Saturday, August 09, 2008

Odds, Ends, and HAARP Conspiracy Cranks...

I wanted to post a few quick updates this afternoon, so here we go. Firstly, I'm toying with the idea of setting up a Facebook profile, mostly because I've gotten a couple of "friend requests" from people I know who use the service. When and if I ever get that set up in any presentable way I'll add a link to it in the sidebar, but honestly social networking sits just aren't my cup of tea.

Secondly, I've not heard a word from Phillip O'Donnell since early last week, so I guess that means we won't be debating. Rumor has it that he's had some experiences in the past wherein he tried to do some online debates and simply got dog-piled by a hostile crowd and thus he's not very interested in doing any more public debates. Nonetheless it's absolutely amazing to me that he would come onto my blog and challenge me to a debate, then refuse to actually do it. Readers can feel free to mosey over to Living Dinos and prod him a little.

Thirdly, Your old pal Skippy's girlfriend is in Baltimore and the moment and will be there for the better part of the week because of Otakon. (Some kind of anime convention, apparently.) That's all well and good: she's apparently having a great time and I get to be the master of my castle for a few days. The only problem is that she's got the laptop with her so she can update her blog, which means that typing updates over on my end is temporarily dependent on my desire to sit around in the bedroom and work at the desktop PC while her multitudinous cats chew on my feet. Thus far I've not been able to muster up a whole lot of desire to do so, which is lame because this has been an interesting week for internet weirdos.

Among other things, there was an amusing post over on Pharyngula that highlighted a bizarre a video by this lady. She's some kind of conspiracy nut that thinks some kind of evil government plot is responsible for, among other things, rainbows. (Not kidding. Watch the video.) Her main area of interest in HAARP, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, which she seems to think is some kind of weather-controlling, laser shooting, earthquake causing doomsday device like a James Bond villain might use. The poor woman is clearly daft, as should be evinced by this video, in which she has recorded sun glare coming off of passing cars under the mistaken impression that they are actually laser weapons, and this video, in which she notices the phenomenon of earthshine and comes to the conclusion that the moon is actually a giant mirror. She's also a proponent of the tired old "ChemTrail" conspiracy, which holds that airplane contrails are actually some sort of high altitude chemical dispersion device towards some unknown end. (Step 1: Blanket the atmosphere with airborne chemicals. Step 2: ? Step 3: PROFIT!)

For the record, HAARP is a project run by the University of Alaska and contingent of other universities and is being built using technology from APTI and BAE Systems*. The program is also affiliated with the U.S. Navy and Air Force. It's meant to study various natural processes of the ionosphere and to utilize these processes to develop new communications technologies. It's pretty cool stuff and it's completely non-classified - there are even open houses in which the public can tour the facility a couple of times a year. HAARP is not in anyway associated with the development of weapons, though there was talk in 1990s about using similar technology as part of the Strategic Defense Initiative. (Interestingly, some anti-HAARP conspiracy books have been released by the Adventures Unlimited Press, the publishing house of living dinosaur and ancient astronaut proponent David Hatcher Childress.)

HAARP conspiracy theories are usually so far removed from anything that HAARP actually does that it's almost difficult to know where to begin in debunking them. In a way that's almost a rhetorical advantage to the conspiracy nuts - if you point out, for example, that HAARP has abso-freakin'-lutely nothing to do with causing manmade earthquakes, they'll accuse you of buying into the government's line instead of actually "going down the rabbit hole". Perhaps it would be better to let readers peruse our friend's other videos so they can see the raving craziness for themselves.

I also want to point out that that some conspiracy buffs are loudly crowing about the $250 million price tag that has been attached to HAARP, apparently to show that the government is throwing so much money into the project that it must be some kind of crazy ray gun. The line of thought seems to be that the government wouldn't be putting that much money into something that isn't a weapon. Frankly, that's silly. No one with any sense of scale when it comes to military development costs would honestly think that a global doomsday device could be manufactured for $250 million. For example, F-22 interceptor aircraft cost over $135 million apiece, and that's just fabrication costs for something that has already been designed.** To claim earnestly that a superweapon on par with the Death Star has been developed for a mere quarter of a billion dollars is as revealing a display of ignorance by the conspiracy buffs as one could hope for.


*BAE also makes such fine products as the M2 Bradley.
** The total cost of the F-22 program has thus far been around $69.7 billion.

6 comments:

Fox no sox said...

I am so tired of all the chemtrail crap. My moms husband practically drives off the road when showing them to me. He also started picking my brain for a word for a face he saw up in the sky. Yes..sylphs are up there..and they're eating the chemtrails. He also believes in RODS. It just baffles me.

Steve said...

