Conspiracy Theories

Blog Posts

Alex Jones: Post-Reality Rodeo Clown?

by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fact or Fiction?, Legal Issues, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Pranksters, Spin, You Decide

Talk show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones began his career as an Austin eccentric, known for his associations with comedian Joe Rogan and filmmaker Richard Linklater. His paleoconservative media profile has risen steadily since the election of Barack Obama – he’s now better known for egging on Charlie Sheen’s meltdown, describing the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre as “crisis actors,” and throwing his bulk behind the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump.

Now, he’s engaged in a vicious custody battle, and his lawyers are suggesting that he’s not an increasingly unhinged paranoid maniac, but a performance artist playing a character.

Blogger Ken White adds some insight on the importance of this story.


“Alex Jones Says He’s A Performance Artist. Surprisingly, Actual Performance Artists Agree.”
by Priscilla Frank
The Huffington Post
April 19, 2017

Following his 2015 divorce, far-right radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is embroiled in an ugly and somewhat bizarre custody battle.

In response to his ex-wife’s claims that the InfoWars founder and Pizzagate controversy propagator is “not a stable person” ― and therefore should not receive custody of their children ― Jones is arguing that his publicly jacked-up, trumped-up, vitriolic rants are merely instances of “performance art.”

Jones’ lawyer Randall Wilhite outlined the novel defense, telling those present at a recent pretrial hearing that Jones’ InfoWars persona does not reflect who he is as a person. “He’s playing a character,” Wilhite said. “He is a performance artist.”

Jones himself made a similar claim in early April while facing criticism ― and potential criminal proceedings ― after calling Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) an “archetypal cocksucker” and threatening in an expletive-laden rant to “beat [his] goddamn ass.” Jones later posted a follow-up video describing the comments as “clearly tongue-in-cheek and basically art performance, as I do in my rants, which I admit I do, as a form of art.”

Jones’ most famed “performances” to date include calling the 9/11 attacks an inside job, claiming the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was “completely fake with actors,” and suggesting that the American government is “encouraging homosexuality with chemicals so that people don’t have children.” Is it possible that Jones has been putting on some sort of persona to stir up controversy and garner public attention? Of course. It is unlikely, however, and ultimately dangerous, that Jones’ approximately 2 million listeners ― including his most famed fan, President Donald Trump ― were all aware that Jones’ red-faced tirades are for show.

In calling himself a performance artist, Jones is referencing a controversial live art tradition with roots in the 1950s and ‘60s, involving movements like Gutai and Fluxus and individuals like Marina Abramović and Vito Acconci. One of the earliest artists recognized for her performances is Carolee Schneemann, who was recently awarded the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. In one of her most iconic performances, 1975’s “Interior Scroll,” Schneemann stood nude on a table, painted her body with mud, and extracted a scroll from her vagina, from which she proceeded to read.

When asked about Jones’ performance art defense, Schneemann responded swiftly: “I think it’s all a load of crap,” she told The Huffington Post. But ultimately, any attempts to strictly classify what is or is not performance art, she clarified, are futile. Read more.

Pizzagate: Cheesy Hand-tossed Lies

by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fact or Fiction?, Hoaxes vs. Scams, Political Challenges, Propaganda and Disinformation

The bizarre tale of Comet Ping Pong restaurant and “Pizzagate” provides a case study in how fake stories proliferate online.
Update: And now it’s somehow gotten darker.
Another update: There is now a direct link between the spread of Pizzagate rumors and the nascent Trump Administration.


“The saga of ‘Pizzagate’: The fake story that shows how conspiracy theories spread”
BBC
December 2, 2016

_92730809_pizzagate3

No victim has come forward. There’s no investigation. And physical evidence? That doesn’t exist either.

But thousands of people are convinced that a paedophilia ring involving people at the highest levels of the Democratic Party is operating out of a Washington pizza restaurant.

