Natural News on Angelina Jolie

A link to Natural News about Angelina Jolie’s surgery is making the rounds. The claim is that Ms. Jolie is the victim of a cancer industry that promotes mutilation. This is utter garbage.

Natural News is a conspiracy theory venue. Even a brief look at their website shows what it’s really about. It features articles explaining the evils of vaccination and how it kills your children
It features videos about Bill Gates and his plan to exterminate humanity
It promotes 9/11 conspiracy theory
and conspiracy theories about chemtrails

Natural News is one of the Bibles for hard-core conspiracy theorist.

The writer of this article is Mike Adams. Mr. Adams goes by the industry name of the Health Ranger. He is a hard-core conspiracy theorist. Take a look at his website for some of the facts on what Mike believes. The Natural News features many of his articles; you can start there. But let me list just a few of his ideas about how the world really works.

Vaccines cause autism
America has devolved into a nation of welfare zombies
The Boston Marathon Bombers were working for the FBI
More guns are good

I think you get the message by now. Don’t read anything that appears in Natural News. If you somehow get exposed to this nonsense, wash your hands as quickly as possible. Maybe take a shower. It’s like immersing yourself in a pile of garbage. Get out of there as quickly as you can or the stench will overpower you.


Republicans Who Are Birthers

I have been repeatedly asked to explain why I say the Republicans are political allies of conspiracy theory. My point is not that electoral voters for the Democrats do not endorse conspiracy theories. Rather, my point is that the Republicans have an institutional bond with conspiracy theory. It is so deeply ingrained in the party that publicly supporting a conspiracy theory is not only not stigmatizing for a candidate, it may even, in some cases, be necessary to get as many Republican votes as possible.

Below is a partial list of Republican candidates and representatives who at some point referred to so-called Obama Birther conspiracy theories as part of their political life. It is not complete and anyone able to supply me with more names and references is invited to contact me. I have no doubt that some of those named, like my Facebook friend Mike Huckabee, are not real Birthers. But that’s my point. In some cases, even candidates or major figures who are not real Birthers need to at least pay lip service to the idea.

In contrast, the only significant Democrats I am aware of who have publicly endorsed a 9/11 conspiracy theory are Cynthia McKinney, who served six terms in the United States House of Representatives for the Democrats, and Van Jones, who was Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. McKinney is now completely ostracized from the Democrats and has recently appeared on stage endorsing an American patriot group that promotes chemtrails and global weather engineering. Jones was fired from his position after it was disclosed that in 2004, he had signed a petition calling for a new 9/11 investigation.

In fact, the most prominent politician that I know who has recently publicly endorsed a 9/11 conspiracy is Debra Medina, who was candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2010 Texas gubernatorial election
In the Republican primary on March 2, 2010, Medina finished with 18.6% of the vote, behind Perry (51.1%) and Hutchison (30.3%). Rick Perry is also on my list of Obama Birthers – so that’s 2 out of 3 for Texas.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry
Scott Keadle, who is running for the Republican nomination for the state’s 8th Congressional District
GOP congressional candidate Jim Pendergraph
NC-8 candidate Richard Hudson

Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), who is running for Senate
Republican candidate for senate Tommy Thompson
Iowa’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives
GOP nomination in North Carolina’s 8th congressional district, Richard Hudson
Former Michigan congressional representative and current Republican candidate for Senate, Pete Hoekstra

Michigan GOP Senate Candidate In On-Air Battle With CNN’s Brooke Baldwin Over ‘Birther’ Issue

James Grinols, one of 10 presidential electors chosen by the Republican Party of Minnesota
Leo Berman, Texas State Legislator
Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Missouri and Republican candidate for President
Republican congressional candidate William Hudak
Hudak used birther code name for Obama
John Sampson, Republican candidate for Colorado State Senate – District 25
U.S. Representative for Florida’s 15th congressional district
Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey,
Wil Cardon, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Arizona
Larry Klayman, former Sen. candidate & Judicial Watch founder
Nathan Deal, Republican governor of Georgia
Even Romney had to pay lip service to the idea.

And of course there is Donald Trump

You may not be aware of this, but all over the USA, Republican legislatures have been introducing bills inspired by the challenges of the Obama Birther conspiracy. You can read about these on the Fogbow ‘Birther Legislation’ forum
However, the lay news is full of information about this,
Missouri Birther Bill Gets Preliminary Approval From Lawmakers”Birther” bill passes in Arizona legislature
Kansas committee approves Birther Bill

Kansas committee approves Birther Bill

The Biggest Spider I’ve Ever Seen

I originally posted this in 2006, but have resurrected it for Dale.

