvin the Martian,” Tommy Vietor, the spokesman for the National Security Council, tells Danger Room. But that’s exactly what a secret chrononaut wants you to believe.
There are a lot of accusations leveled against the Illuminati, and out of all of those accusations I’ve noticed many things and traits about the group.
Now out of all of the things and traits that I have noticed about the Illuminati I’ve narrowed it down to five distinct things.
So here are five things that I’ve noticed about the Illuminati:
5 • They are the most patient people in the world.
The Illuminati has to be composed of some of the most patient people in the world. I say this because according to people who “investigate” the Illuminati (i.e. people who spend most of their free time watching or creating Youtube videos about the Illuminati, and listening to Alex Jones) have been doing stuff for years in order to get ready to take over the world, as well as kill 80%-90% of the population, and enslave everyone else.
Now as to how long the Illuminati have been plotting to take over the Earth no one (and by “no one” I mean conspiracy theorists) is really sure because no one is really sure how old the Illuminati is. Most conspiracy theorists say they’re around two and a half centuries old, although others say they’re as old as civilization, or even older, while others say they’re only about a century or so old.
Regardless of how old the Illuminati is, the fact that they have been allegedly at this taking over the world thing for a very long time clearly shows that they are composed of the world’s most patient individuals… or the world’s worst procrastinators.
Now I would think that there would be atleast a few people in the Illuminati who wants to really push forward in taking over the world. I say this because apparently the Illuminati has a huge membership, so I would think that there would be atleast a few ambitious individuals amongst themselves.
Infact when thinking about that huge membership of their’s it almost seems like that…
4 • Everyone is a part of the Illuminati.
According to conspiracy theorists there are a huge amount people (probably in the tens of millions) who are members, or atleast works for, the Illuminati. This alleged list includes actors, musicians (actually any celebrity really), rich people, politicians, high ranking military officers, anyone in the CIA, or FBI, or NSA, whistleblowers, religious leaders, myself and fellow skeptics, and even other conspiracy theorists. Heck, even Alex Jones whom constantly “speaks out” against the Illuminate has himself been accused of being a member of the Illuminati.
Now taking all of this “information” (a.k.a. accusations) into account by my estimates I believe there are only eight people in the world are not apart of the Illuminati…
I admit I might be a little off on my math there, but still that’s an awful lot of people who are apart of this super secret organization (so secret that there is no real proof of it’s existence).
Of course when you also consider how many people who are apart of this alleged secret organization it shouldn’t also be surprising to know that…
3 • They control everything.
According to many conspiracy theorists the Illuminati controls everything from the media, to the military, to the manufacturing industries, the airline industry (because how else are they going to spray chemtrails), the entertainment industry, the UN, the European Union, the Free Masons, the US government, law enforcement, major religions, minor religious, cults, the Democrats, the Republicans, the banks, most other governments, the oil industry, the pharmaceutical industry… the list just keeps going on and on.
I’m not sure what is crazier: the fact that . . .
- What Is the Illuminati? (conservativeread.com)
- Does the Kardashian’s Christmas card hide a secret message from the Illuminati? (theviewfromfallingdowns.blogspot.com)
- Of “Chemtrails”, The “Illuminati”, Global Warming, and Trayvon Martin (indybay.org)
- Illuminati (bbwoyflexy.wordpress.com)
- Illuminati All Conspiracy No Theory (disclose.tv)
- The Full List of Illuminati Members in Kenya (msemakweli.com)
From the complicated to the absurd, there is no shortage of hypotheses concocted by conspiracy theorists about what happened on that fateful day in Dallas nearly fifty years ago. While the upcoming REELZ documentary JFK: The Smoking Gun presents a straightforward, plausible and logical solution to this long unsolved mystery, many of the ideas that theorists come up with seem quite unlikely. Ballistics expert Howard Donahue and veteran police detective Colin McLaren came to conclusions which are simple and don’t rely on unsubstantiated claims, and audiences will get a glimpse of the processes they used when JFK: The Smoking Gun premieres Sunday, November 3rd. As for all those off-the-wall conspiracy theories, we took a moment to examine some of the claims, all of which look just a little more unlikely when compared with the evidence presented in the upcoming documentary.
