by Mick West at 3:39 PM
(1,443 Views / 5 Likes)

I was snapping some pics of hole-punch clouds in this cloud layer when I suddenly noticed this quite dramatic black contrail. Now the fact that it is black isn't incredibly surprising when you notice that there are black clouds in the sky. And the areas where the contrail is darkest are also the areas where the clouds are darkest.

But it was still quite interesting. It's actually quite a nice day, but there's a layer of cloud the west. The Eastern sky is blue with patchy clouds. This is a panorama looking south (showing an unrelated contrail that has developed into a fallstreak). Note the chimneys on the right.

I zoomed in on the dark trail:
20161107-151119-5z8a5. ...
by Mick West at 1:15 PM
(6,806 Views / 0 Likes)
chemtrails and vaccines.
The anti-vaccine movement (which claims that vaccines cause autism) has long been on the fringes of science. The most well known scientific paper that claimed to demonstrate a link, one by Andrew Wakefield, was eventually retracted after it was not able to be replicated, and the original research was found to be deeply flawed. However the anti-vaxxers never seemed to be quite as fringe as the "chemtrail" movement, with their bizarre theories about how we are being sprayed by toxic chemicals.

That is, until quite recently.

There was always some overlap of course. Conspiracy theories form a rough hierarchy of implausibility. People who believe in a highly implausible theory like chemtrails will almost always believe every single theory that is a bit more plausible. So chemtrailers are...
by Mick West at 6:04 PM
(6,059 Views / 1 Likes)
Defcon not official metabunk.

Several media outlet, mostly UK tabloids and US conservative news aggregators have reported that the US military has raised the US "DEFCON" alert level from 4 to 3 because of tensions with Russia. However there is no evidence that this is so. The last time the DEFCON readiness level was at 3 was during the 9/11 attacks of 2001.

The claim that is being repeated here is simply the opinion of one hobbyist web site,, run by a small group of people who are interested in prepping for a nuclear war. They like to analyze world events, and they run personal radiation monitoring stations. Their guess of the defcon level is just that, a guess. Probably influenced by their fascination by nuclear war.

They make no claims otherwise, and in fact have a disclaimer
by Mick West at 11:01 AM
(11,567 Views / 0 Likes)

Podesta Wet Works Martha.

Summary: By "wet works" Podesta was referring to personnel changes in the Clinton Campaign after the disastrous 20 point loss to Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary that day.

In an email that John Podesta sent to Steve Elmendorf, he said:

"Didn't think wet works meant pool parties at the Vineyard"

Since this email was sent four days before Justice Scalia's death it is being promoted as evidence that Scalia was assassinated. By all accounts, including Scalia's family, he died of natural causes. But what of this small piece of evidence? Is that true that Podesta could only be referring to an assassination?

Look at the context of the email. Elmendorf talks of a "rough night", and the date is Feb 9, 2016. That's the day of the New Hampshire primary, which was...
by Mick West at 5:57 PM
(2,965 Views / 0 Likes)

Ghost Balloons Title Metabunk.

Videos shared on Facebook show white balloons drifting towards mourners. The videos were widely reported in the tabloid media earlier this year.

The first video shows a balloon move a short distance, and then stop at one mourner.

The second video shows a balloon floating towards another mourner, stopping briefly as the string hooks onto the chair, then proceeding.
(The top image is a partial panorama made from this video)

What is happening here is that the balloon are simply moving with the currents of the air in the room. There's an AC unit at one end of the room which is probably blowing air out, and taking it it....
by Mick West at 8:24 AM
(38,254 Views / 4 Likes)
US Repainting jets training.

A clickbait story that claims the US is painting Fighter Jets in Russian colors is being shared on social media. It is accompanied by four photos of jets with similar paint schemes. The bottom right image shows a Russian Su-34. The other three images show the same F/A-18 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, SC. The claim goes like this:
In fact the plane shown IS being used for training, the three photos of the repainted F-16 are from Top Gun jet fighter training at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, SC....
by Mick West at 10:55 AM
(4,078 Views / 9 Likes)
EDC Contrails today vs. yesterday.
Today (Thursday Oct 6th, 2016) marked the first significant contrail morning for several months here in El Dorado County, Northern California. The above photo on the right of criss-crossing contrails was taken at 7:30AM, and planes continued to leave trails for the next few hours. I took photos of the jets, and they were just regular air traffic, mostly Alaska or other regional jets flying north or south, often to or from Los Angeles. They were all in the range 36,000 to 39,000 feet.

Various Planes over EDC this morning.

But it's Thursday, and the air traffic on Wednesday was pretty much identical. So why were there trails this morning, but not yesterday morning?

The answer is quite straightforward. It's the upper air weather!

Upper air weather is different to the weather on the ground. At 35,000 feet up it's very cold (usually below -40°F/-40°C),...
by Mick West at 8:07 AM
(2,994 Views / 0 Likes)
Encounters Per population.

In a misleading article on, Brandon Darby attempts to portray a relatively small number (7,700) of positive matches that were made against the FBI's Terrorist Screening Database (1,877,133 people) as evidence that "terrorists" are streaming across the border, particularly in Arizona.

In fact the number of matches (which were generally from routine things, like traffic stops, and TSA passenger screening), generally matches the population of the states (highest in the states with the highest populations: New York, Florida, California, and Texas). When ranked by matches per head of population then Arizona actually ranks behind...
by Mick West at 9:14 AM
(4,987 Views / 3 Likes)
The idea of a Flat Earth is firmly at the far end of the conspiracy spectrum. It's an extreme conspiracy theory because the belief requires that you accept that the entire space program is a fake, designed to cover up hundreds of years of an even deeper scientific conspiracy to hoodwink people into thinking the earth is round (for no good reason). On the Flat Earth GPS does not work by satellites, but from radio towers, flights between Australia and South America are fake, the sun sets via a bizarre interpretation of "perspective", and Antartica does not exist.

To the person first looking into this theory it can be difficult to believe that the proponents actually take themselves seriously. And indeed many of them do not. Many Flat Earth popularizers are simply doing it for fun, or to make a philosophical point about people's over-reliance on...
by Mick West at 5:28 PM
(8,445 Views / 8 Likes)
Ae911 Billboard Quote Metabunk.
AE911's new billboard (on the left), with some additional quotes for context.

The group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911) is devoted to popularizing the theory that the World Trade Center buildings were secretly demolished by explosive devices that were placed in the building ahead of time, somehow survived the plane impacts and an hour of raging fire, and then triggered to make the buildings collapse in a way that fooled most experts into thinking that there were no explosives.

To promote this theory, AE911 likes to rent billboard space in New York's Times Square (AE911 has a yearly income of around $500,000). In particular they like to rent a billboard opposite the offices of the New York Times, admonishing the NYT for ignoring them. Here's the billboard in place:


This latest...