“There's more to life than just books, you know. But not much more...” - The Smiths
Friday, August 24, 2007
The Perils of Paranoia
It could just be me, but I've been noticing a dramatic uptick in paranoia these days...
- As I write this, people believe that the Noble Resolve Joint Forces defense exercises will be used to launch a real false-flag nuclear attack on the United States. This will happen by midnight tomorrow. - A friend concerned about a stock market crash comparable to the crash of ‘87 advises us to stock up on food and water ASAP. - Another friend, learning about Richard’s 9/11 Truth activities, says she agrees wholeheartedly with his conclusions. She then urges us to leave the country; permanently relocate to Asia, perhaps. - Richard’s 9/11 group decides to devote their next meeting entirely to survivalism and emergency preparedness. Most members are convinced there will be a government-sponsored terrorist attack by the end of the summer, likely resulting in martial law throughout the U.S. and Canada. They’re also upset with Richard for declining to feature material on the hazards of chemtrails and aspartame on his website. - Many Americans believe they will be placed in FEMA detention camps and/or microchipped in the near future. I thought the FEMA tales would die out after the Katrina fiasco. - A schoolteacher on our condo board believes that senior citizens are being killed by nanobacteria introduced via their annual flu shots, as part of a secret depopulation program.
Is our paranoia justified? Sure, sometimes it is. For instance, there are some legitimate reasons to be concerned about our loss of freedoms: Expanded legal parameters for wiretapping, the suspension of habeas corpus, hate speech laws that make idiocy and ignorance prosecutable offences. Today Quebec police admitted that the mask-wearing provocateurs at a recent SPP protest were, in fact, Quebec policeman - and that's precisely what the president of the CPE union had accused them of being. So don't we have enough on our plate without fretting over chemtrails, discrimination against human-alien hybrids, and modified attack baboons?
The Discovery Channel’s Best Evidence actually ran a program last week on chemtrails: real or imagined? The verdict was "imagined", but the environmental activists interviewed for the program remain adamant that secret weather-control experiments are resulting in discomfort, sickness, and even death for millions of unsuspecting citizens. Interestingly, the actual pollution caused by increased jet travel doesn’t seem to concern them at all. Folks like Alfred Webre go a step further: Chemtrails contain mind-altering chemicals that render us stuporous and open to suggestion... just like flouride, aspartame, vaccines, and genetically modified foods.
"Paranoid awareness" is a popular catchword for the deeply paranoid. Paranoia is a state of enlightenment attainable only by a select few. "Paranoids have the facts," as Oliver Stone put it. Never mind that his magnum opus, JFK, is largely fact-free.
Paranoia could just be part of the larger trend of irrationalism, superstition, and vague New Age empowerment gobbledy-gook. The Secret and What the Bleep Do We Know? use poorly-understood concepts of quantum mechanics to explain how our happy thoughts can physically manifest as success, cash, and increased mental power. The makers of What the Bleep? (disciples of channeler J.Z. Knight and her ancient alter ego, Ramtha) would have us believe that Native Americans were unable to see Columbus’s ships because their minds had no cognitive category in which to place them, and that we can turn droplets of water into pretty little snowflakes just by beaming positive thoughts at them.
Are such irrational beliefs totally harmless? Sure, sometimes they are. It's really not a bad idea to stock up on extra water and food in case of nuclear attack, or even take a survivalist course. At least you'll learn how to make a kick-ass campfire. But what happens when irrational beliefs become irrational actions? Would it be a good idea for our schoolteacher friend to discourage elderly people from getting their flu shots? Would it be wise to flee the country in fear of invisible enemies? Lately, I've been noticing a lot of victims of paranoia.