Conspiracy Theory 1: The Mafia Killed JFK
One of the most popular theories about the JFK assassination is that it was a mafia hit. There are many variations on this theme, and mostly they differ in terms of why the mob decided to get involved. For example, some say the reason JFK was the victim of a mafia hit is because the mob rigged the Illinois election to ensure that Kennedy won the state. When JFK refused to play ball with them once he was in office, the mob felt a need to retaliate. Or maybe the reason that the mob was furious was because JFK continued the economic sanctions and travel embargoes to Cuba. Seeing as Cuba was something of a sanctuary for organized crime bosses, they felt they had to do something about it. Then there’s the simple idea that the mob was simply reacting to the fact that Attorney General Robert Kennedy was cracking down on organized crime. As sensational as these theories are, the fact is that the mob does not typically kill highly visible and powerful politicians or law enforcers, so the idea that they would call a hit on the POTUS seems unlikely. But even if the mafia did kill Kennedy and had a gunman on the grassy knoll, does the ballistics evidence substantiate that theory? Howard Donahue studied the bullet trajectories, and came to the conclusion that there’s no way any of the shots fired came from the grassy knoll. Though it’s had many proponents over the past fifty years, this theory doesn’t really hold up.
Conspiracy Theory 2: The CIA and/or the Illuminati Killed Kennedy
The myriad of theories that suggest that the CIA was responsible for JFK’s death is decidedly one jumbled bunch of ideas. One theory claims that the CIA resented the way Kennedy was handling Cuba, and officials were particularly irked that he was undermining their attempts to kill Castro. As a result, the government agency decided to kill Kennedy. Others claim that a shadowy Illuminati-type member of the Federal Reserve Bank wanted Kennedy killed because of a law he passed which could have made the Treasury more powerful than the Federal Reserve. This powerful figure was able to make the CIA do his bidding, because obviously the shadowy, underworld types control everything. The CIA even has a very lengthy (and very dry) explanation of how the story got started and why it is false in their online library. Would sworn US government agents really kill the President of the United States due to political disagreements? It hardly seems likely.
Conspiracy Theory 3: JFK was killed due to his interest in aliens
One of the more creative conspiracy theories is that JFK was killed because he was too interested in UFOs. They story is that he wanted to share the US government’s information about aliens and UFOs with the USSR in order to avoid a scenario in which a visitor from another planet was confused with an attack from the US. According to this premise, it was deemed that the President was sticking his nose where it didn’t belong so, of course, the only way to deal with the issue was for the CIA or some other government agency to assassinate him. Obviously this theory isn’t too difficult to disprove. Just a moment or two of critical thinking reveals the giant holes in the hypothesis, but really we have to love the intertwining of two major conspiracies.
- 5 Things I’ve noticed about… Bizarre Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- 5 Things I’ve noticed about… 9/11 Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- If the Government is shut down, then who is paying the shills? (illuminutti.com)
- Who needs facts when you have conspiracy theorists? (illuminutti.com)
- 6 Conspiracy theories that make people paranoid (illuminutti.com)
- New Documentary Puts Forth Controversial Theory About JFK Assassination (theblaze.com)
- Ventura: Facts Surrounding JFK Assassination Still Hidden (trutv.com)
- Are conspiracy theorists really the sane ones? (mobile.wnd.com)
- Are conspiracy theorists really the sane ones? (wnd.com)
Gary Webb was a journalist who alleged that the CIA allowed Nicaraguan Contras to smuggle huge amounts of cocaine into LA as a way to fund wars in their home country. His claims were criticized or ignored, and eventually he committed suicide — or did he?
