by David Bloomberg
|"Paranoia strikes deep
Into your heart it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
Step out of line, the Man comes, and take you away."
What It's Worth"
-- "(Theme From) The Monkees"
As I have read various conversations on discussion conferences around the computer nets, I have run into an awful lot of conspiracy theories. Ah, the conspiracy theory. The conspiracy theory is catching up on baseball as the great American pastime (and conspiracies never go on strike). We are inundated by them. The most famous have had numerous books written about them, almost all seeming to contradict one another. Who was responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy? Who killed Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.? Who shot J.R.?
Also increasing in popularity are conspiracies which link the UFO phenomenon to anything and everything, including some or all of the above. The best conspiracies can take any piece of information and incorporate it as part of the theory. You don't have any evidence linking the CIA to your speeding ticket? That's just because they were very clever and concealed their activities! Some in the UFO field are fond of the statement: "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." However, some have, in deed if not in words, altered this to: "Absence of evidence is evidence of conspiracy." When skeptics demand hard, physical evidence of alien abductions, crashed saucers, etc. (or, as Carl Sagan has indicated, an alien ashtray), we are often told that we know darned well that the government has confiscated all the evidence. For a government which screws up so often in everyday affairs, it really does a good job of grabbing every last scrap of evidence following the flying saucer crashes that seem to occur with alarming frequency nowadays (do you have the UFO-crash rider on your home insurance policy?).
So why is the conspiracy such an integral part of UFOlogy today? For the exact reason that there is such an absence of evidence. Those involved, many of whom have dedicated far too many hours and dollars to simply give up when faced by this amazing lack of evidence, need a reason to explain it (unless youre a follower of John Mack and apparently don't care about evidence but simply brush away science as an outdated Western philosophy, but that's another story). This need has been combined with the early Cold War secrecy of the government, when UFOs started gaining popularity, to come up with the perfect match. According to many, the government wasn't trying to hide our secrets from the Soviets, they were trying to hide alien secrets from us!
Let's get one thing out of the way right now: Does the government lie? Hell yes! In some cases, there are valid reasons (what's the point of having a super-secret plane if they give out its specs to the first person to ask about it?), and in some cases, the reasons seem pretty idiotic (that can be said about just about anything the government does). Does this mean that the U.S. is controlled by the Illuminati, Trilateral Commission, Bildebergers, Council on Foreign Relations, and/or Grey aliens? Only to those with very creative imaginations and/or those influenced by paranoia.
Paranoia is often, if not always, an integral part of any conspiracy.They are out to get me.They control the media.They control the citizens through subliminal messages sent out through TV and radio broadcasts, and that's why so many people won't believe me.They are responsible for anything bad which happens to me.
I'm not saying that everybody who believes these stories is paranoid, but I've heard that some of them have stopped watching football games because they got so upset when the players would get together between plays and talk about them.
But enough of the generalities. You want specifics! Let me preface it with a little information which you'll need to know:
I operate a computer bulletin board service (BBS) and participate on a number of skeptic, UFO, and paranormal-related conferences which are distributed all around the world. In fact, I am the Moderator of the SKEPTIC conference and was the Assistant Moderator of the UFO conference (until I got sick of re-explaining the same information to believers over and over again), among other activities on FidoNet, the world's largest hobby BBS network. Much of the information here about UFO conspiracies was obtained through FidoNet.
As a known skeptic on these conferences, I have been associated with a variety of conspiracies, as have other skeptics. When I was made the Assistant Moderator of the UFO area (the first skeptic -- or rather, horrible evil "skeptibunker" -- in such a position), the conspiracies really started to fly. I have been accused of censoring information, being a government disinformation agent, and being on the "alien payroll." (Where can I cash these Venusian dollars?!)
But that's just a small part of it. Other skeptics have been associated with even greater conspiracies. In fact, one conspiracy even has two sub-factions. Some think the skeptic, who I'll call Curly*, does not exist, but is actually a name used by a number of government agents throughout the country, who use the network to spread disinformation about UFOs (see below). The other group thinks he is actually Philip J. Klass (as am I, according to this faction).
What goes through the minds of these people to make them come to such strange conclusions? I can honestly (and, perhaps, thankfully) say that I have no idea. Some simply cannot seem to understand that it is possible to be interested in the UFO and alien abduction claims without actually believing them. Therefore, they have to create a reason for the existence of these skeptics. That reason then merges with the government conspiracy theory to create "government disinformation agents."
