JonExArmy and Escaping the Rabbit Hole

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-zIq4NvP4k


Jon is a YouTube conspiracy theorist with a fairly sizable following of 220,000 followers. He's been putting out a lot of videos about prepping for an imminent global catastrophe. He recently came across Metabunk while researching the Deagle claims, and then contacted me and asked if I'd like to be on his show.

I agreed, and mentioned my book, Escaping the Rabbit hole. Jon immediately ordered a copy of the ebook and read most of it before the show. He really liked it, describing it as a "jewel," and "a valuable tool for the conspiracy theory community", even giving it a five-star review on Amazon:

Metabunk 2019-01-23 13-40-15.jpg

Jon's embrace of my book (and simply having me on his show) alarmed some of his followers. Some of them even though he had been bought out and had "flipped sides." But I think he's simply recognized from reading Metabunk (and later the book) that he'd been focussing too much on one side of the argument and only looking for information that supported his beliefs. Now he's planning on taking a more balanced approach.

The comments section is very interesting, with a wide range of opinions on display. I was actually a bit surprised that the main objection people had to me was that I'd been debunking the "chemtrail" theory. Probably this is indicative as to where most of his audience draw their demarcation lines on the conspiracy spectrum.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
Fantasic interview! A brave, intelligent, honest conspiracy theorist with principles?; very impressive.

I hope debunkers (and liberals :) ) will see that not all conspiracy theorists are trolls or just stupid.
 

benthamitemetric

Senior Member
This was a really great interview. Kudos to you and JonExArmy for making it happen. It was very heartening to hear that Jon seems to basically have had an epiphany from reading your book and exploring the forums here. The comments from his (now former?) supporters to the video on youtube are mostly disheartening, but hopefully it causes some to actually step back and reexamine some of their assumptions and beliefs.

To those JonExArmy supporters who are coming to Metabunk for the first time--welcome and please be sure to take your time to explore through the many threads.
 

Radapox

Member
A conspiracist who advocates looking at both sides; very brave and commendable!

(Just a heads up: his username is JonXArmy, without the E.)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
(Just a heads up: his username is JonXArmy, without the E.)
He uses both versions. JonXArmy is the name of his YouTube channel, JonExArmy is his Twitter, Web Site, and Email - and also how he introduced himself to me.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
he comments from his (now former?) supporters to the video on youtube are mostly disheartening, but hopefully it causes some to actually step back and reexamine some of their assumptions and beliefs.

The vocal are always a minority. I doubt he lost many followers, and his total followers have actually continued to rise (from 220K to nearly 222K)
 

jarlrmai

Active Member
Strikes me as someone who is into it for the views rather than any idealistic reasons, controversy generates views.
 

Jason Bush

New Member
Great interview!

While it's apparent a lot of his supporters are expressing disappointment (via comments on youtube), I'm sure a fair portion of his 220K+ subscribers took his challenge to be more open to opposing evidence. That's a win for the skeptics...but more importantly a win for them.

I hope he has you on again. Maybe he could challenge you with the concerns and comments of his most die hard fans.

JasonExArmy :)
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member.
It may be a start but I dont think it had too much of an impact really.. even as excited as he was. Jon posted a video on the 28th of an interview he had with DW, less than a week after yours. He showed almost exactly the same kind of enthusiasm and excitement. I know he's still got a LONG way to go until he's completely out of the rabbit hole, but given his Youtube personality.. that which made him popular... that he makes a living or at least supplements his living via ad/merch revenue, I'm not sure he's going to stay on the unbias train very long.. if at all.

Im not suggesting he's doing it for the money... at least not in a negative AJ kind of way... I'm just saying that given that Youtube is either his full or supplemental income, losing a massive fan base by continuing to climb out of the rabbit hole will put a huge damper on his ability to provide for his family. Its a strong motivator to keep putting out content that keeps people coming back. Again... not a sleight on Jon or entirely on his motivations, this is just a fact of life with Youtube and the way the system works.