The story riveted fringes of Twitter – nearly a million messages were sent last month using the term “pizzagate”.

So how did this fake story take hold amongst alt-right Trump supporters and other Hillary Clinton opponents?

Let’s start with the facts.

In early November, as Wikileaks steadily released piles of emails from Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, one contact caught the attention of prankster sites and people on the paranoid fringes.

James Alefantis is the owner of Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in Washington. He’s also a big Democratic Party supporter and raised money for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He was once in a relationship with David Brock, an influential liberal operative.

Alefantis – who’s never met Clinton – appeared in the Podesta emails in connection with the fundraisers.

And from these thin threads, an enormous trove of conspiracy fiction was spun. Read more.


Uncle Sam’s Imaginary Pen Pal

by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fraud and Deception, Literary Hoaxes, Media Literacy, Propaganda and Disinformation, The History of Pranks

Gizmodo’s Paleofuture blog examines the canon of opinion writer Guy Sims Fitch, a prolific non-existent writer for the United States Information Agency.


“Meet Guy Sims Fitch, a Fake Writer Invented by the United States Government”
by Matt Novak
September 27, 2016
Paleofuture

aotp_guysimsfitchGuy Sims Fitch had a lot to say about the world economy in the 1950s and 60s. He wrote articles in newspapers around the globe as an authoritative voice on economic issues during the Cold War. Fitch was a big believer in private American investment and advocated for it as a liberating force internationally. But no matter what you thought of Guy Sims Fitch’s ideas, he had one big problem. He didn’t exist.

Guy Sims Fitch was created by the United States Information Agency (USIA), America’s official news distribution service for the rest of the world. Today, people find the term “propaganda” to be incredibly loaded and even negative. But employees of the USIA used the term freely and proudly in the 1950s and 60s, believing that they were fighting a noble and just cause against the Soviet Union and the spread of Communism. And Guy Sims Fitch was just one tool in the diverse toolbox of the USIA propaganda machine.

“I don’t mind being called a propagandist, so long as that propaganda is based on the truth,” said Edward R. Murrow in 1962. Murrow took a job as head of the USIA after a long and celebrated career as a journalist, and did quite a few things during his tenure that would make modern journalists who romanticize “the good old days” blush.

But even when USIA peddled its own version of the truth, the propaganda agency wasn’t always using the most, let’s say, truthful of methods. Their use of Guy Sims Fitch—a fake person whose opinions would be printed in countries like Brazil, Germany, and Australia, among others—served the cause of America’s version of the truth against Communism during the Cold War, even if Fitch’s very existence was a lie.

Read more.

Late-night Devil Worship at the CERN?

posted by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters, Urban Legends

Someone filmed a fake human sacrifice at CERN laboratory
by Amar Toor
August 19, 2016

Officials at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have launched an internal investigation after someone filmed a fake human sacrifice ritual at its Geneva headquarters, home to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). In the video, posted online this week, a group of people wearing dark robes stand in front of a Hindu statue before “stabbing” a woman, purportedly as some sort of ritual. It was filmed from afar, and the person who shot it pretended to freak out and ran away after the stabbing.

A CERN spokesperson tells the AFP that the prank video was shot without permission on its Geneva campus, and that the people who orchestrated it had badge access to the site. The spokesperson did not identify the people responsible for it, describing the investigation as an “internal matter.” Read the rest of the story here.

The Strange Saga of Melania Trump’s Speechwriter

by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Prank News

In one of many remarkable moments in this year’s Republican National Convention, potential First Lady Melania Trump delivered a speech blatantly plagiarized from incumbent First Lady Michelle Obama. A little-known Donald Trump speechwriter named Meredith McIver showed up to take the blame, sparking conspiracy theories. And things have stayed weird.


“Who’s Impersonating Melania Trump’s Plagarist Meredith McIver?”
by Gideon Resnick
The Daily Beast
August 2, 2016

meredith-mciver-melania-trump-8Meredith McIver, a former ballerina turned Donald Trump co-author, is definitely a real person. But her social media persona, which came into being after she took the blame for Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech, definitely is not.