- Writer/filmmaker/blogger Theresa Duncan killed herself in early June. She was convinced that a powerful coalition of Republicans, artists, and Scientologists had been gangstalking and systematically harassing her for years, for reasons that are murky at best. Among her suspects: businessman Jim Cownie, artist Anna Gaskell (Cownie's foster daughter), singer Beck, Tom Cruise, scholar Reza Aslan, filmmaker/artist Miranda July, Magnolia director Paul Thomas Anderson, and Viacom Executive Director Tom Freston. Various Hollywood talent agents and art collectors were also named. Devastated by her death, Duncan’s long-time boyfriend Jeremy Blake drowned himself a short time later. Prominent conspiracy theorists like Jeff Wells and Alex Constantine insist Duncan and Blake were murdered by order of Jim Cownie. Some bloggers have even set up games in which readers are invited to follow the clues in Duncan’s murder (here, for example). Constantine froze his blog and dedicated it to the memory of Duncan, "a tomb and a testament that many of their fears were real, their deaths a warning shot". His final post offers an exhaustive rundown of Cownie’s business/political affiliations, as if they alone are proof of homicidal intent.
The conspiracists pay little attention to Theresa Duncan’s other posts; in one, she listed novels by famous suicides. And to date, not one friend of the couple has said their fears were justified; no one witnessed any harrassment or discrimination. On the contrary, several people have stepped forward to report that they were harangued by a deeply paranoid Duncan. Some of the "Scientologists" named by Duncan and Blake aren't even Scientologists.
The case of Duncan and Blake brings to mind the death of Kurt Cobain. Though the man mentioned suicide in nearly every interview he ever gave, the "why" of his death revolved around convoluted conspiracy theories.
- Grandiosity sometimes goes hand-in-glove with this paranoia. MI5 whistleblower and 9/11 Truther David Shayler used to warn people about the perfidy of the British and American governments. Now he says God has proclaimed him the new Messiah. He recently informed a baffled psychic that she was channelling Mary Magdalene, and that it was her mission to anoint him the new saviour of the world. With the force of his mind he can now change the weather, prevent car bombings, and enable his favourite football team to win.
- British costume designer and Leonardo da Vinci scholar Caroline Eldridge believed she had uncovered the real Da Vinci Code while studying in Italy. Terrified of retribution by the Catholic Church, she committed suicide.
- Every day since 2005, an elderly immigrant named Despotovic protests outside the White House, sometimes joined by one or more of his children. He says his daughter Corinne - who apparently eloped with an online boyfriend - was abducted into sexual slavery by the CIA. The government used online subliminal messages to lure her into the relationship.
Other people who believe their children were abducted: Chess grand master/political candidate/all-around eccentric Sam Sloan, depleted uranium activist Leuren Moret, radio host Patricia Holm, and businessman Karim Kamal. In all but one of these cases (I don't know what the hell is going on with Sloan), children were lawfully removed from one parent and placed in the custody of the other parent or into foster care. Not one of these children was ever listed as missing. Yet Sloan believes Jerry Falwell and associates kidnapped his daughter; Moret says Livermore Labs and various nuclear concerns funded her husband's custody battle; Patricia Holm insists her son, last heir to the house of Stuart, was sold into a pedophile ring; and Karim Kamal actually petitioned the UN to intervene in a custody battle with his French wife because she was pimping out their daughter to pedophiles in elite French government, finance, and business circles.
- Christine Maggiore is a leading light of the burgeoning HIV/AIDS denialist movement. The HIV-positive Maggiore and her husband, Robin Scoville, teach people that HIV is neither transmittable nor the cause of AIDS, and that drugs like AZT are more dangerous than the diseases themselves. According to Maggiore the medical establishment knows this, but continues to propogate lies in order to maintain the lucrative HIV/AIDS industry. In addition to writing a book, Maggiore has delivered this message at AIDS symposiums and rock concerts around the world. She also established a non-profit organization called Alive and Well AIDS Alternatives, which has helped dozens of HIV-positive mothers dodge laws requiring them to have their children tested and treated for HIV. I should note that Maggiore is not a health professional; she used to sell clothing.
Maggiore has never taken drugs that could reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV, yet she breastfed her children and refused to have them tested for HIV/AIDS. In 2005 her 3-year-old daughter died from AIDS complications. Maggiore's response? Health officials and the coroner "framed" her.
- Anti-vaccine paranoia is sweeping the world, from Credo Mutwa urging African parents to resist vaccinating their children because it will blind them to UFOs and other paranormal phenomena, to people who feel that certain vaccines can cause autism or death.
