[Just because there will be someone out there in the depths of cyberspace who will stumble upon this page and take my arrangement of the Skeptics' Circle literally - this is my disclaimer. My tongue is very firmly planted in my cheek. Thank you.]
Imagine, if you will, a large boardroom. It is dimly lit. There is a large table in the middle of the room, and high-backed wooden chairs placed at several positions around the table. A small glass of unfluoridated water is ready at each chair around the table.
As you glance around the room, you see several symbols carved on the walls. Some you recognize. The masons symbol. The illuminati symbol. Others of the symbols are more arcane. Older.
This room, you see, is the boardroom of the Conspiracy Factory. Very few people get to see it. And a meeting is about to take place. This 70th Skeptics' Circle is a rough accounting of that meeting.
A group of men in black suits file into the room silently and all take their seats. None of them speak. They seem to be waiting for something...
Rather suddenly, at the head of the table, there is a flash of light and a buzzing noise. A fuzzy, 3 dimensional hologram appears of a hooded man. He looks faintly familiar.
"What is the first order of business?" he croaks, opening the meeting.
"Well, my lord," one of the men says, "HIV/AIDS."
He continues. "It seems that some of the rabble are starting to figure out that it doesn't exist. That it's just a fancy marketing scheme to prop up failing pharmaceutical companies."
"Put Bob Carroll on it." croaks the hologram. "Next issue."
"Well, sir," squeaks the youngest man at the table, "There seem to be some folks that have figured out that you can cure HIV and many other diseases using..." he fumbles with a flier in his hand, "and I quote:
[creating] a holistic mirror energy/information set to the disease using a special process [Peter Chappell] does not yet disclose."It could ruin us, my lord. Put all of pharma out of business"
"Ben Goldacre can handle that one. He's one of my best shills."
"But my lord, one detail. These issues are contradictory. They've cured HIV, but it doesn't exist. How is this possible?"
"SILENCE!" shouts the hologram. He makes a clutching motion with his fingers, and the young man collapses to the floor, clutching his own throat, unable to breathe. Everyone in the room quietly watches him as he dies.
"Next issue." the hologram croaks.
"Well sir," says another generic man, "While we're discussing our pharmaceutical enterprises, we've had our man Skeptico pushing to test alternative medicine to see if it works. He's even suggested
either all CAM treatments must always work, and there are no CAM treatments that don’t work, or CAM treatments are never pulled because CAM treatments are never tested to see if they do work."Of course, everyone here knows that all CAM treatments work all the time. But they compete too well with pharma, so we need to push the testing issue."
"Very good," croaks the hologram, "Good work. How are we doing with the coffee enemas?"
"Well sir." says another man, "As you know, last time we debated about allowing people to use coffee enemas. You know, they are pretty funny."
"But ultimately we agreed that they will compete too well with pharma. So they must be silenced. We put PalMD on that one."
The hologram chuckles and then pauses. "We may need to revisit this issue in the future. Keep me informed. How are we doing on the seal oil vendors?"
"Very well, sir. The folks over at Holford Watch having been doing good work discrediting the seal oil people. But, my lord, there has been considerable work on acupuncture. Another hit to our pharmaceutical companies' bottom line. "
"Yes. Put Orac on it. And someone tell him to stop being so respectful, and more insolent. I prefer the insolence, when dealing with these healers" the hologram continues, "We should really have a broader war on alternative medicine. Something to destroy it completely, so that we can rule the world with our pills and expensive diagnostic tests. Can someone put Steve Novella on that?"
"Yes, my lord." and a suited man scuttles out the door.
"Now, on another topic" says yet another suited man, "One of our former agents, Zoo Knudson, is letting out our secrets. He's told people about Skull Island, and he's publishing credible data about homeopathy. Indeed, he's even published about our plan to destabilize the oceans and kill all the fish!"
"Watch him carefully. At present, no one believes him, but if he starts to look like a credible source, eliminate him" croaks the hologram. "How are we doing on weakening peoples' belief in god, so that they can worship me?"
"Well, sir, we've taken three tacks on this problem. First, we have Greta Christina, discrediting sightings of dead religious figures, and Bronze Dog discrediting fundamentalists, using their own tactics."
"Very good." croaks the hologram. "And your other approaches?"
"Well, sir, we've gone pretty hard on promoting evilution." the suited man snickers, "And we've had several good agents pushing forward on that front. We've got Zeno, and Bing, arguing against the truth-telling Creationists".
"We also have Ben D, telling a true tale of Tyrannosaurs and lettuce. We'll have to do something about him. He's getting a little too close to the truth."
"He's gone too far. Eliminate him." croaks the hologram. "Now what about the children?"
"Oh, my lord, you'll be absolutely delighted. They did an excellent job of impressing their professors. We've actually recruited young kids to discredit the Creationists! It's brilliant!"
"Someone put ERV on the payroll. She's done well." croaks the hologram. "And the third approach?"
"Well, my lord, we figured we could kill two birds with one stone. We thought we could eliminate religion AND make some money for our, erm, evil enterprises. We're trying to sell softcore porn on military bases."
"Brilliant!" cackles the hologram. "Everyone knows that belief in god cannot exist when there is porn in the room!"
"Speaking of which, sir. One of our former employees, Jenny McCarthy, has been ratting us out. She's told Oprah the truth about how to heal children!"
"Bah, who would believe her? She's a former Playboy bunny. Forget her." croaks the hologram.
"Two more issues, my lord. First, sales of Splenda have been dropping. We need to do something about it. People have realized that it contains chlorine, which we all know is a
"Final issue my lord, until next time. What are we doing about the UFO we crashed in Peru?"
"Put Sam Wise on it. He'll get out our story."
With that, the hologram disappears. Without acknowledging each other, the men in suits get up and file out of the room, leaving behind the one dead agent.
Next time, they'll likely meet at Infophilia. But you never know, they could be meeting at Skull Island right now...