- Is the CIA Involved in Drug Trafficking? “I think George Bush is deep into it” – Ron Paul (dailypaul.com)
- CIA’s secret global business of narcotics smuggling and weapons trade (phantomreport.com)
- CIA’s secret global business of narcotics smuggling and weapons trade (blacklistednews.com)
- CIA’s Secret Drug trade goes on unchecked in Afghanistan (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)
- 33 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be True (12160.info)
Recently, the claim that the phrase “conspiracy theory” was popularized in the 1960s by the CIA to discredit those who dared to question the Warren Commission has been popping up in the conspiracy-o-sphere. From the original PsyOp, so the story goes, the application of the phrase spread to encompass all sorts of nefarious doings, and now people reflexively think that all conspiracy theorists are crazy. The first version that I heard, in fact, was the claim that the term was actually invented in the 1960s, and that grabbed my attention. Really? Never appeared before the 1960s?
An infuriating feature of conspiracy theory is its propensity to take the standard of evidence that skeptics value so highly and turn it on its head: extraordinary claims no longer require extraordinary evidence; rather an extraordinary lack of evidence is thought to validate the extraordinariness of the conspiracy. It is thinking just gone wrong. Worse still, disconfirming evidence becomes evidence in favor of the conspiracy. I strongly suspect that the “the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ was invented by the CIA” gambit is a fairly radical extension of this tendency, that the mere fact that so many people recognize that conspiracy theorizing is a futile and intellectually unproductive exercise is only more proof to the conspiracy theorists that they are really onto something.
As evidence of this deliberate manipulation of language, theorists offer up a 1967 document released in 1976 via a FOIA request, Dispatch 1035-960. In short, the CIA document outlines arguments that field operatives can use to counter conspiracy theorizing abroad and advises where those arguments might have the largest effect. The document was released to the New York Times, but conspiracy theorists’ seizure of this notion, that what they do has been deliberately stigmatized by nefarious outside agents rather than by the internal flaws of their arguments, ignores both linguistic and historical reality in order to flatter their delusions.
While the notion that the phrase “conspiracy theory” was weaponized has been around since at least 1997, it recently received a boost by the Lance deHaven-Smith’s 2013 Conspiracy Theory in America, published by the University of Texas Press. So, with this stamp of apparent academic legitimacy (I have my own opinion about that, and this is not the venue to elaborate), conspiracy theorists have begun citing this work as an authority.
Take for example the recent article by Kevin Barrett, “New studies: ‘Conspiracy theorists’ sane; government dupes crazy, hostile,” which was republished at Before It’s News as “CIA Invention of the Phrase, ‘Conspiracy Theory’ to Block Questions on JFK’s Assassination, is ‘One of the Most Successful Propaganda Initiatives of All Time.’” Barrett’s arguments were well and truly destroyed by the rogues on the July 27 Skeptics Guide to the Universe, so I will not rehash the staggering lapses in critical thinking they employ. But Barrett also leans very hard on deHaven-Smith’s work:
Both of these findings are amplified in the new book Conspiracy Theory in America by political scientist Lance deHaven-Smith, published earlier this year by the University of Texas Press. Professor deHaven-Smith explains why people don’t like being called “conspiracy theorists”: The term was invented and put into wide circulation by the CIA to smear and defame people questioning the JFK assassination! “The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time.” [emphasis added]
Well, we have a claim of fact about the origins of the term “conspiracy theorist.” This is certainly something we can check up on. I will not ascribe this claim to deHaven-Smith. I don’t recall him making the claim that it was invented by the CIA, only that it was deliberately deployed by the CIA.
A quick search of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) finds that the phrase had been used in May 1964:
New Statesman 1 May 694/2 Conspiracy theorists will be disappointed by the absence of a dogmatic introduction.
This is two years before Dispatch 1035-960 appeared. If you go to the magazine, you will find that this sentence appears in an unsigned editorial, “Separateness,” about the London Magazine’s recent transition from being an exclusively literary publication to a more interdisciplinary review of the arts.
So, no. The CIA did not invent the word “conspiracy theorist.” But this made me wonder how far back I could push the use of a term like “conspiracy theory.”