There exists far more evidence in support of HAARP's military/black-ops uses than you have even begun to touch on in your entry... in fact, too much to detail here (you've got the entire internet, so get to work). Even if you look at just the patents related to HAARP, you'll find that they are specifically worded to include all of the weather modification and ionosphere charging effects noted by the "conspiracy nuts." The fact is, we have just begun to tap into the enormous power of the ionosphere for both civilian and military purposes. If you insist on framing the debate as an "ad hominem" one in which you resort to attacking people "conspiracy nuts" and so forth, then you will never be able to claim that you've found the truth (whatever that may be). Whether HAARP is truly being used to conduct black-ops research, causing earthquakes, or changing weather patterns is clearly still matter of which nobody can claim to know the absolute truth. Nevertheless, I applaud the efforts of these so-called "conspiracy nuts" as efforts of consciencious, truth seeking individuals concerned with getting to the truth. Honestly, would this be the first time that our government has lied to us??? Why is that so difficult for a self-professed skeptic such as yourself to believe? As a "skeptic," rather than personally attacking those that seek the truth, you should be questioning the information provided by our government. Perhaps the nature and extent of the pablum being fed to you on a daily basis by our nation's media and other (dis)information sources should be a more primary focus of your purported skepticism? Think about it.

Skippy the Skeptic said...

Wait, wait...so your evidence is "there's so much evidence that I'm not going to talk about it here"...

Not especially impressive.

I've spent the entirety of my adult educational life studying political science - I'm well aware that the government should be watched like a hawk about most things. That being said, I'm not nearly so willing as you to throw my hat in with a lady that thinks that RAINBOWS ARE A CONSPIRACY, especially when it comes down to trusting such a person's understanding of atmospheric chemistry and physics.

JAK said...

OK, steve. Where to even begin...

First off, when you make a positive claim ("there exists far more evidence in support of HAARP's military/black ops uses..."), it's up to you to produce the evidence. You don't get to waltz in, make a grandiose claim, then lay the responsibility of proving it at the feet of someone else. Strike one.

Second - that HAARP patents involve wording related to weather modification and/or ionosphere charging (and I'm not conceding that they do - this is another positive assertion on your part, so the burden of proof is on you. If the patents contain such language, show it) is hardly surprising given that the program involves reasearch involving the effects of transmitted HF electromagnetic energy into the ionosphere and observing its effects. Nothing interesting or shady there. Strike two.

Now, after you incorrectly paint Skippy's article as an ad-hom (note - insults are not ad-homs, and the fact that the lady in question is a conspiracy "theorist" has direct bearing on the quality and nature of her arguments. Had Skippy claimed that her material was bogus because she wears glasses, that would've been ad-hom.), you dive into a discussion of truth-seeking and the nobility of such an effort. Yes, truth-seeking is noble, and in all likelihood the government has lied in the past and will do so again. That said, not everyone with a fanciful notion of what is really going on qualifies as a "truth-seeker". Some of them really are just kooks. A large part of skepticism involves weighing alternatives for reasonableness, and wild conspiracy "theories" very often fail the reasonableness test. You do not seem to understand this fundamental point. Foul ball, and strike three.

You're out. Thanks for playing.

Steve said...

Jak,

I didn't realize we were playing baseball. I thought the point was to get at the truth. If the point is just to win an argument, great... you win. Feel better? Please feel free to enjoy the fruits of ignorance. You've earned them.

In my experience, those who are primarily interested in winning arguments are not concurrently interested in getting at the truth. This is a perfect example. If you don't want to believe that a point of view is correct, there will always be a way to shoot it down.

And Jak, by the way, the term "ad hominem" is, by definition, either "an argument is one that relies on personal attacks rather than reason or substance" or "attacking an opponent's character rather than answering his argument." Thus, calling someone a "conspiracy nut" is an ad hominem attack because a judgment about her character (she's a "nut") is imbedded in the phrase itself. This concept and definition are self evident.

Query this... how and when does one transition from a "truth-seeker" to a "kook?" And who makes that determination? You, Jak? Are we to rely upon your subjective determination of one's status as a "kook" in evaluating the merits of a particular theory? How can we know whether a theory is not worth believing until we conduct a full investigation?

In point of fact, one cannot conclude that a person is a "kook" rather than a "truth seeker" until one first uncovers the basis for that kook's theory and evaluates the theory with an unbiased eye. Only upon ascertaining the facts forming the basis for a theory as non-existent or without merit can one conclude that the theory is not worth believing.

My difficulty with some so-called skeptics is that they skip ("Skippy"?) the full investigation part and go right to the not believing part.

And how does a lack of investigation benefit anyone? Hundreds of years ago, those members of the flat earth society that considered a heliocentric worldview as heresy certainly had been provided with information that could have relieved them of their non-belief in a heliocentric solar system. However, they chose to continue to believe in the geocentric worldview because it supported their ideology and self interests.

