There is a whole genre of exposé literature that follows this formula: “I am an ex-[whatever] and I am going to reveal the shocking inside secrets.” Ex-Communist. Ex-Mormon. Ex-Satanist. Ex-Janitor at Area 51. Ex-Catholic priest (Charles Chiniquy, Fifty Years in the Church of Rome, 1885). Ex Guy-who-sprayed-chemtrails-from-my-jet.
Ex-Jesuit (Jack Chick’s man, “Alberto,” made a whole career with that claim). Ex-nun (Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, or, The Hidden Secrets of a Nun’s Life in a Convent Exposed, 1836). Ex-physicist working for CERN. Ex-Area 51, supposedly, “physicist” (Bob Lazar). Ex-CIA operative. Ex-NASA scientist. Fake ex-Muslim terrorists (Zak Anani, Kamal Saleem, and Walid Shoebat). Ex-Freemason. In 2011 the internet was abuzz with “I was in the Illuminati: I’m Going to Tell you Everything, Shocking Expose.” The “expose” was less shocking than indecipherable.
To be fair, sometimes these revelations are legitimate: there are plenty of ex-Scientologists who seem to tell a consistent tale of what they saw on the inside. Some Jehovah’s Witnesses, KKK members, the same. There is a documentary I saw recently that argued that kids in a Christian “tough love” program were being physically and psychologically abused. And sometimes “unnamed sources” in high places leak information to the media.
There is a psychological side to this, which I explored here, that some people rewrite their history in order to erase the fact that they have lived very ordinary lives. I quote:
After the sinking of the Titanic, newspapers discovered a strange trend: there were individuals who were stepping up, claiming to be Titanic survivors, going so far as to tell details of which lifeboat they were in and what clothes they wore and how the ship looked when it went under the sea. But when investigated, many of them had not been on the ship, were nowhere near the sea at the time, and some had never crossed the ocean at all. Some of these fakers were looking for money and fame; but others seem to have been swept up in their own fantasies, creating a story about their survival that became part of their personality. In the same way, at least one person claimed to have escaped the WTC attack on 9-11 and that her beloved fiance had been killed when the other tower fell. She became a celebrity survivor – until it was discovered she was not in New York at the time, but in Spain. Her story is told in the fascinating documentary “The Woman Who Wasn’t There”.
I just flipped through a defense of Alberto Rivera, which was basically a rant against those who had any doubts in him, but also kept playing offthe notion, “What would he have possibly conceivably gained by lying?” I can see one huge gain, one which has been played out all along human history: he went from being a nobody, to being – in a limited but fanatical circle of followers – an international hero. Sad to say, that attracts some people, and given what we know about cognitive processes, it’s entirely possible that he came to believe in his own narrative. So sad.
So, how can we sift out the more glaring fakes from the legitimate “anonymous sources”?
One sign of a fake Whistle Blower is this type of narrative: their claims are on the one hand grandiose, uncovering some horrific plot that threatens all humanity; but on the other hand they insist on remaining anonymous, giving out that they are afraid of losing their job, or their reputation, or that they fear for their personal safety.
Now, if someone doesn’t want to give their real name when they reveal some mundane insider information, that’s probably understandable, as in, “An unnamed source close to the Oval Office says that the president is leaning to, etc.” But let’s think of those “former whatevers” who spill the beans that the human race is about to be destroyed; that the government is poisoning us; that reptiles are running the planet; that the antichrist currently resides at such-and-such address. Issues of life or death. Now, my questions are as follows: (1) What class of moral delinquent would shrink from risking their job (or even their life!) if it’s going to save billions from extermination or damnation? (2) And if the “informers” in question thereby prove themselves to be of such demonstrably low character, then why in the world should I trust in anything they tell me in the first place? Let alone unverifiable revelations.
Remind me never to hide from the Nazis in these guys’s cellars!
Here’s an example: on YouTube a “Secret Chemtrail Pilot Speaks” – on condition of anonymity of course! – and divulges that the US government is, or is about to (he is a bit vague on this) commit genocide against its own people. He states: “I risk everything for disclosing so much information, and you will find very few like me. Even my own flight crew, would have me arrested and court martialed, if they knew of this dialogue.” Arrested? Court-martialed? What’s the meaning of such undiluted cowardice, if such a person (if the pilot even exists) uses this to justify why he won’t take steps to prevent a Holocaust?! I certainly hope that I “will find very few like” him. Sorry, friend – either stand up for the human race and risk not getting that promotion; or else, step off and stop peddling what I must assume are your fictions!
“Former-whatevers” play to our confirmation bias: we will tend to accept what they say if it confirms what we already believe, but reject it if it runs contrary to our beliefs. That is why, if you read something that deeply resonates within you, that may be a sign that you should be more, not less, alert. So, before you take someone’s word for it when he says, for example, “Jehovah’s Witnesses secretly torture small animals as part of their worship – Ex-leader reveals all!” you might want to use your skeptic spectacles. The one above, the exposé that alleges abuse in a “tough love” youth camp, also brings out the confirmation bias: some are predisposed to think that “all teenagers complain they are being abused, therefore they are just complaining that they had to make their beds or something, and it’s probably a false story.” Others might say – and this is the direction in which my own confirmation bias nudges me – “I think that such authoritarian situations do breed abuse of power, so it’s probably true.”
Keep watching the skies! Or rather, keep ignoring the faked news!
 “Kidnapped for Christ” (2014) is a study of Escuela Caribe in the Dominican Republic. Here in Costa Rica, there was a scandal a few years ago about a similar tough-love programs, see http://www.ticotimes.net/2006/07/21/tough-love-camp-owner-faces-trial.
“I don’t believe it!” Thoughts on Truth and Social Media – Part III, from which this post was taken
‘”Beware the ‘exes’ – ex-Illuminati, ex-Jesuits, ex-Mormon, ex-and-so-on,” by Gary S. Shogren, Ph. D. in New Testament Exegesis, Professor at Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica