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Tea’s Weird Week: Watch Out for the Phrase “Do Your Own Research”

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Let me tell you a little bit about Young Krulos– when I was 18, I graduated high school, then I moved out of mom and dad’s. I moved to Milwaukee’s east side into a house full of roommates, got a string of jobs like washing dishes, telemarketing, and cashiering. I lived a carefree life. I didn’t have much money or even wanted much… I dined on Ramen noodle packs, and frozen pizzas. Not having much money, I spent many days hanging out at the East and Central libraries. I would spend hours browsing and reading books, magazines, CDs, and videos.

A lot of times I’d be on some random kick– I’d be reading all the books I could find about comic book history or UFO case studies or famous gangsters of the 1920s…whatever struck my interest. I guess you could say I was “doing my own research,” so I understand the appeal.

“Do your own research.” That’s a phrase I ran into a lot while working on my book American Madness, which is about conspiracy theory culture, and it’s a term I’ve heard many times in the last few months. It kind of makes my eyes roll and my skin crawl when I hear it now.

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Over the course of working on American Madness, I was told I should “research”  9/11 and vaccines and flat earth theory and other stuff I’ll just let you read about in the book.

I have mixed feelings about conspiracy theory, depending on the topic. Some of it, like UFO cases and the JFK assassination, I find to be really interesting. Stuff like the moon landing hoax or Jimi Hendrix faking his death and becoming Morgan Freeman, are just goofy and amusing. Theories like the Sandy Hook shooting being fake are pretty disgusting. There’s a fine line that’s hard to navigate sometimes.

I think my irritation with “do your own research” was already there, but blew up with all the COVID-19 theories from an internet army of people who were suddenly “researchers.” Someone on Facebook told me I was dumb for believing the pandemic was a real threat. This person had “researched,” they said, and their findings was that the “plandemic” was fake.

Really? Did you? Did you do this research in a lab? Did you have it published in a peer-reviewed journal? Or did you just watch something floating around YouTube?

Ok, let me take a breath here. I’m not saying you need a PhD to educate yourself. We should all strive to be better informed. Media literacy is more important than ever.

Fake news is a real problem in 2020. Conspiracy sites, foreign interests (like Russia), bots, data mining, deep fakes, far right sites–some that have deceptive, Orwellian names ( justthenews.com, for example is definitely not “just the news”) have formed a tidal wave of misinformation. Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of people want media literacy. They’d rather follow their “hunch,” like Trump does, and find faulty resources that support their idea that the world is flat, or that vaccines cause autism, or that Democrats have imprisoned “mole children” under Central Park.

Here’s some things we should ask ourselves when searching for information:

  • What source is this and is it credible? Is it “fake news”–not the type that Trump yammers on about because they report information that hurts his ego, but heavily skewed, conspiracy peddling, Photoshop fear-mongering sites like Breitbart News, InfoWars, FOX, OANN, etc.?
  • Who authored it and when was it written? I periodically see people mourning the recent loss of Gene Wilder on Facebook– but he died in 2016.
  • What sources are provided for the article you’re reading or the video you’re watching? Some outlets use an echo chamber– they might use articles on their own site or other similar bad sources for information.
  • Is this source heavily biased, an opinion piece, or a satire site? It’s hard to tell these days if we’re looking at the New York Times or The Onion.
  • Am I looking for the truth, or am I just looking to have my opinion validated? Research follows facts, not emotion.
  • Appeal to authority is a misunderstood logical fallacy. It says that a claim isn’t necessarily true just because an expert says it is without other evidence. It doesn’t mean all authority figures are wrong, it just means that they aren’t always right. Appeal to false authority is using evidence from someone who claims they are an authority on a subject when they are not.
  • Who pays for the site the source comes from? Are they owned by a non-profit, or a special interest group? Those are things to consider. Do they fund their site by selling scam products (ahem, Alex Jones)? Are they really owned by George Soros, or is that something you saw someone say on Reddit?