These agents, they would have us believe, come in several varieties. Some are the skeptics, like me, the guy mentioned earlier, or Phil Klass, who spend time talking about these subjects and why we don't think people should stay up nights worrying that aliens may come down and perform sexual experiments on them. The other kind of disinformation agents, according to the conspiracists, pretend to be believers in alien spaceships and the like, but they make wild claims and generally bring negative publicity to UFO groups. I still have not figured out how to tell these people from the conspiracists themselves, but they apparently have their ways, which appear to consist of whether or not a given person agrees with a given conspiracist on a given issue.
Now for the meat. What are some of the wildest claims these people have to offer? I'm not talking about MJ-12, the documents which are supposed to show that there is a secret government group which deals with aliens -- and which have been thoroughly debunked by Klass and others. No, I'm talking about some of the stuff I see proposed -- in total seriousness -- by people who think they are among the very few with the Truth.
Let's start with Gwen**, a frequent contributor of messages to a number of UFO-related computer conferences, and creator of an anti-skeptic UFO conference. To go into all of the details of the religion of conspiracy she has built around UFOs would take up the rest of this years newsletter pages (for example, she thinks Jesus was a time-traveling alien). Because of this, her conspiracy theories extend beyond the country and even the planet. She doesn't think the Jupiter-comet collision was a natural occurrence. Specifically, she said, "why collide with Jupiter? I mean it is like they were intentionally AIMED at Jupiter. Something's up with this." (Emphasis in original.)
That same day, she informed everybody that "the 4th Dimensional Hierarchy have officially RESIGNED to the GALACTIC FEDERATION, releasing their grip on the WORLD POWER GRID." (Emphasis in original.) She added that "Your heart chakra and solar plexus will be receiving all this ascension information, as we the ASHTAR COMMAND have full connection to your receiving energetic field through these two areas mainly. So do the REBEL ELITE FORCES have this focus but they on the other hand are finding it more difficult to focus on their hold as the minutes pass by; natural law (light information) must be EMBRACED by everything." (Emphasis in original.) Apparently, the good guys are winning, because by the end of the month, she reported that, "The greys and the hierarchy of secret govts. have lost their power." Phew! I was getting worried there! I might have been even more worried if I had some idea what the heck she was talking about.
In case you were thinking that this cosmic battle might not affect us directly, Gwen has suggested that information she has seen "makes the Cold War seem to be fake and a propaganda tool." Now that must be one heck of a conspiracy! But then, the Ashtar Command is involved, so I guess that pretty much explains everything.
Gwen, along with a number of her friends, really doesn't like skeptics. We keep doing these annoying things like asking for evidence. She wants no part of that. She has proposed that we all simply accept that UFOs are alien craft and go from there. In other words, her conspiracies stem from a religious belief system which is not open to question. This is even better than a standard conspiracy, in that those in control have godlike powers. A good conspiracy, as I've mentioned, can meld any fact or absence of fact into it. A GOD conspiracy can simply use supernatural means in such a way that facts, or the absence thereof, are simply irrelevant.
In a similar vein, we have Will**. Nothing I can say about Will's beliefs can do them justice, so I will simply let him speak for himself:
"Some of the Creator Gods wanted man to evolve as a God. Others did not! The controversy became heated and created conflict for many thousands of years. So great was this conflict, Wars became prevalent across the Earth. The side that eventually won did not want man to understand his origins. This is where we stand today. The other side having lost is now returning to set man free and give him his place in the Stars."
There's the religious part. Now, for the part getting back to UFOs and our government:
"The above is the reason for disinformation on extraterrestrials and the refusal to release the truth hidden in our history revealing what and who controls this planet and why."
He has stated outright that "Aliens rule this planet" using "Secret governments run by the filthy rich." "The TRUTH is opposite to what they want you to believe. ... People like [William] Cooper get their reputations discredited... Watch those being discredit! (sic)" (Emphasis in original.) Of course, the only way to find out the real truth is to join him and those who have been discredited. Contrary to a rational course of action, in which discredited people would lose their followers, in this case we should follow those people when evidence is used to discredit them. The conspiracy wins again.
Lest the reader think the only ones who believe in these ideas are a couple of far-out wackos who nobody listens to anyway, I bring you to the case of Dr. Robert. Dr. Robert is a therapist and author who specializes in "alien abductions." My first encounter with him was when he wrote a message saying that he was leaving the UFO conference because he had to go into hiding. A couple weeks later, he came back, with little explanation. Soon after that, he was publicly accused (in a lawsuit and newspaper article) of improper conduct with several of his patients (he later lost his license to practice because of these accusations). Almost immediately, the accusations became part of the conspiracy against him. After all, he had told us that They were after him, right?
