Remember the days when crackpots were crackpots?

Rather than running major political parties? This story made me yearn for more harmlessly flamboyant goofballs.

Simon Parkes, who until April was a Labour town councillor for Whitby in North Yorkshire, claimed “psychopathic” members of a group of world leaders, known as the Illuminati by conspiracy theorists, were hellbent on using the huge atom colliding machine to open a vortex that would allow them complete control over all of us.

Don’t worry. Mr Parkes stopped the Illuminati from conquering the world with the LHC…by meditating. I know, you were worried.

But this is the story I want to hear more about.

Mr Parkes, who has earlier made national headlines after saying his mother was alien, and he lost his virginity to one, was the key speaker of the event organised by the UFO Academy at High Elms Manor in Watford, Hertfordshire.

Oh, please. Do tell.


Also, I have a secret. I do love a good media non sequitur.

In Confessions of an Alien Abductee, Parkes, who is also a qualified driving instructor, said he had an alien family with an extra-terrestrial lover.

I knew there was something discombobulating about always driving on the wrong side of the road.


  1. dianne says

    I find your conspiracy theory about Clinton and Benghazi far more plausible.

    I know it’s not the point, but I can’t figure out the connection between the LHC and controlling us all. Destroying the world, that one I kind of got. It made a sort of superficial sense as a thing one might worry about, but even if the LHC could open a “vortex” (whatever that means in this context) how could said vortex control us? I won’t even demand a plausible explanation. An implausible one will do. Just a mechanism. Any mechanism.

  2. dianne says

    Because British driving instructors are really Jedi dedicated to protecting us from the Dark Side of the Illuminati?

  3. rq says

    It’s a vortex of psychic influence, dianne. Have you attended your local tinfoil cap workshop yet? Advisable.

  4. dianne says

    Tin foil hats make you more susceptible to radio waves. It’s been tested. At MIT. By a group of students who were clearly bored that day and possibly determined to get a paper out, no matter what. Or maybe were ambitious for an IgNobel.

  5. yaque says

    Ah, come on, that’s ridiculous!
    If you need reassurance, here’s a site with a couple of live webcams so you can see there’s nothing wrong!


  6. says

    Well come on now. He wasn’t “running a major political party,” he was a town councillor. A rural selectman, as we would cll him in New England.

  7. schini says

    I don’t get the posts title. Are crackpots now not crackpots no more?
    What are crackpots now?

  8. says

    I’ve taken a lot of recreational drugs in my lifetime, but -never- anything remotely as good as what this guy has.

    Can I have his address? I’d really like to see the aliens too. Far out, eh?

  9. anteprepro says

    Holy shit, looks like Happy-Go-Lucky was a documentary:

    Happy-Go-Lucky is a 2008 British comedy-drama film written and directed by Mike Leigh. The screenplay focuses on a cheerful and optimistic primary-school teacher and her relationships with those around her…..

    When Poppy takes driving lessons for the first time, her positive attitude contrasts starkly with her gloomy, intolerant and cynical driving instructor, Scott. He is emotionally repressed, has anger problems and becomes extremely agitated by Poppy’s casual attitude towards driving. As Poppy gets to know him, it becomes evident that Scott believes in conspiracy theories. His beliefs are partly attributable to his racist and misogynistic views, which make it hard for him to get along with others. Scott seems to be angered by Poppy’s sunny personality and what he perceives as a lack of responsibility and concern for driving safety. Scott is exceptionally irritated by Poppy’s choice of footwear (a pair of high-heeled boots), which he feels compromises her ability to drive. From the outset he feels Poppy does not take her lessons seriously and is careless.

    Sadly, I don’t think those conspiracy theories involved aliens or the LHC. Maybe in the sequel.

  10. says

    Genes, how do they work? I’m impressed he managed to successfully mate with an alien when he wouldn’t be able to do so with a much more closely related species: the jackass.

  11. says

    I think PZ was giving this guy as an example of the harmless nutbag type, not the “runs the country” type.

  12. gazza says

    This is routine stuff in England! I once went to an authors talk in a large chain bookstore, on Cropcircles, when they were big in the news. Fantastic selection of aerial slides of marvellous constructions from the authors book. Apparently authenticated by dowsing! The freaky thing was realising that when the questions came at the end I was probably the only one in the audience of 70-80 that thought the author was a crackpot.
    Seriously people with these weird belief systems, vaguely new age, would be a great case study for analogies with religion. Has that been done in a definitive study?

