Month: September 2017

In Which Flat Earthers Prove Too Stupid For Even Reddit

A semi-serious resurgence of flat eartherism is going on all around us, a veritable golden age of theories debunked in the Bronze Age. And it’s now spread to Reddit.

One user, whose submissions are otherwise full of r/conspiracy’s typical anti-Semitism and Pizzagate ravings, also spreads the Flat Earth Gospel to a mostly hostile audience.

The Earth somehow looks different in different photos taken across a period of forty years. This is of course a sign of a conspiracy, since camera technology’s famously hasn’t changed since 1975. The only other explanation is that these photos represent a wide array of photos, taken by different cameras, with different weather on earth, at different angles and distances, and with some being acknowledged composite images, but who would believe that?

His big sticking point seems to be the size of North America: his perpetual refrain in response to criticism is that “US too big!!!”. After all, sizes are absolutely constant from all angles and distances.

They also link to a website about the “NASA Occult conspiracy”:

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to read this site, on account of now being blind because my god that color scheme

The user’s other posts have delightful titles like “NASA gets pwned from a camera bought at Walmart with video showing FAKE PLANETS and fake stars”, “If the shortest distance between two points is a straight line then WHY is there NO FLIGHTS over South Atlantic Ocean?” (with every comment pointing out many, many non-stop flights from South Africa to Brazil or Australia), and “The “Northern Lights” are proof we live under a dome/firmament”.

Could I actually try to debunk these theories? Yes. Should I? Fuck no. Life’s too short to spend time arguing with people who sincerely believe the Earth is flat, and for once the denizens of r/conspiracy agree.

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Distant Encounters: Canada’s Most Mysterious UFO

Nessie, Area 51, Roswell: names like this define UFO and paranormal lore. This is not a series about them. In Distant Encounters, we tour the strangest, most isolated tales of encounters with the unknown.

August 18th, 1991. West Carleton, Ontario – a rural farming community. Diane Labenek hears the barks of distant dogs across the field. She rises, looks out the window, and one of my favorite UFO cases of all time begins.

Labenek sees fire and lights: red flames and smoke. A UFO flies towards the bright fire. As Labenek watches,  the UFO departs. Ten minutes later, a helicopter flies overhead. She tells no one but her family.

This isn’t the first strange event to happen in West Carleton: in 1989, Labenek and many others report an “intense, bright light” passing overhead towards a nearby swamp, pursued by helicopters. But neither event draws much attention: with Labenek keeping the story to herself, it’s just another UFO sighting, a lone report without any proof to back it up.

The following year, proof arrived.

Six months later, UFO researcher Bob Oechsler received a package from someone identified only as “Guardian”. The anonymous present included a VHS tape and many crudely forged documents and photos of aliens. In short, most of what Guardian sent was easily dismissable bullshit: but the VHS tape proved harder to dismiss.

The tape corroborates Labenek’s 1991 sighting almost exactly, down to the barking dogs in the background. Seemingly filmed from the other side of the field, you can see the flares in the field, and the shining lights of a large, distinct UFO. Oechsler, who didn’t know about Labenek’s sighting, couldn’t have known that this wasn’t Guardian’s first enigmatic message.

After the 1989 sighting, researcher Tom Theofanous of the Canadian UFO Research Network received a package from Guardian alleging a UFO crash near West Carleton. With nothing but photo-copied photos of fake aliens as “proof”, researchers who toured West Carleton discovered little else, bar reports of a strange lights from a local couple, a rancher – and Diane Labenek. They safely classified Guardian’s first message as a hoax.

In 1992, researchers weren’t so willing to dismiss Guardian. Oeschler and Graham Lightfoot visited West Carleton and, along the way, Labenek. Having no knowledge of her story, they were stunned to discover that it matched the video nearly exactly. Perhaps this would be a rarity – a UFO case with genuine proof?