The fact that you don't want to beleive a theory, can't understand a theory, or don't believe that it will ultimatley be proven true does not make it unworthy of a full investigation.

(As an aside, my 2 year old son still refuses to believe that the earth is not flat... what does that prove?)

Now, I stand by the fact that there is far more evidence to support a military HAARP project than can be submitted on this blog. However, I will provide some links below and some cursory thoughts on the issue of evidence.

Check this out...

In 1988, Bernard Eastlund was granted U.S. Patent No. 4,686,605, which led to the development of HAARP. Look it up on www.uspto.gov.

The last paragraph of the patent states, among other things: "This invention has a phenomenal variety of possible ramifications and potential future developments. As alluded to earlier, missile or aircraft destruction, deflection, or confusion could result, particularly when relativistic particles are employed. Also, large regions of the atmosphere could be lifted to an unexpectedly high altitude so that missiles encounter unexpected and unplanned drag forces with resultant destruction or deflection of same. Weather modification is possible by, for example, altering upper atmosphere wind patterns or altering solar absorption patterns by constructing one or more plumes of atmospheric particles which will act as a lens or focusing device."

At this time, it is not certain that the Eastlund patent alone led to the development of HAARP. However, it is clear that the claimed capacities of HAARP are consistent with the claimed applications of the Eastlund patent.

Also, APTI,Inc. (now AES Corp.) is not only the corporation who manages the HAARP site, but the one who owns the Eastlund patent. Thus, the connection between the Eastlund patent and HAARP is clear, despite some claims to the contrary.

(Check out the now-deceased Bernard Eastlund's fascinating website at www.eastlundscience.com. He also talks about a "fusion torch" and a bunch of other great concepts).

Can I prove even with a preponderance of evidence that HAARP is causing earthquakes, changing the weather, and myriad other villainous activities? Not really. Nobody can. If I could, I certainly wouldn't be spending my valuable time about it on this blog. I'd be and getting up a posse to go take 'em down (or selling the information to the highest bidder).

But just take a look at what we do know. First, the patents state that it should be able to do all those things. Second, the people who own that patent are managing the HAARP facility. Third, the U.S. Military is directly involved, which lends to immediate suspicion, since we know that many many lies have been propagated by the military and the U.S. Gov't in general under the guise of "national security" (remember WMDs and wiretapping, just to recall some recent examples). Thus, a lie about HAARP would not be out of step for military. Fourth, we know that the ionosphere is a highly volatile charged environment capable of becoming superheating and even raising up the atmosphere below, among many other things. Thus, the devastating results that some say may be associated with HAARP are not unrealistic.

On and on and on...

The truth is, I don't care if you "believe" that HAARP is a a military weapon or that it controls weather or causes earthquakes, etc. However, I do care that you investigate the facts without prematurely writing off the concept as the ravings of a "conspiracy nut."

Nobody is going to believe anything they don't want to believe. That's fine, I get it. Just don't turn the tables and accuse those who are interested in seeking out the truth of being "kooks."

Now, typically, I am not one to cast the pearls of valuable evidence before the swine of your so-called skepticism. Like I said before, you have access to the same internet I do.

Nevertheless, in the unlikely event that you bother to investigate this issue before you shoot back a knee-jerk vitriolic response to my post, here are a few resources/links to get you started... have fun.

www.eastlundscience.com

www.youtube.com (in general, search for HAARP, Nicola Tesla)

www.brojon.org/frontpage/bj1203.html

www.fromthewilderness.com/free/pandora/haarp.html

www.crystalinks.com/haarp.html

Matthew 7:7-8 - "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."

Skippy the Skeptic said...

"How and when does one transition from a 'truth-seeker' to a 'kook?'"

Um...I would venture that the transformation occurs around the same time she forgets that rainbows exist and posts a raving video claiming that they're actually the result of a vast government conspiracy...

Steve, you ought to take a look over at the front page and reply to the two entire posts that I've devoted to your concerns. I note that by cleverly claiming that anything stated by the actual scientists that work on HAARP (as opposed to "information" from far-fringe conspiracy theorists like James Rense, "psychic" scam artists like Ellie Crystal, and questionably credentialed "independent researchers" like Nick Begich) is likely to just be a government lie you've set yourself up as completely unfalsifiable. After all, anyone who disagrees with you is just a conspiracy stooge.

Did you actually look at the pages in your links to see what other kinds of crazy woo these "researchers" endorse? Because I did, as you'd know by now if you'd read from the front page. All sources are not created equal my friend, and you seem to have chosen yours rather poorly. It seems rather more like confirmation-seeking than truth-seeking to me.

Love and peace,
-Skippy