- What is a Sheeple? (illuminutti.com)
- 7 Reasons why Conspiracy Theorists get their videos and pages removed from Youtube (illuminutti.com)
- HAARPing mad – an assessment of the HAARP conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists. (illuminutti.com)
- Is it a Conspiracy Theory, or is it Satire? (illuminutti.com)
- The Anatomy of a Conspiracy Theorist (illuminutti.com)
How true is it that the CIA conducted unethical mind control experiments on unwitting human subjects?
Read transcript below or listen here
It’s one of the most ominous terms in the history of modern governments and intelligence, nearly on a par with the names of Josef Mengele and Pol Pot. For 20 years from 1953 to 1973, the American Central Intelligence Agency funded and conducted tests on human subjects, both with and without their knowledge, in an effort to control minds and personalities for the purpose of espionage. Most notorious for administering the psychedelic drug LSD to people without their knowledge or consent, MKULTRA has since become a cornerstone of conspiracy theorists flaunting it almost gleefully as proof of the government’s misdeeds against its own private citizens. And the scary part is that it’s completely true.
The short version of the MKULTRA story is that the CIA spent a long time trying to control minds. After performing all kinds of dastardly and unethical testing, they found they couldn’t reliably achieve their goals, and terminated the program. That’s it. It’s important to keep it in context, both what it was and what it wasn’t. It’s evidence that the government tried something that didn’t work. It’s also evidence that the government has been proven willing to bend the rules; and by “bending the rules” I mean breaking laws and violating both civil rights and ethics at every level. But with this said, MKULTRA does not constitute evidence that similar projects continue today. Maybe they do, but logically, MKULTRA is not that proof.
So let’s look at how this all came about and what exactly happened. The cold war started basically as soon as the smoke cleared from World War II, and the Western bloc and the Communist bloc immediately became suspicious of one another. In 1949, the highest ranking Catholic archbishop in Communist Hungary, Cardinal József Mindszenty, was marched into court where he had been charged with treason for trying to undermine the Communist government. Mindszenty, who was innocent, mechanically confessed in court to a long list of crimes including stealing Hungary’s crown jewels, planning to depose the government, start World War III, and then seize power himself. The CIA watched this, noted his strange behavior while making the confessions, and concluded that he must have been brainwashed. They saw American prisoners of war in North Korea make anti-Amerian statements on camera. Clearly, some response was needed to this apparent Communist ability. They contrived to develop mind control techniques.
One such project was called MKULTRA. MK meant the project was run by the CIA’s Technical Services Staff, and Ultra was a reference to the highest level of security. But although MKULTRA is the poster child, there were other similar projects. It had spawned from project ARTICHOKE, founded in 1951 to study hypnosis and morphine addiction. There was also MKSEARCH, MKOFTEN, project BLUEBIRD, a whole raft of related programs. The US military, separate from the CIA, also conducted its own research. Project CHATTER, part of the US Navy, ran from 1947 to 1953, when MKULTRA took over.
At the time, both psychology and psychopharmacology were in their infancies. We didn’t really know whether the CIA’s goals were achievable or not; whether it was or was not possible to exert a finely tuned influence on people’s minds. During the cold war’s golden era of espionage, this was a major national security question. The CIA had to know whether this was something they could do; because if it was, it was something the KGB could do right back at them. While nuclear physicists on both sides were building bigger and bigger hydrogen bombs, psychologists and chemists were working to fight the cold war on a much subtler front.
The CIA is not a scientific research organization, and so it needed to contract out the vast majority of this work. The CIA set up front groups, such as the Society for the Investigation for Human Ecology, to fund projects at universities and hospitals in such a way that nobody realized the CIA was involved. Some 86 such institutions are known to have received funding as part of MKULTRA. The vast majority of researchers were unaware that their programs were funded by the CIA, and accordingly, did their work as they normally would according to ethical standards of the day. Some researched forms of hypnosis, some did trials on a variety of drugs intended to work as truth serums, some did various psychiatric or psychological studies trying to learn what made people tick and how that tick might be manipulable. In fact, just about every bizarre experiment you might have read about probably was tried to some degree by some MKULTRA funded researcher. Granted the ethical standards of the 1950s and 1960s were not what they are today, but still there was very little intentional harm done by nearly all MKULTRA funded programs. Nevertheless, the exceptions were exceptional indeed.
