FRED REED: ‘Say, Mr., Can You Spare a Little Thorazine?’

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“Conspiracy theorists routinely evince this curious lack of interest in facts, data, corroboration. ” Oh, and “Buy Fred’s Books! Tutankhamen didn’t, and He’s Dead. Coincidence?”


To me fascinating is a curious fragmentation of thought, as if clusters of neurons were not communicating with others. For example, the hundred concentration camps of FEMA would require many personnel, towns to supply food, roads going to them, and so would be easily found. CTs neither say where these camps are, nor take a weekend and find one, nor show any interest in the question. Conspiracy theories say that the airliner, AA 77, that hit the Pentagon was actually a missile. In that case either AA77 landed safely in LA, its destination, easily checked with a few phone calls, or it never existed, as any travel agency would know. A newspaper reporter would think of these things. CTs don’t and become angry if others do.

Oh God, oh God, oh God, I knew it would happen. It did. The anniversary of Nine-Eleven just passed and swarms of conspiracy loons have erupted forth to holler about inside jobs and Israeli demolitions squads and collusion thicker than mayonnaise on Mom’s picnic ham sandwiches and holographic projections and nanoparticles. (Wait. I think nanoparticles are what are in covid vaccines to alter your DNA and make you into a robot. Maybe it’s nanothermite that blows up buildings, or maybe nanotermites that gnaw them down, or something)  All swathed in darkling clouds of subclinical paranoia. There is something mildly wrong with these people. I figure they’ve been sniffing bad glue. The astute John Derbyshire has said that conspiracy theorism is a minor psychic condition like obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sounds about right.

You have to understand about conspiracy theories. They seem almost deliberately squirrelly, lacking substance and checkable specificity. For example, Nine-Eleven theory says that the buildings were demolished by an unspecified number of demolition experts of unspecified origin recruited by unspecified means to place an unspecified quantity of explosives of unspecified origin in an unspecified number of unspecified locations on an unspecified number of floors over an unspecified number of days, weeks, or months, these activities being hidden from notice by a massive workforce by unspecified means.

Is that clear, or what? It’s blank ignorance but it confers theoretic maneuvering room. When you know nothing, you can believe anything.

Conspiracy theorists are intriguing rather than harmful, only borderline nuts, usually able to dress themselves. Some are quite intelligence. Maybe to be truly twisted you need to start with enough string.  It may just be inner-directed anxiety disorder. They don’t care whether there is substance to their theories, ore even whether they really have a theory. Maybe it’s just the of the spirit of the thing.

But it’s exasperating to a former reporter. I listen to this balmy soup and think  ”Ye gods and little catfish, they don’t know anything about their own theory. Or demolitions. Or journalism.”

Curiously, the faithful show no interest in how the Towers were blown up, or whether  they could have been these being details. They are sure they were blown up, though. None of the foregoing unspecified can be evaluated since there really is no theory, just repeated assertion of conspiracy. A reporter cannot fact-check the story because there are no facts to check. Conspiracy theorists routinely evince this curious lack of interest in facts, data, corroboration. For example, they insist that explosions were heard—passive voice—when the buildings came down, but do not wonder why the many video recordings do not contain these explosions. If asked about this absence, some will say that the sounds were edited out. Israeli audio editors presumably.

If you want to blame the Towers  on Israel, come up with a story I can believe. For example, Arabic speaking Mossad agents talked a bunch of Saudis in a bar in Bangkok into doing it. This doesn’t involve lunacy or physical impossibility. It is a serviceable tale of universal applicability. Today we could substitute Russians, Chinese, Trump supporters or Iranians with no loss.

Conspiracy theorists everywhere sense the Hidden Hand, sense dark and malevolent forces invisible to most but detected by those in the know. Typically a government of corporate, and malevolent agents, lurk behind visible events and are often responsible for things that don’t even  exist. For example, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has a hundred concentration camps fully manned and ready to be filled with patriots when the country is taken over by whoever is going to take it over.

To me fascinating is a curious fragmentation of thought, as if clusters of neurons were not communicating with others. For example, the hundred concentration camps of FEMA would require many personnel, towns to supply food, roads going to them, and so would be easily found. CTs neither say where these camps are, nor take a weekend and find one, nor show any interest in the question. Similarly, conspiracy loons say that the airliner, AA 77, that hit the Pentagon was actually a missile. In that case either AA77 landed safely in LA, its destination, easily checked with a few phone calls, or it never existed, as any travel agency would know. A newspaper reporter would think of these things. CTs don’t and become angry if others do.

