Conspiracy Theories And Ideological Purity Among Preppers And Patriots

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 2 months ago

Recently Mike Vanderboegh posted on Marines singing the hymn “These are the days of Elijah.”  It was meaningful for me, and I appreciate the post.  Drop by and watch it.  It’s worth the time.

But then something happened to detract from and destroy the main theme of Mike’s post.  Commenters, one named anonymous (what mother would name her son such a name as that?) and Dan III posted comments as follows.

Anonymous – I don’t understand how anyone, especially someone who considers himself a Christian, could justify joining the US military today. The US military DOES NOT defend freedom or the Constitution. The military serves the domestic enemies of the Constitution, meaning the US government — a lying, murderous, tyrannical entity that destroys freedom around the world … No, there’s no Christianity there. The US government is the Father of Lies. That’s whom these soldiers are serving, whether they know it or not.

Dan III – I ask myself why conservatives continue to worship at the altar of Allen West. This is the former US Army colonel who took an oath to defend the Constitution, and turned right around and thumbed his nose at his oath and fellow Americans, when he voted for the Patriot Act renewal. Good ol’ Allen West, the guy who helped to continue the desecration of our 4th & 5th Amendment Rights. This is the problem with those who consider themselves Patriots, conservatives, keepers of the Constitution. You continue to support the very people who throw us under the proverbial bus. Myself, I wouldn’t urinate down West’s throat if his lungs were on fire.

This caused Mike to respond as follows.

I don’t worship at AW’s altar. There are many things I disagree with him on. I don’t endorse foreign wars, especially those fought for no purpose. My son has been labeled “a storm trooper in the U.S. Army” and I have been called “psychotic” for supporting his service. I would like to point out that there were many Founders who weren’t necessarily thrilled about participating in British imperialism’s war against the French. There were also many Irishmen who took advantage of service in the British Army in World War I to get access to military training and weapons that they later put to good use in the Irish war of independence. Did the Founders “endorse” the British Empire? Did Tom Barry “endorse” the British army he served in? I posted the video because I liked to see Marines singing Christian hymns with gusto. If you don’t like it, you’re more than welcome to ignore what I post.

I have also seen a number of ridiculous comments on other gun rights / prepper / patriot web sites (which will not be named here), and it’s time to address some of them.  When I was a young man I too was consumed with ideological purity, worrying over minutia in theology when it comes to worship and church membership, as one example.  I was part of a church which took the view of “us four and no more,” so to speak.  But then I matured and grew up.  You can take things like this to the point of silliness and isolation from everyone else, rendering yourself and your views completely ineffective and your family without friends or tribe and without commitment from relatively like minded folk.

To be sure, we must all settle on unassailable absolutes from which there is no retreat and over which we will not compromise, such as gun rights, no universal background checks, no national gun registry, limited government, and so on.  But the purity reaches a point of diminishing returns, and it behooves wise men to find that point.  These commenters are no wise men.

Now to the content of their comments, and content of some of the other comments I’ve seen on other sites.  I realize that I am risking a sweeping judgment that goes too far and thus levels charges that may not be accurate towards some people.  I apologize up front for that, but I don’t know any other way to do this.  So with that said, let’s take an ugly trek through some of the more ridiculous notions that seem to be in favor in these circles.

The CIA didn’t blow up the WTC.  If you are a registered professional engineer like I am, within days of the WTC collapse your in-box was full of e-mails with attachments from professors of engineering outlining what happened, with calculations to prove it.  We know what the failures were.  We know how the structure was designed.  And within a few months I received a comprehensive study from the American Society of Civil Engineers with a complete failure analysis of the structure, with parts numbered and analyzed while sitting in their waste yard, forensic analysis, pictures and all.

When you traffic in ridiculous conspiracy theories, you embarrass yourself and your colleagues, even if you are too stupid to know it.  Stop.  No, really, I mean it.  Stop.  Just don’t do it any more.

Sandy Hook was perpetrated by an evil kid.  ISIS isn’t the CIA, and the American government didn’t create ISIS for the purpose of helping to create “greater Israel.”  Hell, Israel doesn’t even want “greater Israel” and wouldn’t abide their PM doing what’s necessary to bring such a thing into being.

