The "Tinfoil Hat Brigade"

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The "Tinfoil Hat Brigade"

Postby UtgardLoki » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:11 am

What is the "Tinfoil Hat Brigade"?

Time and again I read some poster using this term as a pejorative description, seemingly to imbue that poster's comment with some extra authority. Why do people feel a need to use such a lazy term? Is it a coping mechanism for those with deep seated inferiority complexes? Is it an indicator of arrogant exceptionalism? Do the people who use the term do so because they feel a need to establish their superiority?

In short, what is the "Tinfoil Hat Brigade", and what excludes you from membership?
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Postby hamlet » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:19 am

"Tinfoil Hat Brigaide" is a derogative . . . well, more derogative anyway . . . term for "conspiracy theorist." I.e., those who invent the existance of wide and nefarious schemes perpetrated by "them" in order to pull the wool over the eyes of people, prey upon the ignorant and unsuspecting, steal whatever, etc. etc. etc.

Real life example would be those who argue to this day that George Bush and co engineered the 9-11 attacks at the World Trade Center by planting explosive, hijaking planes and disappearing hundreds of passengers and crewmen, in order to . . . I forget what the end goal was. But the point they made was that it couldn't possibly have been terrorists.
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Postby UtgardLoki » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:37 am

Thanks hamlet, for your input, but... ;)

Are all conspiracies "invented"?

One thing I have noticed here is the frequency with which this term is used, and always as an argumental "putdown" of those who disagree with the user's point of view. What is the need that people have to use this term? Surely arguments can be formulated without recourse to such cheap shots? Or are people that insecure with their arguments that they are impelled to perpetuate this low-level abuse?
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Postby Storyteller » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:42 am

'It is wrong from beginning to end,' said the Caterpillar decidedly, and there was silence for some minutes.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Postby hamlet » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:43 am

It is an argumentative put-down, though it may be deserved from time to time.

And no, not all conspiracies are false inventions of . . . "illogical fantasies," but the natural implication of accusing somebody of being a member of the tinfoil hat brigaide is that the particular theory that they are espousing at that moment is one of those invented, illogical, and implausible fantasies.
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Postby Jnyusa » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:00 am

Tinfoil hat, imo, refers to people who are not able to make evidentiary claims nor revise their opinion when new or different evidence is offered. They are locked into a view that does not depend on reason for its sustenance.

Obviously not all conspiracy theories are tinfoil hat theories.

Changes in the technology and market structure of the media have given the tinfoil hats near-limitless use of the public megaphone. That's why you hear more about them today than you did ... say, sixty years ago. The reason they are grouped and dismissed categorically is because it is impossible to have a normal conversation with them.

But I think there was a different kind of illogic in earlier days, caused by isolation from the media and lack of exposure to competing ideas ... for example the monolithic acceptance of Jim Crow laws. Insularity is probably just as deadly to public discourse as our current media diarrhea is.
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Postby Cenedril_Gildinaur » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:55 am

Ask Minardil. He's the local expert.
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Postby Cenedril_Gildinaur » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:03 pm

Conspiracy theory. What an interesting subject. It's also impossible to discuss. If you discuss any particular theory, without saying often how wrong it is, people will assume that you agree with it.

There seem to be many people at the extremes and few in the middle, with people either being full-on conspiracy theorists or being complete conspiracy dismissers. Actually most people are in the middle, but they always characterize others as being at an extreme.

So let's examine the extremes then.

On the one hand you have the hard-core theorists, who take circumstantial evidence as proof, correlation as causation. And, for some reason I haven't fathomed yet, they have a tendency to try to tie all the conspiracies into a giant uber-conspiracy.

On the other hand you have those who refuse all conspiracy theory. Of course, this point of view depends on believing that the rich and powerful never seek to increase their wealth or power, that politicians elected to office never have their own agenda and never seek to go beyond what is permissible for their office.