Here we encounter another characteristic of the genre: the multiplication of hypotheses. To protect the theory, they expand it. Explosions in New York were not recorded because the media were in on the plot. The FBI didn’t investigate because it was in on the plot. The white House didn’t…on and on. It doesn’t occur to them that the media don’t cover nonsensical theories because they are nonsensical. No, they are in on it. This intensifies the delicious satisfactions of seeing the Hidden Hand.

Oddly, CTs lack emotional response to horrendous crimes.  It is as if they both believe but simultaneously don’t.  If you, the reader, thought that the Israelis had murdered three thousand Americans, would you not be angry? Yet in reading volumes and in conversation with leading Israel-did-its, I have not heard an angry word at the Israelis doing it. I have been the object of fury for saying they didn’t.

Or, if an Air Force F-16 had killed a large number of people at the Pentagon with a missile, would you not want to investigate and bring the scoundrels to justice? It would be easy enough. For reasons obvious to anyone familiar with the Armed forces, such an attack would involve many people and leave major evidentiary trails. Yet the faithful do not think of this, evince no outrage, demand no investigation. Huh? Conspiracying seems a sort of psychic hobby, maybe, for people who really want to live in a comic book.

Conspiracy theorists seem politically conservative. Liberals have their own mental dislocations, inventing an imaginary world they would like to exist and then trying to move into it, resulting in policies unrelated to observable reality. But they don’t see strange shapes twisting at the verge of vision. The conservative’s is a darker view of life, more realistic and grimmer. I think of liberals as tweeters and conservative as woofers, but maybe that’s just me.

Conspiracy wackos also are overwhelmingly male. Someone once said that men, always wanting to slay dragons, wreck cars, or  conquer empires, are romantics pretending to be realists and that women are realists pretending to be romantics. Well, it fits.

Then there is the Blob Mind, the aggregation of hundreds, sometimes many hundreds, of people into agglomerations all of whose minds apparently are connected into one entity. Consider the Navy ships that decades ago were said to have shot down an airliner leaving New York. At least five hundred anarchic and voluble sailors would know of this and tell their families and everybody in every bar for fifty miles around. CTs say “the Navy” suppressed the truth, as if all military personnel had their minds connected by invisible wires and appropriate thought pumped in from some underground control room. In many conspiracies, “the media”, similarly wired, hide the truth. Do the owners of thousands of publications tell their section editors who tell their vast swarms not to cover a story which any of them would kill his grandmother to break—“Don’t cover the biggest story in fifty years”? These large groups all act as multicellular, unvolitional beings under remote control.

Covid spawns conspiracy theories like oyster spawn eggs, bathing the world in subtreatable paranoia. On the same website you can read that it doesn’t exist, being just the seasonal flue and that it is a plot to depopulate the earth; that the vaccines contains nanoparticles, microchips, and substances to reprogram your genome; that the government (I think) is hiding miracle cures such as hydroquinone (an antiplasmodial, vitamin D, zinc, and a worm poison; hospitals are lying about the number of deaths, some exaggerating and others minimizing them. How you depopulate the earth with a disease that doesn’t exist isn’t clear. They don’t ask, so it doesn’t matter. There seems to be a tacit gentlemen’s agreement, or honor among cracked pots, holding that I won’t criticize your theory if you won’t criticize mine, though they are mutually contradictory

Further, a CT mindset exists. A normal person might believe in one Conspiracy through limited investigation and interest, but people who believe in one Conspiracy almost always believe in several.

And now I must run, to find a hotel room downtown. The CIA is burrowing a tunnel under my house, coming from Roswell, and I don’t want to be here when the collapse comes.

Buy Fred’s Books! Tutankhamen didn’t, and He’s Dead. Coincidence?


FRED REED describes himself as [previously] a “Washington police reporter, former Washington editor for Harper’s and staff writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine, Marine combat vet from Viet Nam, and former long-haul hitchhiker, part-time sociopath, who once lived in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Yankee Capital.”
His essays “on the collapse of America” Mr. Reed calls “wildly funny, sometimes wacky, always provocative.”
“Fred is the Hunter Thompson of the right,” seconds Thomas E. Ricks in Foreign Policy magazine. His  commentary is “well-written, pungent political incorrectness mixed with smart military commentary and libertarian impulses, topped off with a splash of Third World sunshine and tequila.”