"Some of my harassment is ongoing, and involves both dirty tricks and legal process, on which I cannot comment at this time upon advice of my attorneys. ... the Dark Forces have turned up the pressure on me to the extreme setting. Trying to discredit me, so that what I tell about will not matter."
On a radio show, he was asked if the lawsuit had anything to do with his views on aliens. He responded, "Oh, very much. That's exactly, you know, what it's about, and without again trying to follow my attorney's advice not to get into the particulars. (sic) I think probably the best anecdote is one of my fellow UFO researchers said to me, 'well [Robert], you must be getting too close to the truth because they're trying to do the smear stuff on you.'"
Of course, the lawsuit is not the only way the government is going after him. He believes They are tapping him. He knows "remote viewers" (people who use ESP to scan the area, apparently) who warned him that an "intercept team, armed and dangerous" was waiting for him at a location he planned to visit. Once again, if there was a huge government conspiracy with the control he thinks they have after him, and they really wanted him dead, couldn't they get it done -- at least if this group is as successful as he claims at all the other conspiratorial stuff they do?
In addition, Dr. Robert is among those who think the skeptic mentioned earlier is not who he appears to be. Specifically, he said, "The team that take turns playing '[Curly]' are a bunch of gutless wonders, afraid to use their own real names.***"
And, of course, the government doesn't just restrain itself to trying to kill him, sue him, or annoy him on the computer. He also thinks They are trying to ruin his work with people who claim alien abductions. He said that some of the people who come to him with these claims fall into the "category of what appeared to me in my opinion to be plants from 'military and intelligence,' who were coming in trying to muddy-up what I'm doing by planting preposterous stories with me hoping I'll bite on them, and announce them, and sound so absolutely goofy that my research will not be taken seriously." Remember that second category of disinformation agents involved in conspiracies? Considering some of the tales Robert has told, I can't honestly figure out how anybody could discredit him further!
Just what are some of those claims, I hear you ask. Well, let's start with: "In my research to date, I've come up with a minimum of seven different races [of aliens] and possibly more." and "I would estimate that there's probably three thousand extraterrestrial contacts going on a day in the United States." What could the government possibly do to make his claims any more outrageous?
But the government isn't just after him. They're after all of us, in a way. They want us to think that the aliens are evil, even though Robert thinks they are good: "My frank opinion is that the negative stereotyping is part of the organized cover up of the extraterrestrial presence and UFO presence phenomenon." And if promoting a negative image for aliens isn't enough: "It appears that [some abductions] are psychological warfare operations designed to enhance the image of extraterrestrial contact as a horrible experience that people should fear". So the government is actually participating in some of them, according to him!
I must remind the reader now, this man is not just some loon who spouts nuttiness over the computer. He claims to have counseled 98 people in alien-abduction-related work, he was a licensed psychologist, and has an impressive-looking résumé. His conspiracies have a direct effect on the lives of those he counsels!
I could go on (and on and on and...), but I think the point is clear: Some people are going to believe no matter how little evidence exists, and in some cases the lack of evidence only encourages them to believe further. Can we, as skeptics, do anything about it? No and yes. No, we probably wont have much, if any, luck in trying to convince those people pushing these "theories" that they are wrong in either their actions or conclusions. As I pointed out, a good conspiracy theory can incorporate anything into it, even directly contradictory evidence. But, yes, we can prevent others from falling for their nonsense. There are people out there who are neither "believers" or "skeptics." They may just be interested in the claims and begin looking around for more information. By giving them this information, we can convince at least some of them to be more skeptical about UFO-related claims in the future.
Don't get the idea that everybody involved in UFOlogy or BBSes are as far out as the people I've mentioned here. While most "believers" do think the government is hiding something (for example, the Roswell crash is still a hot issue, and may be until the end of time), their credulity covers a wide range from almost entirely skeptical to, well, the people Ive mentioned here. Believers argue amongst themselves at least as much as they argue with skeptics (remember that second class of "disinformation agent"). There seems to be no single case that all of them can point to and say, "There it is. Proof that we are being visited by alien beings." However, there seem to be an infinite number of cases for which they say, "We would have the evidence, if only it weren't for..."
* The skeptic in question has asked that I not use his real name here. He gets enough crank calls as it is.
** I have decided not to use the real names of these three people. Several of them have threatened lawsuits in the past, and, frankly, I dont have either the time or money to fight a frivolous lawsuit.
** Contrary to Dr. Robert's claims, "Curly" does use his real name on the nets. See above comment.