Doing your own research can be a fun and rewarding thing, a way to understand life better. Just be careful where you get your information from.

Freelance Dept.: I interviewed members of Antifa for local paper the Shepherd Express this week: https://shepherdexpress.com/news/features/what-is-antifa/

My upcoming book American Madness features a journey through conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE Amazon:CLICK HEREIt’s on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52486773-american-madness

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“Tea Krulos has forged a fascinating collection of work by immersing himself in various sub-cultures that exist on the fringes of society.” —Cult of Weird

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness by Tea Krulos from Feral House on Vimeo.

Tea’s Weird Week: The Top 7 Flattest of the Flat Earth Hip Hop Songs

TeaWeirdWeek

An Examination of One of Music’s Strangest Sub-genres, Plus the #TrumpConspiracyCounter Hits 063

In past “Tea’s Weird Week” columns, I explored conspiracy theories and urban legends about musicians, everyone from The Beatles to Tupac Shakur to Kurt Cobain to Ace of Base. You can read part one HERE and part two HERE.

But what about music by the conspiracy theorists, for the conspiracy theorists? Although there’s examples of  JFK Assassination Folk and Extraterrestrial themed pop-punk out there, no conspiracy topic has as well-rounded (sorry) of a musical output as Flat Earth Theory, as I discovered when I attended the Flat Earth International Conference in Dallas this last November. Flat Earthers create music in a variety of genres, but the bulk is hip hop, or as I like to call it, “flat hop.” You might be as surprised as I was to learn that there is more than one flat hop artist, and more than a dozen around the world (sorry)… but probably not much more than a dozen.

Bust out a big piece of cardboard, Globeheads, find a flat surface (again, sorry) and get ready to start break-dancing because here is…

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7. “Get Over It,” Mr. Matty Moses

Choice rhyme: “You’re digger deeper and you don’t know what to believe/ you’re getting pissed off that you’ve been duped and deceived/who do you blame NASA? The elites? (both of ’em)/ a lot of darker voices hiding our reality that…the earth’s flat, flat flat get over it.”
Notes: Mr. Matty Moses isn’t having it and wants you to get over the globe lies. To prove he’s tough on this, he’s rapping atop a pile of pallets behind a factory and other urban environments.  Bonus point for working in a diss on Greek philosopher Pythagoras (credited with being one of the first to realize the world is round) into the rap.

6. “The World is Flat,” B.A.G.D.A.G. featuring D. Marble

Choice rhyme: “I’m on a mission to go out and wake the masses/ Like this is They Live, and I’m handing out glasses/ Like ‘put these on quick and you can see how fake space is’/ Like I was sent here to tear down the Matrix.”
Notes: These guys are super stoked about their personalized flat earth sweatshirts. Which came first– the song or the sweatshirts? I’m betting sweatshirts. They Live and The Matrix are frequently referenced in Flat Earther culture (and conspiracy believers in general).

5. “Round and Curvy,” Friend of Yahweh

Choice rhyme: “I want to flow with the planets/ but oh well I can’t get past the firmament/ Just too round and curvy/ think I’m just too round and curvy/ I’m just too NASA nerdy.”
Notes: Wow-weeeee, I’m speechless. This is a (sometimes shot-for-shot) parody of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “White and Nerdy” video (which is a parody of “Ridin'” by Chamillionaire). This parody of parody is told from the perspective of a complete tool who believes in, you know,  science, and features alien marionettes and a rapping “round and curvy” earth. Does the world– round or flat– need a “Flat Earth Weird Al” Yankovic? The answer is NO.

4. “It’s Flat!,” Curved Water

Choice rhyme: “It’s flat/ and now it feels so good to me/ I’m waking every day with this smile/ full of positivity/ waited all my life just to think for myself/ just a little bit more critically.”
Notes: I don’t know that this technically counts as hip hop, but I had to include it because of the damn hot flat earth passion! Most flat hop is about dissing NASA, mainstream science, the Illuminati, etc., but this song is about the pure ecstasy of discovering that the world is flat. It’s a flat earth song to make sweet love to.

