#upfordebate: @DonLemon Did a chupacabra eat Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?

It’s kind of neat how a twitter hashtag and my contempt for cable news are colliding right now. Apparently, True Skeptics™ are supposed to be willing to debate anything and everything, even if it gives unwarranted credibility to nonsense. The True Skeptics™ must be loving CNN right now, because with the unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, they are just going to town with weird speculation. Everyone seems to be doing it.

So cable news has to fill up 24 hours of endless talk with something, and this is the perfect opportunity for them: call in a panel of ‘experts’, have an open-minded moderator who feeds all the speculation, and then blather away in the complete absence of information. CNN bubblehead Don Lemon has become the go-to guy for every crazy theory out there, going so far as to ask about the possibility of a supernatural explanation, and here he is babbling about black holes, the Bermuda Triangle, and the Twilight Zone.

There are six nobodies sitting in on this panel. If I were one of them, I would not say that the ideas were unlikely but that I just love the theories — I’d stand up, throw off my microphone, and flip off Don Lemon as I left the set.

Open-mindedness to a degree is a virtue, but not to such an extent that it’s like you’ve got an open head wound and are stumbling about hemorrhaging copiously and smearing flecks of greasy brain tissue on the walls you’re bumping into.

This is why I don’t watch any of the 24 hour news channels. It’s like a bad zombie movie come to life.


  1. busterggi says

    Hey now, chupacabras only drink blood – they don’t eat aircraft. More likely a dragon or winged bigfoot is the cause.

  2. says

    Maybe it was one of those quantum things – you know – that happen only every so many universes’ lifetimes? Where all the atoms suddenly jump 900 miles in a random direction?


    Maybe it’s that they don’t have anything else to talk about.

  3. astro says

    when talking about being “open-minded,” it’s important to remember that the “mind” part is at least as important as the “open” part.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    The really really important question is, How does the disappearance of MH370 impact [pick one: Ted Cruz/Paul Ryan/Marco Rubio/Hillary Clinton]’s chances in 2016??? Geraldo, what do you think?

  5. robinjohnson says

    He’s missed the obvious explanation: the plane’s been taken back in time and crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11, in order to provide some real plane parts to cover up the original cover-up.

  6. Menyambal says

    I had missed the black hole idea. That is now my favorite, and that is not up for debate.

    There’s another one, where the takeoff conditions were long and hot, and maybe caused a fire. Where a fire would cause them to shut down electrical. Where they would turn toward a certain handy airport. Where they would switch on autopilot while they fought the trouble, and then they died, but that’s boring. I only like it because something like that happened to a local celebrity, and this plane would have flown over my part of Sumatra and maybe somebody on the ground would have seen it.

  7. Jeremy Shaffer says

    It was obviously gremlins. I saw a documentary about them once that showed how a young William Shatner had a run in with one on a plane. It also happened to John Lithgow a few decades later. True story!

  8. consciousness razor says

    “A small black hole would suck in our entire universe, so we know it’s not that.”

    Indeed. I sure am glad she was there to dubunk that ridiculous idea with such a nifty “fact” like that. From now on, I’m relying on the U.S. DOT for all of my questions about black holes.

  9. Nogbert says

    Yet another extraordinary twist to the MH370 mystery, PZ and Bill O are in agreement!

    According to the BBC, Bill O’Reilly takes a dim view of CNN and other outlets coverage. Apparently it’s driven by ratings and is giving the old bloviator a headache.

  10. fmitchell says

    I checked out of the gabfest days ago, when the talking heads decided exactly how the plane had been hijacked because that’s what one talking head (or his pal) said could happen one day. Yetis and time machines are just the garnish on the whole pre-chewed word salad.

  11. says

    This is the first I’ve heard of the Kraken theory.

    I must reject it, because Kraken would not attack an airplane. It is much too smart for that. It would be crawling overland right now, to destroy CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta.

  12. René says

    I say godiddit since the pilot was an atheist:

    Missing Malaysia Plane’s Pilot Supported Anwar Ibrahim, Posted Atheist Videos On YouTube

  13. consciousness razor says

    I must reject it, because Kraken would not attack an airplane. It is much too smart for that. It would be crawling overland right now, to destroy CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta.