Actually, conspiracy to commit a crime is itself a crime, and the government uses that charge much too often for my liking. Nobody points and laughs and say "Conspiracy? Where are your tinfoil hats?" when the government says "conspiracy." Perhaps they should.
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Postby Minardil » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:20 pm

Cenedril_Gildinaur wrote:Ask Minardil. He's the local expert.


I'd say it is exremely bad form to mention an poster who has not posted in this thread, and has in fact NOT been present on the board for months. Just a coincidence I happened in today to see this.
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Postby hamlet » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:20 pm

Cenedril_Gildinaur wrote:Conspiracy theory. What an interesting subject. It's also impossible to discuss. If you discuss any particular theory, without saying often how wrong it is, people will assume that you agree with it.

There seem to be many people at the extremes and few in the middle, with people either being full-on conspiracy theorists or being complete conspiracy dismissers. Actually most people are in the middle, but they always characterize others as being at an extreme.

So let's examine the extremes then.

On the one hand you have the hard-core theorists, who take circumstantial evidence as proof, correlation as causation. And, for some reason I haven't fathomed yet, they have a tendency to try to tie all the conspiracies into a giant uber-conspiracy.

On the other hand you have those who refuse all conspiracy theory. Of course, this point of view depends on believing that the rich and powerful never seek to increase their wealth or power, that politicians elected to office never have their own agenda and never seek to go beyond what is permissible for their office.

Actually, conspiracy to commit a crime is itself a crime, and the government uses that charge much too often for my liking. Nobody points and laughs and say "Conspiracy? Where are your tinfoil hats?" when the government says "conspiracy." Perhaps they should.


I think, though, that the main difference is that if you can't provide actual evidence beyond the circumstantial or coincidental or "guilt by association" sort, then you're most likely venturing into tinfoil hat land. Hope you brought a sherpa. Or, at the very least, multiplying entities in order to fit your world view.
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Postby UtgardLoki » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:40 pm

hamlet wrote:
Cenedril_Gildinaur wrote:Conspiracy theory. What an interesting subject. It's also impossible to discuss. If you discuss any particular theory, without saying often how wrong it is, people will assume that you agree with it.

There seem to be many people at the extremes and few in the middle, with people either being full-on conspiracy theorists or being complete conspiracy dismissers. Actually most people are in the middle, but they always characterize others as being at an extreme.

So let's examine the extremes then.

On the one hand you have the hard-core theorists, who take circumstantial evidence as proof, correlation as causation. And, for some reason I haven't fathomed yet, they have a tendency to try to tie all the conspiracies into a giant uber-conspiracy.

On the other hand you have those who refuse all conspiracy theory. Of course, this point of view depends on believing that the rich and powerful never seek to increase their wealth or power, that politicians elected to office never have their own agenda and never seek to go beyond what is permissible for their office.

Actually, conspiracy to commit a crime is itself a crime, and the government uses that charge much too often for my liking. Nobody points and laughs and say "Conspiracy? Where are your tinfoil hats?" when the government says "conspiracy." Perhaps they should.


I think, though, that the main difference is that if you can't provide actual evidence beyond the circumstantial or coincidental or "guilt by association" sort, then you're most likely venturing into tinfoil hat land. Hope you brought a sherpa. Or, at the very least, multiplying entities in order to fit your world view.
That would seem fair, except for the troubling issue of evidence being dismissed by those calling others "conspiracy theorists", or the "Tinfoil Hat Brigade". Only the other week I saw a documentary on the Lockerbie bombing which seriously called into question the responsibility of Libya. Evidence had been tampered with, witnesses statements altered, etc, yet those who doubt Libyan involvement are dismissed as... conspiracy theorists.
It would seem that the designation is mostly used to curtail examination of evidence, and stop inconvenient debate.
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Postby hamlet » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:50 pm

UtgardLoki wrote:That would seem fair, except for the troubling issue of evidence being dismissed by those calling others "conspiracy theorists", or the "Tinfoil Hat Brigade". Only the other week I saw a documentary on the Lockerbie bombing which seriously called into question the responsibility of Libya. Evidence had been tampered with, witnesses statements altered, etc, yet those who doubt Libyan involvement are dismissed as... conspiracy theorists.
It would seem that the designation is mostly used to curtail examination of evidence, and stop inconvenient debate.