The Jew bankers do plenty of evil things, but they didn’t cause the Ukraine to go to war against Russia.  That conflict isn’t a CIA plot to do whatever you think they want to do.  That conflict was caused by a homoerotic, shirtless megalomaniac named Putin who wants to recreate the Soviet Union.  Got it?

The Jew bankers do plenty of evil things just like the U.S. government, but they don’t cause all wars.  They don’t even control the world’s money like they think they do.  The uncontrollable monster of Keynesian economics and fractional reserve banking will destroy itself with our without the bankers.  When the bankers don’t have clean water, guns and ammunition, they will be no better off that anyone else who didn’t prepare.

As to Mike’s comments back to Dan III, some foreign wars are evil and to be avoided.  Not all foreign wars are evil.  Most republicans are in bed with the statists.  Not all republicans are in bed with the statists.  There are bad people in the U.S. military.  There are good people in the U.S. military.  The U.S. military has done many good things.  The U.S. military has done some bad things.  I have done some good things, and some bad things.

Folks, learn to read the signs of the times and to “rightly divide” words and ideas.  If you don’t you will forever be wildly thrown around by the winds of opinion.  Be able to form your own opinions, and don’t listen to every passerby who has another conspiracy theory.  And don’t exaggerate or use hyperbole.

Look what has happened to anonymous.  To him, the U.S. government has done nothing but destroy freedom around the world (a manifestly and demonstrably false assertion), and is the “father of lies.”  He has supplanted the title of the devil, who God calls the father of lies, with the U.S. government.  I cannot imagine a more ridiculous, outlandish, off the charts stupid assertion.  When you are rewriting Scripture for God, your ego is writing checks that your body and mind can’t cash.  You are also risking blasphemy.  I advise extreme caution.  God is not to be taken lightly.

As for Dan III, look what his “purity” has caused.  He wouldn’t “urinate down West’s throat if his lungs were on fire.”  And thus if I ever meet him I will have one hand on my weapon.  I don’t trust him, he has no ability to overlook anything with which he disagrees, and is quite literally willing to watch others perish over things that aren’t primary.

Learn to distinguish between those issues that are primary, the ones which are secondary, and those which are tertiary.  And learn to forgive.  Perhaps West would advocate differently concerning the patriot act today, but in any case, I have never heard him advocate gun control and have never heard anything from him but advocacy for small government.  I also know that he was willing to sacrifice his military career for the safety of his men.  Although my son was a Marine, I would have been honored to have my son serve with him any day.

To close, this isn’t much different than what Mike would say.

Look, for all the “Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theory” excrement clogging up my email inbox and the comments here, I can’t get anything done. Enough. Sell it to Alex Jones, he’s the disinformation artist. I will not use Sipsey Street to propagate self-discrediting crap when real issues are pressing. All emails regarding the subject, and all comments, have been and will be deleted. You can continue to shriek in all caps and call me names to your heart’s content, but you’re not hijacking this blog, or my limited time on this rock. Okay? That settles that.

And just to add to it, his commenter said this.

Here are some hard facts that some folks can’t seem to come to grips with:

If you believe the Apollo missions to the moon were staged, you are an incurable f****** dumbass.

If you believe Israel and the US Government deliberately blew up the World Trade Center on 9/11, you are an incurable f****** dumbass.

Though the current leadership of our government is undeniably sleazy and corrupt, if you believe they would deliberately stage the murder of 20 elementary school children, you are an incurable f****** dumbass.

To all incurable dumbasses everywhere – your absurd bullshit theories have been heard by all. Now, please, shut the fuck up and let the adults who don’t hear voices in their head have a serious conversation.

Yea, pretty much.  Folks, learn nuance.  In general, learn to say “yes, no and maybe, and it depends upon a whole host of things, and this requires a long conversation, and I have to render caveats and qualifications to what I’m saying.”  It wasn’t too long ago (around the time of the war between the states) that men were required to take courses in rhetoric and logic.  Sit down with a textbook in logic and read it.  Start with the schoolboy primer in logic written by Isaac Watts.  Learn verbal oratory for your conversations with others, and learn the science and art of persuasion for your commenting.  Don’t unzip your fly and whiz in people’s faces and try to piss them off.  It will go better for you, and you will be more effective.