*Edited for syntax and link correction.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
He showed almost exactly the same kind of enthusiasm and excitement.
I wouldn't say that exactly. But i agree that money may be a deciding factor in the long run, he got alot more views off Dane Wigington then Mick. Rationality doesn't sell well on TV, people prefer fiction in their entertainment.
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member.
I wouldn't say that exactly. But i agree that money may be a deciding factor in the long run, he got alot more views off Dane Wigington then Mick. Rationality doesn't sell well on TV, people prefer fiction in their entertainment.

Jon seems like a really decent guy. Definitely not one out to get rich doing this stuff, but someone who genuinely believes what he's saying.. which is why I was trying to be so careful about how I described him. Money is a touchy subject, even at the best of times with the easiest of subjects.

All that said, as an honest critique, I enjoy his presentation.. not necessarily the style in which he delivers it... he's definitely learned how to tick the hype train boxes for the YT Algorithms... but rather the way he conducts the interviews, how he introduces his guests and takes actual interest in the conversation rather than having (what usually feels like) a preset idea of how its going to go and an agenda he wanted to get across.

On a side note, going back to the OP.. I DID get a little jealous (in a good/funny way) at the fact that Mick sold off his company like 20 years ago with enough money to retire lol. I knew he did the Tony Hawk stuff, just didnt know he owned the company that did the programming etc.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Definitely not one out to get rich doing this stuff
yea you probably get richer playing video games and recording them. There are channels with millions of views and all they do is play Minecraft or something and film it. and apparently alot of people like to watch!
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member.
yea you probably get richer playing video games and recording them. There are channels with millions of views and all they do is play Minecraft or something and film it. and apparently alot of people like to watch!

Yep.. Yogscast is a perfect example lol
 

mudr0

New Member
I watched the interview and was likewise surprised and impressed that JohnEX was willing to look at all sides and not just get information from his community’s bubble. As it has been pointed out, it wasn’t too many days later that he was rubber stamping the words Dan Wigington. I’m not familiar with Wigington, as I’m still very new to the conspiracy scene. Wigington claims that with the current extinction rate of wildlife, we will soon have no wild invertebrates left ….”by 2026 game over - no habitat, no humans”; that seems like an excessively dire prediction… but what do I know?

Can only see directly on youtube
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
Wigington claims that with the current extinction rate of wildlife, we will soon have no wild invertebrates left ….”by 2026 no habitat, no humans”; that seems like an excessively dire prediction… but what do I know?
he's parroting a group of climate change alarmists that say that. (just in case you want to research it a bit)

http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/extinction.html
 

mudr0

New Member
for an first assessment, this thread is quite helpful:

Thanks friend. It seems a common thread with all these conspiracy promoters is the use of deception, which of course, is then picked up and regurgitated by their (well meaning) followers. I debate someone (who I consider a friend) that always makes hay about lies told by the media, but never questions all the bs that comes out of his community... especially the deceptive memes (that he never takes the time to verify) he loves to spam all over facebook.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
(and liberals :) ) will see that not all conspiracy theorists are trolls or just [....]

i knew i was probably diggin myself into a hole there. So much for my positive attitude. He is now a Flat Earther. He saw the Chicago skyline from Michigan. The hotel staff told him it was a mirage. Google told him it was mirage. and instead of checking Metabunk for an explanation, he decided to watch Rob Skiva and since he doesnt understand what the word 'mirage' means, he's now a Flat Earther. :(
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
It's not even a mirage. He's on the 7th floor of the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, that's about 100 ft above the lake. You don't even need refraction for that view.
 

Nth

Member
It's not even a mirage. He's on the 7th floor of the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, that's about 100 ft above the lake. You don't even need refraction for that view.
Being precise, using k=(7/6)*R gives a pretty good approximation to what is seen. From a quick and dirty pixel-foot correlation, I get around 391 feet hidden, though that is without accounting for the elevation of my two reference buildings (Willis Tower and what I'm pretty sure is Franklin Center). Besides, my analysis used a 14.5 foot-to-pixel ratio, so being off by a pixel could conceivably put the hidden amount right at 406 feet (standard refraction).

If this ends up warranting its own topic, I can certainly break down my methodology. In any case, here's a comparison between a still from Jon's video and an up-close shot of the skyline.
JXAChicago.PNG
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
JohnExArmy: I am not a flat earther.

5:55 timestamp
connect the dots, man! ;)
 

Rory

Senior Member.
I don't think he's now a Flat Earther, he's just making sensationalist videos and he knows this topic is popular.

