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Confessions of a Disinformation Agent! Chapter 5

Author: Clock
Date: Jul 03, 2013 at 14:04

I am not Muertos and I do not know him. I am simply reposting these articles because I had found them on the Internet Wayback Machine. Do not contact me when it comes to this blog, I am not its author and my views are not necessarily his. REPEAT: I AM NOT MUERTOS.


Chapter V: Thriving.

My involvement with debunking Thrive is replete with ironies. I didn't even want to do it. Well, part of me obviously did; the blog Thrive Debunked is the single largest and most time-consuming debunking project of my entire seven years of refuting conspiracy theories. But when an email from a friend arrived in November 2011 asking me if I'd seen the trailers for a new conspiracy film that was about to hit the Internet, I had already decided to quit debunking. The "darkness" that I talked about in the last chapter was getting too much for me. Besides, it seemed that my work was largely done. The Zeitgeist Movement had folded, and it appeared that Desteni was on the ropes too. Very few people believed in 9/11 Truth anymore. There wasn't much left to debunk.

I watched the trailer for Thrive on YouTube. Almost instantly it made me very angry, and also filled me with despair. Here was a very slick, visually appealing production, obviously made with a substantial budget ($7 million, or so I heard). It was the brainchild of Proctor and Gamble heir Foster Gamble. And it was packed wall-to-wall with conspiracy nonsense and New Age tropes: crop circles, UFOs, ancient aliens, free energy suppression, the New World Order, population control, RFID chips, 9/11, Rockefellers, big bankers, the whole nine yards. It was the Ziegfeld Follies of conspiracy theories. You could almost imagine Gamble breaking into song and a softshoe number with dancing girls in elaborate headdresses walking down a tower of dollar bills with the All-Seeing Eye and the WTC towers in the background, a la Busby Berkeley. It was, in a word, ludicrous.

Thrive made me despair because I thought it had the potential to be another Zeitgeist: The Movie, which was obviously what its makers intended. I'd spent the better part of two years pushing back against the nonsense in Zeitgeist, and here was another conspiracy movie--much prettier and more competently made--unleashing the bacillus of conspiracy theories out into the world yet again. It was like washing your car, getting it sparkling clean, and then as you're putting the hose away you see thunderclouds gathering for an epic drenching. It felt almost like a personal snub.

I also realized there was an opportunity. Thrive was just then coming out. (At that time you could only see it on the Thrive movie's website, and you had to pay $5 for the privilege). If debunkers acted fast and established a significant web presence refuting the film, they could expose potential fans to the facts about the movie contemporaneously with their discovery of it. Zeitgeist had a honeymoon with the public for about two years before serious organized debunkings began to appear on the Internet. Thrive could not be allowed to enjoy such a honeymoon. The net moved much faster in 2011 than it had in 2009, and it seemed that the time to start debunking Thrive was now--right now. If we did that, we could strangle Thrive in its cradle.

I debunked the trailer for Thrive before I even saw the full movie. I didn't want to give Foster Gamble $5 for having him spew conspiracy theories at me, so I figured someone in my circle would eventually give me the film (someone did, less than a week later). Right after posting the trailer debunking I created a Wordpress blog called Thrive Debunked, mainly to grab the URL before anyone else did. My model was Screw Loose Change, whose major contribution to debunking that piece of malarkey was a "viewer's guide" that exhaustively refuted all the claims in the movie.

The two hours I spent watching the full Thrive movie for the first time were two of the most hellish hours in my life. It was that bad. It almost made me physically ill. I could feel brain cells dying by the thousands with each excruciating minute of this fulsome, intelligence-insulting geek show. I viewed it as sort of a homework assignment. I collected many pages of notes and then set about breaking down the movie into its constituent parts. The blogs started going up in late November, with the debunking of the "Global Domination Agenda" (Illuminati/NWO by another name) being the most important.

I expected Thrive Debunked would be popular among skeptics, but would have little resonance beyond that. I was totally unprepared for what happened. The blog became wildly popular, with several hundred unique page views a day by the beginning of December. More people read Thrive Debunked in its first month of operation than have read this blog in the entire three years it's been online.

And the comments...dear God, the comments! They came fast and furious, usually furious. People were outraged that I had criticized Thrive. Some of the movie's fans were absolutely unhinged, so insensate with anger that I could feel their white-hot hatred bleeding through my computer screen. I had the settings on the blog such that I received an email each time a comment was posted. By the end of 2011 my email box was crammed to the rafters with Thrive Debunked comments. Hundreds of them; eventually thousands. At least 75% of the comments were hostile. All the epithets that conspiracy theorists had been flinging at me for years--stupid, ignorant, closed-minded, evil, retarded, paid disinformation agent, etc.--were thrown at me all over again by fans of Thrive, many of whom (ironically) purported to be all about peace, love and understanding. I received death threats, only some of which I chose to publicize. Some of them were deeply disturbing. I had not just gone into the darkness. I had leapt into its depths with abandon, wrapped myself up in it and let it embrace me.

Yet there were good people too, and supportive ones. Several people emailed me or left comments to the effect that they were very glad I'd taken the bull by the horns and sought to refute Thrive as quickly and forcefully as I had. No other debunkers were working on Thrive, at least not exclusively. People would contact me with tips or ideas for stories, or to contribute information they knew about the movie or its makers. Some of them became friends. Of all my debunking efforts, Thrive Debunked was the most collaborative.

The most important epiphany of my seven years of debunking came in January 2012 while working on Thrive Debunked. I had an email exchange with a British academic who had cited Thrive Debunked on his own blog. As it turned out, the academic was doing research on conspiracy theories from the standpoint of religion. What he told me--that Thrive represented a new trend of melding conspiracy theories with New Age sensibilities in a sort of quasi-religious context--suddenly made sense of all the changes I'd seen in the conspiracy underground since 2005. That conversation became the article "How the Conspiracy World is Changing," which I think is the most important article I've ever written on the subject of conspiracy theories. It explains how the conspiracy world has been evolving. Today's conspiracy theorists, unlike the Truthers of 2005-06, aren't out to convert the world to accepting their erroneous version of the facts. Instead, conspiracy theories are being used to sell belief systems. The facts of the theories are incidental. Other researchers have begun noting this too. Two British academics even coined a name for this emerging belief system: "conspirituality." Their article on it, published in early 2011, cited the Zeitgeist Movement as the paradigm example.

