Let's try this again. I am a former conspiracy theorist who was featured on the show Penn & Teller: Bullshit! YES, I am the guy who repeated a comedy bit written by the great Bill Hicks from his album Rant in E-Minor. We honestly expected that the someone would catch on to the fact, and not use the footage since it was so well known. Evidently, they did not catch on, or care, and included the bit in the episode. In that way one could say that in their attempt to disprove conspiracy theories, they fell victim to a conspiracy between myself and Clyde Lewis. This pissed a lot of people off, since they thought I was "stealing" the joke. As if a child could steal the Mona Lisa by making a poor copy...

Link to the episode Thanks u/Andre11x

O.K. reddit, let's do this, Ask Me Anything!

Edit: O.K. reddit that's 8 hours of mostly nonstop politeness out of all except 2 of you. It almost makes me wish I had not used a throwaway for this. Thank you for the questions, and let us never speak of this again. RAMPART!!!

My Proof: Here you go.

Edit 2: Came back after dinner to answer a few more questions. I will be checking in over the weekend to respond to any stragglers.

P.S. when The Illuminati take me out, please make sure my tombstone reads, "You will never give yourself a better life than you are convinced you deserve." Thanks, theberetdude

Comments: 1978 • Responses: 55  • Date: 

dracapis1789 karma

What did lead you to stop being a conspiracy theorist?

theberetdude7817 karma

Gaining more power over my life financially was the starting point. I had been seeing a therapist, and at the end he told me "I think you are ready for my final question. Don't you think it's time for you to pull your shit together?" He was right, I did. I got an entry level job, worked hard, and as my paycheck grew, I became less of a victim. Eventually I realized that nobody was responsible for my place in the world but me.

NuclearShadow845 karma

But what if you becoming financially stable was part of their plan and they knew if you lived a more secure lifestyle you wouldn't have the time nor zeal to spread the truth?

I'm kidding of course, welcome to sanity.

theberetdude1123 karma

I'm cool with that. Being poor sucks.

Niarbeht254 karma

Yes! Our evil plan is complete! He has financial stability, so he'll never look behind the curtain again! Ah-hahahahaha!

No, but seriously, if the goal of the evil shadowmasters is to make sure everyone's living a financially stable, free life, are they really evil shadowmasters?

theberetdude22 karma

No shit!

Graple140 karma

Do you have any advice for people who are financially stable but still sometimes fall prey to conspiracy theories? I am financially very comfortable but I ended up getting really into the 9/11 conspiracies for years before snapping out of it. It’s something I would really like to avoid in the future but I catch myself buying into little nuggets of bullshit all the time.

theberetdude430 karma

One of the things that helped me was to get really into science. I would suggest books like A short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson and the Infinite Monkey Cage podcast. If you are going to go down a rabbit hole, it might as well be worth the trip. Evidence is our friend.

trevize113810 karma

I had been seeing a therapist

Interesting. Do you believe most conspiracy theorists have similar mental health issues?

theberetdude68 karma

I am probably not the only one.

schudermcgavin6 karma

Can I ask, what does conspiracy theory have to do with being a victim? If you think the frogs made you gay, I can understand, but if you think 9/11 happened, you're a conspiracy theorist. Alex Jones has made conspiracy theorist synonymous with nutjob, but that's not the case whatsoever.

Edit: are people downvoting because they like Alex Jones or because they think I said 9/11 was an inside job? Either way, you're dumb.

theberetdude29 karma

We were all victims in one way or another on September 11th 2001. It made us feel vulnerable, and want an explanation. Some people think that by accepting the Official explanation you are setting yourself up for the next 9/11.

schudermcgavin4 karma

Absolutely, I agree with that. But my question is more like, what exactly are you denouncing in terms of conspiracy theory? Do you draw a line somewhere, or is all conspiracy theory considered taboo to you? How do you draw that line? Or why avoid that line altogether?

theberetdude22 karma

For me, these theories are a waste of time. That is time I could have spent playing catch with my kid, or reading something worthwhile in the end, for me, they end up being a circlejerk much like reading Alister Crowley.

inkuspinkus-7 karma

So, once financially stable, the fact that we are being controlled by evil entities becomes less of an issue. Cool.

theberetdude5 karma

You sound just like the Christians, "Looks like Satan paid you off." I am good with that.

