Conspiracy Theories and Superstition (RW13, RW14)

Rituals, jinxing and OCD (RW13)

John often anthropomorphizes objects. For example he would not throw away a pen because that is the pen he used to sign the document that later on resulted in some fortuitous thing, or because that is the pen with which he wrote the farewell letter to his one true love. It is hard to throw the pen away, partly because of its significance to him and partly because he feels that the pen itself knows. That seems a bit ritualistic.

John has a pair of lucky underwear and a pair of lucky socks, but in reality he is just being an idiot because they fail him often enough. All of Dan's underwear is equal. Open up a new pack and throw out all the old ones, it does not matter. He is free! John has underwear that is unwearable but that doesn't mean he can just get rid of it! They have been down that road with him, they are part of the whole story. Dan can throw away anything, because things are just objects. Many of John's football friends will never switch chairs again if they had done it once and the team lost. They also don't want people who can't comit for the whole season to watch the game with them. It is going to affect the spin of the ball if somebody bails out on a game! That's all horseshit!

John doesn't believe in jinx either, like people who wouldn't make a pot of coffee because today is a special day and they don't want to jinx it. Dan is not supersticious or sentimental at all, but he doesn't want to jinx something. It might come from his ritualized OCD. While it is very well managed compared to how it once was, there is a connection in his OCD mind that forces him to do the thing or else something terrible is going to happen. Jinxing is connected to that. For example if you go to bed and you check that the front door is locked, then you already know that it is locked. You can visually see it and you know that you have locked it, but let's get a tactile feedback to make sure it is really locked. You know it is locked! It doesn't even matter how nice the neighborhood is that you live in. As soon as you think about taking that basket of laundry with you upstairs, you would have to check the door one more time.

John used to go to a bar in Seattle called Linda's Tavern. It opened in January of the same year he quit drinking, so there were 10 months of overlap and it was one of John's places. There was a guy who seemed to be in his 70:s, but when you looked at him closely, his mental illness might have aged him prematurely. His face was so ravaged by the tension it carried that it was almost shrunken. He was never drinking, but he was making his round and checking that the 5 door knobs in the bar were secure. At the time, no one understood it beyond it being kind of crazy, but he was visibly tense and agitated harmless. For the people who worked at Linda's, he was part of their day. They wouldn't interrupt. No one saw a need to stop it and it was obviously super-duper important to his well-being.

Superstition (RW13)

John was born on a Friday the 13th. In the 1970:s, Friday the 13th, the Bermuda triangle and other unexplained mysteries had a lot more cultural purchase on people's immagination than they do now. When was the last time anybody said anything about the Bermuda triangle? There was even an episode of the TV-show called In Search of..., it was in newspapers, and despite nobody having explained it, nobody talks about it anymore either. John was born in an era when that stuff mattered, so he came to believe that having been born on Friday the 13th gave him some special powers and he was some kind of warlock.

Once John playfully cast a spell on neighborhood kids and his mom walked by, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, went right into his face and told him not to mess with powers he doesn't understand! John was shocked, he had never done things like that before and she was very serious in a way he had never seen her before. Maybe she had access to powers he didn't understand and it was not yet his turn to use them? Maybe he was untrained and irresponsible, and not yet initiated into a guild that she was in? She definitely has some superstitions and wanted him to be cautious not to mess aroud, but of course she didn't have any special knowledge. Nevertheless, that encounter produced a conviction in him that with a bit of training he could be more effective at conjuring. He never learned even the most basic card tricks, because it required practicing a thing that was going to fool people and it wasn't actual magic. He was instead waiting for some kind of Harry Potter moment when it would be revealed to him that everybody else was a muggle. To be an athlete you have to be born with a capability that you can train, but to be an elite athlete, your training must also accompany an innate ability. If training alone would be enough, then there would be a lot more elite athletes, because there are a ot of people who train really hard.

Conspiracies (RW13)

John never believed in wide-ranging conspiracies for there to be a secret cabal that is actually running things and is directly influencing people and world action, never truly to be revealed. Those have existed throughout history at the level of the military/industrial complex or subterfuges. Over time, that stuff becomes less and less plausible instead of more and more plausible, because you will never find an airforce pilot who says he has been to Area 51 and seen the dead UFOs. It never really plays out, similar to the conspiracies about the Bilderberg Group or the Rothschilds. The fact that they are capitalists, trying to corner a market and secure an advantage for themselves is a great and reasonable explanation for all of their behavior. They are not meeting in secret in an underground bunker with the other jews to run the world. What would their advantage be?

For example in the moview Spectre it is never explained why Spectre cares. Is it about money? Is surveillance its own reward? What is he going to do with all that knowledge? Conspiracies are often created by people as explantions for phenomena they are affected by directly. The Rothschilds don't give a shit about some retiree in Arizona, so why would they surveil them? People who are reporting conspiracies often have not thought it through. The NSA has such a difficult time sorting through the eavesdropping on the known terrorists, let alone some dingeling who owns a ranch in Utah that they don't give a shit about. The study of history reveals a lot of embarrassing stuff about people, but often there is an easy explanation. Every terrible thing that Stalin did, resulting in the death of tens of millions of people, can be easily explained by his personality being the deciding factor. We must never let all power rest in the hands of one person, because they can't handle it. They don't serve any of their masters in some circular room somewhere by killing 60 million people!

Conspiracy theories (RW14)

  • Bigfoot: Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot was super-duper real for John, but later he felt like it was implausible that Bigfoot would continue to exist in the actual world and escape notice. Mountlake Terrace seemed like the beginning of Bigfoot turf. He read an interesting and fun book called "The Long Walk", the autobiography of Slavomir Rawicz from Poland who escaped from a gulag during WWII and walked all the way from Northern Siberia to India. It was adapted into a movie called "The Way Back". At the climax of this book, this group of guys who walked all the way accross Siberia, Mongolia, the Gobi desert and the Himalayas, saw some Yetis high up in the Himalayas and the last chapter of the book describes the whole experience. By that point they were of course totally hallucinating, but when you read this book and you are very invested in the story, it all seems completely plausible. We know that the book is true for the most part unless the author would just be completely insane! When they made the movie, they reproduced the book in pretty excruciating detail and a lot of the scenes are very close to the book, but they just left that one part with the Yetis out. It would have made the movie phenominal, but they just whitewashed this experience! Does John think that there is Bigfoot? No! But does he believe that there are Bigfoots? Sure!
  • Loch Ness Monster: John does not believe in the Loch Ness Monster. Quite a bit of work has been done searching for it, John has flown over it and the lake itself was perceivable. It is another story from the 1970s that we spent a lot of time thinking and talking about and used a lot of money to build submarines and sonars.
  • The Bermuda Triangle: The Bermuda Triangle is an apex for either extraterrestrial or magnetic or other kind of unknown forces that is responsible in a supernatural way to take the planes away. The region is very volatile from a weather standpoint, but it is naturally explainable. It is pretty weird that a bunch of navy pilots just got lost in there. On the other side, an entire flight of Blue Angels or some other flying troup will just fly themselves into a mountain, because only the first guy is doing the steering and everybody else is following his wing tips. The lead guy could have gotten disoriented, maybe he got a minor stroke or he just blew it, and the rest of the guys simply followed him until it was too late.
  • Fluoridation of water: Drinking water is fluoridated to reduce tooth decay, but clearly not as a means of government control. It feels like the myth about chemtrails, another thing that people don't understand. It is provable that fluoride in the water does control tooth decay, which is the explanation that is offered for it, but John doesn't see how extra fluoride would make us more susceptible to government control. No case has been made. If they were putting salpeter or radium in the water, that would be a different story.
  • Princess Diana's death: The death of Princess Diana was caused by a drunk chauffeur hauling ass through a pretty narrow tunnel, trying to avoid or collide with paparazzi on motorcycles.
  • Moonlanding: The 1969 moonlanding was not a hoax, but it was a singular human achievment. What could be gained by hoaxing that? Money? Put us ahead of the Russians? Bring together united society here in America? The people in government who would be orchestrating a massive conspiracy like that are too stupid, we know how stupid they are. George Bush is measurably stupid, Gerald Ford is measurably stupid, and Nixon was completely consumed by his own paranoia and pretty small machinations. For them to orchestrate the moonlanding in order to do something as intangible as to shame the Russians into a posture where they would just roll over, show their white belly and say "Okay, we surrender! You made it to the moon first and our system of government is bonk. We are your vassals now". It didn't happen, first of all, and it is illogical. That whole rigmarole, just for duping people? The expenditure of energy and effort and money to accomplish that hoax would have to have a correspondingly large benefit, which it clearly does not.
  • Area 51: (The myth is that in 1947, a UFO crashed into Roswell). UFO:s are plausible and it is plausible that they are invisible to us, but John does not think that the crash has happened. If they are capable of visiting earth and being largely invisible to us, they would probably avoid crashing. They would also probably not come solo, but as part of an Armada. If one guy crashes into the dessert, they would make certain that he was not discovered. There was enough time for their fellows to evaporate him. What if the crash was intentional, because they knew we would cover it up? By subtly infiltrating our culture, we would slowly come to terms with aliens in a way that would be reasonable. John believes that this explanation is plausible. There is a Head & Shoulders Barbie bust, not fully life-sized, but you can comb her hair and do her makeup. When you see her next to Head & Shoulders Elsa, you notice how exaggeratedly alien-like Elsa's features are. It is kind of stratling and scary. If you see Elsa by herself, you see her as an Anime-like contemporary animation, like those Bratz dolls that were little sluts with big eyes and small chins. If the UFOs were to slowly introduce this notion, part of that would be teaching us that their faces are normal and beautiful, "come along, come along!" If they intentionally crashed at Roswell, it would also be a perfect way to gain a modicum of control, because now the government has a secret and the UFOs can leverage that secret to a certain extend. If it were true, it would require so many people to be in on the secret, and already when more than 5 people know a thing, it is very hard to keep under wraps. If 500 or 1500 or 5000 airforce employees, Area 51 people and presidents knew, it would be very hard to contain. Aliens gradually infiltrating us is still a possibility. In movies from the 1950s and 1960s, they were depicted as scary, in the 1970s the TV Show based on Project Blue Book ended every week with spooky spooks, but then Close Encounters of the Third Kind was the first widespready mainstream UFO that introduced the idea of friendly aliens. In the original 1951 The Day the Earth Stood Still", there was some sense that the alien was friendly and the robot was programmed to protect him, but we fucked it up so badly with our army-response to it that it became war-like. In the 1980:s, ET and Alf became cute, and now we have Elsa. She is so beautiful!

Scientology (RL150)

For years, Merlin had a lot of really good material on Scientology that he wouldn’t release, because he knew how these guys roll. He was afraid they were going to Fatan (?) him like in the movie. As with a lot of popular culture, John followed along on Twitter as everyone talked about that movie, but he did not watch it. Merlin suggests reading the very good book that shows you how scary these guys are. Hodgman went through a phase when he was very interested in Scientology, acquired all the secret video tapes, and made them all sit down a couple of nights at his house in Maine to watch Scientology videos until the middle of the night. John could never quite be certain that this wasn’t an elaborate hoax and if these things were actually real.

Merlin got ahold of one of those tapes 10 years ago around 2005. It showed the kind of thing that was featured in the movie, depicting a very large event that Merlin would describe as a combination of the Oscar Awards and Triumpf of the Will. Instead of Neil Patrick Harris, it featured the creepy little guy David Miscavige, or David Miscarriage. People were trading these tapes around like in the Church of the SubGenius thing. Being interested in what is up with Scientology and looking critical at it has been an Internet thing for while. Even by just reading about it and watching these videos you get this second order cult feeling. Merlin finds himself getting a little obsessed with it and he can spend 1.5 hours just reading glossaries of Scientology terms.

The book "Behold, a pale Horse" (RL250)

When you would sell people a barrel of oil in the olden days, you would fill it half with water, because the oil would float on top. In order to hide a radio in "Hogan's Heroes", you do the same as when you smuggle Bearer bonds: you put a pack of coffee in it to divert the dogs. Otherwise, the bonds would alert the dogs because they smell like cocaine and you would find flecks of coke on any kind of monetary device, especially from Germany, let's be honest. Some reports say that every $100 bill contains traces of cocaine, but that sounds like the type of thing that drug people say, like every cop has to tell you that they are a cop if you ask them.

The book "Behold, a Pale Horse" is one of the original source materials for this madness in the 1980:s where the conspiracy theories of the time were all gathered together in one sort of comprehensive book, all coming from Bill Cooper's excessive pre-Internet research into these things. This was the source for John's great revelation: He was laying in bed one night, totally whacked out and jumbo jets go over Capitol Hill in Seattle. One of the jets was coming in on final approach to SeaTac airport and John was like "If the UFOs would disguise their ships as something, wouldn't they disguise them as jumbo jets?", an idea that came from reading this book. The author's bonafide was being a former "US Naval Intelligence Briefing Team Member", which sounds a bit anticlimactic, you could maybe add "spouse" to it. The Germans probably have a word for that. After reading the book, sitting around doing bad drugs that had been cut with baby laxative made perfect sense, given that - of all the people in the world who should know what's really behind the curtain - it would be us, this group of people who never washed their sheets.

John cannot rule out UFO:s (RW39)

John accepts UFO:s as a possibility because he cannot rule out something that we collectively know so little about. In the same way, although John does not follow the precepts of any religion, he can't rule out God in a definitive argument, what a ludicrous amount of hubris that would be! There was also the Alcoholics Anonymous influence where many people complain that there is som God element in AA. No group of people has ever been so brilliant as a group of alcoholics on their absolute last legs. All you have to agree on is that you don't know and then you will be on the road to saying that maybe there is something that is bigger than you and your solitary intellect. Just focus on that! Maybe there is a God, maybe there are UFO:s, maybe there is someone in the world smarter than you, maybe it is George W. Bush.

John read an article the other day by a George W. Bush apologist who said that George W. Bush is smarter than you. Yes, he misspoke several times and people love to quote those misspeakings, but he got to be president of the United States because he is very smart. The article made a compelling point that 99% of the reasons John thinks George W. Bush is a dumb-ass is because he did things that John disagrees with. You just have to consider for a moment that he has different values than you have. John uses that argument all the time with lay people, because they are not stupid, they just have different values. Dan had asked his father in law recently if he believed in UFO:s and he also said he wouldn't rule it out, but doesn't actively believe it. Other than first-hand contact, the only thing that would convince Dan would be if his brother told him. Dan's brother was the only human on earth that could convince him. John has a great desire for there to be UFO:s, to wake up one morning and there are UFO:s hovering over all the cities.

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