    I had no idea the Kraken was a coprophage.

  14. cswella says

    Initially read as: “Don Lemon did a chupacabra, ate malaysia airlines flight 370”

    Second attempt: “Don Lemon did a chupacabra, then ate malaysia airlines flight 370”

    Third attempt: That’s more ridiculous than the previous 2 tries!

  15. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Open-mindedness to a degree is a virtue, but not to such an extent that it’s like you’ve got an open head wound and are stumbling about hemorrhaging copiously and smearing flecks of greasy brain tissue on the walls you’re bumping into.

    There’s space between “hermetically sealed” and “unfiltered.”

  16. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Obviously the crew and passengers were affected by a leak in the chemtrail chemical tanks and, er, something, something.

  17. Sastra says

    Yesterday I once again had to listen to friends seriously proposing their “UFO Abduction Theory.” I’m pretty much always the only person in the room who doesn’t think that alien UFOs are an established fact that THEY don’t want you to know about, so that this is plausible.

    I think it seriously chuffs them that I usually insist on saying that no, this possibility is vanishingly small, and explaining a bit why. The good, proper response for a skeptic is the one the DOT spokesperson took: “I just love the theories!” I don’t believe it myself, but gosh, it’s just so wonderful to see open-minded people broadening my world view! With ideas like “reality is only a mental construct” and the plane disappeared because the passengers entered a higher level of spirituality.

    I will not submit. I will not go tamely into the night.

    There was also a lot of talk about how both psychics and remote viewers they know personally are looking for the plane. I asked why none of them have found it then. I don’t think they heard my question though, because it wasn’t answered.

  18. Nick Gotts says

    There was also a lot of talk about how both psychics and remote viewers they know personally are looking for the plane. I asked why none of them have found it then. – Sastra@24

    Chances are at least one of them has already located it* – but we won’t know which one until it’s actually found ;-)

    *i.e. made a guess that with hindsight can be made to seem not completely wrong.

  19. moarscienceplz says

    While is was waiting for my health club to change the channel on my elliptical machine to MSNBC, I watched a few minutes of Fox News (shudder) and they assert the plane was flown to Pakistan. Yep, right over the entire width of India with nary a peep from the Indians. I suppose Al Qaeda wants to start their own airline, or maybe Pakistan wants to build up the Chinese portion of their population, or their supply of tiny bags of peanuts was running low.

  20. twas brillig (stevem) says

    The mention of “quantum”, sets me off –>>
    You know Quantum tells us Everything has a probability [even if infinitesimally small]. But, no matter how small, if it is probable, it is possible and could happen anytime. So for that plane to jump onto the moon (or the center of the Earth), there is a probability; and so that is what must have happened. All you evolutioneers are always talking about probability and random events leading up to BIG THINGS… This Malaysia Air thing is your fault evilutionistas! Calling TSA!!!!

  21. says

    To be serious for a moment, I’m getting myself irritated by imagining what’s going to happen. I’m behind on the news (You can probably guess why), so please pardon any ignorance.

    1) They don’t find the wreck. Flight 370 becomes a part of popular woo lore, probably joining other disappearances associated with whatever phenomenon, like alien abductions or the Bermuda Triangle. They take any and all reports of weirdness close to the same time and/or place as confirmation that there was a disturbance in the force, ignoring that there’s always reports of weirdness.
    2) They find the wreck much later. They make much of the fact that it took so long and use the ambiguity of incomplete evidence as ground for more wild speculation.
    3) They find the wreck later, and in an unexpected place. Teleportation! Wormholes! Digestion and deposition by the Loch Ness Monster! Getting lost and running out of fuel is dismissed as absurd.
    4) The black box is found and points to pilot error. They explain the pilot’s actions as dodging photon torpedoes, being enticed by the Bermuda sirens, or whatever.
    5) The black box points to instrumentation error. They pretend that airplane instruments never malfunction on their own, or in Flight 370’s particular combination of malfunctions, therefore it was leyline interference, ECM from the stellar alignment, or whatever. Or they claim that the instruments were functioning perfectly and make up ad hoc hypotheses that their pet woo affects instruments in a fashion consistent with known malfunctions.
    6) The black box points to mechanical failure. Gremlins!
    7) The plane was hijacked and things went south. Conspiracy! Also, America finds a new terrorist group to invade an unrelated country over.