Turd---Burglar1524 karma

Did you watch the show before accepting the offer to be on it? Sometimes I think many of their guests haven't really seen the show, and they are in for a bit of a surprise when they sit down with their families to see the debut

theberetdude1541 karma

I had never seen the show, I figured since it was P&T, it would likely be entertainment. I agree, most people they put on have no clue that they are cannon fodder.

DaTerrOn656 karma

This answer confuses me. Penn said specifically that prospective* interviewees knew the shows opinion and even were given DVDs to know the type of show they were going to be on.

He said they don't do that "Michael Moore shit", so was he lying? Misled?

theberetdude1139 karma

I received literally nothing from anyone associated with P&T:B.S.

Stoopiddogface481 karma

You say former conspiracy theorist. How deep did you go? Alex Jones, Jim Maars or full on David Icke?

Are there any "conspiracys" that you still think might be real?

theberetdude447 karma

I have 2 words for you my friend; Milli Vanilli

NiceSetupYeahNice436 karma

So you are no longer a conspiracy theorist? If so what were your theories and how did you debunk them to yourself?

theberetdude633 karma

I have no theories, in the end I got to a place where I need real, scientific proof, then I am willing to accept something as possible.

Ourpatiencehaslimits204 karma

You're not willing to accept something as "possible" without scientific proof?

theberetdude461 karma

That which is possible is not true, it is not even probable.

It is possible that there is gold buried in my back yard, but I am not about to grab a shovel and go looking.

SkydivingCats-6 karma

I am always a little pissed at people calling themselves conspiracy "theorists". Theory implies you have followed the scientific method at least... It gives a pseudo legitimate title to people who are better called "conspiracy believers". Not knocking you or trying to ruin your day. Glad you've come out of it. Most don't. Good luck!

theberetdude41 karma

O.K. fine, I was a Conspiracy Hypothesist.

theberetdude368 karma

BTW, Thanks to u/papercup617 for the initial request

In response to your questions,

  • 1. What were you on the show for?
  • 2. How did you feel about the way you were portrayed on the show?
  • 3. Did their arguments change your mind?
  • 4. Did you actually meet Penn and/or Teller?
  • 5. Do people ever recognize you, or did it have an effect on your life/business/job/etc.?
  • 6. Were there other episodes or concepts featured on the show that surprised you or made you change your mind about something?
    1. If you met Teller, what does he sound like?
    1. They asked us to come up with our favorite Conspiracy Theories.
    1. I don't really have any feelings about how "I" was portrayed on the show. By my own choice I was playing a character, although, they implied that I had been drinking, which was funny since I have not touched a drink since 12/3/2004.
    1. Some of the expert opinion helped to change my mind on the subject, but for me understanding that being in a position of low power, financially, and socially, made me vulnerable to believing outlandish things. Once I started taking care of those issues, I started to no longer believe in anything that required belief.
    1. Penn and Teller did not come out with the production crew, so no.
    1. A couple of people recognized me from the episode, and were really cool about it. People really tore me up online about the Bill Hicks thing. As for my work/business life, no impact. Once in a while people do ask, "Hey, don't I know you from somewhere?" If I think it is from B.S. I just ask them if they watch porn? Then I tell them my screen name is Buck Naked. Thanks Costanza!
    1. I was surprised with the lack of understanding that they put in to the 12 Step Episode. As an atheist who has been sober for a while, with the help of a 12 step program, I thought they really phoned it in on that one.
    1. I have no idea.

I suck at formatting, sorry.

QuinZ33153 karma

Oh god, that's both an ordered and unordered list with 6 items, followed by 8 lists (again, both ordered and unordered) with 1 item each.

theberetdude59 karma

Yep, I suck.

enderandrew42293 karma

Don't people realize that being included on that show generally means you will be mocked on national television. Given that, why sign a release to be on the show?

theberetdude589 karma

Because, GONNA BE ON T.V. !!! Yeah, I was really that stupid.