Contribute in the comments rather than detracting from the theme.  Offer up thanks to the web site hosts for the work they do.  Do you understand how hard it is and the long hours necessary to find good, quality information and offer up decent analysis of it in a world where the MSM doesn’t care any more?  Do you understand how tiring and wearisome this is?  Do you know how hard it is to avoid typographical errors when you post every day?  Kurt Hofmann and I have had this conversation, and Kurt told me his worst was when he had an error right in the title.  I didn’t tell Kurt that I had that too, on more than one occasion.

In short, grow up.  Put your hand over your mouth (or keyboard), think, and for some, pray, and contemplate whether what you’re about to write is meaningful, helpful and a worthy contribution.  Offer up a thank you every now and again.  Don’t pollute the internet with crap, don’t exaggerate, don’t traffic in conspiracy theories, and don’t rewrite the Scriptures.  Mike is nicer than I am, and he responded in a kind fashion to Dan III.  I have long since ran Dan III off from my blog.  I’m not as nice as Mike.


  1. On September 25, 2014 at 6:20 am, AZOlddog said:

    Black, White and Grey all persons and all cultures have some of all three in them. What makes a person or culture good or bad is how they handle the mix.

    Everyone who even attempts to balance the shades in their life is at some time or other going to make you proud and at others times disgusted. It is called being human, and the condition we have to deal with.

    Also, Dan III would have gotten ONE post up at my place and the hammer would have come down!

  2. On September 25, 2014 at 7:25 am, Frank Clarke said:

    Sure, all of that… but why does this mean we have to send our sons and daughters to every third-world pest hole every time somebody with a turban waves his middle finger? Don’t those pest holes have neighbors with armies that can get to the problem site with just a truck? And if those neighbors with armies don’t consider our concerns worth acting upon, perhaps our foreign-aid department ought to adopt the same attitude?

  3. On September 25, 2014 at 9:22 am, WSF said:

    Came here from Sissey Street. I do thank you, and Mike, and others for what you do.

  4. On September 25, 2014 at 9:23 am, WSF said:

    Aarg! Typo. Proof read before posting. Sipsey

  5. On September 25, 2014 at 9:42 am, Herschel Smith said:

    We won’t let Mike know what you think about him! Your secret is safe.

  6. On September 25, 2014 at 9:26 am, Paul B said:

    Amen. Don’t use aliases and do not be anonymous. If you have an opinion, own it. I tend to devalue anonymous as trolls and aliases as people who are in between. Own your comments.

  7. On September 25, 2014 at 11:23 am, Bobbye said:

    As a reader, and sometimes commenter, of your blog, I wonder at your purpose in a post like this. Do you just want to hear complements; do you want people to pat you on the back and tell you how wonderful you are? Frankly, I appreciate the hell out of you and your effort in putting forth this blog, but I don’t agree with every thing you say. Should I just keep quite when I disagree? Because that would not be a discussion, just a circle jerk. There are two types of people; those who care, and those who don’t care. The type of people who comment are almost always those who care. In Revelation 3:14ff, Jesus offered His view of the two types. He prefers those who care, either hot or cold. You are a person who cares and thus have a lot more in common with Dan III than with any indifferent(lukewarm) person. Trolls cannot be eliminated if you allow comments, but there are really very few trolls just as there are very few of your neighbors who wish to do you harm.
    Conspiracies really exist. That is a logical statement. There was a conspiracy to kill Hitler. There was a conspiracy to kill Jesus. People who believe that conspiracies exist are not crazy or illogical. They may however be wrong. The way to deal with wrong belief is thru open discussion and answering of questions. Sometimes that does not work, but that does not mean that the person not in agreement with you is crazy, or illogical.
    Persons who hear ‘voices in their head’ are not always crazy. Adam heard the voice of God, as did Abram, Moses, all the OT prophets, all of Israel at Sinai, Peter, John and James at the Mount of Transfiguration, Paul on the road to Damascus, as well as many saints in the long history of Christianity. Some people claim that God never talks to people anymore, but that belief is not historical, orthodox Christianity.
    Mostly this kind of post makes me leary of posting comments at all. If that was your purpose, you accomplished it.