Research done at McGill University by Dr. Donald Cameron took patients who came in with minor psychiatric complaints and subjected them to outrageous treatments. Some were given electroshock therapy at many times the normal voltage, some were given LSD, some were given other experimental or illegal drugs, all under the license granted by MKULTRA. Many reports state that some patients left with lifelong disabilities.
The Addiction Research Center at the Public Health Service Hospital in Lexington, KY was also secretly on the CIA’s payroll. Dr. Harris Isbell took patients who came in to seek treatment for drug addiction and gave them massive doses of LSD, heroin, methamphetamine, and psychedelic mushrooms. In one experiment he put seven patients on LSD for 77 days straight.
Nothing that came out of MKULTRA panned out as very useful from an espionage perspective; in short, the CIA was never able to achieve the type of mind control that it wanted, and so the program was eventually terminated (other related programs from other agencies continued for some time with similar results). Because of the secrecy and ethical violations, the CIA destroyed all the documents, with the exception of a few that have turned up here and there over the years from misplaced archives. What remains has all been declassified, and can now be freely downloaded.
- Skeptoid #373: The Secrets of MKULTRA (skeptoid.com)
- New DHS Headquarters was a CIA MKUltra Test Facility (sgtreport.com)
- 1960s Subliminal Video of National Anthem Hides MKULTRA Message to ‘Obey’ Government (dprogram.net)
By Nancy Bixler via The Blog Herald (2007)
Do you want to put forward a conspiracy theory of your own on your blog? Perhaps you suspect that the CIA and U.S. government, in an unholy union with Muammar al-Qaddafi, are, for nefarious reasons of their own, raising the taxes of middle class U.S. citizens to fund AIDS research in Libya. Or that the Catholic Church, environmentalists, the PLO, or [fill in the blank] are working underground to [fill in the blank] put hallucinogens into the local water supply, make burping in public a capitol offense, or suppress a cure for warts. No doubt they have their methods and motives.
It’s your job, as a buddying conspiracy theorist, to find some troubling elements of life that, so far (in your opinion) lack an explanation and point out the ways the hidden conspirators plan to achieve their aim. With tongue firmly in cheek, let’s look at how to create a conspiracy theory, and if all else fails, you can make your own conspiracy theory with a conspiracy theory online.
1. Define Your Conspiracy Subject Matter
First, choose something people find puzzling. It’s no good providing a theory for something that is already sufficiently clear; conspiracy theories develop where people are mystified, not where curiosity is already appeased. If you believe that aliens abducted Elvis for their own evil purposes, it’s probably because his death seemed impossibly sudden and, therefore, incredible.
People have a built-in need to feel that there is sense in what happens in the world, and we’ll make a story for why events happen even where there isn’t sufficient evidence to really know. The clearer the events in the story, the better.
If you can’t understand why, with all your hard work, your small farm isn’t making enough money to support your family, you’ll be looking for reasons. International trade agreements, tax structures favoring corporate farming, and local laws on land development, waterways, flood management, and wildlife preservation are complex, interlocked, hard to understand, and harder to change. A ravening band of insane environmentalists aching to convert all farmland to human-free wetlands, however, has the virtue of simplicity. (The perpetrators can also be caught and summarily executed, a real plus for any conspiracy theory.)
Second, make sure what you choose to explain is significant to enough readers. Money, especially for those caught in the middle-class crunch of supporting their families, is a powerful motivator. So is fear.
Thousands living along the U.S. Gulf Coast feared hurricanes, but now they have a new respect for nature and the disaster it can bring. Hurricane Katrina triggered fear locally and nationally with the message: Nowhere is safe and help may not be there when you need it. Is the government and citizens ready for a category 5 hurricane to hit the Eastern Seaboard? What about a head-on collision with New York?