As soon as I realized this, I knew that I, as a debunker, would soon be extinct. The war was reaching its end, and our side was losing. Because conspiracy beliefs are susceptible to being rebutted by the facts, the conspiracy peddlers of tomorrow will seek to neutralize this disadvantage by cutting facts out of the equation. They will profess that 9/11 was an inside job and that the Illuminati controls the world not as matters of fact, but matters of faith. Conspiracy theories will become a religion. You can't attack a religion on factual grounds. Those of us armed with facts--debunkers--will have no more utility in this new order. Our enemies will destroy us, the rational people of the world, by making us irrelevant.

Not long after I had this depressing epiphany, the battles over Thrive reached their crescendo. In April 2012, ten people interviewed in the film signed a letter repudiating it and dissociating themselves from it. The leader of the dissociators, John Robbins, wrote several extremely eloquent statements condemning Thrive on precisely the same grounds that I criticized it--and he did a much better job of explaining his opposition than I ever could. The dissociation effectively killed Thrive in the minds of the public. Immediately after the story broke, page views on Thrive Debunked began to go down. The public was losing interest in this film. It would not be another Zeitgeist. In a very telling move, one of my contributors sent me a link to a discussion page behind the scenes at Wikipedia where editors were deciding whether or not to make a Wikipedia page on the film. They decided not to. Reason: it wasn't notable enough.

There were still a few fireworks to come. Foster Gamble himself engaged me in debate, posting through blog comments. I knew there was little chance I could get through to him--the man believes in the HAARP earthquake machine, for God's sake!--but I did my best. Personally, I was not quite ready to let go of debunking. The darkness, horrible as it was, had become very comfortable. I tried to quit debunking several times, the way others try to quit smoking or gambling. There is no 12-step program for conspiracy debunkers. My family urged me to quit. What are you getting out of this? they asked me, especially after they saw the death threats. What makes this worth it? Why should we have to worry about you because of the ignorant beliefs of these crazy people? Why would you let their ignorance and stupidity affect our family?

Thrive Debunked is now almost finished. I've begun turning over the blog to others, such as the very capable SlayerX3, one of those contributors who became my friends. In a way it's a happy ending: the dragon of Thrive has been largely slain, and with the film totally discredited by its own participants, it has little chance of being resurrected. Oh, it will linger out there, like the rusting hulk of a wrecked ship bleeding oil into the water for decades. That's the problem with conspiracy theories. They never go away.

In a way, though, the ending is a sad one. The tide of bullshit surging through our world is simply too big. You can surf on it for a while, but eventually you're going to wipe out. The best you can do is to keep your own sanity and not lose your perspective. That's easier said than done.

Confessions of a Disinformation Agent! Chapter 4

Author: Clock
Date: Jul 03, 2013 at 13:59

I am not Muertos and I do not know him. I am simply reposting these articles because I had found them on the Internet Wayback Machine. Do not contact me when it comes to this blog, I am not its author and my views are not necessarily his. REPEAT: I AM NOT MUERTOS.


Chapter IV: The Heart of Darkness--The Conspiracy Cults.

By 2007, when the insidious Zeitgeist: The Movie reared its ugly head, I'd deleted my MySpace profile. Blogspot was now my main platform. I churned out a couple of blog posts a week, some of them about debunking, but many about politics and other subjects too. Invariably, the debunking posts were the most popular and got the most comments. It bothered me a little bit that my conspiracy audience wasn't really transferrable to other subjects. All people wanted to hear from me, it seemed, was arguments with Truthers.

In 2007 another conspiracy movie began to seep into the underground. At first I thought Zeitgeist was just another Loose Change clone. Most of the buzz I heard about it in the early days centered around its assertions that 9/11 was an inside job--all the same tropes that were debunked long ago and debunked again when Loose Change came out. But Zeitgeist had another element. The anti-Christianity section predictably freaked out the very religious, but it struck an even deeper chord in the conspiracy underground, many of whose members were hard-core atheists. I was a hard-core atheist too, at least at that time (I have since become religious), but Zeitgeist's egregious inaccuracies about religion and ancient history were galling, especially when the Truthers, who were the movie's first core audience, accepted them as gospel truth. Loose Change, as insidious as it was, had been about one main conspiracy theory. Zeitgeist upped the ante by wrapping several conspiracy theories together and selling them as a package. That made it resonate more among the paranoiacs in the conspiracy underground, and thus, made it far more dangerous.

I didn't appreciate the impact of Zeitgeist at first. For one thing, it was a terrible film, poorly made and shamelessly manipulative. No rational person could possibly take it seriously. It was junk food for the woo crowd, a bag of high-carb potato chips soaked in Jolt Cola being eagerly gobbled up by gluttons ravenous for conspiracy nonsense. How naïve of me to think this would limit its appeal! I should have known better. It wasn't until I saw fans of the movie beginning to appear with regularity on the heavy metal forum I posted on that I realized we were dealing with something new.

2008 was probably the low-water mark of my debunking years. Now that MySpace was dead and its replacement, Facebook, was less conducive to hard-core debunking, I didn't do as much of it, and in any event most of my attention, blogging and otherwise, was focused on politics. I still argued with the occasional Truther, but I didn't really return to debunking until 2009. By then Zeitgeist had spawned a sequel--the dreadfully talky Zeitgeist: Moving Forward--and, more ominously, a movement.

The rise of the Zeitgeist Movement was, to me, deeply alarming. By 2009 Truthers were in full retreat. Barack Obama's birth certificate was the big conspiracy theory that year, and that one didn't have quite the same legs that 9/11 Truth had. Yet these Zeitgeist people kept popping up everywhere. They spammed YouTube. They spammed Huffington Post. They spammed the Steven Colbert forums. Everywhere you looked they were splattering their dogma all over the Internet like paint on a Jackson Pollock canvas, shrieking that Jesus never existed and 9/11 was an inside job, and prattling on about something called a "Resource Based Economy." A friend of mine who was exasperated by seeing Zeitgeisters troll the Internet remarked that they were like fundamentalist Christians. They embodied Winston Churchill's definition of a fanatic, who is someone who can't change their mind and won't change the subject.

The Zeitgeist Movement at once astonished and fascinated me. Here was an entire social movement driven by conspiracy theories. Peter Joseph--he managed to keep his real name secret until 2010, when it came out that his true name was Peter Merola--had channeled his inner Dr. Frankenstein to patch together a bizarre gene splice between a conspiracy theorist fan club and an activist political organization. Evidently sometime in 2008, while I was busy blogging against John McCain and Sarah Palin, he had become enamored with an obscure neo-utopian organization called the Venus Project, which wanted the world to be run by robots and computers, and which existed nowhere except in the mind and the Florida garage of 90-something-year-old Jacque Fresco.

