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.

ConspiraSea Cruise Day 5 Part 2: I Took The Bait

Colin here, taking over the job Jennifer’s graciously been doing by editing and posting my own writing. I’m no longer on the ConspiraSea Cruise doing research for a book on irrational beliefs. Now I’m home (briefly) and writing up my experiences. This is a fuller explanation of what happened on the fifth day. You can read Day 1 here, Day 2 here , Day 3 here, Day 4 here, Day 5 Part 1 here, and an explanation for what I was doing here

I have just one more full day to go, then a very personal post about the very last morning of the cruise. I want to move forward quickly because we aren’t done after that. In the future I’ll write in more detail about individual presentations and my thoughts about what the conference has to teach us about irrational ideologies and the debates around those beliefs.

In the last post, I explained how I wound up as the primary audience of a long, angry lecture by Andy Wakefield. Here’s a much more detailed explanation of what happened, and some thoughts on why it happened and why it matters.

2016-01-29 15.13.13

And I apologize in advance for the fishing puns. Honestly, I tried to stop.

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Deep (Conspira)Sea Fishing: A Fundraising Drive

A large, diverse conference of people with very unusual beliefs is coming up. I want to attend as research for my book and blog posts on Violent Metaphors. Tickets are expensive, so we’re trying to keep costs down with a little crowdfunding. Please visit http://www.gofundme.com/ss29jrfk to donate if you can. If you can’t donate, just sharing the link is incredibly helpful. Pitch in, and let’s lay the groundwork for a deep discussion of far-out ideas next year! The following post is our original crowdfunding appeal.

Do you believe in acupuncture, alien abductions, ancient aliens, chi, crop circles, entity possession, “forbidden archaeology” or “forbidden religion,” homeopathy, near-death experiences, occult Nazi super-weapons, Planet X, poisoned vaccines, spiritual channeling, the new world order, or illegal immigrants from Zeta Reticuli? Do you go to bed worrying about the New World Order, the Vatican, the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, NASA, the WHO, the CDC, the UN, space aliens and/or demons conspiring against you and all right-thinking people? And are you convinced that the world is ruled from the Bohemian Grove, a secret bunker under the Denver airport, Bilderberg meetings, the Council on Foreign Relations, Buckingham Palace, alien worlds or other dimensions?

Probably not, or at least probably not all of it. But thousands of people do believe those things, and other things stranger than you can imagine. This January, dozens of experts these fields will gather together on a cruise ship called the Ruby Princess. It’s called, honestly and cleverly enough, the Conspira-Sea Cruise. They’ll spend seven days explaining, discussing, and even demonstrating their beliefs. Some of them are fairly famous, like Andy Wakefield and Sherri Tenpenny, who will be sharing their theories on vaccines. Others are relatively obscure, like Laura Magdalene Eisenhower, great-granddaughter of the former president, who claims to have been recruited for a secret Mars colonization effort and that stargates began opening around the Earth in 2012. For a full week, conspiracy theorists, dreamers, and snake-oil salesmen of every stripe will be preaching and peddling their wares.
Cruise0
I want to be there. You can help make that happen by visiting our Go Fund Me sitehttp://www.gofundme.com/ss29jrfk. We’re nearly halfway there!

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Andrew Wakefield loses again in court; what happened?

You may have seen the news about a Texas court throwing out Andrew Wakefield‘s lawsuit against Brian Deer, the investigative journalist who did so much to uncover Wakefield’s fraudulent anti-vaccine study. You can read the court’s opinion for yourself, but I’ve already seen some inaccurate commentary on it. Here’s a little background on the case, and a quick explanation of what happened last week for non-lawyers.

 

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Apparently this is “Asquith as John Bull giving cheap sugar and an old age pension to a child and an elderly couple.” I have no idea what it means. But I dig old editorial cartoons (and the headline).

 

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Closing my browser tabs: September 10, 2014

I’m putting the finishing touches on a longer article to share later this week, but in the meantime, here are some stories that I’ve found interesting over the last week: Continue reading

Dear parents, you are being lied to.

Standard of care.

In light of recent outbreaks of measles and other vaccine preventable illnesses, and the refusal of anti-vaccination advocates to acknowledge the problem, I thought it was past time for this post.

Dear parents,

You are being lied to. The people who claim to be acting in the best interests of your children are putting their health and even lives at risk.

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Natural News attacks TED for tightening standards

This article by Natural News was brought to my attention a few weeks ago. The author (and founder of NN), Mike Adams claims:

“…the group that organizes so-called “TED talks” has been thoroughly hijacked by corporate junk science and now openly rejects any talks about GMOs, food as medicine, or even the subject of how food can help prevent behavioral disorders in children. All these areas of discussion are now red-flagged from being presented on any TED stage. This is openly admitted by TEDx itself in a little-known letter publicly published on December 7, 2012.”

Let’s go through a few of Mr. Adams’ allegations and compare with what the letter actually says. Continue reading