  8. On September 25, 2014 at 2:04 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    You said, “Some people claim that God never talks to people anymore, but that belief is not historical, orthodox Christianity.” I disagree. The Montanists (and modern day Pentecostals) still believe in continuing revelation. But orthodox Christianity believes that revelation is closed. See Westminster Confession of Faith, Philadelphia Confession of Faith, Heidelberg Catechism, Canon of Dort, etc.

  9. On September 25, 2014 at 11:32 am, Cowboy Dan said:

    One point that you failed to mentioon is that, when the shit hits the fan, a lot of people will be “edgy,” shall we say? Many, if not most, people will be armed.

    Heinlein said it well. “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”

    Ill-mannered people will die just for being ill-mannered. Fortunately, I’ve lived long enough to learn to let a lot of things slide that once would have demanded at least angry verbiage. It’s not worth the hassle, never was, and now I can see that.

    As to the Army/Marine thing, I’ve met good and bad from both branches. I’ve known MAYBE a half dozen Marines I wouldn’t trust with whatever I’ve got. I’d be glad to serve with Col. West, and I’d follow Gen. Mattis anywhere he’d lead.

  10. On September 25, 2014 at 11:37 am, Breathial said:

    Ironic. Your other posts are generally of good value, then you come along with something like this, calling those who understand how evil governments can be as “conspiracy theorists.” Your diatribe against WTC attacks doesn’t explain WTC-7. Would our government do such nasty deeds? Look up Operation Gladio, then get back to me.

    One can NOT believe in the general goodness of government and yet be a III-per. One cannot have faith in his fellow man having a good heart and be a prepper.

    You attempt to straddle a fence… which is six feet high, and topped with razor-wire. You have failed – spectacularly.

  11. On September 25, 2014 at 1:30 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    So let’s take the issues I can discern from your comment one by one.

    (1) “Your diatribe against WTC attacks doesn’t explain WTC-7.” I suggest that you go earn an engineering degree, work, get a PE license, and then I’ll listen to you. Better yet, get an advanced engineering degree, and write your thesis on something like, “Why the American Society of Civil Engineers Was Wrong In Their Forensic Analysis of the WTC.” Write me a note and let me know how the defense of your thesis goes.

    (2) I nowhere said I believed in the general goodness of government or of mankind, nor did I imply it or infer it. You just made that up to make yourself feel better. In fact, if you read enough of my posts you would know that I’m a Calvinist. I’ll let you do the homework as to what that means concerning my beliefs about man. Finally, you want good government. No matter how much you may feign being an anarchist, you’re not. You want government that executes murderers, rapists and kidnappers, and forces restitution for victims of thieves. None of us wants totalitarian government. Good government is good, and bad government is bad.

    (3) “You attempt to straddle a fence… which is six feet high, and topped with razor-wire. You have failed – spectacularly.” What you really meant to say – since you can’t speak for all readers and can only speak for yourself – is that I failed WITH YOU. That failure doesn’t bother me too much. I’ll sleep fine tonight.

  12. On September 25, 2014 at 2:30 pm, Black6 said:

    The same could be said against yourself Herschel. Denigrating people on the same team because some have different opinions about the .gov story is not helpful. Diversity of ideas is a feature, not a bug.

    There are highly decorated engineers and architects, including presidential science academy winners that don’t believe the .gov story on 9/11, including friends of mine that were Army EOD (one is an E-9). I don’t know exactly what happened that day or who did it, but I know one thing, the 9/11 commission report is a lie, and a very bad one at that.

    Accepting the .gov story at face value may be convenient, but I think it’s intellectually lazy. The government records of 9/11 are contradictory in their own report, as well as the building performance report, so waving people off with the all too common bullshit engineer retort of “I’m an engineer and went to x school” doesn’t impress me, not at all. I’ve got some serious professional credentials as well, but I don’t do that. I’ve in fact found engineers that use that line, in other unrelated work to be more often than not, wrong, and that has been a whole lot. Facts, math and physics should stand on their own. If you’re genuinely interested, go watch the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth documentary, as well as the Pilots for 9/11 truth documentaries. They raise some very difficult questions, including aircraft black boxes reporting impossible maneuvers and placing aircraft on impossible tracks.