Merola sold the archaic Venus Project ideology of circular cities and magical robots to the fans of his movie as the supposed "cure" for all those terrible conspiracy theories that had scared the shit out of his audience. You must appreciate how alarming this was. This was more than just a couple of Truthers posting on MySpace and YouTube. Here was a veritable army of conspiracy theorists, who decided they were going to remake the world in their own image--or at least Peter Merola's. Now you not only had conspiracy nuts who were convinced they were right, but who had convinced themselves they were saving the world. For a high-commitment debunker, could the stakes get any higher?

Furthermore, the Zeitgeist Movement illustrated in stark detail the next frontier of conspiracism: the founding of conspiracy-based cults. Using the viral Internet movie as bait, the Zeitgeist Movement slyly advertised itself to disillusioned youngsters who were already predisposed to reject anything mainstream by stressing the traumas that mainstream society had caused them. "Hey, we know the truth about religion, 9/11 and evil bankers. Join us!" Join them they did. In 2009 Peter Merola boasted the Zeitgeist Movement had 500,000 members, obviously a grotesquely exaggerated figure evidently based on the number of raw registrations on their Internet forum. In truth, only a tiny fraction of those people who registered ever had anything significant to do with the movement, and the turnover rate was very high--few Zeitgeisters lasted more than six weeks. From my own admittedly unscientific observations I estimated the strength of Zeitgeist at about 2,000 high-commitment members worldwide at its peak. Not a lot, but despite their tiny numbers these people made a hell of a lot of noise.

The one redoubt on the net for skeptics opposed to Zeitgeist was a forum I discovered in late 2009 called "Conspiracy Science," run by a fellow called Edward Winston who had compiled the most comprehensive debunking of Zeitgeist on the Internet., as it was then known, sought to be a clearing-house of online conspiracy theories, and the Zeitgeist debunking was the jewel in the crown. I began posting on the forum. When I joined there had already been numerous ferocious and desperate battles with 9/11 Truthers and Zeitgeisters who simply couldn't accept that the rest of the world knew instantly that the movie was false and fraudulent. certainly was not perfect. Some of its regulars were a little obsessive--a few were apostates from the Zeitgeist religion, who were naturally bitter and ax-grinding--but on the whole its heart was in the right place, and at least they were giving Zeitgeisters the what-for they so richly deserved. At this point I figured that the enemy of my enemy was my friend.

My first blog about the Zeitgeist Movement went live in March 2010. This blog was interpreted by the Zeitgeisters as a declaration of war, and immediately I was classified as a dangerous and mortal threat. Within hours after my blog's first publication high-commitment supporters of the Zeitgeist Movement descended into the comments section, deploying their canned rebuttals and accusing me of all manner of depravities. "Introducing the troll blog!" screeched one fellow. "Do wish you had some real information to share instead of spewing your rage and destructive nonsense!" The person who posted this called himself "Joseph Matthew," an obvious play on Zeitgeist leader Peter Joseph Merola's convenient (and ironically Biblical) truncation of his own name. I remember being so blown away by that. These people were so deeply under the thrall of their leader that they even imitated his name.

This tendency toward imitation got even worse. Once I joined Facebook and began hanging out among the debunkers there, I was routinely harassed by people I didn't know who had the word "Zeitgeist" in their screen names, like one guy I remember in particular named "Andrew Zeitgeist Gilberds." Was there no limit to how far these people would go to demonstrate loyalty to their leader, their cause and his movies? Did they not realize how utterly creepy they were, and how badly they frightened away normal and reputable people who might otherwise have embraced some of the tenets they purported to advance?

I did not, at the outset, believe that the Zeitgeist Movement was truly a cult. In 2009 and 2010 I didn't yet appreciate how much legitimate controversy there was over the definition of the word "cult" and how that word can be misused, both innocently and deliberately. Yes, Zeitgeist was certainly cult-like, but it wasn't really a cult, at least at first. When I posted on I was careful to maintain this distinction, as if it meant anything. I had no idea the channel that subsequent events would take.

In December 2010, after I'd been active in debunking the Zeitgeist Movement for nine months, a high-level member of the group--a moderator on their forum, and self-proclaimed spokesperson for the organization--issued a fatwa that listed numerous people as official enemies of the Zeitgeist Movement. My name was on the list. The ostensible reason for the enemies list was, according to the Zeitgeisters, a "warning" to their brethren that the people on the list were seeking to friend Zeitgeisters on Facebook and steal their personal information. I had never once attempted to friend anyone from Zeitgeist, much less steal any information from anyone. Yet, one day not long after the enemies list appeared, I saw a topic on the Zeitgeist Movement forum (which I monitored periodically) where a high-level Zeitgeister asserted, as if it was fact, that I had once been a Zeitgeist Movement member who had posted frequently on their forum and had subsequently become disgruntled for one reason or another, the obvious implication being that I was an apostate out to ruin them for revenge. The Zeitgeist orthodoxy was that critics of the movement frequently employed "sock puppet" accounts to infiltrate their forums and harass them. Nothing could have been further from the truth in my case. But no one cared about the truth. The Zeitgeisters had no regard for who I was or what my reasons were for debunking their movies or their movement. I criticized them, so therefore I was an enemy. Why I did what I did--my own history of debunking, my own motivations that had brought me into conflict with them--could not have been of lesser interest to anyone. This was the beginning of my realization that the world of conspiracy theories was quite a bit more depraved and dog-eat-dog than I'd previously appreciated.

A month later, in January 2011, Jared Lee Loughner, an insane conspiracy theorist, attempted to assassinate U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, killing several people in the process, including children. As it turned out, Loughner's delusional worldview was heavily influenced by his favorite film--Zeitgeist: The Movie. Instead of trying to distance themselves from the negative publicity occasioned by the Tucson massacre, many Zeitgeist Movement members embraced it, assuming (erroneously) that there was no such thing as bad press. Not long thereafter, Douglas Mallette, yet another self-proclaimed spokesperson for the movement, was outed by an anti-Zeitgeist blog called Zeitgeist Movement Exposed (a blog I had nothing to do with) for an appearance on an Internet radio show where Mallette expressed--with evident and blood-chilling relish--his viewpoint that anyone who disagreed with Zeitgeist's "resource based economy" model should be "annihilated" and was a "waste of skin." Mallette retracted his bloodthirsty statements, but the reaction to his retraction among the rank-and-file Zeitgeist members demonstrated that very few of them saw anything wrong with what he'd originally said. My blog from February 2011 about this incident expressed my astonishment at this development. I had bent over backwards to avoid labeling Zeitgeist as a destructive cult, but here they were validating the most shrill criticisms leveled at them. By the end of the first quarter of 2011, I had no hesitation in labeling the Zeitgeist Movement a cult.