The account @imeredithmciver began tweeting on July 20, the day after Melania Trump’s prime-time Republican National Convention speech was upended by the revelation that she had cribbed some lines from an address by Michelle Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. And it is still posing as McIver to this day, with no comment or pushback from the Trump campaign.

As the campaign is in the throes of daily sparring with a Gold Star family, fire marshals, and even the speaker of the House, there’s been no acknowledgment of the fake social media presence of McIver, who told The Daily Beast she has no online presence. Multiple people have emailed The Daily Beast claiming to have some knowledge about the mysterious appearance of the account, ranging from abject satire to claims the Trump campaign is actually behind it.

“I just wanted to set the record straight. @realDonaldTrump is a wonderful man,” the account tweeted just as McIver was getting roped into the burgeoning scandal. With her social media proclamation, the account included a photoshopped image of McIver and Trump standing next to each other in his office. (more…)

Mirage Men: Smoke, Mirrors & Government Disinformation

posted by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fact or Fiction?, Urban Legends

AOTP contributor John Lundberg’s movie Mirage Men, co-produced with Mark Pilkington, Roland Denning & Kypros Kyprianou, is now available for rent and on DVD. The book, Mirage Men: A Journey into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs: The Weird Truth Behind UFOs, written by Mark Pilkington and published in 2010 by Constable, documents the making of the film.

Watch the trailer:

The Guardian in the UK covered the movie:

The real Men in Black, Hollywood and the great UFO cover-up

In a new documentary, US government agents claim they spent decades giving fake evidence of extraterrestrials to gullible ufologists. But why? And how can we trust them now?

Read the whole article here.


Patrick Hruby on Sports Conspiracy Theories

posted by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Illusion and Magic

The Truth Is Out There: From The 1985 NBA Draft Lottery To The Olympics To Game-Fixing … Which Conspiracy Theory Can You Believe?
by Patrick Hruby
The Post Game
May 30, 2012

“You know,” says the magician, “it’s very easy to fix flipping a coin.” For instance: The tosses before football games. Turns out they’re totally riggable. Even with a straight coin. Con men know how. So does the magician, Richard Kaufman. He’s in his 50s, has dark, curly hair, works as the editor of Genii, the nation’s leading magic magazine. Specializes in card tricks. Only now, here in the sunlit kitchen of his suburban Washington, D.C. home, he’s talking tumbling coins.

Heads or tails. Even odds. As indifferent as the universe itself, like the flips that sent Lew Alcindor to the Milwaukee Bucks, Bill Walton to the Portland Trail Blazers, Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon to the Houston Rockets.

Unless …

(more…)

ConCERN: The End Is Near?

posted by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fact or Fiction?

1st extinction event: Leaked CERN documents state LHC
has 70% chances to produce ‘ice-9′ strangelets on 11/9

CERN Truth
September 11, 2010

Abstract. We have received and will show in this article astonishing documents leaked out of CERN internal servers, about the CASTOR project, a Centauro and Strangelet Object Research to hunt for strangelets ‘likely‘ to be produced at the LHC.

According to those internal documents CERN has been lying for years to the press and in the suits, since it always affirmed that it won’t produce the ultra-dangerous, ultradense ‘strangelets’, the liquid explosive made of up, down and strange quarks, responsible of the ice-9 reactions that cause supernovas.

In those documents CERN affirms there is a 65-70% of chances of producing negative strangelets, which according to standard science on strangelets today, will provoke the ice-9 reaction (name taken from Cat and Cradle’s book in which a physicist destroys the world throwing a new type of water that freezes the planet, since an ice-9 reaction will condensate the planet in a 15 kilometers ultra-dense strange star).

