Tag Archives: conspiracy theory

256 – Conspiracy Theories: From Sword Of Trust to The Moon Landing

The new film Sword of Trust features a deep-dive into a fictional conspiracy theory that the South actually won the Civil War. Directed by mumblecore veteran Lynn Shelton and starring everyone’s favorite curmudgeon Marc Maron, Sword of Trust is a comedy about a couple who inherit a Confederate sword that actually proves the South won the war and their journey into tinfoil hat-land to sell the sword to the highest bidder.

Our colleague Scott Markus from What’s Your Ghost Story.com got to work the Sword of Trust red carpet at the film’s premiere at SXSW this year for the International Screenwriters’ Association and he asked the cast and crew (including director Lynn Shelton and lead Marc Maron) about what their favorite conspiracy theory was for this episode.

In addition to that fun segment, Scott joins Wendy and I for a discussion of our favorite conspiracy theories. Because of course, July 20th 2019 was the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon and the idea that we faked it because we needed a big propaganda win at the end of the 60s continues to this day. Who doesn’t love this video of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin punching A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon filmmaker Bart Sibrel…

In addition to discussing the movie and the moon landing conspiracy theories, here are some of the other topics we talk about:

Because Sword of Trust features a Civil War conspiracy theory, we wanted to record a song that was popular during the era. Released in 1861, you could hear “Aura Lee” on any night around army campfires on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. You might recognize the melody because it was repurposed for Elvis’ classic, “Love Me Tender”.

As the blackbird in the spring, ‘neath the willow tree,
Sat and piped, I heard him sing; sing of Aura Lee.
Aura Lee, Aura Lee, maid with golden hair
Sunshine came along with thee, and swallows in the air.

In thy blush the rose was born, music when you spake.
Through thine azure eye, the morn, sparkling seemed to break.
Aura Lee, Aura Lee, birds of crimson wing
Never song have sung to me as in that night, sweet spring.

Aura Lee, the bird may flee the willow’s golden hair
Swing through winter fitfully, on the stormy air.
Yet if thy blue eyes I see, gloom will soon depart.
For to me, sweet Aura Lee is sunshine through the heart.

When the mistletoe was green, midst the winter’s snows
Sunshine in thy face was seen kissing lips of rose.

Aura Lee, Aura Lee, take my golden ring.
Love and light return with thee,
and swallows with the spring.
Aura Lee, Aura Lee, take my golden ring.
Love and light return with thee,
and swallows with the spring.

231 – The Man Who Knew Too Much: UFOs, Conspiracies, and Murder

This week, there was a plethora of exciting UFO news (well, probably as exciting as we’re going to get until they finally land in our backyard) so we wanted to bring back one of our favorite guests, [Robbie Graham]. Robbie authored the fascinating and insightful book, Silver Screen Saucers as well as editing UFOs: Reframing The Debate, which is one of the most comprehensive looks at the subject of the last decade. Wendy and I talked with Robbie and Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com joins us again for the discussion.

Starting out, we had to talk to Robbie about what it was like being on the History Channel juggernaut, Ancient Aliens! He was on the latest episode and he told us what it was like being brought into the study of a millionaire’s home (to make it look a little more intellectual) as well as being remotely directed in London over the Internet from Los Angeles.

Robbie on Ancient Aliens

But just in the news this week, we had to discuss the new article about former Nevada senator Harry Reid coming out of retirement to lobby for more investigation into military reports of UFOs. Roll Call is not your normal UFO publication, it’s a political blog, so it’s always nice to see something weird in there. But why does Harry Reid care so much and why now? The best quote of the entire article is when he talks about Area 51.

“Oh sure, I’ve been to Area 51. I know Area 51. I don’t know if I should say many times, but lots and lots of times. I know Area 51 quite well, I know what they’ve done there,” said Reid. “I don’t know in recent years, of course, but I know what went on there.”

What went on there, Harry, for God’s sakes, what went on there?

But that brings up a bigger point, the existence of extraterrestrials is in the news more than ever. Since the New York Times article in 2017, aliens have snuck more and more in the news, from the latest fast radio bursts from space to the strange Rama-like space objet Oumuamua. And the go-to guy for astronomer credibility seems to be Harvard Professor, Avi Loeb. Now this guy is no slouch when it comes to academic credentials, but he sure is talking about aliens a lot. Is that because they’re getting us ready for disclosure?!

Party On Wayne

More likely, they’re just in it for the clicks. Those stories get shared more than any other and in a quickly shrinking media landscape, views mean money.

