Debunking Paranormal Videos (That Were Just Viral Ads)

Welcome back. I sure didn’t update much in 2018, except to celebrate the ongoing death of the InfoWars empire.

Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in Austin… near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read…

And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Alex Jones, buy my brain supplements;
Before Obama turns frogs gay!’
Nothing beside remains.

Solemnly presses F.

But we’re snared in an ongoing conspiracy hell, and so the Space Lizard Report must rise with…a post about viral ads people think are evidence of the paranormal.

“It’s a viral ad” is the most tired of suggestions tossed out whenever a paranormal event is recorded, no matter how unlikely (I have fond memories of people accusing Cartoon Network of planting the Montauk Monster corpse). But sometimes it’s true: something created as part of a guerilla ad campaign loses its context, loses its last-second website link or show tease, and is believed by many thousands, even millions of people as evidence of the supernatural. Here are some examples.

WTC UFO

Most popular upload: 449K views; millions across multiple uploads; appeared on Japanese TV show

Real Origin: Sci-Fi Channel ad campaign

Here’s one I covered before. A series of fake ads for the Sci-Fi Channel, Sci-Fi Happens seemed destined to be forgotten…until this one ad from 2000 gained new and horrible significance. Half-remembered viewings fed into the myth, even transforming into a sighting “the day before” the attacks instead of an ad from a full year earlier. It was easy to forget it was an ad; it was easy to assume it had been on Sightings or some other paranormal show, or even on the nascent paranormal internet.

Of course, now that we have the video there’s no excuse.

This Man

Spread as: Internet meme, myth, odd and unexplained cameos in the revived X-Files

Real origin: An ad agency doing…something?

This Man was a creepy myth about a man who appeared in the dreams of man all over the world. What was he? What was he doing? What was his sinister plan?

To be an…art project? Failed film pitch? Who…knows? Crafted by an ad agency. Sure.

“Alien Attacks Police Officer”

Spread As: 660K+ views across popular uploads

Real Origin: Viral ad for The 4400

Oh, The 4400. A good mid-00s sci-fi show on USA, The 4400 focused on 4,400 missing people who returned in a ball of light after years, even decades away. Soon, they discover that many of the 4,400 possess supernatural abilities; and all are back for a reason…

Sadly, The 4400 is a good display of what could be termed the Anti-Lost: that is, the opposite of Lost. The 4400 is that rare show that explained too much: by the end of the six-episode first season, we’ve been told the entire story behind the abductions. The 4400 never became a bad show, except during a stretch where it made a character’s baby grow up in seconds & become an all-powerful demi-god, which, what even, but it never reached the heights of a Lost or even early Heroes.

And so, by the time of The 4400‘s final season, only 8,000 people watched a video called “Promicin Freak Kills Cop”.

…and so it was easy-pickings for someone to strip off the The 4400 promos at the start and end, and turn it into a dubious paranormal video stalwart for years to come.

Source for debunking: IsaacKoi

John Titor, Time Traveler

Spread as: internet meme; urban legend

Real Origin: Ad for a book

Another one I’ve covered previously, the news that John Titor had long been solved – as an ad for a shitty book that no one read – was a tremendous disappointment. Now, let us move on.

English Sewer Alien

Spread as: 1 Million+ views over multiple uploads

Real Origin: April Fool’s Day prank by a utility company

Multiple videos uploaded by United Utilities show an unnerving creature hiding in England’s sewers; they’ve become a mainstay of creepy video compilations ever since.

Of course, they brush past a few facts: the video’s April 1st upload date, or that its creators openly said it was a prank meant to make people think about the real issue of flushing waste down the drain. Oh well.

Teleporting Girl In China

Spread as: 11 million views on most popular upload

Real Origin: ad for a MMO

Another mainstay of bullshit video compilations, here we see it uploaded with an ostentatious Guy Fawkes Mask intro.

The invaluable IsaacKoi also provides the source for this one: after apparently debating if angels exist for several pages, AboveTopSecret noticed a game company’s logo subtly inserted into the video. Then they discovered that the video was straight-up linked on the game’s website. Whoops.

 

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9/11 Trutherism is Dead

As we remember those lost on 9/11, let’s remember that the 9/11 truther movement is dead.

911As Google Trends shows, 9/11 trutherism peaked in 2006-2007 during the days of Loose Change.  It spikes every September, but even those spikes are a shadow of what they once were.

