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So you're looking to become a crackpot

I don’t blame you. In the current cultural environment, “experts”—that is, people who have put some study into a subject and know what they are talking about—get shouted down, and media attention goes to loonies.

So if you want attention, you’ll need to construct some particularly bold-faced lie of the Obama’s-a-Muslim magnitude, or else develop some elaborate conspiracy theory—say, Einsteinean physics leads to teen pregnancy—to infect the credulous. Neither is an enterprise in which restraint will be of any help.

Let me show you how it’s done.

In Saturday’s Baltimore Sun, Frank Roylance, who writes about weather, climate, and astronomy, advised readers: “If skies stay clear, look west after sunset for a beautiful pairing of a slim crescent moon and a very bright planet Venus. At 10 a.m. today — out of our view — the moon and Venus are in the closest moon-planet conjunction, of ‘appulse,’ of the year, separated by just half the width of your finger held at arm’s length.”

You may have thought that this is merely innocent astronomy, but look more closely.

A crescent moon? For whom is the image of a crescent moon significant? With a planet close to it, so that it looks like A CRESCENT MOON ACCOMPANIED BY A STAR?

It’s Muslim! Has to be! And why is this Muslim propaganda in the newspaper?

Roylance, obviously in the pay of Osama bin Laden, is smuggling Islamic indoctrination into the paper to warp the minds of the thousands of children who read it, making them more receptive to Muslim images and designs.

And The Sun with its notorious liberalism, is an easy dupe for this infiltration. Or perhaps an active participant. Soon it will be advocating sharia astronomy in the public schools, taught by sleeper anchor babies deposited in this country at the same time that Barack Obama’s parents arranged for him to grow up in Hawaii so that he could—well, you can take it from there.

Start with one preposterous conspiracy theory, gather a small following, whip them up with further whoppers, and keep going until you, too, have a website, speaking engagements, and a cable TV program. It’s all within your grasp.



Posted by John McIntyre at 2:42 PM | | Comments (10)


I had no idea that Einsteinean physics leads to teen pregnancy. Does this have anything to do with the Big Bang theory?

Sleeper anchor babies is one of my favorite conspiracy theories. My friends and I use it often when complaining of the new managers at our favorite stores.

And how glad I am to now know what the crescent moon and planet site that I so enjoyed meant. Now I can warn my daughter to never again wish upon a star.

Oops, too much web-editing today. I meant "sight" not "site."


On Conservapedia, Andrew Schlafly, Phyllis Schlafly's son, has been thumping the tub for his belief that the theory of relativity leads to moral relativism.

I'm not making this up, you know.

Equally loony people (pun intended) objected to the design of the 9-11 memorial being built in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on the grounds that it formed a crescent. Don't know how that played out; there's not enough time in the day to follow all the crackpots.

Article would be more effective if it were, you know, funny.

@Robert -- comments would be more useful if they had, you know, something constructive to say. Time to get back to commenting on YouTube videos -- ?

I've yet to see a fat crescent moon. Perhaps the government with its current fascination with obesity should look to the skies.

Ah, yes, Robert, but you are, clearly, not an interesting person and you're still allowed to post here.

I'm not sure the correct terms are "crackpot" or "loonies." According to Pennsylvania's Governor Ed Rendell, the term of art is "wackos."

From, among others.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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