3.  “Dear NASA, Why Are you Lying?,” ODD TV
Choice rhyme: “NASA’s missions to the moon were never completed/ they just filmed them in a room and people believed it/ I used to wonder what it’s like to be an astronaut/ now when I seem em acting I can’t help but laugh a lot.”
Notes:  ODD TV is one of the grandmasters of flat hop, no doubt. Check out my note about the playlist I made at the end of this article for more ODD tracks like “Cartoon Ball.” I chose this one for the sick Chili Peppers sample and the overall Flat Earth mood.

2. “Flatliner,” B.o.B.

Choice rhyme: “Woo!/ Use Use your common sense/ why is NASA part of the Department of Defense?/ they divided up the seas into 33 degrees/ feeding kids masonry bruh, be careful what you read.”
Notes: This is a Neil Degrasse Tyson diss track! After B.o.B. talked about the world being flat in an interview, it sparked a beef between the rapper and the astrophysicist. B.o.B. recorded this diss track and Tyson appeared on Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore to literally drop a mic to demonstrate gravity. Guys, slow down! Remember what happened to Tupac and Biggie!

1.  “Flat Smackin’ (The All-Star Remix),” Wes Blaze Muzik featuring Amber Paster, Sebastian Calico, ODD TV, DECM, Flat Earth Man, The Watcher, D, Marble, and B.A.G.D.A.G.

Choice rhyme: “Eat. Sleep. Debunk the globe, repeat.”
Notes: I have some sentimental value to this song because I saw it performed live at the Flat Earth International Conference last year and it was my awakening to the fact that flat hop was a thing. Just a couple great things about this track: 1.) “Flat smacking” is a Flat Earther term that refers to dropping knowledge on unsuspecting “globeheads” that the world is flat. 2.) Flat Earth Man is the biggest Flat Earther music star, a British dude that sings country songs about flat earth. He joins in the all-star rap here in the greatest country/ hip hop crossover since “Old Town Road.”

Please Clap Dept.: I’ve just created an American Madness Channel on YouTube, please subscribe. I haven’t uploaded any of my own videos yet. So far I got 4 playlists rolling: Flat Hop, which features all the songs on this list (plus several more), playlists with videos on the Bohemian Grove and Denver Airport Conspiracy, and a Tea Krulos Interviews list which has a few of my appearances on various podcasts. More playlists to follow soon.  Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoFCwzjjghaVXSWUwEZx27g/playlists

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My upcoming book American Madness features my experience at a flat earth conference, among many other conspiracy encounters. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: CLICK HERE

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#Trumpconspiracycounter2020 (4)Flat Earth hip hop, Reptilian aliens, and Kevin Spacey murder theories all just seems like stupid crazy stuff. But conspiracy can be dangerous, especially as it is being weaponized for the 2020 elections. The contents of this week’s #TrumpConspiracyCounter is alarming stuff.

57.) January 30: Trump retweets The Epoch Times. The newspaper (and related media) was founded by a Chinese cult called the Falun Gong, who believes a judgment day is nigh and that “Trump was sent by heaven to destroy Communism.” The newspaper is saturated in conspiracy theories, including promoting QAnon and Anti-vaxxers. In December 2019, Facebook took down 600 accounts tied to The Epoch Times that had created fake, A.I. generated user profilers and spent $9.5 million on pro-Trump ads. Source: “Facebook say a pro-Trump media outlet used artificial intelligence to create fake people and push conspiracies,” NBC News.

58.) January 30:  Retweets DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, who is running against Trump enemy Nancy Pelosi and is a regular on InfoWars. Tesoriero is one of 12 QAnon believers running for Congress. Source:“GOP’s ‘QAnon Conspiracy Followers Running for Congress,” The National Memo.