    So no need to lump people on your own “team” that have serious historical and scientific questions with real scientific basis, with those that believe in reptillians, let alone calling them incurable f****** dumb*****. It’s counterproductive, sophomoric and rude. We can agree to disagree. We are supposed to be on the same team after all.

    Thanks for your future consideration,


  13. On September 25, 2014 at 2:59 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Well, you’re entitled to believe those things if you choose. I think Mike would prefer to leave those things off of his site, and I know I would. I have a few family and some friends who believe some of the theories I panned. I just don’t bring them up any more.

    One more thing. As for your “highly decorated” engineers, engineers aren’t decorated. They are licensed, published, experienced, and so on, but I assume you are referring to Army Corps of Engineers, for example, since you said what you did.

    Here’s a hint to follow for the future. Armed forces “engineers” don’t have to be registered PEs any more than armed forces physicians have to be licensed to practice medicine by states. I’ll leave it to you to determine how much of a problem this poses.

    But you should never cite an engineer unless he is willing to write a calculation / report, affix his PE seal to it, and potentially have the board look at it (thereby risking his professional license if he’s wrong).

  14. On September 25, 2014 at 3:43 pm, Black6 said:

    I don’t think my response posted. Here’s a short list:

    (full list here:

    Richard Gage, AIA

    Daniel Barnum, FAIA

    Architect Jody Gibbs, is a graduate of both Harvard and Yale, and former faculty at MIT.

    David Johnson A Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners,
    Johnson holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Yale (where
    he studied under a professor who had worked on the Empire State Building)
    and a Ph.D. in Regional Planning from Cornell University, and is Professor
    Emeritus of Urban and Regional Planning at The University of Tennessee

    David Griscom, a physicist who received his B.S. from Carnegie Mellon
    and his Ph.D. from Brown University. Dr. Griscom worked at the Naval
    Research Laboratory, he has published 193 studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals
    “I implore my fellow physicists and engineers who may have the time,
    expertise, and (ideally) supercomputer access to get to work on the physics
    of the World Trade Center collapses and publish their findings in refereed
    journals [such as] the Journal of Applied Physics.”

    This film has been playing for months on Colorado Public Television – becoming the “most watched / most shared” video on and reaching millions of viewers. You can watch the film with pledge breaks featuring Richard Gage, AIA

    Another scholarly lecture was published by Dr. Daniele Ganser – University of Basel and jointly with University of Indiana here:

    We are certainly not the peanut gallery, we are a highly credentialed list of professionals.

  15. On September 25, 2014 at 4:52 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Sigh …
    Insurance agents or members of the American Academy of Insurance Agents don’t count. Show me PEs who have performed calculations. If you’re not a PE, you’re not an engineer.

    What I see is that someone wants someone else to perform finite element and fracture mechanics calculations (it’s always better when someone else does it and you’re not on the hook).

    Okay. Whatever. I wish you well in your studies.

  16. On September 25, 2014 at 5:17 pm, Black6 said:

    I’m not sure where you came up with the Insurance bit, maybe an invention of your own to develop an excuse to not investigate? Did you read my last paragraph at all??? I would think an engineer would know what the AIA is. but alas…

    AIA – American Institute of Architects
    FAIA – Fellow of the American Institute of Architects

    Credentials of people who have * publicly * signed the petition to start a new investigation:

    276 Professional Engineers
    266 Civil Engineers
    248 BS Electrical Engineering
    161 Bachelors, Architecture
    135 Masters, Architecture
    103 Masters, Engineering
    62 Bachelors, Civil Engineering
    14 Masters, Civil Engineering

    Considering All Majors
    1734 Bachelors of Science
    657 Masters of Science
    418 PhDs

    Other Degrees
    99 AIA members
    7 FAIA members

    Plugging your ears and singing lalalalala is certainly easier when faced with CVs more impressive than you’re used to I suppose.

