History, Non-Fiction, Ronson-Jon, social commentary, True strange Happenings

#681 The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson

The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon RonsonThe Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson

Jon has heard that there is a man who stared at a goat and killed it. The whole thing was a very hush-hush military experiment. Somewhere, the goats have been debleated and now they’re experimented on. No one would guess that there is a building full of goats on a military base.

The men who did stare at goats are a combination of new age and karate master, well, most of the time anyway. Jon tries to find out who actually stared at the goat. It may have been this one guy, but he died, but maybe it was this other guy. Jon finally finds out exactly who stared at the goat and it turns out that the guy still stares at small animals every once in a while, and they subsequently drop over dead.

As the book progresses, Jon moves on to other fringe military experiments, like MK Ultra and sound frequencies that make a person have diarrhea. Jon speaks with the son of a man who was killed in relation to MK Ultra and LSD, but his entire family was always told it was an accident. The idea of psychic warfare seems crazy, but the military certainly doesn’t think so.

What I liked

If you didn’t know anything about MK Ultra or experimentation with certain sound frequencies, this might be a good book to read.

What I didn’t like

I hate these fringe things. Look, fringe is interesting, but I have heard enough conspiracy theories to last me a lifetime, a lifetime; I’m serious. I don’t know about the goat thing, but all the other stuff in this book–real. The military actually did and experimented with everything mentioned in this book, except for the part about the goats, which I’m not entirely sure of in my personal knowledge of strange military experiments. The military spends some money on some weird stuff and some of it works, some of it doesn’t. Along the way, the military happily destroys lives. Yes, people have actually been killed and scapegoated for the things Jon mentions in this book. Do people care?

No, honestly, not really. The public hears that the government experimented with LSD and they’re like, “Whatever.” It’s not a concern for most people that this stuff goes on. Should it be? Maybe.

The thing about the frequencies was tested and disproven on Mythbusters, but who knows, maybe the government knows something that the Mythbusters don’t.

I don’t like all this fringe conspiracy stuff. This stuff isn’t actually conspiracy, because it actually happened, but “conspiracy theory” is how most people tend to define the particular things mentioned in this book. The thing about weird government experimentation, which does happen, in any government, is that you can’t really do anything about it. It’s upsetting to hear about. They say knowledge is power, but if knowledge doesn’t get you anywhere, why know? You can’t march up to the government and be like, “Hey, stop experimenting with weird fringe science stuff, like giving people LSD.”

Part of the reason all of this stuff is still defined in the realm of “conspiracy theory” is that it sounds silly. Like, you mean, the government actually experimented with certain audio frequencies that would make people poop their pants? Absurd! It can’t be real! It can’t be a thing the actual government did! You, sir, are crazy!

Look, the government is weird. Just accept it. They’ve probably funded research and experimentation about whether or not the pink goo from Ghostbusters could actually animate toasters.

You might read this book and have a good laugh because some of this sounds so absurd, but the government really did think that some LSD and code words could make an ultimate soldier.


Well, if you ever see a goat drop dead, maybe it was just a government experiment.

Weigh In

Does it get us anywhere to know about these experiments?

Will people ever accept some of the government’s weird experimentation as things that actually happened?


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