Thus CERN has been lying and it is playing with all mankind a Quantum Russian Roulette game with 4 shots out of 6, 66% chances of extinction. This will be even if we survive the biggest genocide of history, calculated multiplying probability and victims: 66% x 6.6 billions=4.4 billions, 1000 times the Holocaust. The experiment will start in 45 days now. We might be living the last month of our existence as individuals and as a species. This Fall can be indeed the Fall of Man. And yet, the experiment is not stopped. This machine is too big to fail. Ave Caesar Hauer, morituri te salutant…

Keep reading for a full disclosure of those documents

thanks Miso

Kennedy Photo Hoax

by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fact or Fiction?

Submitted by W.J. Elvin III as seen on The Slatest:


TMZ Duped by Kennedy Photo Hoax, December 28, 2009

Early Monday morning, celebrity gossip site TMZ published a photo it claimed could have “changed world history.” The photo, according to the Web site and the experts it marshaled, showed former President John F. Kennedy surrounded by naked women on a yacht.

1227_jfk_boat_tmz_01_425

Alas, the picture is not what it seemed. The photograph ran as part of a Playboy photo spread in 1967, four years after JFK was assassinated. TMZ conceded its error Monday afternoon, once a tipster alerted them to the fact. The 1967 photograph accompanied a story titled “Playboy’s Charter Yacht Party: How to Have a Ball on the Briny with an Able-Bodies Complement of Ship’s Belles.” The photo fakery may sour TMZ‘s brand, which had garnered credit for being the first to accurately report the deaths of Michael Jackson and, more recently, actress Brittany Murphy.

Framed by a Computer Virus

posted by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fraud and Deception, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

Framed for child porn _ by a PC virus
by Jordan Robertson
1010WINS
November 9, 2009

child-p-200Of all the sinister things that Internet viruses do, this might be the worst: They can make you an unsuspecting collector of child pornography.

Heinous pictures and videos can be deposited on computers by viruses – the malicious programs better known for swiping your credit card numbers. In this twist, it’s your reputation that’s stolen.

Pedophiles can exploit virus-infected PCs to remotely store and view their stash without fear they’ll get caught. Pranksters or someone trying to frame you can tap viruses to make it appear that you surf illegal Web sites.

Whatever the motivation, you get child porn on your computer – and might not realize it until police knock at your door.

An Associated Press investigation found cases in which innocent people have been branded as pedophiles after their co-workers or loved ones stumbled upon child porn placed on a PC through a virus. It can cost victims hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove their innocence. (more…)

Lou Dobbs Takes a Crapshot

posted by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories

Questions Surrounding Dobbs’ Gunfire Incident Cast Doubt on CNN’s Credibility
by Roberto Lovato
Huffington Post
October 30, 2009

lou-dobbs-200Conflicting reports about a bullet that hit the top of Lou Dobbs’ house in Sussex, New Jersey, are raising new and serious questions about the credibility of Lou Dobbs, CNN and its President, Jon Klein. Reports in the New York Post and here on the Huffington Post now indicate that the bullet was likely a hunter’s errant shot. Yet Dobbs and CNN have rushed onto the airwaves, treating the incident as a de-facto murder attempt against the news host and his wife.

During Monday’s broadcast on his radio show, Dobbs declared in the most urgent tone that “Three weeks ago this morning a shot was fired at my house,” and that the shots “followed weeks and weeks of threatening phone calls.” Dobbs went on to link the alleged attack to a vast Latino conspiracy made up of Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera, LULAC, the National Council of La Raza and other “ethnocentric interest groups,” groups that he says are “creating an atmosphere” that led to the alleged phone threats and supposed attack. (more…)

Area 51: The World That Doesn’t Exist

by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fact or Fiction?, Urban Legends

Submitted by W.J. Elvin III as seen in the LA Times:


The Road to Area 51
by Annie Jacobsen
LA Times
April 5, 2009

After decades of denying the facility’s existence, five former insiders speak out

45879002-425

Area 51. It’s the most famous military institution in the world that doesn’t officially exist. If it did, it would be found about 100 miles outside Las Vegas in Nevada’s high desert, tucked between an Air Force base and an abandoned nuclear testing ground.