- 4 Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian intern were just released from a Libyan prison where they were held for 8 years, accused of deliberately infecting 400 child patients with HIV/AIDS. In reality, the outbreak was caused by unsafe hospital practices.
- A jobless man named Diazien Hossencofft used tales of David Icke's reptilian overlords, youth serums, a cure for cancer, Cat People, and goverment-engineered superkids to persuade his girlfriends to give him money. Then he talked his main girlfriend into murdering his ex-wife.
- Environmentalist Judi Chase is convinced that a Satanic pedophile ring murdered her husband as part of a scheme to abduct and sell her two foster children, and that this happens routinely in the U.S. There is no evidence to support this. David Chase was likely killed by a neighbor for the $6000 cash he was carrying.
And lest you think this is a new phenomenon, let's look at some historic cases of paranoia gone awry:
- Randy and Vicki Weaver, fearing ZOG (a fictitious entitiy created by Aryan Nation), holed up in a mountain shack rather than submit to rule of law. This forced a tense, disastrous stand-off with authorities that left Vicki and her teenage son dead.
- Prior to the Oklahoma City bombing, Timothy McVeigh spoke bitterly of "government murders" (Waco, the Weaver family) and complained that the Army had implanted a microchip in his ass.
- Convinced that gender quotas prevented him from being accepted into a university engineering program, Marc Lepine murdered 14 female students and staff and wounded many others before committing suicide. In his suicide note, he wrote that feminism had ruined his life. In reality, Lepine's grades kept him out the engineering program.
- Cathy O'Brien, Brice Taylor, Kathleen Sullivan, and countless other survivors of the fictional "Project Monarch" insist they were brainwashed, torturned and raped by public figures like Bob Hope, Henry Kissinger, and Boxcar Willy.
- For years, Karen "Curio" Jones (real name Diana Napolis) compiled and disseminated information on what she perceived to be a child-molesting, mind-controlling cabal. She publicly accused numerous academics, entertainers, and politicians of being part of this cabal. She was ultimately convicted of stalking Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Love-Hewitt.
- Attorney Susan Hamlin was routinely beaten and terrorized in front of her children by her husband Richard, who declared she and her father were part of an incestuous, murderous Satanic sect. Richard Hamlin is now serving a life sentence, despite support from conspiracy theorists who believed his story.
- Bobby Fischer believes himself the victim of an international Jewish conspiracy. He has renounced his U.S. citizenship.
- In the late '80s, New Mexico physicist Paul Bennewitz accidentally intercepted some military messages that he interpreted as signals from UFOs. Rather than let things run their course, military officials decided to discredit him. Taking advantage of Bennewitz's suspicions, they convinced him that humans were being abducted by aliens and taken to a vast underground base beneath the sleepy little town of Dulce, New Mexico. There the people were dissected by human scientists working alongside extraterrestials, experimented upon, and later eaten by the ETs. Faced with this horrific scenario, Bennewitz suffered a nervous breakdown that required hospitalization.
- Karla Turner believed malevolent reptilian entities abducted, tortured, and raped people of all ages. She died believing that these entities caused her fatal cancer in retaliation for exposing them.
- Belgian pedophile/killer Marc Dutroux somehow convinced an entire nation that he was only a pawn of rich, influential pedophiles, leading to widespread dissatisfaction with the investigation and the largest peacetime protest in Belgium's history. It is now clear that he and a small group of working-class accomplices were the only perps.
All that said, I do believe in a certain degree of synchronicity. It just so happens that last night I watched an old Twilight Zone episode entitled "The Fear", in which a couple cowers inside a remote cabin as a giant space alien terrorizes them throughout the night. The man is horrified to discover fingerprints the size of dinner plates on his car. In the morning, however, they learn that the aliens are actually teeny-tiny guys piloting a spaceship no bigger than a barbeque grill. They spray-painted fake fingerprints onto the car and inflated a balloon giant to appear threatening, because the aliens were as terrified of them as they were of the ersatz giant.
"All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom." - Albert Einstein