Should you be scared?
Yes, says Joan Warner, very. Because there are places in the U.S. where the crazy people are in charge, and they want the whole country. I’ve been mindlessly humming tunes and shaking sand out of my ears after putting my head down that ostrich hole, but Joan has me shaking in my boots instead (and mixing my metaphors).
I’ll let her explain why we’re teetering on the edge of a new Dark Age.
Not long ago, my friend Bruce coined a term I’ve come to find invaluable: the wackosphere. It describes the realm inhabited by conspiracy theorists, New Age cultists, and fundamentalists of all stripes who believe it’s dangerous to give anyone with an opposing worldview too much wiggle room. Holocaust deniers, families preparing for rapture by aliens, General Jack D. Ripper trying to protect his precious bodily fluids from the Commies—these are the denizens of the wackosphere.
I used to find such people mostly entertaining. After all, it’s funny when somebody tells you she won’t eat anything containing chemicals. It’s funny when somebody says the government won’t let people visit Antarctica, because if we went there we’d find out the
earth is actually flat. (All those photos of the beautiful blue ball in space? Fakes.) It’s funny when a person predicts confidently that in exactly 10 years, the world will be smashed to bits by a comet, especially when that person claims to have chatted personally with Jesus in 2012.
Bruce gets quite a bit of exposure to the wackosphere. As a volunteer explainer at what I insist on calling the planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History (note from Jane: the planetarium is run by my total crush, Neil deGrasse Tyson – I’m such a fangirl of his, I would totally have lunch with him!), Bruce has to keep abreast of the latest developments in space exploration and astrophysics. He does this by researching the websites and social media pages of organizations like NASA—which, it turns out, attract wackos by the score.
I knew there were people who think the U.S. moon landing was a massive, staged hoax. I
didn’t know some people believe gravity itself is a hoax. For that matter, I didn’t know there are folks who say the earth was colonized 400,000 years ago by divine beings from the planet Nibiru, who needed slaves to mine gold for them. Did you know that? (note from Jane: no, but at least they don’t think the planet is 6,000 old…lookin’ on the bright side…)
But I don’t chuckle at this stuff quite so much these days. That’s because more and more often, I hear it
not from Internet trolls but from people in public office. For example, Sylvia Allen, a member of the Arizona State Senate who leads its education panel, thinks the puffy white condensation clouds you see behind airplanes are “chemtrails” sprayed by government agents to exert mind control over U.S. citizens.
Allen also thinks the earth is 6,000 years old. This is a widely held belief among c
reationists, including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Florida senator Marco Rubio. Evolution is just one of many bits of science Rubio doesn’t believe in; he also doesn’t believe in climate change. Neither does Donald Trump, who tweeted about climate science, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” As for public health, Trump thinks vaccines cause autism—in a matter of days, no less—and has said that if elected president he will make sure doctors stop giving kids those nasty injections.
Then there’s Texas representative Louis Gohmert. By way of suggesting that LGBT people are just getting too damn uppity, he recently warned that we’d better not send any same-sex couples into outer space when we establish communities there. For obvious reasons, right? See, you can’t just giggle at the wackosphere anymore. Its members don’t just walk among us. They’re making policy.
Joan Warner is a repeat blogger for Jane Explains — check out her wealth of knowledge about Free New York. Unlike myself, Joan is a professional writer and journalist. Read more from Joan on her blog.