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.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Microchips, Obamacare, and the Mark of the Beast

Well, another election season is over, and Barack Obama has been given another four years to enact his vision of where the United States should head.  He won't have much time to rest on his laurels -- he's got a lot of work to do if he's going to achieve his chief goals, including creating one million new manufacturing jobs, recruiting 100,000 new science and math teachers, reducing oil imports by half, reducing the deficit, ending US involvement in Afghanistan, and implanting the Mark of the Beast on every American citizen so that he can initiate the End Times as predicted in biblical prophecy.

Well, okay, the last one isn't one of his stated goals, per se.  But you'd think it was, to listen to Paul Begley, the evangelical preacher who in a video clip entitled "Americans!  Prepare to Be Microchipped!" claims that there is a provision in Obamacare to implant RFID chips in everyone, and that corresponds to the Mark of the Beast described in Revelation 13:16-18: "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  Here is wisdom.  Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."

The fact is, Obamacare contains no such provision; there is a provision to microchip pacemakers and other implantable medical devices, so that a patient's medical information could be quickly accessible via a scan if the device fails.  But Begley says that no, this isn't all, that this is just a smokescreen for the actual intent of the bill, which is to tag everyone in the US, and ultimately, everyone in the world.

The whole "Mark of the Beast" thing is mighty popular with evangelicals.  It's been discussed by biblical literalists for decades, resulting in speculation that it corresponds to credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, GPS tags in cellphones, UPC codes on items in stores, scannable chips in passports, and a variety of other things.  And once they get the wind up about this stuff, they tend to get awfully suspicious.  One guy I know seriously believes that the DMV is using a microchip implanted in your driver's license to follow your every move, as if (1) they had the staff and technology actually to accomplish this for every person in the US who has a driver's license, (2) the workers in the DMV actually cared where you are on a minute-to-minute basis,  and (3) they didn't have better things to do, such as attending surliness training seminars and taking important coffee breaks when the line for license renewal gets too long.

In any case, the key point, to evangelicals, is that some person will end up getting the number "666" as his/her Mark, and that person will be the Antichrist, or the Beast with Seven Horns, or the Scarlet Whore of Babylon, or possibly all three at the same time.  It's hard to be sure, frankly.  I've read the Book of Revelation more than once, and my general impression is that it sounds like the result of a bad acid trip, so I'm not entirely certain I understand the finer details.  Be that as it may, the evangelicals take the whole 666 thing pretty seriously, to the point where a worker in Georgia last year refused to wear a badge for a day that said "666 days without an accident" for fear that he would be nabbed instantaneously by Satan and dragged off to hell.  (He was fired, sued the company, and was then rehired with back pay.)

Paul Begley, though, thinks he has the whole thing figured out, and that the End Times will start in March 2013 with Obamacare mandating chip implantation in everyone.  (If you looked at the link, note the highly alarming picture of someone using a barcode reader on a blank-eyed guy's forehead.  If that doesn't convince you... well, don't make me use the word "sheeple" in your general direction.)

So, anyhow.  I hope all of you people who voted for Obama knew what you were getting into.  If you don't, you'll figure out all too soon -- March 2013 is right around the corner.  That is, of course, provided we survive the Mayan Apocalypse on December 21, 2012, an event I am positively looking forward to.  (I'm thinking of getting a shirt to wear on December 21 that says, "The Mayans Had An Apocalypse, And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt.")  So I guess this gives us something to look forward to after the Apocalypse is over -- at least those of us who aren't eaten by zombies, or whatever other special offers the Mayans have in mind.  Me, I'm already considering my strategy, and I think I have a good one, which I have outlined below.


  1. Don't worry, if you miss the apocalypse, another one will come along pretty soon.

  2. Hey Gord, i'm a little concerned about some ideas this post implies.

    While I agree with all your main points, I am a little concerned about how your post indirectly paints a non-chalant view of RFID chips. I by no means believe the problem with them is supernatural, I do believe, however, that RFID chips present a very real privacy concern and because of this alone people should be very skeptical of their uses and who uses them.

    If RFID chips ever get seriously considered by government or private sector for regular use in people, we should all SERIOUSLY consider all possible outcomes of acceptance of this technology.

    "Strings of dusty niggers with splay feet arrived and departed; a stream of manufactured goods, rubbishy cottons, beads, and brass-wire set into the depths of darkness, and in return came a precious trickle of ivory." Heart of darkness

    1. The need for privacy from the government, is really mostly a need for protection from people in the government who might use that information to persecute us, either through punishment for victimless crimes, or by revealing shameful secrets.

      Of course, it cuts both ways. It becomes harder for the government to keep corruption hidden when cops who beat people up and officials who press for bribes are likely to be recorded on video, when whistleblowers don't have to smuggle out boxes of papers in the dead of night, but just send an email with attachments. Or if their email is monitored, copy the information onto their phones or a tiny flash drive or even photograph information from their screens.

      It wasn't so long ago my workplace prohibited cameras. Now people waltz right in with their cell phones, and the computers the company issues us contain cameras. It was a hopeless struggle.

      As technology forces us to greater openness, I hope (and in some degree expect) that it will also force greater acceptance. Normalcy has always been an illusion. There are so many ways to deviate from the socially approved norm that statistically, nearly everyone has some secret that would shame them (even if only in their own minds). The greater the likelihood that it will eventually be revealed, the less free people will feel to condemn others for their harmless foibles.

  3. All cell phone locations can be tracked and thus, the owner of the phone.

    Tracking the whereabouts and behaviors of 310 million people is arduous. People are not "tracked" in the big brother sense (at least not yet), because it doesn't facilitate a need.

    I can, however, predict it facilitating future "needs" when the technology makes it more convenient to implement.

  4. Fist, thanks for taking the time to debunk this utterly ridiculous rumor. I would like to point out, though, that there is no provision to microchip pacemakers, either. There's no provision to microchip anything (the "microchip" does not appear in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at all). This is a misunderstanding of the proposed National Medical Device Registry, which intended to track who received implanted medical devices such as hip replacements or pacemakers--much as car manufacturers track who owns their cars in case of a recall, for instance. There was no provision for microchipping anything in the original language for this proposal. Though there are already medical device registries, the National Medical Device Registry never made it into any law.

  5. In order to overcome the hassles related to definite stocks of such goods at shops.Due to rise in demand of microchip cat flaps.

  6. Obama Tell USA It's an Invisible Darpa Retina Microchip Not A Real RFID Micro! You Are Implanting USA Citizens With From Computer. Do you have them in your family? You have them in mine.
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