Just at the point when the Zeitgeist Movement started to become dangerous, they quite fortunately committed seppuku, validating Napoleon's old maxim: "Never interfere with the enemy when he is in the process of destroying himself." The Zeitgeist Movement, headed by Peter Joseph Merola, and the Venus Project, headed by Jacque Fresco, fell out in April 2011 in an acrimonious dispute over how the group's feeble trickle of donations should be used. Either organization without the other was largely useless. Venus went on to try to achieve some modicum of respectability, while Zeitgeist descended into the depths of radical, frightening paranoia; in August, for instance, one of their members publicly aired a plot to assassinate 1,000 of the conspiratorial "elite" that they blamed for screwing up the world. By then no one cared. Zeitgeist: The Movie was old news. Everyone had already seen it, and it had been debunked many times over. Most of the movement's high-echelon members, many of whom seemed intractable when I'd argued with them a year before about their devotion to the group, jumped ship and never looked back. Merola, tired of debunkers seizing upon every stitch of dirty laundry aired publicly on the group's forum, shut down the forum entirely, whilst hissing vituperatively that his detractors (including me) were "paid disinformation agents" out to ruin him. By November 2011 the Zeitgeist Movement had, for all intents and purposes, ceased to exist. A tiny burned-out core of true believers remained, smoldering faintly into the blogosphere, but Zeitgeist in 2011 was a pale and feeble shadow of the conspiracy juggernaut it had been in 2008.

In the spring of 2011 a friend of mine, active in debunking circles, forwarded me some links to YouTube videos generated by another organization called Desteni. Whatever naïve notions I'd once had about conspiracy theorist cults melted away in the first few seconds I heard the raspy accented voice of Desteni founder and guru Bernard Poolman, a (white) South African ex-cop who worshipped Adolf Hitler and had founded a Charlie Manson-like nucleus of twenty-something chicks, most with shaved heads, who milled about on his South Africa ranch ready to do his bidding. If Zeitgeist was mildly disturbing, Desteni was deeply alarming. Desteni's main shtick was reptilian conspiracy theories, such as those promoted by world-class nutbar David Icke. Desteni sought to recruit new members mainly through YouTube, where the cult carpet-bombed potential recruits with endless hours of videos jammed-packed with conspiracy propaganda, New Age tropes and utter incomprehensible nonsense so impenetrable it could only be unraveled by the sage gospel of Bernard Poolman himself. You could waste away for years listening to recordings of Poolman's prattlings or watching videos of the "portal," cult member Sunette Spies, who looked like Anne Heche circa 1998 and pretended to channel the spirits of everything from L. Ron Hubbard to a piece of toilet paper. As I stated in my first blog about the group, Desteni was so wack-job out there that they made the Zeitgeist Movement look like the Rotary Club.

In addition to being stunningly bizarre, Desteni was incredibly aggressive at retaliating against its critics--far more so than even the criticism-averse Zeitgeist Movement. It took me ten months to get on Zeitgeist's enemies list; I was on Desteni's within two weeks. In addition, one of Desteni's high-profile members created a blog specifically dedicated to refuting, line by line and word by word, my first article about the group. Sadly that blog was only active for a few weeks.

In addition to being a cult, Desteni was also a scam. Poolman's main means of financial support appears to have been a very crude multi-level marketing outfit called the "Desteni I Process." This fascinated me because it brought me full-circle back to the starting point of my fascination with conspiracy theories, that being "organized deception." To me there are three kinds of organized deception: scams, cults and conspiracy theories. The Zeitgeist Movement was an organization that embodied two out of the three types of organized deception, but Desteni, by using an MLM scam, hit all three. Poolman's bizarre New Age conspiracy religion was the perfect subject for my study--the living embodiment of deception in the 21st century.

In August 2011, Desteni and its main officers were banned from YouTube, which prohibits the use of its service to advance multi-level marketing scams. This essentially atomized Desteni, at least insofar as recruiting new members, but unlike Zeitgeist they did not effectively meet their extinction. I checked back in on Desteni a couple of months later and found them, if not thriving, at least recovering from the YouTube fiasco. This group was never very large; even the most generous estimates of the cult's membership never put it higher than about 200. But unfortunately they're still out there. Desteni's image is far too tarnished and strange to attract any sort of meaningful mainstream support, but they continue to exist as a particularly noteworthy example of what happens when New Age and conspiracy theories cross-breed with one another.

As I researched Desteni I began to be bothered by the great darkness that lay at the heart of these conspiracy cults. The deeper I plumbed these waters, the more cynical I became. The core membership of Zeitgeist and Desteni consisted of disillusioned young people, most in their twenties, who yearned for a better world and honestly wanted to make it happen. But their optimism and enthusiasm had been hijacked and manipulated by others with far less pure motives. I saw in these groups and their members a mirror of the classic social narrative of the 60s, where the hope and youthful promise of the hippie generation was soured and squandered by a series of epic bummers like Vietnam, Altamont, Charles Manson and Watergate. What I saw in Zeitgeist and Desteni was the cancer of conspiracy theories eating away at an entire generation of young people. This profoundly depressed me. It got to be that I dreaded switching on my laptop in the morning. How much farther into this darkness could I go?

The ticket to my final foray into the darkness of conspiracy theories arrived by email one evening in November 2011. "Hey, have you heard of this new movie that's about to come out?" said one of my debunker friends. "It's called Thrive."

Disclaimer & Special Thanks

Author: Clock
Date: Jul 01, 2013 at 09:33

Hello people, if you are reading this is it maybe because you are reading the Muertos Blog that I have brought up here on Skeptic Project. I am here to tell you that I did not write any of these articles and that the original authors opinions are not necessarily mine. This blog was reconstructed here on this website to be used as a sort of reference page, or guide.In no means do I or Muertos intend to offend or bully anyone, either by me reposting these articles, or Muertos writing these articles.

When Muertos first wrote these articles, a claim, or a bunch of claims were presented to him. Following the presentation of these, Muertos did his research to find out if any of them were true. Muertos would then respond to his claims, by either saying that they are right or wrong, and explained why by the use of common sense/backup of proper evidence. Muertos was debunking mainly because it was a hobby that he had lots if interest in, and not 'to prove them all wrong!!!'