Did this documentary happen to be aired on the History Channel? You know, the same channel that's now famous for airing a slew of shows about Bible Codes, Ancient Aliens, Doomsday Prophecies, and idiocy like that?

Seriously, man, any idiot with a camera and an ax to grind can make a documentary. It's the quality and nature of their evidence that is the determining factor.

What proof does he offer that evidence was tampered with? Or is it just implied?
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Postby UtgardLoki » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:58 pm

hamlet wrote:
UtgardLoki wrote:That would seem fair, except for the troubling issue of evidence being dismissed by those calling others "conspiracy theorists", or the "Tinfoil Hat Brigade". Only the other week I saw a documentary on the Lockerbie bombing which seriously called into question the responsibility of Libya. Evidence had been tampered with, witnesses statements altered, etc, yet those who doubt Libyan involvement are dismissed as... conspiracy theorists.
It would seem that the designation is mostly used to curtail examination of evidence, and stop inconvenient debate.


Did this documentary happen to be aired on the History Channel? You know, the same channel that's now famous for airing a slew of shows about Bible Codes, Ancient Aliens, Doomsday Prophecies, and idiocy like that?

Seriously, man, any idiot with a camera and an ax to grind can make a documentary. It's the quality and nature of their evidence that is the determining factor.

What proof does he offer that evidence was tampered with? Or is it just implied?
Oh, photographic evidence of the "grey shirt", which shows it has been altered. Photographic evidence of written witness testimony, in which words have been written over, including the removal of "beige" to describe the shirt (I know, the shirt appears too frequently, but it is the only forensic evidence linking to Libya), the original statement by the Maltese shopkeeper, which does not mention the shirt being sold... much of the evidence presented was a follow-on from Paul Foot's work printed in Private Eye, and leads to indictment of the Peoples Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Council (PFLP-GC), an Iranian backed group. The attack was purportedly in response to the shooting down of an Iranian airliner by the USS Vincennes (sp?)
I'll try and find the documentary for you. It isn't a History Channel one, btw :)
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Postby UtgardLoki » Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:15 pm

The documentary is called Lockerbie: The Pan Am Bomber and can be watched here. :)
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Postby Cenedril_Gildinaur » Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:39 pm

hamlet wrote:
Cenedril_Gildinaur wrote:Conspiracy theory. What an interesting subject. It's also impossible to discuss. If you discuss any particular theory, without saying often how wrong it is, people will assume that you agree with it.

There seem to be many people at the extremes and few in the middle, with people either being full-on conspiracy theorists or being complete conspiracy dismissers. Actually most people are in the middle, but they always characterize others as being at an extreme.

So let's examine the extremes then.

On the one hand you have the hard-core theorists, who take circumstantial evidence as proof, correlation as causation. And, for some reason I haven't fathomed yet, they have a tendency to try to tie all the conspiracies into a giant uber-conspiracy.

On the other hand you have those who refuse all conspiracy theory. Of course, this point of view depends on believing that the rich and powerful never seek to increase their wealth or power, that politicians elected to office never have their own agenda and never seek to go beyond what is permissible for their office.

Actually, conspiracy to commit a crime is itself a crime, and the government uses that charge much too often for my liking. Nobody points and laughs and say "Conspiracy? Where are your tinfoil hats?" when the government says "conspiracy." Perhaps they should.


I think, though, that the main difference is that if you can't provide actual evidence beyond the circumstantial or coincidental or "guilt by association" sort, then you're most likely venturing into tinfoil hat land. Hope you brought a sherpa. Or, at the very least, multiplying entities in order to fit your world view.


One could counter with "where there's smoke, there's probably fire." The challenge for the theorist is to find the fire, using the circumstantial or coincidental as leads to start - not end - the investigation.