  22. Callinectes says

    It’s worse than that. These people are cheerfully coming up with physically impossible ideas unworthy even of the term “science fiction” to account for the disappearance and likely deaths of hundreds of innocent people, all of whom have families desperately searching for any information and news (which is supposedly the channel’s business) that they can find. They might find this. It’s obscene, profoundly offensive, and indicative of a deep-seated stupidity, ignorance and callousness.

  23. otrame says


    You are absolutely right. It isn’t real to those people. “No humans were killed in the making of this news item. No families are grieving. We are free to use it as a space-filler.”


  24. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    PZ, that is hardly fair. The all things being up for debate applies only to things we are unsure about, that being human rights.

  25. katkinkate says

    I wonder what’s the chances of the plane doing a forced landing/crash in the sea without breaking up and then sinking with all on board and their luggage, leaving no convenient floating pieces behind to mark the spot. If so, they’ll probably never find it until someone maps the sea bottom in that area with sonar. Also I personally doubt the terrorist explanation as no-one has claimed responsibility. They usually want to brag. The Malaysian authorities seem to be scrambling to find something/one to blame so no-one blames them. And I don’t understand the rationale for looking in the Indian Ocean south-west of Perth. Where do they think they were going?

  26. Menyambal says

    katkinkate, the good landing on water with no breakup would indeed leave no trace. On open ocean, it is somewhat less likely, but traces would be hard to see.

    There were automatic engine reports sent out from the plane, that put it somewhere in two big arcs, one of which winds up west of Australia. The pilots may have aimed for an emergency landing, and the best airport for that was southwest. If they set autopilot, then died, the plane would have kept going (Payne Stewart’s plane did that). Some radar indicates the plane was going that way.

    The plane took off heavy, on a hot and humid night, which may have led to a tire fire. Which led to an electrical fire. Which would have initiated standard practices.

    In short, there is clear precedent for accidents of the non-supernatural kind, and good reasons to look off Australia. There are, also, sadly, planes that disappear and are never found at all. It happens about once a year. This one is big, and has turned into a media circus.

  27. says

    Al Gore used CIA Illuminati to send the Polar Vortex because the schematics to Obama’s positronic brain were in the hard drive of the co-pilot’s plutonium powered prosthetic arm.

    Disregard that. My tinfoil hat slipped for a second.

  28. unclefrogy says

    if there is any conspiracy involved with this event I would much more likely suspect it of coming from the manufacturer and or the operator airline. hoping it is not some known to them only problem in some technical aspect of the plane. What with other problems in aircraft related to electronics and modern commercial aircraft being fly by wire a electrical problem is where I would look first. The bottom line the plane disappeared from view and we do not have any really reliable area to even search so everything is just speculation. I will wait for something concrete.
    Fuck I hate that let’s talk about whatever is the latest hot story over and over for days on end even though we know nothing new after the first 10 minutes. Lets not shove a mic in the face of a grieving distraught relative and ask them to tell us how they fuckin’ feel! How the hell you think they feel and what useful information is it any way.

    uncle frogy

  29. Rich Woods says

    @Bronze Dog #28:

    I’m impressed. You’ve really done your research!

    I’m going with no. 8. What’s no. 8? I’ll, um, tell you later.

  30. greg hilliard says

    If you think that’s bad, what about Bill Hemmer on Fox? He said this: “So, what, it took us 100 years to find the Titanic. It took us 2,000 years to find Noah’s Ark. Do we ever find flight 370?”