I am simply reposting them here because the original authors' website (Muertos) has been deleted. If you do have a question for him, his email is on some of these articles, and depending on if you are rude or polite, he may or may not respond to you. Also, do not bother sending me anything, because I am not the author of any of these blogs, nor do I know Muertos personally or made any contact with him.




Now that this has been taken care of, it's time to thank the people that have made this blog possible on this website.
Thank you so much, in no particular order,
-Skeptic Project
-SP site owner Edward L. Winston, who allowed me to post these articles on the blog sections of this website in the first place. Without this, the project would have been an impossible mess.
-Thanks to [in no specific order!]Jim Jesus,anticultist, The Burger King, and other members for the support in my first steps into debunking. Things would have been alot harder without the community, and I thank you very much.
-Thanks to, another great debunking website where I truly learned (and earned?) how to be a debunker. Those guys have been a nice help. Thank you so much!

-Concept stolen from SP member The Burger King for his archiving of the old anticultist blog. Read this excellent blog here! :

MUERTOS BLOG: Confessions of a Disinformation Agent! Chapter 3

Author: Clock
Date: Apr 29, 2013 at 20:56

I am not Muertos and I do not know him. I am simply reposting these articles because I had found them on the Internet Wayback Machine. Do not contact me when it comes to this blog, I am not its author and my views are not necessarily his. REPEAT: I AM NOT MUERTOS.


Chapter III: Debunking In The Heyday of 9/11 Truth

I credit that first conspiracy theorist I ever argued with on MySpace, IgnoraceIsntBliss, as launching my career as a full-fledged debunker. I never knew what his real name was, where he lived or anything about him. All I knew is that he was really, really nuts. Of course he believed in every conspiracy theory under the sun, but the thing that really got him going--his entire reason for taking to the Internet as a self-appointed infowarrior--was Google. Yes, that's right, Google. He believed that the government, the New World Order and the Illuminati were building a worldwide network of sentient computers that would run the world, just like SkyNet in the Terminator movies. Google, supposedly, was the pilot project for this computer super-consciousness. I'm not making this up. He actually believed this.

This was my first experience with a deep-commitment conspiracy theorist. It astonished me how someone could actually believe some of the things he asserted as truth, such as the allegation that Google was technologically enhancing the brains of rats so they could fly military fighter jets. How did he start believing this crap? Did he not realize how ridiculous it was? No, he didn't. He kept on blogging, day after day, week after week, conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory.

IgnoranceIsntBliss's paranoia was my cornucopia. For several months we were a two-man show. He'd spout the crazy on his MySpace blog, and I'd respond with the truth--armed with links to the facts, which he would usually denounce as "disinformation" or "propaganda." His conspiracy theorist friends would chime in, usually outraged that I refused to believe in the Illuminati, the New World Order, or 9/11 Truth. They'd start commenting on my blogs, spewing their toxic links to the main Truther sites in those days, like the infamous Killtown blog. Day by day, week by week, page views on our blogs--mine and IgnoranceIsntBliss's--grew almost in tandem. I didn't realize it yet, but I'd tapped into the perfectly symbiotic relationship that was beginning to develop between conspiracy theorists and debunkers.

You might think that, with as deeply as he believed in conspiracy theories and as committed as I was to debunking them, our relationship was acrimonious. It wasn't. Actually he was quite friendly. We corresponded a lot over private messages. He liked that I was articulate and even funny. He would give me tips on how to make my blogs more popular. His advice was always, generate controversy. What that really meant was, piss off conspiracy theorists. If I said something to drive the tinfoil hatters absolutely nuts--like telling them about the fires in World Trade Center 7, which for some reason particularly enraged them--hordes of nutbars would descend on my blog to post angry comments, and page views would explode. One day, a blog I wrote debunking some aspect of the 9/11 conspiracy theories was ranked as the #7 most-read blog on all of MySpace on that particular day. It got hundreds of comments, the vast majority of them negative. I was ecstatic. I was reaching people. They didn't agree with me, but they read my words, and they were exposed to the real facts whether they liked it or not. I took care to make sure my blogs were always factual. Truthers had no regard for facts, but I played by different rules. Everything I said had to be supportable.

Needless to say, as this went on I learned a lot about 9/11 conspiracy theories. Within a few weeks I was an expert on controlled demolition, thermite, squibs, the "pod" on the front of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, Able Danger, "stand down," and My Pet Goat. I began to collect bookmarks of the best debunking material, demolishing all of the theories--photos of the Pentagon wreckage, links to flight manifests showing the names of the hijackers, the records of the Airfone calls from Flight 93, the whole ball of wax. I bought the 9/11 Commission Report and read it cover-to-cover--something that virtually no 9/11 Truthers have actually done. The day Popular Mechanics came out with their article debunking the main 9/11 conspiracy theories was a very good day for me.

The Truthers never fazed me, because nothing they said ever had any validity. Every time it was the same. Truthers refused to engage with the facts. They would change the subject, move the goalposts, or denounce this or that piece of factual evidence as "disinformation" or "propaganda." There was not a single argument they made that stood up to the facts. Not one. Plus, it became clear that most of them weren't very smart. They couldn't spell or use apostrophes. They mixed up "your" and "you're." They thought making a persuasive point meant using caps lock. The vast majority of them were just kids, either still in their teens or just out of them. I had advanced degrees in history and law. It was something of an unequal match.

The evidence had shown from the beginning that Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda had done 9/11, but when I examined the facts even more deeply than I already had, the conclusions became so solid that it seemed absolutely inconceivable that anyone could not accept them. The evidence was, and still is, overwhelming and irrefutable. Thus, in my mind, it was clear there was something fundamentally wrong with Truthers. How come they couldn't see the facts as they really were? Did they realize the utter stupidity of the theories they were pushing? These questions fascinated me, the same fascination as the secretaries at my office who insisted that the "ankle slasher" was real. Why were they so invested in these falsehoods?

2005 was certainly the heyday of 9/11 Truth. Social networking was making it easy for conspiracy theories to go viral, and when YouTube debuted, it was like opening Pandora's box. Now the Truthers didn't just have links to Killtown and Richard Gage to throw around. Now they had video to do their lying for them. The first time I saw a 9/11 Truth video clip on YouTube--it had to be toward the end of 2005--it made me very angry. The particular clip uploaded by a conspiracy nut, which they were using to argue the "squibs" nonsense, included footage of people jumping from the towers. I was about ready to punch my computer screen. Here were real people who died in the most horrible way imaginable, and some brain-dead 9/11 Truth conspiracy nutter was exploiting their deaths to push toxic falsehoods that flew in the face of logic, evidence and reason. Battling 9/11 Truth started to become, for me, a personal crusade.