Of course even then you have to be careful discussing any theories. I once posted an article analyzing how Obama could be making the birthers look like even bigger fools by playing coy and releasing information in tiny bits that don't satisfy them and being more secretive than he has to. Minny saw that and thought it was proof that I was a birther.
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Postby UtgardLoki » Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:49 pm

Cenedril_Gildinaur wrote:The challenge for the theorist is to find the fire, using the circumstantial or coincidental as leads to start - not end - the investigation.
I feel this is bang on the money, and that those who routinely label others "tinfoilers" or "conspiracy theorists" seem actively intent on stymieing investigations. It is peculiar to hear someone state they don't need to look into the "facts" because only "conspiracy nuts" would question the official story. Thus a virtue is made from self imposed ignorance! :shock:
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Postby ToshoftheWuffingas » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:13 pm

I've thought that conspiracy theories were a conspiracy by the authorities to muddy the waters.
Does that help?
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Postby Jnyusa » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:34 pm

UL wrote:those who routinely label others "tinfoilers" or "conspiracy theorists" seem actively intent on stymieing investigations. It is peculiar to hear someone state they don't need to look into the "facts" because only "conspiracy nuts" would question the official story. Thus a virtue is made from self imposed ignorance!


Routinely labeling? Refusing to look at evidence?

How about a concrete example of the ostrich factor that fits these descriptions instead of abstract accusations.

Tosh wrote:I've thought that conspiracy theories were a conspiracy by the authorities to muddy the waters.
Does that help?


Tosh, LOL. On the days when I dream that I am Kafka, that is the terrirory I visit.

Seriously, the 9/11 Truthers did more to clear the path for Bush II than an army of supporters could have done. Bush may not have given them a leg up but he would have been an idiot not to bet on them.

Reasonable people can tell when something stinks. I would not be surprised at all if the Kennedy assassination got revisited eventually, but I sure would be surprised if there really were alien bodies in cold storage at Wright-Patterson AFB.

Following 9/11 there were two articles in Rolling Stone by two different authors who had interviewed Osama bin Laden during the year or so previous, and they had profound doubts about our administration's choice of him to be the mastermind of anything more complicated than lunch. I found their perspective very compelling, not that it would have changed the outcome, since the master plan was pretty clearly devised by someone very close to bin Laden. But it was an interesting read.

Meanwhile, I believe that the Libyan accused of the Lockerbie bombing was released, wasn't he?
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Postby portia » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:16 pm

Just as an aside, we all know that the "tinfoil hat" description comes from people who are said to wear tinfoil hats to block alien transmissions or mind reading, or both?

OK.

A cousin of Mr. Portia's is very into the JFK assassination thing. He actually has made a (modest) living from it for years.

I am sure that there are conspiracies (some probably even manage to achieve their goals), but there are also coincidences and other odd juxtapositions of events or people. Conspiracies, as an explanation for all unpleasant events, are a replacement for explanations featuring demons and are about as valid or useful.

More: well, those two Rolling Stone authors must be wishing they could delete their articles. And the accused Lockerbie bomber was released by the former Libyan government, so I think you could argue either innocence or guilt from that release.
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Postby UtgardLoki » Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:07 am

Jnyusa, I'll quote from Noam Chomsky, on the use of the term "conspiracy theory", which appears (by consensus here) to be synonymous with "tinfoiler" and its variants.
'Conspiracy Theory' has become the intellectual equivalent of a four-letter word: it's something people say when they don't want you to think about what's really going on."

from Understanding Power: The Indispensible Chomsky, The New Press, 2002, p.26
I have noticed the term (or its synonyms)routinely used here, and can only agree with Chomsky's rationale, alongside an apparent need of the user to self-aggrandise. Those the user disagrees with are the "Tinfoil Hat Brigade". It is such a petty, transparent act.
portia wrote:Conspiracies, as an explanation for all unpleasant events, are a replacement for explanations featuring demons and are about as valid or useful.
( My bold.)