Yet the investigation was far from smooth. According to MUFON Ontario, Oeschler’s inexperience showed:

[Oechsler] pointed to vegetation that had “been treated with microwave radiation”! How did he come to that conclusion without using any instruments?

“It’s very dry and brittle, so it’s obviously been irradiated” Oechsler said.

The ‘irradiated’ plants were Juniper bushes that always look that way after a Canadian winter – bleached, dried and flattened by heavy snow, probably in much the same way as in Maryland, Oechsler’s home-state.

Some residents of West Carleton, apparently unaware of the threat posed by the alien-irradiated juniper bushes in their midst, took note of an unusually high number of helicopters flying overhead – black, green, and maroon helicopters, with tinted windows for that paranoid-90s flair.

Seeking to “flush out Guardian” – a purely selfless motive I absolutely believe – Oeschler managed to wrangle a story about the case on Unsolved Mysteries. Before their investigation was even complete, it also managed to make an appearance on Sightings, winning the prestigious dubious-90s-paranormal-show double. The investigation also drew in Bruce Maccabee, the famed MUFON researcher who would later think a mouse light in a room was a UFO.

By 1993, researchers had concluded that the Guardian case was likely a hoax. With everything else in the package a proven forgery, why not the video? Claims that it was too large, and too silent to be faked weren’t terribly convincing. Guardian went from one of the most exciting UFO cases in history to an embarrassment UFOologists would rather leave behind them. In 1994, Oeschler, the researcher who drove the case from the beginning retired from UFOology.

Guardian is a strange, beautiful mess. The VHS-quality video is oddly mesmerizing, with its blurred lights in the darkness. The tale of its investigation, meanwhile, is a trainwreck. Most probably, the video itself was a hoax, a simple case of lights on a truck. But there’s something so magically X-Files-y about the idea of an enigmatic, anonymous source leaking proof of UFOs to intrepid researchers, of a person keeping a strange event to themselves for fear of ridicule only to receive proof their experience was valid. Guardian burnt bright and it burnt fast. Among the shadowy-conspiracy genre of UFO sighting, Guardian is maybe the most archetypal one there is.

As for Guardian, their identity was never found.

Biblioteca Pléyades, a sprawling library of the paranormal and strange, has a in-depth article about the Guardian case that you really should read.

A History of Nibiru, the Made-up Planet That Keeps Failing to Destroy the Earth

Nibiru, the secretive Planet X speculated to exist by some people who are not astronomers, will not pass through our solar system and destroy the Earth this Saturday, goddamnit.

David Meade, an author who boldly describes himself as a “Christian numerologist” despite that not now, or ever having been a job, predicts the world’s end in a potent mix of Bible-code-eschatology and New Age Planet X fears. And he issues his prophecy via the means best accepted by the people: incredibly stupid Youtube videos.

A woman will descend from heaven, looking like something out of a Pure Moods ad.

“…but because she saw The Shape of Water, she’ll kinda be into it.”

A great red dragon will appear, looking like a Langolier rendered on a Nintendo 64.

Snatched up by God in a way akin to the magical books in Myst, yet somehow with more antiquated graphics.

Ah yes, what more Judeo-Christian symbols are there than Astraea, Hermes, Ares and Aphrodite? We later learn that her child is Jupiter – that classic figure of Christianity, Zeus, God of Thunder.

What follows is an apocalypse depicted with all the verisimilitude of a basic cable drama starring a lesser Skarsgard.

My god, look at the sky…it’s a blurry aurora, at this time of year, localized entirely in your shitty Youtube video!

People disappear worldwide from stock footage of major cities, carried away in epilepsy-inducing balls of light. On this random street, hazy filters distract us from how few people are actually there as cars crash and helicopters fall in some hollow The Leftovers-ripoff. I guess the message is less “be Christian and stuff” and more “NEXT TIME YOU INVITE FINAL PAM TO BARBECUE”.

Pants fall from the sky and we close with a final warning:

…says the man literally making an overwrought Youtube video saying the exact day and hour he thinks the world will end. What a world, what a world. (more…)

Donald Trump-loving Redditor Places Their Faith in Martin Shkreli

Pictured: horror

Here’s a dispatch from r/The_Donald, a subreddit perhaps better known under its alternative name, “literal Hell”. A Redditor who loves Donald Trump is a potent combination of douchebaggery, and yet to form a proper Asshole Vortex you need something more potent yet.

Ah, there we go!

Martin Shkreli, most universally hated man in America, a smug little Rumpelstilskin-esque goblin whose sins include jacking up the price of medication by thousands and disrespecting the Wu-Tang Clan, has secrets. Secrets about Hillary Clinton, who he tweeted about. Of course, he tweeted that he’d pay $5,000 for a lock of her hair because who even knows. Who even fucking knows, Jesus Christ. Jesus. Jesus fucking Christ, everything. God damn. Fucking shit. Jesus Christ. What the fuck. God FUCKING damn everythinANYWAY back to discussing r/The_Donald, a subreddit devoted to the President, Donald TruJESUS CHRIST, GODFUCKINGARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!

 

Would be top kek if his over zealous jailing triggered 10k hill emails to drop

I think the theory here goes that Shkreli is hiding Hillary’s secrets, and if anything happened to him (like going to jail for his many and varied crimes), he’d release them. Which really raises the question: why do these people care about Hillary anymore? The candidate they supported won. He’s been President for almost a full year JESUS FUCKING CHRIST and they’re expecting…what, exactly? Proof Hillary tried to rig the election she lost? Secrets she’s hiding about the person she didn’t beat? What’s end game here for Trump supporters?

I think if everyone began trying to get all the crooked politicians DNA themselves or at least trollin the fuckers with it, the smokescreen will do crazy shit.

they would be freaked to lose a hair. fuckin top kek.

that would scare the shit outta tons of crooks. but normies dgaf. nice.

What does that mean. What does that even mean oh god I’m having a stroke goodbye friends

Distant Encounters: Joe Simonton’s Space Pancakes

Nessie, Area 51, Roswell: names like this define UFO and paranormal lore. This is not a series about them. In Distant Encounters, we tour the strangest, most isolated tales of encounters with the unknown.

Joe Simonton wanted nothing more than to eat a late breakfast one day in April 1961. Instead he found himself the focus of one of UFO history’s weirdest footnotes.

Hearing a strange sound at his farmhouse in Eagle River, Wi., the chicken farmer investigated and discovered an alien craft: discovered as “silvery”, with a shape akin to “two washbowls turned face to face”. It made noise like “knobby tires on wet pavement”. And as Simonton approached the craft from another world, a hatch began to open. And out stepped three…Italians.

To be specific, Simonton described them as five foot tall men with dark hair and skin; only a few sources include him summing them up as space Italians, or at least Italian-adjacent aliens, bearing a silver jug with two handles.

The evolution of what people imagine aliens to look like is a study in anthropomorphism. In the 1950s, the traditional depiction of aliens was as “Nordics”: literally, blonde-haired white people from space. The somewhat less human-looking Grey or Zeta Reticulan hails from the Betty and Barney Hill abduction (by way of a half-remembered episode of The Outer Limits) a few months after Simonton’s sighting – they’d become more common as the Hill case became popular in the mid-60s, and essentially codified as what aliens look like by Whitley Strieber’s Communion. In between we find so much that’s compellingly, bizarrely alien and strange. Greys are still incredibly, unbelievably human in shape, but at least they aren’t Italian dwarves bearing jugs.

Joe Simonton with a space pancake.

According to Simonton, the aliens motioned to him that they needed water. After dutifully filling their jug, Simonton returned – and was granted the gift that made his UFO encounter (in)famous.

