Being a conspiracy theorist is a tricky balancing act. On the one hand, you have to be shamelessly stupid enough to ask the kind of questions an average seven-year-old would be too embarrassed to ask for fear of sounding stupid. Is the Earth flat? Do lizards rule the world? Do airplanes fart out dumb-clouds to make us think buying TVs is good? But on the other hand, you have to be smart enough to realize that you should stick to your lane. Never take your crazy ideas outside of the remedial school anthill that is the conspiracy theory community, because you will get smacked down by anyone with half a brain and a spine. For example ...
It's hard being a Holocaust denier. While they have their reasons to be skeptical (*coughracismcough*), it's such a well-documented event that arguing the opposite requires a breathtaking ability to ignore practically everything ever written on the subject. David Irving is a master of this art, plugging his ears to the sound of reason and logic for many decades. Or at least, he was until he decided to take the fight to the historians. It didn't end well for him.
In 1993, Deborah Lipstadt published Denying The Holocaust: The Growing Assault On Truth And Memory, a fascinating look at the insane things Holocaust deniers use to justify their crusades. In the book, she describes Irving as a "dangerous spokesperson" for Holocaust denial. Irving, as usual, didn't care for that interpretation of history, and he decided to slap Lipstadt with a libel suit, arguing that his definitely existing reputation as a respected historian had been harmed.
To make sure he'd win his sure slam dunk of a case, Irving sued Lipstadt and her publisher in the United Kingdom. There, unlike in the U.S., in libel cases the burden of proof lies with the accused. This was great for Irving, whose strong suit was never facts, or even basic logic. But this turned out to be his biggest mistake -- aside from denying the Holocaust ever happened, of course. Assembling a dream team of historians, Lipstadt set about ruthlessly dismantling Irving in court. After they got Richard Evans, professor of modern history at Cambridge University, to serve as their lead witness, he and a team of graduate students spent two years poring over everything that Irving had ever written. At trial, they demonstrated that Irving had knowingly used falsified documents as sources, misattributed quotes, and willfully interpreted euphemisms for extermination (a common component of the orders issued by the Nazi high command) at face value.
Meanwhile, despite promising to tear Evans "to shreds" on the stand, Irving quickly reduced his tactic personal attacks and ad hominem arguments, which works a lot better on the internet than in a courtroom. Sensing that he was about to lose, Irving tried to settle with the publisher. In exchange for being dropped from the suit, all they would have to do was remove the book from sale, donate a sum of money to a charity run by Irving, and testify against Lipstadt. Oddly, they didn't budge. Irving then made the same offer to Lipstadt. It's said that on quiet nights, you can still hear her lawyers laughing.
With his loss, Irving became liable for all court costs and was eventually driven into bankruptcy. It wasn't as if he had much coming in the way of residuals either; the trial had also brought a wealth of focus back onto his other books and, well, it wasn't good. As much as he loves to, even David Irving now cannot deny that it is an established legal fact that he is a Holocaust-denying, Nazi-supporting, racist idiot.
For much of his career, Andy Kaufman confounded his audience by never letting them know the real Andy Kaufman. His onstage persona was whatever he decided it to be that second, and it left people guessing where the performance ended and the performer started. There aren't many people doing that style today, except for Alex Jones. Jones is known to most as a right-wing conspiracy theory nutjob, but according to his lawyers, he is in truth a satirist so dedicated to his art that even he didn't know he was doing it until he got sued.
When Jones' wife finally divorced him, her lawyer had a very effective strategy for getting full custody of their kids: playing a random episode of his show. After all, how could Jones reconcile his role as purveyor of crazy lies, hate speech, and male enhancement pills with being a good father? Simple: Jones argued that it's all a big piece of performance art, or satire, or whatever! None of it matters! He's been playing a character all this time, so accusing him of being a bad father for playing a character would be like accusing Jack Nicholson of being a bad father because he played the Joker. That's not a riff, by the way, but a real argument his lawyers made. And when your counsel thinks that comparing you to a homicidal clown is a good thing, you're never seeing your kids without supervision again.
In order to help their boss, the staff at Infowars, who are used to aiding Jones in his delusions, steered into the skid and released a video compiling his best "performance art pieces," as if this was his demo reel for the Academy Award for Professional Nutcasery.
Of course, what Jones figured out too late is that it doesn't matter if it's all pretendsies or not -- spending most of your day ranting like an insane person does not make you father material. So he lost his custody battle. Have no fear, dude. There are still all those manbabies on the internet who look up to you.
Technology can be dangerous. We keep pushing the boundaries of what kind of electrical chimeras we're OK with introducing into our lives. For instance, do we even really know what WiFi can do to us, what with all those internet viruses now floating through the air? One town wasn't having any of it, and decided to push back against a cavalier broadband company and its terror-tower, which they knew was boiling their brains and bodies.
Even when it wasn't switched on.
According to some people whose only academic qualifications are having googled "advocacy definition" and screaming about the children, data towers are basically Sauron's Tower of Barad-dur, but with brain-frying radiation instead of an all-consuming eye feeding on human suffering.