59.) January 30: Trump retweets Dawn Michael, a sex counselor and member of QAnon. For more on Michael and Tesoriero, read:
“Trump Retweets InfoWars Regular And QAnon-Supporting Sex Coach During Impeachment Trial,” Newsweek.

60.) January 30: It’s hard to make the distinction of what to list as conspiracy and what is just wacky Trump bloviating, but we’re going to count this Trump statement at an Iowa rally: “The Green New Deal, which would crush our farms, destroy our wonderful cows. They want to kill our cows. You know why, right? You know why? Don’t say it. They want to kill our cows. That means you’re next.” The Democrats Want to Kill Your Cows and Then You Theory.

61.) February 4: Honorary Counter Click for Rush Limbaugh. Trump’s State of the Union speech contained a lot of lies but was light on conspiracy. That’s not surprising as in situations like this we get “Teleprompter Trump.” But one shocking moment was when he awarded Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom…during the speech. First Lady Melania hung the medal on him as Trump commended his long time friend, who recently announced he is on his way out with stage 4 lung cancer.

Limbaugh is the original Alt-Right. He paved the way for every angry, obnoxious, far-right blowhard that followed– Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, and the FOX News personalities, just to name a few. He has a long legacy of disgusting racist, sexist  comments and, of course, promotions of conspiracy theories. To mention just a few of his greatest hits: Birtherism, the Clinton Body Count, the theory that the 2018 New Zealand mosque mass shooting was a “false flag” to smear conservatives, that Hurricane Irma was a liberal hoax, and that mail bombs sent to Democrat targets were being sent by the Democrats themselves.

62.-63.) February 5: Retweets of Michael Lebron aka Lionel, radio and YouTube personality and promoter of QAnon and other conspiracies. See “Trump meets with promoter of ‘QAnon’ in White House,The Hill.

Well, here we are. Just over a month into 2020 and Trump has already promoted conspiracy theorists and ideas over 60 times. Rush Limbaugh has won a medal that is supposed to go to Americans who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” These are dark times.

Follow #TrumpConspiracyCounter on Twitter: twitter.com/TrumpConspirac3

Tea’s Weird Week: Dallas, Part 1: Live from the Flat Earth International Conference

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OR… STOP THE FLAT EARTH, I WANT TO GET OFF

November is Conspiracy Month at Tea’s Weird Week. Reporting live from Dallas…

Well, as I mentioned on Facebook, here in Dallas is probably where my story jumps the shark or falls off the edge of reality. The edge of the Flat Earth, that is. Yes, this “globehead” (which is what suckers like me who believe the world is a sphere are called) went undercover to hang out at the Flat Earth International Conference the last two days here in a suburb called Frisco in a hotel conference center.

You’ll be able to read more about the experience in my upcoming book, American Madness (Feral House, August 2020) but for now, here are some random notes, observations, and a couple photos.
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  • First of all, yes, these people really do believe the earth is flat. Or at least they think that they think they do. I think it’s more cult-like, a group of people looking for a place to belong.
  • Some demographics: my estimate was 300-500 attendees. Mostly white, but not exclusively. Wide age range and I would say more men than women, but not by much. Some observations from my note pad, people that looked like “eccentric professors” “kind of punk rock” “family: man with beard, woman in prairie dress, 3 kids–Amish? Mormon?” “bros with backward baseball caps” “Latino bodybuilder with Flat Earth tank top” “sunburnt bald guy with Snidley Whiplash mustache.” But a lot of people looked like regular everyday people you might see in line at the grocery store.
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  • Enemies of Flat Earthers, called out repeatedly during the conference: NASA (“masonic and Satanic,” as one speaker said), Neil Degrasse-Tyson, Bill Nye, MythBusters (all guilty of ridiculing flat earth), Albert Einstein, Elon Musk, and mainstream media. They did seem to admire Nikola Tesla.
  • There were about a dozen young kids in attendance. I did make me really sad to think of these kids growing up being told that space and space exploration and science in general is FAKE. Science is very cool, kids.
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  • I recommend the Netflix doc on FLat Earthers.  Behind the Curve. Most of the people in that doc were here, including main subject Mark Sargent.
  • There are religious flat earthers, who believe the Bible provides clues that the earth is flat. Then there are flat earthers who have pieced together some pseudo-science experiments, like bring a carpenter’s level onto an airplane or shining a laser across a flat area to prove there’s no curvature.
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  • One moment I kept thinking about– during a break I went across the street to get a slice of pizza from 7-11. I sat on a bench outside to scarf it down. A guy came walking up and gave a little wave. “Hey, fellow Flat Earther,” he said. “Hey man!” I replied. He looked like he wanted to say something more, but he shyly turned away. I saw him around the conference, sitting by himself. He seemed awkward, lonely, in need of a friend. He probably fell down a YouTube hole (that’s how many Flat Earthers are converted) and ended up here.
  • The most popular flat earth pseudoscience podcast is GLOBEBUSTERS (their experiments were featured in the Behind the Curve documentary). I got to see a recording of the podcast including a live performance of the Globebusters theme song! It’s not quite a parody of the Ghostbusters song, but kind of an odd remix and it’s been stuck in my damn head all day.