For a while it seemed like a losing battle, because the army of Truther zombies out there seemed to be growing. Loose Change exploded their ranks. That was the first conspiracy theory film to go viral on the Internet, in the latter half of 2005. By the time Loose Change came out I was already well familiar with all of its claims. There wasn't a single one of them that hadn't been circulating in the conspiracy underground well before the release of the movie. Predictably, the movie made me furious. Its makers, Dylan Avery, Jason Bermas and Korey Rowe, were just kids who thought they were smarter than they were, like most conspiracy theorists. Almost overnight they were celebrities, because they had pushed a movie full of lies and falsehoods and caught the attention of a sullen and distrustful public, angry at Bush, tired of the war in Iraq and demoralized by decades of political infighting.

Avery, Bermas and Rowe were not created equal. Of the three of them, Jason Bermas was easily the most nuts. Like IgnoranceIsntBliss, there didn't seem to be a conspiracy theory under the sun that he didn't believe to the deep core of his being. Avery, it seemed, wanted to be a filmmaker, and saw conspiracy movies as a short-cut to more mainstream success. It's no surprise that, years later, Avery has disowned Loose Change, but Bermas is still out there shrieking about the New World Order. I learned from them that some conspiracy theorists, even the high-commitment ones, will eventually grow out of the phase. Others are incorrigible.

As time went on I began to have more and more experiences with the sad and incorrigible conspiracy theorists. For instance, there was a kid I knew who posted on one of the heavy metal forums I frequented. He was from Virginia Beach. I actually met him once at a metal festival--a nice kid, very smart, extremely quirky, but interesting to talk to. Unfortunately he became consumed with conspiracy theories. He was a Truther, of course, but his interest in UFOs led him down the rabbit hole of David Icke and the other conspiracy chieftains who push the truly toxic stuff--anti-Semitism redressed in modern science fiction garb, liberally borrowing tropes from old TV shows like V, where reptilian aliens take over the world using human disguises. If you'd told me in 1999 that real people out there actually believed that the world was ruled by reptilian shape-shifting aliens who carried vials of blood around to maintain their human form, I'd have laughed at you. In 2006, I knew that there were people out there who believed this shit--many of them.

My friend, the young kid from Virginia Beach, got pulled into one of the UFO cults on the net, something called the "Planetary Action Organization." This group, run by a guy named Sheldan Nidle, preached that benevolent aliens would soon invade the Earth and overthrow the corrupt Illuminati that controlled the world, end poverty and war forever and make everyone rich. I began clicking on Nidle's website just to see what bizarre predictions he churned out week after week. My young friend believed them all. One night he slept on the roof of his house, because Sheldan Nidle said on his website that the aliens would land that night and he wanted to be the first to greet them. He decided that going to college was a waste of time because when the aliens took over there wouldn't be any need to work anymore. At first I thought this kid was just trolling me. But he wasn't. He really believed this stuff. Conspiracy theories were literally ruining his life, and it was tragic to see. When I told him that Sheldan Nidle was a charlatan and David Icke was a dangerous anti-Semite, I suddenly became his enemy. We'd been friends for several years, but conspiracy theories had come between us. I was a shill and a disinformation agent. I was even accused, on MySpace, of having had something to do with 9/11. This was definitely the dark side of conspiracy theories.

You might think that, with all this activity I'm describing, I spent way too much time on the Internet, and that I spent every waking moment on MySpace, my life draining away as I argued with Truthers and believers in weird UFO cults. Indeed, whenever a conspiracy theorist has accused me of being a "disinformation agent"--which has probably happened more than a hundred times in the last seven years--one of the arguments used to support the accusation is, "Why would anyone spend so much time refuting these things if they weren't paid to?" But in truth, it really didn't take that much time. While all of this was going on I had a full-time job, I spent lots of time with my family and had a perfectly normal social life. During this period I even opened my own business, and I wrote two or three novels. Debunking was a hobby. When the computer got switched off, the sordid world of conspiracy theories ceased to exist. However mad they made me when I was online, some conspiracy nutter out there in cyberspace simply couldn't make the transition into the real world. This was all carefully compartmentalized. People don't believe this when I tell them about it, but it's really the truth.

Maybe I was better at balancing it with my real life than others would be. I've always been a prolific writer, and when you come down to it, all of this was mostly words. So it wasn't like debunking took over my life. It was a small facet of it--a very strange one, to be sure.

In 2006, in particular, conspiracy theories, and especially 9/11 Truth, seemed to be on the verge of going mainstream. The Internet was on fire with Loose Change and its cheap knock-offs, In Plane Sight and Alex Jones's ridiculous films like Fall of the Republic. Rosie O'Donnell was starting to mention Truther tropes on her show, The View, before she got canned for being a nutbar. There were rumors that Charlie Sheen--this was before the "winning" days--was going to narrate the next of the interminable Loose Change recuts and sequels. Aside from JREF, which I never joined, the debunkers on the net seemed outnumbered and beleaguered. This was when public opposition to the war in Iraq was at its height. Most disturbingly, legitimate opposition to the war in Iraq seemed on the verge of being co-opted by 9/11 Truth. After all, if Bush lied about WMD's in Iraq, was it also possible that he lied about 9/11? In 2006 many people were willing to accept this as a possibility. It seemed like the facts were at risk of being overwhelmed by conspiratorial bullshit.

It seemed, therefore, that in 2006 it was more important than ever to fight against the lies and distortions of the conspiracy theorists. I started to branch out from MySpace. I got my own blog, and eventually a YouTube channel. My arguments with Truthers grew sharper and angrier, and the nutbars grew more militant in response. IgnoranceIsntBliss stopped trying to help me get more readers and visibility. As with my friend from Virginia Beach, I was now the enemy. In addition to calling me a shill, sheeple and disinformation agent, which had happened since the beginning, people were starting to make veiled threats against me, usually hinting that something bad would happen to me when the New World Order was overthrown and its "collaborators," like me, were brought to justice. In 2005, when it was just blogs on MySpace, locking horns with conspiracy theorists was fun and stimulating. Now it had become mean and scary. Everybody was digging in and doubling down. The rules of the game, both for conspiracy nuts and for debunkers, were changing.

Then came a movie called Zeitgeist.

MUERTOS BLOG: Confessions of A Disinformation Agent, Part 2

Author: Clock
Date: Apr 02, 2013 at 18:26

I am not Muertos and I do not know him. I am simply reposting these articles because I had found them on the Internet Wayback Machine. Do not contact me when it comes to this blog, I am not its author and my views are not necessarily his. REPEAT: I AM NOT MUERTOS.


