In the disturbed perception of the paranoid there is the ever-present suspicion that the contents of the mind are neither impermeable from the outside, nor secure within from prying diabolic machines or devious telepathic voyeurs. Private thoughts escape uncensored into the ether while coercive voices and influences attempt to infiltrate from without. This condition, of course, defines the “tin-foil hat” paranoid: those whose delusions of persecution and covert surveillance run so deep, that not even the subjective experience or private thoughts are secure from Invasion of Privacy, and action must be taken to firewall them against encroaching agents.
As a pejorative descriptor, “Tin-Foil Hat” has found its way into the mainstream culture, a way to designate somebody’s ideas as crackpot or delusional, whether the mocked parties actually appear in public wearing head-gear meant to preserve their personal cranial authority or not. Thus, one describes the conspiracy theory fringe as the “tin-foil hat crowd”, and overly speculative suggestions of sinister plots may be dismissed with a remark of, “lose the tin-foil hat”, “Take off the tin-foil hat and join the real world.”
Nearly everybody knows what this means.
But what does this mainstream derision of the tin-foil hat concept mean to the real paranoids themselves… the paranoids who feel a very real need to line their hats with something that will help fortify their burglarized skulls?
Not too terribly long ago, in 2009, I attended a conference for an organization called S.M.A.R.T. (Stop Mind-control and Ritual abuse Today). When seeking out self-professed experts in such fields as “mind-control” and “ritual abuse”, one might well expect to find some of the “tin-foil hat crowd”, however, I found that such satirical categorizations were irrelevant in this instance, as tin-foil hats were, in fact, being sold at the S.M.A.R.T. conference! Not exactly, tin-foil, really, but the rationale was the same: Hats with a metallic mesh weave meant to block electromagnetic beams. They were being sold at a vendor booth by a haggard and shifty-eyed older woman representing Magic Circle Personal EMF Solutions.
This haggard, shifty-eyed woman was the real deal. A true paranoid. It was written on the lines in her face, and her darting, suspicious gaze and wild gesticulations. During one lecture, an alarm she kept somewhere on her person began beeping incessantly, and she fled the room.
This more advanced species of tin-foil hat was hardly out of place in the environment of this conference, organized, as it was, by one Neil Brick, a man who realized one day (according to a 2003 interview) that his "whole life was dysfunctional" and that he simply "could not hold a job, had a failed marriage, drinking."
He needed to take responsibility for his life. So he did. He got some psychological help and learned that none of his failings were at all his own fault anyway. They were part of a conspiracy. Neil Brick "recovered" "memories" that he was, in fact, a former brain-washed top-secret super elite assassin for the CIA/Illuminati.
Very well, then.
Nobody showed a hint of doubt when a speaker going by the name of “Royal”, at all of about forty years of age, stood before us to claim that she was a personal slave to nazi doctor Josef Mengele. “My experience with Mengele”, Royal explained in a lecture (the gist of which was that Satan uses abortion as a means of traumatic mind-control), “involved much of the trauma-based mind control involving core programming (such as End-Time programming) that is connected to the global take over. He used the Psychic/Spiritual dimensions using, what I have come to call ‘demonic harmonics’, which involves using musical tones and quantum physics to open up portals into the spiritual realms. I also have core programs set up that were created using abortions as a means to develop them and more.”
These were people entirely comfortable in their tin-foil hats, I decided.
But it wasn't so. Oddly, when I wrote a report about that conference and the attendees and true believers descended upon me in red-faced rage -- expressed online in long ranting tirades -- the thing that seemed to annoy them most was the mention of the electro-magnetic beam blocking hats. For all of the truly unhinged claims being purveyed at the conference, there almost seemed to be a bit of reservation and shame regarding this iconic symbol of paranoid delusion.
Just over a month ago I found myself expressing doubts regarding the general plausibility of a book in which the protagonist was born under the auspice of a prophecy, was endowed with ESP as a result of child abuse, suffered demonic possession, dabbled in levitation, and was saved from an oppressive Jewish Nazi Satanist working for the CIA who was practicing mind-control upon her. The book is called Twenty-Two Faces, and the author, Judy Byington, is naturally an associate of Neil Brick's.
A former S.M.A.R.T. lecturer, David Shurter, commented to express to me that he personally found the book Twenty-Two Faces quite credible. To him, I replied to the effect that his endorsement didn't surprise me, being that he did speak at a S.M.A.R.T. conference, and when I attended a S.M.A.R.T. conference, they were selling electromagnetic beam blocking hats.
Then, something remarkable happened. Despite all of the outrageous, delusional, supernatural claims that this man was defending in endorsing Twenty-Two Faces, despite the magnitude of sheer delirium that the conspiracy theory in this bloated work of Satanic Panic fiction implied, Shurter was nonetheless insulted that I would suggest that S.M.A.R.T. would actually sell anything as ridiculous as electro-magnetic beam blocking hats.
He accused me of lying.
Of course, I was confused. However, for his benefit, I did offer to place photos from the Magic Circle catalog on this site so he could see for himself. Perhaps confronting delusion is a step toward overcoming it. Amongst my paranoid detractors I've found the failure to directly address obvious and straight-forward questions or unpleasant facts simply uncanny. Perhaps, putting these things out-in-the-open can help a few of them move toward breaking free of the dysfunctional, insulated, feed-back loop of conspiracist lunacy they are in. Perhaps even just one of them will find it a revelation: "By God... the tin-foil hat crowd is us!"
Before getting excited about these fashionable items, please note that some MIT fellows did a study upon the efficacy of the tin-foil hat and came to some unfavorable conclusions:
Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.
Even with this in mind, I will refrain from speculating upon any government relationships or covert involvement with S.M.A.R.T...