While I’m in Montreal singing with the Montreal Chamber Orchestra, I’ll be reposting some classic Scintillations for your amusement. Enjoy!
I try to give people, even people with apparently bizarre beliefs, the benefit of the doubt. Lots of things which are at first glance ridiculous – the success of the Left Behind books comes to mind – turn out to be real or true, after all.
But when you’re talking with someone, there are certain red flags that may indicate that they’re not altogether on the same reality train as the rest of us.
1. Insistence that they’ve discovered a hidden truth no one knows.
2. Vague plans to inform the authorities.
3. They are being stalked or harrassed in subtle ways by the nefarious evil-doers in question. Such stalking might take the form of property damage that is too minor for others to notice, but that the putative crackpot insists was done.
4. Either no one else or a only select few are aware of the truth.
5. Yet any oppression the nefarious evil-doing group has experienced is because people won’t tolerate their wicked, wicked ways.
6. The evil that the nefarious evil-doers do is all-encompassing and vague in nature, ranging from sex crimes to drug dealing.
7. The nefarious evil-doers are in some way sub-human.
8. Saying, “Really? All the [insert name of purported nefarious evil-doing group here] that I’ve met have been really nice,” gets the response, “They’re good at putting on an act. They’ve been pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes for centuries.”
9. The putative crackpot claims to practice extreme caution in spreading the truth, because the all-powerful nefarious evil-doers will come after him if he goes public.
10. Yet he’s telling total strangers at the pub all about it: in case they DO come after him someone will know why.
11. General craziness red flags such as nervous laughter at odd times, an unwillingness to engage in different topics, and a moustache.
So, as you might guess, I ran into someone yesterday who displayed all of the above signs and more. Guess what group of nefarious evil-doers he thought were making small dents on his car, staking out his house, and reading his emails.
No, it wasn’t the Jews.
Seriously, not the Jews. Not the Illuminati, not the Pope, not the reptoid aliens.
Click through if you want to know who, according to this guy, are just as bad as the Mafia.
It was the Mennonites.
MENNONITES. Those nice, traditional, choral singing, bonnet-wearing butter-churning unfortunately corporal-punishment believing people who to varying degrees still think it’s 1750.
This man thought Mennonites were reading his emails.
Of course he was a completely delusional nut. I felt really sorry for him, actually. It must really ruin your life to be convinced that sinister people in buggies are waiting just around the corner to take you out.
You know what’s kind of ironic? Guess in what context I met the Mennonite conspiracy theorist.
It was at Skeptics in the Pub, an event put on by the Association for Science and Reason. I went to hear a talk about the Large Hadron Collider (which was awesome). If there was anywhere you’d be safe from conspiracy theories and other nonsense, you’d think it’d be there.
But noooooo. I sit next to someone who thinks that Mennonites are out to get him.
Other than that it was a lot of fun, though.