This mental mentality found its way to the sleepy South African suburb of Craigavon near Johannesburg, where a bunch of people were getting sick. Of course, their first response was to blame iBurst, their local broadband provider, for leaking illness into their community with their internet. Maladies ranged from rashes, headaches, and nausea to even tinnitus and insomnia. The townsfolk were sure the iBurst tower was the culprit, presenting evidence that their conditions quickly subsided once they moved out of its range. iBurst responded by asking how people were still feeling sick, seeing as how the tower had been deactivated weeks before. Awkward.
iBurst had switched the tower off for six whole weeks in order to conduct tests and prove that they weren't trying to genocide the locals out of their homes over broadband. However, even with the findings showing that the tower was emitting radiation levels "ten thousand times LESS than the international safety standards" and, y'know, the tower not being on, the complaints wouldn't stop. iBurst eventually decided to cut its losses and take the tower down. Maybe not being able to look things up on the internet would be a good cure for a bunch of hypochondriacs.
It's fair to say that conspiracy theorists have a problem with science. It's a small side effect of believing that every scientist on the planet is paid by George Soros, the Rothschilds, and/or whatever poor Jewish person is the target du jour. So it's natural that according to these wackjobs, the only scientists you can trust are the ones they're paying off. And even then, those sneaky scientists could ruin everything by publishing the truth.
In 2012, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project released a set of findings which confirmed the obvious: The Earth is warming up. Big whoop right? Yes. Yes it was. First of all, the study was funded to the tune of $150,000 by Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries and the reason your grandchildren won't know what snow is. Second, the study was being overseen by Richard Muller, a vocal climate change denier. So the deck was stacked against the scientific method from the start, but the researcher had one ace up their sleeve: the obvious.
Instead of fighting against their paymaster, the project's scientist did something much more difficult -- they changed a climate change denier's mind. After the results were released, Muller went on the record to say that they were so convincing that they'd convinced him to switch sides in a debate so stupid there shouldn't even be sides to begin with.
Charles Koch's reaction is unknown, but it's safe to say that someone's fracking company got Kickstarted that night.
But that's nothing compared to the poke in the eye that the anti-vaxxers Safeminds got. This advocacy group for "vaccine safety" funded a ten-year study into the effects of standard vaccinations on little monkey babies. Strangely, it turned out that the vaccines had no effect on the brains or physiology or mental capabilities of the monkeys. Meanwhile, the lesser primates who funded the study to the tune of $250,000 weren't happy, and blamed the result on the study's methodology and the media for twisting things to make them look dumber than their test subjects.
We don't know whether it's due to America's military uh... enthusiasm, us electing a jingoistic racist in a bad suit, or the Paul Blart franchise, but some countries simply don't like us. As in they really, really don't like us. "Shoe bombs" not like us. But one of our NATO camp rivals has a strange tactic of goading us: by claiming 9/11 was an inside job. Luckily, the terrorists were there to come to our defense.
For a while now, Iran has had a problem with some of its leaders being conspiracy-spouting morons. Top of the heap was former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who couldn't utter a sentence without insulting America, Jews, or the sanity of his own people for electing him. But his biggest diss came when he went in front of the UN to screech that the 9/11 attacks weren't caused by Al-Qaeda, but by George W Bush himself. Why? The usual internet forum stuff about causing a calamity "reverse the declining American economy, and its grips on the Middle East, in order to save the Zionist regime." Fortunately, Ahmadinejad's mic was cut before he could bring out his PowerPoint on the melting point of steel beams.
After his speech, the U.S. was naturally furious and denounced it immediately. But someone else wasn't going take that lying down: Al-Qaeda. In an editorial in their English-language magazine Inspire (which sounds like it also has a great Who Wore It Best? section), Al-Qaeda laid into Ahmadinejad and Iran with all the vigor of a diss track. Instead of calling the Iranian regime delusional, they called them jealous. That's right, while those Iranian lollygaggers were spouting their nonsense, Al-Qaeda actually attacked "the Great Satan," touching "the hearts and minds of disenfranchised Muslims around the world" in a way that Iran could only dream of. So while most of the world was denouncing Iran, Al Qaeda was calling them out as posers who either need to launch a missile or shut up. What a weird line to straddle.
What makes anti-vaxxer spokespeople more dangerous than, say, your more garden-variety conspiracy theorist? Well, there's the fact that they're often doctors (somehow), which makes them inherently trustworthy to rubes and the elderly. That's how Doctor (that doesn't sound right) Stefan Lanka has been making his money for the last couple of years. Using his credentials as a biology PhD, he is persuading people that HIV doesn't exist. In fact, he doesn't believe that viruses exist at all -- a pretty weird stance for a trained virologist. He's so sure of his nonsense that he was once willing to bet his entire livelihood that no one could prove they existed. A lot of smart people liked those odds.
Smart bet in the year 1300, less smart in the age of the electron microscope.
As part of his war on a concept even Bronze Age medicine men could grasp (that is, disease), Lanka offered a challenge to all scientists: Prove beyond a doubt that the measles virus exists and isn't merely "a psychosomatic illness" (i.e. fake), and he'd hand out 100,000 euros ($115,000 and rising). Naturally, Lanka was immediately overwhelmed by countless people sending him countless studies confirming that the thing everyone knows is a thing is indeed a thing. In response, as deluded maniacs are wont to do, Lanka rejected them all because they didn't fit his requirements -- what with being based on facts and logic.
But that wasn't good enough for one doctor. David Bardens had sent Lanka a comprehensive report proving without a shadow of a doubt that measles wasn't something millions of people throughout history had made up to get out of school. So when Lanka rejected it like all the others, Bardens responded by suing Lanka for being a swaggering dipwad (his lawyers probably worded it better). After the world's shortest trial, the courts awarded Bardens the victory and ordered Lanka to pay him the prize money and suck it up.
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