Killer Kink

Hardboiled is back! (The exclamation point is to arouse wild enthusiasm in the reader, a boiling literary lust.) Gritty crime fiction by longtime police reporter for the Washington Times, who knows the police from nine years of riding with them. Guaranteed free of white wine and cheese, sensitivity, or social justice.

24 thoughts on “FRED REED: ‘Say, Mr., Can You Spare a Little Thorazine?’

  1. Richard J. Purdes

    Fred, are you looking over your shoulder for government agents sent by the Biden administration in order to keep track of you? Frankly, with your political bent, I WOULD. But then I am one of the paranoid conspiracy jerk-offs that just happen to believe we have much more to fear from our own government than all the ragheads in Camelstan. Now the FBI is focusing on “home-grown terrorism,” saying “it is America’s greatest threat.” To just utter ANYTHING of the Founding Fathers or the Constitution will bring down their SWAT squad on you so do be careful in what you say. Of course, this behavior by the Feebs is supportive of Retarded Joe in order to reinforce his anti-gun, anti-conservative agenda. I’d say “stay tuned” but I am certain you are much more aware than I. Keep a loaded AR close and do keep publishing as there are so few good guys out there.

    A Devoted Fan.

  2. Joshua

    I am a regular reader of Fred’s columns, and generally enjoy his original take on things. This column, though, is willfully ignorant. Look at any video of the towers collapsing. They did not fall over, they fell straight down. They did not fall into pieces; they fell into dust which was distributed at some thirty miles per hour through the New York streets and across the river. These are easily observed physical facts. To suggest a demolition took place is not looney at all; at least one physicist and one group of architects have set forth the notion.
    To consider this possibility does present a rabbit hole down which it takes some psychological courage to venture. Perhaps better to have another beer and signal one’s normality and absence of menace to the safety-oriented, civilized, normal people of the world.

  3. Tom O'Neill

    You have described the disease well. It may in fact be the beginning of a pandemic. I think we can flatten the curve with a mandate for free speech. Conspiracy Theory Syndrome is not dangerous unless given credibility. It gains credibility by censorship and repression of debate. As you point out, open debate normally exposes the ridiculous. CT should be viewed as George Carlinesque entertainment not a malignancy.
    There is a difference between conspiracy theory neurosis and skepticism.   When so much of what we are told turns out to be absurd lies, the possibilities of what can be true becomes unconstrained. Again, fresh air, honest and serious and even humorous debate, and free speech and free listening is the answer. Nano-Nanu! The secret code of CTers.

  4. Michael

    Fred has thrown doubt on the doubters, like they say, just because you have sub treatable paranoia doesn’t mean they aren’t watching you.

  5. FortHay

    Thank you for the timely and rational comment on conspiracies. I, too, received a missive around 9/11 this year about some supposed animation video of a plane striking the tower and I was offended; not by the fact that some wingnut believes this sort of thing and publishes it, but by the person(s) who blithely forward it and give it credibility by doing so. Alex Jones finally and appropriately is getting his comeuppance, but the real culprits are those who contributed to Alex’s click count. Saying that some (many) CT’s are reasonably intelligent and even fine and decent people otherwise is akin to say that child molesters are frequently civilized, polite and church going rotary club members. At some point, CT’s need to be held accountable for their wilful evasion of reality and the willingness to spread baseless paranoia. Unfortunately, if the general public does not do it by ridiculing and ignoring them, the governments heavy hand will come down and then, yes, then, we have the disaster the CT’s are pining for.

  6. John Goldberg

    Fred, if you’re interested in exploring or discussing the origin of the mentality that espouses conspiracy theories, you may want to consider gnosticism (, the tendency to want to say, “I know something you don’t know.” Some rich stuff there.

  7. Bill Meyer

    The architects and engineers who question the 9/11 narrative don’t appear to be damaged individuals. Some truths are so monstrous that we can’t even consider the evidence? Sort of a 2001 version of “trust us, safe and effective”.

  8. Sam McGowan

    Fred, as usual, you are spot on. Sadly, the world is full of people with outlandish theories that make little sense. As far as 9/!!, I paid little attention to the recent celebration or whatever you want to call it – like Pearl Harbor, it’s old news. At the time, I felt the attacks were the buzzards coming home to roost after all the crap the US had been doing in the Muslim world. I do have one theory though, and that is that the airplane that went into the ground in PA was actually shot down. There are a lot of facts to support that idea, not the least that I personally saw a clip on CNN or one of the propaganda channels of a phone conversation with a passenger on the airplane. He commented “white smoke just came out of (or went into) the engine, then the phone call evaporated. This was reported for a day or so then it disappeared, then the story about the brave passengers came out. I know a little bit about the military and I know there were several Air National Guard fighter squadrons in close proximity to that airplane’s route, and some of them were armed and ready to go. Having once had a Top Secret clearance, I trust this government about as far as I can throw my house.

    You still should get on Substack.

  9. KWSterling

    Not to be a CT myself, but there are two studies now showing that the mRNA vaccine combines with DNA and alters it. The fact that this information, along with a lot of other information about Covid and the vaccines, has been censored by our own govt., ought to be Fred’s focus. Instead he’s blathering on about CTs, when the real threat to everyone is the govt.-media complex, currently pumping out propaganda like a fire hose while threatening ordinary citizens who are struggling to keep up with the inflation caused by govt. policies and edicts.
    Fred, you’ve lost your edge. Maybe you’d better leave the center where you’ve been wandering recently, and go find it.

  10. R. Gibeau

    USS Liberty, 1967, 34KIA’s 171 WIA Attacked in international waters by ?
    Yup, Pass Me the Thorazine Fred

  11. TheKing

    The irony of conspiracies these days are 7 out of 10 of them eventually become a reality once decades has passed and information is old and irrelevant. Can Fred explain how did the world trade center towers became vaporized and fell down instead of just collapsing one floor after another.? Can he explain why so many witnesses to flight 800 crash mentioned they saw an explosion caused by a missile, were they all lying?

  12. ASREAL

    But the king of all CT’s is “The 2020 election was stolen”. Anyone who is willing to look at REAL evidence is immediately accused of being a leftist Biden supporter. Proponents of this conspiracy theory give pseudo types of evidence but nothing real. This way they can say they have fulfilled the request for evidence. Nevertheless, it is not evidence at all. As a matter of fact, ‘evidence’ is no longer a requirement for the American people to hold a belief. This follows the exact same requirements for a belief in ones religion, ‘FAITH’ . So government has essentially became a faith based institution for many Americans both on the left and the right. That is when it suits their tribal collectivist bandwagon mentality. Donald Trump took the ‘cult of personality’ to a level never before seen in US history. Because government is the Trump supporters new religion, it is rooted solely upon faith and not evidence.

  13. Juvenal Early

    I know a few truthers. God bless em, I think you’ve got to describe them as autistic libertarians. Behind all that tin foil hat CT nuttiness, you often found lurking the same timorous pusillanimity on matters of race & ethnicity that you see in the con-oinkers like Charlie Kirk. So, while they were connecting the dots of some imaginary conspiracy theory, they refused to address the issue of Islamic terrorism (or just plain Islam in America). They’d get indignant if you brought it up. They might call you a racist. They didn’t acknowledge it as a conversation Americans needed to have. It was the government, dammit, & Israel. They made good people do bad things. Meanwhile, the 5th column grows.

  14. MichaelWme

    Since I watched the 2nd plane hit the Twin Towers, the CT that bothers me is Bush, Jr announcing that Afghanistan dunit in September, 2001. Then, in 2003, he said, ‘Duh, I got it wrong. Iran planned, organised, and funded 9/11. Then it was perpetrated not by just Afghanistan, they had help from Iraq and North Korea.’ The Washington Post said this was one of the very best State of the Union addresses EVER. Bush, Jr later said, ‘Sorry, I missed the other perpetrators of 9/11: Libya, Syria, and Cuba.’
    The US courts then found Iran guilty of 9/11 and ordered to pay $billions to the families of the victims, and Saudi innocent. And now the $9 billion the Afghanistan Central Bank had will also go to the victims’ families: Afghanistan must be punished, 20 years of bombing weddings, funerals, schools, and hospitals was too expensive and didn’t kill nearly enough Afghans, so now we’ll just ban anyone helping: no food, no medicine, let them all die without risking the life of a single US soldier.
    As CTs go, that one is a doozy. Not one of those blamed by the US had anything to do with 9/11, and those who really did it are all pronounced innocent as new-born babes.

  15. ruralguy

    The conspiracy theorists aren’t the only ones who can’t distinguish between reality and non-reality. According to a study, 93% of people cannot form any logical inference from written material. These 93%’rs cannot easily distinguish between emotions, facts, beliefs, and logical arguments. They dominate public discourse. Schools stopped trying to teach grammar, even though grammar is foundational to all thought necessary to perceive essential distinctions between what people sense, think, and express. Can grammar be taught in this new America? I doubt it.

  16. Just skeptical

    I wondered for some time how the WTC towers collapsed the way they did, just pancaking down, but the explanation appears to be that the supporting girders expanded outwards and and directed the falling buildings. I also wonder who, apart from some none too friendly Arabs, would want to demolish chunk of New York and kill thousands of Murricans. The US government did it? It’s the old story of loose lips. If three people know of a conspiracy, one of them will sound off about it.

    So the WTC towers were taken down by a demolition team? Of course, why did I not think of it? There are only so many people in the world who have the expertise for a pancaking demolition, and they would of course be interrogated after such an event. And why would they even bother? It would have been far more destructive, and technically much easier, to have them topple sideways. Next up; how do you conceal at least a dozen workmen and manage to bring in numerous large boxes and reels of cable? And nobody notices? Or complains about the noise of drilling? I suppose such things are an everyday occurrence in New York.

    The Internet makes it possible access information with ease and speed, but it also allows misinformation and disinformation to spread at warp speed. Two or three decades ago, thinks like the JFK assassination or the moon landing or a flat earth were the province of a few cranks and doubters. These days you see their crap all over YouTube.

    An idea for your next article, Fred. Take a look at the online battle in the social media concerning the war in the Ukraine. On the one hand, people with Americnn-sounding names whose writings make it clear that they are from a troll farm in Russia, trying to spread dissent while loyally following the Putin party line. I hope the poor dears get paid well, and in foreign moolah at that, not the nearly useless rouble. And on the other side … just about everybody else.

  17. JoeC

    September 11, 2001: Headline: Read all about it, World Trade Center Building 7 collapsed due to office fires.

  18. Gene Su

    I have to agree with Fred 100% on this one and need to add some comments. As David Cole on Takimag put it, I don’t believe that our elites can cook up wild conspiracies with thousands of moving parts and implement them without anyone noticing. I do believe that they are more calculating than conspiratorial. A good piece of advice for some of these conspiracy theorists is to think of what people can and will do and get away with as opposed to what people can’t and won’t do and get away with.

    I don’t believe that 9/11 was a hoax or that someone set explosives to blow up the towers from within.
    I do believe that the Bush Administration shamelessly exploited this tragedy in order to attack Iraq for rank economic gain. Instead of doing its duty and going after Osama in Afghanistan, it decided to try to dethrone Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Indeed, it was the Bushes’ cozy relationship with the Saudis that created this mess. Read Sleeping with the Devil by Bob Baer.

    I don’t believe that COVID was a biological agent invented by the National Institute of Health to sterilize the world population.
    I do believe that the COVID plaque was masterfully politically exploited by the Democrats during the 2020 Election Year. Make no mistake: Trump would not have lost if it was not for the plaque, the nationwide quarantine, and the resulting damage to the economy. I also believe that Anthony Fauci hasn’t really been as honest and transparent as he should be.

    I don’t believe that there is a Jewish conspiracy to do harm to Christians or any of the other disgusting fantasies that Anti-Semites dream up in their shallow pates. Lately, I have been seeing too many of them on the Unz review.
    I do believe that certain foreign powers exert too much influence on the American federal government – such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, China, and so on. I’m not so sure how to go about getting rid of this dangerous species of corruption. The problem is that to politically campaign for public office, you really need a lot of money and contributions…

  19. Doug1943

    Here’s my theory about Conspiracy Theorists: it’s a Conspiracy by the liberal elite to make the Right look stupid.

  20. Jokem

    Keep in mind the stories from our own government are often politically ‘adjusted’. Meaning it is reasonable to cast reasonable doubt on what comes out of DC. Because of that the conspiracy theorists gain a measure of plausibility.

  21. Andy

    There is much truth here but a couple of points:
    I am not an architect or structural engineer but I am a chartered mechanical engineer and there is no way building 7 would collapse due to a few fires.
    If the other 2 buildings collapsed as per the official narative we would not need demolition experts using carefully timed multi floor explosives, just take out the beams on one random floor with a fire and job done.

  22. Hal Scoggins

    While I don’t subscribe to all the “conspiracy theories” surrounding 9/11, I have pretty much the same attitude about the official stories ass you do about Evolution as opposed to Intelligent Design. You’ve said plainly that, while you can’t say how complex organisms came to be, the Evolution explanation simply isn’t sufficient.
    I feel the same way about the events of 9/11. While I can’t explain what actually DID happen in the WTC or the Pentagon, the official story simply isn’t sufficient to explain those events.
    When you ridicule those who don’t accept the official story, you leave yourself open to similar ridicule regarding your views on Evolution.

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