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    That’s a giant level on top of the car.

  • Speaking of music, Flat Earthers have a rich output of music geared toward them, which makes them unique in conspiracy culture (where is the anti-vaxx or Reptilian themed songs?) Flat Earth Man sings country tunes on flat earth related topics. He sadly didn’t perform live this year, but he popped up in no less than four Flat Earth Video Awards nominees and I bought a signed copy of his CD.There also is a flat earth hip hop genre, there were a couple of live performances of booty shakin’ hits like “Lean Flat.” I think I’ll be writing a column or article on flat earth hip hop someday soon.Also performing were a couple of vocalists I’d describe as…pop? Soul? Imagine Mariah Carey singing about how NASA lies and believing your own eyes about not seeing a curvature on the earth.
  • I was excited to see a “Flat Earth Game Show” but it turned out to be a scene they’re shooting in a movie about Flat Earth…but the cast were all Flat Earthers (Mark Sargent was the host).
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  • When I saw a comedy show listed, I had high hopes it would be like an open mic where Flat Earthers roasted globeheads or made Seinfeld like observations about day-to-day life on flat earth. I did get to see a bit of this at the awards show, but the main comedy event was Alt-Right comedian Owen Benjamin who has been shunned by mainstream comedy and has found refuge here in the fringe. His set bashed gay and transgendered people, he ranted a defense about being able to use the N-bomb in a comedy bit, blah blah– complete shit. Bad form, Flat Earthers.
  • I watched about six talks, including “NASA: Going Nowhere Since 1958” and “Coming Out of the Flat Earth Closet: A Call to Activism.” In between, I checked out the vendor floor, spread down the conference hallway. It included flat earth models, clocks, posters, self-published books, DVDs, clothes, jewelry, and busts of Nikola Tesla.
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  • I was really excited to see the “Flat Earth Mega Panel” and submitted questions to it, but because the other speakers were longwinded, it was canceled. Flat Earthers not only don’t use globes, they also don’t like to use watches, apparently.
  • The conference ended with the Flat Earth Video Awards, aka the “Flattys.” It featured live music performances, and included awards to “Best Flat Earth Awakening Video,” “Best Flat Earth Proof Experiment” and “Best Flat Smacking.””Flat smacking” is when you drop the truth bomb that the world is flat on a poor, unsuspecting globehead, you see.  Now you know! The conference was a very interesting experiment, and I’m excited to write on it in more detail for American Madness. Time for me to get to work, my friends–  as the Flate Earthers like to say– keep it flat!IMG_5564

     

    Next week: My conspiracy journey continues here in Dallas. Will things get even weirder? I don’t think that’s possible. Will they remain reasonably weird? Yeah. 

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