There is a part of me that suspects he's trolling the flat earthers. Is he really the kind of guy who would start to believe something based on something so flimsy? That he wouldn't look into the math? That he's gonna shift his worldview because of what some hotel staff told him?

I also find it pretty hard to believe that the hotel staff told him he was seeing a mirage.

Then there's the other part of me, that fully expects him to be putting out some low quality, 2016esque flat earth proofs sometime in the not too distant future.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I don't think he's now a Flat Earther, he's just making sensationalist videos
i still call that a Flat Earther. If you are selling FE the way he is in that video (how did he keep a straight face when saying all the God stuff?) i personally consider that a FEer. There are plenty of conspiracy theorists we suspect are just making sensational videos and i label them conspiracy theorists. Does Alex Jones believe all the bunk he spreads? Highly doubtful. But we still label him accordingly. Or at least i do. So that's what i meant by "a Flat Earther".

And if he is just faking it, he is playing with fire. From what i've seen he is a highly impressionable man.
 

Nth

Member
There is a part of me that suspects he's trolling the flat earthers. Is he really the kind of guy who would start to believe something based on something so flimsy? That he wouldn't look into the math? That he's gonna shift his worldview because of what some hotel staff told him?

I also find it pretty hard to believe that the hotel staff told him he was seeing a mirage.

Then there's the other part of me, that fully expects him to be putting out some low quality, 2016esque flat earth proofs sometime in the not too distant future.
What just kind of baffles me is all the people in his comment section who seem to think that this is some huge, groundbreaking observation when it's pretty obvious there's several hundred feet of Chicago that is just gone beneath the waves. A little extra analysis confirms that we're basically seeing exactly what's expected on a 3959-mile radius globe with an atmosphere. Reminds me of another video that a flat earther took of Toronto, really great quality, clarity, etc., which showed a substantial portion of the city underwater (enough to cover the Roger's Centre, anyway) and was still apparently considered great flat earth proof.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
What just kind of baffles me is all the people in his comment section who seem to think that this is some huge, groundbreaking observation when it's pretty obvious there's several hundred feet of Chicago that is just gone beneath the waves. A little extra analysis confirms that we're basically seeing exactly what's expected on a 3959-mile radius globe with an atmosphere. Reminds me of another video that a flat earther took of Toronto, really great quality, clarity, etc., which showed a substantial portion of the city underwater (enough to cover the Roger's Centre, anyway) and was still apparently considered great flat earth proof.
i'm familiar with FE debunking and i just assumed JonXArmy did the math and nothing was supposed to be visible. I barely even glanced at his landscape which i was viewing in small youtube screen mode. Maybe everyone else just assumed it shouldnt be visible too.
As far as noticing a few hundered feet is missing... I would have no idea how much is missing from Jon's fuzzy shots.
 

Agent K

Active Member
I don't think he's now a Flat Earther, he's just making sensationalist videos and he knows this topic is popular.

There's a Michigan City preset in the Refraction Simulator:
https://www.metabunk.org/refraction/?~(p~'Chicago*20From*20Michigan*20City)_

Bump the Viewer height up to 90 feet (7th floor, 20 feet of ground, conservatively) with standard refraction, and you get:
View attachment 36164

Compare with his video:

View attachment 36166

It's exactly globe model.

Cool. For comparison, here's flat earth without refraction.
upload_2019-2-19_14-53-11.png
 

Nth

Member
i'm familiar with FE debunking and i just assumed JonXArmy did the math and nothing was supposed to be visible. I barely even glanced at his landscape which i was viewing in small youtube screen mode. Maybe everyone else just assumed it shouldnt be visible too.
As far as noticing a few hundered feet is missing... I would have no idea how much is missing from Jon's fuzzy shots.
Again though, I'm just not sure how that would have happened. Even not considering refraction period, and with his camera half submerged in Lake Michigan, the 40-miles distant Willis Tower should still have over 400 feet visible, since only around 1070 feet would be obscured. If I had to hazard a guess, observer height just wasn't considered and the 8 inches per miles squared is all that was applied.

