Since late March of this year, conspiracy theorists have put Bigfoot on the back burner and have put the multi-state, US military training exercise in their shaky cross hairs. With intellectual powerhouses, such as Chuck Norris and Alex Jones, whipping one mythical horse after the next, public reactions have been loud. Enough, in fact, to warrant statements from the two most powerful entities in America, the Pentagon and. . .Walmart. While the size and duration of the nation’s soon-to-be largest at-home training evolution admittedly does deserve some attention, it doesn’t exactly require a number of reactions which have been nothing short of case studies in leadership pandering to the idiocy of their constituency. There is no example that shines brighter (and more comical) than Texas governor Greg Abbott, who interestingly enough, aims to dispatch US military to babysit US military. Abbott will have the Texas National Guard*** be his sensory organs.  Abbott states, “During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.” There are so many things funny about this idea, for instance, if you want to go down the infinite rabbit-hole of conspiracy . . . what stops the TNG from being “in on it?” Also amusing, is the thought of Guard units overseeing various SOF units with some undefined form of spectator-authority, “Have those DEVGRU guys go report to that Home Depot regional manager. . . Oh, I mean full-bird Colonel—this weekend.”

And then we have the ultimate Texas Ranger himself, Chuck Norris, who in his official statement said, “Concerned Texans and Americans are in no way calling into question our brave and courageous men and women in uniform. They are merely following orders.”

Um, yes you are Chuck—who else do you think will ultimately do the work of the shadowy, rights-raping, federal government if not the very people Governor Abbott wants to have under constant supervision? If one wants to believe in most conspiracy theories, the whole shah-bang can easily dull critical faculties. Yet, if we give it some energy and think about it, Col. James Braddock’s proposition is bizarre. Surely we can’t imagine one fearing a military presence . . . yet somehow not fearful of the people who actually make the military present. If we stop and boil down the issue, it is illogical to fear a government and not fear the entities that execute government directive. In short, a government with no enforcement has no legs, so, by necessity, you have to be questioning the “brave and courageous men and women in uniform.” And to question them, which is totally permissible and not offensive in itself whatsoever, is to arrive at two horns of a dilemma. Due to the question asked in this case, a US military that would disarm its population is consciously in agreement with disarming their dad, neighbor, and former high school teacher, or—the military is the cliché automatons, blindly doing biding while humming the Star-Spangled Banner, post-lobotomy.  Neither is very attractive, or true. Do I really have to be the one to bash a martial arts icon, and college humor deity, and say fuck Chuck Norris? I really don’t want to be that guy.

In the spirit of saving the best for last, we arrive at Alex Jones. Far less concerned in insulating his ideas with canned patriotic slogans about the military the way Chuck Norris did, we behold the following quote in reference to the true meaning behind Jade Helm 15, “. . . They [American government] are going to stage attacks, say the American people are doing it and they’re going to try and roll the military out, just like New Orleans. They are preparing for this.” All of this, of course, is an elaborate and decades-spanning plot of various co-conspirators to disarm the American people.

     To those who are uninitiated in the fallacies of most conspiracy theory arguments, let me shed some light on the wiggle-room these sensationalists provide for themselves. Here is the formula:

1.      Make a bold claim.

2.      Site a select group of general facts, speculation and general observations to bolster the claim.

3.      Aggressively disseminate to the target audience.

4.      When the actions of the claim do not occur, evolve the conspiracy. Plausible example: saying the action didn’t occur due to ample dissemination of information (you prevented it! You’re a hero—but watch out, the fights not over… tune in next week and keep your eye on our DVD coming out this fall).

This is classic, pied-piper galvanizing that taps into some fundamental pockets of the human psyche; excitement, cohesion, sense of accomplishment, and the undeniable propensity to gravitate towards highly salient, lurid social activity (in this case, Yellow Journalism. A brief definition is here  . If you want a more comprehensive background on the origin of the term Yellow Journalism, sometimes referred to as Yellow Press, it can be found here .

Let’s take a brief tour into the anatomy of a conspiracy theory. The impenetrable shield of a conspiracy theory (as well as its Achilles heel when it comes to any validity in the standard rules of evidence) is that the theory is unfalsifiable. But a theory being unfalsifiable is a vice, not a virtue. Immunity to falsifiability is the distinguishing feature of a pseudo-science. An example, the Adlerian inferiority/superiority complex: if Grunt A pushes Grunt B into a fighting hole, it was because Grunt A suffers from a superiority complex, inflicting his exhibitions of power on others—OR (perfectly equal in explanatory power)—Grunt A is suffering from an inferiority complex, and something about Grunt B made him feel so low that he had to push Grunt B face-first into the grenade sump to achieve a perception of power-equilibrium. Do you see how the explanations evolve to fit all circumstances? The invulnerable, ever-shifting nature of unfalsifiable claims is what separates tweaked-out Alex Jones types from those that calculate a lunar landing.

Perhaps an example more in the vein of government conspiracies is in order—the claim is made that the military will interfere with the voting process. Soon the subsequent claim is made that 200 Marines were witnessed staging near some political assembly. It causes such a ruckus on the news that the Marines provide official documentation establishing it was only 10, and it was for a recruiting drive from a local office, unrelated to the assembly. The conspiracy theory then evolves to include the claim that the USMC and the United States government have conspired to alter the records, and the other 190 Marines have been erased off of the official documents and the recruiting office is cooperating with the façade.

Sound familiar?

Nothing wrong with vigilance, nor a preparation-mindset, but conspiracy theories are not rational skepticism. In summary, for those that needed this dose, take off your tinfoil hat. When Jade Helm 15 comes and goes and no Chinese, American, or UN troops have seized your kids’ BB gun. . . we hope you remember OAF told you so.

—Mr.Blonde               11100110001001 End of NSA transmission.

*** Author’s Note: Okay, its been 24 hours, and everything from “blind liberal” to “brain-washed military service member” has impacted in the AO. Speckled in the salvo, has also been numerous announcements from our astute viewers, stating a needed correction. There is a factual error in this article; it is not the Texas National Guard, it is the Texas State Guard.  Yes, they’re not an entity that can be federalized – No, it does not undermine a larger point of this article; that conspiracy theories don’t abide by the rules of evidence. Past this blunder, we hope you find the more technical criticism worth your time, and know that this was just typed while in the front leaning rest.  -Mr. Blonde

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David Rose (AKA Mr. Blonde)
David Rose is the author of No Joy, From Sand and Time, and Mulgara: The Necromancer’s Will. He holds a postgraduate degree in applied uselessness—a.k.a. philosophy—from the London School of Economics. He lives all over the place.