Believers in the "chemtrail" theory (the theory that the trails behind high-flying aircraft secretly contain chemicals intended to alter the climate or weather) often point to chemical analyses done on soil, air or water. Typically these tests are done for three metals: Aluminum, Barium, and Strontium (the fallacious "geoengineering signature"). Since these elements are all naturally found in the Earth's crust, they usually find some of each. Experts in geochemistry recently analyzed a typical set of these results, and determined they did not come from a secret spraying program.
However a very...
Why do you sometimes see unburnt trees next to a burnt down house?
Conspiracy theories would say that this is because the houses were actually vapourize with beams of energy from space. But the actual reason, as many people have pointed out, is simply that the wood in the houses is dry, and the wood in the trees is wet.
If you don't use a wood fire in your house this might be a bit hard to understand, so I set out to do an experiment to demonstrate this.
First stop was my attic, which, like most new houses in California has an internal frame of 2 by 4s.
There was a bit of scrap wood left over from construction. The same wood as the frame of my house, so ideal for testing.
Then out back to chop a live branch off a tree, and then I chopped both the attic wood and the live wood into...
When the World Trade Center towers collapsed they produced many tons of dust, powder, and granular material. This was from two main sources: drywall and concrete. After the initial collapse the bottom half of the core of the building was still standing. It was covered in tons of this material. As parts of it toppled and fell they left trails of this dust.
Some people think that the core was destroyed with tons of carefully placed and detonated pyrotechnics. They say that these trails are evidence of this, as they leave white smoke. There's a lot of reasons why the "explosives" theory would not work, but that aside, the simplest explanation for these trails is that it's dust. We know there was a lot of dust (lower Manhattan was coated in it). That giant cloud you see flowing around World Trade Center (the tall brown building on the...
The recent release of many documents relating the the investigation of the JFK assassination has shed a little more light on some old situations. One such document from 1962 described how the US might acquire or manufacture some Soviet MiG aircraft. Several uses for these planes were listed, and one such was as false flag operation, where the US would pretend to be under attack in order to justify "U.S. Intervention".
Russia Today (RT) picked up on this mention and wrote about it:
This article starts out praising the usefulness of YouTube, then has a brief diversion in YouTube videos as evidence of Satanic Abuse, and then changes into something that I can't tell if it's rejecting or supporting the the Flat Earth hypothesis:
A recent incident of a plane with a dent in its nose raised a lot of interest on Twitter after basketball player Steve Adams and other players posted photos of the dent, saying they were 30,000 feet up. While 30,000 feet is not an unprecedented altitude for a bird, it is very unusual. However more professional reports say the plane was descending, and do not give an altitude.
How do you debunk conspiracy theories effectively? Based on what I've seen over the years what works for people is a combination of finding out things they believed to be true were actually false, seeing people they used as sources of information give out wrong information, and being exposed to new information that gives them a more realistic context in which they can figure things out for themselves. So those are the things I focus on.
Some of this ad-hoc approach is validated by the study Debunking: A Meta-Analysis of the Psychological Efficacy of Messages Countering Misinformation, published in Psychological Science
"Something extraordinary is about to be revealed" wrote Leslie Kean in an article today in the Huffington Post. This type of breathless anticipation of a revelation runs through all of conspiracy culture. Chemtrail promoters are constantly saying how the government is at the point of admitting to covert geoengineering. 9/11 Truthers are constant on the verge of finding the definitive whistle blower. And people who think the government is covering up knowledge of encounters with aliens (or alien technology) are constant operating with the sense that "disclosure" is just around the corner.
But nothing ever happens.
Kean starts out strong, with an exciting headline. "Inside Knowledge About...
Conspiracy theorists like to call just about anything a "false flag" now. But the phrase itself was not particularly common in conspiracy culture in the first decade of the 2000s. It only started to be used reflexively by theorists after a sequence of three events: the Aurora theater shooting in July 2012, the Sandy Hook School Shooting in December 2012, then the Boston Marathon Bombing of April 2013. After that there were minor spikes for a chemical weapons attack in Syria and then the shooting down of flight MH17 over the Ukraine. Then two attacks in 2015 in France (Charlie Hebdo and the Paris attacks) got the attention of Alex Jones, followed by the San Bernardino shooting and the Pulse Nightclub shooting.
These were all eclipsed by the conspiracist frenzy following the Las Vegas shooting, where it quickly became apparent it was going to...
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