  17. On September 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Okay. Got it. Now show me calculations.

  18. On September 25, 2014 at 5:33 pm, Black6 said:

    Watch the videos, it’s all there. They’re all free and available:

    Start here: (Architects and Engineers, Experts speak out) – The public membership list of credentials for this organization was in my previous post. Quite a list of “A” list engineers interviewed:

    Dr. Steven Jones ( is an American physicist. Among scientists, Jones became known for his long research on muon-catalyzed fusion.) This one is heavier in calculations:

    Dr. Daniele Ganser’s (Basel University and University of Indiana Lecture) video from above is a good overview of the issues again here:

  19. On September 25, 2014 at 5:44 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Did any of the do the calcs under contract and affix a PE seal?

  20. On September 26, 2014 at 5:44 pm, Rob Crawford said:

    Of course they didn’t, Herschel. The clowns pushing WTC conspiracy theories deserve as much time as people proclaiming the moon is cheese.

  21. On September 25, 2014 at 9:59 pm, Nichole Koonce said:

    Nice post!

  22. On September 25, 2014 at 10:02 pm, ConservativeSurge said:

    Pretty sure Obama’s going to be mad you ripped off his is May 5, 2013 Ohio State commencement address without attribution.

  23. On September 25, 2014 at 10:43 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    I’ve never heard a single Obama speech in my life. Not one. Refuse.

  24. On September 26, 2014 at 11:05 am, Ned Weatherby said:

    Can’t sit through one myself. Tried for a few minutes, but cam close to hurling. That was six years ago, in the car.

  25. On September 27, 2014 at 8:29 am, ConservativeSurge said:

    You just took your readers to task to learn rhetoric, which by definition requires you to understand the other side’s position, and then you disregard your own advice.

    That’s called hypocrisy, Captain, but given the thrust of your article I suppose I should not be surprised you responded without taking the effort to understand the statement.

    In any event, it’s fine you aren’t familiar with Obama’s infamous Ohio speech. It was only blasted around the interwebs for a couple of weeks due to its incredibly inflammatory statements. But I suppose for some folks the speech was “no biggie” and I certainly don’t have instant recall of all of our Dear Leader’s Stalinist moments.

    But, I give you a specific speech, complete with date, and you still don’t take the 30 seconds to google it so you have a frame of reference before responding?

    If your post didn’t prove how close-minded you are, your response to my comment certainly improved the evidence against you.

  26. On September 28, 2014 at 9:47 am, Herschel Smith said:

    I couldn’t care less about this speech to which you refer. You know, you are a sad case.

    Whatever else he said, I’m sure he didn’t come out in opposition to universal background checks or gun rights (like I did in this post or like I have done for a very long time now). So your analogy breaks down.

    You get thrown about by every conspiracy theory that floats along like crap floating in water. This helps you to ignore the real issues that we need to address, and so congratulations, you are one of the sheeple, even if you’re too stupid to know it. You do EXACTLY what they want you to do. You support gun rights (I am guessing) and your enemies point to your belief that the moon is made of green cheese because of the CIA and show everyone how silly you look.

    So unless you can show me how Obama opposed a national gun registry in this supposed speech that I have never heard, be gone. Don’t comment again, and go about your business following every kook theory floating in the water. Let that be your dopamine fix.

  27. On September 25, 2014 at 10:03 pm, Nichole Koonce said:

    So much passion in the lower comments.
    It is warming to the soul!

  28. On September 26, 2014 at 11:18 am, Ned Weatherby said:

    Herschel, I believe your above post succinctly addresses the differences between ideological purity and this:

    Good job. I get into it with “conservatives” often about the difference.

  29. On September 26, 2014 at 5:47 pm, Rob Crawford said:

    My only complaint about this is that, well, “Christian bankers” and “Hindu bankers” and “atheist bankers” are as likely to do evil as “Jewish bankers”. Not talking about you, as I believe you were using the terms that get thrown around by the conspiracy clowns, but I suspect people who rant about “Jewish bankers” don’t care about the “banker” part.

  30. On September 28, 2014 at 9:48 am, Herschel Smith said:

    “I believe you were using the terms that get thrown around by the conspiracy clowns …”


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