On a flameless stove, one of the aliens cooked strange, disc-shaped food. A curious Simonton reached out for them, and was given four. He left the ship with this bounty in hand, and watched as the alien craft vanished as mysteriously as it appeared.

Simonton’s story was bizarre, but he had something no other UFO contactee had: physical proof, in the form of four space pancakes. Wait, three: Simonton ate one. It tasted like cardboard. Analysis of the space pancakes proved that they were made from typical Earthly ingredients, bar an unexplained lack of salt. Simonton faded back into obscurity soon after his encounter, saying that if he ever encountered aliens again, he’d keep quiet.

Simonton’s encounter with aliens is remarkable for how casual it seems. People make up stories about alien experiments, or of wise extraterrestrials handing down profound messages of peace, or warnings for the future. Joe Simonton, by contrast, spins a tale of aliens cooking breakfast. They don’t visit him to deliver a message, but to enlist his help refilling a jug, as they didn’t have enough water to flamelessly fry up their space pancakes. This story of Italians coming down from the stars to make pancakes is more strange – more human than almost anything in UFO lore.

Odds and Ends: Authenticated by Verrit Edition!

MEDIA FOR THE UH, WHO, EXACTLY?

Peter Daou, formerly of the Clinton campaign – and currently living through the 2016 election in a strange, ceaseless fugue – has founded a new media site for “the 65.8 million”. Called Verrit, it’s one of the more confounding political sites online, less a fact checking site than a fact site – a never-ending wall of contextless facts and quotes, each slapped with an authentication number.

Verrit’s existence is less interesting than the bizarre assumptions behind its existence. Verrit exists so that those poor souls still living out the 2016 election can win internet debates; because all you need to win a debate is to show someone a quote as succinct as it is utterly meaningless. Need proof? Why, plug in the authentication number to see that it’s right there on Verrit. Verrit comes from a vein of politics that prizes facts above all, that thinks solid facts are all a person needs to be swayed over to your side, just like on The West Wing. You may know this school of politics from it losing horrifically in the face of fact-free, emotional populism last election. Oh well, at least we can always blame the Russians instead of facing our problems.

LOUISE MENSCH NEWS

Louise Mensch, the British politician turned conspiracy monger and failed media mogul, fired her own lawyer via Tweet for having the audacity to suggest the United States may interfere in democracies abroad occasionally, at some point in its history.

IAN MILES CHEONG WATCH

Noted ant enthusiast Ian Miles Cheong, the saddest boy, is angry. Why is he angry? Because a gender non-conforming kid exists and it’s stopping us from going to space, like we promised in 1977. Like all Americans, I’ll always fondly remember Jimmy Carter’s inspiring promise to “one day, perhaps in 2017, send an American to space for the first ever time, just like in the new motion picture Stars War”. That there are people in space right now, as we speak, must elude Ian Miles Cheong, who’s busy fretting about society’s decline whilst yelling incoherently at literal children.

And if you’re a fan of childish screeching, Ian Miles Cheong has also spent the last several days tweeting angrily about how he didn’t like how a gaming journalist played a video game but fuck me if I’m ever gonna dive into Gamergate again.

ENTER THE NOTCH ZONE

Minecraft designer Notch blinks unsteadily as the California sun creeps through his mansion’s shuttered, dusty blinds. Getting to his feet, he stumbles, falling to the floor, the heavy thud echoing through the desolate halls, heard by no one. Taking one step after another, trepedatiously he walks through cavernous halls to his one source of joy: his candy room. Reaching out with his gnarled, dirt-caked hand, he unwraps a moldy Tootsie roll, struggling, tearing the paper and dropping the glorious nugget to the floor. He picks it up and eats it anyway.

Taking his phone out, he types out a few words of wisdom:

And returns to his solitary kingdom, his empire of dust and candy, content in the knowledge that he really triggered the Sajews with that one.

BIZARRE CONSPIRACY IMAGE OF THE DAY