SpookyNinjas15 karma

Not really stupidity, it's kinda human nature for some reason. People are stupid. Personally, I have no desire to be on TV and could never see myself running towards the camera, more likely running away most of the time. That said, for some reason that level of exposure really seduces a lot of people and they do far more than you did to get a piece of it.

theberetdude19 karma

At least I didn't have to eat worms

dilfofdoom288 karma

Do you think the new tariffs on aluminum foil will make tin foils hats more expensive?

theberetdude745 karma

What self respecting conspiracy theorist would be caught without a stockpile?

Deerman22173 karma

Out of all the conspiracy theories out there, which one stayed with you the most?

theberetdude336 karma

The Satanic Panic of the 80s really sticks with me because of the innocent people who got fucked over by it, including The West Memphis 3

danny0wnz170 karma

Is this entire AMA a conspiracy to discredit and portray “conspiracy theorists” as individuals of lower socio-economic status or being in poor financial and/or social environments and situations...?

theberetdude104 karma

No, I speak for myself from my own experience. YMMV

seanpeery89 karma

That is exactly what you would say if you were etc etc..

Got Em.

theberetdude128 karma

You bastards, you rotten

rat shit


Mlucci4036112 karma

What would you said is the best way to have a reasonable discussion with a conspiracy theorist? Or, how do you reason with an individual unwilling to accept certain facts?

theberetdude345 karma

Sadly, I have not found a way to bring someone back from the edge. "you can't logic someone out of a position that they didn't logic themselves into." In more poetic words, "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still."

nonuniqueusername100 karma

Can jet fuel melt steel beams?

theberetdude172 karma

Can jet fuel melt steel beams?

I don't know. I have never tried.

Quesamo75 karma

We all know you were behind 9/11

theberetdude274 karma

Yeah, I was about 2,894 miles behind it.

marthmagic83 karma

What do you think was your underlying reason for turning towards conspiracies?

I study irrationality and emotional needs (and ability for pattern recognition) appear to be significant aspects.

Thank you.

theberetdude159 karma

Copypasta from above

For me it was a sense of powerlessness. I really did not like living in a world where a small number of people could cause great upheaval. For me, there had to be more powerful people pulling the strings. Hell, If 1 person could have a big impact on the world like Oswald did, what the fuck was my excuse for not doing good on the same scale?

bagmanbagman76 karma

What do you think drives conspiracy theorists to blindly follow/believe so strongly?

theberetdude193 karma

For me it was a sense of powerlessness. I really did not like living in a world where a small number of people could cause great upheaval. For me, there had to be more powerful people pulling the strings. Hell, If 1 person could have a big impact on the world like Oswald did, what the fuck was my excuse for not doing good on the same scale?

Aristox44 karma

This is a really interesting insight, thanks. Do you think this is a common trait among conspiracy theorists generally?

theberetdude86 karma

They are all creative thinkers if nothing more.

dostick53 karma

Are you not going to tell us which comedy bit you repeated on the show? And which episode it was?

theberetdude72 karma

Here is the real masterpiece

justinlindh30 karma

Still vague. So, you don't believe the official story of the JFK assassination, then?

At least as far as conspiracy theories go, this one is fairly benign. A lot of information on the assassination continues to be withheld/redacted from being released, right? I believe that the story we've been told is probably mostly true, but if I had to choose one thing to be conspiratorial about, the JFK assassination would probably be it.

Edit: "11/22/63" by Stephen King actually has some really great insight on this. King had spent a lot of time trying to study the whole thing, and concluded that the version we've been told by the government was most credible, but admits that there's still the chance that we're missing details. King goes into good detail about it in a foreword in his book and I agree with everything he'd said.

theberetdude56 karma

I believe that JFK was shot in Dallas but the details have been so muddled that it is impossible to say who was responsible beyond Oswald

Africanus199053 karma

Did you do this because of the recent ama request for someone featured on penn and teller bullshit?

theberetdude93 karma

Yeah, and I have been wanting to do an AMA for a while now.

NightKniqht28 karma

Did your conspiracy theories revolve around a particular subject or were they all over the place, with you having theories for multiple events? Is there structure with being one basically?

theberetdude80 karma

I would have to say that it is a random pattern, mostly because it is true, but also the phrase "random pattern" drives my daughter up the wall.

Zap_Powerz19 karma

Do you believe in ANY conspiracies that have been confirmed by the government or do you now reject those as well?