Chapter II: From 9/11 to MySpace.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I got up very early, five o'clock. I was working on a novel, and, as I was usually too tired to write when I got home, I started doing it in the early mornings before going to work. At this time I lived alone in apartment in the central city. I got up, showered, and spent about a half hour writing. At 6:45 AM--Pacific time--as I was making breakfast my phone rang. Instantly I knew it was bad news. No one ever calls at 6:45 AM with good news. I picked up. It was a friend of mine. (Not the same one who almost caught TWA 800). "Have you seen the news?" he said. I said no. He replied, "Someone tried to kill the President!" That was how it was reported to me. Oh, and there was the small detail of the World Trade Centers on fire after planes having been crashed into them.

I switched on the TV. This was about 9:45 AM, after both towers had been struck, but just before the first of them collapsed. Like almost everyone else in America, I watched in rapt horror. I'll never forget seeing the first of the towers collapse into a cloud of dust. I also remember seeing the little black specks of people jumping from the towers before they fell. That's one of the most horrifying sights I've ever seen--even on TV--and one that will stick with me forever. Mind you, I watched the 1986 Challenger explosion live, and I also witnessed the infamous Bud Dwyer suicide as it happened. Neither of those horrible events could touch September 11.

Very reluctantly, I went to my office. I then worked in a law firm headquartered in a downtown skyscraper. It was four blocks from the federal building. In those first hours of September 11, after we heard Flight 93 was hijacked and headed possibly for the White House, no one knew how extensive the attack was and where else the terrorists might strike. There was no business going on, and everyone was nervous about the security of high-rise buildings, so I decided to go home. I took my car and drove to my parents' house, which was in a suburb about 20 minutes away. I spent the rest of the day there, most of it watching the TV coverage of the attacks.

Years later Truthers would seize upon the collapse of World Trade Center 7 as "evidence" of conspiracy. I remember watching coverage of WTC7 all day long, from the start of the attacks until it collapsed about 5:30 in the afternoon. Every couple of minutes the news channels would have another update on the efforts to contain the blaze in that building. When it finally did collapse, absolutely nothing could have been less surprising. I remember thinking that, after watching the reports on the news, it was a wonder the building had managed to stay intact as long as it did. People were also worried that other buildings might collapse too, such as the American Express complex and the Marriott Hotel which were heavily damaged. WTC7 was entirely consistent, from the very beginning, with what had been happening all day.

In the years since September 11 I've tried to recall exactly what my assumptions were on the day-of, and why I came to them. That it was a terrorist attack by some type of foreign power was obvious. At first I thought it might have been Saddam Hussein. Then as the day wore on the media kept mentioning Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. In later years Truthers would claim that this was a telltale sign of some sort of cover story being put out. But it wasn't. Although not many Americans had heard of Al-Qaeda before September 11, the few who had harbored no doubt whatsoever that the attacks were the work of this group. It fit their modus operandi perfectly, and also they were the only terrorist group in the world even capable of mounting such an attack. In 2011, when I read Lawrence Wright's book The Looming Tower, about the history of Al-Qaeda and U.S. attempts to interdict them before 2001, it suddenly made sense why an Al-Qaeda connection was voiced instantly after the attacks. It was not a sense, in those first days, of a mystery--"Well, gee, who could have done this?" followed by an official government proclamation, "It was Osama!" It didn't happen like that at all. The fact that the attacks had occurred in the way they did was itself evidence of who had done it.

Then, over the next days and weeks, the grisly evidence mounted. I recall at least one suicide video came to light within days after the attacks. The hijackers whose names were on the passenger lists--yes, I say that deliberately, because the fact contradicts what Truthers would claim years later--were traced, many by media outlets in the Arab world, to Al-Qaeda and other jihadist roots. When the police found Mohammed Atta's car at the airport in Portland, Maine, loaded with evidence, it was simply another piece in the puzzle. Then came Al-Qaeda's veiled claims of responsibility. They did not claim responsibility unequivocally as previous terrorist groups usually did, but when the Taliban's spokesperson warned the U.S. that "the hail of planes will not stop," it was obvious to everyone they did it. The evidence came in from so many quarters--eyewitness reports, media reports, police, documentary evidence, the flight schools, rental car agencies, security cameras, etc.--that there simply wasn't any doubt. You couldn't fake it. There was no mystery to solve, no puzzle to piece together. It was very clear what had happened.

The anthrax powder attacks in October 2001 were very, very scary. In some ways they were more frightening than the original attacks. It had nothing to do with loss of life. It was psychological. Some sick bastard out there was toying with us, the whole country, trying to get us to shit our pants, and he did. I remember my law firm circulating a memo warning people to inspect their mail for telltale signs of anthrax contamination. I think the anthrax was scary because there was no real end to it. It could start up again at any time, and we had no real defense against it.

When I recall October 2001 I remember, above all, the rumors. One of the most popular one was that Al-Qaeda was going to blow up a prominent shopping mall somewhere in the U.S. on Halloween. That turned out to be a hoax, but I only learned it was a hoax by checking it on the website first exposure to that site. There were many rumors about the attacks that circulated that following month. You can still see them on, under "Rumors of War." Imagine how frightening these were at the time.

October was about the time when I heard my first September 11 conspiracy theory. I posted on a message board at that time devoted to heavy metal music, but it had a "general" section where people could post about non-metal subjects. I remember somebody there, not a regular, posted the rumor that "4000 Jews didn't show up for work on 9/11." had already debunked this egregious anti-Semitic rumor, and the guy who posted it got hammered down for even mentioning it. The guy didn't assert that, because supposedly 4,000 Jews didn't show up for work, Mossad or the Israeli government must have done it. The early conspiracy theories weren't that developed. They hadn't yet morphed into the comprehensive mythology they would take on in later years. They were just this at first--rumors, very crude, and instantly recognizable as false. I don't think I heard or read the words "controlled demolition" until years later. These theories just didn't exist in October 2001.
After the "4,000 Jews" business, I really don't recall hearing any September 11 conspiracy theories for at least two years, possibly three. I suspect they were out there, but the conspiracy underground was then still in much the same form it was in the 1970s and 1980s, when conspiracy buffs traded crudely-copied zines and circulated their theories amongst themselves. During 2002, I know, Thierry Miessan published his book 9/11: The Big Lie, which was the first (so far as I know) real assertion of 9/11 conspiracy ideology. It's significant that the book was first published in France. I never heard about it at the time. It just didn't make a dent.