  13. auraboy says

    The non sequitur isn’t quite in this case. Here in the UK driving instructors are almost always crackpots or criminals.

  14. opposablethumbs says

    I’d like to be able to say it was all a bit of yer British poker-faced levity … but of course, sadly, it isn’t. I went to a party not long ago at which I found myself talking with a couple of friends of the host who ran some kind of ghost-hunting sessions; I chatted away with them quite happily, assuming that the whole thing was intended to be humorous entertainment … until I eventually twigged that they were deadly serious. I was discombobulated to say the least.

  15. Rich Woods says

    I knew there was something discombobulating about always driving on the wrong side of the road.

    When the aliens finally show us how to use their intergalactic wormhole network, you Americans will really wish you’d had more practice in driving on the left-hand side of 3-space. And in using a clutch to change hypergears.

  16. Rich Woods says

    @opposablethumbs #17:

    I’ve got a friend who used to go on ghost walks with a couple of friends and a guide. She was telling me how, the previous evening after dusk, they were walking over a hill to visit a ruined house when they saw a glowing light moving parallel to them about 40 yards away. I asked her what it had turned out to be, but she said none of them went to look. I was astonished that they would go ghost-hunting and not investigate. She was shocked that I would have gone right over to it: “But…but…what if it had been a ghost?”

  17. Callinectes says

    My mother is a driving instructor. She is a very intelligent woman. but occasionally she comes out with tripe I have to shut down, and is a fervent believer in and multiple witness of ghosts. A point of disagreement between us.

  18. unclefrogy says

    that is interesting. Sounds like what they are doing is tripping without drugs (an assumption). going into some other reality of the mind. investigation into what is real is not the point. I used to use drugs to get to experience another reality like that.
    have the lunatics really taken over the asylum?
    uncle frogy

  19. Rich Woods says

    @unclefrogy #21:

    I’d certainly discount drugs. I know my friend and enough of her friends well enough to say that that wasn’t a situation where they would have decided to… ahem… enhance any potential experience.

    As for the tripping without drugs idea, that reminds me of when I first met someone who became a damn good friend for many years (sadly he died recently). He was 15 years older than me and had done the whole hippy / Isle of Wight / counter-culture thing. We got chatting over a beer and he told me he could teach me to trip without acid (the one drug I’d actually thought could have been interesting but had never found the right circumstances to try). He had me stare up at the grotty polystyrene tiles of the suspended ceiling of the shite bar we were in and concentrate on its detail and wait to see what would happen in my mind’s eye. Bollocks! At that point I was concentrating more on my wallet just in case this was an opportunity a stranger was inducing to pick my pocket. Even after I got to know him better and knew he wasn’t a screwball (although he was pretty strong on AGW and masonic ritual) and tried it again, nothing about tripping without drugs ever worked (yet shrooms happily did, at least until the infamous Gloucester Docks’ Star Wars event several years later, details of which I think are still restricted under the Cabinet Office 30-year rule).

    To cut a long story short, I’ve heard various people — with varying degrees of belief and sincerity — talk about tripping without drugs, and the summary of my experiences leads me to discount them. As for my ghost-hunting friend’s potential ghost, I’d be most likely to put it down to a pre-influenced mind’s view of lights on the M5 from the Cotswolds on a misty evening.

  20. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    @15 re “crop circles”
    I remember seeing some accommodationistic schtick “documentary” about the NEW crop circle investigators focusing on distinguishing the hoax circles from genuine circles. Their criteria for genuine vs hoax verged on mockumentary aspect. PBS tried to recreate the hoax process as an MIT student challenge. Even though they bought a field (to eliminate pontential of vandalism accusations), I think they still got a lot of protests that they were trying to sell it as an actual crop circle (even with disclaimer signs and camera cres all over the site).
    still amused that it is impossible to break such a belief. When presented with the overwhelming number of hoax circles, they’ll say, “yeah, copycats, the first ones are authentic, with no evidence one being a prank”. I seem them bending Occam’s razor to go with, Alien Message Symbols, being the simpler explanation than pranksters spending all night to produce one, therefore “not a prank”.