This appears to be another strawman argument (there would seem to be enough straw on here for the first little piggy to build a mansion!). It is as simplistic, and "wrong", to routinely blame all unpleasant events on conspiracies as it to routinely dismiss all accusations of conspiracy as symptomatic of "tinfoil hattery". A little more open-mindedness, and a little less prejudice might be useful.

As for the Lockerbie "bomber" (convicted, not simply accused), he was not released by the Libyan government, but by the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, purportedly on compassionate grounds, but also on condition that he dropped the appeal against conviction he was undertaking. By accepting his freedom, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was denied the right of proving his innocence. The evidence of his being framed, which I would say is compelling (but will, most likely, be wholly ignored by those who routinely call others "conspiracy theorists" ;) ), will consequently not be put before a court of law. Which is the very reason al-Megrahi was released on "compassionate grounds" in the first place... probably! :D
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Postby ToshoftheWuffingas » Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:54 am

I gather that in their bid for respectability tin foil hatters now wish to be known as the Aluminati.
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Postby Minardil » Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:16 am

ToshoftheWuffingas wrote:I gather that in their bid for respectability tin foil hatters now wish to be known as the Aluminati.


Now THAT is funny!
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Postby hamlet » Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:49 am

Minardil wrote:
ToshoftheWuffingas wrote:I gather that in their bid for respectability tin foil hatters now wish to be known as the Aluminati.


Now THAT is funny!


That's about the worst joke I've heard all week.
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Postby Aravar » Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:00 am

hamlet wrote:
Minardil wrote:
ToshoftheWuffingas wrote:I gather that in their bid for respectability tin foil hatters now wish to be known as the Aluminati.


Now THAT is funny!


That's about the worst joke I've heard all week.


Don't criticise, tell us a funnier one: it has to be on topic.
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Postby Jnyusa » Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:07 am

Tosh wrote:I gather that in their bid for respectability tin foil hatters now wish to be known as the Aluminati.


:rofl: Tosh, you're on a roll.
 
~

UL, there’s one thing that tends to make me mad enough to waste more time than I would like to, and that’s hearing one poster use gross generalities to level very specific accusations against other posters, with or without naming them.

Coherent society depends on our being able to distinguish between the voices in our heads and what that guy standing next to us just said.

UL wrote:Jnyusa, I'll quote from Noam Chomsky, on the use of the term "conspiracy theory", which appears (by consensus here) to be synonymous with "tinfoiler" and its variants.


One, you don’t win points with my by citing Noam Chomsky unless you accurately represent his view. I must presume you know his view about the 9/11 truthers, and also the reason for that view which is lodged in their inability to absorb conflicting evidence and not in his own laziness to investigate.

Two, it is not consensus that conspiracy theory is synonymous with tinfoil hats. The word consensus means that everyone agreed, and I did not agree with this definition and neither did portia.

Three, since it is the posters on this board that you accuse of using the “tinfoil hat” accusation as a substitute for thought, you do not satisfy my request for an example by citing one of Chomsky’s observations about the world in general.

I have noticed the term (or its synonyms) routinely used here, and can only agree with Chomsky's rationale, alongside an apparent need of the user to self-aggrandise. Those the user disagrees with are the "Tinfoil Hat Brigade". It is such a petty, transparent act.


This, in my opinion, is utter nonsense.

Repeating the accusation with the important words bolded does not substitute for a concrete example any more than Chomsky’s generalization does.

As for the Lockerbie "bomber"


You seem to want to prove something about this particular case, and I notice that no one here has accused you of being a tinfoil hat. Perhaps we really don’t jump in with dismissive accusations when we have not investigated the issue and don’t know enough about it to discuss its merits?
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Postby hamlet » Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:09 am

Aravar wrote:
hamlet wrote:
Minardil wrote:
ToshoftheWuffingas wrote:I gather that in their bid for respectability tin foil hatters now wish to be known as the Aluminati.


Now THAT is funny!


That's about the worst joke I've heard all week.