Speaking of Loose Change:

LooseChange

Loose Change peaked in 2007; the September spikes are even smaller. Thanks, Popular Mechanics!

A 2014 poll on conspiracy theories found that 57% of those responding believe that 9/11 was not a conspiracy; 24% believe the government knew about it in advance and didn’t stop it. Polls asking if the government was behind 9/11 give clearer results: a 2006 Scripps Howard poll discovered that 77% of people believe the Twin Towers were not brought down by explosives, and just 6% said it was “very likely”.

Despite this, Truther sites claim that a majority of people doubt the “official story”. This is because of a poll sponsored by…9/11 truthers. A 2006 poll is seized on as proof that 84% of people believe in a conspiracy, but the (rather confusing) question just asked you if you felt George W Bush was lying or hiding something. Thinking that George W Bush was lying about something does not a Truther make.

Some of the top links on r/911truth are years old, and they come from a small number of posters. When a guy shows up to a Bernie Sanders speech holding this:

SAM_2642
I ran into this guy in real life. Note how he originally wrote “Jet fuels can’t melt steal beams”…

Now everyone calls him out as the asshole he is. Once upon a time 9/11 truthers would demand the “truth” from politicians, or rush onto podiums to ask for an “investigation”. Now, 9/11 truth as a movement is largely dead. Thankfully.

Via r/topmindsofreddit user bigbowlowrong

SCI-FI HAPPENS: How a viral ad from the year 2000 continues to confound truthers

SCIFIIn 1992, the Sci-Fi Channel launched, giving the world Farscape, the good Battlestar Galactica and an unhealthy amount of Stargate. A fallow period for TV science fiction caused them to rebrand themselves as the SyFy Network, home of wrestling and light fantasy shows about small towns with secrets. A boom in science fiction and fantasy brought on by the likes of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead passed them by, and the network is just now starting to re-enter the genre arena.

But during the dotcom days of 1999-2000, the Sci-Fi Network embarked on a kind of viral advertising campaign. While social media did not exist, they aired a series of mysterious, paranormal ads to get people talking about their network – and drive them to their website, tapping into the UFO craze of the 90’s to get clicks.

Most of the campaign has vanished down the memory hole, but this ad from the campaign implores you to send them any unexplainable footage:

Other ads in the campaign showed people with strange magnetic powers, and oddly behaving bugs. These are sadly lost, or at least they haven’t been uploaded to Youtube. The gist of the campaign was that normal footage would be altered with some plausible-looking supernatural element; Sci-Fi happens.

But one ad from the Sci-Fi Happens campaign became famous. One ad from this cable network’s primitive viral campaign is still hotly debated to this day. And once you see it, you’ll know why: Continue reading

“9/11, 9/11, What Went Down With Building 7?”: The Hot New 9/11 Truther Single by Martin Noakes

Incoherent blog posts and rambling, 20-minute Youtube videos are the norm for conspiracy theorists. But when they get musical, magic happens.

Noted 9/11 Truther Martin Noakes (who appears to be legit) dropped this video in 2011 and it’s racked up 86,452 views and 368 downvotes. A viral hit!

A catchy ballad with Papyrus subtitles and state-of-the-art production values, “9/11 Building 7” is conspiracy-theorist pop’s greatest achievement since The Beach Boys’ “I Get Around (Dealey Plaza With My Secret Cabal of Cuban Assassins)”.

I enjoy the random names flashed up behind him. AGENDA 21, Anders Behring Breivik, a quote from Joseph Goebbels (Nazi). How it implores you to research the Georgia Guidestones and NIKOLA TESLA (!?). And how the end credits thank David Icke.

And there’s a whole genre of truther music, apparently.

Previous adventures into Musical Conspiratism: “My Ebola” and Dave J’s hater anthem.

Found via r/Conspiratard

The Week in Conspiracy Theorists

NOBODY DIED, NO ONE GOT HURT

I’ve missed a lot in the conspiracy theory world since mocking #GamerGate back in September. Here is a recap of everything you missed:

  • ISIS DON’T REAL
  • EBOLA: DOES REAL, BUT WHO MADE IT DO REAL???
  • Some assholes putting up a Building 7 collapse billboard in New York

So, ISIS. Is it real? Yes. It’s one thing to say “American policy in the region is responsible for the rise of ISIS” and another to say “AMERICA MADE ISIS”.

