I am Neuroscience PhD, a humanist, skeptic, feminist, avid reader, science enthusiast, woolly-liberal über-nerd, and, as of October 2015, father to the Lykketroll.

I moved from England to Norway in January 2012 and live in Lørenskog with my wife, the Lykketroll, and our two aging rescue cats, Socrates and Schrödinger. 

I am on paternity leave from the 4th of July to the 18th of November. 

The job I am on leave from is as an  Associate Professor and Head of Studies at the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. My background is in child neurodevelopment (my PhD looked into the relationship between fatty acids like omega-3 and cognitive development in young children) but I now work on a hodge-podge of things roughly within the field of Universal Design of ICT 50% of the time, the other 50% of my time I am Head of the 'General' Studies (Allmenn in Norwegian) Unit, which is comprised of around 24 academics within a range of fields, including mathematics, physics, Norwegian, and technology and leadership.

In between working and doing the usual dad things,  I like hiking and running in the beautiful Norwegian outdoors, cooking and playing video games. 

If I believed in souls I would say that mine was born in Norway. 

I plan to sleep when I'm dead.

Holding up a mirror to Nyhetsspeilet

Ever looked at the UN logo and thought ‘Why is the world caged inside the branches of peace?’ No? Me neither. I’m not one for conspiracy theories because they just strike me as giving people far too much credit. If the Illuminati, the Jews, lizard people, the

Bilderberg Group

, the Government,

Freemasons

, the

New World Order

,

Opus Dei

,

Skull and Bones

, or aliens are, single-handedly or collectively (given the overlap), secretly running the world, they’re doing a pretty shit job of it and might find their time better used elsewhere.

And yet lots of people, like Hans Gaarder, nominal editor of the notorious Norwegian conspiracy theory website

Nyhetsspeilet

('The News’ Mirror’), whole-heartedly believe that one or many of these groups really are controlling the world around us, in ways we can’t really see (except when they inexplicably leave us clues like ‘hidden’ symbols) and for reasons we can’t always fathom.

Gaarder has looked at the UN logo and seen what the rest of us can’t, or won’t: that it’s a symbol for the Illuminati and how they control the world, and this was the topic of his talk yesterday as part of a discussion organised by the

Humanistisk Studentlag Oslo

, with Skeptic,

Kjetil Hope

, as an opponent.

First, for those that unfamiliar with Nyhetsspeilet, a little flavour of what they’re about. The front page has stories on Alex Collier, an American who was contacted by aliens from

Andromeda in the 1990s

; how a recent eclipse will bring about the cleansing of the earth and a

New Golden Age

; a mysterious kilometre long object that was driven into a

Mexican volcano by aliens

 (the evidence from the video is as clear as day, and later that day), and how Halloween has been popularised in Norway by the Freemasons as a way to sell

Illumicorp toys to children

.

According to Gaarder, the Illuminati instigated the first and second world wars so that the horror of all the killing would convince the world of the need for peace, thereby giving them a perfectly legitimate pretext for creating the United Nations as a Trojan horse for their world-wide cabal of secret rulers. Read that again and just let it sink in for a second.

He rattled through his ‘evidence’ pretty quickly, but it wasn’t as if it anyone in the crowd needed much time to see how flimsy and balls-out crazy it all was. Amongst a whole lot of other loosely pulled together threads there was talk of the

13 bloodlines

, the suspicious fact that J.D.Rockafeller (philanthropist, Illuminati and

apparently eugenicist

) donated $8.5m to purchase the land for the UN headquarters in New York, and the UN’s

Agenda 21

, an action plan for the UN and world-wide governments and organisations focussing on sustainable development at a local, national and international level. To most people this is a wholly good thing and a sensible way to tackle the increasing strains we’re placing on each other and the planet. To Gaarder this is another sign that the Illuminati is acting

at all levels of society

 to control what we can and can’t do.

Lots of Gaarder’s ideas can be found here on the

theforbiddenknowledge

, including the importance of the number 33 to the Illuminati and the fact that the UN logo has 33 inner sections.

From: 

http://www.conspirazzi.com/tag/bavarian-illuminati/

According to ‘Joe’ on

conspirazzi.com

“The symbol of the United Nations consists of 33 segments (signifying the 33 level of Masonic initiation). The 13 leaves of each olive branch signify the 13 degrees of initiation in the York Rite of Freemasonry and the 13 degrees of the Bavarian Illuminati. The segments in the middle make a cross that is X’d out which tells us the UN is Antichrist.”

Mind=blown.

All conspiracy theories follow the same model of pattern fishing and pushing square pegs into round holes. Rather than trying to dismantle Gaarder’s ‘evidence’ piece by piece—which is always like a game of whack-a-mole; you smack one down and another one pops right back up—Kjetil Hope decided to tackle the basic logic of conspiracy theories and turned to a brilliant Family Guy sketch as a simple explanation for why all grand, world-domination conspiracy theories are bullshit: PEOPLE TALK.

The Lewinsky scandal

couldn’t be kept under wraps, despite originally being only a conspiracy of two, but we’re supposed to believe that governments (including Clinton’s at the time), along with hundreds, if not thousands, of people world-wide, secretly collude and rule the world, with only people like Gaarder, and others who can see passed the cover-ups, knowing the truth?

Hope’s second Batman smackdown came when he equated the Illumanti to the Riddler. For being super-smart, infinitely resourceful, nefarious super-men, those who want to take over the world sure are fond of leaving clues around in symbols and easily spotted handshakes. Why? Why don’t they just get on with controlling the world and whatever else without giving people hints? Why don’t they stop and think about how much less crap they’d have to deal with if they stopped using secret hidden symbols and handshakes that aren’t really secret or hidden. Unless you’re actually a nutcase like the Riddler, and you’re doing it just for kicks, it just doesn’t make any sense.

I admire Hope for taking a different tact and going with the power of plain common sense, but I think it was all lost on Gaarder. I’m not sure how Hope managed to show such patience with Gaarder’s facetious answers and his ability to quickly and repeatedly retreat into the ‘I can only answer for myself defence’ and then proceed to answer nothing, particularly when pressed on anything remotely important, like the worrying anti-Semitic undercurrents to much of the conspiracy theories on Nyhetspeilet, that he, as editor of the site, must take some responsibility for.

Despite the obvious derision in just about every question and comment during the Q&A, Gaarder looked steadfast and unphased. When asked about what motivates him to investigate conspiracies, Gunnar cited an interest in knowing the facts, but those writing for Nyhetsspeilet are not just trying to help us ‘see through the illusion and be free’; they’re also about publishing articles insinuating that the Human-Etisk Forbund and Foreningen Skepsis (Skeptics Association) have been

infiltrated by satanic paedophiles

, going so far as to name specific individuals (some of whom I know personally). That both organisations and the individuals named have been strong long-term critics of Nyhetsspeilet apparently has nothing to do with it and betrays no agenda on their part; they, Gaarder included, just want people to know the Truth.

Book review: The Where, the Why, and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science

Dagbladet's response to my post on their PR-driven nonsense article