Don't criticise, tell us a funnier one: it has to be on topic.


I may be funny looking, but I'm rubbish at telling jokes.
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Postby UtgardLoki » Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:45 am

Jnyusa, you have repeatedly used the term "tinfoil hatter" (or variant). I think it diminishes you.

I am most certainly aware of Chomsky's views on 9/11. His opinions on "truthers" (another term of sweeping, generalisation... but you don't like them, do you? :) ) is actually quite complicated. One facet of his criticism is that the "wider picture" is lost in attempts to focus on the minutiae of events that day. As such, wider geopolitical issues are lost. For Chomsky, who is ultimately responsible for 9/11 is irrelevant. And like most "truthers", he does not claim Bush is responsible. However, judging by the sweeping generalisations proffered here, it would seem that this little snippet of information is unknown, or simply ignored in the dash for "one-upmanship"...

As for the Lockerbie case; it is an example of how "tinfoil hatters" are the ones who are actually looking at the evidence, whilst those denigrating "tinfoil hatters" are ignoring the evidence, which is in direct opposition of your original post, that
Jnyusa wrote:Tinfoil hat, imo, refers to people who are not able to make evidentiary claims nor revise their opinion when new or different evidence is offered. They are locked into a view that does not depend on reason for its sustenance.
portia mistakenly asserted that the "accused Lockerbie bomber" was released by the Libyans, whereas it was the Scottish who did this. I further expanded in response to hamlet's disparaging reference to the "History Channel", an assumption of source that was incorrect.

So... no conspiracy here. :)
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Postby Minardil » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:16 am

The truly frightening thing is that, according to at least one study

http://berkeley.intel-research.net/arahimi/helmet/

the wearing of Tin Foil Hats actually AMPLIFIES radio waves in those bands allocated for government use - GPS, etc. This should be strong proof that the idea that Tin Foil Hats protect wearers from governmend mind control waves is a classic piece of misinformation, put out there by the huge Government Conspiracy.
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Postby vison » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:30 am

I threw away my tinfoil hat a long time ago. I kept having to patch it, aluminum foil can only take so much use before it's so wrinkled and crumbled it's pointless. So what I did was, I modified a stainless steel saucepan. I did consider removing the handle but then I realized that it makes a pretty good antenna if worn in the front and sorta pointing upward? I drilled a couple of holes in it and fastened a chin strap and, bingo, she was good to go.

Unlike aluminum, it doesn't crumple and it doesn't turn black in the acid rain. It's sorta noisy inside, what with the competition between the voices in my head and the transmissions from Headquarters, but it's okay. I'm getting by.
GM is alive.

Osama bin Laden is dead.
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Postby Jnyusa » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:45 am

UL wrote:Jnyusa, you have repeatedly used the term "tinfoil hatter" (or variant). I think it diminishes you.


But not to describe all conspiracy theories or all criticism of the government as you are claiming.

As for the Lockerbie case; it is an example of how "tinfoil hatters" are the ones who are actually looking at the evidence, whilst those denigrating "tinfoil hatters" are ignoring the evidence


No one here has commented yet on the merits of the Lockerbie case. You are fabricating posts and posters out of the ether.

portia mistakenly asserted that the "accused Lockerbie bomber" was released by the Libyans, whereas it was the Scottish who did this.


Did she deny your correction?

For goodness sake, man, don't you know the meaning of the word "evidence?"

I further expanded in response to hamlet's disparaging reference to the "History Channel", an assumption of source that was incorrect.


If you can't distinguish between the rationality of posts by Hamlet and the rationality of posts by portia, then you lack discernment.

Meanwhile, I see that the hard, hard left is every bit as capable of reconstructing Chomsky in toto as is the hard, hard right.

No, UL, your posts are often interesting but this thread is buffoonery.

vison wrote:So what I did was, I modified a stainless steel saucepan.


LOL, you moral cretin, you! Try using a plastic colander. It's less noisy and takes thousands of years photodegrade.
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