You must understand that during this time I was not a debunker. I didn't believe in conspiracy theories; by 2002 I'd even come to the conclusion, on JFK, that Oswald acted alone. My own experience with conspiracy theories notwithstanding, there just wasn't anything out there to debunk in the first few years after 9/11. Conspiracy theories and the people who believed them were still fringe nuts cowering in basements and analyzing JFK autopsy photos. It was a subculture totally invisible to the mainstream.

Then we went to war in Iraq. Looking back on it, I think Iraq was a game-changer. If Bush's bluff about Saddam's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction had paid off--meaning, if they had actually found the WMDs after the invasion--I seriously doubt 9/11 conspiracy theories would have taken off at all. But the WMD fiasco made any government lie, about anything, plausible. The 2004 election also reinforced the narrative that competence at the top didn't matter, and the evildoers could maintain control no matter what. Bush was extraordinarily lucky in 2004. He got re-elected just before people began to hate him in numbers that, just a few months prior, would have made his re-election impossible. I did hear conspiracy theories about the 2004 election--Rolling Stone, for instance, ran an article suggesting that Republicans stuffed ballot boxes in Ohio, which was the key state that made the difference between Bush and Kerry. I looked into it. There was nothing there. I don't think a whole lot of Americans liked Bush very much in 2004, but many of them voted for him more or less reluctantly. Kerry was a bad candidate--a really, really bad candidate. Galling as it was to admit it, Bush won more or less fairly, and the United States and the rest of the world paid the price for the next four years.

I think the pent-up national rage over Bush's re-election and the downward spiraling war in Iraq set the stage for the explosion of 9/11 conspiracy theories. But, as debunker Ryan Mackey points out in his recent paper The Great Internet Conspiracy: The Rise and Fall of the 9/11 Truth Movement, something else provided the fuel to the fire: the rise of social networking sites on the Internet.

By 2005, when I first signed on to a website called MySpace, I was on my way to becoming a debunker. I cut my teeth not on conspiracy theories, but urban legends. Remember that site that caught my eye after 9/11, At the law firm I was known as the "rumor debunker." Every couple of weeks someone at my work would forward an email to the entire office, usually a hysterical email warning of some type of horror--like the "ankle slasher" hoax, that being, a supposed statement from a police department somewhere, warning women of a new trend in muggings where criminals armed with knives wait under the cars of single women parked in mall parking lots, then slash their ankles to disable them. There was the other famous hoax of the gang initiation ritual where gang members drive around without headlights at night, and if someone flashes their headlights at them, they shoot the person who did it. None of the rumors were true, and Snopes had articles debunking them all.

One morning, seeing the "ankle slasher" email forwarded to the entire office for the third or fourth time in a year, I got angry. I clicked "Reply To All" and debunked the hoax, including a link to the article on Snopes where it was investigated and declared false. Many people in the office responded to me privately thanking me. They were as tired of the hoax emails as I was. This happened several times.

I noticed that the vast majority of the people who fell for these email hoaxes and forwarded them fit the same profile: they were usually secretaries, women in their forties, often with children who were tweens or teenagers. What was really bizarre was that some of these women chose to argue with me even after the myths were debunked. They would claim that Snopes was biased, or that even if the "ankle slasher" himself wasn't real, the underlying message of the hoaxes--that women should be careful when getting into their cars--justified sending the emails around, which meant that by debunking the urban legends I was somehow being indifferent to violence against women. I realize these people were, for whatever reason, emotionally invested in the truth of these claims, just as I was emotionally invested in the TWA 800 conspiracy. It was exactly the same thing.

I got thinking: why did these people, with these specific characteristics, fall for the hoaxes? And why did some of them try to cling to the truth of the hoaxes, even after they were debunked? It had to be something psychological. I also started thinking about the people who started these rumors, whoever they were. What was their story? Why did they do it? Was it just for notoriety, the thrill of seeing something they created go viral and scare people? I began to become very interested in the pathology of deception on this level. Something about it fascinated me. I started reading about con artists, hoaxes and confidence tricks. This was the beginning of my interest in what I call "organized deception"--scams, cults and conspiracy theories.

I didn't join MySpace with the intention of using it as a debunking platform. I joined it in 2005, like most others did, to connect with my friends on the net, most of whom were in the heavy metal subculture. I don't need to tell you about MySpace. If you had America Online in 1995, you probably had a MySpace page in 2005. Yes, my name there was "Muertos." That had always been my handle on the net, since I first joined the heavy metal community online to promote a novel I self-published in 2000, called Fire, Metal, Blood and Money. The pseudonym I used to write that book was "Michael De Los Muertos," which was a joke. Fire, Metal, Blood and Money satirizes the Norwegian black metal subculture of the early 1990s, where musicians took bizarre and silly nicknames like "Count Grishnakh" and "Euronymous." My pseudonym, "Los Muertos," was a Spanish spoof of that--black metal silliness brought to the New World. My book was still moderately popular in 2005, so when I joined MySpace, I was, naturally, Muertos.

One thing I noticed people were doing on MySpace was writing blogs. I'm a writer, and I have a lot of opinions, so naturally I started a blog there. I covered all sorts of topics--history, politics, heavy metal, world travel, the Internet, lots of things. Nobody read my blogs, but I liked writing them. Then one day I wrote a blog post about UFOs and alien abduction. It was an early version of the blog series I later ran five years later, analyzing Whitley Strieber's Communion novels. For the first time I got a comment response. It happened to be from a conspiracy theorist, who believed that UFOs were secret test weapons being developed by the U.S. government.

When I responded, arguing that there was no evidence that this was true, and that logically this hypothesis doesn't make much sense given the fact that these secret flying saucer weapons never seem to get out of the testing phase, I had no idea that a new and very strange chapter of my life had just opened up.

Perhaps it wasn't my response that really did it. Maybe it was when I clicked on the profile of the person who commented--a fellow whose handle was "IgnoranceIsntBliss." As soon as I clicked, my screen filled instantly with so many species of crazy I couldn't keep up with it. This guy believed in everything--chemtrails, New World Order, Illuminati, RFID chips, FEMA camps, autism vaccines, Bilderberg, Trilateral Commission, Roswell, JFK. Everything. And, of course, 9/11. I could spend 20 years arguing with this guy and never hit all the conspiracy theories he believed in and posted liberally all over his MySpace page. I don't know why, but I just had to respond. It was a compulsion, like debunking the "ankle slasher" hoax. I knew I didn't stand a chance to convert this guy from his nutty ways, but I sure as hell could make sure that anyone who saw his page saw there was another side of the story.

My life as a debunker had begun.

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