When I was young, I really liked spiders. I used to let them walk all over me; up and down my arms and hands…all kinds of spiders. I lived in a place with a lot of spiders; big ones, small ones, ugly ones, and beautiful ones. And none of them ever bothered me.

But then something happened. It was a switch in my mind. Suddenly, they scared the Bejesus out of me. I couldn’t go anywhere near them. And then I was in Taiwan, in a room with the biggest spider I had ever seen.

I was upstairs and heard a noise in the back room on the first floor. I couldn’t have really heard anything, because when I went down there, all that was down there was a huge spider. That room has a back door that leads outside, so I had thought maybe some kids had got in. I put on my hiking books and went downstairs to see. I opened the door and there it was, as big as a grown man’s hand, right in the middle of the room.

I have lived among the Buddhists for a long time, and their ethos does brush off on you. Besides, I’ve never much liked killing things. I went and got a broom, opened the back door, and sweep it outside.

Then I got an idea; we had a cockroach problem in the house. If I killed some of the roaches and left their carcasses in the room, the spiders would come back and wipe out all the roaches in the house. So I did it. And one day, I looked in the room and the roach bodies were all gone.

Bad move. At least it was only roaches. Now there were man-sized spiders in the house. I had to tell my roommates, but first I had to go to work. I came home and found Ann to warn her about the spiders.

“It’s too late,” she said. “We already found them.” And this is the story she told me.

She had come home, and there it was, the biggest spider she had ever seen on the living room wall. She called Ray, our gigantic Mexican-American roommate, to kill it. I guess they don’t have spiders like that in LA because Ray tried to kill it with a broom. He whacked the thing. But instead of dying, when it hit the floor out popped a small ball made of something that looked like tape. Thousands of baby spiders poured out of the thing, all over the floor.

They were everywhere. And the mama spider was still alive. On she crawled. On toward Ray. He turned and tried to climb the stairs. That’s when the web wrapped around him like something from a horror movie. And on the mama spider crawled.

Really, his life was never in the danger that he feared, but he sure was scared. He ran to the kitchen, grabbed the Raid, and started spraying for all he was worth.

But the mama spider crawled on, refusing to die. On she crawled. Pulling herself through the lake of poison. Fighting for the lives of her babies; for the future of her species. But finally, this was too much even for the biggest spider in the world, and she died.

There are no movie spiders as big as a house, with the power to destroy a truck. The biggest spiders in the world aren’t much bigger than your hand. For all I know, that was the biggest spider in the world, or the biggest spider of its kind. And so, Ray may have slain the biggest spider in the world on that day. No one will ever know the truth of that gargantuan battle fought in the heart of Yung-ho. It wasn’t recorded by a movie or by a book. There was just death and then it was forgotten.

And while movies end neatly with a conclusion that finishes the danger or sets the story up for a squeal, reality is never so neatly organized. Mama spider, baby spiders, what’s missing? We searched the house for days looking for the daddy spider. Finally we found him, and we found him much as you’d expect, dead for ages, sucked dry like an old sponge. A sorry end to this story of mythical battle for survival.

How the 9/11 Truth Found Me

The honest truth is that I still have no interest in conspiracy theory generally and in this 9/11 Truth stuff specifically. I have been dragged kicking and screaming in to this messed up place. I wish I had never heard of the crap and continued to live my world in naive ignorance. But fate has had different plans for me.

There really was a time when, believe it or not, I had never heard of a 9/11 conspiracy. Like many, I remember exactly where I was when Islamic jihadists crashed hijacked planes into the World Trade Center towers and other targets on the morning of 11 September in 2001. I was at the home of my private student in Taipei City. He was a high school student at the Taipei American School, and his family had a very large-screened TV. His mother interrupted us trying to explain something about how a plane had crashed into the WTC. I remember not fully understanding what she had said until I walked out into their living room, and there, on a wall-sized TV screen, was the WTC 1 with smoke pouring out of it. I stood there transfixed for I don’t know how long.

Then, some time later, I spoke with one of Taiwan’s leading designers of steel structure buildings about the attacks. I had taught English at his company for many years and through this, I had come to know some of the leading project managers and professors of design at national universities. I know personally C.S. Lee, who was the chief designer on the Taipower Building which was, at the time, the tallest steel-structure building in Taiwan. My friend told me that he was not at all surprised by the collapse of the WTC towers and then explained to me in great detail about the chemistry of steel under extreme heat. He told me that if I ever see a large steel structure fire like that in person, run the other way as fast as I can.

