A fellow named Steve recently posted a comment on here lambasting me for being, shock of shocks, an ignorant, close-minded skeptic who resorts to ad hominem attacks. He was referring to this post, in which I made fun of a Youtube conspiracy crank because she forgot that rainbows exist and thus posted a video in which she blamed the mysterious appearance of a rainbow in her sprinkler on a far-reaching government conspiracy. In all honesty I'm not going to claim that I didn't for example, call her...let's see...an "internet weirdo", a "conspiracy nut", and ...actually, I think those were the only pejorative terms I used. On further consideration, I'll add "loon", "wingnut" and "smacktard" to the list. (Alas, being spotlighted by PZ Myers has led this particular oddball to make many of her videos private, which makes it difficult to explain her claims without sounding like I'm exaggerating. Go to her profile if my video links don't work.)
There are issues of contention between skeptics and True Believers™ that are deserving of measured and carefully laid out arguments. Attributing rainbows to the evil machinations of the New World Order is not one of them. Nor is the belief that sun glare reflecting off of the hoods of cars is actually a "HAARP laser". Nor is the assertion that the moon is a giant mirror. Stupidity on that order of magnitude is not deserving of well measured refutation so much as simple derision. Granted, there's a sense in which I feel bad for the True Believers™ like this lady who have "fallen down the rabbit hole" of their own delusions so far that they can no longer see the light of day, but my sympathies don't extend nearly far enough to make me pretend that such lunacy represents anything close to an actual position worthy of consideration.
Steve then goes on to defend our rainbow-fearing friend as a "conscientious, truth-seeking individual" rather than a "self-proclaimed skeptic" like your ol' pal Skippy. He then accuses me of buying into the "pablum being fed [to me] by our nation's (dis)information sources". That is, I'm afraid, a rather typical argument. I'll note with no small sense of smarmy self-satisfaction that I predicted in the very post that Steve takes issue with that I would be accused of "buying into the government's line instead of going down the rabbit hole."
He then claims that "there exists far more evidence to support HAARP's military/black-ops uses than you have even begun to touch" and urges me to "get to work" because I have "the entire internet' with which to uncover the truth. Pardon me for questioning the internet as the final arbiter of reality, but for the time being let's overlook the whole "no fact-checking or editing" thing and just roll with it. I plugged "HAARP weapon applications" into Google. The first link that came up is from 9/11 "Troofer" James Rense. It also offers a link to explain "how the Zionists hijacked Christianity", but at this point Rense is more concerned with whining about Barack Obama. The second link is from good ol' Jesus-Is-Savior.com, a mirror site for Jesus-Is-Lord.com which many of you will remember from my Poe's Law post. The third link is a video from Ben Fulford, a pal of Rense, which decries HAARP as one of the evils of "Zionist occupied America".
Thus far we're three for three on articles coming from foaming conspiracy theorists who are preoccupied with the idea of a global plot by the Jews. That right there is some objective freakin' research. It's also worth noting that the article on Jesus-Is-Savior article is copied from EarthPulse.com, which is also happy to tell you about "laser acupuncture" and "USSR Hypnosis at a Distance". Perhaps, just perhaps, some of the "research" that conspiracy theorists have done on HAARP is actually something more along the lines of agenda-driven fear mongering or just plain and simple silliness.
On the other hand, when it comes to HAARP being able to cause massive scary weather effects and earthquakes, one thing I do know is this: The HAARP antenna is capable of sending a signal into the ionosphere that is not even 1/200 as powerful as the random fluctuations that the ionosphere experiences daily. You see, the ionosphere is affected primarily by the ultraviolet energy produced by the sun. It seems to me, reading articles by the conspiracy buffs, that they think that the government has somehow managed, for a mere $250 million, to build an antennae array capable of overpowering the energy output of the freakin' sun, which is, frankly, hilarious.
Likewise, the idea that earthquakes can be caused by ionospheric disturbances is kind of out of left field. While it is apparently the case that earthquakes of sufficient size can cause certain atmospheric effects (including effects that can be detected before the quake itself "begins"), I can't find anything that indicates that the reverse is true. Well, that is to say, I can't find anything that indicates the reverse is true when I'm looking at real science websites or journals. What I can find are plenty of naked assertions that ionospheric effects can cause earthquakes on sites like, say, AwakeFromYourSlumber.com and PropagandaMatrix.com. (The former is also concerned about the "Zionists" - a recurring theme, it seems.)
Our friend Steve, who doesn't, I should note, actually claim himself that HAARP causes earthquakes, may do well to remember the old cliche about considering the source. Now, I'll go out on a limb and say that maybe HAARP-based technologies could potentially be used to screw with various forms of communications, but that's not what the majority of conspiracy crowd is going on about. They tend to talk about HAARP as an earthquake-generating doomsday weapon or some kind of laser device (for some reason), which is just plain isn't. There's a difference between keeping a healthy eye on the government and becoming a member of the Tinfoil Hat Brigade, and from what I've seen most, if not all, of the HAARP conspiracy buffs fall into the latter category.
They might be better off if they actually studied up on the issues that concern them, looked at the best available information, and did their best to base their positions on observable reality. Then they could look at new claims through a filter of reasonableness and plausibility, using this process as well as further study to help them determine if the claim should be accepted or rejected. Furthermore, they would do well to remain open-minded...but not quite so open-minded that their brains drip out. You know, kind of like a skeptic.