Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Worktime First:: Caller Brings Back the Classic Crazy

There comes a point in every skeptic's life when he is confronted by the ultimate abortion of skepticism: the conspiracy theory. I'm not talking about a 'found some wackaloon talking about this on the interwebs' kind of confrontation. No, what I'm talking about is speaking to someone who casually brings this kind of thing up as if it were fact.

Now, there are conspiracies in the real world. At the core, however, they are unglamorous, dirty affairs that crumble and are exposed by the ineptness of their fellows. Insider trading is a form of conspiracy. A religious cult is a conspiracy that may contain others. And there are conspiracies of governance as well. Say it with me: "Nixon".

But these are painfully mundane conspiracies. They're limited in scope and for the truly devoted headcase, they lack the glamor and spectacle that makes the horrible mundaneness of their lives worth living. Price fixing in the oil industry is just simple greed. It doesn't make a bland middle-aged accountant the subject of attention from sinister external forces that perceive him, inexplicably, as a threat that must be observed and silenced.

Today's caller of note seemed like a regular call with a nervous new user. His new computer won't shut down, it says 'installing updates' and sits there. I informed him that the first batch of Vista updates (complete with the service pack) can take hours. Comforted and ready to wait 5-6 hours for it to update, he seemed ready to go. Until I asked him if there was anything else I could help him with.

What followed wasn't not a question, nor a statement, nor a description. It was some indescribable mutation of language that was fascinatingly insane yet completely incoherent. I will sum up the major points of the caller's delusion here:

1) Zone alarm is actually spyware, integrated into the system by the government.
2) It connects to secret cameras hidden in the computer's fan.
3) This has something to do with the systems being sent over seas for spying purposes. Or perhaps foreign governments are in on this. Like I said, incoherent.
4) These cameras are also hidden in new cars.
5) "Well, maybe I shouldn't be talking about this over the phone."

My first impulse is to debunk these hallucinations one at a time. But this guy thinks a laptop fan has a camera in it. A camera that would point away from the user, possibly down into a desk or into a lap, at all times.

Even if the government was interested in your activities, they wouldn't point the super-secret spy camera at your junk. If they want cheap voyeur shots, they'll install the camera in your shower. Then the antichrist and his one-world government cronies can laugh about your excess back hair at their leisure while plotting to control the banking system and corner the market on fezzes and tiny, tiny cars.


No comments: