Strange but true

I received an e mail from “Ernie” this morning (whose database of rightwing conspiracist sources can be found in the blogroll on the right):

Conspiracy theorists will love this!

If you reverse the letters in the word “I-L-L-U-M-I-N-A-T-I” it comes out “I-T-A-N-I-M-U-L-L-I”….

Type into your browser and hit “enter” and you’re taken to the home page of the National Security Agency!

I tried it and it works, which sent me on a Google chase. First up was a spookily crepuscular You Tube video, in which a heavily shadowed figure murmurs about some of the mystical semantical properties of the mirror form of the word “Illuminati”: break it up into syllables and it says “It and I am You”; the two “L”s with their final “I” can be construed to mean “to hell with I.” As the commentator says, “this is an interesting way to look at words….I think more people should look into the purpose and nature of words and you could find a lot more than looking for sentences. A sentence is like a prison sentence–when you start on that path, you’re looking into too much information and too much of it is wrong and and too much of it is opinion and so forth. But it’s right in front of your eyes, if you actually really look for it and look for it in the simplest way.” A graphic on the screen points out that the mirror form of “evolution” phonetically spells out “know it you love.”

But what about the NSA link? Is this or is this not proof that the United States government is a bought-and-paid-for subsidiary of the New World Order? “Anonymous Coward,” a poster at Godlike, figured out that someone had purchased the domain name “” and is redirecting clickers to the NSA site. The owner of “” (he traced him through turns out to be John Fenley of Provo, Utah, a robot enthusiast and inventor. But lest you think that settles the matter, Anonymous Coward notes that spelling words backwards is a:

A basic Illuminati technique – a left/right mirror image. Remember George Dubya holding the book upside down on the morning of 9-11? Yup – another up/down mirror image. Oh, and btw, the name of that book was “My Pet Goat”. Goat – get it? Bapho’s nic..

Don’t understand “nic” but Bapho is Baphomet, of course, the goat-headed demon that the Templars supposedly worshipped. A variation of the 19th century French occultist and magician Eliphas Levi’s famous image of Baphomet appeared on the cover of Leo Taxil’s sensational book Les Mystères de la franc-maçonnerie dévoilés (1886)–a book that supposedly revealed the existence of Masonic Palladism or devil worship, but which its author revealed was a colossal hoax in 1897. (See my Boing Boing post on Hoaxes, Celebrities and the Net for more.) Perhaps John Fenley is following in Taxil’s footsteps.

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27 thoughts on “Strange but true

  1. The site is registered to one John Fenley of Provo, UT. Surely he just has it redirecting to the NSA site for giggles.

  2. Yes– it is a hoax by a Utah guy with a sense of humor…but the point of my message was to demonstrate how easily assertions can be made which are completely false but superficially plausible.

    The best conspiracy theories contain rock solid kernels of truth — which is what makes them so alluring. But most people have neither the time, inclination or resources to perform the careful research required to establish what is fact version fiction.

    For example: I used to live in a major city where the Main Library (recently built) was 2 blocks from my home. It was relatively easy for me to use that resource to check out assertions made in conspiracy literature — and, fortunately, I also was able to use inter-library loan to obtain copies of books, newspaper microfilm, or photocopies of articles which were cited by conspiracy authors–so I could check them.

    Many Americans, however, do not have access to such facilities — so they must rely entirely upon whatever they see on-line and all-too-often people accept as truthful whatever conforms to what they already believe.

    My favorite example in this regard is the omnipresent claim in conspiracy literature that Jacob Schiff of the New York investment banking firm, Kuhn, Loeb and Company, furnished Bolshevik leaders around $20 million for the ‘final triumph of Bolshevism’ in Russia.

    Gary Allen makes this absurd claim on page 69 of his mega-seller, None Dare Call It Conspiracy. Former FBI Special Agent W. Cleon Skousen repeats it in his writings. So does James Perloff, author of Shadows of Power as well as many other conspiracy authors.

    ALL of them cite the exact same source. Here is how Gary Allen put it on page 69:

    “According to the New York Journal American of February 3, 1949: ‘Today it is estimated by Jacob’s grtandson, John Schiff, that the old man sank about 20,000,000 dollars for the final triumph of Bolshevism in Russia.’ ”

    (1) Notice that Allen attributed his “quote” to a major New York newspaper. The clear impression is that Allen was quoting from a news article — perhaps containing an interview with Jacob Schiff’s grandson, John Schiff.

    (2) However, in reality, the “quotation” actually appears in a society gossip column under the title “Smart Set” by several unknown persons who wrote under the pseudonym of “Cholly Knickerbocker”!!

    (3) This is the type of documentation which conspiracy “researcher” Gary Allen presents as sufficiently credible to use as “proof” of extremely serious (and defamatory) allegations.

    (4) When you review all of the on-line articles which use this “quote” and which cite the now-defunct NY Journal-American there is one interesting commonality. NOT ONE of them cites the page number where the comment appears in that newspaper — because, almost certainly, not one of them actually peformed rudimentary research to determine its authenticity! [And Gary Allen received a history degree from Stanford University!]

    Conspiracy believers often do not read and accept the evidence presented by their own recommended sources.

    For example, with respect to the Schiff matter above, Dr. Antony Sutton falsified through independent primary source research the assertion made by Gary Allen (and many others) concerning Jacob Schiff’s alleged pro-Bolshevik sentiments and his alleged $20 million contribution to the Bolsheviks. ,

    See Appendix II in Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution, by Antony C. Sutton, published by Arlington House, New Rochelle, N.Y., (1974)

    Appendix II

    “It is significant that documents in the State Department files confirm that the investment banker Jacob Schiff, often cited as a source of funds for the Bolshevik Revolution, was in fact against support of the Bolshevik regime This position, as we shall see, was in direct contrast to the Morgan-Rockefeller promotion of the Bolsheviks.”

    “The persistence with which the Jewish-conspiracy myth has been pushed suggests that it may well be a deliberate device to divert attention from the real issues and the real causes. The evidence provided in this book suggests that the New York bankers who were also Jewish had relatively minor roles in supporting the Bolsheviks, while the New York bankers who were also Gentiles (Morgan, Rockefeller, Thompson) had major roles. What better way to divert attention from the real operators than by the medieval bogeyman of anti-Semitism?”

    1. Ernie makes an important point. But I think he errs on the side of charity when he suggests that consumers of conspiracy literature would check their facts if only they could, if they only had access to sufficient scholarly resources. Gary Allen may have studied history in college, but NONE DARE CALL IT CONSPIRACY is a political polemic, carefully designed to promote a highly distorted, tendentious world view, and to indict a clear set of villains. Its readers turn to it to stoke their sense of outrage and confirm their prejudices–the last thing they want is to learn something new, to endure the cognitive dissonance that the knowledge that a rich Jewish banker actually OPPOSED Bolshevism might cause them suffer.

      To turn to another example, Jew-haters will continue to quote the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, no matter how many times they are debunked, because, as Henry Ford famously said of them in 1921, “they fit in with what is going on…they have fitted the world situation up to this time. THEY FIT IT NOW.”

      1. Arthur: I did not make the assertion which you attribute to me and which you then dispute.

        In fact, I explicitly stated in point #4 above that conspiracy believers accept as accurate and truthful various statements which none of them bother to independently research — not because none of them have access to “sufficient scholarly resources” — but, instead, because they typically have no inclination to verify whatever documentation is presented — when it conforms to what they already believe or when it confirms adverse conclusions about people they despise.

        I discuss this at greater length in my article entitled Purpose of Conspiracy Theories:

      2. The last thing I want to do is fight with you–I totally agree with you and I completely admire all that you do. I was only saying that you seem to have more faith than I do in the power of documentary evidence to change minds. I read an exchange you had with a conspiracist on a forum not too long ago; what impressed me the most about it was how patiently and assiduously you appealed to his intelligence and good will. As I recall, the discussion actually turned to the Protocols at one point. When you told him that they were a forgery, he responded almost exactly along the same lines as Ford did–that whether or not they’re a real document, they tell the truth about the Jews.

      3. Yes–very true. No matter how much incontrovertible factual evidence is presented, most conspiracy believers have a bottomless pit of assertions they move on to if they reach an impasse over one specific contention. In my article on conspiracy theories I point out that such theories are problem-solving devices but the actual problem is not the one discussed in the text of the conspiracy narrative. The actual problem being addressed is the sense of impotence felt by conspiracy believers, i.e. why their values and political preferences (candidates, preferred policies, and ideas) are ignored, de-valued, violated, or defeated — particularly over long periods of time.

        That is why refuting one specific assertion has no impact whatsoever on the conspiracy adherent because one rebuttal does not and cannot alter their underlying and pervasive sense of impotence.

    2. I understand exactly what you are saying about Gary Allen. But I am little confused about Sutton, it seems he is agreeing that Schiff did not fund the Bolsheviks. What did he falsify?

      1. Arthur is correct. It is another extremely perplexing example of how conspiracy authors like Allen and conspiracy groups like the Birch Society profusely praise someone such as Dr. Sutton – but then they totally ignore the primary source research and conclusions which someone like Sutton produces.

        For example:

        Gary Allen, None Dare Call It Conspiracy, page 75 refers to Sutton’s “monumental scholarship”:

        “The landscape painters, unable to refute Sutton’s monumental scholarship, simply paint him out of the picture.”

        Gary Allen, The Rockefeller File – chapter 9 – “Building the Big Red Machine”

        Pg 78:
        “A meticulously documented book on this subject was written by Antony Sutton, a research fellow for the prestigious Hoover Institution for War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. Entitled Wall Street and The Bolshevik Revolution, this book by a respected and fastidiously thorough scholar was almost universally ignored by the mass media. One does not have to be a Quiz Kid to figure out why. Sutton sets the stage for the Bolshevik Revolution with this background.”

        Pg 80:
        “I highly recommend reading Sutton’s book, Wall Street and The Bolshevik Revolution.”

        Pg 81:
        “No one has even attempted to refute Sutton’s almost excessively scholarly works. They can’t. But the misinformation machines that compose our mediacracy can ignore Sutton. And they do. Totally.”

        Nevertheless, it is in his book, Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution that Sutton falsifies standard extreme right dogma about Jacob Schiff “financing” the Bolshevik Revolution.

        Dr. Sutton wrote an article appearing in the Summer 1977 issue of Conspiracy Digest entitled “The State of Research Concerning Power Elites” which demolishes many standard Birch Society arguments and rejects JBS sources.

        In his article, Sutton devotes considerable space to discussing the differences between what he considers “amateur” versus “professional” discussions of conspiracy.

        It was Sutton’s contention that “amateur analysis” placed explanation before examination, “i.e. to arrive at conclusions before providing evidence on which conclusions are based.”

        Sutton observed that “thousands of pages of ‘conspiracy’ literature have little more substance than a belief that a particular explanation of events is true and other possible explanations are not true.”

        As one example of what he had in mind, Sutton examined John Robison’s 18th century book “Proof of A Conspiracy” and Sutton made the following observations:

        “Robison on his title page suggests a broader target than the Illuminati alone. The title page of Proofs of A Conspiracy reads ‘…secret meetings of free masons, illuminati and reading societies.’ Present day holders of the Illuminati theory, particularly members of the John Birch Society, often ignore the equal attention proposed for freemasons and reading societies. Recent German literature does not make this error…”


        “There is no major evidence at this time that the Illuminati survived as an organization after about 1800 (although of course both reading societies and freemasons survived and the latter flourished after 1800.”

        Sutton then points out that the Birch Society’s 1967 book entitled “Seventeen Eighty Nine” attempted “to present the case for a presumed link between the Illuminati and the ‘communist conspiracy’…” but it “confirms that in fact no evidence exists for the existence of Illuminati after 1800…Notably, both freemasons and reading societies are ignored in Seventeen Eight Nine. The anonymous author leaves Adam Weishaupt living in comfortable seclusion at the house of the Duke of Saxe Gotha in the year 1800. No one has picked up the research trail at this place and time in history.”

        Then Sutton comments that…

        “The assumption that the Illuminati became the Communist Party can be balanced by an equally valid assumption that the Illuminati or its ideas became part of the European Establishment: both are unproven assertions. This apparent disdain for factual research by ‘amateur’ conspiracy buffs has led them to overlook interesting 19th century reflections of the Illuminati which a little digging would have discovered.” …

        The Birch Society recommended and sold Nesta Webster’s books for many years. However, in his article, Sutton dismisses Nesta Webster’s contributions as another example of assuming an answer rather than investigating facts.

        Sutton states that Webster’s research habits “do NOT fit within the category of scientific procedure” and, consequently, “Nesta Webster has to be rejected because it is difficult to separate fact from fiction” in her writings.

        In his closing paragraph, Sutton asks why amateur historians seem unwilling to adopt a professional scholarly approach to research and his answer is:

        “Probably because of fear — fear that their world is being taken away from them by unseen and apparently overwhelming powerful forces and that only by convincing others of this unseen force can the takeover be halted. In practice of course this irrational fearful approach based on guesswork is self-defeating and merely guarantees the continuance of any power elites at work.”

      2. Holy crap ernie, that was a great response! Much more than I expected. Who the hell are you? I have been looking at ‘conspiracy’ type literature since I graduated in 08 with a history degree. I watched a few CT movies and I was captivated. At first I struck the magnitude of claims and the possibility my entire paradigm was wrong (despite looking at a lot of far left radical history like Chomsky, Zinn, and many others). Given a moment to regroup and research I quickly began to find many errors and doubt everything, then would find many truths and seesaw back and forth. Sutton did strike me as a cut above other writers of this genre. I have to say I am delighted I stubbled upon all this despite finding some to be false. It has reinvigorated my intellectual curiosity and I have to give credit where its due, this whole culture has informed and educated me about a great many things I might not have known otherwise.

  3. I’m far too under educated to involve myself in this discussion. I will say that Conspiracy Theory was a damn fine film.
    Thank you, that is all.

  4. Hi, i am looking for some recomened reading materials, to get me started on this subject. i have nothing of note to add to the discussion, except that “Bapho’s nic” means Baphomet’s nicname.

    1. well, you just added something very helpful–I had no idea what “nic” meant.

      I posted a bibliography on my bulletin board; click here if you’d like to look at it. Richard Pipes’ CONSPIRACY (Free Press) is a good introduction to conspiracy theory, too.

  5. Do not forget when Adam Weishaupt created thye Illuminati, one of his writings said that they will often appear in opposition of themsleves, which has carried through to many connected secret societies, and is precisely how they control politics and government, and exactly how they got the US citizens and congress to pass the Federal Reserve Act and Income Tax Act of 1913, by pretending to oppose it.

    1. If you type itanimulli into Google, it takes you right to the NSA. If you type in the words “Illuminati backwards,” it takes you to a million posts that say things like, “Dude, check it out! Type Illuminati backwards into your browser and see where it takes you.” Anyone can try this for themselves.

  6. Why doesn’t someone ASK John Fenley WHY he forwards any visitor to the site to the NSA. Im sure its probably REALLY easy to get his email, since his address is on the internet.

  7. John Fenley created a website on the simply redirects you to the NSA website. Everybody that falls for this is gullibe. really?I honestly agree with Jillian above.

  8. If these are all hoax…it has been a lot of fun. Good job guys…you got me going there.

  9. then we figured out there tactic of reading left to right like a mirror image cuz on youtube there are many videos showing that if you read the lyrics of a song backwords it is a whole different story here’s a link to show you what i mean…0.0…1ac.1.glP1ZvplD2I select any one you want

  10. I find it even harder to believe that the NSA would put up with a “practical joke” for Twelve years. If anyone could correct the situation, it would be the NSA, but it still redirects to that sight. Is John Fenley untouchable? And if so . . . why? Who does he REALLY work for? There are a lot of “debunkers” of conspiracy theory out there . . . problem is, those “conspiracies” of yesteryear are coming true today . . . and the mouthpieces are still throwing tomatoes at those who called it.

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