As far as what is missing, per the comparison in comment #22, I identified Willis Tower and what I'm fairly certain is Franklin Center next to it. Both have large antennae on top which add to their overall heights, but as I was unable to satisfactorily identify them, so I chose to use the architectural height of Willis Tower (1451 feet) and the roof height of the Franklin Center (886 feet), though I'm now wondering if I should have used the architectural height (1007 feet) instead. Might need to rework my numbers, upon reflection.

Anyway, basically I measured the distance in pixels between what I discerned to be the highest identifiable points on both structures, figured out the pixel difference between them, applied what I thought was the difference in feet between their actual heights to create a scale, and then figured out how many pixels would represent the full height of the towers. Again though, my calculations may be a bit off, and it's kind of hard to definitively identify features when the footage is so hazy. (Not a criticism of JonExArmy, by the way, he's not the Illuminati and can't control the weather. ;))

Edit: Just re-ran my numbers using 311 South Wacker Drive (961 feet tall) and Mick's screengrab from above, and came away with 415 feet obscured. There's a decent chance that even this is a bit off, given that there wasn't enough contrast to perfectly pick out the top of South Wacker (though I think I'm pretty close), but I'd call it a bit too coincidental for two analyses using different buildings and photographs to come out within about 25 feet of each other. And again, I haven't accounted for the elevation of the buildings above Lake Michigan.

Tangentially, it might not be a bad idea to put this stuff in a topic of its own. :p
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
What just kind of baffles me is all the people in his comment section who seem to think that this is some huge, groundbreaking observation when it's pretty obvious there's several hundred feet of Chicago that is just gone beneath the waves. [...] Reminds me of another video that a flat earther took of Toronto, really great quality, clarity, etc., which showed a substantial portion of the city underwater (enough to cover the Roger's Centre, anyway) and was still apparently considered great flat earth proof.
The demagogues equate "globe Earth lies" with "flat Earth proven" to get around a lack of proof on their own part, and then blow up any doubt or inconsistency they can construct into a lie, which then "proves" flat Earth. In this case, the pattern is "hotel staff representing Globers say Chicago can't be seen, we see parts of Chicago, hence the globe model is wrong, hence the Earth is flat".

Pushing them for proof is something they can't well stand up to, which is why they like to wage this debate on our ground and not theirs. As we and they know, their own attempts at proofs tend to backfire more spectacularly than anything they can make up about ours.
 

Nth

Member
His image is blurry, but it seems that everything below the white line is hidden:

View attachment 36179
Seems about right. I think identifying the tallest red building to the left of Willis Tower would help a lot in determining exactly how much is hidden, but I unfortunately don't have the time to do the detective work right now.

Edit: Scratch that, pretty sure I've ID'ed the building as 425 South Financial Place (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOUR40), which stands at 515 feet tall, per Wikipedia. Not accounting for elevation above Lake Michigan, with the standard refraction (7/6)*R, a bit over 100 feet of building should be visible. Seems more or less correct, though again, the haze makes it hard to say anything definite.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Edit: Scratch that, pretty sure I've ID'ed the building as 425 South Financial Place (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOUR40), which stands at 515 feet tall, per Wikipedia. Not accounting for elevation above Lake Michigan, with the standard refraction (7/6)*R, a bit over 100 feet of building should be visible. Seems more or less correct, though again, the haze makes it hard to say anything definite.

The refraction calculator is probably going to give you a more accurate determination than hand calculations. Here's the preset for 100 feet from Michigan city:
https://www.metabunk.org/refraction...m*20Michigan*20City2.png~multiple~0~gap~0)))_

The target image is essentially the actual building data extracted from Google Earth.
 

Nth

Member

Rory

Senior Member.
Pretty sure I've ID'ed the building as 425 South Financial Place, which stands at 515 feet tall. Not accounting for elevation above Lake Michigan, with the standard refraction (7/6)*R, a bit over 100 feet of building should be visible. Seems more or less correct, though again, the haze makes it hard to say anything definite.

This is a really nice topographical tool:

https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=41.876,-87.6322&z=15&b=t

It has that building as being 20 feet above the level of the lake, for a height of 535 feet in total, leaving 125 feet predicted as visible.
 

Nth

Member
Nice, and that's pretty much right on what Jon observed. I guess this one is pretty much case closed. :)
 
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