My Favorite Crackpot Theories

Elvis is still alive? I couldn’t care less. Bigfeet on the prowl? Fun idea, but we’ve driven much more robust species than Bigfoot into extinction since the Patterson film came out. Obama is really a Muslim? Yawn. I prefer my cockamamie ideas to have more heft, more grist, whim and gristle.

The Tootsie Roll Pop wrappers with a star on them will get you a free sucker

I can’t remember who told me this, but I couldn’t have been more than eight—at least two years before a friend took me to his mom’s house in Branson to watch Nostradamus videos, so this might have been my very first crackpot theory. I’m sure there were a few years of my childhood when I was simultaneously saving Tootsie Roll Pop wrappers featuring a boy in an American Indian headdress pointing his bow and arrow at a huge star, while also worrying that the Antichrist would rise up from the Middle East in the year 1992. With luck, I’d figure out how to cash in the wrappers before Judgment Day. However, I now favor the Tootsie Roll Pop thing over the Nostradamus crap.

Since Congress made it illegal to send equines to slaughterhouses, all the horses in America are being sent to Mexico to be tortured

This one is awesome. I don’t think you can even find anything on the Internet about it, because it sprang like a spooked horse from my mom’s subconscious mind. Why would Mexicans want to torture horses? Would it be affordable for poorer people to buy horses in a wealthier nation and then transport them back home just to hurt them? Do they at least stuff them full of munitions or other contraband? Don’t Mexicans have horses of their own to torture?  Whether this notion is the product of xenophobia, outdated pills, or the insomnia of many nights spent assisting a kennel-copia of whelpings, I cannot say. You’ll have to ask my mom.

As a tangent and runner-up, I can offer here another of my mom’s screwball notions: Mexicans are kind of scary, while Native Americans are neat. Never mind that they are essentially the same people, or would be if not for a political border and language differences.

Satan makes people do things, or “We’ve got pentagram!”

From the West Memphis 3 to a Texas “arson” case recently featured on Frontline, it seems there are still Americans by the legion poised to battle the Devil by spotting such satanic giveaways as Iron Maiden posters, Led Zeppelin t-shirts, black nail polish and tattoos. Should we thank Richard Ramirez for this high-schoolish connection between rock-n-roll trappings and death sentences for murder?

Most people are familiar with the WM3; some think they must be guilty because they looked weird. Unfortunately for the 3, their jury was composed of that sort of people. Same problem for Cameron Todd Willingham of Texas, executed for arson after escaping a fire that killed his daughters. The blaze left behind a vague pentagram pattern scorched into the floor. That—combined with a history of domestic violence, an armload of heavy metal memorabilia and an empty can of charcoal fluid on the porch—made him guilty of sacrificing his kids to Satan. Unfortunately for Willingham, a real fire expert looked at the case too late to halt the execution. He showed how the “pentagram” was not an accelerant pour-pattern, but just the lines along which the room’s windows would naturally feed oxygen to the fire. Sorry, Satan.

Did these jurors learn nothing from the “witch hunt” episodes of shows like Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven? What did they grow up watching, Judge Judy?

There’s some sort of superhighway from Canada to Mexico being built without the consent or knowledge of the American voter

At least one senior citizen here in the Ozarks thinks this is happening. How anyone could pull off such a monumental public works project in secret is beyond me. Not only could it be seen on Google Earth or from the space shuttle, but on the ground in six to eight states. Plus, we already have the Eisenhower Interstate System. Are there some kind of mammoth trucks that can’t fit on I-55? Probably the ones that haul whole factories to Mexico.

This one may just be some kind of severe misunderstanding of NAFTA.

An Aussie has invented an electromagnetic perpetual-motion engine that can power our houses for free…

If only he can gather a million dollars in investment capital, he’ll give the first thousand engines out for free. My mother-in-law’s friend returned from Australia with this story, saying she met the inventor, or something. She said she put her name on the list to get one. When I asked her how it worked, she said, “The Earth’s magnetic field.” I said, “But what is the mechanism? How does it gather the energy?” She really couldn’t say anything but “The Earth’s magnetic field.” I tried to explain that the magnetic field is not strong enough on a local level to power much of anything, even though some of us remember Magneto flying around on it in Uncanny X-Men. I mean, it barely spins a compass needle at my house, so I can’t see it running my sump pump.

My theory? Flying all the way to Australia and back can scramble your brain.

The Mexicans who were turning around in my landlady’s driveway were plotting to steal her doorknobs

This would be no more than a distant memory of an anecdote by now, if it hadn’t occurred at a point in my landlady’s life when any little worry could hijack her mind and dig in like a plow on a vinyl record. No matter how many times her grandson or I told her not to worry about it, she was convinced that the doorknobs in her old abandoned house (still packed to the rafters with crap of little value) had antique/collector value.

She spent much of each day worrying about her old house, just around the corner from her current residence—once a property she rented out, but had to move into because her old house was a heapy hoard. So, that day when she felt well enough to take a walk to her old place, what did she find on that fateful day? A strange car in her driveway, containing Hispanic individuals up to no good. Or just looking for lawns to mow, or just turning around. They left her property, but they never left her mind.

Complementary bonus theory: She thought if she left her dead husband’s old sweatshirt out on the clothesline, the place would appear occupied. Good idea, until it had been in the same spot for months and became so weathered that the top was almost white while the bottom was still a dark color. Now you’re flying a flag that says, “abandoned property.”

More From Thought Catalog