  31. twas brillig (stevem) says

    Without a tinfoil hat:: It seems the Malaysian “feds” are feeding this frenzy with all their “We’re looking into it. Just be calm, don’t yell at us. Don’t let the distraught families cry to the media, blah blah blah…” Come on!!! Tell the world what you are actually doing, don’t just tell us what *not* to do. I don’t think there is any kind of “conspiracy”, but you ain’t helping! Lots of “standard” ways this could have happened, just *do* something, tell us *what* you are doing. Your denials are scaring us. They provide so little information; it is too easy for everyone to make up wild incoherent fantasies that news-starved CNN will just run with them to fill up their Cable-time. Don’t shame CNN, no other news anywhere [Crimea, lookin at you], CNN has to say somethin, everybody wants to hear what happened to that plane.

  32. twas brillig (stevem) says

    He said this: “So, what, it took us 100 years to find the Titanic. It took us 2,000 years to find Noah’s Ark. Do we ever find flight 370?”

    ummm… WTF??? We found it??? Where???

  33. Menyambal says

    Noah’s ark? Where? 2,000 years since when?

    For one thing, it can’t be on Mt. Ararat, since that name has only been assigned to that mountain by confused Christians since about 1200. The bible says where it landed, and folks there have a shrine, so it was either never lost or never existed.

    But yeah, let’s get the crazy all up in this.

    Satellite images show something floating at the end of the southwest possibility. Ships and planes are arriving.

  34. naturalcynic says

    Samuel L Jackson wasn’t on the passenger manifest, so there was no one to rescue everyone from the muthafukkin’ SNAKES on the Plane.

  35. David Marjanović says



    busterggi, it was a giant shark.


    It gets better, you know.

    Since no one else has done it, I’m just going to leave this link here .

    …Wow, it’s crazy to live in Germany. Unfortunately this video isn’t available in Germany because it could contain music about the use of which we haven’t agreed yet with the [copyright collection agency thing]. Emphasis mine.

    ummm… WTF??? We found it??? Where???

    And when?!? Isn’t that whole Noah thing supposed to have happened some 2000 years before Jesus?

  36. Menyambal says

    I just overheard a CNN newsperson saying that it’s which you believe: EITHER there was a very improbable accident to the plane, OR the pilots switched everything off as a criminal act.

  37. Rasmus says

    Yeah, I’m sure the loved ones of the 200+ missing passengers and crew are thrilled that they finally have something to fill 24 hour news channels with.

    Here’s my personal pet theory:
    1. The plane took off.
    2. Something went wrong.
    3. The plane ended up either in the ocean or on land.

  38. greg hilliard says

    David Marjanović: That’s what they would like you to believe. Me, I think Jesus had something to do with hiding it. He could walk on water, after all.

  39. says

    It got caught up in a tractor beam from the USS Enterprise and disintegrated. And now all the passengers are in the future.

  40. anteprepro says

    Here’s the One True Theory: The Government trained a group of elite psychics via the MK Ultra program. They trained them to control a class of ancient aliens that were previously our supreme overlords in ancient times. The Government then sent these psychics around in black helicopters, sending radio transmissions into the heads of other potential psychics, and using chemtrails and fluoride in the water to poison those who knew too much. Suddenly, the psychics started transforming and going rogue, turning into Cryptids. Bigfoot knows all the secrets which is why the government and science industrial complex deny their existence. Anyway, the Bermuda Triangle is where they hide the black helicopters, and send out an electronic pulse to disrupt aircraft, and will also use the psychics and the ancient alien thralls to attack any vessels that come near. The Malaysian airplane had someone on it who knew too much, so they sent in their fleet of black helicopters, and sent in a swarm of winged aliens to attack. They then used a powerful microwave device to disintegrate the plane and leave no evidence. However, this device doesn’t really disintegrate things: It sends it back in time! That plane was sent back in time and was the cause of the Roswell incident!

    Also: Osama lives on as a zombie, Hitler’s brain is preserved in the Oval Office, Obama is a Russian spy, the Illuminati did 9/11 and then moved to Thailand, and the reason you can’t eat just one potato chip is because they are all laced with LSD.

  41. jaytheostrich says

    That’s funny.. after the first sentence or so of this post, I was thinking of a ‘strange unlikely reason’, and went straight to micro-black hole.. and sure enough, keep reading and bam! hee hee.

    But why are they ignoring the glaringly obvious answer? Great Cthulhu woke up and needed a snack.