Sadly, author and political consultant Naomi Wolf is among those who have hitched a ride on the ISIS-Don’t-Real train, and in the process exposed something rather odd. Not only did the US create ISIS, but they staged those beheadings!

Ah yes, Nobody Died-ism, my old friend. The idea that the government will do something unspeakably horrific, but back off at some odd point: they’ll create ISIS, but they wouldn’t actually behead any journalists! It’s another paradox in conspiracy theorist’s beliefs, much like the classic, “the conspiracy will bring down the twin towers, but refuse to go ahead and kill one crazy person ranting on the internet”.

AND NOW, HITLER.

rconspiracy is a cesspool

R/Conspiracy celebrated Rosh Hashanah by making a six-hour long work of Hitler apologism their featured documentary. Thanks to this, their sidebar was – and for the first time ever, I can say this sincerely – literally Hitler. Happy 5775?

Note: I think I have two-thirds of r/conspiracy tagged as “antisemitic” by now.

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NEWTOWN

I just noticed that one of the links in that screencap is someone pointing out that the FBI’s crime statistics include zero deaths in Newtown, PROVING no one died at Sandy Hook. Yes! Of course! They’ll fake the murders, then…refuse to lie on the crime statistics? What? As always, conspiracy theorists believe two things:

  1. There’s a conspiracy of unparalleled evil that’ll stop at nothing, and controls everything.
  2. They leave obvious clues to their wrongdoing and do nothing to stop random people on the internet from unraveling their plan.

A simultaneous persecution complex and power fantasy. Incredible.

The claim’s been debunked by Snopes; since the state police handled Sandy Hook, the deaths are counted under state statistics.

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THE NEW ENEMY

ByohrpbIYAAShphOne of r/conspiracy’s top posts was this joke about how their favorite holiday was “the annual unveiling of the new enemy”. The comments are a bunch of people who haven’t read 1984 making cracks about how we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

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MUSICAL INTERLUDE

 

The great thing about being a political musician is that you don’t actually have to make a good song, since only people who agree with you will be listening and they’ll be too busy nodding in agreement to notice that you’re fucking terrible. And why write a song about one thing when you can write a song about all the things? Proposed alternate title for this song: “We Didn’t Start the Fire…Because THEY Started The Fire And Fire Can’t Melt Steel Anyway (ft. Skylar Grey)”.

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MEDIOCRE AND CANCELLED

polls_911_simpsons_5630_727607_answer_1_xlargeThe X-Files spinoff The Lone Gunmen is famous for exactly one thing: freaking 9/11 truthers out. See, the pilot features a plot to hijack a plane and fly it into the World Trade Center. I know this because I watched it, live, as it aired. This fact occasionally gets brought up on Reddit and freaks everyone the fuck out.

I’ve always wondered, though, what truthers are saying by pointing this out? There’s a massive conspiracy and they planted clues to it happening in popular media because…? Supposedly, to “prepare” people for 9/11. Because…?

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ACTUALLY CREEPY SHIT

Despite what some may say, gaming is not under assault by vicious feminist succubi out to take away your games. Gaming has nice allies, like the military it glorifies in endless militaristic first person shooters. Hell, there’s even a game made as a recruitment tool for the army.

Call of Duty director David Anthony believes there should be plainclothes soldiers in schools to prevent attacks. “The public won’t like it, they’ll think it’s a police state”, he says, “when we have a new product that has elements that we’re not sure how people will respond to, what do we do as a corporation? We market it, and we market it as much as we can–so that whether people like it or not, we do all the things we can to essentially brainwash people into liking it before it actually comes out”.

Holy shit. Some guy literally said there should be armed soldiers in classrooms and the public needs to be brainwashed into liking it, least they think they’re in a “police state”. So what are the TOP MINDS saying about this?

“My high school already has security, including an armed police officer. Having a soldier in our school wouldn’t be much different”

“Implying kids actually play CoD for the story. Pretty much everyone I know who buys the yearly CoD release plays the campaign mode once then only plays multiplayer after that.”

Keep fucking that chicken, r/conspiracy!

Note: the lengths people will go to in order to not discuss gun control are incredible. “How do we protect kids in the case of a school shooting? Maybe we should implement gun-” “YES, WE SHOULD ARM EVERY TEACHER. IT’S THE ONLY WAY.” Keep fucking that chicken, society???