Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Gospel according to Mr. Eyes

In today's news, we have yet another story that illustrates a variety of truisms, to wit:
  • You can't argue with a woo-woo.
  • If you try, your arguing makes their belief stronger.
  • It's damn hard to tell if someone is an actual woo-woo or is parodying woo-woos.
This whole thing started because of a website called "The Men in Black Suits Are Real," which on April 24 got the woo-woo equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, which was a mention in HuffPost's Weird News.  (Read the article here.)  This resulted in the owner of the MIB site, who (because of security reasons) is known only as Bugeyes126 and lives in a Small Town In The Middle of Nowhere, don't try to find him because you won't succeed, to write an article crowing about how huge this is.  This began a back-and-forth between Bugeyes126 and the writer of the original article, Briony Westinghouse.

Eventually Bugeyes was asked to write an article for the HuffPost, which he did (here), and included some audio clips from people who were amongst the tens of thousands who left voicemails for him.

Okay, this is when my problem started, because as I was reading all of this I was working from the assumption that Bugeyes is serious, but I listened to the clips -- and one of them claims that Florida ice cream truck drivers are aliens.  My first thought was, "Okay.  Now I get it.  This is parodying conspiracy theorists.  Bugeyes is making fun of the whole MIB phenomenon."  But I felt kind of uneasy about that conclusion; nowhere was that moment when his commentary went so far over the top that I was certain that it was parody.  There was something awfully... earnest about him.  So I kept reading.

And eventually, Bugeyes somehow decided that not all Men in Black were Men in Black, because he accused Arianna Huffington herself of being an alien:
You're an extraterrestrial. I know it. You know it.
I'm not trying to expose you, but you have information I can't get from anyone else. I know you work with the Men in Black Suits. And I want to work with them, too. Please help me.
How did I find out? Last night, I received a call into my Men In Black Suits Are Real hotline from someone who asked that I conceal his identity "for the sake of the shareholders." The caller had specific information about The Huffington Post that nobody else could possibly know. And his message was clear.
It all makes sense now. With all you're involved with across the world, I've certainly had my suspicions.
This resulted in Arianna Huffington responding, in what may be one of the funniest video clips I've ever seen (starting with her referring to Bugeyes as "Mr. Eyes"), and you all need to watch it (here). Make sure you watch the whole thing, because the best part is at the end.

So, okay, Skeptophiliacs: what do you think?  Is Bugeyes126 serious?  Or is he a smart guy who is engaged in an elaborate parody?  In the conspiracy theorist column, we have the following evidence:
  • Nowhere does he ever break from the True Believer Persona.
  • The people who called in to his "hotline" sound pretty serious.
  • He has over 43,000 followers on his Facebook page, many of whom (to judge by their comments) are True Believers to the point where they should be medicated. 
In the it's-a-parody column, we have:
  • Neither does Stephen Colbert.
  • Ice-cream trucks?  Really?
  • He appears to be fourteen years old.
So, anyway, I'm not sure, which is a scary development, because it means I'm losing the ability to tell what's real from what's not, which is the very thing I always rail at the woo-woos about.

Whichever it is, I'm thinking that if what he's doing has attracted the attention of HuffPost, I may be approaching this blog writing thing the wrong way.  It has been a continual source of pain to me that ridiculous ideas have a much greater cachet than critical thinking does, which explains why astrology and fortunetelling and homeopathy are so much more popular than, say, classes in formal logic.  Maybe I need to get a little flashier.  Maybe I need to install a Woo-Woo Hotline.  Maybe I need to start featuring audio clips from people who have seen Bigfoot.  Maybe I need to make a mock-up, as Bugeyes126 did in a recent post, of my face featured on The Weekly World News.

Or maybe I just need to calm down and go have another cup of coffee.

1 comment:

  1. Between the Diane Tessman post and this one...

    I often wonder the outcome of individuals with mild schizophrenia that never get diagnosed. This disease creates a layer of manifested "reality" on top of the real one, with unusual consequences.

    When a five year old is dancing around in the grocery store aisles claiming to have the power of the universe at their fingertips, you smirk and find it endearing. When an adult does the same, you about-face and vacate that side of the store.

    ...and when you encounter them on the internet? Ugh. Bugeyes126 might be dead serious, because he also might be batshit crazy.

    Of course, with the sensitivities that are at play in our society, someone with schizophrenia could be publishing manifesto after manifesto, and run the gamut of backlash and criticism across decades of time, without anyone having the gall to say to the individual, "I'm not trying to make a joke or be cruel. I'm completely serious: I believe you have an undiagnosed mental disease."

    How do you convince a person that their observations are not... but are instead, delusions?