Im talking about Operation Paperclip, Operation MK Ultra, Operation Mockingbird. Things the CIA has admitted to doing.

theberetdude18 karma

I accept that many governments do things behind the backs of their people. I would be surprised if they didn't

pjx113 karma

What genere of conspiracy theories were you interested in?

There are so many. Were you mad that x-files basically took all the early conspiracy theories and made a show about them?

How do you feel about 9-11?

theberetdude30 karma

All genera I guess, I can't say that I was mad about the X-Files, I really enjoyed some episodes.

September 11th 2001 was a conspiracy between 19 evil people who decided to do it because they "believed" something stupid.

skaag9 karma

My brother is a conspiracy nut. He believed those plastic boxes were FEMA coffins. He believes in chemtrails to condition the population and make us all more compliant and reliant on government. The list of stuff he believes in is astounding. I used to be amused by it, but now that he's a husband and father, I'm somewhat worried...

He is financially stable, works with people, travels a lot, so he sees the world around him, and yet he is still a conspiracy nut. How do I help him?!

theberetdude8 karma

Never let him near an A.M./F.M. radio. He might be looking for something to assert him brain to. As I said earlier, for me, science was key. I started reading about the scientific method, and the history of science, and it gave me an outlet A Short History of Nearly Everything was the book that got me started. Good luck.

numbers179 karma

Now that you are a former conspiracy theorist what are your thoughts that more and more conspiracy theories are becoming mainstream?

theberetdude31 karma

They were always there, we are seeing them because the light is on them.

mightymos3069 karma

I have a notion that conspiracy theories and the like are fueled by something more fundamental - lying. I think you've mentioned that you only accept ideas now based on evidence. Were there lies or patterns you experienced that were particularly effective (if ultimately untrue)? What strategies do you use now that help you spot lies (perhaps masquerading as evidence)?

theberetdude33 karma

There is a bit of a leap of logic required to believe in a Conspiracy Theory. Once the leap has been made, the B.S. can grow beyond anything you could have imagined. I find that Occam's Chainsaw really helps when dealing with this. Cut away everything I "think" and Feel. Feelings are not facts. Then I am at good starting point. If I find myself at a dead end, then I have either found what probably happened, or I need to start over. It is not easy, but it should be simple.

lovestowritecode6 karma

Why are you a "former" conspiracy theorist?

theberetdude33 karma

I no longer "believe" in things. I need proof.

LeftLegCemetary6 karma

If the Earth isn't flat, what's it's cup size?

theberetdude16 karma

Flat like a basketball, or maybe round like a pizza

walkingupstream6 karma

Are you throwing the baby out with the bathwater? 'Cause that's what they want you to think. 😼

theberetdude14 karma

The baby is dead.

baayahoo6 karma

Or there never was a baby.

theberetdude9 karma

Oh, there was a baby, and it was delicious

billyhorton3 karma

Did you vote for Trump and if so how much do you now regret it?

theberetdude42 karma

I did not, I literally burned my republican membership card when they nominated him.

Aussie-Nerd3 karma

What do you think makes conspiracy theories like flat earth so popular whilst being so patently wrong?

Do you think there's something we're missing? Education? Mental health?

theberetdude22 karma

I have to admit, I think most of the Flat Earthers are just fucking with people for the fun of it. Yeah I think we have been missing out on mental health since the 80s. Thanks Reagan!

EmptyWentz2 karma

When did you decide to play this real-life role Billy Bob Thornton? And what was it like to work with the legendary Bruce Willis in Armageddon?

theberetdude4 karma

First question, Last Tuesday.

Second question, Not as good as being Angelina's boyfriend. Damn, I miss that girl!

Izz20111 karma

Given how many "conspiracy theories" are later proven to be true, don't you think it's a little ridiculous to tell people you "got better" and stop believing things beyond the the accepted narrative?

theberetdude12 karma

I will believe when I see proof. I speak only for myself. I am sharing my experience. I am not here telling anyone else what they should do.

dartandabeer0 karma

Opinion on trump?

theberetdude4 karma

America has the best democracy money can buy. Trump is a self-seeking fool who is in over his head.

bluemojoman-9 karma

Was the transition from conspiracy theorist to full blown neckbeard difficult? Or did it take lots of work and dedication?

theberetdude10 karma

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