A Skeptic on the ConspiraSea Cruise

This is an index to our posts relating to my experiences on the ConspiraSea Cruise. Eventually we’ll convert this to a permanent page and keep it updated with new pieces and media coverage. Look forward to more indices as well, covering major Violent Metaphors topics.

In January 2016, I attended the seminar-at-sea for conspiracy theorists as background research for my book, tentatively titled “The Good Fight.” Supporters generously helped offset the costs of my attendance by contributing to my crowdfunding campaign, which explains a bit of my methodology–in short, I went to listen, not to argue or disrupt.

Itinerary and Cunning Hat
This photo went out in our first update; at least one person on the cruise recognized the hat.

The ConspiraSea Posts

I wrote a series of posts covering the details of the cruise, one per day:

Day One: A Skeptic on the ConspiraSea Cruise
An explanation of the project and an introduction to each of the conspiracy theorists presenting on the cruise.

Day Two: Reverse the Constitutional Polarity of the Baryonic Trustee Matrix: Legal Gibberish on the ConspiraSea Cruise
Pseudolaw, the pinstriped cousin of pseudoscience. And a quick end to my plan to withhold all criticism until after the cruise, as I see some exceptionally objectionable nonsense foisted off on an unsuspecting crowd by two speakers under indictment for serious federal crimes.

Day three: Nothing to Fear
How cruisegoers reacted to me, and how I reacted to them.

Day Four: Troubled Waters
A showcase of angry paranoia, as some of the conspiracy theorists misbehave.

Day Five Part One: I Just Can’t Do Another Nautical Pun
Continuing the story of an alarming and bizarre confrontation, and beginning the story of Andrew Wakefield’s angry lecture to me.

Day 5 Part Two: I Took the Bait
Andrew Wakefield, having failed to draw in the actual journalists, springs his trap on me and reveals a core of anger under his work to suppress vaccination rates.

Day 6: You Know Who Exposes Real Conspiracies? The Media.
Profiling Andrew Wakefield, Jeffrey Smith, Leonard Horowitz, Sherri Kane, and their attempts to protect their various conspiracy theories from public scrutiny.

Day 7: I Failed
A personal plea to one particular conference attendee, who very nearly fell afoul of the pseudolegal nonsense being preached by Sean David Morton–a self-proclaimed legal warrior who knows how to beat the system, but got arrested by federal agents immediately upon leaving the cruise and is currently awaiting trial on serious fraud charges.

Bonus: An Interview with Andrew Wakefield
In which Andrew Wakefield grants a personal interview, and we fact-check his claims. They do not do well. 

As I write additional pieces relevant to the ConspiraSea Cruise, we’ll link them here as well.

Media Coverage

The ConspiraSea Cruise itself got plenty of media coverage, as did my book project and the series of blog posts above. We’ve collected some links here and again we’ll update them when we have something to add.

Print

Anna Merlan of Jezebel wrote a brilliant piece that captured the who/what/where/when/why as well as the overall feel of the cruise. (Check out the art, too–every section heading is a dainty masterpiece.) We’re eagerly awaiting Bronwyn Dickey‘s piece in Popular Mechanics, which should be out soon with photography from the supremely talented Dina Litovsky.

Aeon Magazine asked me to write a piece about pseudolaw, which is not as widely understood as pseudoscience. It lead to an interesting discussion in the comments about which is more dangerous, a question I’m not sure can be answered.

Wired Magazine interviewed me for a great piece that again resulted in energetic comments, a few of which demonstrated the kind of feverish paranoia that drives conspiracy theories.

Factor, a Spanish-language blog, interviewed me for a couple of pieces about the ConspiraSea Cruise. Writing about me, they saidColin es un amor: un pacifista del escepticismo. It’s a lovely summary of my philosophy, and I try to live up to it every day.

Audio

Kylie Sturgess and I talked for an episode of the Token Skeptic podcast; it was a conversation between her home base in Australia and my hotel room in Copenhagen about a cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico. International intrigue!

The consistently excellent Prism Podcast ran two episodes about the ConspiraSea Cruise and my thoughts on Andrew Wakefield. It was a real treat to chat with Dr. Clay Jones and Dr. Grant Ritchie.

Video

Nothing yet, and it’s hardly my focus. We have had a serious inquiry about the film/TV rights, though. They’re still available. Personally I suggest casting Vincent D’Onofrio as the noble, humble, brave, heroic writer. Or maybe Peter Weller.

A writerA KingpinA Crusader

 And the Far Out

If you write about conspiracy theorists, sooner or later someone’s going to call for your “indictment for genocide by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court.” And sure enough, a couple of the people we profiled pounded out not one but several feverish attacks on my “criminal psychopathology and moral turpitude” and “obese darkness.” We appreciate the publicity, even if it’s completely inaccurate and completely goofy.

11 thoughts on “A Skeptic on the ConspiraSea Cruise

  1. jeef May 30, 2016 / 2:06 pm

    i like to join

  2. shay May 31, 2016 / 10:58 pm

    Made the mistake of following that link to your ‘publicity.’ These people are a roiling cauldron of rage and paranoia.

  3. jhjjh June 21, 2016 / 11:25 pm

    literally epic!

  4. rpsabq April 1, 2019 / 11:27 pm

    I’m curious, “Kenneth,” what is your basis for “irrational?” Anything believed that isn’t confirmed on CNN? So you only believe things found in mainstream thought and ridicule everything else? I guess when you go to Harvard, are from Texas, but live in Kansas raising a kid, anything else just sounds way too scary? You can’t even use your real name, divulge what you really do for a living or blog on your own site. That’s awfully secretive for someone who ridicules people when they don’t believe what people with way more power, way more money and way more clout than you are telling them. Now don’t me wrong: I 100% believe that people who do not get vaccinated should be held in a concentration camp, but you make such gratuitous statements lumping all people who don’t believe everything they are told into this huge pot, that it’s hard to take you seriously. It depends on the subject, the evidence, the circumstances, man. You’re capable of intelligent thought and problem solving aren’t you?

    • Shay Simmons April 2, 2019 / 2:53 am

      Congrats, Colin, another drive-by snipe by the clueless. You really struck a nerve.

      • Chris April 2, 2019 / 2:59 pm

        Does anyone know who “Kenneth” is? Or is it yet another way to spell “Colin”?

        • Colin April 2, 2019 / 3:07 pm

          It’s my first name, but I don’t go by it. Some conspiracy theorists used it in a blog about me a while back, trying to make me look shady by implying that I use a pseudonym. Presumably the commenter came here from that piece.

          Anyone who searched me on the Illinois or Texas bars’ attorney search pages would find out pretty quickly that Colin is actually my legal name, so it’s just one of those weird things that crop up when people try and fail to dig up dirt on you.

          • Chris April 2, 2019 / 3:50 pm

            Obviously, some people just have too much time on their hands. This guy would probably write Mark Twain and call him “Samuel” for the same reason.

            On a weird related note: my grandfather was named after his father, but was always called by his middle name, Ray. It wasn’t until he was an adult and joining the military that he was told it was not his first name. Annoyed by everyone trying to call him William, he legally changed his name to Ray (no middle name). My brother clearing our late dad’s house and found the revised birth certificate with our grandfather’s preferred name.

  5. Colin April 2, 2019 / 3:47 pm

    Hi RPSABQ,

    My definition of “irrational” essentially includes beliefs that are based on something other than reason, especially those that have failed some empirical test. There’s certainly some “I-know-it-when-I-see-it” to that definition, and obviously it’s ultimately a subjective determination. CNN doesn’t play into it at all.

    For what it’s worth, I use my real name, the one I have gone by every day of my life, and the one that appears on my driver’s license and birth certificate. You can verify this for yourself, if you really care, by searching for me on the Texas or Illinois bar associations’ websites.

    I also am very public about the work I do. If you go to colinmcroberts.com, I have a couple of pages that detail what I do and who I work with.

    When you say that I “make such gratuitous statements lumping all people who don’t believe everything they are told into this huge pot,” what statements are you talking about? It doesn’t seem like you’ve actually read any of these pieces.

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