Was Alex Jones allowed to sneak into the Bohemian Grove?

Credit: Scott West

InfoWars host Alex Jones recently claimed he now believes parts of his notorious 2000 documentary Dark Secrets: Inside Bohemian Grove may be fake. In an interview on comedian Andrew Schulz’s Flagrant 2 podcast, Jones provides a history of the Grove, in his own unique way, before stating, “I was told by insiders how to get in, I’m not sure why they still did it, why I was given it — people say, ‘Hey, Jones was let in,’ and later I figured out I was.” He goes on to implicate his…

Did the CIA secretly fund rock bands in the 1960s?

By now, we’re all probably familiar with the wilder conspiracy theories from the 1960s and 1970s about rock & roll. Jimi Hendrix was murdered, Jim Morrison faked his death, and Paul is dead. There’s an element of morbidity in rock mythology that dictates the show must go on. It could be that rock, a music that emerged as the identity of America’s first youth cultures, never outgrew its endless summer — or there could be something more sinister at work. …

In June, Philadelphians believed police were conducting a psychological operation—were they right?

A poster reading, “Cops are terrorizing us with sonic weaponry.”
A poster reading, “Cops are terrorizing us with sonic weaponry.”

Whom do you trust? That question is more important than ever. Conspiracy theories nearly destroyed democracy — or did they? The greatest threat to freedom is information. Is that Twitter account for real or is it an op designed to manipulate you? Are you sure that article you shared is legit? Nothing seems real, and no one exists offline.

Maybe the better question is, whom can you trust? It has become a truism that conspiracy theories are dangerous but repeating that sentiment does nothing to mitigate the popularity…

What happens when a country loses its mind?

Credit: Brett Sayles

American English is clumsy, lacking in grace and subtlety. It’s very good at expressing stupid ideas, trivial things, but not so much at conveying complex thoughts or emotions. Derp is the most American of words. Derp can be a guttural belch designed to express confusion, or derp can be an accusatory finger pointed at a very dumb person. It doesn’t so much describe as it does assault, less a coherent thought than it is a noise one instinctively retches from their lizard brain.

German is complex. Words and phrases are somehow both…

Is a murderer roaming the streets of your city?

A man’s shadow cast upon a brick building
A man’s shadow cast upon a brick building

A question lingers over the city of Philadelphia, like a dark cloud signaling an approaching storm: is a serial killer roaming the streets?

On June 11, 2020, local news reported that Philadelphia Police Department found a woman’s body inside a suitcase near the corner of Kensington and Allegheny. The story offered few details. White woman, black suitcase. No age, no physical description. The police did not identify any suspects or a motive.

Naturally, this led the Internet to conclude a serial killer was operating in Philadelphia.

Comments on social media and…

At what point does well-intentioned cultural criticism lapse into conservative moral panic?

On August 31st, Todd Phillips’s The Joker premiered for critics at the Venice Film Festival. In the time since that screening the film has generated wildly different reactions. David Ehrlich of Indiewire said the film is “going to turn the world upside down,” while Stephanie Zacharek of Time countered that its “possibly irresponsible idiocy.” The audience at the screening gave the film an eight-minute standing ovation, but critics and cultural commentators on social media have been less forgiving and attacked the film as an incel fantasy. …

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently. On Wednesday, August 14, 2019, a shootout broke out between the Philadelphia Police Department and a man armed with an assault rifle in the Nicetown-Tioga section of Philadelphia. I live in Philly and follow local social media religiously, so I decided to dive headfirst into news about the event. Both on the date in question and in the days that followed, Philly Twitter was alight with bits and pieces of information sourced from local media or ripped from police scanners and friends of friends in law enforcement. This isn’t unusual. Anytime…

Think fast! Your children are in danger. From what, you ask? A killer meme named Momo.

By now most of you have read about the Momo Challenge and correctly guessed it’s a hoax. The meme is another in the endless scroll of fakes, urban legends, and conspiracy theories that have captured our attention in the 2010s. Saturation of these ideas is at an all-time high. Researchers at Cambridge University recently discovered that 60 percent of Britons believed in some kind of conspiracy theory. …

Old fears are possessing Americans anew. But where did they come from, and who conjured them?

During a 2002 pilgrimage to the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria, Pope John Paul II spoke to a crowd of congregants of a crisis of faith among Christians, stating: “Spiritual combat … needs to be taught anew and proposed once more … It is a secret and interior art, an invisible struggle in which monks engage every day against … the evil suggestions that the demon tries to plant in their hearts”

To an outward observer, the speech reads like a clear call-to-action. It asks…

How fears of Satanic cults and rising homicide rates coalesced to terrify a Philadelphia neighborhood

Credit: Robert Laramie and the Philadelphia Daily News

By May 1992 Philadelphia was in the grips of a decade-long nightmare. It seemed like the city was under constant attack no matter where you turned. In 1985, a long-simmering dispute between the city and black liberation group MOVE came to a head when the Philadelphia Police Department dropped two one-pound bombs on MOVE’s West Philadelphia compound, killing six adults and five children. Two years later, residents were shocked by the stories of not one but two serial killers preying on women of color when…

Robert Skvarla

Freelance writer from Philadelphia. Focuses include conspiracy culture, fringe communities, and new religious movements.

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