That was that. There was no mystery about the 9/11 attacks that needed to be solved. There was no professional doubt. There was no rumour of something that even the experts thought was strange. Here I was in personal contact with leading experts who told me directly that they had no problem with what they say about the 11th of September in 2001.

And on my life went. I do not recall ever hearing another thing about a 9/11 conspiracy until something happened in 2009 that shocked me from my naive slumber and catapulted me into my present world of conspiracy theory. But in fact, this is not at all true. In reflection, I had heard about the 9/11 conspiracy many times before. I once overheard a former colleague who has a drinking problem saying something to the effect that there was a “scientist” in the USA who said the WTC towers were brought down in a demolition. Another time, one of my training partners started going on about faked cell phone calls from United 93. He was doubtful about this, but went on to talk about aliens who occupied the space underneath the Denver International Airport. The point about aliens in Denver stuck in my mind much more effectively and I eventually wrote a piece about this for one of my blogs.

What’s a Conspiracy Theory?

And apparently, a good friend of mine once sent me a link to Penn & Teller’s ranting about 9/11
conspiracy theories, but I had completely forgotten about this until he reminded me many years later after I had begun writing about 9/11 conspiracies.

So it was with an almost virgin mind that one day in the spring of 2009, I ended up trapped in one of the faculty preparation rooms of my school with – and yes, this is his real name – Paul Hyder. Paul was a faculty member at my school. He has since ‘quit’ for reasons which are not altogether clear to me but are widely believed to be more properly labeled as a firing. I don’t know the details of why Paul left our school, but I can say there are a lot of very strange things being said about him since then. Anyway, Paul holds a DELTA, which is an English teaching qualification, and an MA in political science from a nondescript American university. He had taught in Saudi Arabia and openly despises the place. He once told me that it wouldn’t be a bad idea if it was turned into a parking lot. And one day, Paul started ranting on and on to me about how the US government had been involved in the attacks and how the facts of Building 7 made this obvious. When I told him that I didn’t really care, he started yelling at me.

For psychological reasons which I can not explain, I was moved by this experience. So rather than forgetting about it completely, I went home and l looked on the Net for information on this 9/11 conspiracy stuff. Suddenly the world changed before my eyes. After almost 8 years of bliss, I realized that this indescribable level of stupidity was widespread. There really were people who could believe this stuff. It was as if I had been hit in the face with cold water or even reborn. I now saw that I lived in far stupider world than I had ever imagined.

The whole idea just seemed so dumb to me that I couldn’t understand how anyone could believe this. My initial reasoning for this had to do with videos I saw where some youngsters from a group I later came to know as We Are Change were discussing how New York City emergency response personnel must have had knowledge about a government plot to destroy the WTC. The idea behind this is that EMT and 1st responders to the 9/11 attacks have been cowered into silence by threats of some sort, perhaps concerning their pensions. But just the idea of this seemed so dumb that I couldn’t understand how anyone could believe it. I have known many EMTs – mostly police – but some firefighters and paramedics. If you have ever met police or firefighters for any period of time you would know that the idea of threatening these guys into silence is mind-numbingly stupid. And hence my first intellectual question about the 9/11 conspiracy…how could there be people so isolated from social reality this could make sense to them? To put it another way, who believes in a 9/11 conspiracy?

That summer, I sat down at my dad’s house in Canada and decided to answer this question. By the end of the summer, I had enough information to answer at least part of it. Much of the results of this appear in an article I wrote for Michael Shermer’s Skeptic Magazine called Who Still Believes in 9/11 Conspiracies? published in 2011. Here are the contents from that issue.

You can find a copy of this paper here

This is the official version of the scan from The Skeptic Magazine. Anyway, I am quite pleased with the results, however, there is one factual error contained in it. If anyone can find the error and tell me what it is, I owe them a beer.

Christianity and the 9/11 Truth

In the article I published in Skeptic last year,

I documented the relationship between right-wing political beliefs and conspiracy beliefs, particularly the 9/11 conspiracy. In addition, many of these people are right-wing Christians who believe that President Obama is somehow associated with a secret global government that is trying to murder millions of people. It’s complicated and the details are not so important. The best way to describe the beliefs of these people is that they are unaffiliated Christians. Most do not attend church regularly and are not affiliated with a church or denomination. But there is no question about their Christianity. Some are members of the right-wing Constitution Party that wants American law to reflect the Bible. Others are pro-life advocates.