Building a good conspiracy theory is improved by taking it international. Don’t just think local. Think global. What’s the international connection to your local problem? Where are the links and pattern?
What if a foreign country had invented a new secret weather machine and a failure in the preliminary tests created the dramatic 2005 hurricane season which culminated in Katrina? What if they set it against the U.S. on purpose? Maybe Japan is behind the powerful weather machine, seeking revenge for Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Or the Russians? Maybe the machine was created as part of the effort to fight against or speed up global warming, and the flooding in New Orleans was just a taste of what’s to come when the oceans rise? Are we ready? Bad weather isn’t a local issue. If you can find a global angle, you will reach a wider audience with your conspiracy theory.
And don’t forget love as a powerful interest-getter and possible motivation. If Marilyn Monroe was your idol, you’re going to care whether she committed suicide or was murdered by government agents to protect her affair with President Kennedy from coming to light.
2. Identify The Agents Responsible For The Conspiracy
It’s normal and entirely human to long for someone to be responsible for the bad things in the world. After all, the alternative world view – that horrible events fall on us haphazardly and randomly – is hardly easy to live with. It’s a complicated, confusing world, and the need for scapegoats is rapidly outstripping the supply.
Let’s face it, explaining a sequence of events without laying blame is not only profoundly unsatisfying to many people, it’s just not a conspiracy theory. Let’s consider the siphoning off of local city water supplies by large corporations who sell bottled water. This is only a conspiracy theory if you hand the corporations a goal and a reason.
If you pick as the goal the total control of the U.S. water supply, then you must supply . . .
- Not all Conspiracy Theorists are Conspiracy Theorists (illuminutti.com)
- How to tell a Conspiracy Theorist from a Conspiracy Believer (illuminutti.com)
- Why people believe in conspiracy theories (illuminutti.com)
- 10 Creepy Pop Culture Conspiracy Theories (listverse.com)
But they all agree: Something stinks to high heaven!
Every time there’s a shooting at an elementary school or a bombing at a marathon, people harboring an obsession with — or financial interest in — conspiracy theories will jump on inconsistencies to tear down the “official narrative” and replace it with their own, no matter how far-fetched. So perhaps it was only a matter of time before the conspiracists set their eternally skeptical eyes on another target. Meet the Edward Snowden truthers.
What’s surprising about the Snowden theories is that one might think he’d be a sympathetic figure to people deeply skeptical of government power. But instead of holding him up as hero (or even a traitor), some are intent on labeling him a co-conspirator.
Perhaps the most prominent Snowden truther is Naomi Wolf, whom Al Gore reportedly paid $15,000 a month to advise his presidential campaign. People were a little surprised Friday when the prominent feminist author and activist posted a lengthy essay on her Facebook page wondering if Snowden may actually be a plant from “the Police State.”
Wolf wrote that she has a “creeping concern” that Snowden “is not who he purports to be,” mostly because Wolf expects leakers to be disheveled, inarticulate and litigious (apparently based on her experience with Jullian Assange), and Snowden is none of these things. “To me this reads as someone who has learned his talking points,” she wrote. And his girlfriend “happens to pole-dance?” — very suspicious! “It is actually in the Police State’s interest to let everyone know that everything you write or say everywhere is being surveilled,” she wrote. Ergo: Snowden is likely a government stooge.
The missive was rightly mocked online, and predicated on a number of factual misunderstandings. Still, Wolf is hardly alone. On the fever swamps of the Internet’s conspiracy sites, plenty of posts dissect Snowden’s biography and find gaps that can only be filled by CIA dirty tricks, apparently.