    too bad he had to throw LHC Paranoia into the stew… the UFO stuff made him enough of a crackpot for me…

  21. EigenSprocketUK says

    Look, it’s very simple:
    driving on the left is right, and right is wrong. Better to drop your jousting lance than unseat yourself from your horse.
    Clockwise round a roundabout, except in Swindon.
    As for clutches, just press the clutch to de-clutch, and release it to re-clutch. It’s still legal to double de-clutch, but that went out when the chokes went in. The bonnet has been packed away in the hood, and the boots are in the trunk. It’s not legal to smoke in a car with a young person, but it is legal to drive a diesel which is programmed to emit 20x as much smoke when it gets away from the testing station. Always tip your cap except when in Yorkshire and you’re wearing a flat one in which case doff it. There’s a lot more to learn before you’ll be allowed through passport control, but if you’re visiting from the states just watch Downton Abbey instead and you’ll soon pick it up.

  22. auntbenjy says

    Clockwise round a roundabout, except in Swindon.

    Ah, the Swindon Magic Roundabout. We came across this by accident in 2000. We were lost. Very lost. Even the locals were stopping, looking both ways, and driving straight across it.

    Definitely a traffic twilight zone…

  23. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @24:
    As a visitor to the land of Britain, i found an easy way to drive on the appropriate side of the rode.
    – When sitting behind the steering wheel, drive so one is effectively in the middle of the rode, while still being on the same side of the center line with the rest of the vehicle.
    – At a cross street stop, the lane closest to one will be approaching the driver’s window.
    – Roundabouts, keep driver closest to the center of the roundabout.
    – Left v Right are extraneous. Stay focused on driver orientation.
    The only issue I had, regardless, was the stalk features on the steering wheel, were mirror-imaged from left hand drive cars.

    Excuse me for psyching myself up for a future return visit (bucket list you know).

  24. Rich Woods says

    @eigenSprocketUK #24:


    @auntbenjy #25:

    We came across this by accident in 2000. We were lost.

    I thought you were going to continue with ‘And we’re still going around it 15 years later. Help! Can someone please get us out of here? The wi-fi signal’s fading…’

    There’s a rumour that the Red Army manual which detailed the plans for a proposed Soviet invasion of Britain included the instruction to tank crews to stay out of Swindon, for fear that doing so would significantly delay the advance into the south-west.

  25. Nick Gotts says

    although he was pretty strong on AGW and masonic ritual – Rich Woods@22

    So, according to your friend, are masonic rituals responsible for AGW, or the best way to halt it? Or maybe AGW is responsible for the increasing/declining number of masonic rituals? Come on, you can’t leave us in suspense like this!

  26. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    @25 re the Swindon Magic Roundabout:
    Looking at the overhead, through GoogleMaps; agreement that concentric roundabout looks MAGIC. Easy to navigate by pencil, on paper, but first person ground perspective would be daunting. It incorporates the handy inner circle to allow more efficient “right hand turns” rather than having to go ~270 deg around clockwise to get from 6 o’clock to 3 o’clock. Easy to do if there were no other cars in the circles but must be intimidating with even sparse traffic.
    I’ll just presume that they nested the loops to accommodate the overwhelming quantity of traffic it must handle, so it must usually be full of cars trying to go every direction. The number of roundabouts connecting the two concentric main loops is almost Gordian-Knot like. Thanks for the caution that this Magic Roundabout exists and worth avoiding (by this tourist).

  27. quotetheunquote says

    @25, @30:

    Oh. My. Dog.

    I’ve driven the right way – and the left way – around roundabouts in Canada, England, Australia, and France, but I have never seen anything as evil as this. It looks like just the sort of thing that Pratchett was thinking of when he wrote (in Good Omens):

    Oh, he [the demon Crowley] did his best to make their short lives miserable, because that was his job, but nothing he could think up was half as bad as the stuff they thought up themselves. They seemed to have a talent for it. It was built into the design, somehow.

    Crowley, in case you don’t know the book, was responsible for the M25. I’ve driven on the M25. This is far, far more diabolical.

    (I feel strangely drawn to Swindon now; like I need to prove myself by going into it, and coming out alive… maybe I could carry a ball of thread, like Theseus.)

  28. Dunc says

    I know a few other people have touched on this, but “former town councillor for Whitby” is really quite a long way away from running anything, never mind a major political party.