But another story that came out this week that I was particularly interested in was the official pronouncement this last week that conspiracy theorist Max Spiers who passed away in Poland mysteriously in 2016, actually died of a drug overdose.

Max Spiers
Max Spiers

It was a tragic end for a young guy (well, kinda young, I would be less than a month older than him, so it hits home for me) and the salacious news stories were filled with tales of cryptic messages sent to his mother and girlfriend in the UK as well as descriptions of him vomiting black bile before expiring. It didn’t help that his friends were telling people that extraterrestrials were mind controlling his behavior. I’m all for a good conspiracy theory and I fully understand that our government isn’t afraid to assassinate people but was a guy who talked about Nazi bases on the moon really getting too close to the truth?

Fascinatingly, that leads to a story from Robbie about how he once was paranoid about his phones being bugged and that he might have been being watched by the CIA while he was investigating another mysterious death, that of Hollywood screenwriter, Gary Devore. First of all, Devore wrote Timecop, the greatest of all Jean-Claude Van Damme films, so we all owe him at least a tiny bit of gratitude for that.

But in the mid-90s, Devore was working on a screenplay about the 1989 U.S. Invasion of Panama. That’s the one that was ordered by former CIA director, George H.W. Bush to capture former CIA operative Manuel Noriega.  My favorite part of the whole invasion (if one can have a favorite part of something that killed 23 US soldiers, 150 Panamanian soldiers, and over 500 Panamanian civilians) is that the U.S. military famously played “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister at an earsplitting volume outside the Vatican Embassy, where Noriega had holed up after being driven from the Capitol.

Could Dee Snider have been in the CIA as well?

While Devore disappeared in 1997, he was on his way to deliver a copy of his latest script, the one about the “real reason” for the  Panama invasion. He never made it and a year later they found his Ford Explorer at the bottom of a California aqueduct. His body was there, but strangely his hands and the script were both missing.

Robbie became obsessed with the case and along with his colleague, Dr. Matthew Alford, they authored an article in The Guardian newspaper talking about Hollywood and the CIA and specifically talking about Gary Devore. Was Robbie getting too close to the truth? Well, in 2012, CIA operative Chase Brandon, who knew Devore well  because he was the CIA liaison to Hollywood, wrote a book called The Cryptos Conundrum. It’s supposedly fiction, but he makes a lot of claims (particularly about Roswell) and in one of the  “fictional scenarios” makes up an investigative journalist who starts exposing too many of the CIA’s plans and then mysteriously suffers a fatal heart attack. The name of this fictional journalist? Robert Graham.

THAT’S $%^ING NUTS. You can read the passages right here in the Google Book version of The Cryptos Conundrum. It’s not really very subtle.

Alford went on to make a documentary about the case in 2014 called The Writer With No Hands.

And speaking of Hollywood, Scott’s favorite story this week is the upcoming 61st anniversary of the Black Dahlia murder, where poor Elizabeth Short was found naked, mutilated and cut in half. It became one of Tinseltown’s most famous and shocking unsolved cases. Los Angeles homicide detective Steve Hodel believes that the killer was his own father(!), Dr. George Hodel, and the new TNT series I Am The Night, will be based on Hodel’s theories. Steve Hodel has also implied that his father was the Zodiac Killer. Happy Father’s Day, yikes!

For this week’s song, we were thinking about the tragedy of Max Spiers’ death and also Robbie’s own story of possibly being surveilled by an intelligence agency while investigating a cover-up. Whether or not you believe in conspiracy theories, from Q Anon to secret supersoldiers, our intelligence agencies wield a scary amount of unchecked power. While a majority of their actions might be in the service of protecting us, is the truth worth getting in their crosshairs?

You wear the truth like a tattoo
You look over your shoulder is there someone right behind you?

Walking too close to the Left Hand Path
Living with a target on your back.

Whispers in the night are beckoning,
to a black magic reckoning,
hidden hands are pulling strings,
and watching everything.
Steer clear of the dangerous kind
a death warrant has been signed.
Don’t fall in love with
The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Just like in Catch-22
Just cuz you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not out for you.

Just what will you give up for the truth?
Even if it ends up killing you.

Whispers in the night are beckoning,
to a black magic reckoning,
hidden hands are pulling strings,
and watching everything.
Steer clear of the dangerous kind
a death warrant has been signed.
Don’t fall in love with
The Man Who Knew Too Much.

The Antonin Scalia Conspiracy

While were busy working on the latest podcast over the weekend (our remembrance of astronaut and psychic researcher, Dr. Edgar Mitchell), one of the most divisive figures in American politics died, Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia. Conservative Hero and Liberal Punching Bag, he elicited stronger feelings in the American electorate than almost anybody else. And you could see that online, there was a lot of delight in my social media feeds at his death (I live in the liberal enclave of Madison, Wisconsin where just because you’re progressive doesn’t mean you’re nice.) Celebrating a rival’s death is a bit macabre, but this is the Internet, so that’s kind of par for the course.

Honestly, I care more about the agenda of Scalia’s Reptilian Overlords more than anything else, I doubt there’s any actual humans left on the Supreme Court. This year particularly, the Reptilians are trying to give us the illusion of “change” more than ever with those wacky “outsider candidates”!

So the TV show, “V”, was right this whole time!

He was found dead Saturday morning at a Texas ranch. Okay, it’s a 79-year old man on a hunting trip and no offense, but taking a look at the guy, he wasn’t on a marathon training program. Sounds like a heart attack in his sleep and a peaceful death, actually not that bad a way to go (I plan on going kicking and screaming, myself.)

But the first report shows that he was found with a pillow over his head. What? This wasn’t a David Carradine-style accident, was it? (Although there is something particularly poetic about a man so interested in protecting “traditional sexuality” dying in a way that Clyde Bruckman once predicted for Agent Mulder.)

Hey guys, I can laugh too!

Okay, now that I’ve planted that pretty little image in your head for a second, let’s talk about the Antonin Scalia conspiracy theories behind the death of a 79-year old out-of-shape man. Of course, my man, Alex Jones, was on the case right away. He says that his “gut feeling” is that Scalia was assassinated and that he’s wondering if Clarence Thomas, Ron Paul, or Donald Trump could be next. They’re old guys too, but I think eyebrows would be raised if conservative old men just started dying by the truckful.

However, if you’re 69 years old in 2016 and English, go see a doctor immediately.

The fact that Alex Jones exists, makes money, gets on CNN and Howard Stern, is almost too much fun for me sometimes. He can find a conspiracy anywhere and the death squads are always on the march. But as a wise man once said, “Just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you.”

Beyond Alex Jones, here’s a guy that thinks the fact there’s no autopsy and Scalia declined his usual Federal Protection before going to the ranch are both very suspicious and an investigation should be opened immediately. He at least refrains from saying anything too crazy, but the headline “Forget ‘conspiracy theory.’ This is real.” is a little too much.

But this dude takes it all the way, saying

Is it also possible that an evil murdering homosexual communist President with only 10 months left in office could have ordered a hit so that he could drive that final nail into America’s coffin? Why not?

WOW. It’s one thing to speculate that maybe an extremely important and divisive government official was murdered by a political enemy. That happens in the United States sometimes. It’s also another thing to speculate that local law enforcement covered something up. That happens in the United States sometimes.

But I’ve gotta say when you call Obama a homosexual (we’ve all seen his wife and kids), Obamacare communist (it makes the healthcare industry make more money than anything), and a murderer (well, the jury is still out on drone strikes on American citizens), you’re going to lose some credibility with me right away.

I’m not sure, but I think this artist is saying that he doesn’t like the President?

But the Washington Post even deemed it important enough to discuss the conspiracy theories surrounding his death. Thing is, the more we talk about the conspiracy theories, the more people will believe it over time. Do you know a single person that actually believes in the Warren Commission’s official report on the JFK Assassination? I don’t. We’ve been told for fifty years that it’s a conspiracy, eventually you start believing it, even if it doesn’t really matter anymore.

And right now, the more conspiracy theories fly (even with just reporting that the theories exist), the more people are going to get it in their heads.

It seems easier to rile people against each other more than ever, and swirling suspicious questions around an old man’s death start the blood boiling before the body’s even cold.

It’s always going to be divisive when a Supreme Court justice dies in an election year and of course the Democrats are going to try and take advantage of that, just like the Republicans are going to try and delay it. That’s politics. And now we can distract ourselves for the next six months with the Culture War over the Supreme Court and then it’s time to go right into the election, the Political Super Bowl. So, maybe when we’re done arguing with each other in ten months, is that when the politicians actually try doing something for the people?

Huh, and I used to think it was foolish to believe that there’s Reptilians controlling the narrative.

True Detective and the Steven Avery Cult Connection

Like most of you who had some free time over the Holidays, I enjoyed myself a little bit of the ol’ “Netflix and Chill”. And my sedative of choice was Making A Murderer. I can’t help it, yes, I am addicted as much as everyone else to this true crime phase of Pop Culture. I listen to Serial, I was just as shocked at the ending of The Jinx as everyone else. I know that these are sensationalized accounts of real people’s lives. I know that my outrage has been elicited by design. Yet, somehow this foreknowledge of manipulation doesn’t change my interest in the twisted case of Steven Avery or the depressing case of Brendan Dassey. So, I read on every article and criminal records search associated with it, and everyone from The New York Times to Buzzfeed has anticipated our interest and used it to their clickbait-y advantage.

steven avery cult
How many times have you seen this picture over the last month?

I can’t help it, I’m in Wisconsin and paid attention to the story as it happened the first time. One of my good friends was on the Innocence Project at the law school of UW-Madison right before Steven Avery went on trial the second time (she was talking about him as one of their great successes), my wife went to high school in Manitowoc (she exclaimed at one point in the show how her next-door neighbor was on the witness stand!), one of the people I work with in music mentioned how his neighbor was the woman who did the (flawed) DNA testing of the key. These were all people that are in my life. When do most people ever get that close to a national phenomenon without being in it? Of course it’s going to fascinate me!

True crime is one thing (and I know that murder is tragic, no one’s downplaying that) but when people start looking for paranormal explanations, that’s where I start getting really interested. Because this is when we get beyond regular human interest and start entering a different level of conspiracy theory. Sure, it’s one thing to say that the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department planted some evidence. Sgt. Colborn plays a wonderful patsy and Lieutenant Lenk is the cold middle manager whose job it is to make the frame up work. But what if it goes way deeper than that? What if it goes into True Detective Season One (the good season) territory?

steven avery cult true detective yellow king
The Yellow King lives in the Fox Valley and this Lone Star Beer can prove it! 

First, Coast to Coast AM (with Twin Cities host Dave Schrader from Darkness Radio taking the lead) featured a special episode on the case, with the last hour devoted to a retired police detective who believes it might be the work of a Satanist serial killer named Edward Wayne Edwards (who the author also connects to California’s infamous Zodiac Killer) who was caught in 2009 in Jefferson, Wisconsin and admitted to five murders. John A. Cameron claims however that Edwards has killed dozens of more victims over the course of a six-decade murder spree where he framed many other innocent people and Steven Avery was just one of his last victims. Now the tale is pretty unbelievable for sure, but Cameron does his best to make a compelling case and even suspects Edwards of dressing up like Santa to perform JonBenét Ramsey’s 1996 mureder as well as killing people on Aleister Crowley’s birthday October 12th. Cameron turns Edwards into some kind of murdering superman and while the evidence is weak, it’s a compelling read.

But the idea of a Satanic murder of Theresa Halbach has also been floating around on that bastion of constructive discussions, Reddit. In this particular thread, people theorize that a Satanic Sex Club might be the ones who murdered the poor girl. Why? Because it was Halloween of course! Okay, Manitowoc is a small city, how would some kind of secret Satanic sex club go around unnoticed? Quick answer. It was noticed. Hat tip to Cult of Weird for sharing this story about a man named Dave Begotka, who has created a series of YouTube videos about how there’s a secret Satanic cult in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley.

I’m not trying to be judge-y, but his old channel was called DrNephilim666, so I think he might be an old hat when it comes to wacky theories. However, Dave has a detailed story on his website about how he was invited to join this secret sex club in Manitowoc by a very influential local businessman. It’s got that Eyes Wide Shut vibe, but hopefully it’s not as mind-numbing as that movie turned out to be. The people of Reddit think that Dave Begotka’s story “could be huge!” for the case, but he’s sent the whole story to Avery’s legal team (and my wife even has a crush on Dean Strang now) and they haven’t used it yet, so its credibility is dubious. But that turns this whole thing right into the land of True Detective, just what is going on in Manitowoc County?

steven avery cult dean strang jerry buting valentine
That’s right boys, nothing is sexier than justice!

Anyway, if one thing makes a close-to-home true crime story more exciting, it’s bringing in some kind of occult murder society. It’s like one of my high school urban legends come to life and the whole Internet is getting in on it. There’s not much to these theories right now, but if Avery and Dassey get a second trial and the Defense puts forth a Satanic Sex Club defense, you know we’re going to have to go to the courtroom.