I have always had trouble dealing with another aspect of 9/11 conspiracy beliefs. Prior to the election of President Obama, the most visible segment of 9/11 conspiracy beliefs refereed to themselves as professional groups for 9/11 Truth. This includes,

Lawyers for 9/11 Truth – whom I have tried to contact and have been told they no longer function.

Pilots for 9/11 Truth – run by some people who call themselves the Citizens Investigation Team who have, among other things, accused a 70-year-old Washington DC taxi driver of being a key player in a global conspiracy.

There’s a bunch of them, but the most active of these is

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth

AE9/11T is the brainchild of architect Richard Gage.

Groups like this I have always discarded as left over from the time when 9/11 conspiracy was seen as an anti-Bush statement or something about the war in Iraq. But I have recently discovered that Richard Gage is in fact a devoutly religious man. Over on the James Randi Forum, a member describes the conclusions of his research into the background of Richard Gage

He links to other posts he has made on this point

In summary, he found that Gage is a member of a group called the Union Church which is a sort of New Age liberal type Christian church which I do not clearly understand. I have since found that several people who appear in Gage produced 9/11 conspiracy videos are affiliated with these sorts of New Age Christian beliefs.

In this context, this post from the JREF should not be missed

This quote from the post is significant. Brainster is absolutely correct, as he is in the post, linking 9/11 Truth leaders to other quasi-Christian cults

This is all made even more significant by the role of David Ray Griffin. Griffin is quoted frequently by these people, including Gage, as their inspiration. Griffin is a former faculty member of the Claremont Graduate University School of Theology and a major figure in a type of theology called Process Theology. And, in the strange world that my life has become, he is the doctoral supervisor of George Hermanson, whose services conducted at the University of British Columbia for the United Church of Canada I used to attend,

Strangely, their liberal church background has not stopped them from associating with an increasingly dark crowd. So Gage speaks at events hosted by groups that fit in well with the American Patriot Movement and Griffin deals with racist organizations and Japanese fascist groups.

More recently, I discovered that one of the solid 9/11 conspiracy groups is Religious Leaders for 9/11 Truth

Check out the names on their petition. You may be surprised about whose name is up there.

Anyway, my point is that activists promoting 9/11 conspiracy and related beliefs appear to almost all be devoutly religious Christians of some sort, either affiliated with churches, practicing in an unaffiliated manner or in a quasi-Christian group.

So dominant has Christianity become among the existing activists for a 9/11 Truth that I currently describe the conspiracy beliefs as an internal struggle between different kinds of American Christians.

Shaun Richman Is Not a 9/11 Truther

The Independent Sentinel is a group blog, but one of their writers is Sarah Noble. Sarah describes herself as a political independent but if you take a look at the contents of the blog, it’s a lot of bad stuff about how President Obama “betrays” his friends, how gun control is bad and how NASA is a waste of money.

Anyway, Sarah posted this piece about how American Federation of Teachers (AFT) organizer Shaun Richman is a 9/11 conspiracy theorist – or as she called him – a Truther. She posted a lot ‘stuff’ she calls evidence for this. I’m not going to go into all of it here, but if you want, you can read the critique we gave her on the James Randi Educational Foundation 9/11 conspiracy forum here.

Sarah is just wrong. She uses quotations that were made by Richman about 9/11 in October 2001, but then quoted by right-wing political sources in 2008 and 2012. That’s right, they were made before anyone knew anything about what had happened and then dragged up for the 2 Obama elections. Good choice of neutral sources there Sarah. If you scroll down to the bottom of her blog post, you’ll find that Sarah has been kind enough to respond to my remarks. I appreciate this very much. Unfortunately, she seems unaware of the mistakes she’s made. It will be interesting to see where she goes from here.

Who Still Believes in 9/11 Conspiracies?

This is a post about my 9/11 conspiracy article.

The full reference is

Scott Sommers. (2011). Who Still Believes in 9/11 Conspiracies? An Empirical Study on Political Affiliation and Conspiratorial Thinking. Skeptic Magazine. 16 (2), 13-16. ISSN 1556-5696

You can read a complete authorized version of the paper here,

…and here’s the magazine page for the article,

The article is cited in the entry for the source of all truth things, the Great Wiki, under the 9/11 Truth movement,