Then again, maybe not– the U.S. government refuses to say. You can’t drive anywhere close to it, and until recently, the airspace overhead was restricted–all the way to outer space. Any mention of Area 51 gets redacted from official documents, even those that have been declassified for decades.

It has become the holy grail for conspiracy theorists, with UFOlogists positing that the Pentagon reverse engineers flying saucers and keeps extraterrestrial beings stored in freezers. Urban legend has it that Area 51 is connected by underground tunnels and trains to other secret facilities around the country. (more…)

LiteratEye #28: The Mona Lisa Theft Mystery – Was There a Mastermind?

by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fraud and Deception

Here’s the twenty eighth installment of LiteratEye, a series found only on The Art of the Prank Blog, by W.J. Elvin III, editor and publisher of FIONA: Mysteries & Curiosities of Literary Fraud & Folly and the LitFraud blog.


LiteratEye #28: The Mona Lisa Theft Mystery – Was There a Mastermind
By W.J. Elvin III
August 28, 2009

monalisa recov-425

Assuming the world doesn’t end before the predicted date of 2012, many of us will be around to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in Paris. Among suspects in the “unimaginable” 1911 theft was Pablo Picasso – and I don’t mean he was a suspect in theory; the young leading light of modern art was actually hauled into court for intense questioning.

There will likely be a surge of books, exhibitions, television shows and so on connected with the anniversary of the best-known art heist of all time. We can expect a great deal of drama. That’s not to say we can expect a great deal of truth. (more…)

Dark Side of the Moon

by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Media Pranks, The History of Pranks

Update, July 16, 2009 — An interesting twist for conspiracy theorists — NASA lost moon footage, but Hollywood restores it


Submitted by Jorge Luis Marzo:

From Wikipedia:

“Dark Side of the Moon” is a French mockumentary by director William Karel which originally aired on Arte in 2002 with the title Opération Lune. The basic premise for the film is the theory that the television footage from the Apollo 11 Moon landing was faked and actually recorded in a studio by the CIA with help from director Stanley Kubrick. It features some surprising guest appearances, most notably by Donald Rumsfeld, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, Buzz Aldrin and Stanley Kubrick’s widow, Christiane Kubrick…

Here, as a tease, are three clips about 25 minutes long, cut from the hour and a half documentary.

(more…)

LiteratEye #21: Crusading British Journalist Combats Stupidity

by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fact or Fiction?

Here’s the twenty first installment of LiteratEye, a series found only on The Art of the Prank Blog, by W.J. Elvin III, editor and publisher of FIONA: Mysteries & Curiosities of Literary Fraud & Folly and the LitFraud blog.


LiteratEye #21: Crusading British Journalist Combats Stupidity
By W.J. Elvin III
July 10, 2009

ufo believerDavid Aaronovitch calls his new book “my war on stupidity.” Before dashing into the fray, it seemed prudent to figure which side I’m on. So I ordered the book.

Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History” is an incredibly difficult book to obtain. Amazon will send it to you in 2010. Several vendors offer it at a ridiculously high price. The one reasonable source backed out when I put in an order.

So, over to the UK, where it was published. By golly, the outfit I ordered from there suddenly pulled out of the deal. Conspiracy, or what?

I finally got a copy, shipped from … France?

Aaronovitch is a popular media heavy in Britain and has lots of admirers and friends who write or talk for money, so his book will probably sell well. Some of the reviews are so positive you’d think the reviewer wanted to cuddle up and kiss the guy.

He’s a former Communist who doesn’t seem to mind when described by his media mates as a hawkish leftist intellectual.

Aaronovitch explains that the reason some of us qualify as stupid is that we assume conspiracy when an event is really the result of accident or chance. Such beliefs are harmful because they distort reality and lead to “disastrous decisions.” (more…)