Webster Tarpley, a Lyndon LaRouche ally who hosts an antiwar radio show that often dips into 9/11 trutherism, proposed this theory Friday: “The most likely hypothesis for Snowden is that he’s a triple agent.” Here’s how that would work: On the first level, Snowden works for the NSA (via Booz Allen), and on the second level, he’s a whistle-blower. As for the third level: “Then at bottom, where is his bread really buttered? CIA. At the bottom, he’s a CIA agent all along,” Tarpley said on his radio program. The CIA’s purpose with Snowden is both to weaken Obama and push the president to intervene in Syria, which, conveniently, the White House announced it would do Friday. See?
Here is a more likely scenario. Snowden never saw any of those thousands of documents on an NSA computer. Never happened. Instead, he was either used or volunteered as a CIA operative to carry the endless turf war between CIA and NSA a new step forward. […]
This was a covert op launched by the CIA against a chief rival, the NSA. NSA, the agency that’s far bigger than the CIA. NSA, the agency that’s been taking over intelligence gathering, that considers itself superior to everybody else in the intelligence field. The CIA, of course, couldn’t be seen as the NSA leaker. They needed a guy.
This is the more plausible scenario to Rappoport because he just doesn’t believe Snowden’s biography, as he wrote in more detail at Activist Post. For instance, how did he sign up for special forces training if he never completed high school? “These are red flags. They raise questions. Serious ones,” he wrote.
A widely shared blog post from Scott Creighton, meanwhile, calls Snowden a “manufactured hero” and expands the conspiracy to include . . .
- Here come the Edward Snowden truthers (salon.com)
- New Conspiracy Theorists: Snowden Truthers (newser.com)
- Jon Rappoport ~ NSA Leaker: Are There Serious Cracks In Ed Snowden’s Story? (shiftfrequency.com)
- Is Naomi Wolf working for the NSA? (counterpunch.org)
Over the past decades, the CIA has been accused of everything from selling guns to assassinating people. Yet that’s not the craziest part: Some people believe the CIA is actually replacing its enemies. Tune in and learn more in this episode.
The CIA offers an electronic search engine that lets you mine about 11 million agency documents that have been declassified over the years. It’s called CREST, short for CIA Records Search Tool. But this represents only a portion the CIA’s declassified materials, and if you want unfettered access to the search engine, you’ll have to physically visit the National Archives at College Park, Maryland.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, historians and researchers have urged the CIA to provide them with their own copy of the CREST electronic database, so that they can seek greater insight into U.S. history and even build up additional checks and balances against the government’s approach to official secrecy. But the agency won’t do it. “Basically, the CIA is saying that the database of declassified documents is itself classified,” explains Steve Aftergood, a senior research analyst with the Federation of American Scientists, who oversees the federation’s government secrecy project.
It’s an irony that represents a much larger problem in the world of declassified government documents. According to Aftergood — a researcher some have called the “the Yoda of Official Secrecy” — most government agencies haven’t even gone as far as the CIA in providing online access to declassified documents, and as it stands, there’s no good way of electronically searching declassified documents from across disparate agencies.
“The state of the declassified archives is really stuck in the middle of the 20th Century,” says Aftergood. He calls it a “fairly dismal picture,” but he also says there’s an enormous opportunity to improve the way we research declassified materials — and improve it very quickly — through the use of modern technology.
That’s the aim of a new project launched by a team of historians, mathematicians, and computer scientists at Columbia University in New York City. Led by Matthew Connelly — a Columbia professor trained in diplomatic history — the project is known as The Declassification Engine, and it seeks to provide a single online database for declassified documents from across the federal government, including the CIA, the State Department, and potentially any other agency.
The project is still in the early stages, but the team has already assembled a database of documents that stretches back to the 1940s, and it has begun building new tools for analyzing these materials. In aggregating all documents into a single database, the researchers hope to not only provide quicker access to declassified materials, but to glean far more information from these documents than we otherwise could.
- The Declassification Engine: Your One-Stop Shop for Government Secrets (wired.com)
- A Search Engine For Government Documents (personalliberty.com)
- Building a Declassification Engine (pascophronesis.wordpress.com)
- Declassified Documents Reveal Extent of CIA Influence on ZERO DARK THIRTY Script (collider.com)